This post discusses some of the challenges and proposed solutions for implementing maker education activities into a learning setting. Several trends drive this post:
- The Play Deficit – diminishing amount of free play in which kids engage
- Lack of creativity and innovation in children’s lives and toys
- The Maker Movement -Maker Education
The Play Deficit
I think many adults, me included, have fond memories of free play during our childhoods . . . playing kickball and tag at recess, flipping baseball cards, creating carnivals in the backyard . . . all done without any guidance or interference from adults. These memories are more vivid for me than any time I spent in school. Fast forward to today . . . school recess is shortened or does not exist at all, kids come home from school and sit in front of TVs or computers playing structured games, teens lives are structured with school, sports, social events with no free time.
The health of a society should be measured by the health of its play. The play of a healthy society should be rich and varied: imaginative, dramatic, physical, cooperative, solitary. Play should be afforded the same importance as math and reading, valued as truly integral to curriculum, as the foundation of learning. Yet, a current Play Deficit exists. It is the very real decline in child-driven, unstructured play in U.S. society, and it has critical implications for the physical and developmental health of children and adolescents as well as the health of communities. Signs of the Play Deficit can be found almost everywhere. http://altarum.org/health-policy-blog
The benefits of play, although hard to measure, cannot be overstated.
A playful society is filled with problem-solving, resiliency, communication, and exploration of acceptable boundaries and risk. Play promotes all these faculties, and more. While hard at play, we unwittingly built the cognitive, social-emotional, and physical skills which continued to support us as we made the transition to adulthood. http://altarum.org/health-policy-blogThe health of a society should be measured by the health of its play. The play of a healthy society should be rich and varied: imaginative, dramatic, physical, cooperative, solitary. Children—in urban, suburban, and rural areas—should have ample and easy access to safe and stimulating outdoor play spaces: creeks, woods, adventure playgrounds, pocket parks. Caregivers and parents should feel comfortable allowing children the time, independence, and freedom to play in their neighborhoods. Kids should be safe playing outside. Play should be afforded the same importance as math and reading, valued as truly integral to curriculum, as the foundation of learning – See more at: http://altarum.org/health-policy-blog/public-health%E2%80%99s-untold-crisis-the-play-deficit#sthash.8tFXNgnW.dpufThe health of a society should be measured by the health of its play. The play of a healthy society should be rich and varied: imaginative, dramatic, physical, cooperative, solitary. Children—in urban, suburban, and rural areas—should have ample and easy access to safe and stimulating outdoor play spaces: creeks, woods, adventure playgrounds, pocket parks. Caregivers and parents should feel comfortable allowing children the time, independence, and freedom to play in their neighborhoods. Kids should be safe playing outside. Play should be afforded the same importance as math and reading, valued as truly integral to curriculum, as the foundation of learning – See more at: http://altarum.org/health-policy-blog/public-health%E2%80%99s-untold-crisis-the-play-deficit#sthash.8tFXNgnW.dpuf
At play, children learn the most important of life’s lessons. To learn these lessons well, children need lots of play — lots and lots of it, without interference from adults. what children in our culture want to learn when they are free turns out to be skills that are valued in our culture and that lead to good jobs and satisfying lives. When they play, these students learn to read, calculate, and use computers with the same playful passion with which hunter-gatherer kids learn to hunt and gather. They don’t necessarily think of themselves as learning. They think of themselves as just playing, or ‘doing things’, but in the process they are learning. http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/children-today-are-suffering-a-severe-deficit-of-play/
Lack of creativity and innovation in children’s toys.
The symptoms of the play deficit can be seen in the types of commercial toys being bought and sold. Legos provide the perfect example of the changing nature of toys.
