I am a fairly new user of the iPhone. Previously, I used a Blackberry as my device, but switched once I processed all the positive feedback I was hearing from colleagues and friends. I now have a plethora of diverse and interesting apps that make my life a little more interesting and organized. Can’t really believe I am saying this because while I consider myself to be technologically savvy, I also see myself as a throw back to a time when there were no gadgets to occupy my time or distract me.
I have come to rely on my iPhone for a variety of reasons. First, I like to exercise, swim and run. With the RunKeeper app, I can set running goals for the week or month, keep track of all the details of a run and pick from my playlists to select the music I listen to as I run. If I go to the gym, I can coordinate a variety of workouts using the RunKeeper app. Pandora is a wonderful app to build a library of radio stations that play my favorite music. The Kindle or Nook apps are excellent tools for downloading and reading books or articles, annotating the book and searching through my notes. Evernote, a fabulous tool that allows me to take written or audio notes, organize web resources by topic, synchronize with my MacBook and iPad, and much, much more, is an indispensable tool that helps me organize my inbox.
So what if school were like an iPhone? Maybe I am playing with fire here or being somewhat radical about school reform. However, those of you who are questioning where traditional schooling is taking us know exactly what I am feeling. Lots of data suggest that schools, while meeting the needs of some students, do not meet the needs of every student or fully prepare them with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century. So what if we were to “disruptively innovate” our approach to school reform. Think way outside the box and then reign in our thinking as we develop ideas for how to shift the mindset of what school is about for students and teachers. Feel free to contribute to the question, so what if school were like an iPhone?
Here is some of my thinking on this question.
- Among the 500,000 apps I could choose a menu of apps (courses or areas of study) that met my specific needs. I could customize my learning from a wide variety of options not just the six courses from the six standard disciplines.
- The menu of apps could be assembled to help me devise a learning plan–apps for creativity, critical thinking, collaboration with peers, organizing my learning, extending my learning in certain areas, etc.
- Apps or areas of study could be things i work on at my own pace, not in 50 minute blocks. I could move between apps or ares of study at the point of a figure.
- I could integrate my learning by using apps that allow me to develop ideas, move ideas around, share ideas, (somewhat like what Curio does as a tool)
- Multitasking with my apps. I don’t have to stay in one course, learning one way of thinking for a specific period of time.
- School would always be on and at my disposal, it would not be 8 am to 3 pm experience. I could access my school whenever and wherever I was (so long as I was not driving).
- It would be colorful, multidimensional, and diverse–meeting my every need.
- It would be a repository of all the information I needed to answer all kinds of questions. I could communicate at will with teachers who were experts, facilitating my learning from close up or far away.
- It would allow me to communicate with people from across the globe in real-time.
- It would be a place to coordinate all my activities. School would be the crossroads where all my activities were intersect.
You can probably contribute other good ideas to my metaphor, if school were like an iPhone. My point in sharing this question and the exercise is to think outside the box of what schooling could be like for students. How do we take the best of what traditional schooling has to offer, mostly it is about caring, passionate, knowledgeable and interesting teachers in relationship with students doing meaningful work, and marry it with innovative ideas that can transform how we teach and how students learn.
Here are some innovative ways to do school:
High Tech High and the implementation of project-based learning
Schools that invest in professional learning communities so that teachers can collaborate as they focus on student achievement.
Watch what The Westminster Schools Junior High School is doing to innovate its practice
There are certainly other examples of schools that are trying to break the mold, providing students with alternative ways to think and learn so they become self-reliant learners. Share your ideas about my metaphor and examples of innovative schools or programs.