Learning With Lucie Archive 2006-2013

January 29, 2008

Educon Reflection – It Wasn’t about the Technology

Filed under: Education — Learning with Lucie @ 5:33 pm
This is a cross Posted from My Infinite Thinking Blog Post – January 29, 2008

Friday morning I found myself standing in a starkly naked room
filled with empty desk and chairs that replicated those that the
Founding Fathers of the United States Government sat in as they
deliberated the future of their new nation. Two centuries ago, a
brilliant group of passionate men came together to craft a document
that would lay the foundation for a vision that would shape the future
of their country. These men were so committed to crafting a document
that reflected the best of their deep thinking and strong convictions
that they gave up on the tasks of ‘tweaking’ the Articles of Confederations and created a brand new document – The U.S. Constitution .

As I listened to the Independence Hall guide, I thought back to the recent conversation responding to Will Richardson’s Some New Year’s Dreaming post,
debating whether whether a change in education could come about by
evolution, or whether revolution was the only hope for transforming our
schools.

These
thoughts were the perfect launching point for what was to be 2 and ½
days of conversation amongst some of the most passionate, caring, and
thoughtful educators I’ve had the privilege of meeting. Two days of
conversations about the possibilities for education when the right
combination of passion and pedagogy are supported by transformative
tools left participants of EduCon 2.0 emotional and inspired as they returned home to continue the work of transforming our 21st century schools.

Emotions,
reflection, call to action, manifesto’s, and yes… more conversation
continue far beyond the weekend, and extend way beyond the walls of the
Science Leadership Academy, where Chris Lehman
(visionary Principal and leader extradonaire) and his learning network
hosted this fabulous Un-Conference. If every participant finds
themselves able to channel the emotion, energy, and inspiration from Educon 2.0 to "just win more than three" colleagues as Kevin Jarret’s Educon reflection suggest … than the weekend was truly an agent of change.

But
the change agents, were not just those who attended, it was also each
of you who participated in the conversation remotely through U-Stream modeling
the power of transformative tools in learning. As many of us stated
over and over again this weekend – it was not about the technology. The
transformative part was not that we were using U-Streams to record or wikis to post our notes.
The transformative part was that the sessions were set up as
CONVERSATIONS not presentations. And these conversations would not have
been the same without the hundreds of remote participants contributing
through the backchannel chat; nor would they have been the same without
the collaborative features of wikis to dynamically share knowledge
throughout the weekend and beyond; nor would they have been the same
had they not been extension of many prior conversations happening
throughout the edublogosphere.

For those of you who missed the event – it’s not too late to participate. The hundreds of pictures already on Flickr will
provide visual cues to the energy level that was present. My favorite
was the photos of the MAC Lab noticeably void of computers adjacent to
the photos displaying the white Apple branded laptops visible
throughout the school, in the hands the students whose job it was to
care for and use the tools in the service of learning. But more
symbolic to me than the laptops in those photos were the white lab
coats worn by the students at SLA – the uniform of inquiry.

While
some of these bright and inquiring minds brought the voices of students
in the conversations, others offered a wonderful service to the
community unable to attend by operating video cameras that made the
conversations available through U-Stream. Each of the wiki pages that accompanied the 6 strands of “conversations”, not only contain notes, digital handouts, and links, but also contain an archived U-Stream video when possible. And for those who prefer their conversatoins in a 3-D space, check out the space Konrad Glogowski created for Virtual EduCon in Second Life. The richness doesn’t stop there; hundreds of blog posts tagged EduCon
provide insights, reflections, and opportunities for the conversations
to continue. So whether you were in Philadelphia this weekend, or
elsewhere, transformative technologies coupled with thoughtful,
pedagogically sound format for a “conference “ — or “unconference” has
provided you with an entry point into the conversation. May you join
the conversation! Thank you to all who contributed to Educon and the learning that is extending from it.

