I love sharing Chris Jordan’s work. Everyone – students, teachers, people at a presentation – everyone is awed. And I think the response comes from the dual effects of the statement and the technique. Always inspiring is his Running the Numbers. Jordan plays with our perception by presenting what often seems to be a slightly blurry image that ultimately reveals fine detail of its true subject. His newest work, Constitution 2008 is a good example of this long-shot to close-up revelation:
“Depicts 83,000 Abu Ghraib prisoner photographs, equal to the number of people who have been arrested and held at US-run detention facilities with no trial or other due process of law, during the Bush Administration’s war on terror.”
Below, Jordan lucidly speaks for himself in his TED presentation.
Besides Chris Jordan’s impressive contribution, I think his work is an exemplar of The Greek Sculpture Question: when information can be so easily copy and pasted in our digital era, what new criteria can education come up with to assess more authentic understanding and interpretations such as Jordan’s?
What follows isn’t anything new, but will likely be all too common – yet it serves as a concrete example of why education must change and what it must address.
Over an hour ago, I thought I’d better see if any comments had been made to a recent post of mine on the InfiniteThinkingMachine Blog. The post was about education learning from Big Music failed response to the digital era (Digital Rights Management, lawsuits, fear campaigns, etc.) and the head of Warner Music now acknowledging this and offering their content DRM-free at Amazon. Fellow-blogger Lucie deLaBruere got me looking into a discussion on Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed –
Open in New Tab #2 – I know Ric from year’s back when I met him at a workshop in Rome, Georgia. Ric mentioned Tim Holt, whom I don’t know so I skipped off to his blog that has changed into Intended Consequences. There I ran across this cool video where a graduate student at Carnegie-Mellon demonstrates how to use a WiiMote and minimal LED / IR electronics to create a $50 Interactive Whiteboard.
Now if this doesn’t prompt you to further explore Johnny Chung Lee’s Web site, you do indeed have a life! Looking through videos of other projects brought me to something I’ve been thinking since my long-awaited 12-inch Mac Laptop didn’t come out, but the iPod Touch / iPhone did: the next cool super portable Mac should be an enlarged, say, “tablet-sized” slate (iSlate? – you read it here first – oops, a quick Google search shot that one down 😉 – okay so here’s something original (maybe?): you know those silicone cooking trays that bend and withstand heat? Don’t you think that would be a good body for at least the 2nd Generation iSlate? The following video shifts this idea slighter further from Science Fiction and into your backpack:
Open in New Tab #4 – Where I looked through the other videos on Johnny Chung Lee’s YouTube Profile where I spotted one of his favourites, a video from Crysis. I had not idea what it was, but it looked cool, so take a look.
Open in New Tab #5 – Of course a quick Wikipedia search revealed what one of my least “schooly” tech-using students could have told me: Crysis is a new shooter game published by the assembly line of game creators, Electronic Arts. I was so impressed by the real-time rendered graphics that I wanted a closer look at the company that developed Crysis: Crytek. Especially take a look at their video that demonstrates their CryEngine 2:
So where does this meandering leave us? A few important things come to mind:
I’ve just spent a couple hours thoroughly engaged, letting one idiosyncratic interest lead to another. How many students in school can say the same thing? Isn’t this the way we all learn? Starting with our prior knowledge, igniting interests, adding new pieces to our body of knowledge? (other models of learning you’d like to suggest?).
However, none of this has anything to do with the paying work I began and set aside four hours ago. So where does the incredible “personal learning” afforded by Web 2 technologies align with the demands of things like work and school? The New Tab Clicks above began with my own work / body of knowledge, then added new info about how to hack an interactive whiteboard (maybe I’ll share this with geekier friends at school?), future gadgetry that I like to share during keynotes and ending with an overwhelmed amazement at the life-like virtual experiences most of our children and students will be used to when they aren’t sitting in school. So, yes, I did “learn”, but when does learning become achievement and accomplishment?
So as challenging as many in education would consider “engaging” students, this isn’t enough. The point is not to repeat the worn lament that kids use technology as a distraction. First off, we all do! Second, I see the challenge as not avoiding getting intrigued (which some see as the answer), but doing something with it. Hence this article. Hence, the need to change education from the inconsequential tasks that turn students to intriguing / amusing technologies, into experiences that “amount to something,” that “matter.” My thinking on how to do this involves CEQ•ALL which begins with a foundation of intrinsic motivation and builds achievement through sincere effort to achieve quality and ends with enthusiastic attitudes and creations that demonstrate the joy of learning.
And this is my complaint with blogging – all these ideas and where do they build? This is our challenge as Ed Tech / Learning aficionados. After 20+ years in the game, I’ve got a few essentials down and a lot of huge gaps – which is our human condition and why an “open source / collaborative” model where teams of teachers, working with administrators and students, need to build a body of knowledge, not just posts with good ideas. Any one interested in participating in this?