Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An educational vision worth sustaining

Note: I like Gary's abrasiveness, humor, directness, and the ability to make me think...

Gary Stager's session at the One-to-One conference concerns a critical conversation: An educational vision worth sustaining. His points:
  • Let them build upon their strengths - forget the ditial immigrant etc.
  • Bad educational ideas are quite easy to sustain.
  • What are the good ideas?

He discusses 3 types of laptop schools:
  1. the pioneers- the schools are not good enough and relevant to kids
  2. the marketeers - embrace laptops in order to get themselves in the newspaper (he notes, leverage that to your advantage but not the primary focus)
  3. their neighbors - schools who embrace with fanfare with no idea what they are going to do with them
He states:
If you are achieving your educational goals then your goals are too low. It should challenge us to do better. It is not a program. It is not a project or a experiment.

The myths:
  • cost is an obstacle to doing the right thing. Reality: Free is the reason for doing something.
  • cool technology does not always pay off educationally
  • laptops should be immobile - Mobile removes time, removes school on the monopoly on learning
  • changing OS represents educational change
  • there is a hierarchy of software
  • fluency is possible when we keep changing software
  • kids are incompetent or evil
  • parent won't get it
  • go slow
  • teachers should get a computer a year early - Reality: the professional development that year is all about chores that replace what teachers always hate doing. can't change practice unless you see what is possible
  • professional development works - it does not work. we make artificial place and ways to learn it.
  • online textbooks personalize programs
  • schools should be like a video game
  • web 2.0 will revolutionize education - it is all about identity and removing isolation. we have done that to ourselves.
  • the tools should be on language arts
  • learning is about access to information. Reality: It is about creation and sharing - real things for real audiences
  • online collaboration is the magic bullet
  • nothing else should change Reality: make plans for moving forward
Does the chld program the computer or does the computer program the child?
Construction of material - brings deeper richer brader experiences.

We should design a video game not just consume them
Using programs such as :scratch, stagecast creator, toontalk, agensheets, turtleart, squeek, netlogo, sketchpad. Better yet: build your own sketchpad.

Build new opportunities and new experiences!

A good prompt is worth 1,000 words:
  1. a good prompt, challenge problem or motivation
  2. appropriate materials
  3. sufficient time
  4. supportive culture that includes expertise
Four ways to use materials:
  1. teach a specific concept - gears, friction, multiplication of fractions
  2. thematic projects - factory, amusement park, airport
  3. curricular theme identify a problem in sub saharan africa
  4. freestyle
What to think about:
  • Monumental vs. substantial work - substantial does something and allows for feedback, etc.
  • verbal inflation - can you do the same thing without the computer app? So what? Why do you need it? Why do you use it? Wat are we teaching?
  • genre study and variety the autobiography
  • the digital video rule - video should be shorter and it should be edited one more time - need high expectations - it is part of the process - something that is genuinely valuable
Educational leadership and progress is not about addition. It is about subtraction. We need a role in shaping the future for kids - so now what should go?

Zero based reflective planning - build the network from the learner up - both an educational an network approach.

The bottom line: Less us and more of them! We need to take ourselves and egos out of all of this.

Make memories: 10 things to do with a computer:
  1. write a novel
  2. share your knowledge
  3. answer tough questions
  4. make sense of data
  5. design a video game
  6. build a killer robot
  7. lose weight
  8. direct a blockbuster
  9. compose a symphony
  10. change the world - (my note: love that one!)
  11. be a mathematician, or scientist, or engineer, or luther, or...
We need to raise our game! At the faculty meeting, we need to share what are the incredible things... teachers need to start talking about their own learning...

He suggests to create a culture of reflective practice. My note: So what can I do to promote that? Maybe a coach's group that will be more reflective. We need to talk about the constraints that compromise the good things that we can do. Articulate in order to make the change. How do other teachers embrace learning for their own benefit? What can we say about the values of the things students do? How can we articulate the benefits of the technology?

Tags: Gary Stager, innovation, education

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