This weekend, I finally got around to watching David’s pre-conference keynote from the K12 Online Conference.

I had already listened to the audio of his presentation while threading my way through our infamous commuter traffic, but it’s difficult to keep an eye on the video at the same time. (Although some sharing the same traffic drive as if they’re trying. :-)

While the whole presentation is very good, I do love David’s major point comparing our traditional concept of school to railroad tracks.

He’s right that most American classrooms are structured very linearly. We try to move large groups of students from point A to point B, mostly using the same rails, in the form of curriculum and instructional techniques.

However, the part of their learning that occurs outside of school is very non-linear, side trips as David calls them.

That education comes through IM, cell phones, television, blogs, YouTube, MySpace, games, iPods, and more. All these technologies enables kids to interconnect and learn from many different people.

Of course, the knowledge they are developing outside of class is not necessarily related to the curriculum being used in school. At least that’s probably what most adults believe.

But I’d bet that the many of the communication and collaboration skills being developed outside the formal education structure will serve the kids much better than some of the traditional activities they do in class.

David goes on to suggest that the “foundation of the education system today should not be the rail but the side trips”.

That’s an interesting idea, one that would require the complete reorganization of our current educational structure. But even starting to do that will be very difficult.

All of the necessary tools listed above are banned in many of our schools.

If you haven’t watched (or listened to) David’s keynote, do it. And then plan to drop into Bud Hunt’s keynote tomorrow and check out the rest of the agenda as it plays out over the next two weeks.

k12online06, warlick, keynote