Friday, May 20, 2011

Things I'm excited about...the Makerbot

This is the kind of stuff that I'm excited about in the area of educational technology lately. One of my professional goals is to increase opportuntiies for kids to create and make objects that have personal meaning to them. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I am going to give kids the chance to create stuff with the maker bot at my new school.

What is your school community doing to give learners the chance to make cool objects??

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What project based learning isn't

I love this image and quote from Darren Kuropatwa over at the Great Quotes about Learning and Change Flickr Photo pool.

It sums up many of the challenges I've grappled with when designing learning experiences with teachers through the years.

I'm a firm believer that knowledge is the direct consequence of our experiences-it's essentially how we learn everything...until we go to school that is.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Videos of Arduino in action

While I don't own any Arduino components, I'm quickly becoming captivated by the potential of this platform to encourage kids to play, tinker, explore and create cool objects that they dream up. Arduino is a powerful open source hardware programming system that is used by engineers and artists alike. See this article from the New York Times on how artists and museums are using the platform to create interactive, low cost exhibits.

I'm much, much more excited about the potential of Arduino in K12 than any emerging educational technologies, including the iPad. I could see kids making interactive toys, alarms for their rooms/lockers/lunch boxes, interactive displays for their art work, and more. Arduino is interdisciplinary by nature and brings together skills from a wide range of disciplines.

Below you'll find just a few videos that demonstrate the kinds of things that can be built on this platform. I think they'll give you a sense as to why I'm so excited about Arduino!

In the video below, a guy shares his Arduino based system that he used for locating his bike in the herd of bikes at Burning Man. His project description and write-up is posted here.

Interactive Talking Toy:

Interactive Talking Plush Portal Turret from Jonathan M. Guberman on Vimeo.

Arduino controlled 'Wirebot':

Sunday, May 01, 2011

"Is Social Media Ruining Students?" and more questions

The results of a survey on this topic were published as an info-graphic in the 'Education Database Online Blog' at the end of April.' To be fair, the survey doesn't aim to provide a yes or no answer to such a complicated question, but as an advocate of using social media to improve many different parts of the teaching and learning process, I find myself quite defensive. It seems we're so eager to readily dismiss new opportunities to engage students without scrutinizing some of the questionable practices that have been in our schools for eons. 

I'm glad we have a desire to deeply interrogate the intersection of new media and learning. However, I hope we're equally critical and introspective regarding all forms of technology, systems, pedagogy and methods when it comes to learning.

In this light, here are a few questions that I have:

1. Is lecture ruining students?
2. Do standardized tests ruin students?
3. Do solitary, paper and pencil final exams ruin students?
4. Does homework ruin students?
5. Does project based learning ruin students?
6. Does the non-stop reading of books ruin students?
7. Does google ruin students?
8. Does play or a lack of play ruin students?

9. Do school based reward and award incentives ruin students? 
10. Does the use of processed, packaged and unhealthy foods in school lunches ruin students?

This list could go on and on. Let's be sure we're asking all of the tough questions as we imagine and create the best learning design possible for youth.