Thursday, March 20, 2008

AWNM Wikified Research Papers

As the culmination of their study of A Whole New Mind, Anne Smith and Maura Moritz’s students had to complete a Wikified Research Paper. Here are links to the four wiki pages that have links to the students' wikis. (You’ll have to explore a little on each student’s wiki, some of them have their final paper on the home page of the wiki, others on a page titled Final Draft, and still others with various other page names .) There are over one hundred of these, so I certainly don’t expect anyone reading this to go read all of them (I certainly haven’t), but you might pick a couple from each class at random to read and then leave them some constructive feedback on the discussion tab of their wiki.

Smith Period 2

Moritz Period 3

Moritz Period 4

Smith Period 5

I wanted to take a moment to once again thank Daniel Pink and the folks in my network who helped us out with this project. Your participation, thoughts and insights are much appreciated.

Because a few folks asked, I also wanted to share a few of the technical details of the video conference with Daniel Pink. We brought all four classes together in our Forum (our large lecture-hall type classroom – the only one large enough for a group this size – around 110 students) for two hours (in-school field trip for the students). We connected with Mr. Pink via Skype. On our end we had a Dell computer that was connected to a large rear-projection screen that’s part of our Forum, as well as to speakers in the ceiling of the Forum. We used a Logitech Ultravision webcam (slightly newer version of it) for the video, and a Blue Snowball Microphone for the audio. On his end I believe he was using his Mac with the built-in iSight camera. He was also wearing headphones to minimize the audio feedback. (Skype appeared to do a great job with that – his wearing headphones helped us out, but we couldn’t use headphones on our end because all the students in the Forum needed to hear, but Mr. Pink reported very little audio feedback on his end.)

We had pre-selected twenty questions from students for Mr. Pink to respond to (they’re all in the live blog if you want to read through it), in addition to two general questions to get the ball rolling. Each student came down to the microphone to ask their question of Mr. Pink. After he answered, they could ask a follow-up or clarifying question if necessary. If they didn’t have one, then there were eight students down in front to carry on a very modified fishbowl discussion if they had anything to add to what Mr. Pink said (very modified fishbowl discussion because of the time constraints, having four classes in a lecture-hall setting, and the opportunity to hear from the author himself). The webcam and microphone were positioned to pick up the eight students down in front (as well as the students who came down to ask the questions), so Mr. Pink could hear those comments as well. The remaining students shared about thirty-five laptops and participated in live blogging using CoverItLive (I was on another Dell jockeying the CoverItLive blog).

Finally, we also ustreamed the whole thing (video archive, chat archive). We had a Canon camcorder hooked up via Firewire to a Mac and a second Blue Snowball Microphone positioned at the table with the eight students. I was at a table with a Dell (for the CoverItLive blog and with headphones to verify that the ustream was working) and the Mac (for the ustreaming itself).

Overall, the technology worked really well. The only real issue we had was that the ustream chat doesn’t always make it through our firewall, so I couldn’t monitor that, and we did lose the ustream a couple of times. Thankfully Kristin Hokanson captured the chat and helped me put the various orphaned ustreams back together so we have a pretty good record of the ustream.

Here are a few pictures to get a feel for what it looked like (especially for those of you who watched the ustream and perhaps thought there were only 8-10 students there).

Finally, I want to thank Anne, Maura and the students, for the incredible amount of time, effort and thought they put into this project. There are things we could’ve done better (and will do better next time we try something like this) but, overall, I think it was an amazing learning experience.


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  2. To the students of Arapahoe: It was an honor and pleasure to be included in your global romp with A Whole New Mind. You challenged barriers and shattered them. I observed you discussing the book and its ideas at over 70 comments a minute yet you never got a single speeding ticket! You've engaged with learners of varied ages, experiences and nationalities. You challenged ideas, developed your own and even confronted the best-selling author himself. Your learning was unleashed in this project and you did not disappoint. I'm pretty sure you'll not forget this activitiy and you should know that it was one of the most memorable learning events of my life as well. Congratulations, thank you and well done, Warriors!

  3. Karl I truly admire what you have done, and it has made me decide to use Skype and other video conferencing tools in my instruction w/ students and prof development too. I have always been hesitant, but after seeig how well your school's project went, i ahve planned to utilize thse tool, and have been successful almost each time I've done it. I was the education career for our school's career day, and used Skype to bring in 6 educators from different expertises and levels (though after the first 2-Lisa Parisi from Long Island, NY and Chrissy Hellyer from New Zealand, I totally lost my Interent connection), and in three consecutive professional development sessiosn at conferences or workshops I've given, ive pulled in virtual visitors. I used to would not even attempt for fear of issues (failure in sound, video, connectivity) but now all i can think is what's the worse that can happen? You have motivated me beyond belief and I applaud you and the project. My favorite part of the Dan Pink day was the announcements interruption (your kids disregard them just like my kids!) and the pledge of allegiance that spawned a whole new coversation that day. Thanks for inviting me and thanks for motivating me to move out of my comfort zone.

  4. This absolutely boggles the mind! Just reading this feels like watching the future happening. Thanks for sharing, Karl... your impact and that of your colleagues is so far beyond your own sphere!

  5. Incredible. Absolutely incredible.

    I was turned on to Whole New Mind by a colleague at the University of Maine at Farmington and read it last summer in anticipation of my return to my high school English classroom after a one-year hiatus teaching pre-service educators. I've this colleague and Pink to thank for transforming how I'm looking working with ninth graders at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Maine.

    We've done some similar work -- but on a vastly, VASTLY smaller scale -- reading excerpts and exploring our strengths. Our bulletin board is full of an analysis of our other academic work in class to date and the extent to which that work has helped us to grow in Pink's domains.

    I'd love to speak with someone at AWNM more about how a one-book-one-campus program works for them.

    Congrats on some truly progressive and transformative teaching. I'm hoping that MBHS might be able to follow in your footsteps -- or perhaps carve a path of our own.

  6. My Comment:


    I'm an education major at ISU taking an education class where we're learning how to use technology like this right now. We have a class wiki that we manage and we're using skype to complete group projects for the semester. It's amazing to see how much more we can get done over the interwebs as opposed to actually arranging a time in all of our buzy scheduals to meet and work on our projects. I think using these new tools will become the staple of future classrooms:

    History: Using a online forum to debate with students around the world about a global issue.

    Music: Having a world renounded flute player teach a lesson or two over a podcast.

    Foreign language: Talking with a french student trying to learn english over skype.

    Science: Watch an actual autopsy with live video feed.

    I like the idea of being able to discuss a book with the author without leaving the classroom. I'm sure it was a rewarding experience for both your students and the author. I just wish they had technology like this when I was in middle school!

  7. What a fabulous project for the students! I loved reading the wikis!! I am envious that my own two children do not have teachers who are assigning this kind of work. Instead, they are stuck with very traditional teachers and very traditional assignments that do not motivate or engage them.