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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Google Tells Students to: "Major in Learning"



Wow!  On Google's blog this week, they write a post to students entitled  "Our Googley advice to Students: Major in Learning" (hat tip to Dan Pink) in which they say:

"At the highest level, we are looking for non-routine problem-solving skills. We expect applicants to be able to solve routine problems as a matter of course. After all, that's what most education is concerned with. But the non-routine problems offer the opportunity to create competitive advantage, and solving those problems requires creative thought and tenacity."
 I like the creative thought and tenacity part.  So very often I push my students to solve a problem and WILL NOT tell them the answer.  I give them the next step, but what am I honestly teaching them if I go and fix it for them.  
Just yesterday, I had a student who was creating a video in Animoto for her summer project (no I didn't assign that level of assignment, she took it up to that level because she "wanted to") and was having trouble getting it into the Ning uploader. (It is on our private class Ning, cannot share that one.)

We texted each other and talked a few times until it was solved. (She finally just embedded it as a blog post.) 

In this case, I could have said, "just post the link and I'll grade it that way."  But no, the assignment was that it HAD to be on the Ning.  I have to have everything in one place for a variety of reasons, at least to encourage peer review.

I gave a very general assignment to create a blog post, podcast, movie, or multimedia artifact of your choice about a new technology that you have discovered this summer.  She determined what she would do.

Move away from Point and Click Teaching
I'm finishing up a book that I hope to be out in August about just this very thing:  how to teach students HOW TO LEARN new software. 

Point and click teaching has to go the way of the dodo bird, but we need a model to follow, so I'm sharing this one. (I plan to share a lot of it here when it is finished.)

So, do your students major in learning?  Do you point them in the right direction but teach them problem solving skills? 

AND -- do they have the TENACITY to continue.

This persistence and willingness to work very very hard is something that many are lacking.  You can have an engaging classroom that is also a challenging classroom.

Engagement and Web 2.0 tools are not synonymous with "easy" -- not by a long shot.  In fact, for the best teachers their classes are engaging and "tough" as the students say.

What are the other characteristics Google wants in these "non routine savants"?

  • analytical reasoning
  • communication skills
  • a willingness to experiment (my interpretation -- they are a researcher)
  • team players
  • passion and leadership
To me, this is the sort of thing the Flat Classroom project, Horizon Project, and Digiteen projects inspire.

What do you think?  What does Major in Learning look like?

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