Browsing articles from "January, 2014"

A New Paradigm

Jan 28, 2014   //   by pgreyer   //   Latest Buzz  //  No Comments

While working on a new project, I heard someone on television mention China and I thought about a truly wonderful experience I had with a group of young people when educational technology was in its emerging phase. This post is from my Innovate & Educate blog and was written in June 2010.

Welcome to the Innovation Education blog. Twenty years ago when I made the leap from corporate America to education I had one goal in mind, to share the experiences I had learned in business and open up new ideas and career options for my students. Many of us have done innovation centered education projects in our classrooms without realizing that was what we were doing. In 1999, I gathered a group of students to participate in the AT&T Virtual Classroom Contest. Each virtual classroom was comprised of three schools from different countries. Our partner schools came from Canada and Japan. Everyday after school, my students would come into the computer lab and work on our submission. The students had to create a collaborative website with an educational focus and we had to use technology tools. We had the old school version of Skype, Cu-See-Me, the newest Macintosh computers with Adobe

PhotoShop and Illustrator, and Macromedia Flash, which was taking the Internet to a netvision  new level of animation.  After discussing the project for a month, we decided to create  an online television station.

Thus NetVision was born. The project was a combination of videos shot by students in each school and combined into unique channels that would be targeted to teenagers. We had a fashion channel, a sports channel, a news channel, and a cooking channel. Content ranged from learning how Sumo wrestlers train, cooking Creole, fashion trends, music, and the most interesting, a day-in-the-life of a teenager focusing on how while we all came from different cultures, backgrounds, and countries teenagers were basically all the same.

The innovation here is there was an opportunity for three diverse groups of students to change the way teenagers could access and receive information, connect with other teens across the world, and collaborate on new ideas and technologies. VC_46 placed third in the secondary category and I was fortunate to travel to Hong Kong to participate in the awards ceremony and spend a week sharing practices and ideas with educators from around the world. Later in the spring of 2000, after the contest was over, our Canadian partners visited our school and we had a huge celebration. That was the end of Netvision but it didn’t have to stop when the contest was over.

It was a great experience for me and my students. Most of the students who worked on the project graduated that year. AT&T pulled out of the Virtual Classroom Contest in 2000 and it was taken over by a non-profit company in 2003. NetVision had incredible possibilities and if some of the students, and teachers (me included), had approached the project after the contest as an opportunity to innovate in the emerging area of streaming video on the Web, I probably would not be sitting here writing this blog. NetVision could have been the beta version of YouTube. We could have even revolutionized a new trend, social media!

I don’t believe in missed opportunities and someone once told me that there are no new ideas. People do re-invent the wheel but they don’t change it totally, they just find innovative ways to make it better. Today, innovation used in context with education is the new buzz. Many will say innovation centered education is nothing more than Project Based Learning (PBL) but if you examine what the word innovate means you will discover that it is much more. Websters definition of innovate is:

Transitive Verb

1. to introduce as or as if new

2 archaic : to effect a change in;

Intransitive verb

3. to make changes : do something in a new way, to introduce as or as if new

When we look at the way we deliver educational content, studies have shown that we have not fundamentally changed our practice in several hundred years. Our students still sit in classes at desks for a specified amount of time each day, use textbooks, complete worksheets, and do homework. Teachers lecture, explain, discuss, and demonstrate concepts and skills that measure learning by students achieving skills at benchmark grades and showing proficiency at or above each grade level based on local, state, and national learning standards.

Passing tests is one thing. Equipping our young people with the skills they will need to effect change in our society, in developing the products we use, in our expanding global economy, re-building our country’s highways and transportation infrastructure, and in the way we discover the unknown cannot be done in the traditional way of textbooks and worksheets. It is therefore imperative that a paradigm shift in the way we teach and in the way our students learn occurs.

 


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