Opening Keynote at eMINTS Winter Conference — Bernie Dodge

Bernie DodgeI’m sitting in the back of the room for the keynote.  Bernie Dodge, who is apparently a regular at the eMINTS Winter Conference, will take us all on a journey, starting in about thirty minutes.  My workshop went well yesterday, though the backchannel was a lot more interesting.  I transfered it over to a wiki for participants view again and even continue to flesh out.

After Bernie’s keynote, I’ll do a presentation on video games and then one on Web 2.0, although the term doesn’t show up anywhere in the title or the description.  I’m planning to concentrate on what we can do with community constructed content that is new.

This appears to be one of the small but truly rich conferences.  A lot of the folks here know each other.  There are eMINTS trainers, who all work together.  I think they might be entering the Twitterverse very soon.  Then there are eMINTS teachers, who are also forming a community.  I haven’t looked at the program yet, but the young man next to me is signed up for digital photography, working magic on the new web, teaching with Google Earth, and what appears to be a share a site session.

Bernies standing against the wall, about a hundred feet away, arms folded, observing his domain.  The opening slide is up, “KIDS AS DECIDERS.”  Hmmm!

The keynote has begun, and Bernie’s talking about Twitter, the evolution of his conversion.  He’s showing his aggregator, and how he’s set up a Twitter search feed so that if anyone uses the word webquest in a Twitter post, it comes to him.  (How does he do that?) He says that personal networks are about listening, knowing how to put your ear to the network.

So how do we teach things that we know students should be learning, such as decision making.  Bernie recalls Micheangelo, who said that the scupture is already in the stone.  His job is to uncover it.  Dodge suggests that finding opportunities to help students learn decision making are inside the curriculum we’re teaching today.  It’s a matter of uncovering them.  He suggests that we look for or create disequilibrium, so something has to happen, and leave it to the kids to make it happen.  There are three ways to do this.

  1. Identify (or makeup) an oportunity for action that requires choosing from among alternatives.
  2. Identify a real problem over which there is strong disagreement and decided on what to recommend
  3. Change the situation to create new problems that someone needs to decide how to respond to.

He’s suggested a Webquest that he recently found on the Net, and asked the audience how they might change the situation (1,2,or3) of the activity to provoke decision making.

7 thoughts on “Opening Keynote at eMINTS Winter Conference — Bernie Dodge”

  1. I think eMINTS really has something. They extensively train their teachers to use technology constructively…as in Dewey’s constructivism…as in project based learning. Their focus is on the learning, not just the technology. Which is why their research shows that students in eMINTS classrooms outperform other students. I’m not an eMINTS teacher, but I would love to have eMINTS here in Carl Junction. I encourage you to check them out.

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  3. I think eMINTS could be the quiet giant of the web 2.0 revolution:) I wish technology funding wasn’t taking a bite out of the program. I know that there are some parts of the program that need updating, but they are rolling out new modules all the time, and I have never seen another program with such long term extensive training. I have been in it since 2003, and I am still going to veteran trainings once a month in my district (only because we have a former trainer now working as our library media specialist- lucky us!) Kudos to Monica and the crew…wish I could have been there to soak it all in! Want to know more about what eMINTS looks like in the classroom? Check out the digital stories on their website…what a great experience THAT was! I would be curious to hear more about your impressions of the program David…

  4. Those are 3 well-synthesized strategies for making learning more meaningful and active. It’s sometimes easier said than done, as often the problems we put before students are so artificial or contrived that they are far from “situated”, lacking that authenticity factor that makes learning so engaging. However, with all of the fantastic primary resources and learning/collaboration tools available today, I think this continues to get easier and easier. But, teachers need to know – and this learning is twofold: (1) they have to understand problem-based, authentic learning, and (2) they have to know about understand the potential of the tools and resources at their disposal. We are still struggling to achieve #1. We need good models like this for teachers to see both in operation. The Webquest has been one way for teachers to build such learning experiences. However, they so easily become “contrived” trivial fact hunts when not implemented as intended. So, back to #1 before #2. Hmmmm…

    Thanks for the recap of Bernie’s session! Any Ustream recording?

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