Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age - Session III. New Learning Designs

Uploaded by Google on 03.12.2009

>> MERROW: Last night, somebody said that technology is as fundamental as a book. You
couldn't take books away. You can't take technology away. Jason ups the ante; technology is as
fundamental as oxygen. You can't take the oxygen away. Jason, would you come, just say
a few words about that turnaround process for us? Thank you.
>> LEVY: Thank you. Test. Hello. Good morning. In August of 2004, I became principal of I.S.
339, which was then a very large public middle school in the Bronx. We had 945 students.
Now, we're down to about 820. We're about 70% Hispanic, 29% black. 25% of our students
have IEPs and 28% of our students are English language learners. The school building opened
in 1974. It was immediately in trouble. It was turned over by the state. It was shut
down and reopened in 1991 and 2000. So when I arrived in 2004, 339 had learned to survive
to day-to-day by doing things like locking students down in one classroom all day long
everyday. Students were sent home, if there was a problem. School safety agents routinely
escalated conflicts with students and many adults had adopted an aggressive approach.
It felt like a boiling pot was about to explode in any moment and, when it did, the melees
were quite memorable. Ambulances and police cars often fought school busses for parking
in front of the school. I had pledged during my first faculty conference to bring technology
to 339, but every computer in 339 was from 1999 or earlier and there were no laptops.
If I can trouble someone for a clicker, that would be great. Or is this it right here?
Thank you. Look at this. Google is amazing. What few desktops we had were hoarded and
were rationed in few rooms or offices. Two people knew how to connect to the Internet
and I was one of them. The school was offline and it was out of line. Although there were
staff members who cared deeply, they were drowned out by those who didn't. The language
of lockdowns, consequences, and battle really helped us to take on a prison mentality. On
staff, we were disjointed and suffering in silos. No one knew what was happening or why.
I thought I was a visionary when I installed a giant white board in our main hallway for
daily announcements. This would solve our problems. That is until 11 a.m. when someone
would brush by with their jacket and wipe off half of our key information for the day.
At day's end, our institutional memory got totally wiped out when we erased the board.
We were stagnant in too many ways. At the end of my first year though, in the spring
of 2005, we received hopeful news: Chancellor Klein's administration tapped 339 as one of
22 middle schools to receive 1:1 MacBook laptop program. The light at the end of the tunnel
just might be a laptop screen, we thought. In year two, an influx of new and enthusiastic
staff brought energy but not much stability to our school. We continued to struggle, instructions
suffered and student achievement plummeted. I've read about Fullan's "implementation dip,"
but I never thought that we'd be living it. Nine percent of our students were now on grade
level in math--nine percent. The New York State Education Department came by for the
third time. They designated as a SURR, School Under Registrative Review. They sent a team
of ten to conduct a grueling three-day inspection of the school. It was demoralizing at best.
One official compared our staff to a band where no one was playing the same song. I
asked her if she'd seen the white board in the main hallway. She wasn't impressed. So
in June of 2006, the first wave of teacher laptops and one grade of student laptops finally
arrived. In late June, after our eighth grade prom, I saw one boy scrolling through his
digital camera. He was deciding which picture to post to his MySpace account. He--at the
same time, he was sending and receiving text messages on a cell phone that was vibrating
with a different song, depending on which friend was texting him. So, at that moment,
I realized that our students were hardwired for modern technology. Social networking spots
like MySpace met a felt need for connecting and collaborating and sharing; yet our school
was still running like it had in the '90s, in the '80s and in the '70s. We arranged some
of the deck chairs but our 1.0 band was indeed playing many different tunes and none that
our students wanted to hear. So, despite all our fears, I was determined to get the technology
into the hands of our staff and students. Students were fluent in the language of the
21st century Internet. We, adults, needed to catch up quickly. Year three, we created
teacher teams who met daily for common planning. Adults received training, and as Jim Collins
predicted, technology became an exhilarant for sharing best practices and building communication
systems. Daily notes were now posted online. We got rid of the white board. We migrated
everyone away from the city's e-mail system and into Gmail. Teachers started using Google
Groups to share lesson plans, to post units of study and to discuss ideas. Connecting
and communicating, teacher teams started to quickly transform the work they were doing
with each other and with students. In year four--so, in that year, year three, we're
finally sharing with each other. In year four, we used the Internet to advance from communication
to collaboration. Our faculty signed on to the Google Apps. In addition to Gmail, we
integrated Google Docs, Spreadsheets into all aspects of adult work in the school. From
the main office to the dean's office, to the administrative offices, to the classrooms,
we created network systems to share information, collaborate in real time on initiatives and
to track progress. For those who haven't had the chance to use Google Docs, they provide
the ability for multiple people to co-edit documents and spreadsheets in real time on
the Internet for free so that other people who are shared in can view their changes.
By the way, I do not work for Google yet. As teachers became comfortable with these
tools, they introduced them to their classrooms. Last year, we received the final laptops from
the original pilot and we were finally were one-to-one fully for the first time. We saw
that our greatest untapped resource at 339 had been the creative imaginations of staff
and students. The lightning-quick speed of curiosity in innovation was now given voice
through the 21st century tools. Teachers were emailing assignments. They were co-editing
Google documents with kids. Students were finding answers to questions within minutes.
