Thursday, August 28, 2008

Taylor Mali - My Favorite Teacher & Poet

Taylor Mali is a teacher and a poet. His website includes a blog, podcasts, audio clips, an extensive photo library, an online store and samples of his work. GO TO:

Here is a great YouTube video that I show to all of my student teachers.
Taylor Mali on What Teachers Make

Here is a great slideshow made of Taylor Mali's poem.
Originally on Slideshare, by Ethos3 - here

From his website: "A native of New York City and vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, Mali himself spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math S.A.T. test preparation. He has performed and lectured for teachers all over the world.... Generally considered to be the most successful poetry slam strategist of all time, having led six of his seven national poetry slam teams to the finals stage and winning the championship itself a record four times before anyone had even tied him at three, Mali was one of the original poets to appear on the HBO original series "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.""

Taylor Mali is sharp, witty and extremely cool.
And he wants more people to become teachers.
I want more teachers like Taylor Mali.

I am a techno-pedagogical bibliophile

After a presentation about my research, given as part of the interview marathon leading up to a tenure track position, I was asked, "So, it is clear you like technology -- do you believe books still play a role in school?"

It is true that long ago I fell in love with the learning made possible with technology. However, long before I touched my first computer, I was already in love with books. My childhood love affair with books and reading started well before kindergarten and lasts to this day. My mother read hundreds of books to my siblings and me, and I read often to my younger sister. Books were cherished and enjoyed in my home. Mom took us to the library to borrow books with our own library cards. I observed my parents and siblings reading and enjoying literature at home. I read favorite books over and over again. I brought books camping, on road trips and to school. I read my mother’s well-worn copies of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s three Anne Shirley books, and continue to reread and enjoy them as an adult. I saved my weekly allowance to buy the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and all of Judy Blume’s books. Laura’s stories sparked a lasting interest in pioneer tales and literary autobiography that influenced my pursuit of an English degree.

I absolutely love in-depth inquiry into good literature - be it holding and owning beautiful books, or accessing the plethora of good texts and resources available online. My iPod is full of great podcasts that enable me to access people and ideas as I drive my car.

I am a techno-pedagogical bibliophile. I adore books. I collect books. I wish I could write novels that other people would read and enjoy. I fill bags of books I have read and pass these along to my mom and my siblings, and they do the same for me. I browse the shelves of colleagues for books I might enjoy, and give books for presents. My children have hundreds, maybe even more than a thousand books -- I buy these new and gather armloads of children's books at garage sales. I hope to inspire my own children and my students to cultivate a lifelong habit of reading for enjoyment, recreation and learning - I broadly define texts to include and go beyond books. As you can imagine, when and were created, I was among the first to partake in the absolute joy and expensive pleasure of buying hundreds of pounds of books online using my credit card and my keyboard. I still buy thousands of dollars of books a year online. And I also enjoy hunting down good podcasts and websites and blogs and edit a scholarly journal and believe in open source publishing. You get the picture. Techno-pedagogical bibliophile. Perhaps I have coined a new term, or even a new condition.

Here is a Book by David Bouchard that I recommend to all of my student teachers.

David Bouchard, with Sally Bender, Anne Letain and Lucie Poulin-Mackey, 205+ pages, 2004, Orca Book Publishers

“we must seek out that part of our children’s hearts that will make them want to read”

“in order to light a fire in the hearts of our children, a fire must be burning within our own hearts” (p. 10)

WHY does Michele love this book (and highly recommend it for your professional library)?

Several good reasons:

“Reading holds out to us … access to the greatest range of thought possible. Reading offers all of us access to the world so that we come better to understand ourselves, those around us, history, culture and science” (p. 10)

• GOOD AUTHORITY: Written by an award winning children’s book author and three classroom teachers, one of whom makes recommendations of French books.

• REACHING OUT TO ALL KIDS: Offers good book suggestions for connecting with kids on the margins (p. 87)

• ALL AGES / CROSS CURRICULAR: In seven chapters, 1 author and 4 teachers recommend books for children pre-conception to two, 3 – 5 year olds, 6 – 8 year olds, 9 – 11 year olds, 12 – 14 year olds, and 15+ years old.

• OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: English and French books across the curriculum

• OLDIES AND NEWBIES: Classics from 50 years ago to very recent publications

• CLASSROOM TESTED ADVICE: Chapter 9 on Do’s and Don’t of reading
o Do become addicted to books / Do make reading a sacred ritual / Do surround yourself with your favorite books / Do work at making your children believe they are readers – we are what we think we are / Do not test the pleasure out of reading. Do not dissect, analyze and make kids memorize every book.

• Chapter 8 on Resources for administrators, teachers and parents – EVEN HOCKEY PLAYERS READ, DRAW AND TELL STORIES

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Interview Questions I Would Ask Teachers...

One of the greatest joys in my professional life is teaching -- as an education professor, I teach seminars in the undergraduate teacher preparation program and graduate courses in my specialization, educational technology. Each semester I get to work with talented individuals who are drawn to teaching and to educational technology (and after we have learned together, we both know a bit more about both).

In every teacher preparation seminar that I have ever lead, student teachers ask questions about "the interview". The desire to prepare for the inevitable "selection process" is normal -- the type of students I get to work with are driven, articulate and high achievers. To help student teachers to prepare for their interviews with school personnel, I have put together a list of the top 10 questions that I would ask if I were the one to hire a new classroom teacher. To add to this short list, I have also gathered some boilerplate questions from here and there on the web.

My Top Ten Teacher Interview Questions

If you were asked these questions in an interview, how might you respond?

1. How do you know the children are learning?

2. What evidence of student learning might / can / should you collect?

3. What is the role of formative assessment?
a. How might you document learning in process?
b. To what use do you put the data / observations / artifacts you collect?

4. What is the role of Summative assessment?
a. What kinds of learning evidence / artifacts belong in a math portfolio? A science portfolio? A literacy, learning or growth portfolio? An art portfolio?
b. How will you report on products, performances and portfolios?

5. In what ways will you use technology to enable and extend learning for all of the children?

6. How will you share your professional knowledge about student learning with others? (i.e., discussing progress with other teachers, specialists, school leaders, parents?)

7. What does excellence in teaching mean to you?

8. What does inquiry mean to you? What does inquiry look like in your classroom?

9. How will you make a scholarly contribution to the profession of teaching?

10. What called you to teaching?

11. [so, sue me!] How will you support the learning of a child that is fluent in their native language, but not yet in English?

From: Education Canada – Over 80 Sample Interview Questions

1. What is the role of the teacher in the classroom?
2. How would you describe your last principal?
3. What principles do you use to motivate students?
4. Describe effective teaching techniques that result in intended learning.
5. How has your education and life experiences prepared you for this position?
6. What is the most exciting thing happening in the area of education?
7. Describe an ideal curriculum in your area of study.
8. Describe the physical appearance of your classroom.
9. How did you make use of your spare time during university?
10. How much time do you devote to the lecture approach?
11. If you could choose to teach any concept in your area, which would you select and why?
81. What failures have you experienced and what did you learn from them?
82. What extracurricular activities have you participated in and what did you gain from them?
83. Tell me about a recent problem you have experienced and how you went about solving it.

From: Career Curriculum

1 - What are your thoughts on team-teaching?
2 - What are your greatest strengths?
3 - What is your biggest weakness?
4 - Let's imagine an interview for a grade one teaching position wherein the interviewer asks: "Describe your classroom's physical appearance."
5 - Why do you want to work for our school district?
6 - How do you handle classroom discipline?
7 - How would you describe a successful principal?
8 - Do you have any questions for us?

What kind of mentoring program do you have?
What is the average class size?
How many are on the faculty?
Do teachers have access to the gym after school?
Is there tuition reimbursement?
Is there a teachers' library?

