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The voice of the active learner [VIDEO]

Here’s a video about “digital natives” and active learners from Blackboard. Could be an interesting discussion starter…

Happy viewing!

Engagement is not a goal, it’s an outcome of students doing meaningful work

You often hear people talk about how technology is so “engaging” for kids. But that misses the point. It’s not the technology that’s engaging, it’s the opportunity to use technology to create something that is valued by the community and by yourself. Yes, a new device can be entertaining for a while, but when the novelty value wears off, what are you left with?

Engagement is not a goal, it’s an outcome of students (or anyone) doing meaningful work. Meaningful to themselves AND to the community they are in. Meaningful because someone trusted them to do something good, and they shouldered the responsibility. This is not something you DO to kids or you GIVE kids, it’s the outcome of this cycle of experiences.

Sylvia Martinez via http://blog.genyes.org/index.php/2012/05/01/engagement-responsibility-and-trust

Nurture your kids’ passions, even if they’re making Pokemon game walkthrough videos

I had a conversation with an Iowa parent the other day. In middle school her son started making voice-narrated Pokemon game walkthrough videos and posting them on YouTube. That’s exactly the kind of thing that most adults would look at and consider ‘a complete waste of time.’ He’s now 18 and has 70,000+ subscribers to his YouTube channel. His videos have been viewed nearly 54 million times. Some company’s now paying him enough money to make videos for it that he’s already pushing a six figure salary, which will easily pay for his upcoming college experience and then some.

All of this really speaks to nurturing kids’ passions, whatever they may be. You never know how they’ll turn out! Go Wooper!

We need to start thinking more creatively about texting (and other technologies) [VIDEO]

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s Nancy Lublin’s 5-minute TED talk on texting that saves lives. It reminds me that we need to start thinking more creatively about texting, Facebook, and other technologies for which so many adults are uncertain…

Happy viewing!

Who’s Dan Meyer?

Writeintoexistence

BEFORE

Math Establishment: Who’s Dan Meyer?

Other: Some crazy young punk educator with radical notions about how we should teach math to kids.

Math Establishment: No worries. His ideas won’t go far…

 

NOW

Math Establishment: Who’s Dan Meyer?

Other: Some crazy young punk educator with radical notions about how we should teach math to kids.

Math Establishment: Wow. This guy’s got some following. And we can see him, hear him, read him for ourselves. Let’s invite him to be a featured speaker at the national conference.

 

Could this happen in the past? Sure, theoretically. But it was much, much harder. So probably not.

On the Web we can write (and podcast and video and Tweet…) ourselves into existence. Teach our children, please, how they can be Dan Meyer too.

 

Image credit: in order to exist online

Connected learning resources and infographic

Fresh from the Digital Media & Learning conference in San Francisco are two new web resources, Connected Learning and the Connected Learning Research Network. The work is centered around three learning principles and three design principles:

Learning principles

  • Interest-powered. Interests power the drive to acquire knowledge and expertise. Research shows that learners who are interested in what they are learning, achieve higher order learning outcomes. Connected learning does not just rely on the innate interests of the individual learner, but views interests and passions as something to be actively developed in the context of personalized learning pathways that allow for specialized and diverse identities and interests.
  • Peer-supported. Learning in the context of peer interaction is engaging and participatory. Research shows that among friends and peers, young people fluidly contribute, share, and give feedback to one another, producing powerful learning. Connected learning research demonstrates that peer learning need not be peer-isolated. In the context of interest-driven activity, adult participation is welcomed by young people. Although expertise and roles in peer learning can differ based on age and experience, everyone gives feedback to one another and can contribute and share their knowledge and views.
  • Academically oriented. Educational institutions are centered on the principle that intellectual growth thrives when learning is directed towards academic achievement and excellence. Connected learning recognizes the importance of academic success for intellectual growth and as an avenue towards economic and political opportunity. Peer culture and interest-driven activity needs to be connected to academic subjects, institutions, and credentials for diverse young people to realize these opportunities. Connected learning mines and translates popular peer culture and community-based knowledge for academic relevance.

Design principles

  • Shared purpose. Connected learning environments are populated with adults and peers who share interests and are contributing to a common purpose. Today’s social media and web-based communities provide exceptional opportunities for learners, parents, caring adults, teachers, and peers in diverse and specialized areas of interest to engage in shared projects and inquiry. Cross-generational learning and connection thrives when centered on common interests and goals.
  • Production-centered. Connected learning environments are designed around production, providing tools and opportunities for learners to produce, circulate, curate, and comment on media. Learning that comes from actively creating, making, producing, experimenting, remixing, decoding, and designing, fosters skills and dispositions for lifelong learning and productive contributions to today’s rapidly changing work and political conditions.
  • Openly networked. Connected learning environments are designed around networks that link together institutions and groups across various sectors, including popular culture, educational institutions, home, and interest communities. Learning resources, tools, and materials are abundant, accessible and visible across these settings and available through open, networked platforms and public-interest policies that protect our collective rights to circulate and access knowledge and culture. Learning is most resilient when it is linked and reinforced across settings of home, school, peer culture and community.

