Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

“Learning in a Networked World: For Our Students and For Ourselves #teach21esc16

These are my notes from Will Richardson‘s presentation, “Learning in a Networked World: For Our Students and For Ourselves” at the Teaching The 21st Century Student conference in Amarillo, Texas, on January 17, 2011. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. THIS WAS A GREAT PRESENTATION.

Addition 1/24/2011: An audio podcast recording of this session is available.

Will’s presentation slides are available on Google Docs.

If you’re coming to professional development and you’re not getting challenged, you’re not getting your money’s worth

3 things to know about me
1- I was a public educator for 21 years in New Jersey
2- I’ve been an educational blogger for 10 years (started in 2001: there were 6 or 7 other educators at that time blogging too)
3- Most important thing about me is I’m a parent and a Dad

I can’t separate my role as a parent from my role as a father

I have a daughter in an independent school and a son in a public school
– neither system is adequately preparing my kids for the world they are going to live in
– it’s the reality of the systems teachers work in, and they ways those systems constrict and limit teachers

I think this is a very challenging time: next 10 and 20 years of education will be very interesting to watch


Question: How much of that change is going to be driven by US as teachers now
– the national conversation at this point doesn’t give me a lot of hope
– businessmen like Gates and others, and politicians are dirving the boat

It is crucial that we understand this moment
– you cannot wait for people who are not in classrooms with kids to make these decisions today

Who is familiar with Scratch from MIT? Story of 10 year old Andrew teaching over Skype and Yugma over the holiday break

There are LOTS of teachers at our fingertips now

The world is changing in profound ways right now

NYT article: The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s

There are 2 billion people who will be connected to the web by 2011
– schools say: that’s 2 billion predators, and we don’t want those people connected to our kids
– I look at this and say: There are about 2 billion potential TEACHERS from around the world

How do we make this world accessible to our kids in ways we can really leverage this world

There is NO substitute for learning in the water, in the dirt, outside, in physical space
– I’m not saying lets take all learning and make it virtual
– it is, however, a time when my son (Tucker) can connect with other people who share his passions

There is nothing my son can’t know about basketball if he knows how to use his digital connections well
– it’s about passion and it’s about networks

Jay Cross from Informal Learning: “What can you do? has been replaced with ‘What can you and your network connections do?’ Knowledge itself is moving from the individual…”

Picture of my networked / online social bookmarks saved on

We’re acting in schools as if nothing is really different, nothing has changed
– from Cathy N Davidson and DAvid Theo Goldberg: “Our learning insitutions, for the most part….”

Education vs Everyday (from David Wylie at BYU)
– analog v digital
– tethered v mobile
– isolated v connected
– generic v personal
– consumption v creation
– closed v open

Learning online now is mobile, networked, global, collaborative, solf-directed, inquiry based, on demand, transparent, lifelong, personalized, pull

This is what kids are doing now when they come home from school

Story of Will’s daughter Tess learning how to play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” using a YouTube video and downloaded sheet music
– her piano teacher at school said, “Oh no! She’s not ready for Journey! She can’t learn Journey.”

Even though no one is asking you to do something decidely different, they are just asking you to do better (parents, community, state)
– but if you look at the world and you “see it” in a networked sense, and all the new ways

the question is: are YOU changing?

If you are going to wait for someone to ask you to change, it is going to be too late
– schools ARE going to change, they have to

I want to go through eight SHIFTS for each of us, and for our kids

shift #1: DO talk to strangers
– we tell our kids not to talk to strangers
– as systems we try to keep strangers out
– reality of safety issues: the web is not that unsafe. Are there bad people out there

NYT article: Report Calls Online Threats to Children Overblown

We need to teach our kids how to be safe, how to find strangers, vet them, make sense of them

Steven Johnson: “Web Privacy: In Praise of Oversharing” Time Magazine May 20, 2010

Strangers have a great deal to teach us right now

Showing picture of clustmap from Will’s blog: Jan to Dec 2009
– 98% of these visitors to my blog are strangers
– I want my kids to have maps like this
– the maps of websites at my kids’ schools

How may dots are on your maps? How many people are you learning with and from that don’t live where you do?

