Author Archives: Justin Montgomery

Learning Philosophy 2.0

My philosophy of education has grown stronger as I’ve learned ways to implement it in the classroom. I still believe my role is to craft stimulating, rich learning environments. While I coach students in building their learning networks, their role is to own their self-directed learning. They are to choose which learning tasks are personally meaningful to them. With the intrinsic motivation that is sure to follow, students are to wholeheartedly craft their ideas, broadcast them, and provide thought-provoking feedback to those of their peers. All the while, student are seeking social approval and recognition in domains that have relevance not only to their lives but also to those in their online communities around the world.

Tools that I plan to use as I foster this caliber of learning include wikis, blogs and badges. I will assign students to groups of three, and during the year every group will select a chapter of material and collectively summarize it in a wiki for the class to use as a review guide. Classmates can comment on the wiki’s effectiveness in clearly explaining content, offer suggestions or praise, or request further examples. As for blogs, students will reflect on why certain homework assignments were difficult for them, celebrate successes in their learning and what efforts or resources contributed, and what kinds of lessons helped them grasp a concept and how they matched their learning styles.

To evaluate learning, I will assess students on their insightful posts and comments, facility in linking together different ideas, and extension of their networks to include knowledgeable contributors (credentialed or not). A subtler indication of learning will take the form of initiative. Does the student initiate communication? Contribute original ideas? Take positions different than the status quo?

Badges – complimentary to traditional forms of assessment – will allow me to guide and recognize students’ learning toward the softer skills of mathematics. These include perseverence, the ability to communicate mathematically, organization, and so forth. For learning to occur in my classroom, students must make the most of the opportunities that I provide as the course architect.

A primary goal of mine in this course was to learn how to effectively implement real-world problems as part of the core curriculum. These problems entail a plethora of 21-century skills: critical thinking, collaboration and communication, and Web 2.0 resources. Throughout this course, however hard I tried, I failed to find clear and relevant information to propel me in reaching this goal. I will optimistically continue my search and learn to create my own open-ended problems relevant to my algebra 2 curriculum.

On the other hand, I found an answer to the nagging question, “Will I even have a job if virtual schools roll out in full force?” For the reasons listed above, I now know that teachers’ job are here to stay. Who else can transform four walls into a genuinely interactive, self-exploratory learning environment?

Learning Philosophy 2.0 Video

Empowered Youth

Change culture. That’s what it’s all about. In her article, “Brazil: Kids Using Digital Media to Teach Each Other, Change Culture“, Raquel Recuero writes, “According to Ludemir, [a writer and producer,] the ‘small steps’ craze is an example of how youth can be protagonists in creating and changing culture.” The key catalyst: the Internet. These impoverished dancers in the city of Rio are changing their culture by creating it, and they’ve got the attention of the world because of YouTube. To take their Dance Dance Revolution to the next level, professionals such as Ludemire invest their expertise in this movement.

What if the originators of the ideas need to produce and promote their own work on the Internet? Brennan, et. al point out in their article, “Making projects, making friends“, that, “It is sometimes expected that because they have always been surrounded by interactive media, young people have inherent understandings and use these artifacts and technolo-gies effortlessly.” Wrong. We cannot with any accuracy make this assumption.

Scratch, created by the MIT Media Lab, is an example of how to instill digital natives with the tools they need to create their own interactive media. Programming is vastly useful skill, but few people who are not techies know languages such as C++, Java, or iOS. Scratch introduces learners to the logic and problem-solving of programming. Actual coding can be learned as the student grows older. The main point is that Scratch gives them a head start, gives them a taste, a foundation on which to drive future learning. Programming is difficult, intimidating work to non-technical individuals. Yet, the skill is nonetheless relevant to the modern era of creation.

Competency Badges & Learning Networks

Jeffrey R. Young begins his article, ‘Badges’ Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas, with a bold declaration: “the standard certification system no longer works in today’s fast-changing job market.”

He’s right.

The alternative, or complementary, approach is badges, a system that certifies hard and soft skills alike. A selling point of badges is the power to cumulatively reinforce learning, earning acknowledgement throughout the learning process. That is, accomplishing short- and long-term goals motivates learners. Educational psychology would agree.

