Extreme Learners

Extreme learners are powered by technology. They harness a fast-expanding world of knowledge that is increasingly at their fingertips. They know that learning now can be done anywhere at anytime.

as defined by the Institute of the Future.

We clearly have some extreme learners who fit the bill  in Innovation Space. More importantly we have evidence of what they have done and able to do with extreme learning. They clearly demonstrate their ability to out-learn those who mentor them.

Innovation Space is most definitely about Extreme Learning.

Instructional Waste

Thursday for me is a the “headless chicken day”. With so many student led projects, changing direction every week and with students wanting to do things that they are totally unprepared for (which is what we encourage) supporting them in the two short hours is a regular Thursday morning wake up challenge that I am slowly getting accustomed to.

In the midst of all this, I was informed that we will have some primary schools kids (aged 12~13) form the Southern Montessori School joining us in Innovation Space  – because they want to learn 3D Printing and have no machines in their school. I was introduced to them last week. They had never 3D printed. I told told them that they should read about it and bring a file to print and  also that they would be on their own – because “teaching as telling” is banned in the shed.

So, Dylan,Keely and Jasper came in smiling today morning  to learn 3D Printing in Innovation Space. So I told them :

” Here is the machine and look, its connected to our lap-top, figure out the rest and by the way, the nozzle gets hot, don’t touch it it will burn your hand”. I setup the fume extractor (legal requirement that recirculates the fume) and left them to it. There was no more instructions and no questions were asked.

DIY Learning

In about 30 minutes, they figured it all out. They 3D printed their first ring.

Not sure why we waste time instructing ?

Its Technology Stupid

TechnologyIt is Technology and not Science that Kids connect with best,  this time at Science Alive. We see the same level of excitement and engagement that we saw at the Innovation Space stall in the Royal Adelaide Show, where we had the two virtual reality goggles and a battery of 3D printers whizzing away. Kids queued up.

All this, while STEM educators and politicians are moaning the lack of interest in STEM. It is time to stop moaning  and be interested as the kids are in the aspect of science that excites them most – TECHNOLOGY.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

 

What does a SOLE Look Like ?

At the heart of Sugata Mitra’s  proposition, is the creation of Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE). Prof Mitra has devoted considerable time and energy developing and experimenting with various self-organizing environments.  He drove the need for such environments superbly  in the last eduTech conference workshop where he asked the participants sitting in the lecture theater to form groups and have discussions. We could not. It was virtually impossible to have discussions in a lecture theater designed for listening to a single speaker positioned at the stage. The negative impact of the school environment on education is now known. There are many prize wining architectural firms creating magazine worthy, cool learning environments.

They look so cool, but if you move that chair a few inches or scrape that shiny surface it will immediately loose that magazine quality. Creating contrived cool learning spaces now almost a necessity. But ours was borne out of a different necessity – the very limited budgets of public schools.

At the planning stages of Innovation Space,  I was offered two spaces to choose from. One, an open plan teaching environment and the other, with some embarrassment,  a basement storage shed  for running this hi-tech venture. I chose the shed : Because, it can be messy. With some difficulty, I have ensured  – that it stays that way.

Self-organizing learning environment organizes itself superbly – for them (students) ; not necessarily for the organization, encumbered by many layers of regulations that are designed to ensure a safe factory environment for knowledge consumption – generally recognized as a school.

So this is what our Self Organizing Learning Environment looks like.

Self Organization

 Yes, it is messy.

Design without thinking ?

Is that possible ? Why then do we need “Design Thinking” ?

As a design educator I have developed an allergic reaction to all forms of design buzzwords the most prominent of which is “Design Thinking”. Having taught Industrial Design at university level I appreciate the gross inadequacies of many such programs often taught by people who  have not noticed the industrial age passing them by. The industrial age was about following procedures. Programs and Robots do that really well. With the end of the industrial age, all formalized design methods go to pot. Because, the moment it is formalized every one will be able to do it, producing the same uncreative results.

Real Innovation  is more in demand than ever before. It is much in demand and there is no shortage of snake oil sellers solutions for innovation.  I doubt if innovation will arise out of formalized thinking and processes devoid of experimentation, disagreements, risks and  failure.

On the other hand..

We need to talk about what we do, what our core beliefs are, in a language that is commonly understood. To my surprise I found this. Design Thinking The document from the Learning Frontiers is worth a read. I was surprised how much we share the four core design principles. But I guess, the trick is in the way we put it together.

Mashup

hacked A Go Pro Mounted Qaud Copter made entirely out of cannibalized parts: The motors, control system, communication system and home built Go Pro mount that keeps orientation steady.  This is Kenny Fernando’s personal take on re-cycling.

We concur.