I want to congratulate #edtechbridge, Steven Isaacs (@mr_isaacs), Katya Hott (@katyamuses) and PledgeCents for an excellent chat Wednesday. The stated topic for the chat was crowdfunding options for educators, but quickly deepened to include a discussion of the motives behind crowdfunding. Yes, funding for schools has been cut and teachers need to find ways to pay for things like band instruments, new technologies and art supplies. However, the root of the problem goes deeper than that. Beginning with the “Back To Basics Movement,” and on through “No Child Left Behind” and “Race To the Top,” priorities and dollars have shifted away from teaching the whole child to teaching for the test. We have to be doing more than just purchasing new tech to automate learning and to teach digital citizenship.
I realize that what I am suggesting may seem disruptive, even subversive, but it is nothing new. The concept of using multi-media as a way to teach the whole child dates back to the “Media Literacy” movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. We believed that if education was multimedia/modal we could empower children with all kinds of learning styles to be storytellers and story consumers while teaching emotional skills such as empathy, compassion and kindness.
I see a lot of similarities between what we were trying to accomplish in the Media Literacy Movement and what I am hearing on a daily basis in chats around the world. So I urge you to think beyond raising funds to buy technology and equipment, because the equipment and technology you purchase are just the tools. It’s equally important to find and pay for programs that provide students with the experiences they need to become emotionally mature adults. They must be taught to use the new wealth of digital media platforms, apps and traditional media – like print, crayons, markers, poster paint, paste, scissors, paper and pencils – to connect, collaborate, innovate and make positive changes in the world.
In today’s education system, state, federal and district budgets are used to purchase supplies and programs that teach what gets tested. Crowdfunding tools like PledgeCents, DonorsChoose.org and Pubslush, however, offer a welcome alternative. Through these platforms educators can not only raise funds to purchase and implement more child-centered, innovative activities like Project Based Learning, the Maker Movement and Genius Hour, but take a proactive role in shaping what and how their students are taught.
I encourage you to take a few moments to think about what I’ve said, ask questions and provide feedback. I also hope that more moderators will consider hosting similar discussions in the future because I firmly believe in the intelligence, creativity and commitment of educators. Together we can find, fund and implement the technologies, programs and projects that will prepare our students to become effective 21st century citizens.
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