Aya Sakaguchi – TRANSCRIPT
I have bad news. A Gallup Student Poll recently found that, the longer kids stay in school, the less engaged they become. In elementary school, three quarters of students are engaged. In high school, it’s less than half. It’s as if they are just going on a slide down into the pool. Everyday, 8,300 students drop out of school. That’s over 3 million students every year.
Unless we make a critical turnaround fast, our students are gonna turn into zombies. But we can make this turnaround happen. We can support them in a new type of learning environment. A curiosity driven learning environment. Think about this: 9 out of 10 of today’s elementary, middle and high school students believe that mobile technology will change the way they learn in the future, and make learning more fun.
In fact, 56% of today’s high school students own smartphones and this number is only going to be higher in the future. For the longest time, we used papers, pencils, erasers, to share what we’ve learned and our observations. But, times have changed and, as an educator, I’ve noticed students in the US, Japan and France use mobile technology to share, communicate and interact with each other. It’s time to start adding mobile technologies to classrooms.
Now, I know that there are critics of this, there are privacy issues, kids can take silly photos. But the benefits of having these students learn to use mobile technology as research tools outweighs all these challenges. It’s time to start thinking about how these students should learn to use the mobile technologies.
So I started thinking: “How may we use mobile technology to address that issue of the student engagement slump that we saw?” And with this question in mind I worked on a solution with fellow educators and designers from Harvard graduate school of education and MIT media lab called “curious learning.” We designed a learning platform and environment where students can use mobile technology as real world observation tools. After learning a new concept or theory, they can go and explore and find evidences or examples of what they’ve just learned.
They can even share their curiosities and observations with their classmates and their teachers. We call this the curious learning cycle. The teacher assigns real world assignments to their students, that complements classroom curriculum. For example, they can ask students to find examples of geometric patterns for math or pollination for biology. And then students go out into the real world and find examples and evidences of what they’ve been learning.