User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Posts Tagged ‘TED talks

Best 2015 Videos: STEM, STEAM, and Maker Education Theme

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One of my end of year rituals is finding and posting the years’ best videos. Given my current interest in maker education, I decided to locate and post 2015 videos related to maker education, STEM, and STEAM.

Maker Education: Reaching All Learners

At Albemarle County Public Schools, maker education fosters student autonomy, ignites student interest, and empowers students to embrace their own learning.

What Is a Maker?

We are all makers; it’s in our DNA. Featuring President Obama, Dale Dougherty, Adam Savage and others.

The Adaptable Mind

The Adaptable Mind explores the skills we need to flourish in the 21st Century.

9 MIT Media Lab Innovations that Changed the Future

From touchscreens to E ink and GPS to Guitar Hero, some of today’s most popular technologies all originated from the same place: the MIT Media Lab. To celebrate its 30th anniversary current and former directors count down the nine most influential innovations to come out of the future-forward lab.

The Next Maker Movement

Since those early Maker Faires of 8-bit Arduinos and 3D printers much has changed, from the the wide availability of powerful smartphone-class electronics to the rise of polished crowdfunded campaigns. So what’s now at the DIY bleeding edge?

How 3-D printed arms are changing kids’ lives around the world

3D  technology is changing the world for kids born without limbs.

Change the World: Hour of Code

Computer science is a foundational field that opens doors for all boys and girls. Starring Sheryl Sandberg, Jasmine Lawrence, Karlie Kloss, May-Li Khoe, Mia Epner, Alice Steinglass, Jess Lee, Paola Mejía Minaya, Malala Yousafzai, and Susan Wojcicki.

“When knowledge is a free commodity, we need to innovate” – Tony Wagner

In a world where knowledge has become a free commodity, one skills set is vital to guarantee our students and our countries a healthy and prosperous future. It is the capacity to solve problems creatively – in a word, to innovate.

Anya Smith: Thinking Like a Designer

The world is malleable and everything in the made world is designed. Mount Vernon Innovation Diploma leader Anya Smith inspires our sense of agency and creative confidence, and she provides her recipe for success in taking on and tackling problems to make a positive difference.

iQ:smartparent: “The Maker Movement in Schools”

Just as the Maker Movement is transforming our culture, it’s having a major impact in our schools.  This episode of iQ: smartparent  examines the Maker Movement’s impact in the classroom.

Ugandan Children Play with Legos for the First Time

Playing with Legos for the first time without instructions – they’re reactions are priceless.

School is for learning to live, not just for learning

What did you learn when you played as a child? Susan shares the idea of how play is making learning successful at the Museum Center for Learning and Opal School.

Inspire Imagination and Keep Building

A Lego commercial that encourages girls to keep building.

Rube Goldberg Machine college nationals

The 2015 Rube Goldberg Machine college nationals contest . . . the challenge: erase a chalkboard in the most whimsical, over-elaborate way possible.

What if all the action heroes were girls?

All girls deserve to see themselves as heroes.

Bonus Video: The Other Christmas Gift

When faced with a tough decision, will these kids pick a Christmas gift for themselves or give it up for a gift for their family? 80% picked the gift for their family. As one asstute young man noted, “Your family matters not legos, not toys….your family so it’s either legos or family and I choose family.”

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

December 17, 2015 at 11:37 pm

TED for Teens or Ted-Ed Talks As They Should Be

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If I were to subtitle this blog post, it would be something like “reclaiming science education” or “making TED talks palatable and very tasty for young people.”

Cafe Scientifique

I recently become the Cafe Scientifique coordinator for Santa Fe, NM.  I realized after the first session that this program is what TED talks could or should be especially for teens and tweens.  The background and description of Cafe Scientifique . .

Science Café programs engage scientists and the public in conversation on interesting science topics in a highly social setting. The model was established in England, and its popularity led to rapid spread in various forms throughout the world. It has proven very effective in engaging people from all walks of life with science and scientists  In 2007, Science Education Solutions, with a grant from the National Science Foundation, began an experiment to see if the model could be adapted to appeal to high school teenagers. The program, Café Scientifique New Mexico, has proven highly popular with teens in four towns of diverse character in northern New Mexico for the same reason as adult programs: the blend of engaging with scientists informally on interesting science topics and the high degree of social interaction. Café Scientifique New Mexico provides teens a new perspective on the nature of science and a picture of scientists as real people leading interesting lives. The program has proven to be a rich—and fun!—complement to the science they learn in the classroom.

The Cafes contain the following elements:

  • Scientist Talk – about 20 minutes
  • Teen Interview of the Scientist
  • Q & A with the Scientist
  • Hands-On Activity
  • Food

Scientist Talk

Real scientists are invited to do the talks.  Real is this case means that they are practicing scientists working in labs, research settings, etc. Here are 10 Tips for Finding Great Teen Café Presenters and a blog post Preparing Scientists for a Teen Café.

