Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Google Translate

Google has just updated their translate features which may alleviate the need for additional translation websites and applications if you are using them frequently.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another Flat Classroom™ Project

Recently I applied and was accepted into the newest Flat Classroom Project titled the Net Generation Education 2010 Project and I couldn't be more pleased.  The team of 8th graders participating in this project are excited and ready to move forward.  They'll have the opportunity to work with students and teachers around the world, as well as Don Tapscott, the author of Growing Up Digital:  The Rise of the Net Generation and Grown Up Digital:  How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.

In this project, students will study and "mash up" the results of the 2010 Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium and Educause and Tapscott's book Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. Students will study the current research and create wiki-reports with their student partners around the world analyzing current trends and projecting future happenings based upon this collaborative analysis. This project is managed by the students who assume roles such as project manager, assistant project manager, and editors of the various wikis.

After compiling their wiki reports based upon current research, and encouraged by "expert advisors" (subject matter experts in the industry), students will then create a video in one of two strands. Video strand I competition will be the NetGenEd Challenge where students are asked to envision the future of education based upon current global technological trends. Video Strand II Competition is the Macrowikinomics Challenge where students envision the future of global social action based upon their research in current global technological trends. The video challenge will also be open to the public for submissions.

I'm really proud of the participating students as their participation shows their commitment to education, social action, and the willingness to work hard and collaborate with others from all over the world. 

This is our second Flat Classroom Project and I must rave about the organizers, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis,  founders of the Flat ClassroomTM Project.  Their work and support to bring down classroom walls is phenomenal.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Top Ten Mistakes in Education

A few days ago I read an old post from Pete Reilly's  Ed Tech Journeys regarding Roger Schank and Engines for Education.  

Roger Schank runs Engines for Education, a non-profit organization charged with "creating new learning environments to replace out-dated and wrong-headed educational notions where much of his philosophy, vision and mission for education can be found."  Their focus is on learning environments that foster learning by doing.  He includes a section on his website dealing with the Top Ten Mistakes in Education which I have posted below.

The mistakes he lists and his commentary that follow are worth reading and certainly worth reflection.  They serve as interesting conversation starters for school staff and the constant need to be reminded about our true purpose of education.   Some may feel he swings the pendulum too far in one direction while others will feel like he hits the nail on the head. 
What are the top ten mistakes in education?

Mistake #1: Schools act as if learning can be disassociated from doing.
There really is no learning without doing. There is the appearance of learning without doing when we ask children to memorize stuff. But adults know that they learn best on the job, from experience, by trying things out. Children learn best that way, too. If there is nothing to actually do in a subject area we want to teach children it may be the case that there really isn't anything that children ought to learn in that subject area.
Mistake #2: Schools believe they have the job of assessment as part of their natural role.
Assessment is not the job of the schools. Products ought to be assessed by the buyer of those products, not the producer of those products. Let the schools do the best job they can and then let the buyer beware. Schools must concentrate on learning and teaching, not testing and comparing.
Mistake #3: Schools believe they have an obligation to create standard curricula.
Why should everyone know the same stuff? What a dull world it would be if everyone knew only the same material. Let children choose where they want to go, and with proper guidance they will choose well and create an alive and diverse society.
Mistake #4: Teachers believe they ought to tell students what they think it is important to know.
There isn't all that much that it is important to know. There is a lot that it is important to know how to do, however. Teachers should help students figure out how to do stuff the students actually want to do.
Mistake #5: Schools believe instruction can be independent of motivation for actual use.
We really have to get over the idea that some stuff is just worth knowing even if you never do anything with it. Human memories happily erase stuff that has no purpose, so why try to fill up children's heads with such stuff? Concentrate on figuring out why someone would ever want to know something before you teach it, and teach the reason, in a way that can be believed, at the same time.
Mistake #6: Schools believe studying is an important part of learning.
Practice is an important part of learning, not studying. Studying is a complete waste of time. No one ever remembers the stuff they cram into their heads the night before the exam, so why do it? Practice, on the other hand, makes perfect. But, you have to be practicing a skill that you actually want to know how to perform.
Mistake #7: Schools believe that grading according to age group is an intrinsic part of the organization of a school.
This is just a historical accident and it's a terrible idea. Age-grouped grades are one of the principal sources of terror for children in school, because they are always feeling they are not as good as someone else or better than someone else, and so on. Such comparisons and other social problems caused by age-similar grades cause many a child to have terrible confidence problems. Allowing students to help those who are younger, on the other hand, works well for both parties.
Mistake #8: Schools believe children will accomplish things only by having grades to strive for.
Grades serve as motivation for some children, but not for all. Some children get very frustrated by the arbitrary use of power represented by grades and simply give up.
Mistake #9: Schools believe discipline is an inherent part of learning.
Old people especially believe this, probably because schools were seriously rigid and uptight in their day. The threat of a ruler across the head makes children anxious and quiet. It does not make them learn. It makes them afraid to fail, which is a different thing altogether.
Mistake #10: Schools believe students have a basic interest in learning whatever it is schools decide to teach to them.
What kid would choose learning mathematics over learning about animals, trucks, sports, or whatever? Is there one? Good. Then, teach him mathematics. Leave the other children alone.