Lego, loosely translated, means “to put together” in Latin. But “to put together” doesn’t fully encompass the value – and purpose – of those buckets of colorful bricks. Legos are about putting together, then taking apart, then reassembling in new ways. Legos unleashed my creativity when I was growing up. They drew out the part of me that had to know what things looked like from the inside out, how they worked, how they might work better. Since that time, Legos have changed. Instead of all-purpose boxes of bricks, with no rules or instruction manuals, the company now sells Star Wars Legos and Harry Potter Legos, complete with step-by-step instructions and stated objectives. Follow these steps to build a Jedi Starfighter or Hogwarts Castle; when you’re done, your creation should look just like the picture on the box. These Legos require a level of precision, and a measure of patience. But no longer are they about imagination; instead, the point is replication. In an essay in his wonderful collection, Manhood for Amateurs, Michael Chabon described the transformation like this: “Where Lego-building had once been open-ended and exploratory, it now [has] far more in common with puzzle-solving, a process of moving incrementally toward an ideal, pre-established, and above all, a provided solution.”
Still, we lose something when the nondescript buckets of freeform Lego bricks are moved to the back of the toy store, while the highly specialized Disney sets fly off the shelves. We lose that chance to inspire a future engineer, the one who will grow up to revolutionize solar power, or make the iPhone as obsolete as Steve Jobs made the Discman. This isn’t just about Lego bricks and Star Wars kits; it isn’t just about playthings. It’s about the way we prioritize and encourage creativity in society. Which is to say that we don’t do it nearly enough. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/01/27/parents-buy-kids-legos-but-throw-away-the-instructions/
Many of kids’ toys are promoted and sold with directions, solutions to problems, and expectations for end products. Creativity and innovation are enhanced when directions and expected end products are intentionally omitted from the toy packaging.
The Result: Uncreative Children
No free time play time to experience, interact with, and experiment with the real world; toys that lack room for divergent and creative play; and a school system that focus more on results, accountability, and standardized products has led to a society of less creative children and research provides some evidence of this.
In a 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, found creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas, Kim said. Experts say creativity is innate, so it can’t really be lost. But it needs to be nurtured. “It’s not that creativity can necessarily disappear,” said Ron Beghetto, an education psychologist at the University of Oregon. “But it can be suppressed in particular contexts. “The current focus on testing in schools, and the idea that there is only one right answer to a question, may be hampering development of creativity among kids, Beghetto said. “There’s not much room for unexpected, novel, divergent thought,” he said. http://www.livescience.com/15535-children-creative.html
At least two conclusions can be drawn from this literature:
- Making, creating, innovating, experimenting is needed now more than ever in this rapidly evolving world and our children are severely lacking in these skills
- If these skills are to be integrated into formal and informal learning settings, some direct instruction and scaffolding will need to occur.
The maker movement and education has the potential to do both.
The Maker Movement – Maker Education
Thanks to new rapid-prototyping technologies like computer numerical control milling and 3-D printing, we’ve seen a convergence between hacker and hipster, between high-tech coding and the low-tech artisanal craft behind everything from Etsy to Burning Man. Maker culture, for all its love of stuff, is similarly a culture of resourcefulness in an era of economic scarcity: relentless in its iterative prototyping, its radically adaptive reuse of ready-made objects, its tendency to unmake one thing to make another — all in a new ecology of economy http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/opinion/sunday/learning-from-legos.html?_r=1
The Maker movement has sparked a Maker Education trend in some informal and formal education settings. The intent and mission of the maker movement is:
Fortunately for educators, making overlaps with the natural inclination of children to learn by doing. The maker movement values human passion, capability, and the ability to make things happen and solve problems anywhere, anytime. The maker movement treats children as if they were competent. Too many schools do not. Making builds on each child’s passion by connecting their whole being with constructive materials in a flow that results in fantastic artifacts that almost always exceed our expectations. We want our kids so engaged in projects that they lose track of time or wake up in the middle of the night counting the minutes until they get to return to school. Never before have there been more exciting materials and technology for children to use as intellectual laboratories or vehicles for self-expression.
The learning-by-doing approach also has precedents in education: project-based learning, Jean Piaget’s constructivism, and Seymour Papert’s constructionism. These theories explain the remarkable accomplishments of young makers and remind educators that every classroom needs to be a place where, as Piaget taught, “knowledge is a consequence of experience.” http://www.iste.org/learn/publications/learning-leading/issues/l-l-may-2014/feature-the-maker-movement-a-learning-revolution
So, in essence, the maker movement-maker education can counteract the negative effects that school and our society have had on children’s and young people’s playfulness and creativity.