Once selected, scientists are prepped about how to give a talk to teens.  They are given some guidelines – see Cafe Scientifique New Mexico Guidelines for Presenters.  Scientist presenters are also asked to give a dry run with the program organizers who offer feedback about how to better present to the teens.

The Café Scientifique model has proven to be effective for communicating science to a high school teen audience. Their process for achieving effective science communication between scientist-presenters and teens focuses on overcoming the “information deficit” mode of presentation that most scientists are trained for. Their coaching stresses that effective science communication requires engagement on a personal level that meets the audience where it is in terms of both prior knowledge and social context, while making connections to the teens’ daily lives. (


Teen Interview of the Scientist

One of the teen leaders (for more information about the Cafe Scientifique teen leaders, see often interviews the scientist. They develop their own questions and use those to interview the scientist.

Example Interviews:

Phillip, a high school sophomore at the Santa Fe Indian School, interviews Nina Lanza, a geologist working on the Mars Curiosity Mission.

Youth leaders conducted an interview with Dr Morton’s pathway to becoming a neuroscientist and zombie expert.  Listen to a lively interview of Dr. Russell Morton, neuroscientist and zombie expert:

Q & A with the Scientist

The teens are encouraged to ask questions of the scientist.  Some of the scientist presenters ask questions during their presentation, but time is always provided at the end of the talk for the participating teens to ask questions of the scientist. Many of the scientists also engage in more informal Q & A sessions following the more formal presentation.


Hands-On Activity

Typically as a follow-up to the talk (although sometimes it is done as an introduction to the talks), teens engage in some hands-on activities that support the concepts presented by the scientist.  A sampling of these activities can be found at



To increase the social nature, food is provided with time given for socializing and eating.


Past Cafes and Scientists

Developmental Appropriate for Teens

The problem of using guest speakers or videos like TED and Khan Academy is that they ask the teens-students to be passive recipients of content.  This often is not the best method for learning especially for today’s learners who are used to grabbing content from online venues whenever they choose.  The Cafes are more appropriate for teens (and many adults) because:

  • The talk is limited to 20 minutes to lecture.
  • The slides developed by the scientists are visual heavy and slide light.
  • The teens are encouraged to develop and ask questions of the scientists.
  • Hands-on, multi-sensory activities are used to support the science concepts.
  • Food and interactive activities encourage socializing – a huge need and desire of teens.

 Another Model: MIT Blossoms

Another model for using scientist talks with hands-on interactives to engage and immerse students in science is the MIT Blossoms.

The BLOSSOMS Video Library anytime to browse and download lessons to use in your classroom. Every lesson is a complete resource that includes video segments, a teacher’s guide, downloadable hand-outs and a list of additional online resources relevant to the topic. We carefully craft each BLOSSOMS lesson to make your classroom come alive. Each 50-minute lesson builds on math and science fundamentals by relating abstract concepts to the real world. The lessons intersperse video instruction with planned exercises that engage students in problem solving and critical thinking, helping students build the kind of gut knowledge that comes from hands-on experience.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

January 9, 2014 at 1:52 am

Providing Opportunities for Learners to Tell Their Stories

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One of the greatest gifts a teacher can give learners is the opportunity to tell their stories, and to establish venues to have those stories witnessed by others.

A Film by High School Student, Sam Fathallah

There is a movement among pockets of educators to make education a passion-based process of learning.

Instead of having all these preconceived ideas of what learners should doing, saying and producing, [educators] have to be open to what they find in each student. [Educators] have to discover – and help each student discover – their talents and interests and create a learning environment where they can use those gifts and passions. Passion-based learning in the 21st century: An interview with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

John Seely Brown noted how technology can ignite learners’ passions.

We must think about how technology, content, and knowledge of learning and teaching can be creatively combined to enhance education and ignite students’ passion, imagination, and desire to constantly learn about — and make sense of — the world around them.

Diane Rhoten stresses that learning should be interest-driven, that learners should create narratives that they find personally motivating, personally relevant, personally interesting using digital media tools to tell their stories.

Providing learners with the tools, skills, time, and venues to tell their stories creates a powerful strategy for tapping into learner passions.  It also utilizes the tools and learning strategies they are using during their out-of-school time.  This is stressed in a new ebook by ithemes media,  Kids Creating Stuff Online: Inspiring the Innovators of the Future.

Let’s face it: everything is online, even our kids. The Internet is no longer something people figure out when they get old enough. Many kids are growing up with laptops and tablets. They have cell phones that can do more than most computers of the past.  Kids need to take the opportunity to embrace the online world and create a positive digital footprint. Instead of freaking out— “Won’t someone think of the children?!”—we should see this as an opportunity. Kids and teens are interested in the Internet and the online world, so let’s make the most of it.

This isn’t a how-to post.  It provides a rationale for educators to facilitate having their learners (all ages) create a video of something for which they have passion and create a venue for students sharing those videos with a global audience – Youtube, Blogs, wikis.   The videos would become a type of Ted Talk.  Karl Fisch facilitated this process with a group of high school students.

  • Culminating Project:  You will create your own TED talk based off our essential question “What Matters?”
  • Theme:  You will use “What Matters (to You)?” as your ‘essential question’ to explore for your own talk.  Essentially, you will select a topic based on something that truly “matters” to them and craft video about that topic (6 minutes or less).
  • Give a Talk: Each student will give their own TEDx Talk.  These will be done on video, uploaded to YouTube, and then embedded on the class Google site to be seen by others.  You will prepare with a ‘global’ audience in mind from day one. Remember “Spread an idea worth spreading.”

Small Talks is a new website (under development) that provides educators with resources to assist students in researching, writing and recording their own lectures on subjects they’re passionate about. When they are ready they can be uploaded for others to see.

Here is an example learner talk:

In a related post about interest and passion-driven learning, The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Tinkering and Maker Education, I discuss a learning cycle of tinkering and maker education where a final activity is learners sharing their passions and discoveries:

  • Live or videotaped instructional videos, where students teach others the skills acquired.
  • A pitch for a new invention or process: the learner presents ideas for a new invention with the audience providing recommendations and positive feedback.

In this standards driven world, educators might argue that they do not have the time to do such a project with students.  I could easily identify the content-area standards addressed with this assignment – language arts, oral communication, visual arts, technology skills.  The more important outcomes, in my perspective, of such a project are increased confidence, development of self-regulation skills, enhanced sense of personal identity, and increased feelings of significance – that they have been been seen and heard.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

January 20, 2013 at 1:58 am

Is There a Digital Divide or an Intellectual-Pedagogical One?

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This post includes a number of wonderings . . .

For the past few days, there has been some controversy over a TED talk that included some commentary about classism. See the Time article Was Nick Hanauer’s TED Talk on Income Inequality Too Rich for Rich People? for a synopsis.  The basic premise was that the talk was censored from public viewing due to it being offensive to the wealthy folks that pay to attend the TED conference.

I really love watching TED talks but this controversy got me thinking about intellectual elitism.  I cannot nor will ever be able to afford to go to a TED conference but I can watch them online.  I often ask, in group settings, if folks heard of TED.  Groups that contain higher education faculty and teachers, who are engaged in social networks, do know of TED talks.  My college students and friends, many who are of lower SES levels, have not.

I wonder what would happen if I were to ask this question of the larger population. I believe the results would show that more higher income folks would know about the TED talks than lower income folks.

I have the privilege of using my laptop, iPhone, and iPad to learn about anything I want throughout the day.  These devices along with skills I gained about how to learn have provided me with opportunities to access information I desire. I am wondering if folks from lower income brackets can say the same.

The use of technology use by our society has sparked discussion about the digital divide.

Such numbers may seem proof that America is, indeed, online. But they mask an emerging division, one that has worrisome implications for our economy and society. Increasingly, we are a country in which only the urban and suburban well-off have truly high-speed Internet access, while the rest — the poor and the working class — either cannot afford access or use restricted wireless access as their only connection to the Internet. As our jobs, entertainment, politics and even health care move online, millions are at risk of being left behind.

  • But I wonder if the digital divide is really an intellectual or pedagogical one.
  • I wonder that if a comparison was done of higher and lower income schools, what would be the ratio of 1:1 (one mobile device per student during school time) initiatives?
  • I wonder, for those lower income schools, how many students have computer devices at home that match those they are using in school.
  • Even considering the new Ted-Ed Lessons Worth Sharing, I wonder which schools are using the lessons.
  • I wonder if technology integration strategies are similar for higher income schools in comparison to lower income skills.

Are we sugarcoating a larger sociological issue of classism in our school systems? Thirty years ago, Jean Anyon wrote Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work

It’s no surprise that schools in wealthy communities are better than those in poor communities, or that they better prepare their students for desirable jobs. It may be shocking, however, to learn how vast the differences in schools are – not so much in resources as in teaching methods and philosophies of education.

I fear that the digital divide is really an intellectual and pedagogical one and that it is being perpetuated in our educational system by the use or lack thereof of the technologies that are influencing and driving our society-at-large.

Image Attribution:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

May 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Is the Educational Revolution About Videos: Ted-Ed and Khan Academy?

