Monday, March 16, 2009

21st century skills

As a follow up to last week’s blog, the article from Dean Shareski commenting on Stephen Downes caused me to reflect more deeply on my work with students compiling their eportfolios on social networking sites.

Dean was writing about the 1 minute videos that were being produced to apply for the best job in the world and Stephen was commenting on how very few young people ten years ago would have the skills to produce the videos and yet, now, it is a skill that is crucial in the best job in the world scenario. How many of the young people who produced these videos learnt how to do them at school? As an example, my son is an adept video producer. In the last couple of years at school & at university, he produced a slew of videos with his friends – some of which garnered prizes at the annual university ‘ed woods video’ awards. How did he learn how to video? Well there was one 5 day ‘holiday’ course when he was 15 & the rest has been via doing, sharing ideas & skills with friends etc. From this, he then went on to become actor, director, producer, video editor, camera person, sound recorder, sound remixer etc.

Following on to working with my students on their eportfolio, the latest tutorial this week was for me to check on their progress (good work by most) but the main questions from students was not on how to use the technology but on what constitutes a good eportfolio. So the students, after one short introductory session & a couple of weeks to play with the concept have grasped the usefulness of eportfolios & now want to make the most of their opportunity to gather, collate and showcase their work.

What of tutors & educators? Ray Tolley reports on the ongoing work in encouraging educators to adopt new technology. He writes:- “Mal Lee in an e-mail reminded me of Clay Shirky's book, 'Here Comes Everybody'. In reply I quoted back at him one of Shirky's many conclusions: ‘Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies– it happens when society adopts new behaviours.’ Until schools (and for that matter all learning institutions) begin to adopt new behaviours in terms of Teaching & Learning styles and until teachers begin to demand the technologies that will support this new thinking we will never experience revolution. “
I have introduced the concept of eportfolios to a few tutors on Diploma in Adult Education courses working on individualised learning projects. So far, no takers!! They prefer to stick with a traditional paper based report. However, I will work on this. If tutors themselves experience the excitement, creativity and sense of freedom tempered by responsibility that students using social networking sites for eportfolios are experiencing then they will be more open to the idea of introducing eportfolios to their own students.