This post is taken from my K12 Online Conference presentation, “What If the Story Changed?”  Access the presentation here.

 What If? | The Lesson

What if the lesson wasn’t the lesson?

When I taught biology, part of the curriculum was to teach kids about cell division, a process known as mitosis. 

Do you remember the process of mitosis?  That’s an important question.  If you don’t why not?  If you do, why?

To teach kids mitosis, I would lecture for two class periods, they’d memorize the steps, and take a multiple choice test.  They’d do well, and then they would forget about mitosis

What if there was a different way for students to learn mitosis?

Looking back, I’d do this, as I had eight internet capable computers in my classroom.

I’d give them the authentic scenario of cancer.   Normally, when cells divide, they stop.  When things go wrong, they keep dividing.  Sometime this contributes to cancer.  Understanding cell division is part of understanding cancer.

Then I’d give them a simple but powerful question.  How does a cell go from one to two?  What’s the plan?

Then I would give them access to visual media.

Images from Google.

From Flickr

From Youtube.

Animations.

Simulations.

And then I ask them to turn off all the sound. Visual interpretation only.  Raw materials for understanding, choose what you want.  Play the understanding as much as you want.  Rewind.  Play again.  Develop your answer.  Collaboratively.  And develop media to explain your solution.  Share that, and have a more expansive group of learners evaluate and offer course corrections if necessary. 

I’d do a similar thing if I was a history teacher helping students understand the importance of the assassination of President John F Kennedy

I’d show them how to locate Creative Commons imagery in Flickr.

I’d show them how to use Google Streetview to take a trip to Dealey Plaza.

I’d show them how they could see Dealey Plaza in real time.

I’d ask them to investigate actual footage of the event on YouTube, first with Walter Chronkite, and then with Abraham Zapruder.

Then I would show them how to merge their ideas, and the content online to assemble their understanding in a wiki platform.

Then I’d show them how to build content in Google Earth, so when they  needed to demonstrate understanding that had a geographical context, they could do it there.

What if education could a new story of learning by asking great questions, providing access to multiple types of learning resources, and expecting students to be an active participant in their learning?

The other option is to do what we’ve always done.

How well is that working for us?

 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments No Comments »

This post is taken from my K12 Online Conference presentation, “What If the Story Changed?”  Access the presentation here.

 What If:  The Classroom

Is the notion of a classroom an absolute in education?  What if the classroom wasn’t the classroom?

At least as we think of it today…

Are there new ways of addressing where students learn?  Is that all we can offer students? (Picture of typical classroom).

With all the new technologies at our disposal, are there new what if ways of transitioning this space to something more expansive and more contemporary?

What if we rethought classrooms, and schools, as learning spaces, where technology was not integrated but just part of the fabric of what learning is?

What if learning extended beyond the physical brick and mortar experiences?  (Enter:  picture of kids using computers on wireless bus).

For example, what if buses were wireless, and gave kids access to classes?

What if classes were developed for buses?

What if schools looked toward locations other than school to understand how learning occurred?

What if schools recognized the value of third places as valid locations of learning?

And what if we rethought our learning spaces, what if they were colorful, resource rich, filled with adult mentors, and truly enabled students to explore their passions, like YouMedia in Chicago, Illinois.

What if digital spaces took their rightful place alongside our traditional physical spaces as learning locations?

What if digital spaces where not just for posting assignments, calendar events, and documents but were for connecting learners?

What if digital spaces were more than just places for kids who were absent from class to get make up work?

What if digital spaces helped tell a new learning story, what if these spaces helped students tell their story, what if these spaces took advantages of the affordances of social media to shift a classroom to a learning space?

And what would happen if learning opportunities afforded by digital spaces were open for enrollment across the globe, such as this MOOC course, which represents a Massive Open Online Course?

What if you had choice of what resources you wanted to learn with, with people who had the same interests as you, and you could learn anytime, and finish the course with new understandings but with also a new network of people to continue to learn with?

What would happen, and what would learning look like, if 160 thousand people signed up for a course, with content available in 40 languages?

What if mainstream K-12 education fails to realize the potential of this type of learning?

They’ll be replaced.

Here is the online high school from George Washington University.

Here is the online high school from Stanford University.

What if thinking can help schools see the opportunities for developing new venues for learning, and make learning that is independent of time space and place a reality?

How would you begin developing that story?

