School 2.0

As a kid I was never good at book reports in English class. I’d rather discuss the work with others who had read it than produce 500 words about it. Although my writing has improved over time, I’m still not much better at book reviews as an adult (certainly not with as much reach in this field as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg).

So I’m probably breaking a few rules of the genre by saying right up front in this post that anyone who calls themselves an educator should read the new book by Chris Lehmann and Zac Chase, “Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need“. Better yet, give a copy to your principal, superintendent, school board member, and especially to anyone who fancies themselves an education reform “expert”.

The book is laid out as a collection of 95 essays, mirroring the 95 theses that Martin Luther nailed to the church door in 1517, setting off the Protestant reformation. I’m pretty sure Chris and Zac don’t view their work with quite the same historical heft as Luther’s, but the format makes reading it fun and very accessible.

I have become very poor at reading books or other text in the traditional linear design (probably due to the nature of working on the web) and School 2.0 isn’t laid out in that format. The authors allow, almost encourage, the reader to jump around hitting the “chapters” in the order of their choosing. Which is especially nice in the ebook with a hyperlinked table of contents.

Even better, however, is that the Chris and Zac didn’t intend for people to just read the book. Each of their essays includes a few leading questions and suggestions for extending the ideas through conversations with your colleagues, students, administrators, or parents. This book is more of a professional development tool than a solitary reading experience. A work intended to generate rich discussions around the questions of what school should be and how do we get there. Maybe even to affect change.

Anyway, go get a copy, open it to any page and begin exploring. No matter where you land you’ll find wonderful ideas for creating the kind of schools our kids deserve.

To finish this possibly lame attempt at a book review, here are a couple of my favorite thoughts on the topic of instructional technology.

Technology is and must be a transformative element in our schools. Fundamentally, it changes the equation of why we come to school. Whereas previously, we came to school because the teacher was there, now we come to school because we are all there together. Technology can allow us to embrace a more finely honed sense of community in our schools.

Anything short of a vision of educational technology use that allows students and teachers to inquire more deeply, research more broadly, connect more intensely, share more widely, and create more powerfully, sells short the power of these tools – and more importantly, sells short the promise of learning and of school for our students.

Many more great discussion starters where those came from.

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