Reinventing…Transforming…Remixing Educations Best Lessons


A time out from my series on Advanced Google Searching for a moment on reflection and reform. In my over thirty years in education I have encountered many educators from a wide range of disciplines that teach using outstanding and powerful lessons that truly promote student learning and success.  It is important to recognize members of the teaching profession for these great ideas that have had a positive impact on generations of students. Our culture and society continues on a journey from industrial, to informational, to the age of innovation at an ever increasing rate. Educators, one of the best professions in the world, continue to work hard at the amazing goal of educating ever child to their full potential.  As our society enters this digital age of innovation, so must education. Educators must integrate 21st century skills, Project Based Learning, STEM education, and the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) into past lessons that have already provided success and achievement. It is this remix and reinvention using  today’s technology, that will  make past lessons  new 21st century learning experience for students!  Please take a moment to read and reflect on the role that new technology can assist in assisting all educators in taking those very first steps towards transforming what is already one of the best, and making it even better!

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. Are our lessons emulating the Industrial Age, Information Age, or the Age Of Innovation?  I bring this up because as educators we must  transform practices that have been valuable, instead of always coming up with something new. There are many great lessons and educational units of study that may just need an injection of 21st Century Ideas. How can you as an educator transform ideas, practices, and lessons with the technology you may already have?

First, lets take a look at the history of creating an on-demand music collection for public use.  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 and patrons had to listen to the music using one of four listening tubes. Sure sounds like today’s iPod and its reliance on the ear-bud in the early stages.  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 immediate transformation happen. 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 We were given a list and as a group we worked collaboratively to prioritize it. Many time the bell would then ring and the lesson ended, trapped inside of the physical walls of the classroom. It is now possible to transform the lesson and go beyond the physical classroom using the technology that is available today. The lesson could be put in a Moodle or Edmodo, both are a free collaborative on-line virtual classroom. Students could collaborate online through chats, Google Docs, Wallwisher, and TitanPad. I recently found a tool available for free from Intel called “Thinking Tools”. It 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,  Open Office can even serve as a no cost alternative to Microsoft Office. Feel free to check out my 21centuryedtech wiki for more information.

Teachers have a wealth of resources and proven lessons. 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 for taking a moment to read and reflect. I invite you to join me on an educational journey to the 21st Century. Please take a moment to follow and subscribe by RSS or email and also explore the vast amount of resources at my 21centuryedtech Wiki. You can also follow me  on twitter at @mjgormans. I would like the opportunity to learn from your comments to this post and ask that you join the conversation. Be sure to join me in my future post that will reveal parts of a Google Advanced Search that you or your students may want to learn more about!  Until next time… transform, educate, and inspire! – Mike

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