During a Skype presentation back in January, Marco Torres asked some interesting questions.

He had K-12 teachers describe their curriculum and then asked:

If I can Google everything you just said, what value are you adding to the learning that takes place in your classroom?

He continued on that theme:

Never ask a question a kid can look up – simply knowing the answer is just not enough anymore.

I just finished listening to an interesting presentation at BbWorld 2010 by author and speaker Anya Kamenetz. (She also has an interesting blog.) She talked about the research and ideas from her recent book, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education.

Anya spent her time this morning talking about how higher education needs a “radical revolution” because of cost, access and quality issues. She suggests that higher ed, while not becoming an “iPod app,” needs to be much more open source in terms of content, socialization and accreditation.

Most of what she says makes some sense. Fewer and fewer students are actually graduating from college, it’s taking people longer to graduate and those who do are piling up amazing amounts of debt. And while the traditional college track is probably not going away, (and in my opinion, probably shouldn’t) we need additional paths for preparing people for the 21st century.

Anya went on to mention a variety of examples of how this new model of open source higher ed, DIY U, might look. I especially liked her examples of open content sources:

I would add sites like Shmoop to the list.

And while Anya focuses on higher ed, her observations mesh with the K-12 track that Marco Torres talks about.

Marco would agree that there is tons of content available online. Kids can access that content. But I think Marco adds a bit that Anya ignored.

Content without some sort of quality instruction and direction isn’t worth much. Marco’s point is that many K-12 (and I would add, higher ed) teachers focus just on content and not quality instruction. Colleges of ed across the country have created a huge group of K-12 teachers who believe that quality instruction is the same as delivering content.

But in today’s world, content delivery is not enough – whether kids get it face-to-face in the classroom or online. We as teachers, K-20, need to be more concerned about what our students do with that content.

So while Anya is correct in saying that how content is accessed is changing, I like how Marco is pushing us to be aware of the importance of what good teachers should be doing with that content, no matter the source.

That’s why we’re here.

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