The Final Frontier?
I’ll confess, I am a sci-fi nerd. I’ll steal the famous tagline used by Captain Kirk in Star Trek. “Space: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship, Enterprise. Its 5 year mission. To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.” As I sat through a keynote presentation by Steve Dembo “Building Bolder Schools: It Doesn’t Hurt to Be First”, it became the impetus to this blog. Is there a final frontier? What can we do to create bolder schools? How can we become change agents?
The Voyage & Mission
Watching Star Trek reruns as a kid, it seemed that the 5 year mission took much longer than that. I mean, how many years does it take to get to Mars from Earth? According to NASA, a mission to Mars would take roughly 2 1/2 years. So, the Enterprise’s voyage probably took them longer than 5 years. The point I’m trying to make is that the journey took longer than expected.
The printing press was invented in 1440 and remained the main form of communication for almost 400 years until the invention of the telegraph and telephone. Fast forward to present and technology growth has accelerated at synergistic rates. Check out the image below.
The technology featured in Star Trek, Star Wars, and other science fiction films are now possible. For example, we can all now communicate with each other via web conferencing tools. Science fiction isn’t all that fiction any longer. What will our mission be?
Explore New Worlds
We’ve undoubtedly walked to the precipice of uncharted worlds in education. As previously mentioned, we can now communicate with others across the globe in an instant. Using tools like Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype, and many others, students can collaborate from one campus to another. High school Spanish students in Texas can participate in a discussion with students in Spain or Argentina.
Virtual Reality (VR) has made it possible for learners to explore the universe. About six months ago, our school district had the opportunity to participate in Google Expeditions tour. We had about 18 middle school classes travel to the Great Wall of China, Barrier Reef, Philadelphia, and the Amazon. Using mobile devices and wearing VR glasses like the old school Viewmaster, the students were able to immerse themselves into the VR world. Very engaging!
For many years now, QR Codes have been used heavily in marketing, retail, and in education. I don’t think it’s going away, but another form is making a case for impact in communication, Augmented Reality (AR). AR is basically that, augmenting reality. Instead of replacing the real world, AR adds to it. In a nutshell, using a mobile device, you scan a trigger image with an app like Aurasma and presto! Try using the app with image below (iOS or Android). When you scan it, think of the implications AR can have in education? How can you use it?
Think of the impact this can have in the classroom!
What is bold? Dictionary.com defines it as not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger; courageous and daring: not hesitating to break the rules of propriety; forward; impudent. The last definition is where I’ll pull from when referring to boldness.
Sometimes you’ve got to try something crazy. In 2007, two chemistry teachers, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, of Woodland Park High School in Colorado decided to change the way they taught. They recorded their lectures and posted online, such as YouTube, for their students to watch the night before coming to class. Giving them more time to work with their students in class. This type of learning is known as flipped teaching. I’m guessing other educators around must have thought, “What are you doing?” “That’s not how to teach!” or “It will never work!” These two teachers decided to break the “rules” of teaching. Now, there are hundreds of other teachers around the world using this method of lecturing. All because of a bold idea!
What’s the next great instructional innovation? There are so many technology tools (devices, websites and apps) available, the only limitation is your imagination. Where will you boldly go?