30 July 2010

That's What I Want

I'm hoping that you can help me shape a hapless mass of an idea into a shiny one. When it comes to good ideas, they do not spring fully-formed from my head. Science Goddess I may be---Zeus I am not. And I need an Athena.

Amongst all of the other projects I am working on at the moment is the need to put together a professional development package about the edtech assessments. I would like to have a 1-hour option and a 3-hour option. Those who deliver the PD can choose whatever fits the time budget they've been provided.

Since the assessments will come in a variety of flavours (grade levels, subject areas...), the PD needs to be generic/flexible/adaptable. I'm looking for a single base: a problem-based learning experience that would be engaging to most adults. The problem needs to be "sitcom-sized" (i.e. slightly messy, but solvable in less than 30 minutes) for the 1-hour session, but could be extended for the 3-hour.

I also don't want to make the PD dependent upon access---access to a computer lab, mobile lab, internet, multiple power outlets, etc. As soon as it becomes stuff-heavy, fewer schools can use it and/or fewer teachers will believe that the information will translate to the classroom. With this in mind, I want the tech part to be built around cell phones/text messaging. Yes, I know that not every educator has a cell phone...and for those who do, not all use text messaging. But I think it's the best solution for now: tech that nearly everyone will have with them and doesn't need any special support in terms of where the PD takes place (unless in a "shielded" or remote location).

I envision the PD working this way: presenter poses a problem that the group can solve. Participants text message data. Data aggregated and collected on a website is communicated back to the group. Small group work to propose various solutions. Along the way, the presenter models the sorts of things that are found in the edtech assessments with a review of the components with the group following the cell phone activity. For the 3-hour jaunt, there would also be an opportunity to talk policy.

I can see in my head how to fit all the pieces together, but I am missing the most important part: the hook...the question...the problem that drives the entire inquiry for adults. I have a lot of blah ideas. What if participants texted one piece of personal data: e.g. home address, age, type of vehicle, or whatever. What would the question be to kick things off? What meaningful experience could we create from the data---map? visualization?

Athena---are you out there?

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