lifelong learners

Process matters to a writer. Make yourself a “cheat sheet” to use as you continue to work on your project. What did you do to get to where you are now?
What worked—was there a particular routine, revision technique, or daily snack? What were some of your biggest challenges? If you were to pick a theme song, what would it be? Was there a particular critique partner or mentor who really “got” your work?
Make a list and hang it on your wall!

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero, and the forthcoming Two Naomis with Audrey Vernick. She loves working with schools, libraries, and community organizations as a teaching artist and lifelong learner.

Writer’s Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo and We Need Diverse Books.

Mommy!!!  BUG!!!”  Thea screams at me as we walk around our deck.  ”Lookit mommy, bug,” she runs to me grabs my hand and pulls me near. Behold; the lifelong learner.

Children are naturally curious; if you give them a box they are not allowed to open, they will beg and beg until they finally get to peek inside.  If you tape a box on the floor of your classroom, they will continue to guess at its purpose even past the big reveal.  Children do not need rules to be curious, or even strategies. They are born with this ability.  Now as educators we may fine-tune these skills but schools cannot take credit for their natural curiosity.

So why is it so many schools have a vision statement that includes “creating lifelong learners?”  Why this need to take credit for something they have not indeed created?   Do schools really think that children are not learners when they first enter the hallowed hallways and they therefore need to be fixed?   What an offensive statement to parents everywhere.  Yet schools and the rigidity of some classrooms can often be the reason that the lifelong learner is stymied.  Schools end up breaking the child’s curiosity only to try to take credit for it being re-built.

I would like to see a school with a vision that declares they want to “maintain lifelong learners.”  I would like to see a vision in which children are recognized as the insatiably curious learners they truly are.  We have to change our schools to allow time for curiosity and true exploration.  We are not in the business of creating robots, and yet, that is the direction our government wants to push us.  Bring back the curiosity, maintain the lifelong learner, and perhaps then our system wont seem so broken.

The Great Courses

If you are a lifelong learner or know someone who is, I recommend The Great Courses which are a series of college-level audio and video courses. The Teaching Company produces and distributes over 500 of them. Notable instructors and experts create the wide variety of interesting and entertaining lectures. The categories range from English literature, philosophy, science, photography, history,…

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You may have started with a clear idea of what your project was going to be. You may have had no idea and were just winging it as you went. One of my absolute favourite parts of the writing process is revision. In writing, you get do-overs!
Write down three things—ideas, characters, themes, scenes, anything—that you now feel must be in your story, that are at the very heart of the tale you want to tell. As you keep going, keep this list in mind to help you “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero, and the forthcoming Two Naomis with Audrey Vernick. She loves working with schools, libraries, and community organizations as a teaching artist and lifelong learner.

Writer’s Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo and We Need Diverse Books.

Are things not going quite as planned with your writing project? Join the club! Welcome! It’s actually not that bad here. There are snacks.  
It’s very easy to be hard on ourselves, to wouldashouldacoulda all of our energy away. Be kind to yourself. Life happens.  Then, jot down a few quick goals for the rest of your time ahead.
Is there a chapter you really want to finish? A scene you need to outline? A character you need to develop? Make a few notes in the margins, drink some water, and get ready for that last stretch to the finish line.

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero, and the forthcoming Two Naomis with Audrey Vernick. She loves working with schools, libraries, and community organizations as a teaching artist and lifelong learner.

Writer’s Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo and We Need Diverse Books.

Everyone loves TED but do you know the other TEDs?
  1. TED Talks to stir your curiosity
  2. TEDx Talks from local independent TED events
  3. TED MED  Connecting the public with health and medicine through stories and questions.
  4. TED-Ed Watch and share lessons
  5. TED-Ed Clubs Start a TED-Ed club at your school! 
  6. TED-Studies Course Materials for lifelong learners
  7. TED Blog Keep up to date with TED
  8. TED Books Read short and sweet, original books from TED.
  9. TED-Prize Get involved with the yearly prize for world-changing  ideas
  10. TED Fellows Program Join or support innovators from around the globe
Meet our newest team member - Matt Cooper

Hi, I’m Matt and I love travel, programming and beer.  I had travelled to 40 countries before I turned 30 and I would love to hit 50 by age 40.  Why?  I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner who loves experiencing new cultures, their sights and sounds and of course good food and beer.

