What does your learning environment look like?

6/20/2011 By:

Some thoughts from Dr. Richard Elmore, compiled by ed tech expert Scott McLeod on BigThink.com:

With rare exceptions, schools currently treat the digital revolution as if it never happened," says Elmore. "Computers, more often than not, still sit in dedicated rooms, accessible only with adult supervision. Laptops, when they are used at all in classrooms, are frequently employed as electronic worksheets, digital typewriters, and presentation producers, rather than as extensions of students’ access to knowledge. When students do use technology to extend the reach of their learning, they typically do so by visiting predigested information sources and cutting and pasting information into predetermined, teacher-driven formats. “Social networking” among students is treated as a subversive activity engaged in by kids who are up to no good, and certainly not as a promising point of entry to anything that might be called “learning.”

When students step out the door of the institution called school today, they step into a learning environment that is organized in ways radically different from how it once was. It’s a world in which access to knowledge is relatively easy and seamless; in which one is free to follow a line of inquiry wherever it takes one, without the direction and control of someone called a teacher; and, in which, with a little practice, most people can quickly build a network of learners around just about any body of knowledge and interests, unconstrained by the limits of geography, institutions, and time zones. If you were a healthy, self-actualizing young person, in which of these environments would you choose to spend most of your time?


How has your learning environment changed because of the digital revolution? Reflect on how this has affected your staff and students’ learning environments.

Dr. Elmore is the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at Harvard University. Dr. McLeod is an Associate Professor in the Educational Administration program at Iowa State University.

PD tips courtesy of Atomic Learning
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