They were posting responses online and participating in our schools robust online learning communities.
The Internet's language was now being shared between staff and students. While they once
felt afraid, teachers were now proud that their practice have been modernized and streamlined.
Students felt motivated, professional, and respected. They were using tools to compete--to
prepare them to compete in high school, to access better jobs when they grow up and to
use their talents. We were fully integrated across the board. If you can name it, we migrated
it into the Google universe. By the end of last year, our first full one-to-one year,
we celebrated our best results yet: 62% of our students were now on grade level in math;
our New York City progress report have risen from a D to a C to a B to an A. We were removed
from the state's SURR list and, most importantly, the work we were doing in classrooms was giving
students creative control over their learning. In June, we hosted and presented a first of
its kind global learning reception called dot-to-dot. You could see the icon right there.
100% of our teachers and students posted 21st century projects, including films and blogs
and we streamed some of the presentations live. One student made a documentary about
how to create a Time Square-type hub in the Bronx. He interviewed an urban planner to
do that. Another class Skyped with Nicholas Kristof about Darfur as part of their project
research on genocide. The theme for all the projects was connections. Thousands of Web
site hits from around the world became dots on our map and we started to redefine what
school could be for kids. This year's dot-to-dot theme is going to be change and you're all
invited to attend, either physically or virtually. So at 339, we really don't see laptops as
toys or as tools; we see them as megaphones to give students and teachers global voices.
The modern Internet isn't an idea or a place; it's a language that we need to speak at all
corners of our school. It's a language that has rapidly improved our school and can help
transform schools everywhere. Thank you. >> MERROW: And let's get another school story;
this time, the opportunity to start from scratch, the Tabula rasa. Katie Salen, would you come
up and tell us a little bit about your school? Thank you.
>> SALEN: Hello, everybody. Is everybody starving? Not yet? There's so many snacks out there
but I haven't gotten to partake it so... So I'm going to talk about this school, Quest
to Learn, a little bit. And the perspective that I'm going to offer today is--my background
is in game design. And the way that game designers think about the design of experiences is that
we're always trying to think about what is the space of possibility that we're creating
for our players? And so when I became involved in this idea of designing a school from the
ground up, we began to really think about this notion of what are the spaces of possibility
that we're creating for kids. We came up with a set of questions around possibility. We
asked: What could be made possible for kids if we found a way to conceive a school as
one learning space within a network of learning spaces that spanned in school, out of school,
local and global, physical and digital, teacher-led and peer-driven, individual and collaborative.
What could be made possible for teachers if their creativity around how to engage kids
was deeply valued and they were supported with resources like collaborating with game
designers, to really understand what engagement about learning could look like? We just saw
some amazing examples of that. What could be made possible for communities if a school
became a catalyst for activating a network of mentors, partners, peers, and leaders who
are focused on helping kids figure out how to be designers, innovators, inventors and
problem solvers? What could be made possible for kids if they were challenged to teach
others to do things that they knew how to do, and content was treated as an actionable
resource rather than something to be memorized? What could be made possible if kids not only
use games and media as models and simulations but learn how to draw--to make them too? What
could be made possible for the world if we could support kids to be curious, to have
ideas and build theories around those ideas, to fail often and early as a strategy for
learning how things really work, to be given an opportunity to interact with the larger
worlds and ways that felt relevant, exciting, and empowering? What could be made possible
if we treated school not just a problem to be fixed--we've heard about that a lot--but
as a thought partner in the learning lives of our kids, our parents, and our communities?
What could actually be possible if we thought in these terms? So as Joel Klein mentioned
yesterday, New York City was actually willing to kind of step up to the plate, hedge a bet,
on allowing a school that was--that for a long time was called the game school to come
into being. Okay, so this was school of six to twelve, proposed six-to-twelve school--public
school that was going to be designed around the intrinsic qualities of games and play.
Okay. So this is a school that's been designed not to have video games in the classroom but
to support something we call game-like learning; and what this means is learning that takes
advantage of what games do the very best: They drop kids, players, adults, in a complex
inquiry-driven problem spaces with scaffolding learning to provide just-in-time learning
and they give kids and players access to data that helps them know how they're doing, what
they need to work on, and where they need to go next. Games as well as the kinds of
network interest-driven communities that Mimi was talking about this morning became the
basis for the curriculum that we developed. And one thing that we discovered in listening
to all of the research that's coming out around what are these spaces outside of school that
kids are learning from is we found out that there's four really important conditions that
have to be the basis of any curriculum that we were developing in school. The first thing
is that we had to create a need to know. So, in school, when kids talk about things not
being relevant, it's because they have no situated context for why on earth they would
have to learn how to do quadratic equations. So we found that in developing the curriculum,
we looked again to games; games create a very specific need to know. I get dropped into
a world. There's something 100 feet above me that I really want to collect. Well, I
have to figure out how to get up there, okay, and I'm motivated and engaged to do that.
So I began to look at like that as pedagogical strategy for creating the key to know. I need
to share something we've heard a lot about today in the content of network spaces. We
found that we needed to create for our students a need to share information with one another,
not just to share it with the teacher to kind of turn in some kind of worksheet that they
produce; but to share information, share what they know, share what they've learned, even
share what they don't know so they can leverage their peer environment. Now, from a design
perspective, you can say, "Well, we're going to create a need to share." But if you don't
actually create infrastructure and opportunities for kids to share, it actually doesn't matter.