Infographic

Below is an infographic made by Dachis Group that highlights these essential components of connected learning. What if every learning environment was centered around these principles?

Connected Learning

Digital Learning Day: The aftermath

Dldlogo

Well, yesterday was Digital Learning Day. By all accounts, it was a busy day across the country. Lots of conversation and high-profile events and demonstrations of students doing cool stuff with technology…

Should every school day be Digital Learning Day? Nope. We still need down time from these electronic and virtual spaces of ours, times when we experience the joy of human connection, nature, solitude, reflection (and all of those other things that people say I should be experiencing!). But, nonetheless, we definitely need ‘more digital, more often’ in most of our primarily-analog schools, so it was good to have a nationwide day that reminds us of the power of digital learning.

Here are a few things that caught my eye from the unrelenting stream of educational technology news yesterday:

  1. Instructure Canvas is now available to P-12 educators. If you’re interested in a better learning management system, you definitely should check out what Canvas has to offer. Canvas is free for individual teachers and professors. Set up a Canvas account and start playing around with it for a course; you’ll quickly see why its social media integration and other features blow the doors off of Blackboard or Moodle. Here are some other materials to get you started: overview videoPark City case study, Rockingham case studyteacher data sheetadministrator data sheet.
  2. The online Student Opinion section from The New York Times is full of fascinating commentary and insights from youth. Hear from students 13 and older about learning, teaching, technology, and other issues. Similarly, also see the StudentsSpeak section of the MacArthur Foundation’s Spotlight web site. There is great material at both locations to mine for instruction and conversation purposes.
  3. Speaking of student voice, check out Using media to (re)claim the hood: Essential questions and powerful English pedagogy. Then see I love my city: Youth as community problem solvers and creators in 21st century classrooms. After that, be sure to investigate the other amazing resources and ideas for teaching writing in a digital, hyperconnected world at the National Writing Project’s Digital Is web site. And then, before you collapse from exhaustion from all of this awesomeness, go visit Youth Voices. There, those will keep you busy for a while!
  4. Apparently some students got to testify before the Ohio House of Representatives about digital learning. I love to see tweets like this one or this one. In contrast, I’m not so enthused about tweets like this one (from a district in Alabama).
  5. The current issue of AASA’s School Administrator magazine focuses on P-12 laptop initiatives, particularly issues related to learning, teaching, affordability, and planning. Districts profiled include Mooresville (NC), Pascack Valley (NJ), and a host of others, including Van Meter (IA), Owensboro (KY), and Piedmont City (AL).
  6. Other things that I found yesterday included a great story on students with autism spectrum disorder using Google SketchUp, information about teaching digital literacy through game design, the Oakridge Elementary (VA) blog featuring book reviews written by elementary students, and news about the plan by MIT and Lego to bring robotics and coding to young children.

And, of course, we here at CASTLE were busy too. We launched our new online School Technology Leadership graduate certificate, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs. We also gave our 1-to-1 Schools blog a visual makeover and opened registration for the 3rd annual Iowa 1:1 Institute, an event that focuses on high-quality learning and teaching in P-12 laptop programs. Last year we had over 1,300 participants for the Institute. Maybe this year you’ll join us on April 11!

Learn, Now [VIDEOS]

Here are two commercials for the iPad. The first (and newer) one highlights the power of iPad apps to facilitate learning. I like the second one because it emphasizes the lines that are blurring as these technologies (iPad or otherwise) and their accompanying affordances take root in our daily lives.

Happy viewing!

Learn

Now

Shift Happens v5 – Iowa, Did You Know? [VIDEO]

TrappedThe Did You Know? (Shift Happens) videos have been seen by at least 40 million people online and perhaps that many again during face-to-face conferences, workshops, etc. This week saw the release of the latest version, this one focused on the state of Iowa. Titled Iowa, Did You Know?, the video is aimed at Iowa policymakers, citizens, and educators and is intended to help them feel a greater sense of urgency when it comes to changing our schools. Right now there’s a fair amount of complacency; the average Iowan isn’t coming to his or her school board or politician saying, “Hey, why aren’t you preparing my kids for this digital, global world we now live in?!”

Take a look at the video and see what you think. Even if you don’t live in Iowa, I think you’ll find it quite pertinent to your educational context too. More thoughts and resources after the video…

Additional resources

We are hopeful that the video will be shown to groups all over the state. It comes with a facilitator’s guide to help spark conversation as well as PDF versions of each slide. The idea is that any local group – school, Rotary club, senior citizens’ center, community group, or book club (or even just a small bunch of neighbors) – can convene for 30–60 minutes, show the video, and then start talking and acting. Additional resources and information are available at the Iowa Future web site to help these groups. We need a groundswell of Iowans to start advocating for 21st, not 19th, century schools.

