Feel the beat of technology

This course gave me great insight into the mind of the teachers with regard to technology. It was a great reminder of the broad range of ideas and skills that our teachers have. I particularly enjoyed watching teachers realize the power of the personal learning network. It seems to me that many teachers, before this course, would not have thought to create a PLN. Personally it challenged me to expand my PLN and think of new ways to use it. There are certain things I can just Google and get enough information to move forward, but there are plenty of things that I need personal responses to. I need ideas, I need people to reflect on my ideas.

My final project was a little bit of a stretch for me as I based it on a musical idea and I am not a musician. Also, I confess, I saw this app on Facebook (not the actual app, but rather just a video of someone using the app, then I discovered what the app was, then started thinking of how it could be used in school.) I realize this is a backward way to work but that is just the life of a techie sometimes 🙂 What I love about this rhythm lesson is the creative part. Yes, it involves technical skills (learning to use the app) but I can picture the students in the classroom really getting into the creation aspect and having a blast. These are my favorite technology lessons, those that do something not possible without the tech but that embed it so that you don’t think much about the tech. This lesson lets students use the tech but not not “for tech’s sake” but rather for music’s sake!

I had a few other ideas for this lesson. Initially I wanted to do a lesson built on this idea of “100 years – 100 faces”. Over the course of a few week students would collect 100 photos of people of 100 different ages. This media project could involve almost endless variety since you could make it revolve around culture, language, health, etc. Simply telling the stories of the people though the photos could be so powerful. Obviously this one is not totally hashed out and is more of a unit plan than a single lesson so I put that one on hold and decided to go with this music lesson.

I wanted to thank Dana and Gary for their excellent work on this course. It was great to have dedicated time to be with teachers and talk about the impact of tech on our professional lives. Thanks to you both for a job well done! My work in this course certainly does not represent my best work, not even close, but in the real world most of my time is dedicated to the daily part of my “day job”!

David Beaty – Advanced Rhythm (Final Project)

Crowdsourcing garden plants

Okay so I admit, I have been a little obsessed with the crowdsourcing idea for a while. This obsession was recently fueled by a conversation I had with a friend of mine who owns an mobile app development company. I was listening to him explain how they made a gardening app. Gardening is the number two hobby in the US… Blah Blah Blah, my mind wandered.

“And there are some tree apps that can identify leaves using a technology like Google Googles.”

The geek in me perked up, imagining the algorithms they use to look at the color and shape, comparing it to similar images, considering the sender of the search request (I am not sure if they do that but they should)

“Actually I think people could do it better,” he said.

Now he was on to a translation app they are working on. Yes, of course, people can do it better. Blah Blah Blah… But then it hit me. He was talking about crowdsourcing. In actual fact, his company pays translators to look at each photo of text to be translated and return results, an expensive method. This is where the conversation got interesting. Why not require the users to do two translations of their own before they get to see the answer to their translation request. Why not require people to identify two plants before they get theirs identified? This is the kind of crowdsourcing I can see really working well. The power of the people, for the people. This fits in line with another one of my posts about the growth of open universities. It’s like the micro-loans that have become popular in recent years. Collectively we have the knowledge to educate the world, but I guess we can start by helping our neighbors identify those plants in their garden.

Technology amplifies

I have often said that technology amplifies. Motivated students get more motivated. Students that are prone to wander have a great “tool” for that. Take mobile learning for instance. Motivated learners are able to learn anything at any time. Don’t know the word your teacher just used? Google it on your phone. On the other hand, if you are prone to the dark side, you may find that you can send harassing SMSs from any point on the globe from the convenience of your mobile device.

Also of particular interest to me is the concept of open education. From the beginning I have said that this style of education fits me well. I have always loved learning and never been about proving I know something. In other words, the thought that I can go to iTunes U or even YouTube and get the info I need is perfect for me. Actually, beyond “information” I can actually get the “complete package” of a course that will show me how to make an app for my iPhone for instance. Oxford, iTunes, MIT etc. all offer at least some of their courses available for free online. Did you catch that? MIT is offering its courses for free! (and has been doing so for some time) So what’s to stop my from getting my “degree” (without the diploma) from MIT? This is going to change education from the ground up. What’s to stop people from demonstrating they know their content (provided they have the skills, etc. to go along with it) and land themselves a job? One of our readings from this week indicates that the university has historically been the icon of advanced learning. I wonder how long that will be the case. After all, two of the world’s most famous IT leaders, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, did not take formal college courses beyond a few years. How would like change if students did not need us to educate them and sign the paper (diploma) that says they are certified to attend university. I keep hearing that the MA is the new BA. How and why is this true since if some much of what we need to know is open and free?



Don’t be afraid to fail

A favorite speaker of mine, Tony Campolo, talked once about a study done of old people. The researcher asked of these octogenarians, “If you had to do life over again, what would you change?” They responded with three things:

a. They would risk more.

b. They would reflect more.

c. They would do more things that would live on after they were dead.

Personally I favor the last one. I want to re-focus my life to do more things that will live on after I am dead. For me, these are things that bring people (myself, my family, etc.) closer to Jesus. This can take on a lot of different faces, but mostly it just involves loving people.

After this major objective of mine come the other two things: take more risks and reflect more. Teachers, join me in the risk taking. You moved around the world to take a job in India for goodness sake. Take that same spirit of adventure with you into the classroom with regards to technology. Try a new tool. Let your students create a totally off-the-wall tech embedded project. Do an “anything goes” creative digital project that involves students from around the world. Take 1 photo a day of 1 person and string them together to tell a story (100 faces in 100 days project) Let your students make a video, about anything at all, and them challenge them to connect it to the unit. Let a mentally challenged adult or VOP (very old person) take part in your next lesson to give your students perspective (perhaps via Skype but in person is even better!)

That’s right, get out of your comfort zone (I am talking loudest to myself) and don’t be afraid to FAIL. After all if you never fail you are probably not challenging yourself.

What are your hopes and expectations for the course with at least one reflection from the assigned readings from class.

My hope for this course is that I can begin being a thought leader in this field. I am ready to stop following and start leading more.

I am not a big fan of the Christiansen article. I have read most of his book and honestly he just keeps on pointing to “computer based education” as the golden solution. Yes, it is very promising and will certainly play an increasing role in the future of education, but the world is bigger thank just getting a computer in front of every student.

I related best to the Richardson article. Perhaps it is the most modern of the four articles, but for some reason it just struck home. One thing they almost all had In common was the call for teachers to “wake up”. Honestly I am tired of this call to wake up. I am awake ad ready to roll. I want to hear more from those who are living it and less from those who are calling on teachers to to take action.

Other very random thoughts:

“For educators and the schools in which they teach, the challenges of this moment are significant. Our ability to learn whatever we want, whenever we want, from whomever we want is rendering the linear, age-grouped, teacher-guided curriculum less and less relevant.”
Then why the heck are we all taking this masters class?

Random thought after reading about all this anytime, anywhere learning:

Sense making is mentioned and I love emphasizing the need for this skill.

Last article. We have moved on from this 10 year old idea of building robots. Now we think of cool things for the robot to do. Just my $.02.

Where is your comfort level when it comes to educational technology and information literacy?

I have a high level of comfort with educational technology. It is loads of fun for me and very professionally satisfying to work with people around educational technology. As the Director of Technology for the American Embassy School, my world is somewhat divided between the technical and the instructional. I like the challenge that provides!