Thursday, March 06, 2008

Human Creativity - Opening Keynote

The opening keynote for the MACUL conference was outstanding, as usual. This year it was delivered by The opening keynote for the MACUL conference was outstanding, as usual. This year it was delivered by Mary Cullinane (, the director of the Innovation and Development Team for Microsoft Education. Well I suppose I should expand on Cullinane since Kevin said I was.
Mary Cullinane came to Microsoft after being a teacher and Director of Technology at a regional secondary school in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. In October of 2000, Ms. Cullinane joined Microsoft as Manager of Microsoft’s Anytime Anywhere Learning program. In 2003, she accepted the position of School of the Future Technology Architect, driving the creation of the new School of the Future located in West Philadelphia and now manages a team of individuals focused on expanding the impact and presence of digital inclusion in the US. Mary holds a Master’s of Public Policy and Administration Program from Columbia University and speaks at national and international conferences on educational technology and strategic leadership.
OK, I got lazy and just copied and pasted the text from the MACUL Conference Page.

Mary started by talking about creativity and talked about how we often don't foster creativity among our students. We simply hope to get them to parrot back what we've already given them. So, how do we go beyond this in our classroom. How do we bring creativity to our schools today?

Mary answered this by talking about considerations that went into building the "School of the Future" in Philadelphia. Microsoft was asked to build a high school on a regular budget for regular kids from a big city with big city problems. Before they started they asked, "What should the learning environment look like? What do you want the kids talking about as they walk out your door? What do you want the parents to say about what they're kids learned?" Mary says we all should ask ourselves these questions at the beginning of every school year.

Learning first, technology later. We need to know what and how we want our students to learn and then figure out what tools will best accomplish this. When they began designing the School of the Future they changed the way they thought about education. The changed the language of education to get students, teachers educators, and the principal Chief Learner to think about education in this school differently.

What are we trying to accomplish? What are we trying to teach? What do we want our students to be able to do? If we don't answer these questions then it is a bit irresponsible to begin looking at the stuff we'll buy to teach with. Cullinane went through some really great stuff to show us how we can begin to do this ourselves. Much of it can be found here in a downloadable form.

Cullinane said if we get nothing else out of this talk we should remember one word, motivate. What gets our kids interested in learning? If we don't answer this question then the rest of what we do is meaningless. If we don't think about what motivates our students then we loose them. When we structure our classrooms in ways that motivate us then we already know why our students fall asleep in our rooms.

I definitely recommend spending a little time looking over the resources at her web site. There really are a lot of good links there related to technology in education.

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