Scaffolding and Building Skills as a Foundation to Making
Maybe in the past, educators could throw out a bunch of materials and tools; and ask the kids to create, but as discussed in the previous sections, many of today’s kids don’t know how to just make. Also some of the more common technologies built into some of the new maker tools (i.e., Arduino, Makey-Makey, Little Bits, 3D printers) require some basic user skills. The scaffolding of learning needs to occur. Learning and developing basic maker skills can occur through direct instruction by the educator, watching videos, using manuals, and learning from peers.
It is important, though, that the learning experience doesn’t stop there. Learners need the time, tools, encouragement, and support to go beyond the “what already is” to build and develop new and unique designs.
In conclusion, for maker education and similar initiatives that drive and are driven by innovation and creativity to work, several things need to occur given today’s learning and teaching climate
- Educators and other involved in curriculum development would need to let go of the focus on deliverables, measurables, and expected products. The process of doing and creating needs to be the focus.
- Creativity, innovation, experimentation, tolerance and acceptance of mistakes need to be viewed as being as or even more important as learning content area knowledge,
- The educator should take on the role of lead learner – demonstrating, modeling, and scaffolding the use of the maker education tools and techniques.
- Educators would need to let go of control and embrace the ambiguity that comes with the messy learning of maker education.
- A sense of play and fun should be expected as part of these learning activities.
- In essence, the educator’s role in this learning environment would be a tour guide of learning possibilities. S/he would show learners the possibilities and then get out of the way.
The educator’s role has or should change in this age of information abundance or Education 2.0-3.0. The educator’s role has always been to model and demonstrate effective learning, but somewhere along the line, the major role of the educator became that of content and knowledge disseminater. Now in this information age content is freely and abundantly available, it is more important than ever to assist learners in the process of how to learn.
The world is changing at a rapidly accelerating pace. What you learn today can quickly become outdated. HOW to learn, though, is a skill that lasts a lifetime. When you think about it–it makes sense for us to be taught how to learn before we are taught any specific subject matter. But rarely, if ever, does that happen (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gurbaksh-chahal/learning-how-to-learn-wha_b_4790668.html).
A major role of the educator is or should be to model or demonstrate the hows or processes of learning!
Research has shown that modeling is an effective instructional strategy in that it allows students to observe the teacher’s thought processes. Using this type of instruction, teachers engage students in imitation of particular behaviors that encourage learning (http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4697).
In some educational arenas, educators are being titled as lead learners to emphasize and model the educator as a learner.
Significant changes are taking place in our society and cultures, largely driven by the participative and collaborative technologies of the Web. New technologies are re-framing expectations for teaching and learning as well as the importance of helping students “learn how to learn” and become self-directed. Web 2.0 and social media are also providing new opportunities for teachers to not only help shape new learning practices, but to become re-energized learners themselves–and to model that learning in significant ways to students. Steve Hargedon http://www.edjewcon.org/blog/steve-hargadons-closing-keynote-school-2-0-becoming-the-lead-learner/
“Teaching” the process of learning has the following characteristics:
- Modeling of learning processes needs to be intentional, strategic, and overt.
- The educator should be familiar with and able to demonstrate metacognitive processes. “The most effective learners are metacognitive; that is, they are mindful of how they learn, set personal learning goals, regularly self-assess and adjust their performance, and use strategies to support their learning” (http://sites.cdnis.edu.hk/school/ls/2011/05/12/teachers-as-lead-learners/).
- For authenticity purposes, the teacher – lead learner should model learning something s/he previously did not know.
- Technology has changed the way people access and learn information and procedural knowledge, educators should demonstrate how to learn using technology.
This would require several shifts:
- Teacher education would need to devote more time, opportunities, and strategies for pre-service teachers to learn about metacognition, how people learn, and how to model-demonstrate-teach the process of learning.
- The educator, him-herself, would need to develop an attitude of the importance of assisting students how to learn.
- The systems of education would also need to focus on the process of learning as a top priority or skill for students to develop.
