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“Who are all those old people in our lab?

By Dave Cornelius ADE 2009

Age and technological prowess often are not synonymous, particularly in education.
Factor in the tech toys, marvels and training available at Orlando’s Full Sail University
and you can imagine the dismay expressed by the student who asked, “Who are all those
old people in our lab?”

It is just as easy to understand the laughter the querry evoked among the educators and
professionals attending the 2009 Apple Distinguished Educator conference. No longer
BUMPS, VRE’s, and a dizzying array of professional software certifications. They were
just a bunch of old people invading the sacred turf of high tech “want to be” pros. The
resulting collision and collaboration of high tech learners and innovative practitioners
produced interesting results.

Selection as an Apple Distinguished Educator involves a rigorous nomination and

application process that focuses on the individual’s innovative use of technology in
education. It isn’t enough to be an enthusiastic user. To make the grade applicants must
already create, author, advocate, innovate, and advise. Once selected they are provided
with additional tools, training and experiences that help them become more effective
Advocates, Advisors, Authors and Ambassadors.

The 2009 class of ADE’s joined established alumni from around the world at Full Sail to
explore not only the use of technology but new ways to make it more relevant and
accessible to teachers and learners. Each ADE was placed in a project team and joined
by select Full Sail students to experience Challenge Based Learning first hand.

Apple’s Challenge Based Learning process, “begins with a big idea and cascades to the
following: an essential question, a challenge, guiding questions, activities, resources,
determining and articulating the solution, taking action by implementing the solution,
reflection, assessment, and publishing.”

The whole concept leverages what we know about teaching, learning and creativity. It
then adds Web 2.0 technology and collaborative environments to personal and group
approaches to problem solving.

It is multi-disciplinary, active, and hands on. It challenges students to actually use their
native technology to combine what they know about a subject, acquire what they do not
know and engage others in their school, community, and even the world in a
collaborative manner to address specific real world questions.

It goes a couple of steps further. Once a solution or course of action is determined,

students must then implement the solution, reflect on the outcome, assess the
effectiveness and publish the results.
The real depth and beauty of the process is that it is personal.

Students, with guidance, select the big idea, choose an underlying question, create the
solution, implement it, assess it and publish the results.

There are challenges for teachers. How do I keep the process on track? How do I meet
state mandated standards? How do I assign a grade for an individual when much of the
work is collaborative? How do I change my role from “sage on the stage” to “guide on
the side?”

When many teachers are confronted by this style of teaching and learning, the self-
defeating questions/objections start flying. The bottom line is that much of the time those
“objections” are little more than excuses for not stepping out of an individual comfort
zone for the good of the students.

The ADE 2009 Conference reaffirmed that there are many ways to change paradigms.
There are teachers all over the world who are doing great and innovative things for
students. They are willing to share and collaborate.

Most of all I was reminded that I wasn’t alone on an island. I can be a force for change.
I have the support of amazing people and companies. I can support someone else, and
our educational landscape is only as bleak as I allow it to be. There are no excuses.

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