I’m also a new and proud dad to Ruby - she’s not named after the programming language, and if we have a son he won’t be called PHP (the language we write code in at Common Ledger).  While having a young family means there is less time for travel it still leaves plenty of time for programming and beer. 

It’s taken me slightly by surprise but recently I’ve found my way into software for the accounting world and am developing a love for this too.  

I’ve worked at both startups and large corporates gaining valuable experience but have discovered I prefer the startup world.  What motivates me?  I’m engaged and activated by the exciting problems, pressures and challenges that startups face.  I’m reluctant to be pigeon holed into very specific roles or job descriptions - startups give me the ability to have responsibilities and add value across multiple disciplines.

One day a friend mentioned Common Ledger to me, as an exciting growth business in the accounting space.  I took a look on Twitter and saw there was a programming challenge out for a PHP role they were hiring for.  I wasn’t looking for a job but I wasn’t going to let a challenge pass me by.  

I succeeded - one email conversation lead to another and before I knew it I was contemplating a move to Wellington and lining up a house to buy, something we never could have done in Auckland with the crazy house prices.  I never thought I would find a job through Twitter.

An added benefit was Common Ledger’s head office and product team was in Wellington.  My family and I had been thinking about moving down, to be closer to family and friends, Common Ledger was an amazing opportunity with perfect timing.

I was convinced Common Ledger was a good idea - the founders and team are a great bunch.  Most importantly, I was impressed with the way they operated and the vision they had.

I have an Aunty who is an accountant, so my own accounts have always been “handled” for me but I had always wanted to understand accounting better.  What’s more, the accounting software ecosphere is an extremely exciting place right now.  The pain we are addressing is incredibly deep and the timing is perfect for what we are trying to achieve.  There is never going to be a one size fits all accounting software solution for everyone so what we are doing will become increasingly important.  New players will come and go and our agnostic approach, connecting them all means accountants can focus on their core job - doing great work and giving valuable advice to their clients.  Ours is an insanely hard problem to solve in some aspects - but I love a good challenge.

It’s powerful and exciting when I explain our vision to accountants, and how Common Ledger will improve their business and they just “get it”.  Their eyes light up - they can instantly see how our software makes their lives easier and empowers them as advisors.

I love that we are making accountants’ lives easier and solving this big meaty problem for such a crucial industry.  When will I know we’ve succeeded?  When my Accountant Aunt is using our product and her eyes are lighting up too.

Get paid to teach while you learn for free!

Get paid to teach while you learn for free!

As a busy piano and keyboard teacher, I spend a lot of time teaching people to acquire and develop new musical skills and knowledge.  But these same people often teach me things too…

John is one of my adult keyboard pupils.  He currently owns a Yamaha Tyros 5 – the “Rolls Royce” of keyboards!  He has also previously owned every keyboard in the Tyros range from the Tyros 1 upwards.  John runs the…

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Community Newsletter: Racine Public Library offers free online classes - Journal Times


Journal Times

Community Newsletter: Racine Public Library offers free online classesJournal TimesThanks to the Friends of the Library, Racine Public Library is now able to offer a limited number of online classes at no charge to the public. Today’s lifelong learners come in all descriptions, and the library is pleased to …read more

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The History of the Future of Education Technology

Article Image"The Audrey Test": Or, What Should Every Techie Know About Education?Blog LogoAudrey Watters on 17 Mar 2012

4 min read

I want us to set the bar really high when it comes to education technology – both in its development and its implementation. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I mean, we’re talking about teaching and learning here, and while I believe strongly we should all be lifelong learners, most often when we talk about ed-tech, we’re talking about kids. As the Macarthur Foundation’s Connie Yowell said at the recentDML conference (and I’m paraphrasing), there’s value in risk-taking and failing fast and often, but not in “high stakes environments with other people’s children.”

When I talk to ed-tech entrepreneurs, I try to go into the conversation with both high expectations, lots of support, and loads of skepticism. Sure, I’m always keen to hear about their products or services, but I also want to know more about their educational philosophies and experiences, the stories that led them to found ed-tech startups, and their vision for the future of education. And like it or not, I judge startups on all of this – what they’ve built, why they’ve built it – perhaps not always overtly, perhaps not always consciously, and perhaps not always rigorously or even fairly. There’s really no scorecard, and there’s no formal rubric as I do so.

