21st Century Learning (not)

Here are a couple of photos of the Google booth I took at an Ed/Tech conference earlier this year which made me smile.

Google#1 Google#2

What do you notice? Yes – there is a “sage on a stage”. Students are seated in rows. The teacher is the holder of knowledge which is being poured into the empty vessels sitting in front of him (yes, a him). No inquiry based learning or problem solving going on. So, not very 21st Century, then.

Google is a very successful company. They communicate very well with a wide range of people, and provide tools used by millions of teachers around the world (including me). But demonstrably they know when its appropriate to perform something that could be described as “teaching”, and to do it in a “traditional” manner – because clearly it works.

Does Google believe in collaboration and all the other 21st Century-isms? Of course they do, but still they recognise there is a place for students sitting in rows listening to the teacher. And this is not an attack on Google – it is a post in support of Google because they are not tied to a particular philosophy of educating their customers, and are willing to vary their method of delivery depending on the content and the audience.

So, Google is pragmatic enough to recognise the inherent utility of traditional-style teaching and learning, but are our schools (many using Google products) as equally pragmatic?



    1. Well yes – particularly in schools where the spaces are designed so that it is impossible to have the entire class of kids sitting in front of you, being able to hear you and being able to see the board all at the same time. I’m familiar with schools where the learning spaces deliberately do not have enough desk/chair combinations for every student in the class (ie some kids need to be on other furniture) deliberately to stop the teachers teaching the class in that manner.

      And anyway, it was just an observation that made me smile.


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