John Hunter on the World Peace Game — TED March 2011 — my thanks to Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Kate Byerwalter for this great presentation


TED Talks -- John Hunter presents the World Peace Game -- March 2011

About this talk
John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4’x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages schoolkids, and why the complex lessons it teaches — spontaneous, and always surprising — go further than classroom lectures can.

About John Hunter
Teacher and musician John Hunter is the inventor of the World Peace Game (and the star of the new doc “World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements”).



From DSC:
In my recent class at Capella University, one of the last discussion board questions asked:

  • Do you think learning theory should be more explicit in official discussions of policy?

What a great question! My answer was yes, as it makes sense to me to guide educational reform by what is best for the students…for learning. Hopefully, we can make informed decisions. Though I’ve learned that there is no silver bullet when it comes to learning theories, each learning theory seems to be a piece of the puzzle for how we learn. Graphically speaking:

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Such theories should have a place when policies are drafted, when changes are made. But I don’t often hear reference to the work of Thorndike, Bandura, Vygotsky, Gagne, Kolb, etc. when legislative bodies/school boards/or other forms of educational leadership are exploring future changes, directions, strategies. What is it that these people were trying to relay to us? What value can we gleam from them when we form our visions of the future? How does their work inform our selection of pedagogies, tools, organizational changes?

Banned in School — from The Innovative Educator by Lisa Nielsen

From DSC:

This item caught my eye because this very sort of thing prevented me from helping some of our remote student teachers this week. The schools that they were in did not permit access to the servers that provided web-based collaboration software.  The reasons I picked up from the email-based correspondence was that the schools were concerned about the misuse of such technologies — based upon actual acts of digital vandalism they had occurred at their schools or other schools.

Though I understand the concerns of the administrations — especially in light of the litigious society that we live in — I couldn’t help but reflect upon how incredibly unfortunate that — again — a small percentage of bad apples ruins it for the rest of the students.

What can we do to promote better digital citizenship? Ethics? Morality?

I agree with Lisa when she asserts that it is no longer acceptable to have disconnected teaching and learning environments. It is not ultimately beneficial to ban teachers and students from the Internet.

P.S. If we can’t help our student teachers out in such matters, it makes change all the more difficult to implement.

The Higher Ed Landscape -- February 2011

From DSC:
As I was reviewing Mel’s presentation, I couldn’t help but think of the amazing amount of pressure colleges and universities will be under towards “standardization” — or at minimum, institutions may need to accept much of what has occurred at another school.  The costs are too high not to — and the expectations from parents, students, legislatures, and the general public may force this to occur.

Along these lines, I think that the dynamics of teaching and learning change when we talk about the cost of an education going from a few thousand to 150,000+ for 4 years. Expectations are one thing that change; Mel’s presentation points to this a bit. But I also wondered…how will institutions of higher education differentiate themselves if these pressures for portability continue to build? How will they keep from becoming a commodity?

Also noteworthy was Mel’s slide re: what students can ultimately DO as a result of their educations — this may become more of the Holy Grail of Assessment.

Egyptians gathering for protests in Cairo, via @mccarthyryanj on Twitter


From DSC:
As I was briefly reviewing the following links…

…I began reflecting on the predicament that online-based learners would have if suddenly their government pulled the plug on the Net.  As we become more connected, what are the costs/dangers of being disconnected? Of being connected? If there was some serious cyberwarfare going on, would a government be forced to pull the plug?

I don’t mean to make any judgments concerning these events — rather, I mean to ask the above questions from a teaching and learning standpoint only.

Addendum on 2/4/11:

40 for the next 40: A sampling of the drivers of change that will shape our world between now and 2050 — from and Toffler Associates

From the foreword:

We are in the midst of an accelerating, revolutionary transformation. Change is happening everywhere – in technology, business, government, economics, organizational structures, values and norms – and consequently affects how we live, work and play. As industry and government leaders, we must acknowledge that this change demands new ways of governing and of running our organizations. The ways in which we communicate and interact with each other will be different. The methods through which we gain and process information will be different. The means by which we earn and spend money will be different. Through the culmination of these and other changes, organizations will be radically transformed.

This change is not unexpected. Forty years ago, Alvin and Heidi Toffler recognized that the pace of environmental change was rapidly accelerating and threatened to overwhelm the relatively slow pace of human response. Through Future Shock, the Tofflers persuaded us to consider the future by imagining drivers of change and preparing for a wide range of resulting future environments. Now as we look towards the next 40 years, we continue to use these time tested methodologies, our founders’ legacy to Toffler Associates, for understanding the forces of future change. We focus on the convergence and interdependence of seemingly orthogonal aspects to connect the dots and develop strategies for future success. In this way, we recognize, as the Tofflers did, that preparation is the best defense against the future (emphasis DSC).

