Monday, March 22, 2010

The Future "Ain't" What it Used to Be

After nearly three years of living in upstate New York, I'm getting better at finding the value of a well placed Yogi Berra quote - hence the title here. This Yogism comes to mind of late, having completed a tour of Oneida County school districts, meeting with Superintendents and asking for a tour of one of their schools - whether it be an elementary, middle or high school. I saw smartboards (the 21st Century chalkboard) in classrooms at every level; in some districts, I witnessed insightful curriculum linkages between grade levels ; and was encouraged by so many districts, both large and small, that have struck effective balances between emphasizing science and technology while simultaneously celebrating the arts. Coupled with Curriculum Night at our daughter's elementary school, I've been exposed to what's going on in the primary and secondary grade classrooms.

One of the most interesting updates is Bloom's new taxonomy. More than 50 years ago, Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues developed a framework that captured the various levels of learning. A few years ago, the taxonomy was updated to reflect relevance to 21st century work. The result is a powerful reflection of the shifting sands moving through education and the challenges we face that lends relevance to the YouTube video ("Shift Happens"). The video posits that things are changing so fast we are "preparing students for jobs that don't currently exist; using technologies that haven't yet been invented; in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet." I found it most interesting that the updated taxonomy changes the nouns of the old framework to action verbs in the new one - symbolically addressing the need for learning to be an "engaging activity" and not a thing in the context of these changing times.

I have been extremely encouraged by conversations I've had with students at my monthly luncheons regarding their experiences with engaging teachers at MVCC. I know it's happening here, but I can't help believing that we must continue to bring active learning to scale in every discipline and in every class through every delivery format (online or on campus). The early success of our Fall and Spring Institutes combined with the impressive willingness of faculty to share their best practices with one another (e.g., CATS with Katz) and new opportunities for Academic Affairs and Student Services to work together like the Pathway to Academic Recovery mid-year intervention program have us pointed in the right direction to achieve great success in this important endeavor.

If you have any thoughts on this post, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.