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This Week's Shares by Bob Sprankle

In this post I'd like to share some great finds that I've had the fortune to discover this week.

First and foremost, this week gave us the 2010 edition of the "Horizon Report" put out by the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. I look forward to this publication each year like a child looks forward to Christmas. I read it over and over, both in paper form and on the web, and click on the great links included in the report for weeks on end. It brings me both a lens to peek into our possible education futures as well as a chance to reflect on how far we've come. As in years past, the Horizon Report looks at "key trends" in technology related to education. The report identifies three different "horizons" or time frames for when the tools will likely be adopted into the "mainstream" of educational use. The horizons are defined as: "Near-Term Adoption" (within the next 12 months), "Second Adoption Horizon" (two to three years out), and "Far-Term Horizon" (four to five years away). The report doesn't claim to be a "predictive tool" but serves to "highlight emerging technologies with considerable potential for our focus areas of teaching, learning, and creative inquiry." Top dog tool in the report: mobile computing.

The report also identifies "Critical Challenges" that will affect education, and it is this passage that I've been meditating on all week:

"Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession... As faculty and instructors begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking [my emphasis], and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral."

Great stuff there. And I can't help but connect it to another great article that's hijacked my brain all week: "Debunking the Case for National Standards: One-Size-Fits-All Mandates and Their Dangers" by Alfie Kohn. In this amazing article, Kohn challenges the notion that "uniformity" benefits students:

"I know of no evidence that students in countries as diverse as ours with national standards or curricula engage in unusually deep thinking or are particularly excited about learning."

There's that thinking word again.

Two more great finds that I'll leave you with are a recording hosted at Slate.com put out by Slate and New America Foundation called, "Authority, Meet Technology," a discussion about China, Google, and Internet freedom. This of course goes well with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech the following day on "Internet Freedom."

Hope you enjoy the finds!