Question to all School/Classroom 2.0 advocates from Christian Long

[I received this email from Christian Long. If you post replies here, he will see. --Steve]

In advance of a major keynote presentation called "Designing School 2.0" I'm giving in 2 weeks to a room full of "school design" decision makers -- school architects, their educational clients (board members, superintendents, and administrators), and various stakeholders -- I'd like to ask each of you to consider sharing what you'd say to them if you have 5 minutes and the microphone. You can focus your ideas from kindergarten through higher education, although the majority of my audience will focus on K-12 on most days. Likewise, you can think macro answers or burrow down to the library shelves. All feedback is good feedback.

Here are the areas I'd love specific feedback from you today (although I will have the blessing of extrapolating many ideas/resources from many of your blogs, wikis, research, writings, etc.):

* Big Picture trends in the next 5-25 years that will have the biggest impact on what it means to be an engaged learner. This is the firecracker side of things. I'll be sharing Karl Fisch's/Scott McLeod's collaboration to this audience assuming they are in the Media/AV 1.0 world, at least. Never can be sure no matter how nice the hotel/conference center appears to be on the surface!
* YOUR definition of School 2.0 and/or Classroom 2.0...and how to help "school design" decision makers use it to inform their thinking, research, leadership, and solutions. Most will NEVER have heard the phrase...and are still beating the "School of the Future" and "21st Century School" horse over and over without really even understanding what it means besides the marketing pitch. Hoping to shift their semantic lens a bit, and also invest them in co-defining the end game as well.
* Best way to describe how 'kids' (all ages, really, but I'll use the cute version since most still default to it) are transforming as collaborators, creators, project team members, publishers, etc. I'll use Prensky language as a shot across the bow -- i.e "What is your digital accent?" questions -- but I'm looking for more nuanced language/examples from each of you. And also how we MUST respond as educators...and school designers (the entire community of stakeholders, really)...if we are to offer relevant learning environments/programs for our students/communities' future(s).
* A challenge or provocative statement that will spark conversation. Feel free to let loose. Do NOT go gentle into the night on this one. I can always 'edit' as needed. But I'd like to see what the 'skin on the table' moment sounds like from each of you as you gaze forward and also consider today's opportunities.
* Start 'inside' a classroom, studio, lab, or micro learning space that exists TODAY. Offer a set of requests you'd make TODAY that can have a positive impact for learners and teaching guides/mentors without spending a fortune, and set up a mind-shift for bigger 'school design' investments in the future. You can imagine SmartBoards, new ways of teachers 'talking'/asking questions, or think in really wild ways. No limits. Just start at the scale of a single space for learning...and work up/out.

Thanks in advance to all of you for your consideration and ideas! Anyone that shares ideas will be shared as resource for this audience to explore. Thank You 2.0 (so to speak!).

Steve, anything that is sent to you in a 'reply all' mode, feel free to add to the Ning site (et al). This is an open-source conversation from the very beginning....even if I have a specific audience/presentation in 2 weeks.


Christian Long

President & CEO


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Christian: look at the bottom of this page, and you can see the RSS feed button for this conversation. That's a good way to track it.
Schools have got to become more nimble at responding to changes in the global environment. Where does it start--at the top, at the middle level, on the grass-roots level, or all three?

Some teachers are willing but the current school day isn't really set up in such a way that teachers have built in "learning " time and many work in environments that restrict these tools. The school environment should feel like a "" when you walk in the door, filled with enthusiasm and energy and a sense of urgency.

Funding is part of this--shouldn't every student have an attractive environment to work and learn in? The environment helps build a positive sense of their worth as students and what we as a nation think of their importance. The learning environment should have flexibility so it's future proofed and transparency so we all see learning going on. How about glass walls like at High Tech High?

Some other random ideas-- a national "teacher to teacher" matching initiative where teachers could skype or yackpack across the world to one another so we can learn from one another? How about a national re-thinking of the school day schedule and expectations for public school teachers. If you are looking for a teacher quality initiative, how about one that incorporates lifelong learning into the model and allows for training learning, and research time, like college professors have built into their work week?

Just a few stray thoughts...

