Where will the wave come from?

I love talking the theory, but it’s even nicer to see practical notes from people implementing solutions. From a recent post over here, some WordPress MU as class-space experimentation

Teachers are finding WordPress MU easy to use and I’m very happy to see that. Currently, Teacher Assistants are recording students as they read their writings in class using Audacity. We are using inexpensive mics with noise canceling, and I have to say, I’m impressed with how well they work. It’s not easy to cut out the ambient noise in a working first grade classroom.

That’s right. A first grade classroom.

I’ve been a frequent critic of primary and secondary education, and that’s unlikely to stop. But I’ve been impressed in the past year with how much faster things seem to be moving down there than up at the university level.

It’s not just scattered notes like the one above. The percentage of thought leaders in the Learning 2.0 space that are focussed on K-12 is extraordinary.

Why? One would think if you can run a blog and wiki with first graders that surely this should be cake for a university classroom.

More as a way to start this conversation, here are a few hypotheses:

1. K-12 (and particularly K-6) does not have the subject problem — there is no issue that writing belongs in one discipline, video in another, and history or math is seperate from each. Holistic approaches aren’t thwarted by an org-chart that divvies up the student.

2. K-12 is behind on the LMS wave, and having not been infiltrated by LMS vendors, they are more able to think out of the box, rather than in terms of what new LMS modules are available.

3. There’s just more teachers than university professors, which creates the critical mass needed to get a movement going.

4. They don’t have a developed IT department or large IT budget — and hence are able to experiment more with an ad-hoc bricolage of tools, especially free ones: i.e. technology decisions are not treated as budget decisions.

Those ideas are all possibly wrong — but I’d love to hear other takes on this phenemenon. Unless higher education gets its act together, it is quite likely the college freshmen of tomorrow will be entering a far LESS enlightened tech environment than the one at the high school from which they came.

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