Saturday, February 25, 2012

Notes from Will Richardson

A slide from Mr. Richardson's presentation. Amazing quotation!
Thanks to Houston A+ Challenge, I had the opportunity to attend a talk that Will Richardson gave titled "Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education." The following are my notes from the event, most of which are attributed to Mr. Richardson's presentation. Please note that these are NOT my ideas, they are Mr. Richardson's ideas, occasionally in his direct words, sometimes written in my words. You can find his blog at or follow him on Twitter at @willrich45. A copy of the visual portion of presentation I attended can be found at

- How do we student center the use of tech?
- The importance of making connections between classroom material and the outside world.
- It is important to make students think about the audience for their projects and, for that matter, help them find an audience that isn't only their teacher.
- How do we tap into our children's passions?
A slide from Mr. Richardson's presentation
- Who is going to decide what our schools turn in to? Will it be a money-driven business decision? It's starting to look like it...

- In the past, the purpose of school was to deliver as much education as possible to as large an audience as possible. Information was scarce, known by an minority and held in expensive, heavy books. Thus, it made sense to have a large(r) number of students pared with a few adults that could thus share the knowledge across the largest possible population.
This concept works a world where information is scarce. Now, however, we live in a world where information is everywhere and very easily accessible. The content that schools, books, and teachers hold is no longer restricted. The paradigm of learning has changed, but the structure of schools has not. 

- There are approximately two billion people on this planet with internet access. That means that we have two billion potential teachers at our fingertips.
Online, learning is...

I found Mr. Richardson's talk very interesting; although it did not light any new fires, it certainly fanned an ever-growing flame. I do have a few questions/conversation starters for him, however:

-I agree, the internet is an AMAZING place to learn. That being said, we are not "born" into an internet family or have a local internet community that is where everyone else in your neighborhood went to look for information. Basically every online learner starts from scratch, finds sites and blogs that suit their needs, and  builds their own online community. I think that learners (especially young learners) would very very much benefit from having a more experienced online user guide them towards a base community. Heck, I'm in my mid-20s and I didn't know that Twitter was an education resource until my school mentor pushed me in the right direction.

-This whole situation is still pretty strongly tilted in favor of those who a. have had easy access to internet since they were young and b. have the money to have long-term wireless internet and/or a smart mobile device. These two qualifiers rule out practically all of my students.

-Mr. Richardson noted that actuating this change is quite easy in schools that are built from the ground-up with this premise of learning. It is much harder, however, to change schools that are already established in the older system. How do we make this change?

So much food for thought!

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