Assignment: H-A - Learner Inquiry Project Plan

Two points from the reading that you agree with:

Point 1: Innovative Questioner
Van Phillips took a personal tragedy - the loss of his leg - and turned it into an opportunity to approach problem solving in a whole new way. Phillips had a trait common to many innovators - the ability to see beyond the current reality of the situation. The text refers to it as “a refusal to accept the existing reality” (p 12) but I think Berger misses a step. Before one can accept or reject something, it’s important to see and understand it. In other words, it’s not really “thinking outside the box” if you don’t know where the box is and what’s inside. I had an event happen this winter which drew some parallels for me. Through a gout attack which aggravated a 20-year-old injury, I’ve spent the past couple weeks in a knee brace. I’m sure some people would complain about the inconvenience or would wear the brace without giving it a second thought, but that’s not where my mind went. While the brace is non-preferred, wearing it creates a different reality than the one I had just weeks ago. So I started wondering what I could do in this new environment that I couldn’t do before. It occurred to me that with my experiences in electronics (a hobby that routinely bleeds into my work life), it would be really cool (and perhaps even useful!) to create a measuring device to record the number of times I flex my knee in a day. (This is something that couldn’t be done before the brace came along!) Last Saturday, I had a friend over for our regular tinker time the first Saturday of each month and we started to talk about the idea. Short version of the story: I’m now waiting for parts to get here next week so I can build something called a “rotary encoder”. When I design things I have two requirements: 1) it needs to have the potential to be useful beyond the application in the moment, and 2) it has to give me a skillset I can use in developing new projects in the future - alone or with students.

Point 2: Working Alone
Phillips found the resource we are often told can help us - other people, some of them experts - can hold us back. “Frequently in various professional domains - in hospitals or doctors’ offices, in business conference rooms, even in classrooms - basic, fundamental questions can make people impatient and even uncomfortable.” (P13) I’ve found that people are too secure what they think they know. It’s a theme I’ve noticed across our readings for this assignment. But despite common cliches like “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and frustrations with learning events that “teach to the test”, our perceived value in society really is normed to the idea of being able to produce the answer to a question as quickly as possible. (Maybe this is why quiz shows on television are so popular and why we think of those contestants as “smart”.)

For those who define their own value according to the type, quantity or infallibility of what they know, new information is a dangerous product. It can create a paradigm shift where everyone is starting from zero - a change for which those with the highest levels of archival information pay the most dearly for the bits they have accumulated and trained themselves to regurgitate .

I wonder if this reality leads many who think like Phillips to restrict the circle of people they work with. I’ll share anything with anyone - it’s just the dreamer in me I suppose. But many of the people - at least from the small pool of my collaborators - make it a point to keep things to themselves, even if they wouldn’t normally think of themselves as introverts. It’s just easier to work out solutions in an environment without people trying to tell us “how the world is.”

One point you disagree/or were uncertain with
I am a big fan of design thinking and now I’m finally able to analyze some articles on the subject. But while there are many practitioners who have come to consensus on core principles, there are bound to be minor cracks between how I see design thinking and those articles. One of those comes from the Institute of Design at Stanford and it involves their project steps. Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test are the project steps. I can stand behind all these steps. In empathizing, one learns to listen first and understand the details of the solution being requested. The define step involves converting those conversations into a captured dialog. This resource is used as the launch platform for the ideate stage, coming up with brainstormed solutions to the problem defined. This leads to a prototype created for the selected solution, tested to see how well it meets the needs of the problem. However a key aspect of design theory is iteration. Once the prototype is completed and tested, it’s important to consider improvements and come up with a second (or third, or forth) prototype.

A few words about the Flipped Learning resources. I was really not impressed with the materials. While the idea of a Flipped Classroom is important, this implementation felt too simplistic. There should be more to this idea than only the three domains - curiosity, knowledge and relationship.

