As I write this, the 3-week-long K12 Online 2007 Conference is in progress. This is the week of David Warlick’s keynote address, “Inventing the New Boundaries,” in which he examines just what it means now to be a student and/or a teacher. In case you don’t know, the K12 Online Conference is 1) a free event that “invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning,” 2) very much a cutting-edge professional development undertaking, and 3) cool, owing to 1) and 2) above.
In the manner of today’s students (who are known to listen to their MP3 players while texting their friends while pondering tomorrow’s pre-algebra homework problems, and doing a few other things as well, no doubt), I’m multitasking as I watch David Warlick’s keynote address stream across my laptop screen while composing this column. (OK, that’s only two tasks, but it’s as much as I can manage simultaneously.) Warlick is telling me, and you, that “For the first time in history, we are preparing our students for a future that we cannot clearly describe.” That is to say, the manner in which they will live and work in the future is going to be very different—in ways likely not yet imagined—from the manner in which we live and work now and our parents lived and worked before us. His talk, and the rest of the K12 Online Conference, will no doubt go on to help educators live up to that challenge. I plan to listen in and participate over the next several weeks.
If you’re interested in this conference but are only learning about it after the event, no worries. While it can no longer be interactive for you, it will be archived and available to ponder and absorb.
Meantime, here in the pages of this issue of a good, old- fashioned, but highly serviceable print magazine are some features that can also help you live up to the challenge of preparing yourself and your students for the future.
One story is on the changing face of professional development, as effected in large part by technology. Read Melinda George’s Online Learning Communities: The Next Generation of Professional Development (p. 14) for more ideas on cutting-edge professional development undertakings.
And this month’s cover story by Len Annetta, Virtually a New Way of Learning: Video Games and Simulations as Teaching Tools (p. 9), will inform you about virtual learning environments that even now are being tried in the workplace as virtual work environments. Remember, while we’re charged with preparing our students for a future that we cannot clearly describe, there’s much we can do to anticipate it.
David Hoffman, editor