Posted on November 9, 2014


I follow Justin Reich on Twitter ’cause he hosted the #mtt2k contest in 2012, where people entered videos that critiqued Khan Academy videos. ( http://www.edtechresearcher.com/mtt2k-contest/ has the whole story).

So when he posted that his current adventures in a MOOC about technology and innovation in education included an “unhangout,” I snuck over and unhung. I was frequently called away from the computer during the “lobby” parts by the math students present, but when the breakout sessions happened and I was participating, less so. The “equity issues” breakout session let me be a bit of a guest speaker, and I described some of the benefits and frustrations of technology at the community college. It was a tad odd talking to them about my students… in front of them.

My big takeaway is that these guys *are* thinking and not jumping on “yippee!! technology!!” bandwagons, and do have some comprehension that different students bring different issues to the technology and learning table… but would do well to get some experience, directly, with those students. I realized when somebody noted that underprepared students tend to be ‘less-self-directed,’ that … it’s so much more complicated than that. Yes, there are those who really are pretty undirected… but there are many who are *very* self-directed, but do not seem to be so, because they don’t know our traffic rules. There are others who are undirected because they’ve had years and years of low/no academic expectations and have been shuffled through the systems.

My New Community School experience taught me that it *is* possible to figure out what students need to learn, and to slowly, carefully an consciously nurture their independence.

The very students about whom even I would have wondered, “do they belong in college at all???” often have all kinds of untapped potential that’s been squashed and smothered. At New Community, I watched them come out of their shells and blossom.

Technology could really help with designing true “personalized” curriculum, but the theme of this online session was “dystopic possibilities.” I can well imagine “personalized” curricula that has all kinds of wonderful data collection and analysis … but instructional materials that are only accessible to folks who have outside support. Okay, I don’t imagine it. I see it every day.

Too many people project a ‘fixed mindset’ on students (even while they preach a growth one) and assume that if students can’t “learn” from something like ALEKS, or the Khan Academy, that they don’t have the ability.

Which means it’s time for me to get back to work on my app, eh? I’ve got a rough “explain” activity, which desperately needs more embellishment (visuals, perhaps animation, and … interaction…)… but it’s also time to figure out the highly interactive parts. Oh, and to move my website. Oh, and to figure out the video lessons, which don’t have to be the main interaction but need some… oh, and Thursday’s gathering at the convent, where I’m leading the discussion of the Lost Sheep parable…

Posted in: Uncategorized