“Learning in America is a prisoner of time. For the past 150 years, American public schools have held time constant and let learning vary.”
What strikes me most about this quote from the National Education Commission on Time and Learning is that it was said in 1994, but is still so true today.
Our school day is structured on the Carnegie Unit, which was developed in 1906 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Consider how much our world has changed since 1906. No one would suggest that we continue to use technology from 1906! Yet, the clock still sets the rhythm of the day, dictating short episodes of learning that preclude students from working in depth on projects or going off-campus to gather data or talk to community experts.
Our speaker for the 21st Century Education Lecture, Milton Chen, challenges this structure in the Time/Place Edge. He reminds us that the world’s educational resources are always “on,” enabling learning to continue long after the final bell. Furthermore, learning can happen in many more places than just the classroom.
Milton Chen shares with us the example of how a school district in Arizona turned its high school buses into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. These “Internet buses” allow students to use their 70-minute ride to school to finish homework, turn in assignments, and use the Internet to find resources for papers and projects. Their commute to school becomes additional learning time, and officials reported a decrease in behavioral problems. This is just one example of how learning can happen anywhere, anytime, if we give students the opportunity.
It is up to us to think outside of the box, like the school district officials in Arizona, and find ways to enable our students to take advantages of educational resources everywhere, not just in the classroom. Chen shares many more examples in his book, far too many for me to list here, but I’m eager to hear your thoughts on the Time/Place Edge. Share them here and plan to join us tomorrow at the 21st Century Education Lecture to hear more examples from Milton Chen.