Here is a sampling of 40 drivers of change that – we believe – will shape the future.

From DSC:
Includes sections on Politics, Technology, Social, Economics, and the Environment.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Building a Knowledge-Based Society
The Needs of a Knowledge-Based Society
Case Study: Finland
Vision of Education for the 21st Century
Case Study: Singapore
How Would the System Function?
Case Study: China
Shifting Roles
Appendix A – Measuring 21st Century Skills
Numeracy and Mathematics
Reading Literacy
ICT/Technological Literacy
Digital Literacy
Appendix B – Consultations & Acknowledgments
Appendix C – PTC Members & Staff

Some quotes:

From Learning Information to Learning to Learn:
The system must place greater emphasis on the learning of skills over the learning of content.

From Data to Discovery:
Content will have to evolve constantly, not only to remain relevant but so students are ready to deal with how rapidly information changes in a knowledge-based society.

From One Size Fits All to Tailored Learning:
As students progress they will increasingly access and engage with their own content, at their own pace of learning and take an increasing role in charting a path best suited to those talents, interests and abilities.

From Testing to Assess to Assessing to Learn:
Technology allows educators and students to assess progress more regularly than with traditional classroom assessments and to identify and address each student’s challenges as they arise. This is in contrast to tests and exams that measure what a student learned at the end of an instructional unit by which time it is often too late to address shortcomings.

From Classroom Learning to Lifelong Learning:
Lifelong learning can be encouraged by incorporating aspects of a student’s life outside of school into their education.

How would the system function?

  • A Blended System:
    The system would have a mixture of face-to-face classroom and online learning. It would also incorporate the immense range of learning opportunities outside the classroom. Some students would prefer a heavier emphasis on classroom learning while others may prefer the options of online learning. There has already been a strong uptake of online learning in BC.
  • Access to Learning Objects and Teaching Tools:
    Technology allows for better access to learning objects, teaching tools, and information. This is important for students, parents and teachers to collaborate in creating an individualised learning path that incorporates the information they need to know in more customised ways.
  • Open Access to Information Systems:
    Students need to be able to access information. Unfettered (but not unguided) access will allow them to learn and to teach themselves as they go forward. Furthermore, access to information will allow students to make informed decisions about their interests and understand the implications of new information for potential career decisions.
  • Constant Feedback and Assessment:
    While the system will be more flexible, there is a need for assessment based standards that will be higher in the future than they are today. Technology can provide new options for assessment and improving learning outcomes. In particular it allows for timely assessment so that students, parents and teachers can be informed during, not after, learning and in ways that allow for correction and celebration.

What They Know – Mobile — from WSJ

Your apps are watching you — from WSJ
A WSJ investigation finds that many apps on the iPhone and Android are breaching the privacy of smartphone users

Facebook in Privacy Breach — WSJ
Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.

Facebook Apps Sending Personal Information to Internet Tracking Companies — from
FarmVille and other popular games collect IDs and sell them, Wall Street Journal reports

The Web’s New Gold Mine: Your Secrets — from WSJ
A Journal investigation finds that one of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet is the business of spying on consumers. First in a series.

  • The study found that the nation’s 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning. A dozen sites each installed more than a hundred. The nonprofit Wikipedia installed none.
  • Tracking technology is getting smarter and more intrusive. Monitoring used to be limited mainly to “cookie” files that record websites people visit. But the Journal found new tools that scan in real time what people are doing on a Web page, then instantly assess location, income, shopping interests and even medical conditions. Some tools surreptitiously re-spawn themselves even after users try to delete them.
  • These profiles of individuals, constantly refreshed, are bought and sold on stock-market-like exchanges that have sprung up in the past 18 months.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy is Over — from

Why Facebook is Wrong: Privacy Is Still Important — from

Leaving Facebook —
Will Diaspora provide a social-networking haven for those fed up with Facebook?


Also see:
Obama administration calls for online privacy bill of rights
— from

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Lecture Capture: Policy and Strategy — University Business by Ellen Ullman
What is happening to the pedagogical process because of lecture capture?
July/August 2010 2010

Digital Learning Council press release — from

Tallahassee, Florida and Washington, D.C. August 18, 2010 – Jeb Bush, governor of Florida 1999 – 2007, and Bob Wise, governor of West Virginia 2001 – 2005, today launched the Digital Learning Council to identify policies that will integrate current and future technological innovations into public education. The Digital Learning Council unites a diverse group of more than 50 leaders from education, government, philanthropy, business, technology, and think tanks to develop the roadmap of reform for local, state and federal lawmakers and policymakers.

“Technology has the power to customize education for every student in America,” said Jeb Bush, co-chair of the Digital Learning Council. “Providing a customized, personalized education for students was a dream just a decade ago. Technology can turn that dream into reality today. The Digital Learning Council will develop the roadmap to achieve that ultimate goal.”

