Hello, I Am From Your Future

Hello, I Am From Your Future

I have always been fascinated by time travel plots in books (Outlander, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Leaving Time) and film (Back to the Future, Time Machine) .

There is a new show on television in the US, called Timeless.

When an experimental time machine is stolen by criminal mastermind Garcia Flynn, a team consisting of history professor Lucy Preston, her bodyguard Wyatt Logan, and engineer Rufus Carlin is sent back in time using a prototype machine to capture him.

What fascinates me is the time traveler’s knowledge of what is to come and the interaction with the people, who “don’t know yet”.

I sometimes feel like a time traveler…I know what is possible in teaching and learning… because I have seen what I had imagined before, come to life… I know it, because I have seen the transformation…

Almost 7 years ago, I wrote a post titled 21st century Teaching and Learning Bubble… Looking at the image, where I tried to visualize that feeling, I am sad to realize not much has changed in 2016 when looking at the keywords in and outside of that bubble. I still seem to be a time traveler when I look into or read about many classrooms.

That “sad feeling” is reinforced, when still today, the most popular post on Langwitches is a post written in 2008 titled 50 Ways to use a Projector in the Classroom. Comments and Pingbacks are still coming in. Teachers, who are just now starting to think about how to use technology in their classrooms, reinforce the “feeling that I seem to live in a bubble” or have been transported back in time.

Hello, I am from the future!… well actually, I am from OUR present!

When I think and speak about heutagogy (self-directed/self-motivated learning), globally connected, amplified or networked learning, I am often met with blank stares that remind me of those stares the time travelers get in the movies when they try to share their knowledge of the future (our history for the time traveler). I am acutely aware of the feeling of talking at cross purposes , when I know we might be using the same words, but mean completely different things due to our different perspectives:

  • when teachers use technology for the sole purpose of substituting traditional tasks
  • when the conversation turns to how to best use this or that device, tool or app to quiz weekly spelling words, multiplication facts or dates in history.
  • when assessment means testing to see if students can memorize correct facts/answers to pre-determined (easily googlable) questions
  • when collaboration means putting students in your classroom into groups of two, three or four or boys and girls’ groups.
  • when communication means to write your thinking down (in text) or talk to someone face to face
  • when differentiation means putting students in different ability groups but still create the same type of project as the class of the previous year or the one five years ago
  • when sharing work means to present to a group of classmates or colleagues in your school building
  • when documenting learning means to check off a lesson that was covered or a unit from the text book has been completed
  • when feedback is given as a byproduct of a quiz, test or exam as an afterthought
  • when evidence of learning is considered as a grade on an exam, report card or a final product that was turned in
  • when pedagogy is limited to following a scripted textbook, physical and/or online resources

Hello, I am from the future!

What seems to be so futuristic for some is already OUR present. How can we move from talking at cross purposes to talking about OUR present. How can we document and show what is considered from the future is actually possible NOW! How can we move away from the famous “baby steps” to realizing that these baby steps will widen the gap between what was and what is and will be.

cross posted at langwitches.org/blog

Silvia Tolisano is a Curriculum21 faculty member, author of the book Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators and founder of the Around the World with 80 Schools project. Read more at http://langwitches.org/blog.