Project Based Learning

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 9:37 am
Jennifer Dick's picture

Make an Android App? There’s a Meta-App for That.

Google Introduces SF Bay Educators to App Inventor for Android

Mobile apps have changed our relationship with information access in the wider world. With mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers becoming more powerful and affordable, more people are regularly supplementing their experiences out in the world by calling up services like Google Maps, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Four Square, and Shazam to record what they’re doing, find out what other people thought about whatever restaurant/park/business they’re at, or share their own opinion.

Ten years ago, if I passed a statue of some historic figure and wanted to learn more, I’d have to make a note and then go visit the library. Now, I can just whip out my phone and Google the name. I can also use my phone to take a geo-tagged picture, upload it to Flickr (which will automatically highlight it in my Facebook feed), share a web link about what I learned about the statue on Twitter, and check in on Four Square. What’s that song playing at the café I just passed? Shazam! “Bossa for the Devil” by Dr. Rubberfunk. Apps are changing how we interact with the world.

For youth, using apps to learn more about places as they experience them is second nature, and those apps can be powerful learning tools. What isn’t second nature is app development. Designing and building a working app generally requires some serious programming savvy, but youth are very interested in apps—they see how relevant apps are to daily life and how they’re being used by more people, more frequently—and this motivates those with an interest in tech to take the programming plunge. Learning programming can be a long slog through lots of information to create very simple programs. I remember taking an intro to CS class, which had us learn BASIC. I can’t find my notes, but I’m pretty sure it took us a week to know enough to code the “Hello, world” program that seems to be lesson 1 for just about any programming course, regardless of language. My classmates and I found our interest in programming waning fast. And if motivated college students ten years ago lost their interest so quickly, imagine what happens with the youth of today, living at a mile a minute.
Friday, June 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Digital Dispatch: Biodiversity Quest in Chicago, Week 3

The students from Bouchet Academy are scattered around the Tropical River area at Lincoln Park Zoo's McCormick Bird House taking part in an ethology activity (the study of animal behavior) to sharpen their scientific observation skills. A variety of birds surround them, mostly nestled in small trees or walking on the ground. Occasionally, a bird flies over the students’ heads and someone tries to snap a picture with their smartphone. Each student has selected a bird in the area to watch closely for three minutes. Every ten seconds a zoo staff member directs them to “Look!” and the students quickly make a note on their clipboard about the behavior their particular bird exhibits.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 11:52 am

New Media and the Chicago Public Library: Interview with Mary Dempsey, Part II

This post is part of a series of interviews highlighting leaders in the field of New Learning (what we call “NLI at Inquiry”). Recently, we interviewed Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey on subjects including how the library has reshaped the city, new media’s role in the library, and her thoughts on the future of urban libraries. Here, in Part II of the interview, she discusses the ways that CPL’s new media learning center, YOUmedia, meets the needs of youth in Chicago and her thoughts on how urban libraries will evolve to meet students’ needs in the future.

Listen to the full interview here:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Real-World Learning at Frida Kahlo High School

"Certain things capture your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart." ~Old Native American saying

Real-world learning allows students to learn skills they will use in the “real world” once they graduate. Big Picture Learning schools recognize that students have individual interests that, if honed, enhance their learning.