Looking for a Pay Phone and a Lecture

Pay Phone
Pay Phone screenshot

Their seems to be a new genre of “Did You Know” video designed to overwhelm us with upbeat music and a relentless bombardment of stats attesting to the whirlwind of technological changes going on in the world.  As if I need a YouTube video to remind me! The video below was produced by the New Brunswick Department of Education. I really enjoyed the opening question it poses – “When’s the last time that you – sent film out for processing, used a pay phone, etc…” It then asks a great contrasting question – “But what about education?”

I was disappointed at the 52 second mark when I watched the film go on to contrast those antiquated activities with the innovations going on in New Brunswick schools.  I was hoping for a different contrast – interviewing students about the obsolete communications landscape of the typical classroom – when’s the last time they were asked to listen to a teacher talk, write down what they heard and then give it back on a test. 

Not many pay phones around anymore, but walk in most schools and you’ll have little trouble finding a lecture.

Notes to my Canadian neighbors: I was impressed with the great things going on in New Brunswick schools. The lecture problem is global. And one more thing … can someone find another adjective to replace 21st century?

Learning from Centuries of Play: Students Reenact Bruegel’s “Children’s Games”

Bruegel_games-detail I was perusing Edward Snow's "Inside Bruegel: The Play of Images in Childrens Games" and impressed with his de-construction of the painting. As a big fan of document based instruction, I got thinking about how much students could learn from a close reading of the work.  Link to painting.

After a search, I found that a group of Belgian students had researched and re-enacted Bruegel the Elder's "Children's Games" (1560) for a class project. I'm reposting it to inspire enterprising teachers and students to try their hand at a reenactment of this (or another work).

Johan Opsomer posted the reenactment in 2007 with the following description:

I developped a project with the children of our school. Each child had to choose a group and a figure. They had some tasks about their figure.  Fill in a 'friends-book' as the figure would do in the Middle ages. Discribe the game and making up the rules. Make a drawing book with the house, the family and the clothes of the figure. Telling the life-story, make a cookbook, a family-tree, etc etc, depending of the age of each of our students. It was a great project and we even were in national newspaper with the project and the picture.

Bruegel-by-Johan Opsomer  



The “Simpsons” Debate the Role of Social Media and Cell Phones In the Classroom

The latest episode of “The Simpsons” (Oct 5, 2009) nicely satirizes the debate over the role of social media in the classroom. Watch this episode and you’ll see the debate framed as “Social Media as Classroom Distraction vs. Social Media Instructional Gimmick.”


Bart Gets a Z

Much of the debate over the role of technology in the classroom is clouded by stereotypes of Luddites vs. Techies. What’s often missed is the point that it’s not about the technology, but the level thinking that technology can support. A PowerPoint can easily dumb down information into a series of shallow bullets, while a Wordle can help us to visualize text to support revealing insights.

Schools should be thoughtfully-designed learning environments where students can investigate information and be given a chance to reflect (with their peers) on what they learned and how they see themselves progressing as learners. That can be done with a variety of technologies – even pencil and paper. A social network is already sitting in the classroom that can interact with information and each other without the need to go online. But at the same time, handheld technology can support a level of investigation and teamwork that far exceeds the traditional classroom discussion group. 

I’m always looking for the cheapest, most dependable, and accessible instructional tool to get the job done – depending on the situation – chalk or Twitter may fill the bill.

All Points West 09 Music and Arts Festival – APW 09 Liberty State Park, NJ

My son is on the production team at All Points West, a three-day, 60-band festival this weekend in Liberty State Park in Jersey City. APW 09 opens on Friday August 31st with Jay-Z, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Vampire Weekend as first-night headliners, continuing with Tool, My Bloody Valentine, Gogol Bordello and Neko Case on Saturday; and Coldplay, Echo and the Bunnymen and MGMT on Sunday. Complete lineup here. 

I thought I'd test out Wiffiti, a visualizer that automatically integrates tag-based content feeds for photos and text (e.g. Twitter, Flickr). If it works well, I'll use it to gather and display user-generated backchannel at my next presentation! 

 View timeline or full screen  

 To join the dialogue,  tweet #APW or Text @wif5336 + your message to 87884

Creating – a New Combinations of Existing Elements (Sour’s ‘Hibi no Neiro’)

Here's a startling example of what happens when someone gets a great idea to combine music, webcam shots, dedicated fans and some thoughtful planning / coordination. Watch carefully and enjoy!

"Crowdsourcing art. More proof that the hive can make art, when directed… This music video was shot for Sour's 'Hibi no Neiro' (Tone of everyday) from their first mini album 'Water Flavor EP'. The cast were selected from the actual Sour fan base, from many countries around the world. Each person and scene was filmed purely via webcam." From Kevin Kelly 

For more on how this video was created read this. Thanks to Martin Edic, for the tip. More of my posts on innovation.

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