Monday 2011-10-31

Leading a Digital School edited by Mal Lee and Michael Gaffney

This book keeps reminding the reader that there's a whole lot of change coming. It doesn't get around to trying to identify that change, it just assumes that the future remains unknown. So this book recommends asking lots of questions of IT people.

One of the biggest problems is that things don't change. The book talks about the extension of the school to the home without recognizing that child / group psychology will be the same, so that school-related bullying / exclusion / factionalism now extends into the home and leading a school is no longer a job that stops at the school property line.

Most schools remain chained to their premises, though, acknowledging neither the fluidity of kids nor that of the parents, even though more and more people work remotely. For all the "mobility" that this book talks about, it's always on the same campus, with the same people, and the same limited set of resources.

And when they talk about those tools for school, it's as if there has been some discontinuity and everything bears no semblance to the past: Word and Google Docs share nothing with Word Perfect or TeX or a printing press or 13th century illuminated texts. Instead of just teaching kids one word processor or spreadsheet, how about also giving them a history and theory of that artifact: What are the elements to laying out a page? What's data purity got to do with data transforms?

Yes, there's a lot of change coming. However they could have done better than spend 200 pages looking for the word "metacognition" without ever finding it.

Kids lead high-tech lives outside schools and decidedly low-tech lives inside school. This new 'divide' is making the activities inside school appear to have less real world relevance to kids.
-- Illinois Institute of Design, Chapter 6