PLAYBACK: Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom
8.7.12 | S. Craig Watkins implements connected learning principles working on a digital media and design project with high school students; Howard Rheingold talks with Alec Couros about making learning visible; and Caine Monroy turns 10 with a celebration at his DIY cardboard arcade.
The Power & Potential of “Connected Learning”: Over at DMLcentral, S. Craig Watkins describes his summer projects: working with a team to implement a digital media and design project with high school students, followed by a two-week game design camp at the University of Texas with middle school students.
“Both projects are what you might call ‘connected learning’ design pilots,” writes Watkins, explaining that the goal with each was to turn theory into practice, putting into action his work with the Connected Learning Research Network. In this post, he reflects on the digital media and design project and also looks back at the challenges to engaging students that he encountered at Texas City High School (including the consequences of blocking social media), where he spent much of the previous academic year.
Watkins seems encouraged that connected learning principles activated students’ academic interests and their engagement with their communities, and the iPod Touch each student was given provided a rich opportunity for creating and sharing media. But there were important lessons learned, too:
Just like it is important to help students learn the basic structure, elements, and conventions of an argumentative essay (i.e., controlling idea, use of evidence to support our argument, recognition of opposing views) it is also important to be that precise when it involves the production of digital media content. Rather than assume that simply because students have technology, production skills, and the autonomy to create content, they still need instructional laddering, support, clearly defined standards, and feedback on the digital media artifacts that educators expect them to produce.
Continue reading Watkins’ reflections.
Professor Alec Couros: “The Connected Teacher”: Howard Rheingold posted a video interview with Alec Couros, a professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina who created the oft-reproduced “The Networked Teacher” diagram (described and remixed here), representing “emerging teacher networks supported by the advancement of social software.”
“In my video interview with Couros,” writes Rheingold, “we get into details about making learning visible and see how one student learned to make mukluks, created a blog post and video to describe her learning, and reflected on her learning process while another student created a Mario Brothers-like video game to summarize his learning and made a video showing how he made the game and why. If you are interested not just in the power of networked digital technology, but the power of learning that is both reflective and networked, Couros and his students are worth your attention.”
Caine’s Arcade and Connected Kids: Caine Monroy, the cardboard arcade master and hero to thousands of kids worldwide who built something magical this summer out of cardboard, has turned 10. In this short essay, which will be published in Jewels of Elul on “The Art of Aging,” Caine reflects on growing older, which he’s not all that happy about.
I particularly love this part, in which he turns the concept of “work” upside down: “When you are a kid you get to ride bikes, scooters, play with toys and use your imagination. You don’t have to go to work or do all the things old people do. I can keep working on my arcade and making it more creative.”
A birthday party was held, naturally, at the arcade. Here’s Caine blowing out his candles.
It’s been less than five months since filmmaker Nirvan Mullick introduced the world to Caine and his dad, George Monroy, sparking conversations about formal and informal learning. There’s now an Imagination Foundation, created to “find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in more kids like Caine,” and a Caine’s Arcade School Pilot Program for Inspired Educators group on Facebook. Plans are underway for a Cardboard Challenge & Global Day of Play in October. Educators and community organizers are invited to sign up now for the September launch.
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