So this is where thing like social network spaces come in: Google Docs, Google Groups,
e-mail, even small groups in the classroom where kids have an ability to share things
that they have produced and thought about. And then the last thing which is very much
a condition of the kind of multiple networks that many kids today are involved with is
that we needed to find ways for them to export stuff that they might be doing in the myriad
learning spaces that they were involved in both in school and around school into spaces
outside of the more traditional institutional networks. So when kids produce, let's say,
a video tutorial in their science class, they need to have an ability very easily to export
that out to their MySpace page or onto a Facebook page or to on an anime site so that they're
able to share that information with kids in spaces beyond because there's all kinds of
mentors in those spaces too willing and interested in understanding what those kids know. So
I'll just give you some examples of some of the curriculum that kids are involved in the
semester. In their math and ELA class, we have a class called Code Worlds. They're working
on a code-breaking mission. And what has happened this past week is the kids have demanded to
learn how to learn fractions; how to convert fractions to decimals because they found a
secret code hidden in a library book that they needed to figure out how to break in
order to get to the next quest. And so there's now work being done to help them understand,
well, what does it mean to convert fractions to decimals and they're working to break the
code. They've also been recruited by a TV producer of a reality TV show to create a
location guide for a TV series that he's pitching and this has caused them to now need to learn
how to navigate an atlas, learn how to read elements of a map, and learn how to create
character portraits based on a novel that they're reading in order to create profiles
for contestants that might be on the show. Yesterday, we had several students come up
to the teacher and ask for more reading because they wanted to look at more characters that
they might think about working into the show. So they wanted to check out some additional
books. They've also demanded to learn how to create more professional-looking video
tutorials because, in a math-science class, they're working with the fictional group of
characters called the Troggles who are inventors that make broken things. And so the kids are
receiving their broken blueprints, figuring out what's wrong with them, and then developing
video tutorials to send back to the Troggles who live in this game called Little Big Planet.
So, just last week, they were working with flip cans to develop video tutorials to teach
the Troggles why standardized measurement is really important. And so this is something
that they're actually incredibly interested in, incredibly engaged in, the notion that
they are teachers for others, too. One thing that we found is so important in the design
of this school is this notion of building feedback loops not only between classes but
also between the kinds of spaces that may sit outside of school. So we needed to think
about the fact that we have an after-school program, that we have an online social network
and that there was--these were considered redundant and overlapping spaces where kids
had multiple chances to see the same kind of content and skills. We understand that
kids can't learn something just having seen it in one class. They need to have chances
to see it in many, many kinds of spaces. So I'm going to end there. Maybe we can finish
up with some questions later. Okay. >> MERROW: Well, thank you very much.
>> SALEN: Yeah. >> MERROW: Well, thank you, Katie. I'm going
to ask--we need a math course here because we've got five people coming up to fill these
three--these three chairs. But I guess we--I guess we can work that. Come on up, guys.
I think you're here. That's--and I--all right, put it there. That's fine, wherever you want,
as long as we get one. One thing, just some numbers, how many kids in your school?
>> SALEN: In our school? >> MERROW: Yeah. Yeah.
>> SALEN: We have 76 kids. >> MERROW: I don't know if mikes are on. 76
kids? >> SALEN: 76.
>> MERROW: And did you get to hire your own teachers?
>> SALEN: We did. So--we did. So, we had a big recruitment process. We had to hire in-district
because there was kind of hiring freeze this year that you had to hire teachers from within
district. Yes. >> MERROW: And, Jason, you did not get to
hire. You--so tell me--you inherited teachers. >> LEVY: I don't think I had inherited. The
former principal retired over the summer before I came in, and he had hired out the whole
staff so I was only able to bring in two new staff members out of about 60 teachers my
first year. >> MERROW: Okay. Let me guess that not all
the teachers were eager to follow your vision. So what do you do with recalcitrant teachers
who can't…? >> LEVY: Some folks decided that they didn't
like the way we're headed so they decided to voluntarily transfer out at the end of
my first year. >> MERROW: You helped them packed, right?
>> LEVY: I didn't just--you know, people don't feel like this is something that they can
do. Some people decided that they didn't agree but they wanted to stay. So, what we saw,
everything, always, is a professional development opportunity. And I think that the big misnomer
in--the big fear about introducing technology to veterans or to--or to people who just aren't
that tech savvy at any--at any level of their development is that they're just not interested
or that they're actually against technology. What we found actually is that it is--it's
just a fear factor, and it's just--people don't want to not know something that their
children do know. People don't want to look silly in front of their classes. So if you
really can adopt a--differentiate a professional development program and look at everything
as a learning opportunity, everyone will pretty much buy in. And we have our staunches--opponents
to technology are now fully integrated in their classrooms, and it was only because
we killed them with kindness and with outstanding professional development on site with our
great team. >> MERROW: Yeah. Larry, you've been in this
game, High Tech High. Have teachers been an issue? I mean, this question of learning and
the learning--it seems to me like the real challenge is not so much the kid's learning;
it's our trying to keep up with them and not harness their learning to our ends. But what's
been your issue? >> ROSENSTOCK: Yeah. Well, my last 10 years
have been with founding High Tech High. My first 20 before that were doing the I.S. 339
routine. And as complicated as it is for us to do real estate financing and do something
out of the ground, it is far more easier than turning around a school. And I applaud you
for what you've done. Obviously, everybody has a one-year contract. We just hired 56
teachers out of 1,142 applicants. And that's partly a reflection on the economy that we're
in. A lot of very talented people--we hire a lot of people with advanced degrees in math
and science who ironically would have to get credential even though they could teach at
universities. So we created our own credentialing program and our own grad school of Ed's so
that we can hire a more highly qualified person than merely hiring a credential person.
