Recently my Year 7's have completed a unit on Questionnaires and online surveys. They were asked to design and create a questionnaire using Google Docs forms on a specific topic. I suggested to them that if they include a field asking where someone is from we could then track where different responses come from.
For a while now I have been intrigued by the concept of the Google 20% project where Google gives their engineers ‘Innovation Time Off’ to work on projects of their own choosing. These have led to Many different projects being developed and officially released by Google such as Google News, Gmail and Adsense. I have also been reading an interactive ebook on the iPad called ‘The final hours of Portal 2′ about the background leading up to the release of Portal 2 by Valve. In it Gabe Newell the head of Valve possibly sensing a creative slump gets his staff to abandon usual design and development cycles and spend a period of time just simply playing and creating. I noted with interest that they were fine with spectacular failures something which the school system isn’t. Within our own school we have been talking a lot about independent learning and how to foster it. For myself as an ICT teacher I am interested not only in independent learning but also in how to encourage creativity within my subject. Up until a few years ago the modules I was delivering within class were almost purely based on what we could within Microsoft Office. the girls were bored rigid and I was bored rigid. Modules therefore revolved around me coming up with something for the pupils to do in Office and my pupils then being forced to get on with it. Using 20% projects and the idea of giving pupils their own time (still structured) to develop their own products, content or systems I thought would be a way of breaking out of the cycle of boring Victorian teaching with technology. The PDF file attached to this post is therefore a summary of the key points of my 20% project (partly done to test my new iPad). In a nutshell though by spending most of the year teaching a group about a range of different systems from basic games programming to sketch up and then giving them a term to do their own projects I hope the end value of what they produce will show them that individual creativity within ICT is possible. I still give them a structure to use so they still have to follow a simple systems life cycle of design, create, test and evaluate so they will not be ‘running free’ but I do hope it will produce some fantastic outcomes.
I came across this excellent article on the Learning Without Frontiers blog http://www.learningwithoutfrontiers.com/blog/2011/4/14/the-napsterfication-of-learning.html#comment12691750 by @grahamBM on 'The Napsterification of Learning'. I think it's an excellent article on how technology usage in classrooms has stalled through being shoehorned into traditional means of teaching. Napster was the original model of Internet disruption and probably was the the spiritual inspiration in some ways for iTunes. It set a template for how to create open and free exchange systems and I would guess that Napster assured the the longevity of the MP3 file. I would say that come the end of this decade we will still be storing our music in MP3 format.
- obviously 'disruption' in the way it shook up traditional models of providing music to the masses#
- 'democratisation' or even the advent of 'socialism' in music in that anyone regardless of wealth (but still reliant on the Internet) could have access to music
- driven by an individual who was not part of the traditional powerbase of individuals and companies controlling the music industry. Shawn Fanning was in essence an outsider who managed to force his way into the industry not through long term experience but just outright skill and innovation.
- as I said earlier almost the true 'dawn' of the MP3 format which has instituted what I see as the greatest sharing of content in the history of mankind second to books.
- is very easy to transmit, store and share both on devices and in the cloud
- contains learning material itself but can also contain easily accessible links to learning content on wikipedia, youtube etc
- can be edited by pupils and parents
- can be rated and tagged
- is available to be downloaded through large content providers (iTunes, Amazon) for free
I was originally planning to make this blog a slightly longer form one in order to delve into some of the issues surrounding what I am thinking about but as I am still thinking through some things I thought it may be a good idea to get this out and hopefully see if I can get some reaction on it.
- At the end of a module of approximately 6 weeks pupils would open a standardised Google Docs form and select their year and the module they have just been taught
- Anonymously they would comment on various aspects such as learning objectives, skills they have acquired and the general success of the module for them
- These would then be gathered by myself – filtered for obvious irrelevant and unhelpful answers and then processed to help with future planning