Before vilifying badges as addictive candies that are void of professional value, keep an open mind for a moment longer. Scapegoating extrinsic motivation is hardly an excuse to overlook the possible benefits of badge systems. Traditional credentialing – high school diplomas or college degrees – are guilty of the same dangling of the carrot. All certification (badges included) acts the same way as stickers and how they once motivated us when teachers put them on our tests back in elementary school. The advantage of badges, however gimmicky to some, is that they are progressively earned and detail all varieties of learning.

In his article Personal Learning Networks (An Excerpt), Clarence Fisher makes an insightfully true observation that “learning is only as powerful as the network it occurs in.”

Clarence follows up this statement by confirming that the learning between teacher and students maintains its value. In grade school, tracking played a key role in shaping my educational experience. Learning alongside like-minded peers pushed me further in my academic pursuits; there was a healthy sense of competition and desire to “run with the best of them”.

So Clarence is right: networks empower learning. Knocking down the four walls of the classroom, or making them “thin” as Clarence puts it, by connecting with other learners through the Internet makes sense.

A powerful result of Clarence’s work is the way his students are self motivated and build personal networks on their own. Clarence merely provides the time and resources, but he is not bogged down in setting up contacts or exchanging numbers. Also important to note is that age, race, language proficiency, etc. are irrelevant to students in their pursuit of knowledge. The students focus on finding voices “that are meaningful to them,” and “they want feedback on their own learning.” They want to be heard by people in their network.

Project-Based Learning

Boring! Defining terms – such as project-based learning – is lackluster at best. Besides, according to Shawn Cornally, who quit his job and started his own school, students misconceive the meaning of gold-standard words in our teaching profession. Words like project illicit ideas of PowerPoint; learning doesn’t count if there is no test; and never, ever can students’ personal interests influence their learning. Shawn begins his article, We Don’t Like “Projects”, with these lost-in-translation mix ups, and he proceeds to break down each assumption.

Surveying 16-year-olds about their perception of projects, Shawn found that “hardly any students indicated doing something project-like as a way to enter into new content.” Hidden in this misunderstanding is a revolutionary idea: projects are more than assessment. “[Projects are] the assessment and the learning simultaneously,” Shawn relates as he describes one of his proudest projects with a student that combined programming, math and psychology. The idea for the project originated with the student, who read a personally intriguing article about psychologists’ attempts to mathematically quantify what describes a beautiful face. Noteworthy about this learning experience is that the student had no programming experience, so the teacher (Shawn) collaborated with the student to figure out what he would need to learn with a “reasonable amount of workload and frustration.”

Before starting any project with a student, however, Shawn asks these important questions:
1) Is this something you’ll be proud of in five years? Or will you at least be proud of the younger you for taking this on five years ago?
2) Does this combine two or more disciplines?
3) Will you work on this when no one is watching over you?
4) Who else cares about the results of your project?
5) What content do you think you’ll learn?

Shawn mentions that question five is the best. Students’ learning expands without bound, and Shawn has to “call time on their final presentations.” Wow. Students are gushing with learning.

Ben Johnson is a H.S. principal, consultant, author and instructional learning coach, and he speaks directly about the role of a teacher in project-based learning. The title of his article, Great Teachers Don’t Teach, catches the unsuspecting off their guard. What do you mean, “Great teachers don’t teach?” Before burning Ben at the stake, rest assured that he lists – and agrees with – many of the defining characteristics of good teachers: they care about students, know the content and how to explain it, and expect and demand high levels of performance of students, to name a few.

Ben makes the contrast between good and great when he writes that “great teachers engineer learning experiences that maneuver the students into the driver’s seat and then the teachers get out of the way” (emphasis mine). An igniting spark for such a learning experience is “an urgent reasons to learn skills or knowledge and then let [students] show they have learned it by what they can do,” which Ben cites as project-based learning, or inquiry. He shares sentiments with Shawn that “students must do the heavy lifting of learning” and that they “learn best when they are in control of their learning” (Ben). Encapsulating his ideas on inquiry-based learning, Ben uses an informative analogy to playing cards: “[Teachers] stack the deck so that students have a reason to learn and in the process can’t help but learn mainly by teaching themselves.” Ben touts that this kind of learning sticks with the student, who cherishes it in their memory.