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/7777942490/
Ethical decision-making should be included as a 21st century skill (overused term but don’t know of an alternative). Some would profess that ethical decision-making has always been a needed skill. But we are living in the most complex era of human history. Information access and abundance, and emerging technologies are advancing, and being developed and disseminated at rates that the human mind often cannot comprehend. Now more than ever ethics should be integrated into young people’s educations.
Society is a dynamic system. It must, by nature, evolve in order to survive. As we develop the new definitions of appropriate behavior in the online environment it is imperative that many members of society be engaged in this ongoing dialogue. An informed community and active discussion of ethical issues will enable society to determine civil and just manners to deal with the nuances of technological advancement (Rezmierski, 1992). By opening this dialogue within the K-12 environment, teachers will be able to prepare students to understand the proper use of technology and explore the issues that will continue to unfold (Using Moral Development Theory to Teach K-12 Cyber Ethics).
Every day, news of cyber-crime, theft of intellectual property, or the next cyber-bully suicide is part of today’s reality. School districts all across America must ensure that cyber ethics is part of curriculum. Today’s student is tomorrow’s business leader. Each student should have the ability to receive proper education. In order for students to receive that education, each teacher needs to go through adequate training in order to provide a solid foundation to each student. Current statistics should be a national wakeup call to act and provide teachers the proper tools necessary. The future of this nation’s infrastructure will depend on it (Should it be mandatory for schools to teach cyber ethics?)
Each year, the John J. Reilly Center puts out List of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology. These can be used as a source for ethical dilemma discussions in middle school and high schools classes:
- The Right to Privacy versus the Right to Know: The dizzying advances and the ubiquitous nature of communications and computers, and the astounding increases in the amount of data produced and collected in the world, have fundamentally changed the meaning of what constitutes an expectation of privacy. Computer data mining systems and advanced statistical techniques, operating on prodigious amounts of structured data, pictures, and numerous electronic signals, are allowing unprecedented knowledge of individual preferences and behavior. In addition, individuals freely share surprising amounts of private information – which becomes searchable and discoverable – on social media systems and commercial sites. Unfortunately, the policies, regulations, laws and ethical codes of behavior in regard to privacy and data have lagged far behind technology development, reflecting instead twentieth-century precedent and case law. (Data Collection and Privacy)
- Internet Access as a Human Right: Mobile wireless connectivity is having a profound effect on society in both developed and developing countries. The penetration of smart phones and tablets has led to consistent doubling of mobile data usage on an annual basis, which is putting tremendous pressure on telecommunication networks and the government bodies that regulate the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. These technologies are completely transforming how we communicate, conduct business, learn, form relationships, navigate, and entertain ourselves. This confluence of wireless technology developments and societal needs present numerous challenges and opportunities for making the most effective use of the radio spectrum. How can we make the most effective use of the precious radio spectrum, and to close the digital access divide for underserved (rural, low-income, developing areas) populations? (List of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology 2013)
- Data Chip Implants in Humans: From locating lost children to keeping your financial data and medical records handy, we’re about to see a surge in datachip implants. Able to transmit and store data, chips will soon enable us to verify our identities, see if our children have traversed the boundaries (or “hopped the geofences”) we set for them, give paramedics and doctors immediate access to our medical records, allow us to go wallet-free as we pay for our groceries via a handswipe, or even store our educational and employment data for a job interview. Can these implants become a mandatory form of ID? How do we protect our privacy from hackers? Can this data be sold to law enforcement or other companies? Does the good outweigh the bad? (List of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology 2014)
- Neuro-enhancements: Brain stimulation devices are most commonly used in treatment for various neurological and behavioral conditions, but the same technology can be used to enhance the human brain beyond its natural abilities. But should it? And at what point do we cross the line? Do we have a responsibility to be the best humans we can be? (List of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology 2014)
