Monday, February 18, 2013

Week 1 Lecture

Before a brief session with Mitch Resnick, lecture #1 started with course introductions. The course is a big experiment for online learning. The goal being how to use new technologies to create more meaningful online learning experiences. Things will work, things will not work. There will be experimentation, there will be tinkering, there will be some switch-a-roos. We have to be flexible and help each other out. 

As the session began, Professor Resnick continually said we will learn a lot. It was crystal clear that he was part of the we. This is the first time the course is offered online and with the sheer number of students, over 24,000, it is going to be a nutty challenge. 

He began with the example of Singapore. Singapore consistently is near the top of international tests regarding schooling. Employers noticed these 'high achievers' could barely function in the working world. They needed explicit hand holding, could not handle new situations, and lacked creative thinking. This is not what one would expect. In travels to Singapore, Resnick noted a robotics club in which kids created the most unbelievable creations and thoroughly enjoyed the process. When he asked a teacher why this was reserved for after school she remarked, "we can't do robots in class, they need to be drilled in math!"

Welcome to 21st century schooling folks! When we need creative thinking the most, it is really not allowed. Instead of innovation, we get teaching to the test. Resnicks words are most telling, "if we live in a rapidly changing world, why is a fixed set of facts going to help us."

The opposite to this information-deposit model of education is kindergarten. Kinder is all about collaboration and creation. The goal of this class is to engage people and make spaces more like kindergartens. Fabulous concept. You look around a classroom of small humans and they are vibrant displays of happiness. How can we switch the paradigm of schooling around to this?

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Resnick believes the media/medium for creativity was never readily available before. Blocks may work for small children, but since they do not for older students, teachers default to the old stand by--delivering information. Can technology change this? Starting around minute twenty five he describes how simple programming software like allow for students to collaborate and create. He shows unbelievable examples of student innovation and creativity, even charting the growth of a teenage start-up. If you have the time, I encourage you to watch.

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