Finishing off day 4 of a Spring Break Scratch Camp today, these words from Jim Klein (on Miguel Guhlin’s blog) resonate with me deeply. At Scratch Camp, STEM teacher Chris Simon and I are providing opportunities for kids to become MAKERS, coders, creative collaborators, and citizens with AGENCY who are not merely passive content consumers. Together, as “Scratchers,” we are creative, digital content creators. THIS is the kind of “digital shift” we need to see in our schools, not simply “flipped classrooms” where teachers record video lectures in advance for students to watch at home. As educational leaders we need to be advocates for empowering students, not further deadening their curiosity and creativity with the SOS (same old “stuff”) schools have been forcing down students’ throats for decades. My passion for these ideas is a big part of my motivation to create the “Mapping Media to the Common Core” framework and digital literacy project. Project idea #11 in the framework is “Simulation or Game.”
What will it take for us to believe in kids? To honor their expertise? To accept that we don’t have to know everything about technology for our students to use it effectively? When will we understand that our students don’t need a list of steps, a stupid template, a wizard, or someone else’s idea of design to build something great? I, for one, don’t want to see 30 copies of the same (perfect, by someone else’s standards) thing as evidence of mastery. I’m not impressed by the beatifully designed whatever that a student used a canned app to create. I’m far more impressed by the ugly thing that mostly works, but was created from scratch with a healthy dose of critical thinking and problem solving.
I fear that giving in to the Borg (Apple and similar corporations), building dependency on other people’s software and “ecosystems”, and limiting our kids in the name of not being disruptive is leading us down the same path we have gone with skilled labor. We barely think about plumbing, carpentry, metalworking, and shop in schools today, finding ourselves content to simply leave a check for the plumber/carpenter/mechanic when we need something done.
And yet we are facing a shortage of skilled labor the likes of which we have never experienced in this country, which is driving costs of some of the most basic needs higher and higher. The same will soon be true with computing. The number of computer science students continues to decline, yet demand for computing resources continues to increase.
Please take a few minutes and read the entire post by Jim, as well as the catalyzing post by Miguel, “Only Human – #Ubermix = Yesterday’s Solution?” This series of idea exchanges started with a tweet earlier this week:
If you haven’t already, watch the full nine minute version of the video “What Most Schools Don’t Teach” from code.org. Then find ways in your home and community to become an advocate for kids as well as teachers as CREATIVE DIGITAL MAKERS, not just passive consumers.
When it comes to the learning revolution, “there’s not an app for that.” Sure, there are a ton of apps those of use fortunate to have a tablet or smartphone today have and use, but “shiny new apps” are just tools, they aren’t the learning revolution. Plenty of alleged “educational reformers” would be very happy to see passive students using digital screens for CAI out of the 1980s. Those are NOT the “schools of the future” I want for my children or yours. Schools where students are empowered to be creative and to make (among other things) digital apps ARE the ones I want. They are the schools we have the opportunity to co-create TODAY as educators and leaders “in the system.”
If you and your students have iPads to use at school and home, great! CREATE lots of digital content with them and SHARE that content on the OPEN WEB. I agree wholeheartedly with Jim on this point, however. The iPad today is NOT sufficient as a digital tool to empower students to invent the future. If it was, why would I be working on a MacBook Air laptop right now instead of my iPad2 which is sitting on the table in front of me? My iPad and iPhone are incredibly powerful tools, and the apps I own make me as a user an even more powerful communicator. The capabilities of tablet digital devices ARE increasing, but they are NOT on a par with laptops yet. If we really believe in students as well as teachers as CREATIVE MAKERS (which we should) then we can’t settle for JUST providing them with handicapped devices.
My own kids don’t ‘just’ need an iPad for learning today. They have to have laptops. Why? Because no one can CREATE and SHARE everything we need and want to create and share on “just an iPad.” iPads and other iOS devices are great. I LOVE them and wouldn’t want to trade 100 Android devices for a single iOS device we have in our house. (OK, maybe I’d trade an old iPhone 3G for one…) My point is that as a creative communicator, I’m not being limited to JUST creating on an iPad. Our kids and teachers shouldn’t be either.
GIVE US LAPTOPS AS LEARNERS. Don’t compromise on this issue.
Do you agree or disagree? Have a challenged you in your educational technology comfort zone?
If you're trying to listen to a podcast episode and it's not working, check this status page. (Wes is migrating his podcasts to Amazon S3 for hosting.) Remember to follow Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wesley's Facebook pages for "Speed of Creativity Learning" and his eBook, "Playing with Media." Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Mapping Media to the Common Core / Curriculum."
On this day..
- Oklahoma Students Reflect on Scratch Projects at Scratch Camp (March 2013) - 2013
- Volunteer Your Site to Host a Summer 2011 Storychasers’ Workshop - 2011
- Digital Footprints Can Include PDF Authorship Details - 2011
- Podcast342: A 12 Year Old's Favorite iPod Touch / iPhone Games (March 2010) - 2010
- Podcast341: Discussing Fan Fiction, Harry Potter Stories, and InstaPaper for the iPod Touch - 2010
- Podcast308: A Long Overdue Personal and Professional Life Update (March 2009) - 2009
- The value of comment moderation and feedback from a social media audience - 2009
- A vision of the mobile, connected college experience - Today in Abilene, Texas - 2008
- Podcast44: Lessons Learned from 1-to-1 Laptop Initiatives: Reflections on the Critical Components - 2006
- Podcast43: Facilitating Effective Technology Research in the Core Content Areas - 2006