As many of you know I recently wrote a peer-reviewed paper with Doreen Keller. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it to you as it’s the foundation, in my mind, how we need to think in a connected world. 

Teaching in a 1:1 classroom is not about the technology or the tools but rather a mind shift that must occur if we’re going to truly use the power of the world’s information in the hands of students. That’s really what this is about. Once we give every student a device we have to rethink a lot of what we do in the classroom and what knowledge acquisition can and should look like. 

Today I’d like to reflect and share my thoughts on the 2nd Connectivism principle of learning that states:

Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources. 

I want you to stop and reflect for a second. If you have something around your house that you need to fix. Let’s say the dishwasher is making a noise and instead of calling a plumber right away you decide to try and figure out what’s causing the noise and how to fix it. 

Now…right there we have very distinct learning opportunities. 

1. We must first figure out what the problem is. We call this being a problem finder. 

2. Once we have located the problem we must then learn and try and fix it. 

Both of these are learning opportunities and crazy enough just how we live in today’s world. 

So I’m going to guess you’re going to head to Google and type in GE Dishwasher Model Number 7547 is making a thumping noise when running

You are instantly given a results page that in the crazy world we live is probably has a title of a webpage or a video with that exact phrase!

This is the moment that this principle takes hold. You must now connect nodes of information from different sources to learn something new. You might read a blog post, watch a video or two and all along you are learning. You learn something from this video that you re-read on this blog and then is restated again in another video. You’re watching videos taking the pieces that apply to you and ignoring the pieces that don’t.  You are learning by connecting all this information from different sources and applying it RIGHT NOW to your situation. 

Then when you finally believe you know what the issue is you’re already on your way to solving the problem. You want and read some more, you re-watch some videos, try a few more sources, probably do a new google search that is GE Dishwasher Model Number 7547 upper arm hitting silverware tray. You get more sources of information, some of them the same and some new and you learn more. 

Then you do! Right there at the moment, you do the thing you just learned about. You apply your new learning instantly to a situation and you solve it. 

Then you step back…you look at your work and you’re so excited you run and tell your spouse “Honey! I fixed the dishwasher” he or she gives you a “Great Job” and you feel good about your accomplishment. 

Now….getting the “Great Job” is you getting an A on your assignment. However, that is not where the learning occurred. You get an A on your final project because that’s all your spouse saw. That’s all they wanted and how they are going to assess you. Does the dishwasher not make a noise anymore. 

Now showing results is part of the grade for sure…but if we’re really interested in assessing learning the final project is not where the learning happened. The learning happened in the doing. Doing research, connecting information sources, trying something out, trying again, learning, watching more videos, reading more websites, and doing. That’s where the learning occurred. 

So I ask you: 

Do you assess just the presentation or the creation of the presentation? 

Do you assess the final writing or the rough draft and edits along the way? 

Do you assess the final answer or the steps to solving the equation?

How do you make sure that you are assessing the learning not the product of that learning? 

Again projects are great….they are the results of the creative process and they must factor into the overall result however if we are REALLY interested in assessing learning…that does not happen in the product. It happens in the process of creating the product. 

It happens in the selection of what information to read/watch

It happens in the trial and error of creation

It happens in the re-watching and re-learning of a new skill

It happens in making the connections between a video that someone else made and the actual problem I have in front of me and trying to determine are they the same problem.

This is a great time of year to reflect on how often are you assessing learning vs the product of learning. How might you have to rethink your lesson/unit/approach so that you can gather, or collect something that shows learning occurring in the moment? What might that look like for you? 

If you have great strategies or ways that you gather evidence of learning happening in the process, not the product would you mind sharing those with all of us in the comments below?

Safe and sound in Brussels after 13 hours of flying and making a 45 minute connection in Amsterdam.

As I was walking to collect my luggage in Brussels I passed this sign:


What a great way to be welcomed into Brussels and right away I knew I found my theme for the next three days. The website that is cut off in the lower left hand corner is: http://create2009.europa.eu/ and well worth a visit. There is a very interesting survey on the site asking teachers what does creativity mean to you?

Something else struck me about this picture as well. Why is it when we talk about creativity and innovation we picture children and the world. I mean, they use it in this photo but many times when people talk about creativity and innovation there is talk about global societies and children today.

My thinking has gone even farther with comments left on my last blog post. I was surprised to see people debating and talking about the questions that ISB has on their website when talking about technology.

Russ starts the conversation off reminding us that we need to also look at today when we are educating students.

We pretend that they don’t need to apply what they’re learning with us until “tomorrow.” That’s simply not true.

I’d agree with this statement to the fact that to often we do not ask student to apply their learning to real world situations. We tell them they need to learn stuff, we teach it to them, in hopes that someday near or far into the future they will need it. Students do need to be applying what they are learning in the classroom to real world situations all the time. If we are not allowing them or giving them the opportunity to do so, then we are failing them (See problem and project based learning 😉 ).

Dana chimes in with:

If you provide students with skills that can be utilized in a multitude of different ways, their education becomes a transportable gift.

I like this idea of a transportable gift that we as an educational institution can give to our students. That transportable gift is not content but skills. If we can teach students to be imaginative, to be creative, to be innovative those are skills that whether we’re talking today’s world or tomorrow’s world are needed. Instead of leaving no child behind the test what if we made sure every student left more creative, more imaginative, more innovative than when they came to us? We’re not talking content here, content will not solve global warming, hunger, or the economic crisis. What we need to make sure every student is leaving our institution with is the idea that they can make a difference, and that they have the skills to make a difference. Why aren’t we comparing the creativity that comes out of schools rather than the test scores that are coming out of them? Could we compare patents? Or ideas, products, non-profits, that help to solve a global issue? What if we really allowed our schools to be institutes of creativity, imagination and innovation? What would that look like? And where do I sign up!