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Book Notes for: Rewiring Education

Title: Rewiring Education: How Technology Can Unlock Every Student’s Potential
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc
Authors: John D. Couch, Apple Inc’s First Vice President of Education and Jason Towne, research fellow at Harvard University


Why I read this book: I’m always interested in how technology and education fuse and I’m especially interested in challenging educational norms. I’m a product of the public school system and while a lot has changed since I went through it; a lot has still stayed the same.

The premise: our current educational models are in dire need of reform. The traditional public school system was designed to produce workers, not thinkers. In a technological age we are in need of thinkers. Before we can revolutionize education we must first understand aspects of learning such as potential, motivation, and even the learning environments. After we’ve understood that, how can we harness and utilize technology – and encourage our kids to become creators, not consumers? How can we use the technology our kids know and love to transform their education, to enable them to solve problems – but more importantly; how to think.

Interesting to note: David Thornburg (an educational futurist) talks about three learning spaces – the campground, the watering hole, and the cave. Couch and Towne add the mountain. Campground is one to many (think stories around the campfire), the watering hole is peer to peer (think of workers in the office or a group project in school), and the cave is one to one (reflective assimilation of what you’ve learned). The mountain is the environment where mistakes are encouraged and supported (like climbing a mountain, you’re going to slip and stumble from time to time).

Examples: Mythbusters, Sal Khan, Wifi on Wheels, Apple Camps, The Primary School, Ad Astra School, Minecraft

Worth Googling: challenge-based learning, Health Without Borders, blended learning

Overall take-home message: Technology can be the great equalizer in terms of giving every child access to a watering hole. An online course for coding can link children all across the United States regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, geographical locations, or schooling choice. Provide access, opportunities to build things, and teach your kids to code. Coding teaches kids to THINK – even if they never go on to be computer programmers. Technology is just like any other tool – used well and it can do great things for us, used poorly and it can be extremely detrimental. Therefore, it’s important to look at psychology long before we look at technology; so we can make sure we are using technology appropriately.

Recommended for: people interested in the intersection of technology and education, people looking for an outside the box approach to education, people who need some positive information about technology and kids, homeschoolers or afterschoolers who are tired of the same old approach to learning that they experienced

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