>> MERROW: Do you have some litmus test for your teachers regarding technology?
>> ROSENSTOCK: Well, we don't have--they're all really young, actually. You know what
I mean? It's just--yeah. We just try to keep up with them. I mean, they use social networking
sites quite a bit. I'm going to show one too many clips towards the end of this session
where they're using--meeting with kids just in the same way as you saw right here. But,
no, they're quite--what we really want--what I really want in a teacher is somebody who
does have deep content knowledge and is able to pursue inquiry passionately and engage
kids in the pursuit of that inquiry in that and other disciplines and work with their
colleagues in a multi-disciplinary way. That's really what we're looking for.
>> MERROW: Rey, as you sit here and you got three outstanding educators, a track record
of success and exciting beginning, does this give you a little more faith in schools? I
know you are a skeptic. I billed you as our skeptic here.
>> RAMSEY: Is this on? Can you hear me? >> Yes.
>> MERROW: I can hear you. >> RAMSEY: No, I know you want me to be the
skeptic. But, no, I am--and this whole conference has been really very inspiring in terms of
hearing what's going on. And the perspective that I've always had toward education not
as a formal educator is that there are many and--many people are involved in the education
process. And so we've got to, also, not only improve what's happening in the four corners
of a school, but what happens outside of the school. In the 21st century, we have an education
and a learning ecosystem which is not only the school, it's what's going on in the community
and those institutions and also the home. And so I view that technology opens up a world
of possibilities to extend that learning environment into many places, and we all know, you know,
from experience where kids will lose some of what they learn, particularly over the
summer, and that's why you see these movements toward extended school years and those sorts
of things. So technology opens up other opportunities. And that's been the work at One Economy that
we've been involved in, looking at education in a different way beyond what's happening
in the four corners. >> MERROW: I looked at a couple of your speeches,
and at least thrice, I heard you say, "The challenge is overcoming the disbelief that
poor people want technology." The rest of don't believe--can you explain what you mean
by that? >> RAMSEY: Yeah, I think, you know, and having
started One Economy from a basement, I had more people say, "No." So when we were saying
the proposition that low-income people want the technology just like anybody else, we
still have a big problem in the county where we have so many people who aren't adopters
to technology. So it's low-income people themselves, but it's also people who put money into these
resources. And, you know, you'll hear from the administration later today, folks from
the FCC about their broadband plan. So if we're going to do this extended learning environment,
we have to make sure that everybody can participate in the home as well as in the school because
that--you know, if you look at--we've started a school actually, and it's in Bertie County
in North Carolina. And the school--the genesis of the school is we have a service technology
program for low-income kids called Digital Connectors, young people between the ages
of 14 and 21, and they have 150 hours to 200 hours of training using technology, applied
technology, and then they give back 60 hours of community service. These kids in the school--this
is an alternative school that we started in North Carolina--they were kicked out of all
the other schools. The school superintendent to my face said that the other schools were
delighted to get rid of them, so were referred to as the discarded boys. And I met one young
gentleman who is 19 years old in high school reading at a third-grade reading level. And
what we did with the technology is almost like the game theory that you were talking
about earlier is it turned them on and they built self-esteem because they were also providing
service. And, now, we--the county is expanding that school. It started as just 25 boys in
the classroom and now it's more than doubled. We're working with Teach for America. Technology
is part of it, but we've extended into the home...
>> MERROW: Yeah. >> RAMSEY: ... and what's happening in the
trailer park where a lot of those boys live, and that learning environment is beyond the
four walls. And we all know we need one, at least one dedicated adult who's actively engaged
in the education of that student. >> MERROW: But it's real work.
>> RAMSEY: It's real work. >> MERROW: Yeah. And Larry, can I--Larry and
I were talking last night about this challenge of real work in dealing with kids who, you
know, are you-aren't-going-to-teach-me-anything kind of thing, and you were telling me a story
about, I guess, it was a math problem. >> ROSENSTOCK: I want to say a couple things
to feed up to that. What you want kids to be doing is making and building and doing
things. So we've got kids who are publishing books Jim Goodall, E.L. Wilson writes the
intro to these books using actually Google SketchUp, Calculicious, Integration of Art
and Calculus. And so we got kids making hovercrafts, submersibles, just building all kinds of cool
things. So one segregation that they… >> MERROW: It's real work.
>> ROSENSTOCK: One segregation is the segregation of the use of the head from the use of the
hand which Dewey, in '99, years ago, said was a false dualism. MIT's motto was "head
and hand." The other one, since we have very few minutes, I just have to say since I'm
in my 33rd year of doing this, you know, when I taught carpentry right after law school,
and the first--for 11 years to inner-city kids, on the first day, I realized that those
kids were every bit as bright as the middle class kids I was just in law school with.
