It was another late night returning home from a business trip this week. Spring weather in Denver has been rainy for a week straight. We need the moisture (not as badly as other parts of the country), so no complaints.

The overcast was heavy with a light sprinkle as I left the airport on the hour’s drive to our mountain neighborhood. There was little traffic at midnight. When I got within 2 miles of our home, a heavy fog stopped me cold.

Visibility was less than 10 feet (!). I could barely see the center line, much less the outer edges of our paved two-lane highway. The rest of my drive home was at less than 5 mph, sometimes dead stopped, creeping along to ensure I was on the road, not heading off of it!

It was an unsettling end to an otherwise boring drive home. I simply couldn’t see. The fog caused me to slow way down, to discount my years of experience (driving on this road), and to increase my frustration and anxiety. (read more…)

A national conversation has been brewing on the topic of alternative digital credentials. The media and members of the education community often use the shorthand “badges” in reference to graphic representations awarded digitally for skills earned through a learning experience. But the term can be a hindrance — especially if you have some personal experience with, for instance, Brownies or Boy Scouts — if your goal is to understand the more serious potential of new credentials, beyond cute graphics.

Badges can have all kinds of uses and instantiations on the web. A year after we started issuing our first badges at MOUSE, I came home to my then 3-year-old son angry over a software glitch on the iPad that was keeping him from seeing a badge on his profile in Chuggington, a popular Disney app. In that instance, badges appeared like gold stars, a mere indicator that a task (or level of the app, in this case) had been completed. (read more…)

digital literacy

SmartBlog on Education is shining a light on education technology innovations during May, exploring the latest products and tools and the hottest trends in ed-tech. 

I want to think smarter.

I don’t want to know more facts or spout more trivia. I don’t want to just work smarter, either. I want to actually think smarter. It’s a much harder goal to accomplish because I’m constantly evaluating not only what I’m doing, but how I’m doing it.

I used to use an app called Any.do to manage a to-do list. Like most productivity apps, it synced across all platforms, and I really thought my productivity was going to jump because I would always have access to that list. I would end up ignoring notifications because I had either completed the task or I was being notified during I time when I couldn’t recommit my energy. I was using technology to try and work smarter, but I was actually working harder. (read more…)

digital literacy SmartBlog on Education is shining a light on education technology innovations during May, exploring the latest products and tools and the hottest trends in ed-tech. 

“My precious. My precious.” You may recognize this phrase from “The Lord Of The Rings.” It’s spoken by Gollum, the crazy creature who hides deep in the caves, and craves the one ring. It’s all he can think of. What if I were to tell you that this creature is real? What if I were to tell you that this creature exists in every school in the country? And what if I were to tell you that this creature, is you?

Now, you probably aren’t some creature living in a magical land. However, while it’s not a pretty comparison, some of your students may view you much like we view Gollum. They sometimes view teachers as people who want nothing more than to hoard the student work and keep it for themselves. (read more…)

Education-badge-blue2The goal of maker education is not college and career preparation.

The goals are deeper learning and authentic engagement, with an emphasis on turning learning over to the learner.

However, making is the best college and career preparation that I have encountered, in part because it isn’t the core goal. Through making, students build their agency and find new passions.

Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, Calif., where I work, serves students from low-income communities. Five years ago, if you asked seniors about their visions of themselves as adults, they would have envisioned themselves as doctors, teachers or in a vocational job — the careers they encountered in their everyday lives.

It’s hard to imagine yourself doing something when you haven’t seen or experienced it. But now students are engaged in becoming designers, artists, auto-mechanics, engineers, software developers, scientists and teachers through their involvement in making — in core classes, electives, and after school. (read more…)