Friday, April 24, 2009

You Betcha I want to say Yes!

Dan Meyer of dy/dan fame picked up one of my rants a while back.  I just found it now.  Here is what he said:

Gary Ball, edtechnophile:

I want to be a Yes Man. I want to be a Lets Find a Way Man. I want my job to be finding ways to say yes to educators requests. Educator: "Can I do/have (insert random skill/technology/tool)?" Me: "Heck ya - that sounds awesome. I am not sure how but lets find a way!"

Mark Weston, Dell's educational strategist:

Asking the question, "Does technology improve student learning?" is the wrong question. The question should be, "Does technology support the practices that improve student learning?"

After reading the comments and thinking about it for a while I wrote this reply.  I figured that I should share it here.

Dean Shareski has the essence of what the post was actually about. You are quoting me a bit out of context.

No division could afford to keep me (or any good teacher) fully stocked up with all of my (our) whims. There has to be some sort of system of checks and balances to see that funds are truly spent on technology that supports students learning (and the practices that improve it). However I was not ranting about whims. Any conversation that starts out with a NO probably won’t get far. I want to be heard out and considered before I get a no (and please leave out the capital letters and the exclamation mark).

Innovation and creativity (which we need more of) sometimes involves picking up something new and asking “What can I do with this?” It involves playing with the new shiny thing and finding interesting ways it is useful.

I do agree that we need to have the conversation about how things will improve or support student learning. Anything that does not in some way improve student learning is money wasted. I don’t advocate blindly saying yes. I do advocate for innovation, creativity, and the conversations that should come with them.

As I have said before - I enjoy when people disagree with me or challenge me (as long as they do it intelligently.)

Related Posts

Online Video Statistics

A lot of school buses by wheany.

The average canadian watches over 605 minutes of online video every month.

That is what I heard on CBC Radio today on my drive in to work.  We watch an average of 10 hours a month.  Here is a link to some of the stats that they are quoting.  We are the top country for the amount of online video watched.  (The radio host figured it might have something to do with winter.)

Now you tell me we shouldn't be using this for and in education.

You tell me that we should be blocking these sites.

You tell me that we can't afford the bandwidth to use these tools.

Then get out of the way of my bus.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Slumdog Canadian

I just finished watching Slumdog Millionaire.  It is a well written story.  It also has a powerful message.  The message did not really hit me until I enlisted Google's help.  (Let me get back to that idea.)  For those of you who have not seen the movie it as about a boy who grows up poor on the streets in India.  He gets a chance to compete on their version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  He is competing for 20 million rupees.  Now this is where the message hits home.  Find an online currency converter.  Find out how much that is in your own currency.   

Wow.  This is an unbelievable, unreachable, utterly amazing dream for people in India.  My wife and I could afford to buy a house worth that much  (with the help of the bank and 25 years worth of time).  We are average people here in Canada.  We have average jobs with average(ish) wages.  For the poor in India what the average Canadian family has is our equivalent to winning a huge lottery.  We already have their biggest dream.

Chew on that before you gripe about the cost of gas.........or maple syrup.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Learning on Purpose

This is coming from my last post.

What is the last thing you learned on purpose?

For me it was about Kline Fogleman Airfoil.  The KF airfoil is a revolutionary airfoil first developed some time in the 70's.  It was used on a world record holding paper airplane but it was laughed at by aviation experts because they did not understand how it work.  It involves putting a step about midway on either the top or the bottom of a wing.  The step creates some turbulence which then generates a surprising amount of lift.  Right now it is getting a lot of attention by remote control model airplane enthusiasts.  (That is where I picked up the idea.)  YouTube, Google, a couple of podcasts, and many discussion forums were my partners in my research.

A challenge:  What was the last thing you really learned on purpose?  I don't mean something that you learned in passing.  I mean something you went out of your way to find out about.  Not because you had to but because you wanted to.  I am passing the challenge on to a few of you (and anyone else is welcome to join in).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Do You Learn? (or do you just Teach?)

Are you a lifelong learner?  What is the last thing that you learned?  Was it an "ouch that hurt - no more touching the pokey thing" kind of learning or was it something that you went out learned on purpose?  What was the last thing that you learned on purpose - not because you had to but because you were curious?

Be careful how you answer that question because you might not like the answer.  I didn't really.  Yes I am a lifelong learner.  Yes I learn on purpose.  (Yes I also learn from the painful, pokey things too.)  But what fires me up and keeps me up at night researching and learning?  My hobbies and my projects.  That would be awesome - if I were retired - but I am not.  Don't get me wrong.  I do a lot of work related research/reading as well.  I love new ideas (well new to me is good enough).  But I can put work research down.  I can put it off until a little later.  When I get off on a new project/hobby tangent - look out.  I pour through everything I can find about it.  Why am I not quite as obsessed about my work?

I just got back from a PD day.  I did not go for myself.  I went as tech support for some of my coworkers.  Boy is it ever fun to watch other people excited about learning something!  In the days leading up to it they were worried about it and not too excited about the ideas (involving computers).  As the day went on they forgot their fears and got really involved in what they were learing.  And then they got overloaded.  Even overloaded they were rushing to see how quickly they could use what they learned in the classroom.  I really enjoyed being there in that environment.

So go out there and learn something.  Do it on purpose.

Photo credit Bill Mosely