And we had Plessy v Ferguson in 1892 which says "Separate but equal." We have 1953, Brown
v Board. We're now more segregated. What makes me sad about I.S. 339 is not what the great
work that this gentlemen's doing, it's that we have apartheid schooling in this country,
and there is no ethos about it. Scalia, two days ago said he wouldn't have even voted
for Brown v Board of Education. That's where we've come to. So it's really--so it's--so
that's what--one of the things that makes this so much harder is not that the middle
class are more virtuous, it's actually to the better--it's like Jefferson said, "The
purpose of public education is to serve the public. The purpose of public education is
to create a public," and this is really what we're not doing.
>> MERROW: Excuse me. But I was asking you to show a clip of a kid...
>> ROSENSTOCK: I'll show you that clip. Okay. So, okay. Okay, so we want--so we want students
to generate--so we're mostly urban schools. We happen to--we just are now building a village
of rural schools in our north in the desert, and we have this young man who is totally
a disaffected learner, into music, into film, and the mother didn't know what to do with
them, and the teacher said, "Hey, would you do something on Ning to help some other kids
because you're actually kind of good at math." And so I just got this a couple of days ago;
I asked him to put it on YouTube last night. It's two minutes long. And this is Nick explaining
how to subtract polynomials, teaching the students various things.
>> MERROW: Teaching someone else? >> ROSENSTOCK: Teaching kids. Teaching each
other--peer-to-peer, some kids. >> MERROW: Kids teaching kids? Can we see
it? All right. We have to… >> NICK: Okay. Subtracting Polynomials. This
is easy. This is simple, a piece of cake. I like cake. This is Nick again, and I'm here
to teach you how to subtract two polynomials. No, with cheese, lots of cheese, please.
>> Got it. >> NICK: Sorry. All right, we're going to
have 8X squared plus 9X plus 5 minus 3X squared plus 7X plus 1. I have to note that these
are two distinct polynomials. This one all the way over here on the right is being subtracted
from the one on the left. So, what we're going to do is rewrite this problem: 8X squared
plus 9X plus 5 minus 3X squared plus 7X minus 1.
>> Then, I'll... >> NICK: Shh, I'm reporting.
>> I'm buttering the chicken. >> NICK: And, now, if you watched my first
video on adding, adding, adding polynomials, what we just do is write it out and combine
like terms. But when you write this out, there's a catch. See, you're going to write out the
first polynomials just as it says: 8X squared plus 9X plus 5. But when you write out the
second polynomial, you're going to change all the addition signs to subtraction signs.
So it's going to say negative 3X squared minus 7X minus 1. Trippy. All right. So, now, what
we have to do is combine like terms. So we're going to find--8X squared is going to combine
with negative 3X squared. 8X squared minus 3X squared is going to equal 5X squared. Then
we're going to combine the second like terms which is 9X and negative 7X; 9 minus 7 is
going to equal 2. So we have plus 2X. Now, we combine the last like terms, 5 and negative
1, 5 minus 1, 4, yeah. So our final answer would be 5X squared plus 2X plus 4. Like I
said, piece of cake. >> MERROW: You have to believe that he really
understands it, right? And he did an effective job of teaching it. He's a participant in
school. I mean, he's an active learner and a teacher. I mean, but--so I wonder how tough
is it for teachers to accept that that's part of their role is to empower kids to do that?
Do you--I mean, Jason you--or--anyway… >> LEVY: If I could jump in. Am I--can you
hear me? >> Yes. You have the mike.
>> LEVY: I'm miked. >> MERROW: Yeah.
>> LEVY: Okay. Technology, always gets us. I think that it's definitely--it was--it's
a new way of thinking about things. Very much, when we grow up or when a lot of people grow
up, it was--the teacher was the sage. You know, they gave information; unless, you were
fortunate enough to go to a school that didn't do that or had a teacher who understood. Nowadays,
really, the power is with the child. The child really has so much ability, so much creativity,
so much desire to go out there and create content that they can share with the world
or use the influence of what's going on. It takes growth. It takes an adjustment on the
part of the teacher and the school to realize that the child is the most important person
in the school. >> MERROW: But at your school, you monitor
the kids' use of laptops. >> LEVY: That's correct.
>> MERROW: And you're sort of a big brother? >> LEVY: Well, yeah. We--oh, wow, that's tough.
Is it 60 Minutes here or something? Yeah, we believed it's like a kite. You let the
kite go up in the air but you still have the string. You know, we want the students to
have total access to technology. We want to bring them to the Web; and we can't do it
in a scared fashion. We like to teach the lessons to the students in the school using
the technology. They're going to make mistakes. Let's teach them how to learn from those mistakes
in a school setting because, if we shut it down, if we block it out, if we filter everything
so the kids can get access to anything, they're going to find it anywhere. They're going to
find it at home. They're going to find it from their neighbor's apartment. They're going
to find it from some unseemly influence out there in the world. We would rather the children
make mistakes in our school, in our presence, and then we will help them learn--learn from
those mistakes. So, yeah, we do have kids who are sometimes off-task, they're sometimes
trying to figure how to get through the proxies, but we see that as part of the growing process.