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The Ted-Ed website was introduced today and received a lot of press coverage:

Prior to going into my critique of this so-called educational revolution, I am giving this disclaimer, I love TED and love the videos being produced by Ted-Ed.

Khan Academy and the new Ted-Ed website are being touted to create an educational revolution.  What I am concerned about is the underlying pedagogy of Ted-Ed and Khan Academy.  I love listening to a good talk and talking about it afterwards, but does it change my thoughts and/or behavior? Typically not.  Grant Wiggins’ recent post, Everything you know about curriculum may be wrong. Really discusses this point:

The point of learning is not just to know things but to be a different person – more mature, more wise, more self-disciplined, more effective, and more productive in the broadest sense.

In the flipped classroom, as it is being discussed, the videos, instead of a live teacher, are at the core of the learning process, become the venue for the didactic presentation.  The explanation of the flipped classroom provided on the Ted-Ed website . . .

The [flipped classroom] refers to a method of instruction where classroom-based teaching time and traditional “homework” time are reversed (flipped). A teacher provides video lessons to be reviewed outside of class, which in turn gives teachers more time in class to focus on higher-order learning skills.

. . . and from the Mashable article:

When a teacher flips the classroom, they assign lectures to watch at home and save class time for working on homework together. When a teacher flips a video, they add supplemental content such as questions and additional resources.

The TED-Ed website has a suite of tools that allow teachers to design their own web-assisted curricula, complete with videos, comprehension-testing questions, and conversational tools.   The Think and Digging Deeper questions are, I assume, prompts or guides for the higher level thinking.  The use of lectures, quizzes, and questions to teach and for students to demonstrate learning is a Eurocentric, consumption-based model of education. There is value in linguistic-oriented and Socratic method (adding reflective questions and discussion) of teaching but it does not honor learning-by-doing.  Tinkering and experimenting; engaging in the arts; going out into the community; tapping into students’ talents, interests and passions are not part learning process.

Harvard Professor Chris Dede believes of the flipped classroom . . .

I think that the flipped classroom is an interesting idea if you want to do learning that is largely based on presentation. You use presentation outside of the classroom. Then you do your understanding of the presentation and further steps from the presentation inside the classroom. I think it is a step forward. It is still, in my mind, the old person.  It’s still starting with presentational learning and then trying to sprinkle some learning-by-doing on top of it.  I am interested more in moving beyond the flipped classroom to learning by doing at the center than a kind of the intermediate step that still centers on largely on tacit assimilation (

I proposed The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture as a way to get educators’ attention given the press this model is receiving.  I did so in an attempt to encourage educators take the resources and opportunities that technology (including the use of videos) affords to truly create a learning revolution, one that is constructivist, student-centric, hands-on, and passion-based.


So are Sal Khan and Ted-Ed initiatives really going to disrupt education, create a learning revolution?  It sounds a bit like Thomas Edison’s thoughts about how film would change education.

It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture. Our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years. (

I do see a use for high production, high interest videos but to support a student’s learning not to direct it.  There is where the flipped classroom and the Ted-Ed, Khan, and other videos have value – to reinforce and add to a student’s learning – not be central to it.  TED is about ideas worth sharing.  I am curious if the kids, after being directed through the Ted-Ed lessons, will develop and spread their own ideas with their peers.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 26, 2012 at 12:41 am

The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture

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Due to Khan Academy’s popularity, the idea of the flipped classroom has gained press and credibility within education circles. Briefly, the Flipped Classroom as described by Jonathan Martin is:

Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures… for homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved. Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures… for homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved (

A compiled resource page of the Flipped Classroom (with videos and links) can be found at

The advantage of the flipped classroom is that the content, often the theoretical/lecture-based component of the lesson, becomes more easily accessed and controlled by the learner. Cisco in a recent white paper, Video: How Interactivity and Rich Media Change Teaching and Learning, presents the benefits of video in the classroom:

  • Establishes dialogue and idea exchange between students, educators, and subject matter experts regardless of locations.
  • Lectures become homework and class time is used for collaborative student work, experiential exercises, debate, and lab work.
  • Extends access to scarce resources, such as specialized teachers and courses, to more students, allowing them to learn from the best sources and maintain access to challenging curriculum.
  • Enables students to access courses at higher-level institutions, allowing them to progress at their own pace.
  • Prepares students for a future as global citizens. Allows them to meet students and teachers from around the world to experience their culture, language, ideas, and shared experiences.
  • Allows students with multiple learning styles and abilities to learn at their own pace and through traditional models.

