Constructivist Celebration Takeaways

Constructivist Celebration - Playing with the XO Laptop

It has taken quite awhile for me to really piece together my experience at NECC. I’ll be honest, I’ll still be piecing it together for sometime to come. I went into the conference expecting to meet new people and meet face to face with those I’ve connected with on-line over the past year or two. Both happened and the discussions that took place taught me a good deal and confirmed some of my beliefs as well.

However, what has been bouncing around in my head the past few days is my experience at the Constructivist Celebration put together by Gary Stager and the Constructivist Consortium. Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s experience that made me look a bit differently at the sessions I chose to attend and the conversations that took place throughout the conference.

Real and authentic learning in a digital world may be more important than ever
There’s a lot of talk out there. Since
learning is doing, I’d personally like to see more students blogging about what they are doing, rather than what they are studying. Simply blogging or creating a wiki about a concept or topic does not prove that a student understands or is able to do anything.

The right brain, left brain war of signifigance is bogus
The interplay within the brain’s hemisphere’s is what it’s really all about. Creativity and logic can co-exist.

Open-ended Software
Most computer software available is not truly educational or built on learning theories. Open-ended programs such as the Inspiration series, Microworlds, Tech4Learning‘s programs, Scratch, Starlogo TNG, etc. allow users (this includes educators, parents and administrators) to create from a blank page.

“A good prompt is worth 1000 words”
When Gary Stager shared this point in his opening talk it reminded me of my graduate studies grounded in constructivist theory. The Constructivist theory is not solely about programming.
Constructing one’s own knowledge and skills is very personal learning as it engages emotions through doing rather than listening or simply sharing what is learned.I learned during that work that asking questions is an essential skill for teaching and learning. We must learn to communicate with our students in ways that get them thinking rather than regurgitating.

You really have to care about kids. Really.

Peter Reynolds spoke about an experience where a student reflected on how a teacher “noticed me”. Students see right through superficial “care” and the way we care for students needs to be more then just protecting them on-line or in the physical setting. Konrad and I spoke about this as well in regards to how he interacts with students in the hallway. He comments to students in the hall about their work, progress or a thought shared in class. Small signs of caring add up to a lot.

If you can’t do something well, do it well-ish
Peter Reynolds wrote a book called ish that gets at the idea that we don’t have to be experts at everything. He described this by talking about a drawing of a tree. If you can’t draw a tree draw it tree-ish. We’ve made the word “fail” too negative and halting. Learning is a process, we try things and they don’t always come out “right” the first time, we must be okay with working through stumbles.

Time to play is important
Thanks to Bud Hunt, Scott Swanson and April-Hope for the play time with the XO laptops during the day. While mine wasn’t working well at the time due to some updates needed, these three folks allowed me to play and learn from them. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make the Birds of a Feather session due to other conflicts, but I’m sure more playing and learning will go on after connecting with them here. We don’t allow ourselves to “play” with the concepts or skills that we teach and I think it’s critical that we do from time to time to remind us what it’s like to really learn.

I welcome your thoughts and push-back to further my reflection and learning here.

NECC – Pre-Conference

I often receive rolling eyes when I mention
conversations I’ve had with others. Well, NECC is here and a lot of
it is about conversation. Conversations in the halls of the conference
center, the Blogger’s Cafe, before, during and after concurrent
sessions or at dinner. Tonight’s conference kicked off well for
conversation with Brian Crosby, Bud Hunt, David Warlick, David Jakes, Dean Shareski, Jeff Utecht, Laura Deisley, Wendy Smith, and Will Richardson.
You learn a lot through conversation, but as much as I like to
converse, I’m reminded of a quote from Plato I loved to share with students and
colleagues.

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

To be honest, I’m here for the conversation and to play. I enjoy most the
conversation where I listen and my previous thinking is challenged. I
am also here for the play. I intend to use the XO laptop as much as I
can to hopefully get others to join in and play on this machine.

So what/who will you play with this NECC conference?

Contemplating MobileMind-ed’s Future

Upon returning from NECC in Atlanta last month, I have been resting up as well as tracking the online info regarding the conference. In doing so, I have been reflecting much more about my online presence. Over the past two years as an instructional technology specialist, my colleague and I have thought that we should create a space for our fellow ITS’ to collaborate on. This has not happened and I now admit if you build it and simply tell them about it (even use it in front of them) they simply will not come to use the tool.

Thus, I am thinking of writing more in a blog, either this one or another. I hate the thought of having to start another blog as I have started a few in the past. So, my thought is to roll this one into a blog about teaching and learning with technology and not solely on mobile devices for learning. There will still be that mobile learning presence in the blog, but it will be so much more. As you can imagine I don’t want to be limited within this blog and I don’t want to have several blogs dedicated to just one topic within the realm of learning with technology.

I’d love to read your thoughts on this as I contemplate the future of this blog. I am going to start posting to this a bit more regularly and you will see some changes. I’ve waited long enough to do this and I’m looking forward to connecting with you and more in the future.

Mobile, Digital, Ubiquitous

Back blogging from NECC…

My conference started at a mobile device panel discussion. Julie Lindsay shared a video one of her students created and posted on YouTube…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb7CXcQhqRI]

Janice Kelly talked about how her students were using Palm IIIc handhelds. lashed the question to the group about whether anyone’s solving the mobile device access by seeking older, used devices. A woman suggested to the group to contact local corporations who might donate used devices to schools.

Graham Brown-Martin, http://www.handheldlearning.com, stated by mentioning the fact that many teachers and administrators who are skeptical about mobile devices in classrooms actually carry these devices with them.

Tony Vincent gave an overview of the most popular devices, Palm, Pocket PC (Windows Mobile), and iPods. Tony feels that wireless is important for mobile now. Interestingly. Palm has not present at NECC for 2 years.

He also mentioned that the Apple iPhone’s access to the web has people creating apps for the web that will work over the iPhone. This may change my thinking about the iPhone at this point. To be fair, I haven’t thought much about it lately, but with it’s emminent release coming out I ought to do some homework.

In summary, we are all facing the same issues, financial, shifting paradigms and access to the Internet when we are trying to build mobile device initiatives.