In his blog, Scott McLeod recently reported on a keynote address by Alan November. Here are a few highlights that are relevant to how we educate gifted students in the 21st century:

There is a gap between what we teach children and what is needed in the global workplace, and the gap is growing.

Students need to be able to do three key things:

  • Have the capacity to do good research on the Web
  • Have good global communication skills
  • Be self-directed
One of the goals of gifted education is to help students with great potential fulfill it. I believe it would be irresponsible not to consider the impact that these children can have on our society and our world as adults, and to prepare them to be global citizens.

Scott also notes later in his post that in order to have global communication skills, students need a big voice. How do we give them that voice? Move beyond paper. “Paper gives you a little voice—paper stays in the classroom,” he says. Teach students how to develop their voice online. Create blogs, web sites, wikis, and shared documents.

A telling point was made by Alan November in his keynote: “Too many ‘technology-enabled’ assignments involve using the computer as a $1,000 pencil.” Are we simply moving our paper to a file on the local hard drive or school network? We need to teach our students to use the real life technology tools they will need in the workplace. We need to leverage the tools they are going to use anyway in their free time (Facebook and YouTube) for academic goals. How much more powerful will an assignment be when the world is the audience instead of just the teacher?

A student’s portfolio should not be a folder in a file cabinet somewhere that will never be seen again after June. What if a student’s portfolio began with the list generated when her name is typed into Google? Will Richardson calls this her digital footprint.

Here’s the thing: Our students are going to have these digital footprints whether we embrace the idea or not. As an educator, I’d rather be helping them choose the path those footprints are going to follow, and to guide them away from the potholes and dead ends that lie ahead.