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Untether student knowledge access from curricula, grades, tests

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Posted on 11th August 2011 by Judy Breck in Biology, Language, Literature, Mobile Learning, Schools We Have Now and Testing


Yesterday I watched and listened to a recording of Lynda Weinman interviewing Will Richardson. The title of this free Webinar: Personal Learning Networks Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education — which is the title of a new book by Richardson.

The webinar is an hour long. Richardson describes his work aimed at making schools better. The discussion between these two at the end of the hour is frank. They agree and agonized over this reality: The system for conveying knowledge to students in the schools we now have is not working and it is changing very little if at all.

I know, from having been her student in several contexts, that Lynda is a great teacher. I feel sure Richardson is as well. Lynda is a major leader of digital education — essentially the supra-teacher of digital arts. Richardson has been immersed in the school mess for 20+ years — and is a father of young teenagers, and proposes ways for teachers to improve their classes against the system. These two hands-on experts do not have answers for how really to change the schools methodologies so that the kids can get a decent education at school.

From their discussion in the webinar I picked up this new word for how education could change: untethered. It implies for me the concept of handschooling: an individual student engaging knowledge by using a mobile that she owns and controls, providing her with a 24/7 web browser.

I suggest that untethering a student’s access to what is known — cutting access loose from standardized curricula, grades, and tests — is a specific, simple step. Connect a kid: let him engage is mind on his own with algebra, history, ecology and the rest of the subjects that are now for him tethered to the academic (school) brick and mortar world.

With individual wireless access on a tablet or smartphone, a student can while away boring times in school: