David Warlick was riding a train from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., when a rustic stone pyramid in the landscape caught his eye. He snapped a picture with his phone’s camera, then posted it on Twitter and asked if anyone knew what it was.
Within five minutes, a woman responded that it was a memorial to a Civil War general.
What makes this story so remarkable was that the woman who sent the information was in New Zealand, Warlick added.
The founder of the Landmark Project used this anecdote to show that technologies such as Twitter have completely — and rather suddenly — changed the way the world communicates and obtains information. Those ways are particularly compelling to students, and school board members must find ways to harness – not ban — these technologies to understand the youngest generation and teach them more effectively.
Educators repeatedly have been given the message to embrace technology in education. But figuring out what that means—and what to do about it—remains an elusive goal for school board members.
Warlick shared his thoughts in an interactive session at the final session of NSBA’s Leadership Conference Sunday. Attendees shared their reactions online during the presentation in a Twitter-like chat room called Knitterchat.com, which Warlick created. He uses the Knitterchat platform not only as a way to further discussions and answer questions from participants but also as an example of how students use technology to access information.
Today’s students “have almost no formative recollection of 20th century. They are 21st century learners,” he said. “Yet they are still learning in 19th century classrooms.”
Warlick showed examples of his college-age son’s videography and texting as ways the younger generations use technologies to gain information and communicate. Rather than fear cell phones, social media, and video games, educators should use them as classroom tools, Warlick said.
“Things have to change — we are for the first time in history preparing children for a future we can’t describe,” he said. “So what do our children need to be learning for an uncertain future?”
For one, education policy experts have repeatedly emphasized the need for more classes tied to STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects because so many future jobs will be in those fields. But Warlick argued for a similar emphasis on creative arts, including music, drama, and culture.
Not only will those classes stimulate learning in STEM topics and other areas, but these students will be prepared for careers that require creative arts skills to support STEM fields, such as designers for the casings of new technology products.
He suggested questions that school board members should ask, including, “What are the children learning that I didn’t learn?” and, “How the schools are using this new information environment to touch their communities?”
For more information on Warlick’s work, visit http://landmark-project.com.