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Critical Conversations: An Educational Vision Worth Sustaining

Conversation Thought Leader: Gary Stager, Consultant, Executive Director of the Constructivst Consortium
Moderated by Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation

Resources at http://www.stager.org/aalf
Summer event - Constructing Modern Knowledge - July 28th-31st in NH
Reading - Pappert,

Good ideas are the ones that are hard to sustain - Things need not be as they seem

Three types of laptop schools:

1: The Pioneers
2: The Marketeers (to get in paper)
3: Their Neighbors


Cost is an obstacle to doing the right thing
*Free is the reason for doing something
*Laptops can cost less than wiring a room to put in desktops
Cool Technolgy does not always pay off educationally
Laptops should be immobile
Changing OS represents educational change
There is a hierarchy of software
Fluency is possible when we keep changing software
Kids are incompetent or evil
Teachers should get computers a year early
10 year olds need secretarial schools
PD works
*done in artificial settings, this does not work (GenYes)
Online textbooks personalize represent progress
School should be like a video game
Web 2.0 will revolutionalize education
The focus should be on language arts
learning about access to information
*see what you can do with out an internet connection, use internet for sharing resources.
*Online collaboration is the magic bullet
*The power is online
*Nothing else should change

Kids can do more
Create video games - www.microworlds.com, scratch, squeak, toontalk, turtle art, stagecast creator, starlogo TNG, netLogo

Instead of playing sim city, kids can create sim-middle ages
Create your own Sketchpad - provides more real background than having Geometer's Sketchpad do it for you.

A good prompt is worth 1,000 words
  • A good prompt, challenge, problem or motivation
  • Appropriate materials
  • Sufficient time

Four ways to use materials

Teach concept (gears, friction, multiplication of fractions)
thematic project (factory, amusement park, airport)
curricular theme (Identify a problem in...)

Monumental vs. Substantial work

  • Verbal inflation - excited about very little
  • Genre study and variety - the autobiography
  • The Digital video rule (watch it and edit it one more time)
Exemplary should be exemplary!

Computer as Prop
- Google Earth - Why be excited?

Some things will have to go to make this happen

Start with the kid and build up from there. (Not network down)
Less us, more them

Laptops make learning personal, democratizes knowledge.
The more we do to take ourselves out of the process, the more we can benefit the kids.

10 ten things to do with a computer

  1. write a novel
  2. share your knowledge
  3. answer tough questions
  4. make sense of data
  5. design a video game
  6. build a killer robot
  7. lose weight
  8. direct a blockbuster
  9. compose a symphony
  10. change the world
  11. be a mathematician, or scientist, or engineer, or luthier, or...

Articulate the value in what you're doing!
What is the benefit of any given technology - even the classroom?
Reduce the focus on what doesn't need to go on in the same room.