In her article PBL Key Piece of Deeper Learning Puzzle, Suzzie Boss defines the deeper learning of project-based learning (PBL). She is a journalist and PBL advocate who cares about the best ways to prepare students for the future. She cites that The Deeper Learning Network (Deeper Learning for short) is an “ambitious attempt to accelerate the shift” that needs to occur between teaching and learning.

To find out more about Deeper Learning, Suzzie talked with the organization’s education program officer, Marc Chun. He said that through their research, the organization compiled a list of competencies that are paramount for today’s student: “critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and metacognition – learning how to learn.” Chun also emphasized the importance of an “academic mindset, which enables [students] to persist through challenges and develop confidence as learners.” As Suzzie points out, all of these competences rest on the mastery of core academic content and students’ ability “to transfer their understanding to new situations – an essential skill in an era of rapid change.”

PBL plays a central role in helping students develop all of these competencies. Chun explains, however, that “PBL is part of a larger set.” Advisories for fostering relationships between teachers and students, portfolios, and “student-led parent conferences” comprise the full suite of educational experiences that prepare students for the future according to Deeper Learning. To share their experiences, members of the Deeper Learning Network “offer tours so you can come see these schools in action” (Chun). Suzzie also points out that there are “online libraries that showcase examples of high-quality PBL” such as the Expeditionary Learning Center for Student Work.

Reading this articles greatly informed and encouraged me about PBL. However, I’m already a proponent who wants to reconstruct the types of learning experiences in his algebra 2 classroom. What I really need are solid, well-detailed examples of how to accomplish this shift to doing PBL with my students. I clicked through every link and perused every website provided in these articles. I held my breath until I was blue in the face, disappointed yet again. No one seems to be able to deliver. I need at least one of two things: 1) a project-based learning example that helps my students meet some of the Core Curriculum Content Standards, or 2) An entire curriculum of such projects that satisfy state requirements. If these resources are impossible to assemble or find, then Shawn had the best answer to this conundrum: quit my job and start my own school.

Edutopia houses all these articles and is as a treasure chest of ideas regarding contemporary education from professionals who serve in the trenches of the transforming classrooms of today.

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” (Bernard of Chartres)

What is my perspective on the notion of a ‘fluid’ epistemology as proposed by Dede – that is, that knowledge is collectively negotiated and ratified as opposed to being ‘given’?

We stand on the shoulders of giants. We learn the facts from others’ verified work, explore beyond them, and then enter the next evolution of knowledge that is discussed and certified collaboratively. Dede possibly describes the same sequence when he writes about the combination of facts with particularly human notions of “opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs” (A Seismic Shift in Epistemology). Facts are already established entities of knowledge, and then we configure them into our realm of knowing, our daily lives and experiences.

Take the following as an example.

In the real world, the likes of Fibonnacci, Newton, or any other prominent mathematician or scientist make significant discoveries. Part of their intellectual endeavors include the crafting and sharing of their ideas through letters, journals, and speeches. Or, in our day in age, the Internet plays a larger role in the creation of knowledge, as seen in the connected student video. Before reaching the point of broadcasting a finished product, many would often collaborate to advance the work or have it verified by peers. Knowledge is collectively negotiated and ratified. Work at the novice, student level is different in the scope of significant breakthroughs. The process of learning may not need, however, to be any different. Practice like you play, right? To prepare students to contribute to their world, they need to engage in these types of intellectual, relational structures. There is a place for didactic instruction, but it neither needs to consume the whole educational experience nor take up more of the curriculum than necessary.

How does connectivism relate to the epistemological shift described by Dede?

