Sunday, November 27, 2011

Simulating learning environments, Steve Jobs and NeXT

"Amazing video of young Steve Jobs working on creating NeXT. This old video has some real educational value showing hands-on brainstorming, teambuilding management. This is how great companies are made - what he says at 13:15 is very true."
Bartosz Barlowski CEO ,

The Entrepreneurs is a documentary on Steve Jobs that was filmed in 1986, which shows his original vision with the NeXT, that is from Jobs’ aspirations for higher education and simulated learning environments to his decision-making process on price point and product features to his approach to company culture and motivational morale.

Few of his quotes:

“Whether NeXT can be a viable business is something only time will tell. But Steve Jobs’ passionate commitment to his vision is clear, and his certainty that it can be achieved — and is worth achieving — is a conviction to be observed in all successful entrepreneurs.”

“Rand doesn’t usually work for infant companies, even if they can afford him. But NeXT isn’t an ordinary startup.”

“More important than building a product, we are in the process of architecting a company that will hopefully be much more incredible, the total will be much more incredible than the sum of its parts, and the cumulative effort of approximately 20,000 decisions that we’re all gonna make over the next two years are gonna define what our company is. And one of the things that made Apple great was that, in the early days, it was built from the heart.”

“I don’t see that startup hustle… If we zoom out of the big picture, it would be a shame to have lost the war because we won a few battles.”

Steve Jobs / Fearless Genius by Doug Menuez

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Project-Based Learning at High-Tech High

High Tech High CEO Larry Rosenstock describes a vision for education that embraces learning that flows from personal interests, passion for discovery, and a celebration of art, technology, and craftsmanship.

“I want kids behaving like an actress, behaving like a scientist, behaving like a documentary film maker, behaving like a journalist, not just studying it, but being like it, because what is adolescence, but trying on new roles and sampling new identities?” Larry Rosenstock.

Glass Walls, Carpentry, and Design: Authentic Learning at High Tech High


"This video is full of brilliant ideas! Here are some highlights and a few of my thoughts:
Full integration. Rosenstock speaks not only about the integration of students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, and abilities, but the elimination of segregated classes that separate students who are said to “work with their hands” from those who “work with their heads”, schools from their communities, and academics from non-academics (in terms of subjects as well as students).

“There is no course here…[HTH has been said to be] a great liberal arts school in disguise.” Rosenstock’s background in carpentry taught him that everything (meaning every subject) can be learned through the process of design and conceptual work in all aspects of art, media, design, and technology. He argues that our understanding of the arts in the broadest sense should be combined to create fluid learning environments where students can build connections between all subject areas and will no longer think about subjects as entities separate from each other. At HTH it seems that students go to school to learn and grow, period.

Constant reflection and collaborative critique. The student voices in the video show a deep understanding of the process of learning and reflection for improvement. This important skill is echoed in Lloyd Rieber’s article, The Studio Experience: Educational Reform in Instructional Technology, which also describes an emphasis on constant reflection and peer/instructor critiques in the multimedia design program at the University of Georgia. I believe that all schools need to emphasize all types of reflection more.

A physical environment that “…doesn’t look like a school, [but like] a start-up, an incubator”. I am sure that the appearance of the school was the first thing that struck you when you watched the video. Student work oozes from every pore: floor-to-ceiling murals, objects hanging from the ceiling, an entire wall of screens displaying multimedia work, screens embedded inside life-size paintings of figures, and of course, the piece featuring interactive bicycle wheels. This fuels student reflection, motivation, and pride in their work. Furthermore, the walls are all made of glass. They physically enable fluid learning, sharing, self-regulation, curiosity, and non-stop collaborative engagement throughout the school—for students and teachers alike.

“If you treat kids with respect and enter them into the adult world, they will behave like adults…suspicion invites treachery.” The hundreds of student-created pieces in the hallways are free of vandalism because of the respect that students and staff feel for their work and their learning community. Rosenstock speaks of students rising to the high expectations of adults and peers while engaging in shared learning, focused on their passions. With meaningful projects and constant collaboration with peers, the level of student-student and student-teacher respect is elevated to the highest degree.

