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Imagination and Creativity in Education

“Teaching’s primary purpose should be to ensure that every student graduates ready to tinker, create, and take initiative.”

  • What if quizzes measured kid’s ability to question, not answer?
  • What if a math class’s textbook was replaced with open-ended, thought-provoking opportunities to question the world around us?
  • What if -within a teaching day- teachers were able to strike a balance between art and science; considering the art as the relationship the teacher built with the kids, and the science as the assessment that generated real evidence of student growth?
  • What if teachers tracked narratives of a student’s progress? And used a handy management tool to capture anecdotal notes and evidence of student growth?
  • What if teachers were able to identify and analyze students’ strengths and skill gaps; continuously?  And were able to turn classroom data into plans of action?
  • What if teachers taught their students how to do this type of thinking, so the student could be self-directed?

“We live in a world where information is growing exponentially. Let’s use tinkering and initiative to foster more creativity.”

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iBook Author by Apple

There are times in an instructional designer’s life when the game changes and Apple has just changed the game-again. This time it is with their iBook Author.  Those who are considering an elearning situation, should consider using this new tool. The ability to interact with the content built in iBooks is amazing for all types of learners. Integrating audio and video right into the iBook allows the learners to integrate with the content.

Anyone who needs a workbook, textbook, manual. job aid, even a magazine, or newsletter should consider this type of learning aid. I will be getting mine soon.

This amazing new [FREE] app iBook Author allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.

This application has the ability to drag and drop text, images, graphics, video, movies and more into the template.  Apple’s Widgets add Multi-Touch magic to books with interactive photo galleries that bring images to life, engrossing 3D objects you can’t help interacting with, animations that burst off the page, and more.

Another beautiful thing about iBooks Author, it lets you create books that people with disabilities can read and experience. The table of contents, glossary, widgets, main text, and more are built to automatically take advantage of VoiceOver technology. Add accessibility descriptions to any widget or media — including movies and quizzes — so even those with vision impairments can use them.

And you can publish it to the iBookstore or iTunes U or share it with anyone with an iPad.

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The Self-Directed Learning [SDL] Support Model: Training Educators for Online Learning

Since August, I have been on a journey working with some fabulous educators, instructional designers and just all-round wonderful women drafting outlines and creating the content for a chapter that will be published in a book which is being published by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning [also known as iNACOL]. We just completed our draft of our chapter and are so excited.

This chapter will present a student-centered model for online teacher mentoring. The one-to-many online model is designed to be scalable, self-directed, and leverages social learning. The program, Self-Directed Learning [SDL] Support Model: Training Educators for Online Learning, introduces teachers to ideas of self-directed learning, partnering pedagogy, and metacognition while orienting new and prospective virtual teachers to the online learning environment. To maximize impact and sustainability, this program employs the Cognitive Coaching model through a social learning community.

Without giving away all our secrets -you’ll have to wait until the whole book Lessons Learned in Teacher Mentoring: Supporting Educators in K-12 Online Learning Environments is published [due out in the fall of 2012]- we explain ‘how’ we developed and taught an online course which has helped many educators-across Massachusetts- become better learners and in turn better educators.

Our chapter goes into great detail explaining how we used self-directed learning techniques and skills to teach educators how-to understand and use essential self-directed learning skills such as: goal setting, metacognition, motivation, critical thinking and time management.  We also discuss how we designed our online course, how we delivered it and how we improved it.

I can tell you that by implementing the use of social learning, collaboration and ePortfolios we have had a very good success rate with this online course. Here is what a few of our participants said about our course:

“This was a new way to approach teaching.”

“The course really helped me understand how to encourage and coach students not just around content but around linking content to their own goals in life.”

“It’s cool to watch students change over the course of the year. They start talking about what their goals are and what skills they’ve learned. Online learning puts their education in their own hands—it’s wonderful!”

 

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Millennials

There is a very interested infographic of the 18-29 year old Millennials.  Note, 86% of those Millennials who invested in higher education feel it has been a good investment. 50% of those currently in school would like to earn a graduate or professional degree afterwards.  Seems to me, there’s an opportunity to promote online learning to this demographic.

Another good area to study is their Lifestyles.  According to this source, 75% are on a social networking site and 74% feel technology makes their lives easier.  This is even more good reason to expect Millennials are primed and ready to tackle higher education online.

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Self-directed Learning Skills

How do teachers, parents, paraprofessionals and other working with children help those students develop self-directed learning [SDL] skills? How can we help students plan for and reach their potential?  I built and co-facilitate this course [within Moodle] to teach the skills necessary for developing 21st century habits of mind.

Participants learn to:

  • Negotiate student learning contracts
  • Teach independent thinking skills
  • Motivate and empower students
  • Become fabulous coaches
  • Build an ePortfolio

There is so much more to learn by participating in this course.  Come hear me and Meg Robbins give a one-hour presentation: Motivating students to becoming self-directed learners. MassCUE 2011.

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Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds

In 2010 Ai Weiwei launched a show called Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern in London. His work is brilliant on so many levels. Using sunflowers carried a blunt symbolism: Mai Zedong was the sun and the Chinese people were the sunflowers, all facing one direct to receive the nourishing ways.

Being as outspoken as Ai Weiwei is his symbolism of the sunflower is a bit more subversive.  He spread more than a hundred million of them, all hand-painted– across the floor of a large hall at the Tate Modern in London. Ai wanted visitors to move freely across the installation, picking the seeds up, moving them around, doing whatever they wanted.  I love how he uses common elements of everyday Chinese life and incorporates them into his art. It is also amazing how these porcelain seeds “sound” like the real thing.

Another interesting point is how Ai Weiwei set up the production of the thousands of sunflower seeds. It is done in group style with each person painstakingly painting the sunflower seed stripes. I saw this style of working in many factories I visited back in the late 1980′s.

I did something similar, in 2004, distributing 100 blank journals across Beijing, asking only that people add to them and send them onto others. I was looking for everyday-types of whatever to fill the pages and I got some really interesting returns and had an exhibition at the Academy of Music in 2009.

Sadly, Ai Weiwei who has been a champion of freedom and an outspoken critic of China’s human rights record, has had his Shanghai studio demolished and he was also arrested and detained.  Now he is forbidden from giving interviews or using the Internet. Before his arrest Ai was able to send a videotaped speech to the TED conference. You can watch that below. I hope someday, Ai Weiwei will have more of his work shown around the world.

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The Five Biggest Ideas On The Future of Health Care Design

Here’s something that might help when designing educational materials.  While this is geared towards the health care industry, it is an excellent reference source to consider when creating educational materials-especially when we think about The Patient.  Consider your user, when designing your online classroom.

Health Care Design

This article states: “The practice of medicine changes constantly, and your product will have to change as well.” If we think about our curriculum as constantly changing we know our online class materials will need constant changing and updating too.

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Why Inforgraphics Matter

The Value of Data Visualization makes a compelling case for how infographics exploit visual clues like color, size, and graphic orientation to help us understand complex stories. Naturally, they use infographics to do it. Think about visual clues when creating instructional design.

The Value of Data Visualization from Column Five on Vimeo.

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