One of the major, evidenced-based advantages of the use of video is that learners have control over the media with the ability to review parts that are misunderstood, which need further reinforcement, and/or those parts that are of particular interest.  (Using technology to give students “control of their interactions” has a positive effect on student learning,)

It is important, though, not to be seduced by the messenger.  Sal Khan is very charismatic and has produced good videos to explain some complex mathematical concepts.  With the growth of open education resources via Youtube and Creative Commons, it is important to note that excellent video lectures have been and are freely/easily available.  The Flipped Classroom concept, though, was not developed and articulated by Khan but by teachers such as Karl Fisch and Jon Bergman/Aaron Sams.

The problem is that educators, as a group, know how to do and use the lecture.  When educators are asked to replace their in-class lectures with videotaped ones (either their own or others) that learners watch at home, educators may not know what to do with this now void in-class time.  Those who advocate for the flipped classroom state that class time can then be used for discourse and for providing hands-on, authentic learning experiences.   In a recent interview Khan stated. “If I was a teacher, this is exactly the type of class I’d want to teach, I don’t have to prepare in a traditional sense. But I do have to prepare for projects and all that, so I have to prepare for creative things” (Meet Sal Khan).  As Frank Noschese notes:

Sal Khan is not showing any examples about what students and teachers are doing beyond Khan Academy. The news stories are not showing the open-ended problems the kids should be engaging with after mastering the basics — instead they show kids sitting in front of laptops working drills and watching videos. The focus is on the wrong things. Khan Academy is just one tool in a teacher’s arsenal. (If it’s the only tool, that is a HUGE problem.)

In other words, the message being given is that teachers can do what they want to during class time. Now educators have time for engagement and interaction with the learners (#EdCampChicago presentation).

A major roadblock or barrier to the implementation of this model is that many educators do not know what to do within the classroom, what to do with that “whatever they want to do” time.  For educators, who are used to and use the didactic model, a framework is needed to assist them with the implementation of the Flipped Classroom.  In other words, the message to teachers to do what they want during classroom is not enough to make this transition.

In order to minimize the flavor of the month syndrome (recall character education, phonics movements, multicultural education, Reading First, powerpoints in the classroom), the use of video lectures needs to fall within a larger framework of learning activities – within more establish models of learning, providing a larger context for educator implementation.

What follows is an explanation of the Flipped Classroom Model, a model where the video lectures and vodcasts fall within a larger framework of learning activities. (Note: I am titling it the Flipped Classroom Model to get folks’ attention given the Flipped Classroom popularity right now.  It really is a cycle of learning model.)  It provides a sequence of learning activities based on the learning theories and instructional models of Experiential Learning Cycles – and Bernice McCarthy’s 4MAT Cycle of Instruction-

The Flipped Classroom Model

Experiential Engagement: The Activity

The cycle often begins with an experiential exercise.  This is an authentic, often hands-on learning activity that fully engages the student.   It is a concrete experience that calls for attention by most, if not all, the senses.  According to McCarthy, learning activities are designed that are immersive.  Learners “experience the now.”  They become hooked through personal connection to the experience and desire to create meaning for and about that experience (ala constructivist learning).

Students become interested in the topic because of the experience.  They have a desire to learn more.  This is in line with John Dewey’s thinking regarding experience and education. The nature of experiences is of fundamental importance and concern in education and training.  People learn experientially.  It is the teacher’s responsibility to structure and organize a series of experiences which positively influence each individual’s potential future experiences (

Examples of Experiential Engagement include Experiential Learning Activities, Science Experiments, Simulations, Games and use of the Arts.

Setting:  These activities are designed for in-class time and often occur in a group setting.  In a blended course, these are synchronous activities conducted during face-to-face instructional time.  In an online course, students could be asked to go to a community event, museum, . .  or the creative educator could provide some type of hands-on activity or simulation for students to complete during a real-time synchronous webinar session via Adobe Connect, Elluminate or through a 3D Learning experience such as Quest Atlantis

Conceptual Connections: The What

Learners are exposed to and learn concepts touched upon during Experiential Engagement.  They explore what the experts have to say about the topic.  Information is presented via video lecture, content-rich websites and simulations like PHET and/or online text/readings.  In the case of the flipped classroom as it is being currently discussed, this is the time in the learning cycle when the learners view content-rich videos.  This is where and when videos such as those archived by Khan Academy, Neo K-12, Teacher Tube, or other video services are used to help students learn the abstract concepts related to the topic being covered.

McCarthy reinforces that concepts should be presented in accessible form.  By providing learners with online resources and downloadable media, learners can control when and how the media is used.  This is the major value of flipping the classroom . . . content-based presentations are controlled by the learner as opposed to the lecturer as would be the case in a live, synchronous, didactic-driven environment.

In a user-generated learning environment, students could be asked to locate the videos, podcasts, and websites that support the content-focus of the lesson.  These media can then be shared with other students.

Part of this phase includes an online chat for asking and addressing questions about the content presented via the videos, podcasts, websites.  Through a “chat” area such as Etherpad or Google Docs, learners can ask questions with responses provided by co-learners and educators.  Videos could even be embedded into a Voicethread so students can post comments/reactions to the content.   Obviously, in a face-to-face setting, students can bring their questions into the real time environment.

Setting:  These materials are used by the learners in their own setting on their own time.  In other words, students have the opportunity to access and interact with these materials in a personalized manner.  They can view them in a learning setting that works for them (music, lighting, furniture, time of day) and can view/review information that they find particularly interesting or do not understand.   It is asynchronous learning and as such permits the learner to differentiate learning for him/herself. 

Meaning Making: The So What

Learners reflect on their understanding of what was discovered during the previous phases.  It is a phase of deep reflection on what was experienced during the first phase and what was learned via the experts during the second phase.

Learners can articulate and construct their understanding of the content or topic being covered through written blogs or verbal-based audio or video recordings.  Within the standard school system, this would be the phase when students are tested about their understanding of the content.  If this is the case, it is recommended that the tests target higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – evaluation, applying, synthesizing.

Setting:  If possible, learners should be given the opportunity to reflect upon and make meaning of the content-related concepts within their own time schedule . . . both at a time when they feel ready to do so and taking the time they personally need for producing self-satisfactory work.

Demonstration and Application: The Now What

During this phase, learners get to demonstrate what they learned and apply the material in a way that makes sense to them. This goes beyond reflection and personal understanding in that learners have to create something that is individualized and extends beyond the lesson with applicability to the learners’ everyday lives.  This is in line with the highest level of learning within Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Learning – Creating – whereby the learner creates a new product or point of view. In essence, they become the storytellers of their learning (See Narratives in the 21st Century: Narratives in Search of Contexts).  A list of technology-enhanced ideas/options for the celebration of learning can be found at:

Setting:  This phase of the cycle is best when it occurs in a  a face-to-face, group setting within the classroom.  The reasons for recommending this type of synchronous learning are (1) the educator can guide the learner to the types of projects and tools best suited for him/her, and (2) an audience of peers and mentors increases motivation and provides opportunities for feedback.  Obviously, in an online course, students can work on their projects and present them to peers/educators during a synchronous, interactive online forum.

Here is a slideshow of former students’ Demonstration and Application Projects and Presentations.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


The Flipped Classroom offers a great use of technology – especially if it gets lecture out of the classrooms and into the hands and control of the learners.  As it is being discussed, it is part of a larger picture of teaching and learning.  The Flipped Classroom videos have a place in the models and cycles of learning proposed by educational psychologists and  instructional designers.  Providing educators with a full framework of how the Flipped Classroom can be used in their educational settings will increase its validity for educators and their administrators.

A Simple Example: Undergraduate Communications Course

Goal of Unit: Identify and analyze strategies for using language more effectively.

Experiential Engagement

Students participated in the Mine Field and Bridge-It experiential exercises.

Mine Field


Concept Exploration 

At home students reviewed related media and had associated text readings.  Here is an example of one of the videos students reviewed at home:

Personalization and Meaning Making

Students blogged about what they learned comparing the in-class experiential activity with their text readings and video viewings.

We broke into groups of three and were asked to create one side of a bridge within our group to connect to the others groups bridge.  We were in two separate rooms, with the same supplies and could only communicate with one member of the other group at a time, every five or so minutes.  I was the communicator for my group.   This was extremely hard trying to build the same thing as someone else in a totally different room.  As the project moved further along, people began to get frustrated and irritated for different reasons.  Even though it was successful as far as the construction, many of us left class upset and frustrated. In the readings I read “the process of constructing meaning is itself symbolic because we rely on words to think about what words and other things mean” (Wood, 2010, p. 100).  I think this is so true and it was evident in our project.  Each team was relying on the words of the other team to determine the explanations of the bridge construction.

. . . and from another student:

To clarify, without our ability to SEE the other group’s project, we had to solely depend on words. Words are discussed as never being self-evident or absolute (Woods, p. 100). With each person’s individual perspectives, we assign individual and unique meanings to words.  In that process, we unintentionally open the doors to misinterpretation.  As Woods describes, language defines, evaluates, organizes, allows hypothetical thought, and also allows self-reflection (Woods, p. 103-107). The key roles witnessed during this activity were the organization of perception, hypothetical thought, and evaluation. Mainly these were present between each group’s communicator to the other group, but they also trickled down to the communication within the groups as information was passed along; much like a chain of events. The power of verbal language is almost jarring.

Demonstration and Application

This phase had several components:

1)  Students demonstrated what they learned through in-class listening exercises.