This is a video from project called "Have Our Say". They let middle school students give their perspective on teaching methods. It focuses on using technology to engage them. Not quite as motivating as Karl Fisch, but it may help.
OK, blue sky time. I want a classroom that has natural light, walls painted a color other than puss, a whiteboard/smartboard combo (e-beam, maybe), for starters. I want some easy way to shift and move student workspaces so that it can be configured and reconfigured for various group sizes to individual private learning areas. I want wi-fi (duh) and here's the kicker: I want students to have some sort of handheld, wifi/bluetooth device that is capable of running full featured apps and can access the true internet, not some "mobile" version of it. The device should have both handwriting recognition and be able to use a keyboard and mouse. This would serve as "everything" for the students (book, notebook, digital locker, planner, internet research tool) and students would be able to share their work, peer edit, etc... wirelessly. The physical space of the school and the classroom has got to be conducive to collaboration and non-linear though, not regimentation!
My hope for high school classrooms everywhere in the future is that fair and equitable access to web 2.0 tools is universal. Bandwidth, individual "computers / cameras / productivity tools" will be in the hands of all students, perhaps in the form of a cell phone. Students and teachers will have access to upload and edit, research and instructional products, throughout the day. Teachers will be notified through a feed, of assignment completion and can respond electronically to students and parents. Time spent on actual school work will be recorded and can be viewed by parents and teachers alike. Students work can be posted and shared through the use of collaborative spaces on the web. A network of teachers around the world will develop around specific curriculum topics so that global perspectives on a topic can be shared. The "hookups" and creative project ideas are unlimited.
One of the major goals I have for Teachers Without Borders - Canada is for teachers to connect globally through information technology. For those developing areas that do have the capabilities to connect to the Internet, we will coordinate teachers working together through an online environment in an effort to bring students from across the globe closer together. With their teachers’ assistance, students can work together on issues of global importance and relevance. It is hoped that through these connections a greater knowledge and appreciation of the world and its citizens will develop. Ideally, North American teachers and their peers from various countries will collaborate on lessons that would allow their students to work together on topics of global importance and relevance and ultimately they will learn more about their new friends and their respective countries. For example, students in a senior social studies class in NA would pair up with students in South Africa to work together on a project exploring the realities of affirmative action in the other’s country then would present to their respective classrooms. Another example would be students in a grade 8 science class pairing up to be lab partners to test how altitude effects the boiling point of water. One student at sea level in Vancouver another in the mountains in Quito, Ecuador for example. I am presently involving IT teachers in Canada exploring various models to see how we can make this initiative a reality with the various levels of connectivity available in developing areas. We need to truly design lessons that will educate to create global citizens. Only when we ourselves learn to act, teach, and learn in a global way can this be accomplished.

I also agree with the wi-fi school. I have been trying to push for this for years! We need to make students reponsible for their own learning process and what best way to do that then to truely have teachable moments where students can use their handheld device or laptop to explore a tangent to expand a class discussion or better yet chat with a peer in another country on a global topic.

We are all effected by this information age and our need for speed! As teachers we have to take our teaching tips from today's marketers and advertise our lessons (AIDA)--catch our audience's Attention in as short a time as possible, promote an Interest in what we are selling (knowledge), nuture the Desire to buy what we are selling, and finally have are students take Action and enjoy the learning! Students today definitely need a hands on approach to learning all concepts no matter how rote. As educators, we need to design lessons and environments that are more interactive. We are not going to be able to restrict the use of electronic devices in schools so if we can't beat them--join them! Take control. Use media to teach. There are great lessons to be learned via the multitude of programs out there. Work them into the curriculum. We have to take strict control of these devices (cellphones, handhelds, laptop, ipods, etc.) otherwise they become just another distraction to learning. Example: we have a student community that is quickly loosing touch with the English language as they grow up learning the shorthand language of msn'ing and texting because it takes too long to type out full sentences. Voice to text technology will definitely help to remedy this.

Wireless schools will definitely say money as we no longer will have to keep up with changing technology. As prices for the latest "toys" drop rapidly (see:, it will be the Internet that becomes the most important interactive resource (even textbooks are moving online)! Therefore, we need to teach information literacy--how to ethically (avoiding plagarism), efficiently (proper search techniques), and acurately use information (evaluating and citing references) at early grade levels (grades 5 to 7). The Internet is already the most used reference due to that "need for speed" attitude students have--"it takes too long to find information in books!"

I can go on much longer, but it is taking too long to type! Boy, do I wish this was a voice/video conference discussion instead! ;)

This is late. Your provocation date has come and gone. That's okay. (I would like to know how it went.) In any case, here's my hat in the ring.

I want to take my kids to Yosemite. Yellowstone. Arches. Zion. Ground Zero.

I want kids who have never been anywhere outside of their ten-block radius to know the splendor and tragedy of this place. Put us in a cardboard box, but give us access to one another.



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