What students are saying.

Photo By: stevevosloo Under A Creative Common License

So, there are 26 of us itching to start an education revolution from the ground up. The problem, of course, is that you and I are anything but close to the ground.

I had a wonderful conversation with a group of primary school and high school students that totally opened my eyes. Think of the conversation I had as a bit of preliminary research on staging an education revolution. The predominant thread throughout the conversation was engagement and ownership. Students are sitting in neat rows in neat rooms and they are being taught by a teacher at the front of the class.

What are students thinking about while the teacher is droning on?
1. music
2. mobile phones
3. games

So what if there was a way to link music, mobile phones, and games to engagement and ownership in the classroom?

That got me thinking about smart (and not so smart) phone apps, karaoke, social media and remixes. We cannot throw out what is being taught in the classroom just yet but maybe we can add to it with a little personal engagement and a lot of ownership!

Do you have any examples of ways that music, mobile phone, or games can be used to  build engagement with students in the classroom?

8 thoughts on “What students are saying.”

  1. Many believe that our world revolves around money. My belief is that the world revolves around people, but money still plays a big part. Without people, however, we would never see money. In a world where more and more individuals are harnessing their creativity and exposing themselves to risk as entrepreneurs, I think there is something for children to learn. One thing they can learn is that failing isn’t a bad thing! We learn from our mistakes that we can start over again and succeed with the knowledge we obtained throughout our previous experiences.

    I read about some great entrepreneurship courses at various colleges that expose students to the real thing. They become engaged in the process and in some cases start real businesses. With this in mind, we need to be teaching children that there are some very unique ways to make money in the world. One of those ways is through YouTube videos.

    Did you know that once a YouTube video reaches 10,000 views per month, the owner of the video can begin sharing the advertising profits with Google? How wonderful would it be if students could learn about what makes compelling content, Internet media production, advertising and entrepreneurship? How many other things do you think they will learn when exposed to ideas they never thought possible?

    Why don’t we find ways for students to find things on their own through services like StumbleUpon? I recently implemented a policy that allows my staff members 30 minutes a day to Stumble the Internet. What do I get for it? Creativity, new ideas, happy employees. What do you think this would do for students?


  2. As a teacher of Computing A-level (KS5) in the UK – I have found that learners are very engaged when they hear about topics such as hacking, mobile phone apps, building computers and making games. Out of those mentioned, I teach none. The specification here of one particular examining board (possibly the most popular for this subject) requires learners to acquire particular knowledge in some important areas and others not. I would love to facilitate for them resources about the things mentioned (ethical and moral side for hacking, not how to do it!).

    A sad case is that most children bring to school/college their mobile phones, a completely amazing tool and relevant piece of technology in the classroom for Computing especially and they are told to put away this engaging item in exchange for something else.

    Leading on from this, I’m also a strong believer in independent learning and believe that with the right tools, learners will be empowered to engage, discover, create and improve the world we live in.

    Combining these – It is my belief that software like Google AppInventor (http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/about/), YouTube videos, online tutorials and forums for collaboration and a platform for sharing ideas are great ways of engaging pupils by giving them something “current” and relevant while allowing them to become self-educators and empowered learners.


  3. iPod touches are amazing little learning devices, yet so many adults think kids use them just to play games. However, with the right guidance, these powerful little devices provide so much more. First of all, they’re really tiny computers with full wi-fi capabilities, a camera, video camera, and a built in microphone.

    QR Code readers – An 8 year old recently used a QR code reader to scan a QR code on one of the Li ion battery packs on the new 100% electric car, the Nissan Leaf. Many adults don’t even know what a QR code is, but 8 year olds with iPod touches do and they want to use them to interact with their world!

    Google Translate: There’s a free Google Translate app. for the iPod touch that will translate phrases and words into 50 different languages, even through voice inputs. Children can also use Google translate to help them learn correct pronunciations, and groups of children can “challenge” each other as part of the learning process.

    Camera and apps such as Hipstamatic – Budding photographers can create interesting photos using Hipstamatic’s creative filters in this app. What a great way to teach about the rule of thirds, citizen journalism or just documenting a project.

    Wolfram|Alpha, Google Earth, Skype, and AppBox Pro are a few more high quality iPod touch apps that allow for creative learning beyond the chalk board, book, or classroom. Furthermore, simply learning to USE these kinds of tools (digital literacy) is valuable. Why not provide every single school child with one of these devices and then create meaningful engagement opportunities with them every day?


  4. I have been exploring ways of bringing games, creative arts and performance into the educational environment for many years. There is a vast body of evidence now that shows the biological, psychological and social impact that play and cultural activities have on individuals, particularly in how they speed up the absorption of new information through making new neural connections. Physical experience takes learning to levels that mere intellectual understanding can never reach – the missing element of the BODY within traditional education is, I believe, the key to empowering both educators and educated to enjoy and benefit from information sharing in ways we can only dream about now. We are rhythmic, social creatures with an innate body wisdom that allows us to find our own answers to life’s questions if empowered to do so. I’d like to see classrooms that reflect this by pushing back the chairs, getting out the drums and paints and making school a place you wouldn’t miss for the anything!


    1. Darren,

      Very well said! Children learn naturally from their environment before school age. That doesn’t change when they magically reach “school age”. Let’s empower children to lead us where they want to go (and they will!). Put them on center stage, trust them to think, facilitate their learning with resources, mentors, technology, etc., encourage crazy ideas, remove taboos from subjects that are “too difficult” or “too easy”, and let them have fun!


  5. As a former educator, I am interested in this topic. Something within current pedagogical methods ought to change if we are to engage many of today’s young people.

    Just off the top of my head, I know that music (lyrics) can be integrated into lessons on poetry and literature.


  6. I’ve been following TED many years now and this seems like a way for me to share, give back, “orchestrate” for a better tomorrow. For the past 4 semesters I’ve been running a social media conversation with my wind ensemble here at Texas Tech University. I also have run two different research studies on how students are using online technologies in their lives and in other classes. Finding ways to connect the dots in and out of the classroom is important and something most student/teachers are currently doing. Check out my website. I’d love to help, share, discuss the topic in any way that might be helpful. Good luck to the team!


  7. Funny you mentioned karaoke, I bought a karaoke machine for my K-2 classroom when I was teaching in 1997. My fellow teachers thought I was nuts. But when we turned our classroom into the ocean depths by covering the walls with blue paper and adding the fish we made to the different levels of the ocean, the students were energized. So much so that they were willing to get up and sing songs they made up into the karaoke machine. It was such a great moment. I had one little star that integrated the facts we learned into his song and soon the other students were singing his song as well. I often wonder why teachers look at activities like this as “playtime” when there is so much value in it.


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