Sunday, February 17, 2013

Learning with Technology?

So, my blog is ostensibly about Teaching with Technology, but I think I will depart from that a little and use this as I document my participation in a MOOC I'm taking being offered by the MIT Media Lab on Creative Learning.

Right now I'm watching the lecture for the first week being delivered by Mitchel Resnik. He's offering the background and justification for what he calls "Lifelong Kindergarten". In kindergarten students get to play and explore as the primary way to learn. He contends we should do this at all levels and get away from the model of education that is focused on knowledge delivery.

With new technologies that are being developed all the time we can move closer and closer to lifelong kindergarten. The main thing Resnik is talking about seems to be focused on the design and building of devices or computer programs. This reminds me to some degree of a workshop Gary Abud ran for the DMAPT on Design Thinking. It will get the students to think creatively and do some good problem solving, but unless the design challenges are very carefully crafted I'm not sure how much content a student could learn with this model.

While content is only one of the things I try to teach to my students, it is an important thing. Without the content you wouldn't be able to call my class Physics. I'm hoping this course will give me more insights on how to allow students to play and explore while still teaching the content.

I try to get my students playing and exploring quite often. One of the ways I do with is with building projects. We just finished our marshmallow catapults. I gave students a list of allowable materials and told them to build a catapult that would hurl a marshmallow into a bucket 5 meters away (Thanks @mr_pata for the idea). They had to play, discover, and build. I know they learned some important things along the way. However, they probably didn't need to rely on the physics concepts we've been learning in class nor did they develop new concepts we haven't covered yet. How do I do projects like this that teach not only the critical thinking and experimentation, but also teach physics?

I'm hoping that Learning Creative Learning will give me some insights to help answer that question.

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