Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adam Garry: Information is Changing Learning

Adam Garry, a former elementary teacher who is now Manager of Global Professional Learning at Dell shared a conversation on how Information is Changing Learning: Meeting the Needs of 21st Century Learners. It happened to be at Target Field!
There were folks from South Washington County, Mounds View, Chaska, Duluth, Centenial school districts represented.
The focus was not about Dell, or technology, but more about learning.
He used a tool called Today's Meet for the backchannel, but no one participated.
The first question he posed was "How are you defining 21st Century Learning? " One participant said, "I don't think we are defining it, it's being defined by the students!"
Adam mentioned another conference where a participant said "It feels like we have 19th Century teaching techniques done by 20th Century Teachers for 21st Century Students."
He then showed the Simpsons Cell Phones at School episode it's no longer available for viewing, but there is a great blog post about it here.

Next Question from Garry: Schools have always been about information sharing, yes or no? He's found it's pretty much split 50/50 on that one!

He then talked about the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, focusing on:
  • Information Fluency
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Problem Solving
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Self-Direction
Content is a key component, but it's often presented as an either/or proposition.
Garry argued that the state standards are the bare minimum, and that the 21st Century skills round out and prepare students to the post-secondary world.

We then broke out into a discussion of which of the skills is most important...
As we went around the room and some said problem solving, some said communication, our table said information fluency with a nod to creativity.
Ultimately: They're all important!

Garry mentioned a study on creativity that found much of it was related to problem solving. When students had time to "walk away from the problem", they usually came up with the right answer.
He believes that right now, we're just scratching the surface on doing all of these things.
He then shared the TPACK model.
"When you walk in a classroom, you might not see students using technology, but you should at least see artifacts of them using it!"
Garry then showed us a video on Job Loss in the US over the last 6 years. What impact does this have on education? The jobs lost are not the same jobs that are coming back. He mentioned "A Whole New Mind" and Pink's work on this.

Information is changing learning. Use, Create, Remix....
He mentioned a TED talk that said students today don't view information as static.
He then showed us "TheTrailerMash.com" People can imagine movies in other genres and create trailers for them. What if Sleepless in Seattle were a horror film?!


The writing process for a mashup like this, revising, and knowing the genre is very complex, and may provide!

Growing up in the Digital Age data from "Speak Up".
Adam shared about his son's school, and how his son is connected but his school is not.
He is very self-directed at home, more compliance based at school.
What about the kids who don't have access? By 3rd grade, students have been indoctrinated into "doing school."

"The connected generation typically disconnects when they enter the classroom."
At no other time in history do we have access to information that is exponentially expanding. The barriers to access that information is limited. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with 32 million books. In 2002, the information produced would have filled 37,000 Library of Congresses! .01% was on paper! What will it be today?

Every 1 in 200 page views on the Internet a day are on Wikipedia! Whoever told us that when you find something in a book encyclopedia that you need to check at least 3 other sources? "Publish then Filter"-Clay Shirky

The number one reason people contribute to the Web is because they enjoy it!
Looking at information in different ways can provide deeper meaning. Kids need to understand that they can be manipulated by images:

How do learning environments change as information gets larger, grows faster, and becomes more complex? Issues with teachers comfort level and classroom management, pedagogy, and policy need to be addressed when we look at using cell phones or allowing students to bring their own technology into the mix.

Too often, when we introduce new technology with teachers, we give them the tool, but don't show them how to move beyond automating.
If 21st century skills are not valued by colleagues, administration, parents, how likely are people going to adopt them?

Garry argued that "Web 2.0 is Web 1.0 for today's learners!" They have always been able to contribute!

He then talked about Google Wave, based on HTML5. He shared how Wave technology can update blogs, translate conversations within

Kids don't want to use e-mail, and he sees the need for future Learning spaces to incorporate HTML5 and Wave technology.

He then discussed a few products that are changing the game:
What if teachers had access to show students why they are going through the steps to solve the problem!
Wolfram Alpha will be built into Bing and into Office 2010 w/3D.

Helping people organize the digital content on RSS readers w/ Pageflakes, Netvibes or iGoogle.
What if today, you could take a curriculum map, drag and drop activities to meet the standards based on aggregators and shared across the school to individualize instruction.
3 weeks before starting a lesson, teachers would receive resources on that topic.
Brainhoney-Drive content to teachers!

We need the organizational tools to help teachers define the content.

Dell's "Intelligent" classroom slide from the past now "Connected" classroom. Now they look at using the tools to build equity. Garry: "You can't be "student centered" with a device bolted to the front of the room!"

Great presentation by Adam, but I'll skip the sales pitch, except to say that I liked the focus on learning as opposed to focusing on the tools from the vendor!

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