Friday, November 1, 2013

The NEA Foundation and Talking Ginger- Moving National Meetings to the 21st Century


My son, now seven, had a wonderful time with the Talking Ginger app last year. The app allows him to talk at Ginger the cat and Ginger repeats his phrase with a distorted high pitched voice. It also creates short movies based on actions and phrases created by the user. A few weeks ago I took a look at my YouTube channel and was surprised to find that he had uploaded about 50 videos he created to YouTube. To my chagrin his videos had more hits than mine, but I digress.

Last week I spent two days with the NEA Foundation in DC. The convening had exceptional organization, great speakers and quality content. It was also decidedly a 20th century affair. We had paper books, paper feedback sheets, paper poster boards, our tasks and responses and reports were also text and paper heavy.

There we sat creatures of the 20th century discussing 21st century education innovation in 20th century ways. Nobody created a movie a prezi or a piece of art, music or a storybird. We discussed globalization without global connections and just one global speaker. We discussed curriculum without open source ideas. We discussed ways we use technology on paper and reported orally- not a single image, collaborative product (say mural.ly) or a link was shared. Groups that complained about culturally insensitive curriculum didn't share any alternative- none have realized that with the advent of the Internet and online mostly free resources there was no reason to keep sticking with curriculum companies. The 21st century gave us ways to stop complaining and start acting.

Do not misunderstand ,we all had devices, iPads, iPhones and other smart devices. It was clear that as individuals we have entered the 21st century. But as a group we collectively act in 20th century ways. As a group we are not digital immigrants- we are still on the boat dreaming of the old country pretending we are still there. How can we lead change for students that have already uploaded 50 youtube videos of Talking Ginger?

Five suggestions for a meeting:
1. Have each grantee create a short 2-3 minute video describing what they do. Suggest some styles but let creativity reign. It could be a narrated prezi or ppt or a flash documentary
2. Have a Twitter back channel and share it on a video crawl
3. Have group products created digitally
4. Make the digital curriculum choices especially Open Educational Resources (OER) a major point of discussion
5. When discussing globalization connect globally in real time into group discussions
plus a simple one:
6. All materials should be available in apps/ live websites and paper should be shared only with those who request it (greener too!)

I could go on for quite a while...





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