Germane to connectivism is context. Social and cultural influences are the greatest factors leading to learning. What connectivism is not is the learning of knowledge outside the realm of personal relevance. Dede describes an epistemological shift in knowledge construction due to Web 2.0 tools. He posits that “the Web 2.0 definition of ‘knowledge’ is collective agreement about a description that may combine facts with other dimensions of human experience, such as opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs” (A Seismic Shift in Epistemology). The relationship between connectivism and what Dede describes in his article is the social impact on knowledge construction. Interaction among interested parties creates and confirms collective truth.

Learning, not schooling

Motivation, as seen in the video, Visions of Students Today, is a huge factor in learning. Students are no longer internally motivated. The culture, and not just students, is academically adrift, and there’s less discipline and drive. Thankfully, students want to make a difference, but filling out a standardized test “won’t get them there” as one student wrote in the aforementioned video. They need to feel relevant and that their work matters to someone somewhere. That’s motivation. They need to internalize the world and recreate it, a need for “new habits of mind”. “The past is over” puts this sentiment into focus. Learn about the past, yes, but explore it in terms of the present and the future. We need more authentic (I love that adjective in education) learning experiences, such as the World Simulation Project: “[Its] ultimate goal is to allow students to actually experience how the world system works and explore some of the most important questions now facing humanity such as those of global inequality, globalization, culture loss, environmental degradation, and in the worst case scenario, genocide.” These issues are the real ones that we need to focus on in class and try to solve, or at least develop the critical thinking skills in practice scenarios that pertain to these types of global problems.

According to James G. Lengel in his article Teacher Preparation and Technology, “Research literature throughout the past decade has shown that technology can enhance literacy development, impact language acquisition, provide greater access to information, support learning, motivate students, and enhance their self-esteem (ACT, 2004; CEO Forum, 2001; Boster et al., 2004; Mann et al., 1999; Tracey & Young, 2006; WestEd, 2002).” Web 2.0 tools possess the power required to accomplish these lofty – yet realistic – goals in education. A key ingredient is self-directed learning. Findings in educational psychology agree that students are personally interested in their learning when they choose their own learning goals or in creating them collaborate with teachers and classmates. In Understanding the Power of PLNs, Richardson and Mancabelli state that “for each of us as learners, the fundamental change is that we can be much more in control of the learning we do” (p. 19). As a teacher, I want to impact the way my students think for the rest of their lives; what they can do on a test is of little importance compared to what they can accomplish in life using what I’ve taught them. Albert Einstein said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” I also want to instill in my students a strong sense of global awareness. Following Twitter hashtags surrounding a world-wise event is one way to accomplish this goal through the use of technology.

How are these media being used to support formal and informal learning? As Richardson and Mancabelli mention, “online exchanges have the potential to raise their oral and written communication skills” (p. 28) The authors continue by saying how passion and an actual audience drives students to write better, as well as opening their minds up to new ideas and developing collaborative skills. Without a doubt, technology supports formal learning. Informal learning occurs when students learn how to safely and responsibly interact with people online. Using technology to advance students’ learning also teaches them to respect the technology and see it for more than a distracting toy. None of these gains are possible with a traditional textbook.

Richardson & Mancabelli describe six new literacies for 21st century learning environments. Which of the six measures of literacy do I see as the most challenging? Off the bat I would have to say the most challenging is the first literacy, “Developing proficiency with the tools of technology” (p. 24). Some people take pride in how technologically illiterate they are. Even worse, they staunchly proclaim that they are incapable of learning how to use technology and would rather live life without it. Nevertheless, the world is undergoing a revolution of learning, and technology plays an inseparable role. To be a lifelong learner who makes an impact in the world today, knowledge of how to wield technology is essential.

Wikis and learning

What type of knowledge building activities do I see going on in these different wiki sites?

Wikis make future reference easy. Prior-years’ work remains, archived rather than deleted. This aspect offers advantages in the classroom. Imagine that each year a former student acts as a TA for current students. This student embodies the collective wisdom from the year before, and they can conveniently call on his experiences. Wikis offer this kind of knowledge building. From a teacher’s perspective, this resource is great! It allows the teacher to bring students up to speed faster. Davis agrees: “There’s much less of a learning curve for students… who can see how others have handled specific assignments and projects and then come up with their own ideas.” Besides, students tend to learn well from their peers, who put together the information on the wiki.