- Human-Machine Interfaces: Thus far, the main purpose for developing brain-computer interfaces has been to allow amputees and those who suffer from paralysis to mentally control a mobile robot or robotic prosthesis. They have already made possible some remarkable feats, such as partial restoration of hearing in the deaf, direct brain control of a prosthesis, implanting false memories in a rat, and downloading a rat’s memory of how to press a lever to get food and then uploading the memory after the original memory has been chemically destroyed.. And if we can implant wiring, then, in principle, we can turn the body or any part of it into a computer. But while most of us have no problem with prosthetic limbs, even those directly actuated by the brain, nor with pace makers, or cochlear implants, we may feel uncomfortable becoming part machine. At what point does the interface between body and machine dissolve? When we can make our bodies part machine, is it necessary to redefine personhood? Will we all be assimilated? (List of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology 2014)
- Predictive Policing: The National Institute of Justice defines predictive policing as “taking data from disparate sources, analyzing them and then using the results to anticipate, prevent and respond more effectively to future crime.” Some of these disparate sources include crime maps, traffic camera data, other surveillance footage, and social media network analysis. But at what point does the possibility of a crime require intervention? Should someone be punished for a crime they are likely to commit, based on these sources? Are we required to inform potential victims? (List of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology 2014)
Learners can also examine and analyze recent court cases related to online behavior:
- In the 2010 Roger Corey Bonsant case, Bonsant, then a 17-year-old high school student, was arrested and charged with criminal defamation after he was accused of creating a fake Facebook page using a teacher’s name and image. While the case is still being decided, this is an example of criminal ramifications that students may face for participating in dubious online acts.
- Several cases exist in which students who created false Facebook or MySpace pages featuring the names and likenesses of teachers and administrators. On these pages, students published items painting the educators as drug and sex addicts. In some cases school punishments were reversed by courts, due to the fact that the student activity took place off school grounds and presumably was not sufficiently “disruptive” of the school environment to override the students’ right to free speech. The victims depicted in these false Facebook pages could very well have filed charges, however.
- In 2011, a 12-year-old Seattle girl was arrested and charged with cyberstalking and first-degree computer trespassing. Authorities alleged that she stole a former friend’s Facebook password, logged into the account and posted explicit content. She was found guilty and sentenced to probation. (The girls’ school does not seem to have been involved in this case.)
- Six Nevada middle-schoolers were arrested in January, 2011 for using Facebook to invite other students to take part in “Attack a Teacher Day.” They were all arrested and charged with communicating threats, as several specific teachers were called out in posts to the Web site.
- In the Phoebe Prince case, Prince was bullied (both in person and online) by a group of teens at her Massachusetts high school after it was discovered she had a brief relationship with a boy. The boy’s girlfriend and a group of her friends systematically tormented Prince in retaliation. The bullying was considered a factor in Prince’s January 2010 suicide. All the teens involved were arrested on manslaughter charges. They eventually pled guilty to lesser crimes and were sentenced to probation and community service. See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson-plan-booster/cyber-ethics.shtml#sthash.x9lXKv3v.dpuf
Some of the results or benefits of intentionally teaching ethics at school:
- Helps develop critical thinking skills
- Focuses on higher levels of Blooms’ taxonomy of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation
- Assists learners in becoming critical consumers of technology
- Facilitates the exploration of real world, authentic problems
- Develops knowledge, skills, and judgement that can be used in both personal life and later in the workforce
Yep, I was one of those kids, “Teacher, why do I need to know this?” Teachers thought I was being a smarta–. This is farthest from the truth . . . I really wanted to know.
So I was excited when Daniel Pink in his keynote at the ASCD 2014 stated to the audience of educators that the WHYs are as or even more important than the HOWs but that the education setting often does not focus on the WHYs. He suggested the following:
As Danel Pink noted in his keynote, it is a human need to know why.
We are meaning-seeking creatures. We seek to understand the reason for almost everything that happens in the course of each day. Why is what drives not only everything we do, but also our emotional reactions to everything that happens to us. We’re simply far more likely to accept a change if we understand the reason for it. Interestingly, our acceptance seems to hinge less on how much we like the reason and more on how much sense the reason makes to us (Why We Need To Know Why).
I believe that it is a student right to know the answer to “Why Do I Need to Know This?” about about topic being presented to them in the school setting. Chris Lehmann of the Science Leadership Academy does a great job addressing this in Why Do We Need to Know This?
