The process of collecting my knowledge (which I discussed in the previous post) naturally led me to my own teaching practices. One of the core ideas of knowledge management is to capture more then mere documents within a database. It involves recording the information that makes documents and factual information more relevant and useful – really, to record the human experience with the knowledge.
Teachers must collect vast amounts of knowledge, including lesson plans, useful strategies, reflections, and the content itself. Having taught world history for eight years, I have collected shelves of books, file cabinets of readings and handouts, and gigabytes of digital media (ranging from pdfs to PowerPoints to video clips). While I like to think I have a general handle on all of these resources, the reality is that I forget what I have. Once I finish a unit of study, a year passes before I visit those items again. While I attempt to take notes on how specific lessons went and what I need to do differently, I many times find them only after I have implemented the lesson a year or two later.
Most teachers develop some sort of system that allows them to organize their materials. I have used manila folders, massive binders, and a file hierarchy on my hard drive. However, I argue that curriculum, especially within the social studies, should be in some sort of flux. There are always new resources available, different perspectives to be found, new strategies to try, new technologies to be used to help transfer this information to students, and new needs to be met with the changing times. How can we keep track of all of this information? How do we not forget what we already do? How can we share our lessons, ideas, and links with colleagues without committing to hours of face-to-face meetings? Why are new teachers expected to create curriculum that already exists?
Within the business world, knowledge management is not a new idea. Technological advances have streamlined the process and broadened the ability for companies to share more and share it further. Why does it seem that education, most notability K-12 education, always seems to be just out of the loop or years behind?
In the next few months, I am going to be exploring these questions. On a personal level, I hope to bring my vast collection of resources (books, articles, links, lessons, lesson strategies) together in a manner that when I want to see my lessons on Totalitarianism in Europe, they will all be easily accessible. On a school level, I want to create a collaborative world history knowledge base with my colleagues. We already share lessons, but we do not have a lot of time to sit down and discuss how we individually implement the lessons. On a larger educational level, I want to explore methods and tools that might help other teachers tackle their mountain of information and hopefully, create very specific collaborative communities.