Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Podcast Assignment on the Need for Brick-and-Mortar Schools

Home Podcasting Studio
Photo credit: Tim Wilson, 3 August 2005
This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A recent podcast by collaborative webcasting community EdTechTalk entitled A Conversation with Will Richardson on Why School? discusses the need for conventional schooling in today's digital age. The co-founder of Powerful Learning Practice and a former public school educator of 22 years, Will Richardson, mentions in this podcast that "things like blogs and wikis, as well as remote collaborations and an emphasis on 'critical thinking' skills are the coins of the realm in this new kingdom." Dialogue relating to educational technology is not considering the full breadth of advantages technology can bring into education. Furthermore, our educational system does not seem to match the progressing nature of our technological society. In the field of medicine, we are beginning to embrace the notion of telesurgery. In the field of economics, computers have dominated what we now call e-commerce. In the field of mathematics, computational technology is reducing the time needed to perform computations to a much greater degree of precision. If all other facets of human society are reaping the benefits of technology, should education not follow suit as well?

Richardson makes the bold statement that traditional brick-and-mortar schools are no longer needed to access information. I will ask students to watch or listen to this podcast (both video and audio formats are available) and take notes on any claims that may surprise them. As a piece on persuasive writing, students will decide whether we should leave traditional schools for online modes of learning, or if the status quo should be maintained. Then, examining both sides of the issue, students should take a position and defend their side using facts to support assertions.

A persuasive essay will allow students to reflect upon their own educational experiences, to weigh the pros and cons of both types of schooling, and to develop an awareness for the changes that may affect them in the near future. This assignment encourages students to formulate an opinion, back their position with evidence, and write a compelling argument to support their claim. Within our lifetimes, we will begin to see a host of major reforms impacting how education is implemented. In learning about this issue, students will have an opportunity to enact agency and voice their opinions. As former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton points out, "[m]en often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike."

1 comment:

  1. I will definitely listen to this podcast and I loved the quote!