The most memorable and meaningful learning experiences involve: projects, mentors, community involvement, risk of failure, recognition for success, and public exhibition. “Rigor is being in the company of a passionate adult who is rigorously pursuing inquiry in their subject matter and is inviting students along as a peer in adult discourse”. Later on, Rosenstock also refers to social change as a catalyst for meaningful learning that leverages existing resources to improve peoples’ lives.

We can measure your effectiveness as a teacher through “the sophistication of your kids’ work. If your kids are producing work that is worth doing and has lasting value, and learning that’s worth learning, you’re a good teacher”. This is an incredibly powerful statement that not only tells us what good teaching is, but what good learning should lead to.

Real-world engagement. “I want kids behaving like an actress, behaving like a scientist, behaving like a documentary film maker, behaving like a journalist, not just studying it, but being like it, because what is adolescence, but trying on new roles and sampling new identities?” Rosenstock emphasizes that it’s not about training students for specific occupations, but immersing them in rich, real experiences. "

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Steve Jobs on Education

Excerpts from an Oral History Interview with Steve Jobs / Smithsonian Institution
Interviewer: Daniel Morrow, Executive Director, The Computerworld Smithsonian Awards Program
Date of Interview: 20 April 1995
Location: NeXT Computer
Transcript Editor: Thomas J. Campanella, Computerworld Smithsonian Awards

DM: What were the early things you were passionate about, that you were interested in?

SJ: I was very lucky. My father, Paul, was a pretty remarkable man. He never graduated from high school. He joined the coast guard in World War II and ferried troops around the world for General Patton; and I think he was always getting into trouble and getting busted down to Private. He was a machinist by trade and worked very hard and was kind of a genius with his hands. He had a workbench out in his garage where, when I was about five or six, he sectioned off a little piece of it and said "Steve, this is your workbench now." And he gave me some of his smaller tools and showed me how to use a hammer and saw and how to build things. It really was very good for me. He spent a lot of time with me . . . teaching me how to build things, how to take things apart, put things back together.

One of the things that he touched upon was electronics. He did not have a deep understanding of electronics himself but he'd encountered electronics a lot in automobiles and other things he would fix. He showed me the rudiments of electronics and I got very interested in that. I grew up in Silicon Valley. My parents moved from San Francisco to Mountain View when I was five. My dad got transferred and that was right in the heart of Silicon Valley so there were engineers all around. Silicon Valley for the most part at that time was still orchards--apricot orchards and prune orchards--and it was really paradise. I remember the air being crystal clear, where you could see from one end of the valley to the other.

DM: This was when you were six, seven, eight years old at the time.

SJ: Right. Exactly. It was really the most wonderful place in the world to grow up. There was a man who moved in down the street, maybe about six or seven houses down the block who was new in the neighborhood with his wife, and it turned out that he was an engineer at Hewlett-Packard and a ham radio operator and really into electronics. What he did to get to know the kids in the block was rather a strange thing: he put out a carbon microphone and a battery and a speaker on his driveway where you could talk into the microphone and your voice would be amplified by the speaker. Kind of strange thing when you move into a neighborhood but that's what he did.

DM: This is great.


SJ: I of course started messing around with this. I was always taught that you needed an amplifier to amplify the voice in a microphone for it to come out in a speaker. My father taught me that. I proudly went home to my father and announced that he was all wrong and that this man up the block was amplifying voice with just a battery. My father told me that I didn't know what I was talking about and we got into a very large argument. So I dragged him down and showed him this and he himself was a little befuddled.

