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TED Talk Tuesday: Bring on the Learning Revolution

Since I won’t be with the CHC staff hosting Webspiration Wednesday lunches, I thought I would institute TED Talk Tuesday and share an inspiring TED Talk each Tuesday with all of you.  TED has a great tag line “ideas worth spreading”.  This non-profit brings together people from Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  (The scope of the talks is actually much, much wider.)  TED.com is a free collection of the very best talks with new talks are being added all the time.  TED believes “passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.” Todays TED Talk Tuesday is dedicated to Sir Ken Robinson.  You may remember this Webspiration Wednesday sharing of Sir Ken’s Schools Kill Creativity.  This is Sir Ken Robinson’s newest TED Talk, Bring on the Learning Revolution. Sir Ken Robinson has such a way with words, the message he shares is profound.  I agree with the summation that reform is of no use, the evolution of a broken model isn’t going to get us where we need to go.   We need a revolution where education is transformed into something else entirely.  I have watched this video several times since its release, about a month ago, and each time I am struck by something new.  This time what stood out most for me was the talk about innovation.   Innovation is hard because it means doing something that is challenging, it isn’t the easy or obvious solution.  It challenges what we take for granted, things that seem obvious.  Just before beginning this post, I read an excellent article by Blogging Alliance member Chris at EdTechSwami.  He writes: What Educators Can Learn From Steve Jobs.  I think Chris makes some excellent points in his post, it all comes back to innovation.  Apple doesn’t usually do the expected, in fact sometimes they purposefully step away from what is expected and what seems logical.  The reason is that they are finding new solutions and even creating new problems.  They are looking to the future and anticipating what is coming next.  Sir Ken helps us to see that innovation is difficult because there are so many things in this life that we take for granted.  We don’t even think about them any more because they are the way that we expect them to be.  It is only when someone comes along and points out a new way of doing something that we realize we have been taking it for granted.  In schools we take for granted that there is a linearity to education.  We start in kindergarten and move through until we reach the 12th grade, at which point we are encouraged to attend college.  What else do we take for granted in education?  Classrooms, grades, tests, desks, handwriting, curriculum, blackboards (IWB’s), policy makers, NCLB… Today I was able to join in on the midday Twitter #edchat discussion.  The topic was reform in education and how teachers could be a louder voice.  The discussion was a great one with a number of good ideas.  I wonder if we are approaching the topic in an innovative enough way?  We tend to frame our answers with what we think might be possible. We frame our answers so as to play nice in the policy makers game.  What if we didn’t do things their way? What if we came up with a new way?  What if we taught kids how to be advocates for their education and learning and gave them a voice?  I threw this out there during the #edchat and @bliarteach reminded me of the big push there was for learning about recycling in school.  Kids became passionate about recycling and saving the earth, they took it home with them.  Soon families were recycling and changing their garbage habits.  This worked.  I was one of those kids who made my mom wash every piece of aluminum foil so that I could bring it to school and add it to our big ball of recycled foil.  I was the kid who was adamant about separating plastic, glass, and paper.  I became the adult who still does this.  Involving kids in advocating for their own education and learning has the added benefit of helping them to realize the importance of their education.  Suddenly they aren’t learning because we tell them to, they are learning because they believe in learning.  They have a pride and ownership in their own education.   The great thing about involving kids in the discussion is that they don’t take so much for granted.  They ask questions and challenge the way that we think. So, lets figure out all the things we take for granted in education.  When we have a clear picture of those things, lets work together to find new solutions. Lets revolutionize education together, lets make the revolution viral.  If you can think of something that we take for granted, leave it in the comments below. (Raise of hands, how many of you are wearing a wrist watch?)   Yeah, me too.

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Squad: Collaborative Code Editor

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, collaboration, Create, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 05-12-2012

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What it is: We have some students at Anastasis Academy that are CODE crazy! They are really excited to learn how to code (we’ve used Codecademy) and practice with friends.  Squad is a free collaborative code editor.  With Squad, students can access the code they are writing anywhere there is an Internet connection. This means that students can chat and edit files together no matter where they are.  Squad constantly saves the workspace so that they are available even when multiple machines are logged in.  Students can see what teammates are working on, offer recommendations and even work simultaneously on a document.  Even better? If your students have a coding question (and you, like me, can’t answer) they can copy and paste the code in the workspace’s share URL and anyone with the URL can get in to help.  All of the files created on Squad belong to your students.  They can open (and save) local files, access a remote host via FTP/SFTP or grab a file from Dropbox.  The chat feature is searchable so that students can go back and learn from past mistakes or suggestions.

How to integrate Squad into the classroom: Do you have students who want to learn how to code?  What better way for them to learn and practice than together?!  At Anastasis, we have Crave classes.  These are classes that run once a week that students get to elect to take…something they “crave” learning.  One of our crave classes last year was learning to code.  I “taught” it.  No, I don’t really know how to code. We learned together!  You don’t have to be an expert to help your students explore their passions and interests.  We used Codecademy to learn together.  One of the limitations of Codecademy is that there is no where to just practice together after you have learned a skill.  Squad would be the perfect place for students to explore and practice together.

Older or more advanced students might want to create a club or work together to show what they know in another subject by putting their coding skills to use.

Tips: The free version of Squad limits students to 3 collaborators and 1 workspace, this should be plenty for your beginners!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Squad in your classroom.

Comments (2)

If you’re looking for a great site to learn to code, you need to check out http://codehs.com

We’ve made it really fun and accessible to get started and keep students engaged by teaching them to make fun graphics and awesome games, all from scratch!

We have an awesome, in-browser editor that lets students explore and create.

Most importantly, we have live tutors that answer your questions and give you feedback on your code, so you really improve.

Thank you for these resources! After I created my wedding website last year I became interested in coding, most specifically, learning more about using HTML and CSS to design blogs. Since then, I’ve been interested in teaching an elective for 8th graders. These resources and your experience make me even more confident that it’s something I’m willing to do! Thank you!!

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