Embrace Disruption, Embrace Community

July 12, 2011 Leave a comment

There’s a great article at Slate right now called “Groundhog Decade” that details how the movie industry is failing to learn from the decade of market disruption that’s just occurred. The money quote:

If the studios were smart they’d go to the mat and create a massive one-stop shop for TV and movies, find a price point they can live with and then set programmers loose to make the thing as easy to use and ubiquitous as possible. Instead they’ve been wasting their time strong-arming the cable companies to help them on a new crusade against illegal downloaders—an unwieldy process that doesn’t address the root problem and won’t work.

My takeaway is that, like many media outlets the movie industry would be better off if it embraced the disruption as what it is; change. Instead of having articles, posts, and tweets about how to thwart the New York Times pay-wall, what if they went to an National Public Radio model of funding? What would this embracing of disruption look like in education?

We’ve all heard a lot about how education is going to be disrupted by technology. Most involve someone from outside of the education world invoking specters of fear by citing the rapid change in technology, mentioning flip thinking, and a reference to Khan Academy.

There are those who fear change in any profession. But could with disruption come realignment?

At the end of the school year I often stand outside the school with my fellow teachers to bid farewell to our students. It’s a great way to end the year, to bring things to a close. Without fail we often notice that the students that are the most reluctant to leave are the students who like to spend more time in the hallway than class. The students who refer to school as a prison have tears streaming down their faces viewing the prospect of nearly three months of freedom. These students are mourning the impending loss of their friends, their community.

Some of the students that are the most challenging students in schools still see it as their community. Some of the technologies that challenge education use social media; technologies that create and cultivate community. 

Where some fear disruption I choose to see an opportunity for realignment.

CDphoto © 2006 Antonio Campos Domínguez | more info (via: Wylio)

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Minions in Grad School

July 11, 2011 Leave a comment
This is a great short film by Nyna Wee at Stuttgart Media University. Think of it as the minions from “Despicable Me” grown up and in a grad program at Portal University. Listening to techno. Enjoy (via io9).

Cubism from Nyna Wee on Vimeo.

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Golden Ratios & Blended Learning

July 9, 2011 Leave a comment

In planning a blended learning class for the upcoming school year a great deal of thoughts have been ricocheting around my headspace. Thoughts of project-based learning, inquiry in education, PLNs and other assorted acronyms having all had their exits and entrances. But recently there’s been an unlikely source cropping up; a cookbook.

One needs only to scroll back throb recent posts To realize that this writer is fond of both food and hastily taken photographs of recent cooking efforts. To that end I’ve been reading Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio. In particular this quote stands out:

With the advent of the Internet, we have access to an ocean of recipes but relatively less information on food and cooking. Understanding ratios and technique is, for the home cook, a step toward becoming more independent in the kitchen. But ratios are just as important to chefs and other food professionals because they provide a launching point for the development of new dishes. 

 Technique will ultimately determine the quality of the end result. Ratios are the points from which infinite variations begin.

Isn’t this what educators should be striving to do? Shouldn’t education be about helping learners find their own ratios of learning and understanding? Far too often it feels as though we are more concerned with having students memorize one recipe and woe to all involved if that memory isn’t accurate. I’d rather my students have more time with activities that are reflective of their learning.

In a recent session of #edchat on Twitter the discussion topic was the Flipped Classroom. Some educators expressed concern over what a “flipped” classroom might auger for a brick-and-mortar school. In light of Ruhlman’s thoughts I’m going to close by standing by an earlier tweet:

#flipclass will make physical schools irrelevant the same way that personal cooking has made restaurants irrelevant #edchat

It’s time to get thinking about what ratios my students will learn and which ones I’ll learn from them.

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Plot Devices & Genre

July 9, 2011 Leave a comment

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Preparing to Flip

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment
So no sooner is the school year over but it’s time to begin planning things for the next one. The major challenge and opportunity is to flip my classroom. Next year one of my sections will be an on-going pilot of blending both traditional face-time curriculum and online curriculum. Here is an example of one of the videos I used to explain the concept to parents of prospective students:

My district has other intrepid teachers looking to embark on the path to a blended curriculum. In a workshop today I listened to some wonderful math teachers plan out how they would be engaging their students using this model. My mind kept coming back to Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Specifically, the changes that have recently been made to Bloom’s come to mind. The top of the pedagogical pyramid of thought used to be “Evaluation” or the judgement of products based on criteria.

Now, however the pyramid of Bloom’s has been revised to something more like this:

Which in preparing to “flip” and “blend” my classroom has me thinking of the following questions:

  • How can does one account for the “economy of focus” at work in most of today’s students in regard to technology?
  • How are the economics of technology access going to be addressed?
  • How can technology be used to accurately check for understanding during the off-site learning process?
  • What role do anticipatory sets and classroom activities take now in this model?

But I did catch two great quotes from the workshop coordinators.

The art of understanding something is different than the science of applying it.


Our motto with technology should be ‘if you can think it, it’s possible.’

I’m working with some good educators and I’ve got to keep thinking.

photo © 2006 LASZLO ILYES | more info (via: Wylio)

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[Learning Out in the Open] Jumping Back In

June 13, 2011 Leave a comment
A great but chaotic school year is coming to a close for this writer. In the hopes of writing more this summer I’m attempting to switch-up my workflow using Blogsy on my iPad. This, in theory, should allow for more posts and less time spent on learning markdown coding while keeping the focus on transparency and learning. If this works, look for many more posts to follow. photo © 2008 Sarah Scicluna | more info (via: Wylio) — Posted By Mr. Smith to Learning Out in the Open at 6/12/2011 09:41:00 AM
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Take-aways and Poetry

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment
If you're not familiar with the unique music blog La Blogotheque it's worth a look. Often the staging of the performance presents both a unique challenge to the band playing all the while helping to expose some aspect of the song or performers. Bands like Throw Me the Statue perform on the back of a ferryboat or Arcade Fire performs on a double-decker bus. What matters is that the form is mirroring the content. Below is an example from Local Natives and it's got me thinking of how my students could do something like this when reading poetry…

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