Tag Archives: Connected Learning

iPad Summit Keynote: Mimi Ito

The Keynote Speaker for Day 2 of the iPad Summit is Mimi Ito, Ph.D., a cultural anthropologist with the University of California at Irvine. Her focus is on the changing relationship of youth and new media. I have been following her work for some time, so it’s exciting to be able to see her speak in person! You can see a lot of her work published at Connected Learning.

Mimi argues that we’re at a tipping point in education: we are culturally ready for a student centered, engaged, and social form of learning that thrives in a digital world. We have an unprecedented readiness for this transition in the main stream community. In addition to observing students and children, Mimi is also the mother of two children. This gives her a unique perspective as both an outsider and invested insider.

Mimi starts out by discussing Minecraft, a hugely popular gaming platform. Minecraft has entered schools via various student initiatives. It has evolved in schools in interesting and innovative ways; promoting student self directed learning and exploration.

How can young people make the most of today’s abundance of information and social connection? – Mimi Ito

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons

The world outside of our classrooms has transformed and evolved, but our schools are taking some time to adapt to these changes. Our educational system evolved in an era of textbooks and chalk boards. Now we live in a world with stronger connections both inside and outside of traditional school learning.

While this vision of learning has been with us for a while, technology has enabled us to implement new methods of teaching learning (project based, student centered, and connected). While these changes may not be easy, we have those tools and opportunities to make changes in our schools and classrooms.

Mimi emphasizes the fact that children are readers. In fact, kids are more likely to read than adults! They aren’t just reading tweets, but longer content. Additionally, they are writers.

“Everyone can be a writer – technology isn’t killing our ability to write, it’s reviving it.” – Andrea Lundsford.

In fact, the writing rate has exploded and  the quality of writing has not decreased! Students do know the difference between texting and writing academically.

Other things are changing drastically, especially in terms of media engagement. Additionally, may of them are “multi-tasking” their screen time. Games, additionally, is the entertainment form of the day across gender and age. This is how we engage with one another and entertain ourselves today. Additionally, children are always connected now with access to mobile phones (especially smart phones). Peer to peer communication dominates in the mobile arena.

So what happens when these media connected kids walk into a classroom? The world around the classroom has experienced a massive cultural shift that isn’t reflected in the classroom. This poses a number of unique challenges for educators and educational institutions. Mimi polls the room about our opinions of the role of connectedness in the classroom – most of us are cautiously optimistic!

The fact is that modern technologies have various effects depending on digital practices, the population, and individual dispositions of children. As teachers, it means that it is our job to shape their use and direction, and not allow them to solely evolve on their own. The Connected Learning network and model is her and her community’s research environment and explores how to move forward.

“The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” – Mimi Ito

One of the first elements of Mimi’s and her group’s study is that parents and other adults view these activities as a distraction from learning – even if they see that these have value for themselves. So there is a gap that we need to mediate for in and out of school opportunities for learning. We have to deal with this in our every day practice in

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

schools. Additionally, young people are learning a tremendous amount from their online participation and interaction. Some of this learning was friendship driven (Facebook and Text Messaging) and interest driven (what do you want to learn, what are your interests and hobbies). The platforms change (remember Live Journal and MySpace?) but the interactions and objectives are the same; gaining community and building expertise. So peer groups at school are not always the best place for students to build and foster their interests.

Online communities especially help students with outsider interests! One student, “Maria” (name changed), was a 17 year old student that was starting college. She was very interested in WWE (World Women’s Wrestling Entertaining). Her friends and family teased her, so she didn’t communicate this interest with them. However, she found an online community where she was about to write about her passion for more than four years and build her writing skills. She gained a strong online following and was able to expand her influence. Those skills also transferred over to the school newspaper and ultimately “Maria” pursued a career in technical writing. So the abilities that “Maria” developed in her fantasy community transferred over to the “real world” and ultimately her career. So while “fan fiction” may seem frivolous, the reality is that the skills built in this passion driven learning is transferable. This is the core of “connected learning,” using peer and community support that a student has and then linking/connecting that learning into the spaces of opportunity that build positive futures for children. This will ultimately serve students best in the world that we live in, a connected, fast paced environment. These are important underlying skills and dispositions to foster.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

However, in the real world, we need to recognize that these experiences are not the norm. They are reliant on teachers being forward thinking and helping students to navigate these lines. Additionally, we are living in a world with increasing economic inequity – which translates over to access to connected learning resources. You can view the changing enrichment expenditures and its impact on children via the research of Duncan and Murnane here. We are seeing a gap between the children of the wealthy and the poor in terms of access to out of school learning. In addition to hurting under privileged children academically, it also adds increased stress on privileged students who are now exceedingly pressured at all times to perform.