 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments No Comments »

This post is taken from my K12 Online Conference presentation, “What If the Story Changed?”  Access the presentation here.

 What If? Telling your Story…

This presentation is about changing the story…and that can begin with telling stories.

Today’s technology connects us with the capability to take the stories of our lives and tell them with a variety of different media to make the story come alive, in a brand new way…

We can also use technology to tell those stories to people we have never met, nor will probably ever meet, at least face to face.

What if schools focused on helping students tell stories, and in new ways?

What story does this tell?  (picture: scantron form)

And what story does this tell, when the storytelling is between two people, and one is responsible for evaluating the story?  Is that all we can offer?  (picture: graded essay)

Instead of grading someone’s story, how will you help students write themselves into existence?

There are numerous ways today, afforded by easily accessible technologies.

What if teachers led the way, with telling their own stories, using the technologies of 2011?

Time gets in the way, doesn’t it?  Interest does too.  Grading, parent phone calls, planning lessons all are potential yah buts.  The pressures of standardized curriculum and assessment contribute as well.  There’s only so much time in the day, right, and they can learn all of this on their own anyway.  After all, their digital natives…

For students, creating stories beyond Facebook means video.

Video is the language of their age.

Being literate today means being able to compose with multiple media.

In my opinion, if you can’t craft a video message, put your words into imagery, and tell your story, you’re on the outside looking in.

And I’m not talking Dylan’s Couch Episode 8 either, where we have a student talking about their history project, although the video has almost 1.4 million views.  Look at the potential audience your students have!

I’m talking about serious messages, such as True America, where a Hispanic student explores immigration from Mexico, with the potential of explaining her views to her peers around the world, to help in providing a different context for understanding the complex country known as America.

Here is what her teacher wrote about the potential for telling a new story.  It’s worth reading.

“Here is a challenge to the young people of our country and those on the other side of the world–to go through the wall that separates the ambassadors and heads of state–to reach into the hearts and minds of peers in foreign lands with the truth as we live it, as we can best convey it–partly in image, partly in sound, but always in our own voice?” (Matt Formato)

So, what if we could help them create new stories, their own personal anthems?

And what if we could help them create a competitive voice, one that could emerge from the massive amounts of content uploaded each day…and be heard.

What if we helped our students tell their stories?

Would that help to change our story?


 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments No Comments »

This post is taken from my K12 Online Conference presentation, “What If the Story Changed?”  Access the presentation here.

What If? Swipe!

My second “ What if story”  is entitled Swipe, which is an intentional nod towards the motion of a finger across the surface of a tablet, such as an iPad.

When I was a kid, my mother used to read Digger Dan to me when I was about 4.  I couldn’t get enough Digger Dan.  Even when I look at book cover now, I can still recall that steam shovel…

This is a colleague’s   two year old using an iPad to listen to his father read him Toy Story.   He uses his finger to swipe to the next page…at 2 years old.

How has your reading changed over the last three years?  Do you still read paper?  Or has your reading shifted to a digital platform, where you turn digital pages with a swipe of your finger?

What is the new story of reading, and how much of it are we bringing to our students?  And yes, we have that responsibility.

What if we could access what we wanted to read via Project Gutenberg, and then access that content on a smartphone using a QR code?

What if I could change the dimensions of what we read by using Readability?

What if I could digitally store things I wanted to read in my own personal digital library on Diigo?

What if I could mark things I wanted  to read later with Instapaper?

And what if I read not only by myself, but with others with Book Glutton?

What if I read with a geographical content in Google Earth, with Google Lit Trips?

What if I could collect, or aggregate, different authors into one central location by using Google Reader?  What if the content flowed to me, what if that content followed me?

What if I could distill important ideas from what I read, and organize and tag that information into my Evernote account?

What if I could sync that information to my online Evernote account, and make it available in the cloud?

And what if I had mobile access to that information from a mobile Evernote account?  What if the information I read and distilled was available to me anywhere?

What if I took that information and repurposed it into a Posterous blog post?

What if I then distributed that post from Posterous to any number of individuals via social media?

What if I published what I wrote in a book using LuLu?

What if I created my own augmented reality book with Zooburst?

And what if I really used technology to accomplish something absolutely amazing…using technology to sign bedtime stories to deaf children?

Take a Playstation Portable and scan the QR code in the upper left…

And a video appears with a woman who signs the book to the child…

What if we could do all of this?  Well, we can. 