2) Then learners selected listening skills they decided to practice in real life.  They reported on their results through blog entries.

When it comes to pseudo listening, it seems like for the most part there were just too many distractions or barriers going on. I found myself wanting to listen to people around me, but I couldn’t turn the internal dialog off. So throughout the week I tried to catch myself, and found that it wasn’t too hard. Most of this type of non-listening occurs when I’m on the phone (particularly with my parents) for a long period of time. I’m not very good at talking on the phone anyways because of the lack of eye-contact and my distractions caused by trying to multi-task. The best results in correction my pseudo listening were to go and sit in a quiet area (have a smoke) and literally sit on my free hand.  If my mind still wandered, I fought to catch myself and redirect my attention to who I was speaking with on the phone.

3)  Finally students integrated their course learning through a celebration of learning.  They created metaphors for the course content, and explained personal learning and future applications via these metaphors.

A Board Game

A Face Metaphor

. . . and Celebrating

Postscript: Learner-Educator roles change. At the conclusion of this course (June, 2011) a student stated, “You were so much more than a teacher to us.”

Final Note:   The title of my blog is User-Generated Education.  I have a goal of assisting with educational reform in that a learner-centric system of education evolves.  I believe that this cycle of learning is a natural way of learning and that educators can assist students in understanding this cycle so they can use it for their own personalized learning experiences.

Photo Image for Phase 3 Blog Picture: Blog Photo Image:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Sugata Mitra: A Model of User-Generated Education (Big Ideas Fest)

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Education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education — the best teachers and schools don’t exist where they’re needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching (

“If the world belongs to our children then why don’t we just give it to them” was the title of Sugata Mitra’s talk at the Big Ideas Fest during the opening of the conference.

According to Dr. Mitra,  Of the 1 billion children on Earth.

  • 50 million have ample resources
  • 200 million have adequate resources
  • 750 million have inadequate resources.

To this Dr. Mitra added, “There are places in every country where, good schools cannot be built and good teachers cannot or do not want to go.”  His solution was to install computers with internet access to those places where schools cannot be built and/or teachers do not want to go.  It started with a Hole in the Wall in New Dehli. “Where in the slum do you put a computer? Make a DIY ATM! Computer in a wall.”

What he discovered was that, “Groups of children can learn to use computer and the internet irrespective of who or where they are.” Dr. Mitra noted that these kids had no teacher to provide the pedagogy.  Can the learners-kids to invent their own pedagogy? Yes, they had done it. “Groups of children can navigate the internet to achieve educational objectives on their own. The bars that children set for themselves can be higher than those we have set for them.”

Dr. Mitra continued to explore what would happen to student learning given the following formula:

  1. Computers
  2. Internet Access
  3. Information and Search Skills
  4. Reading Comprehension
  5. Children Working in Groups
  6. The Right Question

Along with this formula came his teaching style, “I have no idea. And now I am going to go.”  He stressed that,

You can drive children with questions. You don’t have to give them the answers. They can find the answers. If the kids/students didn’t get the “right” answer, then teacher didn’t ask the right question.  The teacher needs to change question.

The research questions he proposed in his next study, the Kalikuppam Experiment, included:

  1. Could Tamil- speaking children in a remote Indian village learn basic molecular biology in English on their own?
  2. Could a friendly mediator with no knowledge of the subject improve the performance of these village children?
  3. How would the learning and test scores of these children in a remote village compare with those of children who were fluent in English and taught by subject teachers in a local state government school and those attending an affluent,  private urban school?

The results to this rearch, Limits to self-organising systems of learning—the
Kalikuppam experiment
, were published by the British Journal of Educational Technology.

What are the limits that children can learn in self-organizing systems?  Dr. Mitra would like to find out . . .

More about Sugata Mitra and his work can be found at

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

December 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Student Voices: School Failure, Reform, and Hope

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I believe student voice is important.  How can it not be?  Students are the consumers, customers, participants, and targets of our educational system.

Today,  there was a buzz via twitter about Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech. This sparked me to post a Blog of some of the student voices that have resonated deeply for me.  I included those segments of their messages that I believe should be heard by educators.

  • Erica Goldson’s Valedictorian speech about how school failed her and her peers.
  • Tim Ludwig’s TedxEdOntario TED Talk about how schools could benefit from “unmotivated” and underachieving students like him.
  • Dan Brown’s letter to teachers after he quit college.
  • Adora Svitak’s TED Talk: What Adults can learn from kids.

Erica Goldson’s Valedictorian’s Speech

I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system.

While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed.

I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse,You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

Tim Ludwig at TEDxOntarioEd

The steps that teachers or administrators should take to help get more kids motivated to come to school for learning is to get more relevant learning.  You can’t be teaching students something that they’ll never use.