It is the question that many teachers hate to hear from students in their classrooms. Whether it is the format of the Shakespearean Sonnet, the Pythagorean theorem, or why the Periodic Table of Elements is organized the way that it is, kids spend a lot of time in schools wondering why they are learning what seems like a disconnected series of facts and skills that don’t seem to have much importance to the lives they are leading. And from time to time, the bravest of students will screw up the courage to ask that question.
Sadly, too often, the answers (when a teacher is even willing to engage with the question) students range from “It is going to be on the test,” to “It will help you some day,” to “It’ll help you get into college.” When really, more often than not, it’s because the subject matter in question is “part of the curriculum.” If a student is lucky, the teacher is teaching that particular thing because the teacher has a real passion for the subject, but even that really doesn’t answer the question in any meaningful way.
If we remember that the time students spend in school is supposed to be about helping them to become better citizens, then the question of “Why do we need to know this?” becomes essential to what and why we teach. The questions and answers that follow the asking of the question should and will have profound implications on both our content and our pedagogy. And if we create our learning spaces as places where the question, “Why do I need to know this?” is actually the right of every student to ask, but is the first, most exciting question of every day, we can create vibrant, powerfully relevant classes that engage and empower everyone in it.
Self-Directed or User-Generated Learning
To take it a step farther, “Why Do I Need to Know This?” is naturally embedded into the learning experience when students engage in interested-driven self-directed learning. This is line with moving from Education 1.0 to Education 3.0 as I discuss in Education 3.0: Altering Round Peg in Round Hole Education. In the case of Education 3.0, the roles become reverse as the learner then needs to articulate the WHYs of his/her studies to the educator and his/her peers.
Evolution, in its broadest sense, serves as a force to help humans move towards a better way of living given the current times or Zeitgeist. It follows, then, that the education field should evolve as new opportunities and forces emerge and present themselves. But in general, this is not the case. From the Time Magazine article, How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century
There’s a dark little joke exchanged by educators with a dissident streak: Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred-year snooze and is, of course, utterly bewildered by what he sees. Men and women dash about, talking to small metal devices pinned to their ears. Young people sit at home on sofas, moving miniature athletes around on electronic screens. Older folk defy death and disability with metronomes in their chests and with hips made of metal and plastic. Airports, hospitals, shopping malls–every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when he finally walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. “This is a school,” he declares. “We used to have these back in 1906. Only now the blackboards are white.”
The evolution of education can be explained from moving from Education 1.0 to Education 3.0. I have discussed Education 3.0 in several blog posts:
- Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0
- Education 3.0: Altering Round Peg in Round Hole Education
- Education 3.0 and the Pedagogy (Andragogy, Heutagogy) of Mobile Learning
Briefly, Education 1.0, 2.0. and 3.0 is explained as:
Education 1.0 can be likened to Web 1.0 where there is a one-way dissemination of knowledge from teacher to student. It is a type of essentialist, behaviorist education based on the three Rs – receiving by listening to the teacher; responding by taking notes, studying text, and doing worksheets; and regurgitating by taking standardized tests which in reality is all students taking the same test. Learners are seen as receptacles of that knowledge and as receptacles, they have no unique characteristics. All are viewed as the same. It is a standardized/one-size-fits-all education.
Similar to Web 2.0, Education 2.0 includes more interaction between the teacher and student; student to student; and student to content/expert. Education 2.0, like Web 2.0, permits interactivity between the content and users, and between users themselves. Education 2.0 has progressive roots where the human element is important to learning. The teacher-to-student and student-to-student relationships are considered as part of the learning process. It focuses on the three Cs – communicating, contributing, and collaborating.
Education 3.0 is based on the belief that content is freely and readily available as is characteristic of Web 3.0. It is self-directed, interest-based learning where problem-solving, innovation and creativity drive education. Education 3.0 is also about the three Cs but a different set – connectors, creators, constructivists. These are qualitatively different than the three Cs of Education 2.0. Now they are nouns which translates into the art of being a self-directed learner rather than doing learning as facilitated by the educator. Education 3.0: Altering Round Peg in Round Hole Education
Emerging technologies is, can be, should be a driving force of this evolution towards Education 3.0. Information access, communication methods, the ability for creative express is qualitatively different than any other time in history due to technological advances.