Leadership Day 2011

TrappedIn addition to announcing Iowa, Did You Know?, this post also is going to serve as my Leadership Day 2011 contribution. If our schools are going to ‘shift’ and prepare students for the next (rather than the last) half century, school leaders are going to have to be much more proactive about engaging with parents, community members, and policymakers. Whether it’s pulling snippets from this blog or Mind Dump and mentioning them at every possible gathering, showing videos like this one and inviting discussion and action, or finding ways to regularly and visibly highlight innovative student and teacher uses of higher-order thinking skills and digital technologies, principals and superintendents can’t just focus on what occurs within their school systems. We MUST engage the public and we MUST engage the people who make policy at the state and federal levels. Right now we’re not doing this nearly as much as we should be. For example, we debuted Iowa, Did You Know? at the School Administrators of Iowa conference earlier this week. I heard lots of comments afterward from administrators about how excited they were to show the video to their staffs. But nary a single one said that he or she was excited to use it to help spark needed conversations with parents, citizens, or legislators. If we don’t have these latter conversations too, we’ll continue to run into the external mindset and funding/policy constraints that surround and hinder what we do, regardless of how innovative we are internally.

Does every state need a video like Iowa, Did You Know? Probably. If not a video, then a report or a recorded speech or something that galvanizes citizens to start putting pressure on school boards and lawmakers to do something DIFFERENT when it comes to learning, teaching, and schooling. Right now most of the discussion regarding educational reform is simply tweaking what we’ve always done, trying to make it a bit better or more intense. Given the transformational impacts of digital technologies on learning, communication, the global economy, our jobs, entertainment, and just about every other area of life we can think of, tweaking just doesn’t cut it.

With gratitude

It is with great appreciation that I thank:

  • Troyce Fisher, School Administrators of Iowa, and everyone else involved with the Iowa Future initiative for being so patient with me as I worked to get this done, for insisting that the video have an encouraging ending, and for having the original vision for a visibility initiative to reach Iowa citizens and legislators, not just educators.
  • XPLANE, who now has done the graphics on 3 of the 5 ‘official’ versions of Did You Know? and who came through yet again despite a very tight timeline. I can’t emphasize enough how creative the folks there are and how wonderful they are to work with. I have absolutely no hesitation recommending them for any project, any time. They are truly amazing and gifted.
  • All of the wonderful Iowans, educators or otherwise, who will help spread this video across the state and maximize its impact. I’m thanking you all in advance; it’s up to us to make these conversations happen!
  • Karl Fisch, who started the whole Did You Know? phenomenon and has graciously included me on every step along the way.

Previous videos in the Did You Know? series are available at the Shift Happens wiki. Source files for Iowa, Did You Know? will be available there soon.

Happy viewing!

IowaDidYouKnowSlide2

Invisible = irrelevant

TrappedIt’s 2011. If you’re invisible to the world, aren’t you also irrelevant to the world?

I use the Rapportive plugin for Gmail. It’s a pretty powerful little add-on that gives me enhanced profile information for the people that send me e-mail by tapping into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Flickr, my Google contacts, and more. For example, if you used Rapportive, here’s what you’d see on the right side of your screen if I e-mailed you.

my social networks

You can see from my profile that I am richly connected and using a variety of social media tools. There are many ways to intersect with me, professionally and/or personally.

Although it’s happening less frequently every day, I still receive a great number of e-mails from people whose Rapportive profile looks like this:

Nosocialnetworks

This doesn’t mean that they lack a Rapportive profile. It means that they have no presence on any social networks. No Facebook, no Twitter, no LinkedIn, no Flickr, no etc. Nothing.

I wonder about these people. They’re not just missing out. They’re missing out. In a world that’s hyperconnected and hypernetworked, these people are off the grid. Whatever ideas they have, whatever service they’re offering, whatever charity for which they’re trying to raise money, whatever product they’re selling – whatever they’re doing is invisible to anyone outside their local geography.

In 2011, it seems to me that these people are largely irrelevant to anyone other than their local community. And though it might be fine for many to make that individual choice, that decision should stem from intention rather than ignorance. I also believe that we should be doing better by our schoolchildren. They may decide to go off the grid when they’re older, but in the meantime we should be doing our damnedest as educators to teach them how to be networked and connected in positive, productive ways because in the future almost all of them will want their products or services or charities or ideas to have some traction.

If this were a review, I’d give Rapportive 4 highlighters for being a solid bit of software that does what it intends quite well.

Highlighter4

But I’d give the person above 0 highlighters because I don’t know about her. And neither do you.

Image credit: Invisible man sculpture, Harlem, NY

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