Please don’t forget students like me because we can do things that others might not be able to do.   We are motivated just not in the way in the way school tries to teach us to be motivated.  We can benefit the school system and make positive change because students like me are the ones that school is not working for. We know how to change it and know how to improve so we can have a good learning environment.

Dan Brown’s Open Letter to Teachers

We are in the midst of a very real revolution and if institutional education refuses to adapt to the landscape of the informational age, it will die and it should die.

With the advent of Internet, the monetary value of information is fast approaching zero.  This is not a bad thing.  It is a good thing. It is the best thing to have ever happened to human beings. Because of the Internet, information is now free.  By free I don’t just mean doesn’t cost money, I also mean it has been liberated.

I was a student at the University of Nebraska and most of my classes went something like this.  On my first day I would show up and there would be a lecture hall of 40 to 200 kids and one professor.  Professors rarely made an effort to learn anyone’s names and almost never encouraged any sort of interaction amongst the students.  I would be required to spend anywhere in the neighborhood of a hundred dollars on textbooks per class that I would never open – not because I didn’t care – but because better, easy-to-find information was online.  Classes would drag on for an hour and all they would consist of is the professor standing in the front with a powerpoint telling us facts. We’d frantically scribble down those facts.  Test time would come around and we would memorize our scribbling. We’d take the test and we would receive a grade based on how many facts we memorized.

But society no longer cares how many facts we can memorize because in the information age facts are free. Any educational institution based solely on facts not preparing students for the real world.  In the noble quest to provide education to the masses, we have lost site on what education really is. Education isn’t about teaching facts.   It’s about stoking creativity and new ideas. It’s not about teaching students to conform to the world as it is. It’s about empowering students to change the world for the better.

Two weeks ago I dropped out of school not because I am a deadbeat, not because I was failing, not because I am not just as motivated as anyone else to make a difference in this world. I dropped out of school because my schooling was interfering with my education.

To the educators of the world, I am here to say,  “You don’t need to change to change anything.  You just simply need to understand that the world is changing and if you don’t change, the world will decide it does not need you anymore.”

Adora Svitak’s TED Talk: What Adults can learn from kids

In order to make anything a reality, you have to dream about it first. In many ways our audacity to imagine helps push the boundaries of possibility.  Now our wisdom doesn’t have to be insider’s knowledge. Kids already do a lot of learning from adults, and we have a lot to share. I think that adults should start learning from kids. It shouldn’t just be a teacher at the head of the classroom telling students “do this, do that.” The students should teach their teachers. Learning between grown ups and kids should be reciprocal.

Now, adults seem to have a prevalently restrictive attitude towards kids from every “don’t do that, don’t do this” in the school handbook, to restrictions on school internet use.. And, although adults may not be quite at the level of totalitarian regimes, kids have no, or very little say in making the rules when really the attitude should be reciprocal, meaning that the adult population should learn and take into account the wishes of the younger population.

Now, what’s even worse than restriction is that adults often underestimate kids’ abilities. We love challenges, but when expectations are low, trust me, we will sink to them.

Kids grow up and become adults just like you. Or just like you, really? The goal is not to turn kids into your kind of adult, but rather better adults than you have been, which may be a little challenging considering your guys credentials, but the way progress happens is because new generations and new eras grow and develop and become better than the previous ones. It’s the reason we’re not in the Dark Ages anymore. No matter your position of place in life, it is imperative to create opportunities for children so that we can grow up to blow you away.

Adults, you need to listen and learn from kids and trust us and expect more from us. You must lend and ear today, because we are the leaders of tomorrow. We are going to be the next generation, the ones who will bring this world forward. Now, the world needs opportunities for new leaders and new ideas. Kids need opportunities to lead and succeed. Are you ready to make the match? The world’s problems shouldn’t be the human family’s heirloom.

Translation to Practice

What these students (and others) reinforced for me is that if I am to be an effective and ethical (yes, I think the ethics on how we interact with others – especially our students – comes into play) educator, I need to practice the following:

  1. Take the words “teach” and “teacher” out of the educational vernacular  as it implies a power-over position.
  2. Give students a voice and to listen, really listen, to what they have to say.
  3. Encourage student voice in all its forms – speech, writing, drawings, and media creation.
  4. View students as producers of learning in addition to being consumers of learning.
  5. Give students the power, permission, and opportunity to create their own learning experiences.
  6. Structure school more like camp and their natural play time.
  7. Encourage experimentation and risk-taking.
  8. Open up all forms of social and educational networking.
  9. Become a co-learner with the students.
  10. Practice, model, and love lifelong learning.
  11. To be continued . . . .  always.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

July 26, 2010 at 6:01 pm

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