iPad 2 – A Triumph of Capitalism Over Communism

Good morning students, your final exam in economics includes this document-based-question (DBQ)
Study these two images, and discuss how capitalism's capacity to supply consumer goods triumphed over the chronic shortages of communism.
Extra credit: Speculate on how Angry Birds might have impacted the "domino theory" of the Cold War.

Communism 1983: USSR
A queue at the footwear store to buy imported footwear. 
Note: Imports were considered to be bet­ter qual­ity and more fash­ionable ­than Soviet goods.

Shoe-line

Source: The Real USSR

Capitalism 2011: USA 
iPad 2 line at Fifth Avenue retail store in Manhattan. (One Week After iPad 2 Launch)
Note: iPad 2 is way better than the HP TouchPad.

Ipad-line

Source: MacRumors.com

 Want to know why these people are still waiting?
Read my post "Steve Jobs, You Evil Genius! I – Must – Have – iPad 2!" 

 

Innovations in Teaching and Learning: Top Down or Bottom Up?

Up-down

Head to the vendor area of an educational conference and you'll see a "top-down" vision of innovation in schools – expensive stuff that delivers information – lots of flashy equipment like display systems, interactive whiteboards, etc. They might give the illusion of modern, but in fact they're just a glitzy versions of the old standby – teaching as telling. Does anyone really think there's an instructional ROI in jazzing up test prep with a "Jeopardy-style game" delivered by "cutting-edge display technology?" 

In fact, the best innovation in instructional practice is coming from the "bottom up" – from teachers who find effective ways to harness the creative energy of their students. These teachers don't simply deliver information to kids, they craft lessons where students can research, collaborate, and reflect on what they're learning. They harness a flood of new platforms that enable students "see" information in new ways and support a more self-directed style of learning. Unlike the expensive wares being hawked by the convention vendors, most of these web tools are free. 

Want to find out more about instructional innovation in action? That won't cost you a thing either. Just jump on my Twitter feed and you find superb teachers willing to share their latest student projects. And that free flow of information contrasts with a second "top-down" approach to innovation in schools – the professional learning committee. Imagine being told that, "teachers will now attend PLC meetings.. and don't forget to fill out the PLC report form and turn it in to your administrator." No one at the top seems to notice that teachers who want to network have already created their own "bottom-up" support systems via the social web.

Most kids have a "bottom-up" expectation of curating their own information and creating something with it. The barriers to producing content (music, art, books, etc) have all but disappeared. Schools should be helping students develop better skills at critically evaluating information and using it in responsible ways. But many schools cloister students behind internet filters. And instead of finding innovative ways to take advantage of the student's personal smart phone, they ban them. "Susie put your iTouch away and please focus your attention on the output from our classroom's expensive new wireless document camera."

Corporate music, publishing and film were transformed from below. Do we expect education (another legacy information gatekeeper) to be spared the forces of the digital revolution? Unlike the vanishing local newspaper, schools won't disappear entirely. After all, someone has to watch the kids. While it may be difficult to replace the custodial function of schools, I suspect that education's "top-down" approach will eventually be breached. Or perhaps life will just become an "open book test" and we'll no longer notice how our information moves through it. 

As Matt Ridley noted in a piece about the evolution of the social web,  "The very notion that we once discussed the relative merits of text, email, social-network messaging and tweeting will seem quaint. In the future, my part of the cloud will get a message to a friend's part of the cloud by whichever method works best, and I will not even know which way it went. The distinction between a newspaper column and a blog will dissolve, as will the difference between a book and an e-book."  ~ Microchips Are Old Hat. Can Tweets Be Far Behind? Wall Street Journal  March 5, 2011

Image credit flickr/visualpanic  

Classroom Collaboration and Brainstorming with Prezi Meeting

If you're a reader of my blog, you know that I'm a big fan of Prezi, the non-linear presentation tool. Prezi has just announced a new feature – Prezi Meeting which allows multiple users to remotely collaborate on the same Prezi screen. Imagine your students mind-mapping in real time on Prezi's "limitless whiteboard." 

Note: Team members will need an email accounts to be invited to participate. Select “Invite to edit” to generate a link that you can send to anyone. When your invited collaborators open the link, you will see their avatars. Text, images, and videos added to the prezi are visible to everyone, giving remote team members the sensation of being in the same creative space together. (When you are invited to co-edit a prezi you will enter the Prezi Meeting in Show mode upon clicking the link. To start co-editing the prezi, switch to Edit mode).

For more detailed instructions on how to use Prezi meeting click here

 

Will iPad Replace the Textbook?

In these dark times of slashed school budgets, program cuts, and teacher layoffs it seems extravagant to even consider finding funds for student iPads. Nonetheless, Brad Colbow’s video tour of new magazine apps shows the iPad’s potential for merging purposeful art direction with meaningful academic content. 

Since I first posted this today, I added a sample of what it might look like using material from my homefront series of document-based questions. Add the ability for teacher- and student-created content with in-class social networking and you have education’s killer app. Plus I bet students wouldn’t forget to bring their “book” to class!  Download IPad-educational-app-demo (7MB pdf)

Ipad-ed-app-demo 

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