David Warlick Keynote

This is the first of many posts from the CASB (Colorado Association of School Boards) convention.

This is the second time I have heard David Warlick speak in the last month. I heard him first deliver the keynote speech for the 2006 K-12 Online Conference (yes, 2006 is accurate. I watched an online video cast with a group of St. Vrain teachers). Today, Mr. Warlick spoke to the CASB conference. He emphasized:

We learn by sharing. Here is a link to Mr. Warlick’s handouts. David also asked us to include the words redefine, literacy and Warlick in our blog post so that it would be linked to the larger conversation (I’m still learning what that means. Here is a link to Mr. Warlick’s business website.

The old system prepared students to work in straight rows, performing repetitive tasks under close supervision. To what extent is our current system the same?

For the first time in history we must prepare our children for a future we can’t clearly describe. The best thing we can do is teach our children how to be literate. But the old three Rs are no longer sufficient. We need a new, robust definition of literacy.

We must expand reading to exposing truth. Students must learn to ask questions, how to investigate (find, decode, evaluate information, judge what’s credible), and organize information into personal libraries in a digital environment. Students who are digitally literate will be suspicious of paper based materials.

We must expand arithmetic to employing information. Digital numbers are exponentially larger than text based numbers. Students must learn how to process and manage large sets of data.

We must expand writing to expressing ideas in a compelling way. Students must learn to communicate with images and sounds, not just words. Any school district that thinks it’s possible to prepare students for the future without music and art are shortchanging children.

We must explicitly include ethics as part of literacy. David defines literacy ethics as seek and express the truth, do no harm, be accountable, and respect and protect the information and its infrastructure.

Bottom line: we must stop integrating technology and, instead, redefine literacy. With a more robust definition of literacy technology will take care of itself.



3 Responses to “David Warlick Keynote”

  1. Brad Jolly Says:

    I am always suspicious when people take a perfectly good word and redefine it in order to pretend to have a new idea.
    About 40 years ago, Kodak came up with a piece of nonsense called “visual literacy” in an attempt to sell film and cameras. The education community bought into it wholeheartedly, but it never delivered much in the way of improved learning, despite huge globs of money and effort being thrown at it.
    Our school’s library suddenly became a “media center,” but it didn’t seem to matter much.
    The latest “new literacy” fad is also hogwash. Literacy is literacy, and if you want to say that it is extremely helpful for people to be familiar with modern computing technology, I wholeheartedly agree.
    Let’s not pretend there is some fundamentally new concept of literacy, though.

  2. John Creighton Says:

    My first question is, did you read, watch and/or listen to any of Warlick’s material. If so, what were the merits of what he presents? And, what specifically about his material is hogwash?

  3. Brad Jolly Says:

    Hi John,
    Yes, I followed the link you had in your article and looked at the presentations.
    The first bucket of hogwash is the premise that taking a perfectly good word like literacy and redefining it constitutes a novel thought.
    The second bucket is the premise that the three R’s have somehow been replaced by the four E’s: Exposing, Expressing, Employing and Ethics. What is new there? We have always expected students to be exposed to ideas, to express ideas, to employ ideas and to do these things ethically. This was true when you and I were kids, and it was true back when Socrates was teaching.
    Similarly, the premise that finding, decoding, evaluating and organizing information is somehow new is severely flawed. Yes, we use different tools for these things today, but the concepts are in no way novel.
    Finally, I have trouble taking seriously lectures on digital communication where the producer of the information cannot even produce a legible title page for his presentation.
    Look at his title page:
    The top half of the word fragment “Contempa” is even chopped off.
    This is just the most obvious example. There are dozens of others that become obvious as you go through the presentation.

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