Knowledge building with wikis occurs in other ways, too. Davis used them to bridge cultural gaps. Connecting with students from around the globe, wikis empower students to collaborate with peers with different cultural backgrounds and worldviews. Sharing, similar to the way conference speakers distributed materials at the professional conference (Schweder & Wissick, p. 58), is another powerful use of a wiki. It helps organize and share bookmarks quickly and easily, as in the user interface requires little to no IT experience. Just as breezy is updating these resources. Classroom teachers would organize in a similar fashion: store materials in one place as well as any enriching resources such as applets. Thirdly, through editing, students’ grammar and writing skills improve when using a wiki. Editing the electronic encyclopedia affords them the opportunity to fix their peer’s grammatical errors, which are germane to their generation and thus are highly relevant to their stage of learning.

No matter the usage, wikis accomplish one of my favorite goals of technology: individualized instruction that gives a voice to the shier students in my classes. In general, anyone from anywhere can contribute, even community members (Schweder & Wissick, p. 57). Bringing their expertise and real-world views into the classroom makes wikis even more appealing for educational use.

How do I see the quality of knowledge building being monitored in large public wikis and the smaller wikis?

Wiki juggernauts like comprise a team of dedicated volunteers who monitor the site. No voting occurs to settle disputed information; consensus through discussion determines validity. Smaller or more localized wikis – such as those used in classrooms, for particular projects among school districts, and so forth – operate under the same principles (five pillars) while a smaller number of individuals manage the site.

Wiki Caveat & Lesson-Worthy Ideas

“One challenge Davis has run into when using wikis involves simultaneous editing and the fact that the tools aren’t made to accommodate multiple users all at once. ‘This isn’t the technology you want to be using if you have 20 students trying to edit one page,’ said Davis, who suggested Google Docs for that type of work.”

“The online collaboration tool recently served as a catalyst between Burton’s students, and a classroom in Germany. ‘My kids posted information about themselves, and the German students did the same,’ said Burton. ‘Then, they used the collaborative nature of the wiki to comment and give feedback on each other’s pages’” (Wiki-Centeric Learning).

Conducting a professional development sessions is no different than planning a learning experience in any other kind of classroom. Schweder & Wissick (2009) recommend using a wiki while teachers participate in professional development (p. 58). Capturing the information from the session – whether that includes teaching tips, useful website links, PowerPoint presentations – teachers can catalog their experiences while learning the technology. Integrated it into their learning experiences sounds like a promising way to acclimate teachers to the technology and pacify their trepidations in using it in their classrooms with their students.

Blogs and learning

What do I see as the role of blogs for learning as integrated in formal learning environments?

Reading Katherine Schulten’s article about microblogging almost brought me to tears. One of the teachers, Erin Olsen, shared a reflection from one of her students, saying “that the class had given her voice.” Our voice is paramount in creating who we are, and it is one of the primary purposes of blogs for learning. Think about the impact on a student’s learning when s/he knows that their work will be posted on edublogs just like in Mr. Borges’ class. I like the quote that goes, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” (unknown). These students have an opportunity to create who they are via blogs. Blogs also serve to enrich discussion and create a text trail for in-class conversation, exemplified by the “circle in a circle” lesson used by Erin in her classrooms. I’ve been trying to convince my colleagues to incorporate this style of learning in their classrooms, and I now have a clear conception of how to use Web 2.0 tools to make this happen.

What do I see as the role of blogs when self-initiated and informal (i.e., outside bounds of any insitution/formal classroom), especially in the context of learning?

