This blog post was almost titled, "The Role of Fidget Spinners in Education" but I got distracted and had to rename it! More on that in a minute...
I'll never forget the day our school's first 3D printer arrived. I won't forget the few weeks that followed either; that's because the large cardboard box containing the 3D printer sat in my office collecting dust for a month or so. We simply didn't know what to do with it or how to even start.
Admittedly, this was a time when very few elementary schools had adopted 3D printing technology, so our staff was blazing a trail to a small degree. We learned a lot about 3D printing the first few years, and this learning served as a catalyst to a powerful transformation.
I came to realize that I didn't need to be the 3D printing expert in order to open that box. Our students needed a school leader who was a learner. Students needed somebody willing to empower them. That's exactly when I abandoned the notion that I had to be an "expert" in order to move forward on any change. (And as the pithy version of this story goes, it actually ended up being our students who unboxed our school’s first 3D printer, assembled it, and powered it up for the first time.)
Fast-forward to today, our students and staff are leading some of the most purposeful, student-centered, and experiential learning I've ever seen. This learning transcends 3D printing. It is relevant, deep, connected, and wildly imaginative. The list of learning we are immersed in is long, but here is a brief smattering of examples:
Our fleet of mobile MakerSpace carts is capable of transforming every nook and cranny of our school into a collaborative epicenter of engineering. Our 360 degree camera is being used to create mind-numbing Virtual Reality (VR) videos. This is distinctly different than simply shoveling out Google Cardboard VR headgear and encouraging students to consume content created by somebody else. Students are blogging about their learning and connecting at a deeper level with an audience that's authentic to them. In some cases, this involves hanging projects on hallway walls, but we refuse to let the walls limit their learning or impact. Students are also producing instructional videos, book talks, and interactive drone challenges that are being shared with other schools on YouTube and Twitter.
Recently, my good friend Ben Gilpin and I had the chance to talk to Tom Murray, the Director of Innovation at Future Ready Schools. During our ten minute conversation, we discussed simple tips to effective technology use and even shared a few missteps we've made along the way.
Click HERE to listen to our short podcast on Simple and Smart Tech Tips. The show even touches upon the topic of "spinners" more than a couple times! We'd love to hear your "stake in the ground" after you listen. Please share a simple tip for effective technology use in the comments section below or directly in iTunes.
Thanks for listening!