Jukebox or Ipod: Transforming Education’s Best Lessons


Today I would like to share my very first post written on August 8, 2009 (with a few changes). Many educators have long practiced some outstanding and powerful lessons. I want to recognize teachers for these great ideas and encourage all educators to use today’s technology to make past lessons  new 21st century learning experience for students!   Please enjoy and reflect and as always give me a follow on Twitter (@mjgormans). I will follow back and we can transform education together!  Have a great week! – Mike

Transformation is a process whereby an earlier idea goes through change in order to remain relevant and effective as other things around the original idea also change. Often in my presentations, I have posed the question of whether education is closer to the Jukebox or the iPod. I bring this up because as educators we must remember to transform practices that have been valuable instead of always coming up with something new. How can you as an educator transform ideas, practices, and lessons with the technology you may already have?

The jukebox was one of the first devices that allowed for the instant play of music, on demand, from various artists, from a large collection of databases. The jukebox was invented in 1889. It was referred to as the Nickel-in-the-Slot Machine and was invented by Louis Glass and William S. Arnold who placed a coin-operated Edison cylinder phonograph in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. An Edison Class M Electric Phonograph in an oak cabinet was refitted with a coin mechanism patented (U.S. 428,750) by Glass and Arnold. There was no amplification (wow, similar to the iPod), and patrons had to listen to the music using one of four listening tubes. In its first six months of service, the Nickel-in-the-Slot earned over $1000. Over one hundred years later Apple Computer transformed this same idea with the technology of the 21st Century. Launched on October 23, 2001 the original iPod had a 5 GB hard drive that put “1,000 songs in your pocket.” As of September 2008, more than 173,000,000 iPods had been sold worldwide. The 2008 120 GB model allowed for instant retrieval of over 24,000 songs. Apple did not invent the idea, they transformed an excellent and proven idea  already in existence!

As educators, we must enlist our collective database of lessons and practices and adapt it with technology that is already in our schools. This concept allows us to make transformation happen on the cheap! I would like to share one example. Many of us have been part of a NASA lesson that had us work in a group to decide what we would need to survive on the moon (this one even includes the Jamestown Colony). We were given a list and as a group we worked collaboratively to prioritize it (end of lesson). It is now possible to transform the lesson using the technology that is available today. The lesson could be put in a Moodle. Students could collaborate online through chats, Google Docs, Wallwisher, and EtherPad. I recently found a tool available for free from Intel called “Thinking Tools” that allows students to collaboratively prioritize and examine the “wisdom of their classroom crowd”. They compare their rankings with others and with the class average through teacher-made accounts. In this process they also share information and reasoning with the teacher. The results can be shared through a Power Point presentation or Prezi, and a visual ranking of the data can be displayed using a spreadsheet. How about a video conference or online chat to compare with experts in the community? Students could put it  all together by word importance in a “Wordle” that illustrates their findings. Most schools have the technology, connection, and software to make this Old Lesson transform into a 21st Century experience. Remember that Open Office can even serve as a no cost alternative to Microsoft Office. Feel free to check out my 21centuryedtech wiki for more information.

It is time for educators to explore new possibilities by transforming what has always worked. Do not wait for a new purchase in order to engage students in 21st Century Learning. You already have what it takes to transform the educational jukebox into an iPod. The result will be educational experiences that are more productive, efficient, connected, authentic, and engaging to the digital generation. It will facilitate important 21st Century skills that are essential to our students’ future.

Thanks once again and please return often! As always give me a follow on Twitter (@mjgormans) and I will do the same! Also, take a moment to visit my 21st centuryedtech Wiki for more great resources. Take a moment to mark your calendar for May 12, 2009 (4:00 EDT) for my online online webinar (21st Century Education and Technology Integration: No Cost and Low Cost Investments with Rich Results for Students) that I will be facilitating in conjunction with ISTE’ s Technology In Practice Webinar Series. Have a week filled with transformation! – Mike

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Jukebox or Ipod: Transforming Education’s Best Lessons

  1. I agree that the technology transformations in education are amazing! My fear is that while students are accepting these technologies with enthusiasm, teachers are fearful of the unknown. Perhaps we need a force of trainers to train the teachers!

  2. You are so right! I believe we need to first let teachers know that what they have been doing has been great. Now its time to bring those lessons into the 21st century! You are correct that we need to support teachers in these areas that are not native to them. Using coaches and trainers will not only benefit kids, it will also bring the reluctant teachers and turn them into maybe the biggest supporters! Thanks for your comment and please return so I can continue to learn from you! – Mike

  3. Online collaborating and teaching can work, If you have trust and the right tools.
    I recently tried http://www.showdocument.com – good app for uploading documents and working on them in real-time.
    Most file types are supported and it needs no installation. – andy

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