A well known speaker in education circles and one of the "10 Most Influential People in Ed Tech for 2011" kicked off the LHRIC's annual Tech Expo held at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor April 27.
David Warlick, the author of four books on instructional technology and contemporary literacy, and a sought-after speaker throughout the world, gave a thought-provoking presentation on the emerging new information environment titled, "Cracking the 'Native' Information Experience."
Mr. Warlick, a former teacher, recalled a time when the desktop computer had not yet been invented and when calculators cost approximately $200. "I taught in an information-scarce learning environment," said Mr. Warlick, adding that the new technology available today has empowered students to perform better and to accomplish more.
"Today's environment is abundant with knowledge, is networked and digital and has a direct impact on what it means to be literate today," he said.
"Cracking the code" on the environment that young people exist in outside of school and using that to develop new learning experiences inside the classroom is something that Mr. Warlick strongly advocates. Hyper-connected learners, he said, find each other and then share their knowledge, ideas and skills, turning them into what he described as "responsive learning."
Society, he said, is very much in tune with the responsive learning experience. "Google has turned us into a question-asking culture," noted Mr. Warlick, adding that there is a real sense of connection between people and learning through conversation. This generation of learners wants to know the rules that exist in order to reach their goals. "In the traditional classroom, we never did that. We need to approach these children in their native information environment."
An example of how students can invest themselves in the learning process, said Mr. Warlick, occurred when a teacher at Beacon High School, a progressive public high school in New York City, had a problem getting her students interested in Shakespeare's play, Othello. The solution: ask them to create a movie trailer based on their understanding of the play and then get other students, presumably those who will be studying the play in the future, interested in it.
Mr. Warlick said the purpose of school has changed. "Part of the native information experience means that students often succeed best by getting it wrong," he added. In fact, students should be thinking about what they did and then considering how they might change it.
In many ways, he added, it's about making formal learning more playful and giving students permission to make those mistakes. "It is a learning experience that is responsive, that provokes conversation, inspires personal investment and is guided by safely-made mistakes."
This, added Mr. Warlick, is requiring educators to rethink education. "It's not a race to the top; it's about being joyful, explorative, discovering information, and being inventive. Sometimes that can be as simple as the teacher who says, 'surprise me'."
To find out more about Mr. Warlick's work and to subscribe to his blog, visit http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/