In addition to traditional media, we see greater access to open learning via tools like MOOCs and outlets such as Khan Academy. You can see Justin Reich’s critiques of some of these movements in his article, “We were Promised Jetpacks and we got Lectures.” It’s also important to note that people overestimate the short term impact and underestimate the long term impact. MOOCs have had a significant drop off because they were not immediately and measurably successful. However, we’ve just gotten started! We have yet to see the long term impact of these models.

Meet Learners Where They Area

We have an abundance of access to content. This means that we can legitimately meet young people where they are. We have the opportunity to truly diversify for our students. We are in an era where schools cannot financially support a myriad of options. The online world opens up these avenues to us. Mimi’s research works on investigating students’ interests and how that drives learning. How can we mine these social and student driven avenues and harness it for academic learning? How can we translate a Harry Potter chapter to a University community? How can we use these tools to attract young women and traditionally “non-geeky” communities? Gamification is a great example of meeting kids where they are and building a curriculum on how students learn communally.

Tap the Power of Peer-to-Peer Learning

The goal is to realize the mission of learning on a stage wider than the classroom and connected to the broader world. The online world offers a new set of tools to

English Language & Usage Stack on Stack Exchange

English Language & Usage Stack on Stack Exchange

make that happen, especially through the power of social media. Online anyone can be a peer, mentor, or student. While this can create credibility problems, of which we should be mindful, it also presents a great deal of opportunity. While some avenues are not traditionally academic, there are some dedicated learning avenues. All in all, it’s about the skills and the learning.

Build Connected Maker Spaces

The maker culture is a huge new movement picking up speed both within and outside of the academic community! 3D printing has brought new opportunities to individuals in previously unimaginable realm! There are numerous environments set up dedicated to maker culture, the White House has even announced its first ever Maker’s Faire! These cultures exist both in the “real world” as well as online environments.

Seek Recognition in the Wider World

We also have the opportunity to share content out! This is controversial among parents as well as schools. However, it cannot be denied that when students are permitted to take their work to a broader community,  they have a greater investment in the product. Kids are motivated by an audience and it can be transformative for their own identities. The Quest to Learn organization encourages a public forum in which students can share their work. However, there are numerous online environments in which students can share their performance and projects. Metrics of achievement via tools like Top Coder reinforce skills and motivate improvement. Displaying achievements and abilities online is going to become more and more prominent, the more we can prepare students for it the better they will be positioned in the future.

There are many different ways to experiment with the online and connected learning environments and no doubt many of them will come and go. Mimi  has listed just a few examples of connected learning but ultimately it’s not about particular technologies and techniques, but about reconnecting to effective and powerful learning and teaching. So while there isn’t a specific tool, we do need to enable students to connect with people in the outside community (however that may look). If we  see opportunities for students to connect their outside experiences and passions to their educational realm, that is success.

Connected Workforce = Greater Productivity (Infographic)

Check out this great infographic that links social media use and connectivity to greater productivity. This is especially relevant as it’s Connected Educator Month.

Created by MindJect, Jess3

Created by MindJect, Jess3

Ten Tips for Becoming a Connected Educator | Edutopia

ASCD’s annual conference (see #ASCD13 on Twitter) recently came to a close, and one of the main themes that kept surfacing was the need for more “connected educators.” At this conference, there were definitely some great “firsts.” The general session kicked off with a keynote from Freeman A. Hrabowski III, who tweeted his first tweet; an impromptu #edcampRoguesprouted up from in-attendance edcampers; and author and poet Maya Angelouwas even tweeting at age 85!

We all know that education budgets are getting cut more and more, and that meaningful professional development opportunities have unfortunately become a bit of an oxymoron in education…

Ten Tips for Becoming a Connected Educator | Edutopia.


Setting Up an Online Tutorial Community

This is my second year working with Professional Learning Practices and are group is looking at finishing up our project in the next couple of weeks. Not sup rising, we have hit a few snags (working with colleagues all across the country will do that to you). We are trying to put together a mentoring network. As I’m the only one with High School Age Kiddos, I’m hoping that my students can serve to mirror proper Digital Citizenship and provide some basic instruction/tutorial to elementary age students. A few of them put together some very short (1-2 minute) videos of concepts and topics. Here are some examples:

Writing in Complete Sentences:

Writing Topic Sentences

Possessive Nouns

Working in Teams

Writing in complete sentences

I have a few others – all very creative and invested. I’m so proud of my kids!

Learning from Hollywood – the Harry Potter Model

USC recently hosted a conference entitled: “Learning From Hollywood: Can Entertainment Media Ignite an Education Revolution.” USC professor Henry Jenkins put forth his ideas about how Hollywood’s new ‘participatory culture’ (as seen in the Harry Potter Alliance) can and should be harnessed by educators and social activists.

Jenkins believes that schools should embrace the powers of social media and leverage it as a means to engage students — especially those at risk of becoming disenfranchised.

Read more thoughts about the conference and its ideas in this KQED Mind Shift Article.