I got to know this man, whose name was Larry Lang, and he taught me a lot of electronics. He was great. He used to build Heathkits. Heathkits were really great. Heathkits were these products that you would buy in kit form. You actually paid more money for them than if you just went and bought the finished product if it was available. These Heathkits would come with these detailed manuals about how to put this thing together and all the parts would be laid out in a certain way and color coded. You'd actually build this thing yourself. I would say that this gave one several things. It gave one a understanding of what was inside a finished product and how it worked because it would include a theory of operation but maybe even more importantly it gave one the sense that one could build the things that one saw around oneself in the universe. These things were not mysteries anymore. I mean you looked at a television set you would think that "I haven't built one of those but I could. There's one of those in the Heathkit catalog and I've built two other Heathkits so I could build that." Things became much more clear that they were the results of human creation not these magical things that just appeared in one's environment that one had no knowledge of their interiors. It gave a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one's environment. My childhood was very fortunate in that way.


DM: It sounds like you were really lucky to have your dad as sort of a mentor. I was going to ask you about school. What was the formal side of your education like? Good? Bad?

SJ: School was pretty hard for me at the beginning. My mother taught me how to read before I got to school and so when I got there I really just wanted to do two things. I wanted to read books because I loved reading books and I wanted to go outside and chase butterflies. You know, do the things that five year olds like to do. I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me. By the time I was in third grade, I had a good buddy of mine, Rick Farentino, and the only way we had fun was to create mischief. I remember we traded everybody. There was a big bike rack where everybody put their bikes, maybe a hundred bikes in this rack, and we traded everybody our lock combinations for theirs on an individual basis and then went out one day and put everybody's lock on everybody else's bike and it took them until about ten o'clock that night to get all the bikes sorted out. We set off explosives in teacher's desks. We got kicked out of school a lot. In fourth grade I encountered one of the other saints of my life. They were going to put Rick Farentino and I into the same fourth grade class, and the principal said at the last minute "No, bad idea. Separate them." So this teacher, Mrs. Hill, said "I'll take one of them." She taught the advanced fourth grade class and thank God I was the random one that got put in the class. She watched me for about two weeks and then approached me. She said "Steven, I'll tell you what. I'll make you a deal. I have this math workbook and if you take it home and finish on your own without any help and you bring it back to me, if you get it 80% right, I will give you five dollars and one of these really big suckers she bought and she held it out in front of me. One of these giant things. And I looked at her like "Are you crazy lady"? Nobody's ever done this before and of course I did it. She basically bribed me back into learning with candy and money and what was really remarkable was before very long I had such a respect for her that it sort of re-ignited my desire to learn. She got me kits for making cameras. I ground my own lens and made a camera. It was really quite wonderful. I think I probably learned more academically in that one year than I learned in my life. It created problems though because when I got out of fourth grade they tested me and they decided to put me in high school and my parents said "No.". Thank God. They said "He can skip one grade but that's all."

DM: But not to high school.

SJ: And I found skipping one grade to be very troublesome in many ways. That was plenty enough. It did create some problems.


The Importance of Education

SJ: I'm sure it did. I'm a very big believer in equal opportunity as opposed to equal outcome. I don't believe in equal outcome because unfortunately life's not like that. It would be a pretty boring place if it was. But I really believe in equal opportunity. Equal opportunity to me more than anything means a great education. Maybe even more important than a great family life, but I don't know how to do that. Nobody knows how to do that. But it pains me because we do know how to provide a great education. We really do. We could make sure that every young child in this country got a great education. We fall far short of that. I know from my own education that if I hadn't encountered two or three individuals that spent extra time with me, I'm sure I would have been in jail. I'm 100% sure that if it hadn't been for Mrs. Hill in fourth grade and a few others, I would have absolutely have ended up in jail. I could see those tendencies in myself to have a certain energy to do something. It could have been directed at doing something interesting that other people thought was a good idea or doing something interesting that maybe other people didn't like so much. When you're young, a little bit of course correction goes a long way. I think it takes pretty talented people to do that. I don't know that enough of them get attracted to go into public education. You can't even support a family on what you get paid. I'd like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for, making a hundred thousand dollars a year. Why should they work at a school for thirty-five to forty thousand dollars if they could get a job here at a hundred thousand dollars a year? Is that an intelligence test? The problem there of course is the unions. The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education because it's not a meritocracy. It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what has happened. The teachers can't teach and administrators run the place and nobody can be fired. It's terrible.

