EdTech Disconnect

I attended the LearnLaunch 2015 Conference this weekend. It was an odd experience for me. Usually my fellow conference-goers are in the education field. This conference brought in other business-minded professional from two-person startups to venture capital groups. Terms like “go-to-market strategy” and “optimizing the algorithm to improve student outcomes” were bandied about with such frequency I was tempted to create bingo board to keep track of them all. I don’t begrudge their efforts to improve the educational experience of students and teachers, but I have a hard time seeing how all this data (usually in the form of multiple...

Makerspace All The Things

Every conference I’ve attended in the last year and a half has offered a session on Makerspaces. For the uninitiated, Makerspaces are places were community members can plan and create projects. Many of these spaces have an engineering design focus where participants can use tools to build creations. A better overview of Makerspaces is documented here: http://makerspace.com. The attention given to finding ways to empower kids and adults to create projects is awesome. It gets at the heart of what Seymour Papert called Constructivism, where a learner actively creates understanding through experience and reflection. The number and variety of these spaces are growing geometrically (my favorite...

The Hard Way

Alan November said that a good conference will lead to more questions than answers. By that measure, BLC14 is shaping up to be a great conference. Today was highlighted by Chris Lehmann, Darren Kuropatwa, and Julia Leong. Each one of these presenters emphasized process and conversation over tools. None of them offered simple answers. Each one highlighted the complexity of the issues facing education. Even though they pointed to the long road ahead, I was somewhat relieved that they were on the same road I wanted to travel.

Games and Learning: A Review of A Theory of Fun

A few weeks ago a colleague sent an email to the faculty asking about banning students’ use of electronic devices during their recess time. This email was in response to a rainy indoor recess, where several students fired up their devices and started playing Minecraft. He was concerned about how these games might be impacting their social interaction and learning. The email inspired several other faculty members to share their support of a ban on electronics. Ever since then, I’ve been questioning the relationship between games and learning. More specifically I’ve been reading the book A Theory of Fun for...

Digital Literacy and Context

Computers and the Internet have provided a blank slate to create. Lacking one single governing authority, sites have the freedom to create communities in the ways they see fit. With each new site conventions crop up are meaningful to the users of the community. The convention while useful to that community, doesn’t always have usefulness beyond that community. A hashtag on Twitter helps organize information, while on Facebook it looks out of place. Using that convention well demonstrates savvy behavior, but may have limited use beyond the context of that site. It is the context and usefulness that should help...

A Love of Language

I love the Oxford English Dictionary. I am not ashamed to admit it. I considered asking for it as a college graduation present (although I considered a car more useful). It lays bare the definitions and history of English words in all their etymological glory. Given the sheer audacity of trying to capture the entirety of the language, it is not surprising that one contributor sent his submissions from with the walls of an asylum for the criminally insane. Within the pages of the OED it is easy to see that words have a beauty and history apart from the...

Digital Literacy Definitions Are Neither True Nor False…

Words can be slippery. Jargon is used to obscure or elevate language (see: Education Jargon Generator) Terms are applied too broadly or misappropriated (see: Gardner Campbell tries to recapture the idea of “open” in MOOCs, KQED’s Project-based Learning article) Words may only have meaning to the person saying them  (for a brilliant example see: Monty Python and more Monty Python-slightly NSWF, also the ds106 Daily Create Assignment by Guilia Forsythe ). As part of our #etmooc task, I needed to define digital literacy. Fortuitously, I stumbled across this Twitter conversation that highlighted the problematic nature of definitions (as an aside, if anyone knows a...

On MOOCs and Learning

ETMOOC is the second MOOC I’ve joined in as many weeks (MIT’s Learning Creative Learning being the first). I like that they use small pieces, loosely joined, like blogs, Google+, and Twitter. Sometimes the stream on information can seem overwhelming. One look at a Community in Google+ or Twitter Hashtag has sent my mind reeling. I am hoping I can maintain focus and be able to pull out meaningful ideas. I am also curious about how effectively I can use a MOOC. I guess I’ll be looking at Dave Cormier’s video for advice: