Innovation as Learning Ethic

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hackNY spring 2013 student hackathon” by “hackNY.org” is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The heart and soul of CEP 812 has been the Wicked Problem Project. Divided into think tanks, we were asked to examine one of five wicked challenges concerning the future of education based on the work of the New Media Consortium. Our group focused on the challenge of making “innovation part of the learning ethic”. The question that played in our minds over and over was how to make schools a place “where innovation happens routinely”?

For this purpose, we worked collaboratively with course colleagues weeks in advance, to gather information, brainstorm ideas, consult via synchronous video conversations, delegate responsibilities and devise the best bad idea possible for our wicked problem! Our premise was that in order for students not to lose motivation or passion for learning, innovation must be considered as part of the learning ethic.  More specifically, students should be afforded time and space in the curriculum to routinely play, explore and create. Our research and discussions were curated and are presented here in the form of a multimedia mashup, visual representation, and white paper policy recommendation.

Technology Integration in Early Childhood Communities of Practice

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Number of teachers favoring guiding principles in technology use.

This week in CEP 812 we explored the contexts in which we work and in particular, the concept of a community of practice, defined as “a set of relations among persons, activity, and the world, over time and in relation with other tangential and overlapping communities of practice” (Lave & Wenger, p. 98). Our goal was to come to an understanding of how communities of practice shape our use of technology in the classroom. This was accomplished through a survey designed with relevant questions and then presented to my colleagues who served as the research sample.

My particular focus was how technology integration choices are formulated in an early childhood setting. I examined a number of influences, including developmentally-appropriate practice, parent concerns, technology principles for young children, social capital and professional development. The results from the survey were very informative to say the least. At the same time, the research revealed a number of remaining questions, which our school and community must seriously consider if we are to institute change in the most meaningful manner possible. Click here to read the full report.

Click here to view the survey form.

Click here to view an infographic with survey results.

References

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

National Association for the Education of Young Children & Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. (2012). Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Washington, DC.

 

Connecting Technology to Executive Function and Self-Regulation

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Air Traffic Controller in Eham Tower” by “Ma.rkus.nl” is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This week in CEP 812 our task was to choose a special learning need of relevance to our professional context, explore its implications on learning and instruction, and identify a technology that could support the learning challenge. In a paper (available here) exposing current research on executive function and self-regulation skills, I reveal how this learning need affects young children and what adults can do to intervene.

Executive function is often described as the skills required by an air traffic controller managing the arrival and departure of planes at a busy airport. These higher-order cognitive abilities are not only important for difficult and complex jobs, but also for normal functioning in society. Through my research, I identified one piece of technology that can aid in the development of executive function, particularly skills such as memory, attention, and problem solving. Lumosity is a unique, personalized tool that allow students to develop cognitive skills through challenging and engaging games. In addition to the description of the Lumosity provided in my paper, I have included below a short video demonstration of the tool.

Information Dieting 101

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west end non disable vegetarian” by “vancouver foodbank” is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This week in CEP 812 we considered the work of James Paul Gee, Henry Jenkins, Eli Pariser and Nicholas Carr to deeply reflect on networked spaces. One key learning is that if affinity spaces and participatory culture are used in appropriate ways, it has the potential to empower students and assist them in tackling complex global challenges.

So, how can we use networked spaces smartly? An important consideration is to integrate diverse perspectives in consuming information. Gee (2013) explains the importance of diversity: “in a healthy society, diversity is honored because diverse people and viewpoints serve the same purpose as variation does in evolution” (p. 117). Being removed from our comfort zones, separated from the opinions of like-minded people and exposed to challenging yet important views is another significant consideration (Pariser, 2011). Filter bubbles, described by Pariser (2011) as a “personal unique universe of information you live in online”, must be overcome to ensure we are not losing out on the opportunity to connect with others.

Finally, we must consider how to use a critical eye in consuming information. Failing to do so results in the loss of comprehension and deep creativity (Carr, 2011). The information diet implies that we moderate our intake of online information and use self-regulation to avoid information junk food. Online information should serve not to distract and overwhelm us, but rather to enhance our thinking and creativity.

I currently use a number of networked affinity spaces to inform my thinking. I find Twitter to be an extremely helpful network to keep up-to-date with the latest news, stories and insights from like-minded educators. I also use Feedly and Flipboard to receive articles on early childhood education, educational technology and inquiry-based learning. I am able to explore progressive approaches to teaching and learning and witness how educational concepts and theories, which I adhere to, are being put into practice in learning communities around the world. I can analyze these practices, compare it to trends in my own school, strengthen my own beliefs, and then share my thinking with others.

Having said that, I realize there are several limitations in my present information diet. Diverse perspectives in educational philosophies is a missing component of my affinity spaces. The one-sided views I follow may actually be problematic for my growth and thinking. Another limitation of my information diet is the weak critical focus that I carry out. Often, I choose to read articles with “catchy” titles, clever tweets or unique graphics. While such articles may contain important substance, I’m essentially creating a filter bubble for myself. I think adding analytical research articles from unbiased sources, such as university scholars, state institutions and non-government agencies, would contribute significantly to a more balanced information diet.

The three new sources of information that I have considered this week promise to push my thinking in new ways. The Office of Educational Technology (@officeofedtech) under the Department of Education incorporates insights on education technology from a broader, national level. The British Association for Early Childhood Education (@earlyed_uk) brings a cultural perspective to education slightly different what I am used to. The Montessori website presents a more structured approach to early childhood education contrasting the play-based approach I tend to favor. I believe these sources will not only challenge me, but allow me to draw connections between them and develop an appreciation for different ways of thinking.

References

(2011). Media Scholar Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture and Civic Engagement [Online video]. DMLResearchHub. Retrieved February 1, 2015, from http://youtu.be/ZgZ4ph3dSmY

(2011). Beware online “filter bubbles” [Online video]. Ted Talk. Retrieved February 1, 2015, from http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles

(2011). The Dark Side of the Information Revolution [Online video]. The Economist. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid57825992001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAADXaozYk~,BawJ37gnfAnGoMxEdQj_T9APQXRHKyAC&bctid=1128986496001

Gee, J.P. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.