McArthur Report: New Study Shows Time Spent Online Important for Teen Development
– interest-based sharing with strangers in addition to local networking with friends

Problem: No one is teaching kids to do this well.

“Children and the Internet” by Sylvia Livingstone: Vast majority of schools are “constraining” in their use of the Internet

Shift #2: The “G-Portfolio”
– you can call it an ePortfolio
– your reputation today is basically based on a Google Search
– most administrators today they absolutely ARE Googling people they are interviewing

Public is the new default (welcome to it)
– we may not feel comfortable with it
– my daughter has only put about 15 photos of herself up on Facebook, her friends have put about 160 photos of her up
– do you think she has a choice about whether she is going to live in public online?
– we may not like that, we may long for another day, but that day is gone

what comes up when you Google yourselves?

My kids have no models for living a transparent life online

From Michael Schrage in Harvard Business Review: “The traditional two-page resume has been turned into a ‘personal productivity portal’ that empowers prospective employers to quite literally interact with their employees work.”

Jeff Kessler at the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia Googles really well as a student
– digital footprint is taught there

Reputation Management IS very important

Article: University to Provide Online Reputation Management to Graduates
– Univ of Syracuse actually hired a company to ‘scrub’ bad Google search results with is a site you can use to search for phrases others are using on Facebook

Shift #3: We need to tell Digital Stories

I really don’t use much paper anymore, we are moving to a digital world
– we may not like it, it may not feel comfortable, but I can’t imagine that my own kids are going to use

Kids aren’t distracted… they’re just looking for more interesting stories from us

We need to do a better job of telling the stories that we want them to learn, than using the methods

book: “I Live in the Future” by Nick Bilton
– Kids are “consumivores”

Have you ever seen a kid play “world of warcraft?”
– do you think those kids have short attention spans
– they are into those storeis
– research is starting to show they are learning a lot about leadership, collaboration, strategy, more

It’s not as much about attention as it is about passion

The Hunger Games” series is great for tweens is the #1 social networking site around that book series
– was built 2 years ago by a 16 year old and two 17 year olds, who live in different states
– had a real passion for that book andsite
– had a contest for videos, for trailers for the book

I’m not saying there are copyright issues here, there are… but it’s not hard to do this stuff now

Podcasts, videos, screencasts, presentations, livestreams, photos, games

the storytelling piece of this is really huge!
– our kids can tell stories about what we are gd

Shift #4: Information Management

Look for the six bullet points for NCTE on literacy
– read those and you will feel illiterate now
– 90% of the kids who graduated from your high school last year are illiterate by those standards

90% of the people to who I am connected say Twitter is their #1 source of professional development

Google Reader, Social Bookmarking, RSS feeds, all these tools let us pull this information in to us (we don’t have to wait for it)

all of this is NOT the same as what I learned to do in school, or what my kids are learning to do NOW in school

Evernote is my offline brain and it has changed my life over the past year

If you have a Kindle you can go to, every note that you make on your device shows up on a page
Tim Wilson wrote a script that lets you export those to Evernote

Shift #5: Be a Crap Detector

story of eating hot dogs
– at that time Walter Cronkite was my “crap detector”
– he was THE most trusted person in America

We have to be Walter now, we have to be the editors and the crap detectors
– if all we are doing in our classrooms is give students pre-edited materials that they should simply accept and believe

Howard Rhingold is writing a book on crap detection

Question today is very important: How do you trust and how do you determine reliability?

