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CoSN 2009 Conference – Don Tapscott

by Jean Tower

Attending the CoSN conference in Austin, I will post a few blog entries about the conference. This is the first of the series.
T he CoSN 2009 conference is titled, leadership, policy & innovation in a collaborative world . The first event of the morning, after the welcome and presentation of awards, was keynote speaker Don Tapscott . The session was called: Plenary Session I: Grown up Digital in a Collaborative World. It was a really good keynote and the audience reacted positively. Dan Tapscott referred to his book, Grown up Digital – How the Net Generation is Changing the World .

Here are a few things I jotted down while he spoke –

He said that it is common to read that the Net Gen are lazy and self-centered and expect immediate gratification, but that this “negative and cynical view is not supported by data.”
“We need a lot more than a generation that can perform well on tests – we need a generation that can learn.”

“A lecture is when the notes of the teacher go to the notes of the student without going through the brains of either.”

The eight Net Gen norms, characteristics of a generation are:  Freedom, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, entertainment, speed and innovation. Given these norms we have to move from the teacher as “broadcaster.” The broadcast model is a “one-size-fits-all, one-way broadcast learning” where the teacher has the knowledge and delivers it to the students who don’t, and the “grateful students” write down the knowledge and prepare to deliver it back for exams. He gave a new definition of a teacher as one “who customizes the learning experience.” The model of broadcast pedagogy is wrong. It is teacher-focused (rather than student) one-way (rather than multi-way), one-size-fits-all (rather than customized) and student isolated (rather than collaborative).

When there is a new paradigm it is usually the leaders of the old paradigm who have the greatest difficulty embracing the new.

He suggests students learn best through collaboration and discovery and that we should be orchestrating that kind of learning in our schools. He closed with the statement that today’s students “have a right to the technology of their time.”

I attended a small talk after the keynote, where Don spoke of his plans for his next book and of other institutions to which his theories apply. He signed books, and I was happy to get my book signed (see photo) – now I can’t wait to get home to read it!

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