Describe the learning inquiry project you are thinking of trying (this will likely be one of the three topics you brainstormed last week) and the How Might We question you like best from your drafting.
My learning inquiry project involves combining two ideas to create something new. On the one hand, many schools have a coding activity for students. But these lessons tend to be introductory in nature with little that would be considered imaginative. On the other hand, I just finished watching re-runs of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge. While the puppets created by the contestants make extensive use of non-digital technologies there is one exception. The eye animatronics use a remote controlled device (with a control hub used for flying model aircraft) to move a servo motor remotely, thus causing the eye to move or the eyelid to blink.

How Might We create a mechanized puppet eye using 3D design, servo motors, and an Arduino microcontroller?

Ask your peers for help on some aspect of your planning
I would like feedback, from someone who might not be familiar with this technology, what key talking points should be so I can keep students engaged.

Chapter 1 The Power of Inquiry from Warren Berger's book A More Beautiful Question 
Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2014). Flipped Learning: Gateway to student engagement. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. 

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Educational Technology: Adobe After Effects (Creative Cloud)

I'm actually linking to a fantastic (free) tutorial for beginners by a technical trainer at Adobe. (See for product information.) It's enough to not only get someone going but also explains what After Effects is and why it exists. At a time when students won't pay attention to video content unless it's "cool", After Effects is a way to bring in animations and interesting snippets to maintain student attention.

It used to be that AE cost thousands of dollars. However for the past few years, Adobe has offered something called the Creative Cloud. For a subscription of $250/yr (ACTEM price) educators can have about $10,000 worth of software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and more.

The biggest down side to AE, other than the time to learn it, is that our MLTI MacBook Air devices don't have much drive space. By the time a teacher loads up with educational videos, applications, and other files, there isn't much space left for video editing. So an external hard drive is a good idea.

This has been a wild week for me! We've had a number of delayed school openings and early dismissals. When it looks like school will be delayed or cancelled, my day starts at 4:30am. So uses of technology on a snow day are certainly on my mind.

It used to be, once upon a time, that a snow day meant school personnel would light a fire and settle in with a good book. But that's slowly going away. Now our district offices are open even when schools are not. Online classes continue regardless of the weather. Classes which have both online students and on-campus students can be assigned a videotaped lecture from that class in a previous semester (as is the case with me and my other class this semester) so even when the on-campus class doesn't meet, everyone still gets a lecture and a homework assignment.

We are starting to see this filter down into our K-12 schools. My hope is that this will be seen as "extra practice" at the discretion of parents, rather than extending the reach of programming to off-campus time. Unless a teacher is assigning something like "building a snowman and write about it", then there should be some limits.

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Educational Technology: HeyWhatsThat.Com

This pick certainly pushes the boundaries of what is instructional technology. But for IT techs and students interested in networking, it can be a fun thing to play around with.

Built and maintained by a tech in Camden, Maine, HeyWhatsThat.Com lets you pick a location on a map and identify all the surrounding mountains. Going one step further, it has a feature called the "Cloak of visibility", which colors in all areas on the map that have direct line-of-sight to the location selected.

This website also has a nice profiling capability, so social studies teachers can see the terrain between two points.

This connects to the SAMR model because it's taking a simple geography application and completely transforming the experience.

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Educational Technology: Incredibox

Incredibox is a musical looping site. The user first selects one of the versions. A person will then be shown on the screen. By dragging one of the attributes at the bottom onto the person, that character will start making noises. Mix and match to create music that could easily become part of a video project. Because the student is creating the music, there aren't any copyright issues.

This example connects to the Creativity component of the 4Cs model. And it does it in a more powerful way, so it would be easy to bring SAMR into this one. Many people think of creativity using visual design applications. In this case, we have an audio design application that is easy yet powerful.

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Educational Technology: My.Sketchup

My.Sketchup - many educators might recall Google Sketchup, a great application for 3D Design. Now there's My.Sketchup - a version that doesn't require any downloading because it runs in the user's web browser. However objects can still be downloaded ask SKP files, then converted by a teacher running Sketchup Pro into STL and OBJ files for 3d printing.

This connects to the SAMR model, but it can also connect to the Critical Thinking component of the 4Cs model. Students need to analyze the design requirements when constructing their artifacts and evaluating the success of designs completed by their classmates.

I just created my first blog. (I have worked with a number of websites over the years and would like to try something new.)
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