Dr. Yong Zhao – Keynote Highlights

Highlights from the keynote address at the St. Clair RESA Symposium on 21st Century Learning

August 13, 2008

Port Huron High School

Yong Zhao, MSU

  • Mistakes with technology and schools
    • Solution seeking problems — we put technology in school,
      but the problems were not there or evident
    • Trusting the wrong agent — Whose machine is it? The
      teachers? The students? What purpose does it serve?
    • Student attention and time — teacher, computer, books,
      other technologies, other students
    • Technology environment — we talk about
      student-to-computer ratio, but we should be talking about the entire
      school ecosystem
    • Lack of systems thinking — The jet engine on the horse
      wagon: Seymour Papert wondered if we would even turn on the engine or
      if it would destroy the wagon?
    • Didn’t anticipate major transformation — bringing one
      car to the road, then hundreds, thousands, and millions

      • Virtual marriage — the effects of socializing
        virtually (iapartment)
      • Second Life — buying real estate, products, engaging
        in educational practices
      • Gold farming — kids playing virtual games in China in
        “gaming factories”
  • What can we do?
    • In schools, we have not thought about how to realign the
      human/machine relationship

      • Personal response systems
      • New Era Interactive English, Tsinghua University Press
      • Online Chinese Language Courses
    • We always need to anticipate the long term changes, not
      just the short term effects

      • Start with problems, re-imagining education
      • Develop enabling conditions
      • Reconfigure traditional institutions
      • Virtual schools and tutoring
      • Working with “digital natives”
    • “We shape our buildings; therefore they shape us.” —
      Winston Churchill
    • From Dictatorship to democracy: personal learning
      environments

      • Personalized goals, curriculum, learning approaches,
        pace, and instruction

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