Alan November @ World Cafe in Visalia

I had the privilege of hearing Alan November speak to a group of about 150 educators on May 7, 2008. He had some very provocative things to say, as usual. Here I’ll give you some of the most salient points…the things that struck me most…the things that I most feel like trying with my own students.

In 1922, Fredrick Taylor came up with a model of management planning. Henry Ford used this to organize & manage his famous assembly line. Education used this same kind of thinking to organize itself. Previously, there were 1-room schoolhouses, with teachers teaching 8 grades, with olders teaching youngers, personalized instruction, etc. As a result of the Taylor management, education became squeezed into the assembly-line mold. This was not a problem, though. In fact, it worked extremely well at the time! The problem is that the economy has changed!

We then talked about RSS feeds. It’s his view that every student, in order to graduate from high school, should know how to manage their RSS feeds.

Wikipedia should not be so much a source, but a publishing center. He challenged us to write a wikipedia article WITH our class. Lots of great discussion there.

We discussed the ways we might teach the different perspectives on the American Revolution between the US and Britain. We could fascilitate a debate between American kids and British kids. Kids prepare, they make PowerPoints using GoogleDocs, send the PPTs to each other (across the pond). They then are essentially telling each other the story from their perspective. Then a debate is scheduled via Skype. This is recorded, and it can be put up on iTunes. What a motivation!!!! Compare that to kids that just “learn” the content for the test, and then forget it the next day. The podcast would be something that the students would very likely listen to over and over, would share with many others.

He also showed us how to use Google Custom Search for several purposes. More on this on a different post.