The seeds all looked more or less the same as did the work to plant them. Now there are tomatoes, wildflowers, peppers, sunflowers, and corn well on its way. A convergence of exquisite and diverse flora from a common environment of soil and water, experience and effort.
We have been involved in some interesting conversations around what’s working for schools and districts and what’s not. As of right now, we can’t share much more than that however we will offer this. Its always amazing how clear and strong and impassioned the voices become when you start to hear from those close to classrooms who are introducing real solutions. Too often we end up engaged with teams so far outside of that reality that different types of clarity, strength, and passion dominate the conversation. In those instances, people are clearest about their titles, personal opinions run strong, and passion most-readily mirrors profitability.
But this week has been different and refreshing as a garden of sorts suddenly began to take bloom from last year’s efforts.
Smithsonian Goes Full In
At the nation’s largest EdTech Conference this week, ISTE 2016…we have the satisfaction of watching the database of users quickly close on 5,000 on only the second day of the Smithsonian team’s official launch of the Learning Lab. We look forward to seeing what teachers create when given specially designed access to over a million resources with features specifically for them and the learners they support all over the world. A year of tediously milling over research findings, design schemes, mockups, and UX flowcharts along with the requisite meetings, testing, UI interpretations…finally our latest system breaks soil and begins to sprout.
Here’s what media outlets are saying about it:
The online toolkit allows users to both find and create collections for their lessons by drawing from teaching materials and digitized Smithsonian objects via the “Discover,” “Create” and “Share” tools. (Article) –Education Week
With many teachers emphasizing real-world applications to their lessons, the Smithsonian’s free collection represents a massive database of potential course content and artifacts. (Article) – Education Dive
Molte di queste caratteristiche dei siti sono pensate per rispondere alle necessità di insegnare di insegnanti e di studenti in classi fino ai 12 anni, nell’educazione di più alto livello e in altri ambienti di apprendimento misto. (Article) –Archeomatica
Teachers Design Exquisite Content
While involved in some current research, we overheard this statement during an interview on transitioning from textbooks, “In some real ways, the proliferation of streaming media has provided consumers access to more diverse and exquisite content…teachers and students deserve no less in the classroom.”
Just a few days later, we set about publishing this year’s teacher-developed curricular projects for one of the online programs we support. In reflecting on what we saw, the term exquisite content came to mind over and over again.
- One of the activities engages students in deep analyses of immigration through the lens of attitudes, facilities, laws, and induction processes as compared across various eras in America’s history.
- Another project asks students to examine the concept of identity through the perspective of personal narrative, social and consumer media, genetics and biology, and culture.
- With another team, the work of a Music Production teacher, an English teacher, and a Special Education instructor who shrugged off the traditional, departmentalized disciplinary construct, came together to create an integrated unit where students with special needs work side by side with their peers to create stories based on mutual challenges all students face in life and at school in the form of produced radio broadcasts, professionally mixed and edited and published to NPR.
- In yet another, learners use engineering design software combined with plant and soil science and combine it with the study of psychological effects of trauma and PTSD through personal accounts of war to create a local “Healing Garden” for returning veterans and their families in a partnership with local VA services agencies.
The list goes on and on… exquisite all.
And now as we watch the number of teacher-authored Learning Collections begin to grow right alongside Smithsonian specialists’ created collections, we get to witness how the new platform will help the Smithsonian realize the formation of a new, authentic, global learning community where teachers’ creativity and learners’ imagination can flourish far beyond the walls of the 19 museums.
Other great Learning Collections
Where there was once soil and sand, there now blooms exquisite content…feel free to wander in and pick what you like.