This morning, Prof. Mizuko (Mimi) Ito is at Phillips Academy, Andover, to lead us, as a faculty, in a community conversation to start off the year. Mimi is setting forth the core data and arguments behind Connected Learning, which is our professional development theme at Andover for the year. She has us all on an Etherpad page hosted by Mozilla (a “mopad”) as a back-channel, which is leading to lots of discussion about whether we can pay attention to her lecture as well as our own chat session (not to mention Twitter stream and live-blogs, like this one that I’m writing contemporaneously).
The Connected Learning model is built around encouraging kids to tie together their learning in three areas: their Interests (diverse, self-directed), their Peer Culture (the social, peer-driven), their Achievements (academic and otherwise), in ways that are both online and offline. Mimi also talked some about the desired outcomes for Connected Learning, the 21st century skills and deeper learning. She stressed that it is very early days in terms of how digital media and education are evolving, and that assessment and evaluation are major areas for future focus and collaboration. For more on the theory of Connected Learning, see a seminal blog post from Mimi (which includes a seven-minute embedded video) and many other posts from the DMLCentral community.
Mimi stresses, and I completely agree, that a technology-centered approach to education isn’t ever going to work. There are many experiences that we can draw on to show that this is true: TV and education is just one example. Our approach needs to be grounded in clear and compelling pedagogical goals, figuring out where technology can help and where it cannot. Our use of technology can help us to transform teaching and learning in fabulous ways, but the technology will not do all that on its own.
Ways to follow along: our hashtag today is #connectedandover. Mimi Ito can be followed @mizuko. And Andover’s Twitter handle is @PhillipsAcademy. And for other schools: I highly recommend a professional development day focused on Connected Learning — it’s both provocative and a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, Andover students are trickling in all around us, with many more to arrive in the days to come. Some are back for sports, others for community service, others who are international students coming from around the world. It’s our goal to connect the learning happening in these many domains, in the service of our students’ overall education and growth.