"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Common Cartridge for the Common Man

G.K. Chesterton once said, "Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another." Technology now seeks to do that digitally with the Common Cartridge. IMS Global Learning Consortium (aka ITIMS or IMS GLC) wrote the specification for the Common Cartridge which provides, "state-of-the-art practice in online education and training into an easy-to-follow format for creating and sharing digital content."

Basically, the cartridge is software that allows the user to combine a bunch of digitally available source material into one "lesson plan." Their platform allows users to go from one digital source to another without having to search, or log in, or wait for third party software to load.  This video,(look at the first video called "Introducing video for IMS Common Cartridge") demonstrates how the CC is intended for use in the classroom.  It is envisioned as a teacher resource for now.

Notice the classroom portrayed in this video.  Each student sits at a desk with a computer, working individually on their cartridge (which may not necessarily be the same one that their neighbor is working on). The role of the teacher is to periodically check on the students and offer advice.  Since there is no dialogue for the teacher in the video we are left to guess at the nature of the guidance they offer.  It COULD be offering some personal insight to the teachings of Aristotle, or it could simply be, "click on this tab to find that information."  You begin to see the evolving role of the teacher in the classroom with Common Core through Common Cartridges.

The video also gives a glimpse of what constitutes learning in the future.  After watching several similar videos about the cartridge I noted that they all sourced Wikipedia on their topics.  A student recently told me, "Teachers hate Wikipedia more than they hate guns." It would appear that Icodeon shares no such visceral aversion to that digital source. The cartridge also pulls in information from Facebook and Twitter.  In this way they seem to agree with Mr. Chesterton.  These two social media tap into the psyche, or soul, of a culture. Their accuracy might be a little in doubt and thus their place in a classroom could be questioned, but education in the future may care more about how people FEEL about a topic than the facts themselves.

One of the benefits digital media has over print media is its ability to be updated almost instantaneously.  If only Mitt Romney's book had been produced digitally he would not have had to explain its change on health care.  With digital media we can do as the first lady Michelle Obama demanded, “We’re going to have to make sacrifices, we’re going to have to change our conversation, we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history and we’re going to have to move to a different place.”  What would  George Santayana, who said, "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it," think of a history that was constantly subject to change as people were trying to study it?

The internet is a vast a wondrous place where fact and fantasy are separated only by a mouse click. The Common Cartridge is being rolled out as a tool that teachers can use to tap into this vast source of information to supplement or enhance their teaching experience. Teachers already do this with things like White Boards in their classrooms, but Common Cartridge will make that process more stream lined, like plug-n-play. Their only limitation will be to use the IMS approved basic curriculum sources.  This will be IMS members (who pay heavily for the privilege of membership), like Khan Academy. That list grows as the CC is expanded to its ultimate goal of worldwide education. The plan is already underway to have global education standards and Common Cartridge provides an easy way to do that.

At least initially, teachers will have the freedom to assemble the cartridge any way they like.  It's not too hard to imagine a parent conversation in the future sounding like this, "Oh I like Teacher A so much better than Teacher B. Her cartridges are so much better than his."  How long do you think it will take before school systems decide to promote Teacher A to making the cartridge for the entire school or district in order to free up the other teachers' time to collect data?  But since all work is now being done on the computer, which can collect data by the second, maybe we won't even need teachers to do that.  Yes, I can see the teacher's role evolving.  And to think it all started with Common Core Standards.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the teachers we've highlighted on this blog extolling common core standards would be so delighted if they thought the ramifications through...teachers are quite unimportant in this scenario.


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