It's not a reason to give up and to quit and to stop. It's a reason to tighten our systems
up. And, honestly, if the lessons are great, if the projects are engaging, students aren't
off-task. >> MERROW: Trust but verify.
>> LEVY: Correct. >> MERROW: So has that been your experience,
Larry? >> ROSENSTOCK: Well, you know, we had actually
an award-winning plagiarism where a young man using translation software for Spanish
class submitted a paper in French. And I--and he's got an adopted brother, and I saw the
brother later on, I said, "Do you know what Josh just did?" He said, "I'm adopted." But
I don't think the teachers are threatened by this in our schools at all. They're really--they're
young. They're really into it. >> MERROW: I wonder, and I want to open this
up to questions from our audience, but I wonder, where does technology--how important is technology
to this? I mean, I read through Larry's sort of credo for High Tech High, and he says,
"If you treat kids like adults, even the most bruised and battered will play up to the role."
There's nothing high tech about that. He says, "Size of a school is one of the things that
doom city high schools." There's nothing high tech about that. "Students of High Tech High
often teach each other." There's nothing necessarily high tech about that. Understanding derives
from activity, that's John Dewey, pre-computer John Dewey. The--and--I mean, technology is
an essential. It's almost as if--I mean, you have game theory but you, you, it seems you
have to have a mindset about the importance of learning, the power, I mean, all that sort
of stuff. >> SALEN: You do but I think, you know, one
of the common points that has come up again and again today is that we can't talk about
the technology without talking about the social practices that are coupled with that technology.
And, in fact, I think we're learning lots of things from the social practices that have
emerged around new kinds of technology that gives us new insights and new opportunities
in terms of how do we engage kids in learning. So it's not that technology, if you take out
technology, everything would collapse, but it certainly is contributing new ways of thinking
about what is possible, in terms of advancing our understanding of how to help kids learn
better. >> MERROW: But do you believe--do any of you
agree? >> LEVY: I disagree. I disagree with that.
>> SALEN: I know. >> LEVY: I think it's a--and not with what
you said. I disagree with your premise that you can treat students like adults nowadays
without giving them access to technology. Why should teachers and principals check email;
do their work online, do things quickly, get information at any second that they want it,
and why shouldn't students have that exact same opportunity? We do--we do infantilize
our children when we don't give them access to technology.
>> MERROW: What I was saying is some of the attitudes aren't dependent upon technology.
>> ROSENSTOCK: The adult wants, I'm sorry, the adult wants are more about privacy, control,
command, and the kids' wants are more about networking and connecting and it's really
different levels of… >> RAMSEY: And a quick point that I would
add to that is it's just a microcosm of the changing of expectation in the 21st century.
People want horizontal relationships and technology facilitates a horizontal flat set of relationships
versus a vertical top down. That's what makes it so important. But that same dynamic exist
when if parents and other people don't feel like they can participate within the school
and so there's still needs to be much more of an opening up of the sense of who gets
to participate, who gets to make decisions, who's part of this whole learning ecosystem.
People are yearning for some of that sense of being horizontal as well outside of the
school. >> MERROW: Is it your sense that kids today,
in fact, are different because of digital media--they're different from you or any of
us, that their condition is absolutely different? >> SALEN: Well, I think that we can argue
that all of our conditions have been affected, not just by technology but there's a whole
set of changes that have happened, cultural changes, social changes.
>> MERROW: But the kids coming into the school, I mean, I spend a lot of my time in schools.
And I, you know, if the kids are different and they're coming in and have to power down,
I think, someone said, when they get to school, the challenge then would be that--can schools
adapt fast enough? If you're taking about, you guys are tiny…
>> ROSENSTOCK: Look how many people--look how many people over the last couple of days
have talked about our own children and the effects of our own children, right? My son
is at Berkley. He's majoring in astrophysics. He's a sophomore. He's taking linear algebra.
He can't understand the professor's English. He went on his iPhone. He watched OER MIT.
He got an A-minus on the final. He never went--he went to one class, you know. And so he's sitting
in Berkley and he's taking a class in Cambridge. I know, you know, I watched--my daughter's
15 and I watched her on the computer. I could not be writing a paper, being playing chess
with someone in Kazakhstan and be listening to Bob Marley and to be iChatting with six
people at the same time. I just couldn't do that. But I think, in that sense, they're
getting a little bit wired than we are. >> MERROW: But we were asked to talk about,
you know, the number of dropouts, 1.2 million kids a year, leaving school, frustrated. I
mean, you said… >> LEVY: Or bored. A lot of kids drop out
because they're bored. >> MERROW: Because they're bored?
>> ROSENSTOCK: And they have the right to be bored.
>> MERROW: Yeah, well… >> LEVY: And if students--if schools, if children
have all these ideas and they're--they're--and outside of school, they're running as fast
as they can, how can we put them at a crawl when they enter our school buildings. They
are--they leave school and they are sprinting. In all areas of our society, I mean, everywhere,
with cellphones, with iPhones, with video games, with online stuff--kids are sprinting.
Why would we want to slow them to a crawl in our buildings? It's just doesn't make sense.
That's not how they're wired. >> MERROW: But is it possible to not do that?
I mean, you guys can do it in one school, one school, nine schools--Rey is skeptical.
