The Changing Currency of the Knowledge Economy

Last week I had the good fortune of participating in a teachers conference in Saskatoon that featured two amazing keynotes. They were no other than Pasi Sahlberg and Sir Ken Robinson. Now, if you aren’t somehow connected to education these names might not mean a lot; no matter. In one of the sessions Sir Ken referenced the ” knowledge economy” otherwise known as intellectual capital. He went on to relay how this concept played out in the classroom. What caught my attention most was what was missing. That realization bore the fruit that unfolds in this post. It seemed to me that Sir Ken failed to mention a very important fact to teachers: the currency in the knowledge economy is changing. Very much in fact, and not unlike the way virtual currencies like Bitcoin are changing the monetary economy.
What I’m referring to is the plethora of virtual resources and e-learning opportunities that exist for our students to take advantage of.  Khan Academy,, iTunes U and YouTube have opened the door to learning that can exist out side the classroom.  So too have LMSs (Learning Management Systems) like Canvas, Schoology, Edmodo, Moodle and Blackboard.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, I name them simply to illustrate my point.  We as educators must recognize that we are not, nor should we have to be, the students’ sole source of learning.  In fact, by embracing these new “currencies”, we are enriching our students’ learning experience.  The concept of the “flipped” classroom is a prime example of this model.  In the flipped classroom, students access the learning/lecture portion of a lesson independently via video or virtual classrooms(LMS).  The time in class is then spent engaging in related inquiry, rich discussion or application of the knowledge.  This is just one example of how we can embrace our roles as coaches and facilitators of the learning and let go of the “teacher as knowledge keeper” paradigm.  More importantly, this allows something to happen that we all hope for-students can take responsibility for their own learning.  Remember, this is not the end of teaching but a new beginning for how we teach.  Our students still need our guidance to navigate the complexities of these processes and it is important that we build our capacity within the profession to do so. The digital world offers  great wealth in the “knowledge economy” and just like we need good financial advisors, our students need us to be their advisors in the knowledge transactions they perform.


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