The teacher's role has traditionally been to act as the guardian at the gate of knowledge. She weighs and chooses the information to distribute to her students at the appropriate dose of chunks. Knowledge moves in one direction from top (teacher) to bottom (student).
In a networked system information flows in all directions. Students and teachers form a network in which information, messages, and knowledge flow according to individual needs and interests. Self-interest and concealment of information will soon backfire. In a networked school, you are what you share. The teachers are learners alongside the pupils.
Knowledge sharing has not been part of the traditional school culture. Students that have been punished for sharing (= cheating). Textbook based teaching culture doesn’t encourage teachers to share (= extra work). But in printed educational material information becomes obsolete very quickly and the contents don’t tend to support the acquisition of skills needed at work and in life today and in the future. They need to be complemented and replaced by learning materials produced collaboratively by students applying the key phases of knowledge construction process: search, critical evaluation, constructing, presenting and sharing of knowledge. It's about learning to lean differently.
International projects have long been applying new ways of learning. It’s natural and meaningful to combine the learning of foreign languages, communication and ICT skills with culture, geography, natural sciences, history or any other school subject for studying collaboratively hands-on. The projects cannot rely on the information provided by textbooks, but the information is searched by students and constructed into presentations, quizzes, photo galleries and videos that are shared with a partner classes and students. Students meet on Skype and at forums, learn by discussing and chatting, asking questions and telling stories, in short, sharing.
The school will develop into learning community in which teachers and students work together sharing knowledge and experiences across class boundaries. Students can share what they’ve learned and experienced in the project by visiting other classes or at morning assemblies, by organizing exhibitions and creating photo galleries (online or real-life), writing in a blog, creating eBooks, giving workshops or organizing theme days, and by inviting parents, supporters and other stakeholders to visit school and the project website. Sharing is a skill that is learned by doing. It is a way of learning that empowers equally the sharer and the receiver. It will increase your responsibility and appreciation of your own work and the respect of others’.
I sometimes wonder if there was a special significance in that my project, which almost 10 years ago won the eTwinning competition in the series of pedagogical innovation, was called "Learning and Sharing"?