I have two kids (I hope I am not getting too personal, but bear with me) and they have been brought up in a different educational world than I was. When they were babies they had electronic educational toys, I had crayons. When they were older they used computers in school, I had books and chalk boards. My kids have been steeped on the information superhighway since the very beginning of their existence and it is there that they are comfortable. My kids have proven that they can take technology and make it their own. I am willing to bet my son (and daughter for that matter) can probably beat a large portion of the population at Guitar Hero or Call of Duty, but when they come into a classroom of today, how do we teach them? Unfortunately with the same type of tools that were used when I was in school (and that was a while ago); the chalk board has been upgraded to a whiteboard, but we still have them read books and answer multiple choice questions…...sad.
At the Microsoft MCT summit in 2006 I was fortunate enough to get to hear a gentleman by the name of David James Clarke IV speak about a new style of training that Microsoft was rolling out called MODL, or Microsoft Official Distance Learning. This was going to be a way to meet the learning needs of the generation that is currently joining the workforce; the classes would be performed across the internet, the labs were more about taking in and processing information and the lecture was limited to about 2 hours at a time. To me this made sense. I see how my kids do their homework (when they do it); they use the internet to look things up, they IM their friends to collaborate on projects and they look at the school’s SharePoint site when they need a copy of something they left at school. They do not just sit in one place and quietly read; they are multitasking. I really haven’t heard too much about MODL since then, but even if it doesn’t fly now because all of us old farts that are in training classes, I think this is a start in the right direction.
Another item that I want to share with you is a video that the owner of our company ran for us during one of the first meetings that we had with him; Visions of Students Today. I have to admit the first time that I saw this video I was thinking more like a parent than an educator. I couldn’t help thinking, “what a waste of time and money these kids were showing”, but after I saw it a few more times I was challenged to find a way to incorporate new ways of training into my repertoire. So my open invitation to all trainers and students out there in the great void is to think about new ways to think about your training. Is there a better way? How and where can classes be taught in the future? I know that when I started thinking along these lines, I got a better understanding about how my kids think and learn. Now if only I could get the same insights into their attitudes…..