Let’s start with the goal of Learning in 2008. Few educators would argue that they know everything that they need to know. In fact, many with whom I work during technology workshops tell me that the problem is that “we don’t even know what we don’t know.” Especially when it comes to new technology, I think many teachers have a sense that they don’t even know which questions to ask.
So, in the spirit of modeling lifelong learning, here are some fantastic resources that you can use to increase your understanding of the world.
1.) For some reason, we all seem to value the views and advice of celebrities and scholars more than the average joe (which begs the question, “Why does anyone read this blog?”). To this end, the TED.com site is a fantastic place to view streaming video and audio recordings of speeches given by experts in Technology, Entertainment, and Design who are brought together for the annual TED conference. Highlights include Al Gore speaking about climate change, Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon.com) discussing the next innovation of the World Wide Web, and Jane Goodall talking about the connection between humans and chimpanzees. Look around and you will find dozens of excellent talks by lesser known thinkers that are no less interesting.
2.) Can’t afford college credits? Want to attend some of the best lectures in the country? Fire up iTunes and check out iTunes U. (link opens in iTunes). You can download and watch video podcasts of a variety of lessons as recorded by actual collegiate faculty from some of the most prestigious universities in the country (including the OpenCourseWare Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). I recommend the remarkably entertaining Physics lectures by Professor Walter Lewin of MIT (read about him here). Start with the Course Description for Physics III, and you’ll be hooked.
3.) While you’re at it, try listening your way to a more booksmart you. With the advent of powerful portable audio devices, such as iPods, and the duration of the average commute in America reaching 50 minutes roundtrip, there exists a tremendous potential for learning during traditionally “down” times. I highly recommend a membership to Audible.com or your local public library, where you can get high-quality audiobooks to help the time pass faster. You could choose to “read” the latest non-fiction bestseller, a self-help guide, or a selection from a suggested reading list (e.g., Oprah’s or Battle of the Books). You can’t go wrong with one of my favorites: The Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Clean Up Your Writing.
Do you have any other suggestions for ways to smarten up for the new year? Leave them in the comments, and stay tuned for our next topic: Being Part of the Debate. As a parting gift, remember that enjoying your job doesn’t make you good at it.