Monday, December 14, 2009

Teachers: Tinkering

We've just returned from the Mid-South Technology Conference. The speakers were very thought provoking on a variety of topics, and I'd like to share some of the ideas with you.


Have we lost a connection to learning through child’s play? When we think back to how we learned as children, wasn’t it hands-on trial and error for a lot of things? John Seely Brown, the Independent Co-Chairman of the Deloitte Center for Edge Innovation, describes this as "Tinkering". Pulling things apart and then putting them back together in various ways, learning what works and what doesn’t, talking with teammates about different ways to connect things to create a new entity.

All of the above is Web 2.0. transferring ideas, remixing, experimenting, participating, interacting, explaining things to each other, creating, sharing, integrating with others’ ideas.
By setting up collaborative groups and incorporating the curriculum topics of the day, students can experience this type of learning through free tools on the Internet.

Here are some resources that would like to share with you:
  • VoiceThread is an excellent choice for a beginning class project. The students insert pictures, either drawn or by digital camera, and insert voice to explain the pictures. These can be shared with parents, students, or the world! They can also be made private so just friends can view it.
  • xtranormal is a more advanced piece of moviemaking software. They can create an animated movie about the topic of study and share it.
Hall Davidson, from Discovery Education Network, also mentioned at the conference that we are living in a non-linear world with digital resources. Students interact with these resources to gather information and "remix" them in their minds. New technologies are critical part of this learning age and the stand-alone method of read/discuss/write doesn’t work anymore.

To summarize, by using web 2.0 tools that are free on the internet, we can help students achieve "tinkering" skills they will need in the 21st century. They are not only consumers of information on the Internet, but also become producers of information from which others may learn.

Other Web 2.0 resources can be found on Internet 4 Classrooms at

- Susan

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