Increasingly, classrooms are now equipped with iPads, iPods, and MacBooks. Teachers can individualize lessons, engage students, and flip the classroom with one-to-one devices. These specific devices, in and of themselves, however, will not transform education, but rather it is the concept behind them that will.
Apple's focus on the user experience has created a world where technology is not only accessible for the average non-techy person, but it is also fun, engaging, and mesmerizing. Computers were no longer about the developer, about his desires, his interests. This paradigm shift meant developers now focused entirely on the consumer, on using technology to create an "experience" for the user. Steve Jobs' advice:
Start with the experience and work backwards to create the technology.
Translating Jobs' words into school-speak: Start with the experience and work backwards to create the lesson. Online learning is beginning to permeate education. K-12 schools are offered entirely online and Tier 1 universities are conferring reputable degrees in both common and obscure fields. Traditional schools are rapidly increasing the number of minutes that students learn digitally.
It all started with: Where can we take the customer?
The result is that educators now have the opportunity to customize the experience for the learner. Like a video game, learners can choose the world they want to explore. Students can work at their own pace, and when they struggle with a concept, they can easily find support embedded into their curriculum. In today's schools, teachers present lessons in different ways to reach different types of learners. One day students may play multiplication hop-scotch and the next they may listen to multiplication hip-hop. This is good teaching because it reaches different learners, but it also means students spend a significant amount of time in an environment opposite to their learning style.
What if we could design a program that allowed students to choose their best learning mode? Learners could explore different options and decide for themselves their preferred method of learning. In the Apple-inspired education world, they can. A learner can further customize each lesson by choosing from videos, printed resources, and interactive activities. Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences could develop spontaneously, as learners discover their own strengths, weaknesses, and forms of intelligence.
Could we design schools that are as enticing for American children as the iPhone5?
Could we design schools by starting with the student's experience?
8 Film-Makers for Students: Free, Cheap, and Easy Film-making is such a great way for students to express their understanding and learn from other students. These days there are so many drag-and-drop programs, that even the least techy person can create a professional-looking and imaginative product.
Outgame Your Online Learners My high school years were the beginning of the end of the paper-age. I first searched for a digital image at 15 (Remember Dan's Gallery of the Grotesque, anyone?),
Learning vs. Laundry: 12 Ways to Engage the Online Learner The power of online education extends far beyond providing access to non-traditional students -those who are limited by time, location, or expense. It has the power to transform and revitalize the educational experience for the learner.
Gamification One of the newest buzzwords of education is GAMIFICATION. Put shortly, gamification means using game principles to engage and motivate students. Gamification is NOT putting a student in front of a computer all day, every day.
Grades vs. Experience Points Last week I had the opportunity to discuss gamification with a team of professors at Texas A&M University. As I presented my understanding of this concept, I came to an important realization on the negative impact of grades.
How (and Why) to Level Assignments One of the most important practices I keep is "leveling assignments." I do this with nearly every concept I teach.
The Flipped-Then-Re-Flipped Classroom As exciting as flipped classrooms are, the question is always asked, "What about the students who don't have the technology?"
Student Cell Phones: Beat' Em or Join 'Em? When it comes to cell phones in class, though, the issue extends far beyond "beating 'em vs. joining 'em." I truly believe in the transformative powers of technology.