Just finished reading this great article, Backwards into the Future: Seven Principles for Educating the Ne(x)t Generation, written by Helen Sword and Michele Leggott and feel compelled to comment, not only because a quote from one of my all-time favorite poets, Walt Whitman, is included but moreover because I think it provies a good model of how to create learning events for students in this day and age.
The article encourages educators to first accept the idea that our students may know more about computers, and gathering and assimilating information from the world wide web, but teachers have more knowledge than they do in other areas (I hope that is a reference to our subject matter) so we need to work with that fact, incorporate it into the lesson to devise a dynamic learning situation between teacher and student.
As part of the theme of moving “backwards into the future” the student subjects in this article, members of an upper level English class at the University of Auckland, are given the task of looking for old (archival) materials in the Special Collections at the university library, which they will turn into “…a polished, informative hypermedia exhibit that links those materials metonymically and/or metaphorically.” In other words, they are going to develop a fantastic document to produce on the web that will be presentable to anyone who is interested in their research. Additionally, students are required to create a live performance of the material that they are studying.
Students take a trip to the past when searching for the archived materials. To create a good peformance, it’s necessary to have considerable understanding of all aspects of the text, which brings it into the present as students try to relate and grasp the basic meaning and more of what they are studying.
Finally by designing a presentation for the web, students will be preserving the materials of old which often have timeless significance and should not be lost.