Our Teachers Didn’t Have a Choice; We Do.

Many of the structures, processes and workflows that characterize schools, we’re designed by teachers in a time when there were no choices.  Our teachers were constrained by technological limitations that no longer constrain us (except for the limits we put on our own thinking).

Our teachers couldn’t choose where or when to interact with their students.  They had access to their students for a limited amount of class time each week. We do have a choice. We can engage with our students in class, but we also have a choice to interact with them via any one of numerous synchronous or asynchronous online platforms. 

Our teachers couldn’t choose how their students would publish their learning / ideas / stories / art / research. In fact, they couldn’t  choose to publish at all. Our students, on the other hand, have a dizzying array of available, socially relevant publishing options, the possibilities of which, ought to have us spinning in our chairs with excitement.

Our teachers didn’t have a choice about covering the whole curriculum in class – how else would their students be exposed to all the nuggets of knowledge they needed?  Our students have the Library of Alexandria at their fingertips! That gives us a choice that our teachers didn’t have, about which parts of the course to spend time on in class and which parts to let our students take responsibility for covering themselves – or with the help of a smorgasbord of online teachers / animations / forums / courses / tutorials / screencasts / podcasts.

Of course, just because we have a choice doesn’t mean we should necessarily exercise it in any given situation. Conceivably, the way our teachers did things might sometimes still be the best way.  But one would imagine that with all the choices now available, the old ways are unlikely to be most effective in a majority of situations.  (Though they are still practised in a majority of situations).

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