Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to hear Sir Ken Robinson speak at numerous conferences. Since his 2007 TED Talk, which has been viewed 29 million times, he has become in great demand on the speaking circuit. Sir Ken kicked off the Learning 2014 conference with a great keynote. This conference however was different for me personally, but more about that in a moment. First, let’s look a moment at the content of his keynote.
In line with the other keynotes I have heard him deliver, Sir Ken expounded upon important keys regarding the ways people learn. “I would bet,” Sir Ken stated, “that if you have more than one child or grandchild you would agree that no two kids are alike even if raised in the same environment by the same parents.” There are different points of entry into each of our consciousness.
I thought of my two children as he pointed out differences. My daughter is an outgoing, what you see is what you get kind of person who meets life with a lot of passion and flare. She learns most through being creative. My son is equally brilliant but more introspective with a small circle of friends and would probably love living out on a mountain away from everyone. He learns best from hands-on experience. Each have their own amazing talents, preferred ways of learning, and curiosities that drive their learning.
Sir Ken suggested that if we custom design training and teaching, content, pedagogy, assessment and support by mapping to curiosity we can drive the appetite for learning. We all talk about different learning styles, he said, and personalized learning has been around a long time though now it seems to be a hot topic particularly with the latest technologies which afford greater personalization and self-directed learning.
Imagination is the seed to empathy, he added, and creativity is what makes us human beings. It goes hand in hand with critical evaluation. When helping people discover their giftedness, creating the next generation of skilled employees, reskilling or developing talent we must consider the multiple ways of learning and should work to ignite curiosity and creativity.
As Sir Ken discussed the significant value intergenerational learning and the exposure to multiple cultures has on learning, I realized how blessed I have been in my career to have tools like video collaboration that enables all of the important keys to learning he discussed. Fortunately, for my own children and my students, throughout my career in education, I have used video collaboration coupled with on demand videos to inspire learning. What better way to ignite curiosity than to bring in subject matter experts from around the world or connect with different cultures? By removing the walls of a traditional classroom, teachers can map learning to students’ curiosities, learning styles, and develop their creativity.
His talk, as expected was quite inspirational. I was excited to pick up a copy of Sir Ken’s latest book, Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life.
But, as I mentioned earlier, this conference was different for me personally. I had my own personalized learning experience and the opportunity to get to know Sir Ken a bit better. I helped manage his time and get him from meetings to the limo waiting to whisk him away. What a humorous and down-to-earth person, he is. He graciously allowed me to grab my iPhone and do a quick interview for my blog. Take a look: http://video.polycomdemos.com?nodeid=2586.
Following President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this year and the most recent fiscal 2015 budget proposal for the “ConnectEDucators” program, it is clear that the Obama administration remains committed to leveraging technology and data to personalize learning and improve college instruction.
With access and quality of education a major concern, especially in rural and underserved populations, increased commitment to the ConnectED Initiative is a step in the right direction. At the heart of Obama’s mission is utilizing the best technology to connect 20 million students in 15,000 K-12 schools to enrich learning. One technology that will play a vital role in making this dream a reality is video. It will serve as a driver in helping teachers enable an enriched learning experience and increase completion rates of higher education.
How will video conferencing help achieve the goals of the ConnectED initiative? Obama aims to connect 99 percent of students to next-generation broadband and wireless technology during the next five years. It will include partnerships with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon. But a wireless network alone doesn’t open the world to our young people. Video conferencing running on that wireless network, however, does.
For example, Jefferson County public schools, Colorado’s largest public school district with 84,000 students installed a video communications network in 2008, and its students have reaped the benefits. Through videoconferencing, the district has fostered high-quality teaching with enriched curriculum. Some students have communicated face-to-face with a teacher living in a NASA-operated undersea habitat, while others learned poetry from a renowned writer living in Mexico. Sick or injured students have used video connections to keep pace with their schoolwork, interacting from home with their classmates just as they would have in the physical classroom.
The Jefferson County model also extends directly to Obama’s high school initiative, which suggests that today’s students are no longer meaningfully engaged or motivated in their classrooms and that they require a different educational experience than they did a generation ago. Additionally, many high school graduates lack exposure to learning that correlates their work in school to college and careers.
In my next blog post, we’ll continue our discussion on the “ConnectEDucators” program and address why video integration in the classroom will increase engagement and better prepare students for college and beyond.