The SAMR model was developed by as a framework to integrate technology into the curriculum. I believe it can also serve as a model to establish and assess if and how technology is being used to reinforce an old, often archaic Education 1.0 or being used to promote and facilitate what many are calling 21st century skills, i.e., creativity, innovation, problem-solving, critical thinking; those skills characteristic of Education 3.0. Many look at SAMR as the stages of technology integration. I propose that it should be a model for educators to focus on Modification and Redefinition areas of technology integration. Why should educators spend their time recreating Education 1.0 using technology at the substitution and augmentation levels when there are tools, techniques, and opportunities to modify and redefine technology integration for a richer, more engaging Education 2.0 or 3.0?
The following chart provides an overview of the ideas discussed in this post.
Since I have very strong convictions about what constitutes a “good” education, I am often asked how I got to this place of thinking. I begin my story by relating to my summer camp experiences as powerful learning and my school ones as being a big, long blur. The power of hands-on, experiential, and authentic learning was reinforced during my senior year of my undergraduate studies. I took an outdoor education course. As a requirement for the course, we were asked to be counselors at an outdoor education center, where students from local public schools spend five days at the residential center. My co-counselor, Eric, and I were given a 6th grade group.
It was an amazing, life changing experience for me; and hopefully for the kids in our group. All of the learning activities we did had experiential components. We learned biology by walking through a stream and collecting water samples to view under a microscope.
We learned history by visiting an old, local cemetery to study the family lineage and by making our own butter and ice cream like the pioneers did. I keep thinking how engaging and exciting these learning activities were and continual wondered why public school couldn’t be like this. These were all glorious, aha moments, but the biggest glorious, aha moment occurred for me when we spent an afternoon doing the team building course. The group worked well together as is evident in this photo:
One of the last activities was the porthole. The Porthole is constructed by suspending a tire between poles or trees. The objective is to cross from one side of the porthole to the other. The group must create a plan that takes participant physical ability and size to lift, pass, and spot participants in order to get them through. See http://www.ultimatecampresource.com/site/camp-activity/porthole-low-ropes-course.html for more information.
The biggest challenge of The Porthole is getting the last person through as there is no one to boost that person up to get through The Porthole. Darla was a member of the group. She had some developmental disabilities and was larger, older than the rest of the group. The members of the group didn’t make fun of her, but she was a bit invisible to them. Flash back to The Porthole. Not unexpectedly, the group got every through The Porthole leaving Darla on the original side by herself. One of the smallest kids in the group, Henry, quickly noticed and said, “I can help you, Darla.” He asked the group to pass him back through The Porthole to help her. He then got on his hands and knees and instructed Darla to stand on his back so she could reach The Porthole for the others to grab her from the other side. Henry was half of Darla’s size. I could see the pain on his face as she stood on his back, but he cheered her on as she did so, “You can do it, Darla. Go for it, Darla.” This act of generoisty from Henry was so touching that after the kids finished, I asked to take a moment and went off into the woods to cry.
The epilogue of this experience came in the form of a letter from Darla (with corrected spelling):
Thank you for a great week at Stone Valley. At first I was nervous and scared but I could tell you knew that I was. You and Eric taught me lots of things I didn’t know. You taught use how to play games and find nature right under own feet. You have taught use so much neat things that I can go on writing forever. But the best thing I like about your and Eric is that you are both wonderful counselors and no one can take your place in our family group.
I hate it when we had to leave. I wish our family group can stay there forever, but all have to go sometime.
I didn’t do much over the weekend. The only thing I was doing was thinking about what we did at Stone Valley.
Lots of Love,
. . . concrete evidence of glorious, aha moments experienced by Darla.
The core of my educational philosophy and pedagogical creed is that all educators should attempt to develop the conditions for glorious, aha moments for their learners every time they meet with them. So a simple, powerful question all educators can ask to determine his or her effectiveness in teaching a lesson is, “Did my learners experience aha, glorious moments during the instructional activities?”