Right now. 

It’s all available.

Yet schools languish in a world entitled “What We’ve Always Done…”

What if educators taught students to leverage these tools?  How would that change how they view technology?  How would that change how they use technology, and how they learn with technology?

What would that story tell?

Most importantly, what if education was interested in this?

How would our story change?

 

 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments No Comments »

This post is taken from my K12 Online Conference presentation, “What If the Story Changed?”  Access the presentation here.

What If?  The Hallway

You’ve probably realized by now that the most important focus of this presentation is to help change or reframe how you approach ideas, and how those ideas can be nurtured, improved, and amplified to create a new story.

To help unlock your thinking on how you approach new ideas, I’d like to present to you my first “What If” vignette:  The Hallway.

All hallways help people get from point A to Point B. 

Hallways are for storage of coats and books, and sometimes finishing up that homework before school.

But what if we created a new story for the hallway with “What If” thinking?

What if a hallway had a Twitter account?

What if a hallway had a Facebook account?

And what if you could check into your hallway on Foursquare?  What if you could become the mayor of your hallway?

Right now, are you intrigued by these ideas, or are you thinking “Yah But?”  Be honest with yourself.  What was your initial response to these three ideas centered on social media and hallways?

Maybe you’re wondering:  Why would you?   I’m wondering why you wouldn’t…

Yah But, who would post to the Twitter account?  Yah But, who would manage the Facebook profile?

I don’t have an answer, but aren’t those different and interesting questions to ask?

Are they solvable?

And what if we could create a social aspect to our hallways beyond the 5 minute analog Facebook passing period?  Could that serve a purpose?  Could that connect kids in a different way to their classmates?  Their school?

What if hallways had a blog site?

And what if students could be in hallways without a pass?  What if that was part of the school culture and students were entrusted with that responsibility, that opportunity?

What if the hallways were writeable?  What if a dry erase marker was standard issue to all students?

What if the hallways were more than cream-colored cinderblock?  What if school hallways were colorful and vibrant?  What if the culture of the school was enhanced by quotations from the school community, and contributed to a transparency of beliefs?

And what if stairwells did the same?  What if they were more than vertical egress routes?  And look at the image on the right-hallway as beacon, lit up at night, to show all who look, here is what we are and what we believe in.

Imagine QR codes on the walls, connecting kids to ideas and resources, while using their own devices…

Imagine also augmented reality hotspots in hallways that provided students with an additional information reality.  What if AR hotspots were part of a hallway learning game?

Or, you could have just have hallways.  You could be satisfied with just hallways.

The next time you walk down a school corridor or hallway, ask “What If?”

Begin developing that new story.  Challenge yourself to rethink, and to be open to possibilities and potential…

 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments No Comments »

This post is taken from my K12 Online Conference presentation, “What If the Story Changed?”  Access the presentation here.

What If?  The Hallway

You’ve probably realized by now that the most important focus of this presentation is to help change or reframe how you approach ideas, and how those ideas can be nurtured, improved, and amplified to create a new story.

To help unlock your thinking on how you approach new ideas, I’d like to present to you my first “What If” vignette:  The Hallway.

All hallways help people get from point A to Point B. 

Hallways are for storage of coats and books, and sometimes finishing up that homework before school.

But what if we created a new story for the hallway with “What If” thinking?

What if a hallway had a Twitter account?

What if a hallway had a Facebook account?

And what if you could check into your hallway on Foursquare?  What if you could become the mayor of your hallway?

Right now, are you intrigued by these ideas, or are you thinking “Yah But?”  Be honest with yourself.  What was your initial response to these three ideas centered on social media and hallways?

Maybe you’re wondering:  Why would you?   I’m wondering why you wouldn’t…

Yah But, who would post to the Twitter account?  Yah But, who would manage the Facebook profile?

I don’t have an answer, but aren’t those different and interesting questions to ask?

Are they solvable?

And what if we could create a social aspect to our hallways beyond the 5 minute analog Facebook passing period?  Could that serve a purpose?  Could that connect kids in a different way to their classmates?  Their school?

What if hallways had a blog site?

And what if students could be in hallways without a pass?  What if that was part of the school culture and students were entrusted with that responsibility, that opportunity?

What if the hallways were writeable?  What if a dry erase marker was standard issue to all students?

