I enjoyed reading (January)


Constructivism in the shadow of a dead god (Michael Potter). Potter discusses how academics have dismissed positivism and objectivism only on a superficial level and these concepts are alive and well in the language, course outlines and physical structures of universities. We won’t be able to truly embrace ideas like social constructivism until we start thinking about our learning spaces very differently.


The earth as art (NASA). Beautiful images of the earth from space, shared with no restrictions as a downloadable PDF and iPad app. The iPad app is well-designed, easy to navigate, and visually stunning. It also connects you to online content like time-lapse satellite imagery of disappearing glaciers and the aftermath of a volcano.


Letters to a young teacher (Jonathan Kozol). Jonathan writes a series of letters to a teacher he befriended over the course of a few years, sharing his own experiences of teaching and learning with young children. I highly recommend this book for when you’re feeling a bit down about the barriers and limitations you face as a teacher. I found it inspiring and thought-provoking.


06-medications-wired-designRedesigning the medical record (Wired) and the Future of medical records (the Atlantic). I’ve been excited about the prospect of an Electronic Medical Record since I first came across it almost 10 years ago. Not much has happened (that’s worth noting) in the interim, which is why I got so excited with the design mock-ups in these two posts.


Three ideas that won’t change classrooms (George Couros). George makes some really good points about some of the ideas that are hitting mainstream media around innovations in the classroom (e.g. the “flipped” classroom and BYOD). He doesn’t say that they’re bad ideas, only that when they’re implemented without thinking deeply about them, they have little value in and of themselves.


Why learning should be messy (Mind/Shift). The idea of learning being “messy” forces us to consider removing the subject-specific boundaries and thinking of it as a holistic problem. My students don’t need to just know about anatomy. They need to know about anatomy in the context of human movement and dysfunction, which is how their patients will present in the real world. Yet we teach these concepts to them in separate subjects, which doesn’t help them integrate the concepts at all.

In practice, this means the elimination of English, mathematics, history, and science class. Instead, we need to arrange the curriculum around big ideas, questions, and conundrums. What does learning look like in this model? Letting kids learn by doing — the essence of the philosophy of educator John Dewey. He wrote: “The school must represent present life — life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the playground.”


Trying to write Rhizomatic learning in 300 words (Dave Cormier). The concept of rhizomatic learning fits in nicely with theories of complexity and authenticity in education, which is why I really like it as a way of thinking about learning.

The idea is to think of a classroom/community/network as an ecosystem in which each person is spreading their own understanding with the pieces the available in that ecosystem. The public negotiation of that ‘acquisition’ (through content creation, sharing) provides a contextual curriculum to remix back into the existing research/thoughts/ideas in a given field. Their own rhizomatic learning experience becomes more curriculum for others.