You said you got a building… >> RAMSEY: I got a school.
>> ROSENSTOCK: But there's really--there's also a multiplier effect because, first of
all, as a result of this, the kids in my school can connect with the kids in their school
and our kids are connecting with schools from other countries and the piece by Nick is going
on to a ck12, Neeru Khosla's open-source, open-education resources, FlexBooks, all these
books are going up there. So, now, people are going to be able to access all over the
world these tremendous assets for free and having kids--having a kid videoed explaining--here's
a kid explaining how to do polynomials. >> MERROW: Are you hopeful though--we talked
about a crisis. You know, there's a--the gap will grow. Are any of you--are any of you
hopeful that, actually, the public schools can respond fast enough and in large enough
numbers. You know, we have 95,000 public schools. >> RAMSEY: I think we have to be hopeful,
but I'm a big believer that you work on dual tracks. You continue to do the experimentation.
You continue to have these alternative mechanisms for learning, while we work on the systemic
issues, you know, at the same time. It's not an either/or, and, sometimes, you engage in
that in communities or funding where it's either/or. And I think philanthropy that's
putting money in different things has to look at it in the same way. We have to continue
to experiment. >> LEVY: If technology can succeed in my school,
you know, at 339, it can succeed in any school in the country. And I think that, you know,
if we're talking about scaling up, you know, the only way you could scale up in this day
and age is through technology. There is no way to scale up without technology. So I think
that we need to find some of the best practices that are happening. I think we need to make
technology readily available to every student and teacher in the country. There's low-cost
Netbooks now. Within five years, we want to have a plan. We should put a low-cost Internet
device in the hands of every teacher and student in this country. And we should train new people
and understand that it's not going to be an overnight mandated thing. We have to have
a growth plan, where people are going to be able to learn at their right speed. We can't
just make technology, "by tomorrow, everyone is going to be doing this"; that takes the
fun out of it. But I think we need to have--we need to be able to, you know, start with the
equipment, but also continue with the training and people are talking about it last night,
policy. Our governmental laws, our school board policies, our state curriculum are not
set up to support the technology that we need to undergird what we're doing. It's just not
possible. >> MERROW: And why do you expect that's going
to change? >> LEVY: I think that, at some point, there's
going to be--there's going to have to be a tipping point, and I don't want to monopolize
the panel, but I think, at some point, there's going to be a tipping point where you keep
getting people together who are from different industries and you keep seeing us fall further
behind other countries that are doing these things. We're going to have to innovate. We're
going to have to make sure that we move forward. >> SALEN: Yeah, I was just going to say, I
think that there--all this conversation the past two days has all been about "schools
are the only thing that they have to change, they have to change, they have to change."
We have to take responsibility in other parts of the sector to help lift up everything.
So, you know, what--what Geoffrey didn't talk about last night is that the Harlem Children
Zone is an ecology. It's the design of a network. They're not just helping kids in the school.
They're working with parents. They're working with--in the after-school program. They have
Saturday programs. There's all of these other sectors where work is being done to create,
again, feedback loops that create multiple opportunities to catch kids in all different
kind spaces. If we keep saying schools are the only thing, the only place where we're
going to hold kids accountable for learning, it's just--it's impossible. So one of the
challenges--and I think Connie talked about this this morning--is that we have to understand
how to develop translators between experiences kids are having outside of school. What does
that mean for our assessment measures, for how kids might begin to think about moving
into the workforce, how they might begin to thinking about putting something in their
college portfolio that may not look like something standard and something that they've done in
school? And so we have to begin to think about--we talked about wisdom of the crowd, the distributed
learning. We have to understand how to operationalize that in a way that it takes the weight off
of the schools as the sucking black hole in this conversation because it is not their
responsibility today to hold all that weight. >> MERROW: I wonder if Rey is onto something
when he talks about organizing a whole county and so that school becomes one piece of it.
Eric Schmidt said something very interesting last night. He said, the way we learn is under
attack, under attack. And it may well be that this notion of school doesn't realize the
extent to which it's a dinosaur, I mean, that has been mortally wounded but hasn't gotten
up to the brain. I mean, you guys talked about guide on the side, sage on the stage. But
a lot of teachers today are forced to be ringmasters to try to get those test scores up. I mean,
is that--are you hopeful that--I mean, how are you going to--how are you going to fight
that? >> ROSENSTOCK: Oh, I have a remedy for that.
I think that any legislative body that requires that a standardized test be taken and the
aggregate results be made public should obligated to take the test and make the results public.
U.S. Congress, state board--that--and that will change the discourse in one hour.
>> MERROW: But it's a--yeah, you know, what we have here are a whole raft of ideas. We
have run out of time. Let's continue this conversation…
>>We have five minutes. >> MERROW: We have five minutes. Okay, then,
in that case, are there questions that some of you guys--yes, please. All right, I can
take three questions the boss says. >> BEZETTAS: Hi, my name is Maria Bezettas.
This question is for Katie. I wonder if you can say something, Katie, about the question
of kind of scale, and how you deal with the sort of tremendous experimentation that you're
able to do in a very limited context, right? How do you get it out, right? And what do
partnerships mean to you and how do you go about sort of dealing with that?
