Monday 20 March 2017

Think outside the box.

I am always amazed when I get to watch someone who is truly talented in their field, regardless of what that may be. One of my kids' favourite things is watching "people are awesome" videos on Youtube. The extreme dedication id takes to perfect your craft is something that I admire in extreme sports athletes.

I'd like to think of creative arts teachers as the extreme sports stars of teaching. They regularly do things other teachers will not attempt in their right mind, yet in doing so they show students what they are capable of creating once they let go of the notion of "I can't".

One of the criticisms of teachers (often well justified!) is that they get used to doing something a certain way. A way that has produced results before. And the same can sometimes be said in the way in which we use certain tools. My father always told me to use a tool for the purpose it was intended, otherwise you might break it. Well, I found myself in a situation with a creative arts teacher that reminded me of this recently...

Imagine a teacher taking one of my favourite tech add-ons and using it for something other than what was intended?! What madness is this you speak of?? Well, I guess they keep telling us that in this beautiful country of ours you need to be different to give yourself every chance of success by not following a mold. With unemployment a serious concern for every young South African, entrepreneurship is crucial. Maybe this mindset it what causes people to try and find a different way of using the same piece of tech?

Elon Musk

Flubaroo is one of my favourite add-ons for auto marking (or grading in the states). I've spent hours with the great Flubaroo Joe tweaking spreadsheets to make sure it produces the correct outcome for students. But I have never thought of using it in the way one of my Art teachers did recently.

She wanted students to do a critical analysis of different pieces of art, writing a fairly comprehensive paragraph on each piece. This was to be done as a termly project; one that students could go back to often once they gain more knowledge about the particular style or artist. What she wanted though, was for each student to submit their own ideas BEFORE learning too much about the subject. She went about creating a flubaroo sheet that automatically gave students key pointers to remember and check if they had included certain elements in their evaluation! This could be checked and re-submitted as often as they liked, adding to and expanding their knowledge of each piece of art.

When she approached me with this problem, we spent some time brain storming the idea and to be honest, flubaroo was not something that sprung to mind immediately. But once we started delving deaper into the possibilities, we realised that it could turn out to be something very unique and interesting.

I learnt something valuable from this experience - never be afraid to try something new when it comes to tech. Experiment. Tinker. After all, isn't this how most great ideas are "created"?

Anyway, 'till next time.

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