A new Internet paradigm for learning.

Last month I was fortunate to hear Mark Treadwell [pictured above] speak to a group of aspirant leaders I am mentoring. He had some I think important things to say about learning and I think leadership.

He began the morning making the case for a new paradigm shift for learning. He quoted the work of Robert Branson from Florida University saying the last paradigm shift in the 1400’s was caused by the technology of the prnting press which moved us from an oral centric to a text centric paradigm. The chasm between paradigm shifts was the need to learn to read and write. This eventually lead to schooling becoming public and paradigm reached its efficiency and effectiveness limit in the 1960’s.

The graph from Mark’s site shows the technology of the Internet will cause a new paradigm shift in learning from the “knowing and recalling” of the text centric paradigm to the “understanding and applying” of the Internet paradigm.

So what does this mean for our work as educators?

I know a lot of literature is saying that the  ‘anyone, anywhere, anytime’ access of information via the Internet will eventually mean the demise of school as we know it now. I would like to think that the work of educators in schools will adapt to this ‘understand and apply’ paradigm where the emphasis will be on just in time learning rather than the just in case learning that occurred in the old text based paradigm of knowing and recalling.

This chasm won’t be an easy space to cross for it requires a rethinking of the way learning occurs in schools and our roles in the teaching process. The old image of the teacher as the sage on the stage, as the deliverer of information via a dominate direct instruction methodology [note here I am not saying that some direct instruction does not benefit students] will not suffice in the demands of the new paradigm. A variety of new teaching strategies will need to emerge focused on both the academic and social cultural learning needs of students.

It won’t be easy as there are external political pressures for a knowing and recalling paradigm. Governments continue to mandate and publish national test results largely based on this old paradigm of knowing and recalling. We will need new ways of testing for and valuing the understanding and applying learning needed in the Internet paradigm [again note that I am totally dismissive of the need to quiz for recall of information].

These political measures also create local community expectations of schools and teachers to prepare students to perform well on national tests. This sets potential clashes of ideologies and expectations around the purpose of schooling.

I think the challenge for educators in school leadership positions is to help teachers and communities cross this chasm of the Internet paradigm. We must continuously state our new pedagogical understandings based on a shared dream for our youth and their future.

I know my work this year will now include a renewed focus on a pedagogical plan shared across staff and the parent community. Perhaps this is where Mark was beginning to take us as school leaders that morning.

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