I ARRIVED AT GARY STAGER’S “WAY BEYOND WEBQUESTS” SESSION LATE AT NECC 2007, THESE ARE MY NOTES FROM HIS SESSION. GARY IS AN ENERGIZING THINKER AND ALWAYS CHALLENGES ME TO THINK ABOUT LEARNING AS WELL AS TECHNOLOGY IN DIFFERENT WAYS. THIS SESSION WAS NO EXCEPTION TO THIS PATTERN. 🙂

MIT is giving away courseware because they are confident in their brand
– they know science is not just about accessing and receiving courseware / information
– science is about DOING science

education is not just about information

we are amateurs at poverty in the United States

Work in bunches, talk to each other, here is the question:
– on the day of the 2005 Iraq election, on the side of the school there was an Iraqi polling place (in Australia)
– was there any discussion about this in school that day?
– I often wondered if my kids’ high school would interrupt the currriculum if there was a nuclear blast nearby?!

Who should I vote for?

When kids say “I’m done” pay attention
– if there is something to learn, to do or to improve, it’s harder to say that (or impossible)
– easy to say that when you are doing the worksheet
– follow you curiosity

don’t keep secrets in your tribe
– use your laptop and resources and answer the question: “Who Should I Vote For?” based on a photo Gary took in Australia on December 15, 2005.

you can’t google a picture yet

think how significant it could be to have a universal translation machine in the hands of all the kids? (the web has this now and it is getting better)

why did it take us less time to figure out this was a Syrian-Christian party and “740” was the number of martyrs than it did for Gary in Dec 2005, when it took him several hours of work on the web?
– the web gets smarter over time
– there are more resources available now….

Stuff our group found doing this:
http://bagnewsnotes.typepad.com/bagnews/2005/12/poster_wars_no_.html
http://www.christiansofiraq.com/Albert1265.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_legislative_election%2C_December_2005
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Iraq

Some groups of used this as a start of school activities
– there are opportunities to learn all around us
– we need to be more receptive to the learning invitations all around us

Question: “Were the chicago Seven martyrs”
– I often get hired by schools to come in and be the messiah or something

you learn a lot of things about this
– you find legal documents which people automatically think is true
– there are fan pages with interviews of the actual people

My rules: use any resources you have

can do debate over values and terms

When teachers observes students for the first time you
– no one takes notes
– no one draws a timeline
– this means the problem is not information literacy, the problem is LITERACY
– issues of truth, reliability/validity

I gave my graduate students another cultures questions
– in Australia, question “Was Ned Kelly a hero”
– that causes a lot of cognitive dissonance and conversation
– do a foreign example, and then do a local one

The tasks
– Identify a place in the universe and assume you can go on holiday there, get there safely and return safely, and there will be food to eat
– tell me about this place, build a website
– ought to be a rule in classrooms where kids are making movies: they should all be shorter and edited one more time
– 2 minutes is a good time limit
– need a peer review process
– editing is a critical part of the process

In 4 hours people can learn to use all the tools of the iLife suite
– less is more
– with a meaningful context, people can learn to use a lot of tools in a short amount of time

Use article on Micronations
– people use the web to announce they are kings of some made up place
– at every grade level this could be the curriculum for the entire year
– all schools gets to is make a flag, and then you make a rap about it

Lonely Planet actually has a book guide to “Lonely Planet Micronations (Lonely Planet Travel Guides)” (John Ryan, George Dunford, Simon Sellars)
– most of these are actually in Australia
– what a wonderful theme and curricular opportunity

through complex questions like this
– number theory problems
– mathematics is NOT just about long division
– real math is beautiful, playful, and a way of making sense of the world
– kids can be engaged in highly complex investigations using mathematics, also interdisciplinary, computer is your lab assistant

Thought by Edward R Murrow: “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extend that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wired and lights in a box….”

We need to be more concerned with these ideas than the “boat show” aspect of NECC.

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4 Responses to Way Beyond Webquests by Gary Stager

  1. lajones says:

    Thank you for sharing your notes! They are very interesting and I look forward to reading anything that you might choose to write up about that session. These ideas are so important. Education is really not about distributing bits of information, it’s about a student’s ability to reason and synthesize what they need and what in order to direct their future. I suspect that new technologies will constantly be developed to support this idea. (That is once it is really understood.) So keep writing! Thanks again.
    (ps-I’m a high school math teacher in Missouri)

  2. […] I would like to see a wiki created which lists challenging questions to answer via creative Internet searches and utilization of other networking / knowledge creating skills. Gary Stager provided an example of a complex question that can lead to searches of this type in his NECC presentation “Way Beyond Webquests,” in the activity “Who Should I Vote For” about the Iraqi elections in December 2005. I learned a great deal in a short amount of time about Iraqi political parties, and I would have enjoyed and benefited from even more time to explore this subject with other learners in a collaborative investigation. […]

  3. I always learn something when I listen to Gary. Here are my notes from his presentation at TCEA earlier this year. It adds to his “Who Should I Vote For?” example.

    http://www.edlink12.net/vcrox/2007/02/12/another-tcea-2007-best-kept-secret/

    The “Who Should I Vote For?” activity is the type that if all the edubloggers got behind to create ideas for student activities and did them with students it would be great. Many times “thought leaders” just think and never do and that is a shame that they are not using those ideas to create amazing student opportunities and teach the teachers the facilitation skills needed to create success for students.

    Gary always shares what he has done with students and that is one thing that makes his sessions so engaging.

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