What if the hallways were more than cream-colored cinderblock?  What if school hallways were colorful and vibrant?  What if the culture of the school was enhanced by quotations from the school community, and contributed to a transparency of beliefs?

And what if stairwells did the same?  What if they were more than vertical egress routes?  And look at the image on the right-hallway as beacon, lit up at night, to show all who look, here is what we are and what we believe in.

Imagine QR codes on the walls, connecting kids to ideas and resources, while using their own devices…

Imagine also augmented reality hotspots in hallways that provided students with an additional information reality.  What if AR hotspots were part of a hallway learning game?

Or, you could have just have hallways.  You could be satisfied with just hallways.

The next time you walk down a school corridor or hallway, ask “What If?”

Begin developing that new story.  Challenge yourself to rethink, and to be open to possibilities and potential…

 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments No Comments »

Reinvent.

To malke new again. To get a second chance.  Perhaps a third…

Have you re-invented yourself?  Do you need to?  Will you?  What if you did?

At some point in your life or career, you’ll probably have to. Sometimes you do it because it makes sense and takes you to a place you want to go.  Sometimes you don’t have a choice, and failing to do so results in a lack of relevance.

Fade away..

I’ve done it a number of times.  I have a bachelors and masters in fisheries management, and started my career working for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  Ronald Regan gets elected, goodbye environmental jobs. Time to reinvent myself.  Hello Northern Illinois University and the College of Education.  Here I am, 26 years later.

I’ve also done it a number of within those 26 years.  I’ve shifted from being a classroom teacher to being a technology coordinator and the administrative responsibilities that come with it.

As many of you know, a big part of my career has focused on presenting my ideas.  I did my first national presentation in 1995 in Phoenix on “Surfing the Information Highway in the Biology Classroom.”  Seriously.  How funny.  To get to that point, I had done numerous presentations on the local and state levels.  I paid my dues to get there.  At that time, there was no Twitter, and you actually had to do a presentation to get recognized to do other presentations. Imagine that.

I’ve had opportunities to speak at numerous conferences, and I’ve had some signature topics, including digital storytelling, presentation design, learning spaces, and some others.  Eventually as those topics became more mainstream, it was time to learn and reinvent.  Stay current. Stay relevant.  Actually do it in a real school.  Compete for those speaking gigs.  All at a tremendous cost of energy, time, stress…

At what point do you say enough is enough?  No more reinventing.

Musicians learn their craft, start playing small venues, and if they get good enough, connect enough, they play the big venues, the big concert halls.  But few can continue at such a high level, and gradually its down the other side of slope.

Interestingly, many continue on and return to the smaller venues where they got their start.  And they seem to enjoy that, and accept that that is just the way it is.  So do their fans, who realize that the musician’s voice is still true and the message in their songs is still much more meaningful than the superficial noise the new bands are putting out.

I guess most of all they just like playing their music, regardless of where.  They’ve had the big-time experiences, have been there, have achieved it, and probably reached the goals they set for themselves.  I’ll bet for many they just like playing for those fans who have been along for the ride, even though it may just be several hundred now.  Perhaps they just like playing for themselves, their music is that important to them. Playing, singing, and recognizing that they have the ability to communicate in a rare way might be just enough to see them through, without the big stage and lights, the travel,and the jazz that goes with the name on the big marquee…

So, at what point do you put it behind you?  Say goodbye, walk away, and do something else?  Just move on?

And reinvent yourself…all over again.

Comments No Comments »

What if?

What if is about possibilities.  Its about free thinking and not being boxed in by preconceptions.  Its about and, and, and more and, about extending ideas, not being limited, but being creative and open and generative.

What if is the opposite of Yeah But.

Instead of looking at why things can’t be, look at why they can.  What if gives you permission to dream a little, step out of your comfort zone, and see connections where you couldn’t, and wouldn’t, see them before.

Now is a time when global connectivity, technology,and new approaches and understandings about education are emerging and should be a focus of many.  It is a time of exponential possibilitiy, of what could be, and should be.  But at least in the States, we’re headed in a different direction, down a different path, towards a limited, narrow world that has at its foundation misguided legislative mandates that ultimately create a climate of fear, failure, and prescriptive education.

On top of all of this, we’re conditioned to see why things won’t work, aren’t we?  How many in your organization consciously look to find why something won’t work, and who find their passion by shutting down yours?  All organizations have them, the yahbutters…

So, to get you thinking in a different direction, here’s a few What ifs

What if tatoos were medical patches?

