Polar views on generating creativity

It was exciting to be at Google for a second time. In the last 2 years, there have been a heap of developments including an explosion of Chrome Books and GAFE – in US education particularly, being 50%+ of tech represented in US schools!! –  and Google cardboard. The experience via the latter is so immersive that if you are riding the virtual roller-coaster you need some steadying…even if sitting down! Great to see the Google Garage and the giant SQrL too.

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Out of interest, Silicon Valley offers examples of polarised views of generating an environment that sparks creativity. There is the Google model where the environment is playful and wild and collaborative and vibrant and energetic so that ideas can spark and generate and bounce around. And there is the Apple model where we have previously seen the environment as clean, neutral coloured, calm and controlled so that there seems to be an external calm that would allow ones head to explode with ideas without the external confusion. Horses for courses, as they say. Each has merit. Some thinking styles would benefit from one, and some from the other. As big players in Silicon Valley I guess they attract the right people for their style. Maybe keep that in mind when managing the students in your class during creative projects and offer them the “headspace” they need, taking a leaf from the books of these two successful corporations.

UrbanX a bit like our T&E Depts

The STEM lab at The Urban School seemed to be based on principles very close to what good T&E teachers in Australia have been doing for a long time –

  • giving students well-structured design briefs within which students have freedom to pursue their own choice of projects
  • mentoring students as they work independently on their own projects
  • insisting on students maintaining comprehensive journals/logs/portfolios of investigations, planning documents, sketches, photos, diagrams and time management procedures – both paper and digital
  • including aspects of the tasks involving group work, cooperation, discussion and justifying decisions and choices of tools and materials
  • providing opportunities for ongoing reflection, self assessment, peer assessment and showcasing work
  • including and valuing (often even in-task assessing) skills from other subject areas – english, maths, science, social science, history
  • supporting students to build and create – the “head+hands+heart” Learning Area!

Way to go T&E!! Mixing the theory with the practical application and then getting right “in the thick of it” to work on projects with the kids has always been such a great way to teach, assess and understand your students! UrbanX kids will thrive on it.

 

STEM project ideas from exhibits

While listening to Katie and Lyn describe the Academy’s “citizenship science” (crowd-sourced contributions to scientific data collection) as a way of engaging children in real-world problem-solving, I started thinking about other ways that museums and exhibits could work as STEM “rich project” idea springboards. Perhaps challenging students to design and build (engineer) functional models to explain science concepts? Or create animations to describe processes? Or code a program to do it? Maybe some investigations into different ways interactive displays are actually made interactive? What math, scientific, digital or social engagement and learning principals need to be considered? What about a survey on which kinds of interactive exhibits people like best to collect some data – then “visualise”it? I reckon a visit to SciTech, viewing the exhibits through a design task lens, might be a great start!

End of Conference Dinner

Tonight we collected everyone together again and celebrated the end of the ISTE Conference at JCT Kitchen in Atlanta. We had all gone our own ways in the massive GWCC complex for several days while we followed our own professional interests. Tonight was a night to share the things we’d seen and learnt, as well as try some authentic “southern comfort food” like grits, fried chicken, fried oysters and rum-sopped coconut cake. The conversation was animated and peppered with the kind of banter and good-natured cheek that defines a successful blend of personalities and great collegiality. It was rewarding and satisfying for the AISWA staff to hear that everyone felt they had really benefitted from – and enjoyed – the Study Tour. It has been a genuine pleasure to travel with such a happy, personable, capable and supportive group! Roll on “Microsoft Day”!

Awww. Last day of the conference and we all had the blues. (Poor Peter M is off chasing his suitcases ... again!

Awww. Last day of the conference and we all had the blues. (Poor Peter M is off chasing his suitcases … again!

Enjoying some great "southern hospitality" and mint juleps at JTC Kitchen, y'all.

Enjoying some great “southern hospitality” and mint juleps at JTC Kitchen, y’all.

st dinner peter alexST dinner sam rob

After a week of lectures on the rewards of risk-taking it was time to try "grits" for the first time. Some did better than others! Well done, IMS.

After a week of lectures on the rewards of risk-taking it was time to try “grits” for the first time. Some did better than others! Well done, IMS.

st dinner meika and jen

 

Microsoft Executive Briefing

Today we were treated to an international team of speakers at Microsoft’s Atlanta HQ, including our own National Education Specialist for Microsoft Australia, Travis Smith. Travis was instrumental in organising our “Executive Briefing” with Microsoft and we acknowledge his fantastic support. Their team – Catherine Cavanaugh, Wole Moses, Ginno Kelley, Beau the technical architect and Travis himself – guided us through new Microsoft products and a raft of excellent educational resources and welcomed open discussion about many topics, including relevant research and pedagogies. I will leave more specific comments about content that resonated with members of the tour to their posts, but below you can see images of a very fruitful and productive day that was appreciated by all.IMG_8667 IMG_8673 IMG_8674

Our AR Workshop

I was just so very proud of our Team on Monday afternoon! Sam, Christine, Meiks, Peter and Matt – you are all legends. Thank you.

After an intense evening of collaboration to bring 6 separate presentations together into a final workshop presentation that “flowed” and covered all the bases, we nailed it. It was an undeniably ambitious goal to complete a full day’s workshop content in 3 hours, using an agmented reality tour of the local area that had actually been put together in Jan’s office in Perth using internet research and Google maps (a brave move)… and including a new colleague we had never met face-to-face before. We probably should have tried to build a Hadron Collider instead. However, thanks to everyone’s good preparation, professionalism, personal “agility” and sense of humour it was a great success. It has been a thorough pleasure to work with Dr Matt Dunleavy. His flexibilty, attention to detail, outstanding content, rapport with audience,  love of pizza, quick wit and sense of humour immediately won us over. We had about 20 participants from many countries so luckily we all knew the software well enough to help participants even though the button tags were in foreign languages. Such a great learning experience for us, and good feedback from them. Plenty of happy smiling faces and inspired minds – and that’s always the goal 🙂

We think our new mate Dr Matt was probably pretty happy with our promo of his FreshAiR app and research ....and the enthusiastic participant from Mexico was delighted with the new teaching tool :-)

We think our new mate Dr Matt was probably pretty happy with our promo of his FreshAiR app and research ….and the enthusiastic participant from Mexico was delighted with the new teaching tool 🙂 

20 AR workshop participants out and about testing the very successful FreshAiR augmented reality demo tour in the International Plaza. This is the location of the Summer Olympic gymnatiscs in 1996 - hence the sculpture.

20 AR workshop participants out and about testing the very successful FreshAiR augmented reality demo tour in the International Plaza. This is the location of the Summer Olympic gymnatiscs in 1996 – hence the sculpture.

Our AISWA workshop presentation team in full flight, and in a team photo with Dr Matt Dunleavy, our Virginian "Honorary Aussie".

Our AISWA workshop presentation team in full flight, and in a team photo with Dr Matt Dunleavy, our Virginian “Honorary Aussie”.