Some of Daniel S. Christian's recommendations for higher education


Some of Daniel S. Christian's recommendations for K-12 educational settings

From DSC:
600 people of Grand Rapids came out to attack, *&^%$& and moan about the movement towards the use of online learning…great. Just great. The GRPS’ School Board was trying to take positive, courageous action and what did they get? An auditorium full of people feeding off each others’ words — words full of emotion but often times unfounded.

Man…do I feel sorry for the school boards of America. School boards — as well as the boards of colleges and universities — are under numerous pressures right now. I commend the school boards — such as that of the Grand Rapids Public Schools  — who are trying to take positive and courageous action, and who have to fight a system that is incredibly stuck in “tradition” (i.e. “the way it’s always been done around here” and “that’s how I learned, that’s how you should learn” ). The problem is, tradition just isn’t doing the trick anymore. The world has changed and is leaving behind those folks who are still stuck in tradition. And we haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait a couple of years for those folks who “got it” to pull far away from those still stuck in tradition.

Along these lines…

I’m tired of all the bad-mouthing of elearning / online learning from folks who have never tried it. Several of the folks in the video had tried it and felt it came up short. Fair enough — that’s very valid. But if the materials weren’t good, we need to use the iterative process inherent in instructional design to improve them! Take the feedback from the students and make improvements to the materials — don’t ditch the efforts before they even get off the ground for the rest of the folks. (I do wonder what materials these students were using…? Probably boring, page-turners. We can do much better than that!)

Using blended learning is an excellent and proven way to move forward. Let’s take the best of both worlds to create a world where learning is engaging, fun, and where students can pursue their passions. Let’s let their passions drive learning in other areas/disciplines.

Let's take the best of both worlds -- online learning and face-to-face learning

Blended learning is the #1 seed

Creating well-done, engaging, sophisticated, interactive, multimedia-based educational materials takes time and money — no doubt about it. That’s why it would be wise to pool resources and create professionally-done, highly-engaging, multimedia-based educational materials (and create supplementary avenues which let the students build materials themselves and/or contribute to the body of knowledge as well). The federal government’s plans to contribute millions of dollars to create these materials is a great idea. If these materials are done well — and create/relay the content via multiple ways — we can leverage these materials across numerous school districts, charter schools, home-schooling situations, etc.

Concluding thoughts:

  • Folks, if you want to survive and thrive in the future, ditch the Model T.  Start your new engines, and get your car on the race track.
  • Burying your heads in the sand and waiting for this perfect storm to just blow over won’t cut it.
  • Change is at your doorstep. What’s your plan/response? What would YOU do if you were on these school boards?

The pace has changed significantly and quickly

P.S. I don’t know enough about the historical decisions of the GRPS School Board to comment on other areas and how GRPS got to be in the situation that it is currently in (which is probably a multi-faceted, complex issue). But an auditorium full of people dogging the online learning world is a step in the wrong direction.

See also:

  • A Harlem middle school bets on technology
    Attendance, the bane of many schools that serve a community of mostly poor minority kids, is not a problem at Global Technology Preparatory, a new middle school in Harlem, reports the Gotham Gazette. “Tabitha used to hate to go to school, now she loves it,” said Maria Ortiz of her granddaughter Tabitha Colon, who transferred out of a Catholic school to attend Global Tech. As its name implies, this school relies on technology to capture the attention of its students and give them a sense of responsibility and empowerment, as well as to teach academic subjects, such as math and English language arts, in new and more engaging ways. With this approach, Global Tech is a poster child for one of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s latest experiments, the so-called Innovation Zone, or iZone. This effort seeks to use new approaches to education, including more flexible class schedules that extend learning throughout the day and calendar year, and digital technology to improve student engagement and performance. This school year, Global Tech is one of 10 pilot schools in the iZone, which will be expanded to 81 public schools in the 2010-11 school year. The education department is hoping that Global Tech and other schools like it can finally do something to improve middle school achievement and solve one of the most intractable problems in the city’s education system…Click here for the full story
  • Florida House opens door for more technology in classrooms

From DSC:
Consider the following timeline of the Florida Virtual School according to this article:

1997: Florida Virtual School is founded.

2002: Hillsborough County establishes a virtual school program for high school classes.

2007: Hillsborough County starts offering middle school classes.

2008: Hillsborough County starts the elementary program.

2009: New state law requires school districts to offer full-time virtual classes for K-12 students.

Now consider that they started with 77 students.

Now consider that the “…program served more than 71,000 students during the 2008-2009 school year, according to its Web site.” (emphasis DSC)

The pace has changed significantly and quickly

Do not underestimate the disruptive impact of technology.
And I realize it’s not just about the technology…it’s about people.
But technology can connect people to each other at ever-increasing speeds.

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