Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Disrupting Class, Clayton Christiansen

I just finished reading "Disrupting Class" by Clayton Christian. I have to say that it has me thinking a great deal about how we are teaching and how I might be able to incorporate disruptive technology into my classroom. It is interesting, because as I read the book, I thought a great deal about broad "macro" ideas as they relate to my institution and also about the "micro" ideas and how the book relates to my classroom and daily teaching. Interestingly, it also provided a great deal of food for thought regarding my children and their education.

The most specific ideas that I can relate tonight are in relation to my classroom and the way information is gained by students today. Basically, I am thinking a great deal about how I, as a teacher, deliver content. How will content be delivered in the future? How do students actually learn today? Are they really learning from a teacher in a classroom? Or are they really picking up content in different ways through the use of disruptive technology? We live in a world where students learn at the touch of a button - really a click of a mouse. When they want content - information - they go an get it instantly. The other day, I was teaching a recording class and asked a student where he learned how to use compression. His reply: YouTube! We teachers and schools have to keep up. Kids aren't getting content from us exclusively any more. It is our job to assess, facilitate, encourage, relate, tutor, encourage, redirect, and a myriad of other tasks. but, I am not convinced that delivering content will be at the top of our list for much longer.

On the short term, here is my plan. My Classical Piano and Guitar Class is largely self paced and can really lend itself to the use of disruptive technology for distribution of content. Today, I spent several hours videotaping short lessons for each song that my beginner guitar students learn. They will be streamed and available to my students via our Moodle site. That way, students will not have to wait for me to demonstrate each song as they are ready to learn it. They can simply check out the video lesson and learn the song. My role will be to assess their work and to tutor them in getting the technique just right. I don't need to be a content deliverer in class. I can be more of a teacher!

My next move is to videotape my brief theory lectures and stream them as well. This will also facilitate more time with students working on music.

I have some ideas for my orchestra class as well. I will share them later.

I know that this may be a bit tough to sort out in this format. So, here is my recommendation: read Disrupting Class. It is a good read with solid research and it is really thought provoking. I believe that it will change the way that I approach my classes. Really, it already has.

My next book is "Grown Up Digital," by Don Tapscott
I am already gripped by it!


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