TwitterJournalism: How to Verify a Tweet

Will now telling the story of the site, and the importance of finding out who owns this site (Stormfront – white supremacist group)
– if you don’t know the process of vetting a process in general, anyone can make a website and tell you anything… and you might just believe them

Google’s page rank algorithm looks for incoming links to pages
– it has lots of incoming links


Shift #6: Follow Your Passions

We always ask teachers to share their passions
– we met a guy who loves mountain biking on a unicycle
– he used a webcam on his helmet to show this on YouTube

These people are called “municyclists” and you can find out about them online

The National Educational Technology Plan (adopted in November 2010) puts learning as the focus
– it’s a great document, good to get case materials to your district leaders and gatekeepers
– with NCTE standards it is great to use these materials
– discusses how learning now is personalized
– this is going to be one of the biggest challenges we have as schools
– more and more people are figuring out how to personalize learning online, it is trickling down to students

MeganHeartsMakeUp – a 9th grader from Austin, Texas
– has a huge YouTube following, talks about
– gets over 100,000 views per video
– she has already started her own makeup line

Mark A Klassen is a Cinamatographer:
– he’s never taken a video class at his school, he’s learned many other ways – and now he’s networked to other people focused on Cinamatography
– he has 160 connections on Vimeo
– I interviewed him for my new book
– He says these connections have totally changed his life

It’s about passion, and about connecting

Shift #7 – Learning to Learn

My favorite quotation from Eric Hoffer: “In times of change, learners inherit the EArth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

How many of you know about Khan Academy? Buckle Up
– bond trader in the northeast of the US
– gets a request a few years ago from his nieces asking for help about math
– now Uncle Sal has made over 1800 videos on his site

Playing an example video on “Determining Divisibility”

I’ve looked at about 75 of these, I give them a B at best… they are pretty good
– the question is: What changes in a world where our kids have access to Khan Academy?
– do we just keep doing everything the same?

We can debate “high quality” – but there are thousands of kids around the world learning math right now

And: “There’s an App for

Supercool School: Start your live online school
– laugh at that

Don’t laugh at these:
University of the People
School of Everything
OpenCourseWare Consortium
National Connections Academy
Open High School of Utah
Open Learning Initiative
Academic Earth
Flat World Knowledge
YouTube EDU

I learned the first time I got the Internet in my classroom that I wasn’t the smartest person in the room, and maybe I never was

dweeber: kids can divy up their homework

Grockit: free SAT courses

Ignition Tutoring: Tutor going over slope talking about Halo
– learning slope in the context of how much time he puts into Halo and how many kills he gets
– Is he going to remember slope? Absolutely. Because that is his passion. That is what personalized learning looks like. Those companies ARE going to personalize learning for kids. the question is: Are we?

Shift #8: Solve problems: Creatively, patiently….

Story of Johnson-era movie about nuclear cloud and Goldwater campaign

Problem: My kids in school never get a problem to go DEEP into a project
– they don’t get a chance to really think, wonder, and experiment

very few of the questions they are asked have more than one answer, or don’t have a clear answer

from NCTE: build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally

No reason for our creativity crisis in this country (Newsweek Oct 2010)

Dan Meyer at TEDxNYED

We need to

showing “we need to build a filter” from Apollo 13

It’s amazing what we solve when we have a passion to solve it
– think about the Chilean miners!


Schools all look very similar when we look at them from the sky, flying
– but learning today is much rounder: much more on demand, self-directed… it looks very different

Our problem now is how do we connect these two visions of learning?

Schools have to change and WILL
– they can’t compete with the alternative

Dan and Chip Heath, “Switch” – “Big problems are rearely solved with commensurately big solutions. Instead, tehy are most often solved by a sequence of small solutions…”

Carol Dweck, “Mindset” – “You need a ‘growth mindset.’

If you can’t think about changing your school, then start with YOU
– what’s your “yeah but…”

This is an amazing time to be a learner
– it is like no time ever before…. EVER

How are YOU going to take advantage of this? Be a learner in these contexts..

Is technology a part of your personal learning culture?
– how many dots are on your map?
– are you sharing , cooperating, collaborating and collectively acting with others?

“Understanding Media” by Marshall McLuhan in 1964: “We are entering the new age of education, one that is programmed for discovery, rather than instruction.”

– we can do that discovery piece on our own now

Closing quotation from the 2009 Horizon Report: “Increasingly, those who use technology in ways that expand their global connections…..”

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