Call me dorky, but I used to competitively play Magic: The Gathering. By competitive, I mean I read all the related articles, playtested for hours, and traveled to every major event in PA, MD, NJ, and NY – as a middle schooler. My desire to compete was self initiated and did not involve my school work at all. Though not exactly blogging, I would say that self-starting bloggers probably experience the same sense of drive and excitement that I did while cardflopping in tournaments. To further my point, the acute learning that took place was richer and more invigorating than the kind taking place in the classroom. On my own volition, I scoured every website that had an article about the metagame, which is the competitive environment and how to successfully play in it. Not all articles were quality. Similar to blogging when someone posts their ideas and supports them using links to other Internet resources, for example, I critically evaluated the relevance of the information from the gaming websites. Stephen Downes’ blog models this level of screening in his blog when citing articles from The Washington Post and The Guardian when providing background information on his post involving cloud-based services and privacy of information. In total, when internally motivated about a personally meaningful topic, learning is instantaneous and exhilarating. So are the rewards of winning that event, or in the case of the blogger, receiving that coveted feedback.

What do I see as the most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning?

When posed with the idea of using Web 2.0 tools in their classrooms, my colleagues, who are weary of letting go of the reigns of didactic instruction, guardedly ask, “How will I maintain control and ensure that students are on task?” One of the most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning is their proper usage. Setting clear expectations and modeling appropriate use are essential to their success in engaging students in on-task learning. Talk about the idea of a “digital footprint” and the realities of public posting on the Internet. Be present on the boards or blogs or Twitter hashtags, maintaining a presence as a way to monitor student conduct. Require students to include their names (or alias) in their posts – no anonymous posting to hold students accountable, as well as the positive side of creating a sense of ownership.

What better way to wrap up than with a podcast interview with my colleague, Pat K., who teaches students Spanish and currently pilots the social media service, My Big Campus.

Week #4: Educational Applications of Web 2.0

The Hsu et al. chapter identifies different categories of Web 2.0 tools and how they accommodate student learning (specifically table 1). What is your perspective on the classification and application of tools based on your own knowledge and work with various Web 2.0 tools?

My experience with Web 2.0 tools as a math teacher are limited – for now. As I gain more experience as a teacher, however, I plan to devote myself to incorporating these socially, cognitively stimulating resources into my students’ regular learning.

I taught a course in financial literacy last year, and I felt that this class was my opportunity to branch out and try using Web 2.0 in my curriculum. Google Docs were a great way for students to collaboratively engage with the information, whether summarizing it, synthesizing it, or discussing it with one another. For example, students worked in groups to summarize the U.S. government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook ( With this collective pool of information, they weighed in on why one aspect of the government’s research was more important to them than others. Another activity involved making a personal budget, and for this task students used a Google Spreadhseet. Again, the seemingly individualistic, one-dimensional nature of the kind of learning that typically might occur for an assignments like this one became a social experience that allowed students to seek the feedback of their peers based on their experiences and knowledge as well as provide feedback of their own. Overall, these Web 2.0 tools took these learning experiences from registering low on the cognitive scale to the level of evaluation ands elf-evaluation. Based on my experience, the classifications of various Web 2.0 tools as shown by Hsu et al. (p. 357) is accurate, and the application examples given at the end of each section stunningly show the broad range of rich learning possible with these tools. I’ve been (desperately) hoping to find specific examples of their use and was thrilled to learn so much from this reading.

What do you see as the most significant insights about application of technology into the classroom based on this chapter?

Tagging, the way it was used in Mrs. Liam’s class (p. 359), was an extraordinary way to foster international collaboration and evaluative reasoning skills. More significant still is a student’s sense of ownership when learning through a Web 2.0 technology (Hsu et al., p. 364). Self-regulatory processes are at the heart of a successful life-long leaner, a goal of mine as a teacher that I mentioned in a previous blog post and a purpose with which others concurred. The affective gains of using technology in the classroom are also noteworthy. As Dickey (2004) mentioned in the example of student teachers blogging about their reflections, I really like how students can express their emotions and concerns and seek the feedback and help they need to be successful (p. 288). Fostering that kind of initiative in a student is beyond anything I ever thought I could accomplish with a chalk and talk lesson.

I comment below on other parts of the readings that I found interesting and thought provoking.

