Alan November offered two thought-provoking keynotes at BTG this year. For those that were unable to attend, here are some of the key concepts and resources (as I was able to record them during the presentation). If you were there and have other great resources from Alan, please share them via the comments.
What are the skills we value?
Alan asked corporations what are the most highly valued skills: ppl who are self-directed, lifelong learners, independent, able to put teams together, able to function on a globally collaborative level. How are we teaching these skills?
Recommends that we look as far out can we go (in terms of what technology will be) & look backwards to plan for the future, for example: Sixth Sense Device (Pattie Maes, TED Talk)
With increasing technology, we will need to increase the complexity of problems that we teach kids – and teachers will be more important than ever. The same way the printing press & advent of the book increased complexity & need for teachers.
Biggest chunk of the brain is devoted to the hand – more active technology (like 6th sense device) will help more active learners – will engage more of the brain. Hand and Brain: About a quarter of the motor cortex in the human brain (the part of the brain which controls all movement in the body) is devoted to the muscles of the hands.”
Redefine classwork vs homework
Do you believe that students at Harvard/Stanford can be taking tests, and graduating without understanding? Unfortunately, they are. See this research about multitasking at Stanford.
If you make a mistake w/homework without immediate feedback, your brain records the error. If you bring it into school the next day, and the teacher corrects & then turns back the next day, it’s too late. You’ve already learned it “wrong.” You need immediate feedback. View “From Questions to Concepts: Eric Mazur” for more details – removing HW actually improved understanding.
Alan recommends that we flip classwork (transfer of knowledge) to HW, and then practice and implement learning in class – to support immediate feedback. Plus, by shifting the content online, you get more students to ask questions in an online format, rather than F2F.
Now, the teacher’s job is to walk around and listen to students explain to each other – gives a much better insight to students understanding. No homework & no explanation by the teacher. For example, Technology High School, Newark, NJ is using the same tech as in Eric Mazur’s class. 50% take AP Physics (in poorest community in the US) – in NJ, the avg # of students taking AP Physics is 2%. How did they do this? Abolish HW – this is not just a Harvard model.
If your child happens to have a teacher who’s brilliant, but doesn’t match your child’s learning style, using Khan Academy could be a good option to supplement their learning. Alan believes that we’re going to have libraries of every lesson imaginable - Google just gave Khan Academy billions to develop the largest ES – HS video library in the world.
Here’s an example of what students will do once they’ve “learned” everything from class – both for “high flyers” and those that might “fall between the cracks”: Mathtrain.tv
Recommended viewing: Conrad Wolfram at TED: Teaching kids real math with computers
Redefining the Role of the Learner
Alan recommends that we redefine the role of the learner, to be the role of the teacher – kids love to teach, they will learn the material even more if they have to teach it. Here are some resources he recommends:
- Scratch – graphical programming language for elementary kids (free download)
- Great presentation from Chris Betcher on Scratch for K12Online Conf 2010
- Scratch Lesson Plan resource from @lizbdavis
If you really want to inspire kids, show them the work of other kids from around the world
The more links going into one site, the higher the ranking. Explore Alan’s resources for Information Literacy
1st question for parents to ask their kids “How does google work?” Alan shared an example of how to validate web resources using a screencast.
Next questions for kids: Who wrote this website? How long has it been going? Who controls it? What’s their motive?
Way Back Machine – really interesting reference site that allows you to take any website and drill back in time and see how their changing their story, adapting their story, over time – allows you to see that scientists change their minds.
“If you’re gonna put something on the Internet, you just need to know that your grandchildren will be reading it.”
Myth of digital native/digital immigrant
Kids know almost nothing, but they think they know everything. Adults think kids know b/c they can push the right buttons. That’s not the point. We have a whole bunch of kids who don’t know, but think they know, and a whole bunch of adults who believe them.
We’ve lost control of the quality of information that children can access. We need parents who can work with their kids and say “how do you know that’s true” and then show them how to validate that information.
Recommends watching The Machine is Us/ing Us:
We need to keep asking: Who’s controlling who? Tech controlling us, or us controlling tech?
“There’s going to have to be a partnership between parents and teachers, working together, to prepare children for a world more complicated than the one I grew up in”