What if cigarette boxes actually helped save lives?

What if 2D became 3D?

What if restaurants were trucks?

What if PlayDoh, Silly Putty, Tinkertoys and the 128 crayon box (with the sharpener) were the school supplies?

What if fruit was scan-able?

What if ideas were bigger than 140 characters?

What if walls were writeable?

What if you could check out a rabbit?  (heard at Reimagine Ed this weekend)

What if beef jerky was potato chips?

What if you played Monopoly not on a board but used a city for the board?

What if there was no student-teacher relationship, just learners?

What if instead of making goop, you made edible goop?

What if educators work focused on learning and not teaching?

What if…

Changing the language of interaction is a step towards developing a language that can support change and improvement. When you encounter an idea, why not add to it?  And when that idea needs help, why not help?  Honor the person and the risk it took to communicate the idea by redirecting, adding to, tweeking, or refocusing the idea into something more productive.

What if you helped to build ideas rather than tear them down?

 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments 1 Comment »

Hallway.

Hallways are found everywhere.  They are corridors that enable people to get from Point A to Point B.

Hallways in schools have lockers in them and are inhabited by students copying each other’s worksheets.

Hallways in a typical school are most active before and after school, before learning has started and after learning for the day has ended.

At other times, typically for 5 minutes between classes, hallways are the analog equivilent of Facebook..

Besides lockers, hallways may have bulletin boards, display cases and pictures on the their walls.

Why?

What if a hallway had a web site?

What if a hallway had a Twitter account, a Facebook presence?

What if kids checked into their hallway on Foursquare or Yelp?

What if a hallway were spaces to learn at all times?

What if the climate of a school honored hallways as learning spaces?

What if there were flat panels so students could attach their devices?

What if there was some furniture, high cafe tables and chairs.  What if hallways were actually a comfortable place?

What if teachers were assigned to hallways as mentors and advisors, and not for just checking passes?

What if you didn’t need a pass to be in a hallway. 

What if friendly class competitions pitted Hallway AB vs Hallway CD?  See which hallway could learn the most, do the most social good…why freshman vs. sophomore, etc..?

What if there were infographics on the walls?

What if the hallways were the library?

More importantly, what if educators had the courage, the insight, and the desire to look at something old in a new way, to reinvent it, and in the process, rethink the spaces that serve our students education?

What if?

Just image all the reasons not to, why a school shouldn’t, imagine all the Yeah Buts. 

But maybe Yeah Buts should start being replaced with What If’s?


 

 

 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments 2 Comments »

Hashtag.

A piece of metadata, normally associated with a tweet.  A cousin to the tag, hashtags have a # sign in front of them.

Hashtags can be used to categorize tweets around a central theme.  Hashtags make tweets searchable.   This is believed to be the first hashtag.

You see them all the time if you are on Twitter.  For example, #iste11 was recently used extensively to group tweets around the International Society of Technology in Education Conference in Philadelphia.  Sometimes, the use of hashtags can go very wrong, as Entenmenns recently found out.

Hashtags can also be used to add to interest to a tweet, and even add a little fun.  Sometimes they are even attributed:

#seewhatIdidthere (@jonbecker 2010)

#TTA (me, 2009)   Note:  TTA = Touch Them All and is used to reference hitting a “home-run” with a tweet and touching all four bases in the process, as in a runner rounding the bases after hitting a real home run.

So, hashtags are part of the “conversation,” and serve to make the “conversation” searchable.

But I’m tired of conversation and have written on that before.  Time to move on…more doing, and less talking.

Why not start using these hashtags to address that?

#whatwedid

#whathappened

#howweknow

#whatwedid could be used to describe something actually attempted to improve education.  The emphasis on we addresses that attempt to be organizationally-based, and not just a classroom-localized event of a single teacher.

#whathappened could categorize the outcome of that attempt, the consequences of the action…and most importantly,what happened to student learning.

#howweknow could be used when describing how the organization knows #whathappened.

Three years from now will you still be engaged in the same conversations?  Right now, think back three years, has your school changed significantly as the result of the conversation?  Not you, the school

When will conversation turn to action?  When will you share your evidence of that action?

Use the hashtags to let everyone know…

 

 

Posted via email from David Jakes

Comments No Comments »