Monday, November 26, 2007

Do teachers need to innovate? Or is innovation a 21st Century skill we must teach in school?

Student Art Show ~ the VoiceThread Way

I am reading a blog post by Jeff Utecht on R & D in education. Jeff makes the point that without the exploration time he personally invests in R & D, a tool like VoiceThread would not be used in classrooms where he works. I'd encourage you to view the artwork and commentaries by the student artists at the Shanghai American School. I was impressed with how VoiceThread was used to display student artwork, but I was more impressed with the insights and maturity students exhibit in their comments. Well done art, students; thanks for the showing. I enjoyed hearing your comments and watching you illustrate on the artwork how your thinking developed the piece. A unique application of a collaborative tool that brought me closer to the humanity evident in your art work.

Innovation at Google ~ A Model for Schools?

Jeff goes on to relish the thought of Google employees who have time built into their day for R & D: "But what if we could get schools to buy into the idea that we are the R&D department. What if we had 20% time like Google employees? I checked out the benefits. Makes me realize how tough educators have it.

Top 10 Reasons to Work at Google

  1. Lend a helping hand. With millions of visitors every month, Google has become an essential part of everyday life - like a good friend - connecting people with the information they need to live great lives.
  2. Life is beautiful. Being a part of something that matters and working on products in which you can believe is remarkably fulfilling.
  3. Appreciation is the best motivation, so we've created a fun and inspiring workspace you'll be glad to be a part of, including on-site doctor and dentist; massage and yoga; professional development opportunities; on-site day care; shoreline running trails; and plenty of snacks to get you through the day.
  4. Work and play are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to code and pass the puck at the same time.
  5. We love our employees, and we want them to know it. Google offers a variety of benefits, including a choice of medical programs, company-matched 401(k), stock options, maternity and paternity leave, and much more.
  6. Innovation is our bloodline. Even the best technology can be improved. We see endless opportunity to create even more relevant, more useful, and faster products for our users. Google is the technology leader in organizing the world’s information.
  7. Good company everywhere you look. Googlers range from former neurosurgeons, CEOs, and U.S. puzzle champions to alligator wrestlers and former-Marines. No matter what their backgrounds Googlers make for interesting cube mates.
  8. Uniting the world, one user at a time. People in every country and every language use our products. As such we think, act, and work globally - just our little contribution to making the world a better place.
  9. Boldly go where no one has gone before. There are hundreds of challenges yet to solve. Your creative ideas matter here and are worth exploring. You'll have the opportunity to develop innovative new products that millions of people will find useful.
  10. There is such a thing as a free lunch after all. In fact we have them every day: healthy, yummy, and made with love.


Innovation seems to be the name of the game at Google. Do schools need to be innovative to prepare kids for their futures? How much innovation will their be in our future day-to-day lives.

My visit to Google catapulted me into a cell phone analogy. We all have cell phones. Many students have cell phones....but what if you could get the cell phone to do whatever you wanted it to do? Be innovative. Dream, discover, invent.

Watch these three videos and them leave a comment to the question: Is innovation a 21st Century skill we must teach in school?

Perhaps Jeff's idea that Technology Specialists should have time to innovate (the equivalent of 36 days a year - 20%) is not so outlandish. For Professional Learning Communities to thrive, we need to give professional teachers and administrators time to read, reflect, interact with other professionals, and innovate and apply in the classrooms to improve student learning. Short of that happening, teachers and administrators need to continue to be passionate about learning and find ways on their own to give learning a chance ~ over and over again. My online community helps me with the means and the methods to do my learning beyond the school day. I've been finding the time since 1970. I know I won't stop now.

1. If I had a magic phone....

Kids talk about what their dream phone would do. Learn more about the Open Handset Alliance's plans to build a better phone. What will your magic phone do?

2. Introducing Android

The creators of Android talk about their new open platform for mobile phones and the Open Handset Alliance.

3. Skypop on Android

Bruce Leak and Timo Bruck from SkyPop demo a couple of their new applications for Android.


Arthus Erea said...

Working at Google is definitely my dream job, outside of being self-employed.

Android really is amazing. I hadn't seen that video from SkyPop and it is pretty cool to see the things which can be done with Android. :)

An international team of students/educators and I are actually starting to develop an educational application (suite?) for Android. I'd love for your input/help. Want to spend some 20% time of your own?

Dennis Richards said...

Why am I not surprised, Arthus. I'm curious about the potential of Android and would like to follow it's development for educational applications. As you know, I'm not technically proficient, but if I can help, let me know how.

Thanks for your comment. Dennis

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