So when I was asked if my thought-processes were akin to Stack Overflow co-founder Joel Spolsky’s “Joel Test” – and if I could write a similar “Audrey Test” for education – I admit, I balked.

For those unfamiliar, the Joel Test involves 12 quick yes-or-no questions that can help ascertain the quality of your software development team: Do you use source control? Do you fix bugs before writing new code? Do you have a spec? and so on.

Despite all my critiques and interviews and assessments, I’m not sure I can create a comparable test for techies in education.

Yes or No Questions

I could, I suppose come up with a list of yes-or-no questions about what ed-tech entrepreneurs and engineers should do:

  • Do you work closely your potential users (teachers or students, for example) about product development?
  • Do you offer data portability – not just for administrative data, but for students’ own information?
  • Is your tool available across platforms?
  • Are you open source?
  • Do you offer an API?
  • Is your educational content openly licensed?
  • Is it accessible to those with disabilities?
  • Do you have a revenue strategy that involves something other than raising VC investment?
  • Does your product reduce the “achievement gap”?

But answering “yes” to all or most of these questions doesn’t begin to capture all the things that I’d want to know. What you do with your code or your content or your users’ data – while incredibly important – is only be part of what I “test.”

The Essay Questions

If I were to really formalize such an “Audrey test,” I think it would also have to involve what you know, what you think about education, about teaching, about learning, about politics and theory and practice – its history, its present, its future.

I rail a lot against what I describe as our “ed-tech amnesia,” this mistaken notion that suddenly in the last year or so, technology has entered the classroom. This amnesia means we forget that chalkboards and paperclips are also technologies. And even if we just consider computers, there’s still a lengthy history. So the “Audrey test,” if I were to write one, would likely demand you know some of it:

  • Who is Seymour Papert?
  • What is Logo? Squeak? Scratch?
  • What is PLATO?
  • Re: all those technologies listed above:  what’s happened?
  • What’s a MOOC? Where did it originate, and why?

The test would also expect you to be familiar with various theories of learning:

  • What is constructivism? Constructionism? Connectivism?
  • Who is Paolo Freire? John Dewey? B.F. Skinner?  (Why does knowing these names matter?)
  • What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?
  • How do things like “self-efficacy” and “stereotype threat” shape learning?
  • What’s peer instruction? What’s direct instruction?  What are their benefits and weaknesses?
  • What’s project-based learning?  What’s inquiry-based learning?  
  • What are the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivationr?  So what?

It would also be important to understand the history of laws and policies governing education and education technology:

  • What is FERPA? COPPA? CIPA?
  • What is the Common Core?
  • When did standardized testing via multiple choice examination originate?
  • What are charter schools?
  • Who were/are the originators and proponents of these policies?

You should know what the realities of technology in the classroom actually look like:

  • What’s the ratio of computer to student in U.S. public schools? How are computers used? (i.e. for testing? for hacking? for keyboarding or word processing skills?) Do all students across grades, genders, and skill-levels have equitable access?
  • What is the availability of high speed Internet – at school and at home?
  • How many K-12 students own a cellphone? A smartphone?
  • Who pays for technology in the classroom?
  • What, if anything, does technology in the classroom change?
  • What does educational content going digital change?

You should understand the prevailing political narratives surrounding education and education technology in this country and be able to respond critically, not just parrot the ed-reform or Ed Department’s party line:

  • Are schools failing? If you answer “yes,” then why are they failing? How do you know this? Who/what’s to blame?  And how do you know this?
  • Who benefits from this “failure narrative”?
  • Is technology the answer?
  • How do you know if technology works to enhance learning? How and what do you measure?
  • Why do you mean by “scaling” education?

And finally – and this would certainly require some reflective self-examination here:

  • What are your own experiences with learning? With school? With teachers? How do these experiences shape how you approach teaching, learning, schooling and un-schooling?
  • Are you an autodidact? Is everyone?
  • Have you ever taught? Have you ever taught online?
  • Have you ever taken a course online?
  • Who was your favorite teacher, and why?
  • What are you learning now? How?

What is the purpose of education technology?

What is the purpose of education?

Answers due Thursday. All answers final.  No late work accepted. No extra credit, and there will be no curve. This will go down on your permanent record.  Show your work. Cite your sources. No cheating. No talking. No using Wikipedia.    

Or not.  Let’s all share our questions and our answers and talk among ourselves. This is not a test…