Reflecting on learning and seeing the world in exciting new ways.

Posts tagged ‘innovation’

Ingenuity and a recycled orchestra

Last night, a friend posted a video on my Facebook wall along with a comment:

dare you to try this at school…double dare you, even. Nay! Physical challenge! 🙂

I was mildly curious, mostly because of the particular person who posted the video, and figured that it must be something related to education.

Prepare to be blown away – I certainly was.

Wow! Although I am no longer a classroom or music teacher, I found this video mindblowing, to say the least. It shows how the town of Cateura, Paraguay, which is largely built on a landfill, overcame the burden of poverty to create the Landfill Harmonic project (such a clever name!) and bring music to their community. With a bit of guidance, support and technical know-how to support their vision, it also shows the power that music has to bring hope and enrichment to everyone’s lives, regardless of where they live and their circumstances. I also love the innovative way everyday items that had been discarded as rubbish were recycled and repurposed to produce something amazing. It takes true innovation and creative thinking to see the possibilities in a seemingly worthless object and turn it into something grand. Why don’t we do this more often?

As a classroom teacher, a major highlight of term 4 each year was an annual wearable art project, where the children would design and construct creative costumes from recycled or repurposed materials then model them in our very own fashion parade. At the time, the World of Wearable Art Awards were in their early days and hadn’t yet moved to Wellington but were still something to aspire to. The creativity our young designers showed was always refreshing and they had huge amounts of fun working in groups to put together their costumes. The children also learned practical skills and the versatility of staple materials such as rubbish bags, duct tape and a glue gun – there is nothing these items couldn’t achieve or fix. But, of course, all the materials were clean with some sneakily masqueraded as ‘casually lying around at home’ when I am certain they were purchased new by well-meaning parents. I just hope the children learned that you don’t need the best of everything to create something worthwhile and that anything is possible.

It looks like a documentary about the Landfill Harmonic project is nearly finished production and will be released next year, something I will really look forward to.

Conation and innovation

Imagine book coverI have just started reading Imagine  by Ian Hunter. The book is both an historical study of innovative people and an exploration into what the author refers to as the seven pillars of innovation: vision, creativity, knowledge, time, resources, focus and persistence.

Ultimately, the question to be asked is what is innovation? We have traditionally associated innovation as simply encompassing new ideas, doing things differently, or entrepreneurial success. Hunter describes innovation as “the process of creating wealth from new ideas – taking what resides in your imagination and converting it into reality”. True innovation leaves changes for the better. It also involves building on and developing ideas that have come before.

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr

Looking at the seven pillars of innovation, I can see at least two that would reflect the conative domain: focus and persistence. Not only did renown innovators such as Da Vinci, Mozart, Eiffel, Disney and Wedgwood possess the necessary talent and develop skills and experience to excel in their fields, but they also had the volition and persistence to overcome obstacles and make their dreams a reality. They weren’t afraid to  dream and aim high, aspiring not to just being satisfactory, but for excellence. These are very much the skills and dispositions we desire for our learners. The further I explore conation, the more I see it as an essential component in learning and teaching.

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
Michelangelo

Reference:
Hunter, I. (2008). Imagine. Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Group (NZ).

Hairdressing by iPod

I really enjoy hearing about innovation in learning and teaching. 🙂

I recently attended the Ako Aotearoa Central Hub Teacher Developers’ Forum in Palmerston North. This forum brings together teaching development staff from ITPs in the central and lower North Island for a day of sharing, planning and collaboration. Two colleagues from Western Institute of Technology (WITT) in Taranaki shared a recent innovation they have implemented in response to the 2010 Horizon Report, which identified mobile computing as a key trend in the next year or less.

Two of WITT’s current courses (barista training and hairdressing) are being taught via iPod touch. Students are informed that some content within the programme is delivered using an iPod touch and it is therefore compulsory for them to purchase an iPod Touch prior to commencing the programme. An iPhone or iPad would also be suitable. When asked about the reaction from potential students, WITT found that only five students on the programme didn’t currently already own one of these devices and were quite receptive to purchasing one as part of their course materials.

iBooks iconStudents use Apple’s free iBooks app to download and update their course materials from the WITT library. This allows content, including videos, to be accessed offline as well as access to Moodle quizzes, interactive PDFs and assessments when online. Apparently engagement is up, with students also enjoying the ‘coolness’ factor of being able to watch videos at the bus stop – great for motivation. For me, the ‘bonus’ in this scenario is the ability for students to engage in aspects of mobile learning either with or without internet access.

In addition to course work, I see much potential in using a similar system for support material, study guides and library assistance, for example. The ability to create e-material suitable for android phones, or even laptops using free software such as Adobe Digital Editions, wouldn’t necessarily require too much more capacity than what is needed to develop Apple-compatible content.