>> SALEN: All right. So one thing that, you know, we need a conscious decision to open
a public school that would, in theory, over time, be sustainable on public dollars because
it's not that we were hoping that there would be a million of these schools in the world,
but we did want to figure out how could we create a model where at least pieces of that
model could be taken up and used by others. So the design of the schools has been very
systemic. There are modular components. We--the curriculum, we worked before the school opened
with existing public school teachers to figure out what could we bring, teachers from regular
schools, into the model. Work with them, develop curriculum; they went back to their schools
and taught those classes to very good effects. So the pedagogy is something that could be
taken up. The--we have a professional development program that we feel like could begin and
I'm--and there's other examples up here too of things that could be taken up…
>> MERROW: Are people paying attention? >> SALEN: Well, I have to say we've only been
opened eight weeks so… >> LEVY: Give her a chance…
>> MERROW: But Larry's experience in San Diego is not that, you know, people, the local district
schools are not to be the path to reserve, as I understand it.
>> SALEN: No, no, no, I have to say there's great interest and we've had amazing partners
in New York. And so I think one of the amazing things about being in New York is that there's
a lot of work being done there around, you know, how to support learning networks? So
there's cultural institutions trying to figure out how do you connect the schools, the--my
non-profit, we actually have a curriculum lab staffed with game designers that sits
inside of the school. That's becoming kind of a conduit for other teachers to come in
and train and work with us and co-develop curriculum; so the ideas that pieces of this
school can be taken up and used by others. And we're very context-specific so we actually
think that the model will look different wherever it goes and that's actually a very good thing,
but--so that's been our approach in terms of scale. It's not the whole school but it's--the
ecology of the school, hopefully, that can be taken up and used.
>> MERROW: Other questions? Yeah, please. Yeah, I think, I'll get you a mike.
>> PETROLA: My name is Mary Ann Petrola, and I'm curious to know a little bit about--this
has been a great conversation about technology and parents and getting them informed and
the communication and stuff, but what about the ambition gap? How are your schools helping
students understand what they're being prepared for in the future? We're here in Silicon Valley;
we're all about innovation. We know the future could be anything tomorrow. But I don't wonder
if that's not a challenge--a bigger challenge for the average parent than the reality of
using technology. >> ROSENSTOCK: Well, my response to that--my
response to that is to have a school environment in which kids are behaving like scientists,
behaving like mathematicians, behaving like photographers, behaving like journalists.
That's the best way to close the ambition gap for me. And then, there's a couple of
other mechanisms. I'll give you a very quick one, okay? You need to have a weighted average,
again, just like good colleges, right? We don't want to segregate kids. We're diverse.
We're--the kids are picked by zip code lottery, through the zip code. So we made a deal with
University of California that, basically, someone could be taking honors, let's say,
over at the end, is taking honors and I'm taking regular and we can be in the same class
at the same time with the same teacher, but that person is doing more work than I am.
And, after awhile, I say, hey, you know, you know, that could be me. You know, but I don't
go home feeling like I'm in the dumb class, you know. We don't have adult's bathrooms
and kids' bathrooms. We have bathrooms. We don't have a PA system that makes you feel
like a bus system. We do home visits of every kid. Every college advising counselor has
two qualities: They work--and it's like the college admission office--successfully for
years and they're the first member of their family to go to college. I mean, there's--there's
a hundred little things that you could do that we--that are all very obvious and, surprisingly,
are not done. >> MERROW: But it has to do with--you don't
study science; you do science. >> ROSENSTOCK: That is correct.
>> MERROW: You are a scientist. I mean, so a level of respect, you don't--here's a game
where kids repair broken games. I mean, you're doing real work, which is a respect issue.
>> SALEN: I think it's also a part of just exposing kids to lots of stuff. And one thing
that having kids access to Web 2.0 stuff in school is it helps them see lots of stuff
and interact with lots of interesting, different kind of people and that helps with aspirational
things. And one thing that Cole talked about earlier is that there are--true, they have
sort of making mentally. Kids are able to see that I can do that too. This pedagogy
around kids teaching other kids. They can see, "wow, actually. I know how to do math,
because I just taught somebody else how to do it, and I actually didn't even know that
I could do it that well." So this way of kind of constantly reinforcing for kids that they
are experts, they can have expertise and there are places to take that expertise so the technology
stuff just--there's just more texture, many more opportunities for kids to be exposed
to stuff. >> MERROW: And final thoughts?
>> RAMSEY: I'm about to say we have to be intentional about the expectation issue and
there are other intentionalities that we have to build in, like making sure there's cultural
competency with the teachers and those sorts of things. And having been a product of that
on the side, of having been in remedial reading myself and dumped into sort of the class for
dummies, you-can't-read, is you have to provide alternative mechanisms that aren't just in
the classroom because, sometimes, that one guidance counselor doesn't care. And so you
need alternatives to make sure that in that support--and the final thing that I would
say, in the 21st century, we have to think in terms of not just schools but connected
learning environments and that it's not just the school, that there is a connected learning
environment that include other elements and we make no investment in those other places
and we need to start. >> MERROW: And Katie said we have to take
some of that pressure off the school to be everything. We have to enable schools and
teachers to give up control, to get over their fears, as Jason did. Lots of food for thought
for conversation during lunch; would you give it up please for this marvelous group? Thank