A couple of years ago I went back to university and got my teaching degree. I attended Acadia University, which was pretty forward thinking and provided students with laptops to use. I know they say that teachers make the worst students, but there is nothing like sitting in a classroom full of B.Ed. students busy on FaceBook and chatting on MSN with classmates in the same room to make you reassess that statement. Frequently teachers would declare “clam shells closed” so that students would shut their laptops and attend to the task at hand.
Last week while I was in Olds for the kick off of the Powerful Learning Practice cohort that I am participating in, I heard the opposite message for the first time. Early in the session, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, one of the leaders of the Powerful Learning Practice program, commented as she walked around the room that she saw many people working on their computers. However instead of telling them to stop, she encouraged them to continue. She commended those who were already Tweeting about the session, and taught us which hash tags to use to tag Tweets for our cohort.
She discouraged us from taking notes the traditional way (with pen and paper or in a Word document) because those notes wouldn’t be accessible to the group as a whole. Instead she encouraged us to use Web 2.0 tools like shared Google documents to harness the collective intelligence of our group instead of individual intelligence. As she said today in an email “None of us is as smart as all of us”.
I am excited to see where this leads.