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teachandlearn/

January 20, 2008

Awakening the Spirit of Innovation

Filed under: Education — Learning with Lucie @ 5:38 pm

Cross Posted on Infinite Thinking Machine Sunday, January 20, 2008

I’ve been “green” with envy as some of my colleagues who ordered an XO laptop unpack
their little GREEN machines. Mine has not arrived yet. But as I listen
to their first impression comments , I’m reminded of the VISION of the OLPC (one laptop per child) project and that the nature of children to explore, express, and learn were key in the design of this tool that would find itself in the hands of children all over the world. I hear questions like:

"Why doesn’t it come with a spreadsheet?”
“Where’s the productivity suite?”
“Would this be a tool I could use in my classroom with my students?”

Suddenly I realize that we are thinking like teachers. This tool was not designed for us. According to the OLPC website, the XO laptop was intended to give children

“…tools
for writing, composing, simulating, expressing, constructing,
designing, modeling, imagining, creating, critiquing, debugging, and
collaborating."

“The laptop takes learners beyond instruction. They are actively engaged in a process of learning through doing. …. “

“The laptop helps children build upon their active interest in the world around them to engage with powerful ideas”

The XO laptop was even designed to be taken apart and repaired by kids. No, This Does No Void the Warranty! 😉

I’m
not going to predict the impact of the OLPC, nor argue its merit. But
this event certainly has me revisiting thoughts about the impact on
society of not providing children with enough opportunity to “explore, express, and learn” . A re we continuing towards the “perfect storm” that Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson warns of if we ignore the “quiet crisis” of not growing the next generation of scientist and engineers?

While
educators have become tuned into the fact that more and more kids are
coming to school without book sense and are developing researched based
programs to address this, a kindergarten teacher in Tennessee worries “about the number of kids coming into my classroom who don’t know how scissors work.” Educational consultant, Jim Moulton, ponders the impact of this and asserts that

the
mastery of scissors is even one of the early steps on the road to
Advanced Placement physics or chemistry. I believe that the kinesthetic
experience they provide around equilibrium, experience gained in
struggling to master this simple tool so as to be able to cut
construction paper smoothly, lays a foundation for future complex
conceptual understandings.”

It was exactly this type of need that lead Gever Tuller to create the Tinkering School. Despite the provocative title of his Ted Talk “Five Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do”, the message is really about allowing kids the freedom to explore to make them stronger, smarter, and safer.

Children
receiving the XO laptops have not lacked the opportunity to explore the
principles of physics in their natural environments, but now have
access to a new tool equipped to support their desire to learn, express, and explore.
But what about places, where children currently have access to such
tools? Do they have access to the opportunity to use these tools the
way the XO laptops will be able to be used? Or will the access to these
tools continue to be stifled by “teacher think” and “school
restrictions” or “lawsuit fears” ?

Having spent many of my
teaching years reconciling the need to report on a ‘checklist’ of
foundational skills that every student must know about a subject area
with my project based learning approach, I understand the struggle.
Accountability that is based on reporting what we can measure, doesn’t
leave much time for the type exploring, expressing and learning that
grows innovators and scientists.

But as I watch the excitement
in my “grown up” friends as they explore their little green machines, I
have a renewed interest in finding ways to bring back learning by
exploration to today’s students. And I’m not talking about waiting for
the availability of the XO laptops in your country; I’m talking about
reaching for tools that are currently available that will promote this
type of learning.

  • Let’s dig out our old version of Incredible Machine or look for new games like Crayon Physics that stimulate innovative thinking in our students.
  • Let’s get rid of the obstacles that prevent tools like the many WEB 2.0 applications from being fully deployed in schools. Ning, Wikispaces, and Voice Threads are
    leading the way by adding features that make it possible to safely
    deploy these excting tools thus supporting this type of learning in
    schools.
  • Let’s share
    the resouces we find with our fellow educators and support a network of
    educators who are committed to give this generation of “incredible thinking machines” — our students—the resources, the permission, the encouragement, the guidance they need to use technology in the spirit of innovation.

I invite readers to share
some of the games, tools, web 2.0 apps, etc. that they feel have this
type of potential. I’d love to do a followup post filled with these
resources.