Episode 02 of Silver Lining for Learning occurred on March 28. Our special guest was Sugata Mitra, winner of the 2013 TED Prize. Professor Mitra talked with us about the possibilities of self-organized learning. Happy viewing!
Episode 01 of Silver Lining for Learning occurred back on March 21. During our launch episode, our five primary hosts and special guest talked about our hopes and desires for this initiative. Conversation was robust… Happy viewing!
I was fortunate to be the primary host for Episode 05 of Silver Lining for Learning on April 18. Our guest was Will Richardson and we had a fantastic discussion about both the realities and possibilities of school transformation.
Will has been talking about how to rethink learning, teaching, and schooling for decades. He is the author of multiple books and has launched major collaboration initiatives such as the change.school, Modern Learners, and Powerful Learning Practice networks. If you weren’t able to join us, the archived video is well worth it!
Here are some ways that you can connect with Will’s work:
Dr. Yong Zhao gathered a few of us professor types together last week to brainstorm some ideas around his recent blog post, What if schools are closed for more than a year due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19)? We discussed that this present challenge also is an opportunity to rethink some big ideas around learning, teaching, and schooling. As Dr. Chris Dede noted, there is a potential silver lining in all of this… As a result of that conversation, we decided to launch a new website, Silver Lining for Learning. Over the following weeks and months, look for video conversations, blog posts, and other ideas at this new site.
Video conversations will occur live every Saturday at 5:30pm Eastern (U.S.). Please visit Silver Lining for Learning for further announcements about each weekly discussion.
Our chief instigators are…
Yong Zhao, @yongzhaoed | Foundation Distinguished Professor, School of Education, University of Kansas; Professor in Educational Leadership, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
I read about the founders. I read that they’re trying to make the curriculum relevant for students (awesome!). I read the claims that Silicon Valley High School will provide a ‘five star education.’ Okay so far. Then I get to the following:
With the help of a core team of 12 developers and 20 subject matter experts, Teves and Smith have developed a platform and process to deliver ‘best-available’ content to students at a fraction of the cost of similar curricula.
The courses are highly linear and feature well-produced videos starring engaging and highly relevant teachers chosen by the high school’s panel of experts.
And there we have it. ‘Highly linear,’ self-paced, one-size-fits-all courses; videos made by experts; and an online platform to ‘deliver’ them, including quizzes. I’m pretty sure that this is not the first time this has been suggested or tried (MOOCs, anyone? Khan Academy? K12 and Connections Academy? TED-Ed?). And – good intentions aside – I’m pretty sure that these models are essentially replicating online the traditional face-to-face model of sit-and-get, transmission-oriented education that’s dominated for centuries. But, hey, students can proceed at their own pace and do this anywhere…
More than 700 studies have confirmed that lectures are less effective than a wide range of methods for achieving almost every educational goal you can think of. Even for the straightforward objective of transmitting factual information, they are no better than a host of alternatives, including private reading. Moreover, lectures inspire students less than other methods, and lead to less study afterwards.
When will we be willing to confront the need to change the day-to-day learning experiences of students rather than simply trying to repackage traditional methods in different wrappers?
In the past decade, most everyone with access has experienced what it’s like to learn from anyone, anywhere at any time. In everyday life, this is no longer an event to behold but the way we learn. Any policy maker or leader who doesn’t understand and live this needs to find other employment.
In most online courses and/or ‘adaptive learning systems’ …
Students do low-level work at times that are convenient.
Students do low-level work from places that are convenient.
Students do low-level work on their own, unique path.
Students do low-level work at their own, unique pace.
But it’s still low-level work.
Digitizing, chunking, and algorithmizing worksheet-like learning tasks doesn’t move them out of the domains of factual recall and procedural regurgitation. The modality doesn’t change the substance of the learning task. Until we are willing to address the kinds of work that we ask students to do on a day-to-day basis, not just the delivery mode, the any time, any place, any path, any pace mantra isn’t going to change a thing…
Hey guys, it’s Molly again! And for those of you who don’t know who I am…well, I am Molly. I am a senior in high school this year (12th grade.) I am a part of Team 4443: Sock Monkeys and we are a robotics team through the FTC.
What does FTC stand for/mean? The acronym FTC stands for First Tech Challenge, which is part of the FIRST program. FTC consists of students grades 8-12 and allows students to experience parts – small or large – of the engineering world. Robotics teams start the competition season by learning what that year’s challenge is; they then immediately get to work on designing and building a robot that is best suited to that year’s challenge. The robot also has certain limitations, in parameters such as size, materials, and shape. There are also other regulations that must be followed, like certain restrictions on modifications to parts and rules in the competition. Teams have a lot of freedom with their designs, and many teams use 3D printed parts designed using programs like Creo or AutoCad. In addition to the physical aspect of building the robot, participants also sharpen their minds by solving the problems presented to them (both in robot design and during competition matches) and by building relations with other teams and their community. The core principle of FTC is “Gracious Professionalism” – giving respect and help in order to make the FTC program fair and fun, while bettering all those involved. FTC and FIRST provide participants with the tools they need to build useful skills that will help them succeed, whether they pursue engineering or any other path in life.
Why are we blogging? We are blogging because we sent an email to Scott McLeod (who talked to us last year when we went to Worlds the first time) and he asked us to post updates on how we’re doing. We also update our adventures on our website and other social media:
Facebook: search “Sock Monkeys”
If you have any personal questions, email us at
How did we get here? We got here (to the World Championship) because we qualified at the FTC North Super Regional competition, but our story stretches back further than that. We hosted a competition at our high school on November 15th, where I was volunteer coordinator. We qualified for the State competition at our league championship on January 10th, and this meant that we were moving on to the big leagues. From there we competed at State (March 6-7) and moved on to the North Super Regional (March 26-28). There, we qualified and moved on to the World Championship!
Where are we right now? Right now, we are at the FTC World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri getting ready to compete with 128 teams from countries around the world. Between April 22nd and 25th, we’ll compete like we have all year, but we’ll be with (and against) the best FTC teams across the globe.
What is the game this year? The 2014-2015 season FTC game is called “Cascade Effect.” Robots drop different sized whiffle balls into tubes of varying heights to score points. Two alliances of two teams each have 2 1/2 minutes to score the balls, move the goals, and overall try to outperform the other team. Here’s a link to the full explanation of the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABmBxCwHV94
What are some accomplishments we have made this season other than in competitions? FIRST is much more than just building a robot and competing in matches. Teams also build lasting friendships with other teams and help out their community. The Sock Monkeys have an address book containing many of the teams that we’ve met, which allows us to keep in contact with them throughout the season and help them with any problems they may have. We have also featured as stories on several different news outlets, one being CRI (here’s a link to the video! ) and the other being the Oskaloosa Herald, our town newspaper (here’s an article they wrote about us ) We have also done a lot of outreach!