Guest Post: But What Will We Do With Learning?


Greetings and welcome to a post I am certain will allow you to reflect as you continue your professional journey. Please note that I will continue my Technology and Differentiated Instruction series in the next few weeks. While I write all of my own posts…. I have occasionally yielded my keyboard to others for what I feel is a unique and interesting idea. My guest, Tim Kubik,  has allowed me to experience amazing learning experiences as we worked together on the National Faculty at the Buck Institute (BIE). Tim is a nationally respected educational facilitator and speaker with degrees from Yale and The Johns Hopkins University. He has participated in education innovations with over 100 schools in more than a dozen states and six countries. He has also collaborated with three national networks; Asia Society/International Studies Schools Network, Buck Institute for Education, and World Leadership School–and a local but deeply effective New Mexico Center for School Leadership. In his post, he wishes to introduce several concepts to you that I feel are powerful. Perhaps you will want to get involved in this amazing educational crowd-sourcing experience. I know you will want to reflect on some of the links he has provided. Please take a moment to sent out a retweet so I can help Tim get out the word. Remember to check out my booking page, I still have a few open dates up until mid August 2016. Welcome to the future of education and enjoy! Sincerely, Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

But what will we do with learning? – Tim Kubik, Ph.D.

Mike’s been kind enough to allow me to participate in his blog, and for that I’m grateful. We’ve worked together at BIE over the years, and in those conversations we’ve learned three things. We both love learning. We love learning with others even more. We love doing things with our learning most of all.

In that spirit, I’d like to invite you to participate with me as I write a new book: Participation is Preparation. That may seem an odd invitation, but I’m extending the invitation because, in the end, participation is the only thing that will change our schools.

As educators, most of us were taught to think education is about giving learners a model, a plan for implementation, and a system for assessing the impact of that model. What that turned into in the 20th and early 21st century is a system I sometimes jokingly call “Teach it! Test it! Then Trash it!” We’ve initiated a lot of new models over the years, but most of us are tired of that. Now even teachers—not just our students—grow weary of having things done to them. 21st century learners like you seek the tools with which they can do something.

Success stories using personal technologies are part of that answer. Mike does a fantastic job introducing all of us to emerging technologies that help our students grow individually in unique and interesting ways, but it’s a conversation built around a shared love of learning technologies that makes his blog so powerful. If you’re familiar with Sugata Mitra’s work, you may know that he refers to such conversations as self-organized learning environments.


The success stories exchanged on Mike’s blog tell us that young learners enjoy the empowerment they get from interacting with digital devices, but the key to a SOLE is not the device and the learner alone – not 1:1 — but the fact that the computer is a focal point for a conversation in which all students are active participants because they are interested in it.

The results of Mitra’s research urge us to embrace the fact that participation is preparation. In our classrooms–and in our hearts–we know that. As educators we love to quote Dewey’s belief that “Education is not preparation for life, but life itself.” Many of us genuinely believe this to be true, but if we’re honest our practice is rarely reflective of that belief. Instead, the “preparatory mindset” dominates our profession at all levels.

The “preparatory mindset” assumes that learners need to be prepared before they can participate and that preparation is — you guessed it — based on giving learners a model, following a plan for implementation, and then assessing the results. For teachers, that means planned and scripted PD and implementation guidelines. For learners that means lesson plans so tightly aligned to standards that our learners will have no choice but to learn.

There are alternatives. One that I find intriguing is Manifesto 15. Sure, it’s last year’s news, but it holds as a core principle that “1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 kids.” This doesn’t mean that we all have to rush to embrace the latest apps to stay current. It does mean we have to watch, listen, and learn from the conversations our learners are having about the technologies we introduce into their learning ecosystem.  That’s point 9 in Manifesto 15, “The network is the learning.” The book I’m proposing is meant to share conversations about success stories, and create a participatory network. It’s also meant to help us pay attention to the technologies students are introducing into our learning ecosystem as much or more than the technologies we control.

Not sure what a learning ecosystem is, or how to learn from it? Check out these three links:

New Culture of Learning      Student Voice            10 Expectations for Schools

Professional educators don’t need yet another model that prepares us to transform education. We don’t need more implementation guidelines, and we don’t need more tests. Professional educators need a learning experience that focuses our conversations, and then empowers us as a learning network to pursue the results our learning communities need! That’s why I’m inviting you to participate in this book with me, and that’s why I’m urging you to start inviting your students to school by asking: “What will you do with the learning we have to offer?” Empowering learners to participate in our world should be our “end in mind.” 

I hope you’ll agree! Get a draft version of the book, get into the conversation, and get participating! Together we can re-design our “end in mind.”

Thanks for joining me and Tim on this wonderful journey of 21st century possibilities.  Join me in future weeks as together we continue this adventure in differentiated learning through technology. Throughout the year also explore other  posts devoted to the Flipped and Blended Learning, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work, have a great week, and enjoy this wonderful new year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference?  I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with a few April and May dates open and March, June, and July just about closed..   It’s not too early to begin thinking about fall! Look for contact information at the Booking Site

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