David Warlick – The Classroom Now Extends to the World

David Warlick
David Warlick

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2nd Annual WYTECC Conference in Rock Springs. One of the two keynote speakers that I had the pleasure to listen to was David Warlick. Warlick is an advocate for teaching differently, or more importantly, teaching for this day in age. His presentation was entitled, Rebooting the Basics. His emphasis was all about creating lifelong learners. He pointed out that receiving a basic education was not enough, we had to learn to learn for the rest of our lives. A core skill of the 21st Century is being a master learner. We need students to become lifelong learners… and we need to model this behavior.

Teachers who are not using technology are part of the problem.

When Warlick began his presentation, he introduced us to a variety of tools that I will share here:

In a quite humorous presentation, Warlick talked about how the world and education has changed from when he was in school. When he was a student, calculators costed $200 (the gift for a lifetime) and the traditional classroom had desks in straight rows.  Now the classroom can reach all corners of the world but we are not yet teaching with that in mind. He advocated that we need to prepare students for their future by allowing them to learn with the tools they normally carry on their person, e.g, smartphone, iPad, etc. Warlick also stressed that we need to teach students how to leverage digital data rather than paper artifacts.

In an interesting discussion, he asked teachers if they trusted Wikipedia. A majority indicated that they did not. He showed them the warnings that Wikipedia posted on their site when information was suspect. He then asked them if they trusted their textbooks. Textbooks are not necessarily accurate, and they do not post warnings. The lesson is that we need to teach students how to discern between accurate and reliable information and information that is presented as truth but is not.

One of the coolest demonstrations that I had seen in a long time was when Warlick took data from the Advanced National Seismic System site, and turned it into a map using a spreadsheet. Basically, he plotted the latitudes and longitudes from earthquakes for the month of December into a scatterplot, and the visual result was a map of the world. His lesson from this demonstration was that all information is digital and can tell a story.

A school that does not include music, art, and drama is not a school.
Finally, Warlick stressed that we need to change the 3 R’s to 3 E’s. Contemporary literacy should be about Exposing what is true, Employing information, and Expressing compelling ideas. He also added Ethics.
All in all, a nice keynote presentation.

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