DM: Some people say that this new technology maybe a way to bypass that. Are you optimistic about that?

The Role of Computers in Education

SJ: I absolutely don't believe that. As you've pointed out I've helped with more computers in more schools than anybody else in the world and I absolutely convinced that is by no means the most important thing. The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can. The elements of discovery are all around you. You don't need a computer. Here - why does that fall? You know why? Nobody in the entire world knows why that falls. We can describe it pretty accurately but no one knows why. I don't need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why.

DM: But you do need a person.

SJ: You need a person. Especially with computers the way they are now. Computers are very reactive but they're not proactive; they are not agents, if you will. They are very reactive. What children need is something more proactive. They need a guide. They don't need an assistant. I think we have all the material in the world to solve this problem; it's just being deployed in other places. I've been a very strong believer in that what we need to do in education is to go to the full voucher system. I know this isn't what the interview was supposed to be about but it is what I care about a great deal.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Maggie Doyne, a true heroine of the young generation

Most people on a gap year are content with just seeing the world. And not to try and change it. But on her return, Maggie decided to start a home in Nepal with the aim to sustain and improve the quality of life for children of Nepal. Her next big goal is to to build a school for the children.

She has since started her foundation called BlinkNow Foundation to share her ideas with other young people. Maggie won The prestigious Do Something award in America for all that she has done so far.

I simply love Maggie Doyne ! She is a true heroine of this amazing new generation.

Follow Maggie on Twitter , Facebook and on her website

A new step: Studio Schools Remix Vocational Education for a New Generation

Geoff Mulgan, director of the Young Foundation—which helped create the Studio School—gave a quick summary of their model in a recent TED Talk. A full 80 percent of instruction, he said, takes place outside of the classroom. Students work on commission for businesses, NGOs and other organizations, allowing them to learn while completing on-the-job, practical projects. The schools, which enroll a maximum 400 students each, also assign each student a personal coach to help ensure they're successful.

Found on GOOD

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What today’s Digital Native children can teach the rest of us about technology

Found on Twitter via @tweetmeme via @TNWinsider

What today’s Digital Native children can teach the rest of us about technology by Martin Bryant
Follow him on twitter at @MartinSFP - Manchester, UK
" European Editor at The Next Web, co-founder of Social Media Cafe Mcr. SFP=Star Fighter Pilot. I say 'Yes' a lot. "

We’ve reached the point now where almost all the world’s under-18s in the developed world don’t remember a time when the Internet wasn’t a major part of everyday life.

Growing up with a direct connection to the whole world gives today’s children a view on the way the world works that is vastly different from the older generations. What can we learn from the ‘digital natives’? That’s one of the questions that research firm Latitude is looking to answer with its KIDS – Kids Innovation Discovery Series initiative.

Neela Sakaria, Senior Vice President of Latitude explains that the research is “focused on giving children a real voice in the broader, often very adult, discussion of future technologies and real-world problem solving.”

“We believe that kids are architects of the future – they’re creative, have an intuitive relationship with technology, and have proven that they think in extraordinarily sophisticated ways about how tech can enhance their learning, play, and interactions with the people and things around them.”

“We wanted to conduct a study that gave kids a voice and space to be creative, allowing them to fill their natural role as budding creators,” Sakaria explains.”Through these exercises kids have shown that they can teach us not only about their own needs and desires, but also about our own future preferences and how technology might help us solve bigger, global problems.”

Read the rest of the story here



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Send the elevator back down

You have a responsibility to “send the elevator back down, because in life, it doesn’t matter what floor you’re on. There’s always someone just below you.”

Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey's mentor

Arts Advocacy Day 2011: Kevin Spacey