Who to Follow on Twitter

I love Twitter! I use it all the time. People have an odd concept of twitter – that it’s akin to Facebook status updates but more mundane and useless. Sure, there’s a lot of garbage on twitter (but it’s easy to ignore). However, twitter can transfer some good information quickly. As an educator and a historian, I have used twitter to develop my PLN (personal learning network), facilitate relationships with colleagues, and maybe to gain a little more insight into my favorite celebrities. I’ve gotten news faster and more thorough on twitter than any news source – twitter is how I found out that proposition 8 had been repealed and that President Obama would be announcing the death of Osama bin Laden (an hour before that announcement was made). So buckle up and join the twitter train – trust me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. So, here’s a bit of a twitter primer.

First, here are a couple of videos on “Twitter in Plain English” and “How to Use Twitter.” One thing to keep in mind, these are bare bones basics – twitter has radically evolved since their creation. These are both very brief (only a few minutes each), but does a great job introducing you to the basics of “tweeting.”

So, hopefully you have now made a twitter account. Now it’s time to come up with a list of followers. I follow about 800 people. I don’t read all of their tweets all of the time. I tend to go online and browse what’s been posted in the last twenty minutes or so (unless I have a topic that I want to research a bit). I follow an array of people – organizations, government figures, celebrities, historians, graduate students, teachers, and former students and family members. Your twitter list is about what works for you. No one gets notified if you stop following them, so feel free to ‘add’ and then ‘forget’ if you don’t like someone’s tweets. Here’s a list of twitter users to get you started – just click on their names and click the ‘follow’ button.

Jennifer Carey – Yep, it’s me. I am a rather broad tweeter. I post history and archaeology articles, links to my blog, pose questions, and the occasional update about where I’m eating dinner. I like to interact with my followers.

Rob Griffith – Rob is a Social Science teacher & a user of educational technology. He posts a lot about education, lesson plans, and classroom ideas.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach – Sheryl is a former educator and professional development organizer for Powerful Learning Practice. She has a lot of information and is an expert ‘sharer.’

Mr. Potter – Mr. Potter (not of the Harry kind) is a Social Science Educator with a propensity for “Ed Tech.”

Professor Snarky – Cuz we all need a little ‘snark’ 😉

Howi DiBlasi – an educational consultant with a specialty in 21st century tools. He posts a lot of resources like webinars, professional development seminars, and other tools.

Will Richardson – Parent, author, speaker, blogger about social Web tools and their effects on schools, education and learning.

Thomas Riddle – Also not of Mr. Potter fame 😉 K-12 social studies coordinator promoting interdisciplinary teaching, learning and collaboration.

Rogue Classicist – posts about history, classics, and archaeology.

Archaeology Magazine – the official twitter feed of Archaeology Magazine.

History Channel – the official twitter feed for the History Channel.

Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) – the official twitter feed of the AIA.

Biblical Archaeological Review (BAR) – the official twitter feed of BAR.

Smithsonian Magazine – the official twitter feed of the Smithsonian.

Guy Kawasaki – Co-founder of Alltop. Former chief evangelist of Apple. Author of Enchantment. He always seems to find some really interesting topics.

Tweet Smarter – Whether you need tips and tools, the latest Twitter news or tech support, they’re goal isto help anyone and everyone get the most out of Twitter.

Al Jazeera English – Al Jazeera English, the 24-hour English-language news and current affairs channel, is headquartered in Doha, Qatar.

Michael Hulshof-Schmidt – My real-life friend, educator, and blogger of the Solipsistic Me. I will get him on twitter if it kills me! Follow him and help me to fulfill my goal.

Open Culture – The best FREE cultural & educational media on the web; primary sources for many topics. They post a lot of great and apropos lesson plan ideas and resources.

Whedonesque – Twitter account for Whedonesque.com, a blog devoted to the works of Joss Whedon. They are NOT Joss Whedon on Twitter (boo!).

Oatmeal – official twitter account for the Oatmeal Blog.

George Takei – actor & activist George Takei. Some celebrities read & post their own tweets. George Takei is one of them. Follow him for humor and important political topics.

Brent Spiner – fine, I’m a Star Trek nerd. Brent Spiner is always good for a joke and you should watch his new Fresh Hell Series!

Amazon Deals – a lot of retailers use twitter to post on the spot deals and flash sales. Follow your favorites to keep abreast of great deals (airlines especially). Amazon is also a solid follower for deals.

Victoria White – Follow my cousin. She’s living in England right now.

Jane Roe Cooper – Jane is an amazing colleague and educator. She has become a Twitter Queen this last year when we worked on our PLP project together. She’s awesome – follow her!

Sarah Carey – My sister. She’s an actress, makeup artist, and manager. Follow her!

Katie-Rose Watson – My former student, recent graduate, and author of the Little Gabby Book series!

Explore some of these people and be sure to post your own additions. As always, follow me on twitter @JenniferLockett – send me a note, I write back.