#IMMOOC: What If?


Recently I described my Fluco Game Designers club to someone else. I can’t recall if I mentioned if it was a club at the time or not. I was then thrown this question: How does it tie to the SOLs? (aka, Virginia’s standards of learning). I sort of bristled at this, but then realized I couldn’t recall if I mentioned it was an after school program, rather than something during the day.

I answered honestly. Fluco Game Designers is an after school club meant to help students learn about the video game design industry. While the beginning focuses on getting the basics down, the time after that will focus on imagining, designing, and creating. Yes, I am sure I could easily tie ELA standards to it, as there is reflective writing, feedback, and storytelling. However, I’m more focused on showing and letting students discover how those things apply to the video game industry. I want them to see the real world application.

I have quickly learned that SOLs are a huge target in Virginia. Part of me is glad I am not teaching in a classroom because I don’t think I could handle the constant assessment that goes on through testing. I don’t like it, and I’m sure I wouldn’t like my job much if I had to do that. I’m used to being able to do all types of assessments, not just pencil and paper or computer tests. I digress though.

The list of What Ifs in Chapter 7 of The Innovator’s Mindset got me thinking about all kinds of possibilities. However, the one that struck the biggest chord with me was What if schools operated as if we should all be “learners,” as opposed to students being the only learners? I am only in my 8th year in education, yet no matter where I’ve ended up, I’ve always found small pockets of educators who want to learn more outside of what the school day entails. It doesn’t matter if that’s book study, professional development, Twitter edchats, or personal research.

What if…. instead of a handful of people attending voluntary PD, the room was packed full?

What if… teachers shared the educational books they’ve read or found helpful?

What if… teachers attended a session run by students to learn something new?

I love when I can find educators who are eager to talk and share and discuss. I love edchats for this reason, though typically can only find time to participate in one per week. I love doing the #IMMOOC book study. What makes it fun though is finding others to talk to and share in the study, whether through blogs or the Facebook group or even Twitter. In fact, I’d love to see more book study groups like this one for other books.

It seems like it’s time for educators to show and model to the students that we are learners too, that we never get too old to learn something, and that we *gasp* fail and make mistakes. We are not invincible and we are not perfect. We are all human, and we all struggle from time to time. It’s only natural. A teacher does not have to stay on the pedestal to earn a student’s respect and admiration. There are other ways to do so, and it all starts with being a lifelong learner.

#IMMOOC: Inspiration

I started this post with the quote from the very beginning of the introduction to George Couros’ Innovator’s Mindset because it resonated strongly with me, even after I finished reading the section. Ever since I was little, I’ve been curious about the world around me. My interests have changed and evolved over the years, but no matter where I end up, I seem to be curious about learning new things. Perhaps this is why I hate click bait articles so much… I know they aren’t as good as they are made out to be, but my curiosity can’t resist at times.

Curiosity lends a lot to my desire to learn new things and to seek new information. As an educator, I’m eager to seek new opportunities for professional development to learn new things. I get to learn about GIS and makerspace next week, and I’m sure more opportunities will arise throughout the year. I am eagerly developing professional development for staff, and am so very proud of my effort to create some new connected educators. I tell many educators that all it takes is being motivated to want to learn something new, especially when it comes to my technology PD sessions.

Education should make us motivated and curious about learning. We should willingly seek new knowledge, be willing to share that knowledge openly with others. To me, this is the true purpose of education. And yet we send five and six year olds to school curious and eager to start, and by the time they graduate, they can’t wait to get out of school and move forward. They are done with school and all it entails.

Something has to change. The times are changing. The way we learn and the way kids learn is changing. School should no longer be the time where children sit and consume knowledge with bouts of time for them to explore their passions. No, not at all. School should encourage them to be creators, innovators, game changers. We expect them to change the way the world works, but how can we expect that if we don’t change the way their education works?

Innovation is a gateway to changing the game. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen over time with dedication and passion. It’s my hope that after reading the introduction, that I’m in for quite a treat with the #IMMOOC. I can’t wait to continue!