High time I get back to this blog and give it a little TLC. And, there's nothing like a good education technology conference to get the "geek" blood flowing again. TIES 2010 was a very good conference this year and I commend all of the TIES staff, presenters and others who worked to put it together.
I also was very pleased that it had a decidedly education focus this year. I know that doesn't sit well with everyone, but I take this opportunity to point out that everyone working in a school needs to understand that the kids are why we are here and we all need to be concerned about the education of our children (whether ours literally, or figuratively).
Sir Ken Robinson, a best selling author and internationally recognized expert on creativity, was the keynote speaker. He advocates creating an environment in schools where students' creativity can flourish and they can find their passions. He points out that we have been stuck in a 19th century model of education. We have tweaked the process but certainly not transformed it.
I believe that technology must play a role in the transformation of education. We live in the 21st century with technology all around us. It can't be simply a tool to modify the same content we've always provided, nor can it be only a modern method for assessment. It needs to unlock a student's creativity and prepare them for a productive existence in the connected world in which they live. I also believe that we will make nary a dent in the system until we change the way we assess students. The reliance on high stakes tests that focus on 19th century skills is akin to stomping on the dreams of every child in a public school. The fact that we hold teachers accountable for students' performance on these assessments forces them to put aside any efforts to foster a child's passions and help them grow for the sake of covering what is "on the test." This may ultimately be the demise of our society. We must find a way to teach and assess 21st century skills for a global society.
All that said, take a look at the notes and materials from the many sessions at TIES 2010, and watch the following two talks by Sir Ken Robinson. I think you'll find it a thought-provoking and worthwhile experience.
TIES 2010 Wiki
Sir Ken Robinson - 2006 TED Talk
Sir Ken Robinson - 2010 TED Talk