Today marks day one of the Google in Education North Carolina Summit hosted by the Ed Tech Team.
Our host Tim Lee welcomed us and let us know the coming schedule. I was excited that he attended the University of Edinburgh (one of my alma maters) and my old town, Suffolk, Virginia (where I went to high school). Weird coincidences.
Our twitter hashtag for the event is #gafesummit. Our keynote speaker is Jim Sill, a Google Certified teacher and App Certified trainer. Jim asks us, “What world do we live in now?” One of the worlds is a “Twitter World.” We have gone for a world of tweets, hashtags, subtweets… We are also living in an Instagram world; a world of filters, selfies, and vines. Social media is the world in which we live.
Social Media is immensely powerful, but it can be a double edged sword. Social Media allows individuals to brand themselves – but to do it effectively and positively, you must know what you are doing. People must be conscious of the Digital Footprint they are creating. I always ask colleagues students, “Do you Google yourself?” Some scoff, believing it is the epitome of narcissism, some admit they do out of curiosity… I then ask if they google others, almost everyone says yes.
Jim also highlighted the power behind YouTube – not just of cat videos, but of powerful imagery from around the world. Individuals in Egypt and Syria have recorded videos of themselves in life threatening situations in order to share the experience with the world. With outside news media banned in these regions, it’s often the only source of video of these events. One of the most powerful and emotional videos posted is of a woman with a cochlear implant, hearing her voice for the first time.
A new technology he introduced me to was the GoPro camera that allows users to capture powerful video around the world. It is insulated from shock, weather, fire, water, and more.
Again he asks, “what kind of world do we live in?” The audience came alive with this question. We talked about social media, creativity, and reckless connectivity. Right now, with schools, we have this “world of wild creativity” and because we ban it in schools, students operate in it “with lack of net.” Instead of teachers, the vacuum is often filled with technology – for better or worse.
Learning is often being supplemented with content online – YouTube, iTunes U, and more. He highlighted the Time Magazine Article: “The ME ME ME Generation: Millenials are lazy, entitled narcissists, who still live with their parents; Why they’ll save us all.” The article highlighted the world in which children live today.
He also highlighted the concept of digital native vs. digital immigrant. It’s a concept to which I don’t necessarily subscribe, but highlights the fact that students live in a highly digital world and have no experiences with a world before social media, google maps, and banking online. He highlighted the fact that people often demonize technology and its impact on children; the same way condemned bicycles, newspapers, and textbooks.
He argues that we all need a push when it comes to using technology. Sometimes it just needs to be something simple, like Google Docs (now Drive). He explained how Google Docs allowed his classroom to be accessible outside of the room. Additionally, it allows students who struggle in a traditional environment to excel and thrive. When used effectively, it can knock down walls. Of course, we all use technology at different levels – some people give up, some fight through it, others know how to navigate and dive right in, and some people are “cleaners” (who clean up the environment for all by changing font, formatting, etc). He then highlighted some important points:
- Order will find its own way.
- How can you have creativity without risk?
- Fear really messes things up.
Sometimes we will mess things up as we explore, and that’s okay. We can always fix it. We need a “fantastic world of creative chaos.” Sometimes creativity makes us feel threatened and that finds its way into our classroom. “Every child is an artist, the only problem is remaining one once they grow up.” — Pablo Picasso. However, creativity and risk is how we grow and how we innovate. This ties in nicely with Tony Wagner’s Creating Innovators concept.
Social Media and new technology can help us to record our lives and share with others (parents, friends, etc) and clean up our environment, like the Litterati litter project or Remaining Young (which tries to combat teen pregnancy).
Risk of innovation is the biggest barrier to creativity and innovation. People are afraid of ridicule. Idea formulation is challenging and risky – the earliest ones are not great but lead to something greater and more sophisticated. It’s a process.
Limiting the playground for children is nothing new, but it can inhibit education. Sometimes students will fail… but we should let them. Failure is not failure unless you give up. Google prefers to call it “iteration.” Launch early and then change it later! “We should allow for time without measurable evidence of productivity.” Jim stated that it’s not about hand outs or recipes, it’s the culture you create and the objective that you have. Sometimes, you have to let go a little bit.
So… “What tools will you use?” How will we play in this new world?