In the executive summary of the HR 2011, the authors state that “the days of isolated desk jobs are disappearing, giving way to models in which teams work actively together to address issues too far-reaching or complex for a single worker to resolve alone” (p. 3). How right they are. Although I like the movie Office Space for its ability to mock the cubical life of the corporate world, those days are almost gone. My friend, who works for a world leader in financial services, belongs to a team of colleagues, and they collaborate daily on the job.

In education, I have two passions: teaching students, and teaching teachers. Due to the latter passion, I am excited to learn that “teacher preparation programs are beginning to include courses related to digital media literacy” (HR 2011, p. 4). Since part of my job is training staff on technology use in the classroom, I take serious note of obstacles facing educators in learning how to leverage technology in their curricula. “The challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital technologies morph and change quickly at a rate that generally outpaces curriculum development” (HR 2011, p. 4). Sound familiar? Elsewhere in this class we read about the need to teach our students to be adaptive in an ever-changing world. The same holds for education staff. Pedagogical concepts surrounding Web 2.0 use need to be focused upon. When lesson planning, have a clear idea in mind of how you want to use the technology; e.g., to foster collaboration, or improve students’ self-reflective skills, and so forth.

One of my professional goals is to include game-based learning in my curricula. “Research continues to demonstrate its effectiveness for learning for students… [and] the greatest potential of games for learning lies in their ability to foster collaboration, problem-solving, and procedural thinking” (HR 2011, p. 5). These latter three gains from this type of learning are highly relevant skills for my math students, and I’m desperately in need of more ways to move away from didactic instruction in my classroom while still maintaining the integrity of my teaching, AKA, my students continue to learn the course content at the same or even higher levels.

Philosophy 1.0 & Future Possibilities

In the context of participatory learning and Web 2.0, more sweat is on the brow of the student than on the teacher. Didactic instruction is tiring for the teacher and too often boring for the student. The learning is not even as enriching for students when they play a passive role in the learning. It’s their learning; they should be the one directly involved and responsible. When actively engaged in personally meaningful problems of real-world significance, students exert their energies to derive solutions, tinkering with the resources provided by the teacher/facilitator. Students become the primary actors, and teachers merely set the stage. In the interview with Henry Jenkins, Doug Thomas believes that “the role of educators needs to shift away from being expert in a particular area of knowledge, to becoming expert in the ability to create and shape new learning environments.” A defining trait of the learner in a 21-st century classroom is expert knowledge. Students insightfully report on their robust analysis of the problem and the proposed solution, which they derived on their own. Paying homage to the old adage, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” how can students hone their imaginative abilities unless teachers provide them with the opportunity? Seeing the sparks of imagination fly in the classroom as students zestfully work distinguishes them from the teacher in the modern classroom of Web 2.0 learning.

What do I see as my role in 2025? Equip students to thrive in society. Equip students to adapt to the future, forever in motion. Equip students to resourcefully use their mental capacities and educational training to extend their opportunities through continuous learning. In 2025, these are my roles. To remain professionally limber, I will continue my educational training: workshops, classes, and professional learning communities, to name a few. I can also see my role as a networking coach since “networking is another crucial component of participatory learning”1 (p. 18). Students will need guidance in finding their online communities with which to learn.

Perhaps an even more pressing question is will I even have a job. “From such a process, one learns and continues to learn from others met (if at all) only virtually, whose institutional status and credentials may be unknown”1 (p. 16). Will virtual schools, which potentially require fewer instructors/facilitators, replace the traditional brick and mortar academics? Such a possibility exists. “Of all of these [innovations], Darnton argues, the Internet has had the fastest and the most geographically extensive effect on every aspect of knowledge making and all of the arrangements of life around how we make, exchange, share, correct, and publish our ideas”1 (p. 19). Such an unprecedented radical change requires the restructuring of knowledge creation and acquisition in educational institutions, and perhaps they will receive a mental reconstruction, too.

Now is an exciting time to be an educator. Being on the forefront of this change from didactic teaching to dynamic learning will test our ability as learners to redefine ourselves and adapt.

1 Davidson, C. N. and Goldberg, D. T. (2009). The Future of Learning in a Digital Age.