40 Questions From: Career Services, Virgina Tech

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
2. Have you ever taken care of someone? Did you enjoy it?
3. Do you consider yourself a risk taker? (Give an example to back up your answer.)
4. Are you a positive and energetic person? (Give an example to back up your answer.)
5. If a student said she thought you were the worst teacher she ever had, what would you say?
6. If I were your principal and we were setting goals for next year, what would they be?
7. What is the last book you read?
8. Have you ever considered publishing a book?
9. Some people say you should demand respect. Do you agree or disagree?
10. Tell me about yourself.
11. How would you rank these in importance and why? Planning, discipline, methods, evaluation.
40. How would you handle making a difficult phone call to a parent?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Perspiration versus Inspiration: Cultivating Cross-Curricular Habits of Mind

"Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration."
Thomas Edison

What is the “real world” relevance of Inquiry, Persistence and Industry? In this post, I explore several ideas, from the role of persistence in inquiry to how we can design learning experiences that require and motivate kids to invest the “sweat equity” needed to be successful knowledge producers. One goal is to confront the Talent Myth of “Getting It Right First Time”. Another goal is to examine how today's digital technologies both enable and require us to move from industrial to knowledge building learning experiences.

Industrial age, mass education focuses on compartmentalization, inputs and outputs - curricula and fields of study are broken down into digestible portions that teachers present to students whose task is to memorize and repeat the content back. Learning is framed as acquisition of known facts and information. Teachers present questions that have ready answers and success is defined as being correct and fast. Technology is used for the sake of technology, to develop skill and speed with the software, not because technology will enhance the learning.

Education in the knowledge age, described by some as 21st century learning, is characterized by ready access to ever expanding knowledge and to people around the globe. 21st century education requires that students and teachers engage with directly with disciplinary problems, issues, questions and ideas, and with perspectives from around the world. 21st century learning requires that learners be engaged in meaningful and relevant knowledge building work using today's digital technologies. Sustained inquiry into questions, problems and issues that have relevance beyond the classroom, beyond the learners' immediate context, that are the same as questions that scientists, historians and educators pursue in the discipline, takes time. Accessing multiple perspectives and external expertise, analyzing and synthesizing historical data, gathering empirical data, interpreting first and second hand accounts, creating a multimedia representation of one's new knowledge, takes sustained effort, social interaction and connection, access to rich and reliable and current information and knowledge, and responsive and knowledgeable teachers and peers. Technology is used in a purposeful manner, and demonstrates an appreciation of new ways of thinking and doing, and IT is essential in accomplishing the task. 21st century learners determine which technologies they need to accomplish the task.

Good creative work, from Writing, to the Fine Arts, Music, and Film, results from disciplined inquiry and multiple revisions over time. Revision, reflection and revisiting a work is a crucial part of the writing and creative process. Rarely do polished forms of writing, such as scripts or songs or poetry or essays, or other fine works of art, drama, sculpture and cinema, emerge from a first draft, a first brush stroke, a first take. Rather, good writing, creative works, art and music composition and film-making, and other forms of expression and representation often take repeated effort, multiple revisions/takes/tries and ongoing refinement. Understanding the creative process as an iterative form of disciplined and bloody minded effort contrasts with the ready, but often inaccurate, image of the inspired and manic artist creating a masterpiece in mere minutes. Appropriate use of technology supports creative work, enables multiple revisions / takes, and enables learners to return to work in progress at anytime to make improvements, to take the work in a new direction.

Multiple experiments, Progressive problem solving in the Science & Math – The scientific method is a set of techniques for investigating phenomena, creating new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. The natural sciences involve field work, gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence (data, information) subject to specific principles of reasoning. Scientists collect data via observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. Mathematical reasoning and problem solving require analysis, judgment and meaning making, not just getting the “right answer the first time”. Across these disciplines, digital technology enables learners to make sophisticated use of visualization tools, geographical information systems, multimedia/hypermedia software, video conferencing, digital games, online simulations, databases or programming. How often do schools require this kind of engagement in scientific, mathematic inquiry?

Inquiry, Persistence and Industry in Sport: The Beijing Summer Olympics gives us a timely opportunity to think about the years of disciplined practice, training, competition, and refinement that goes into the 100 meter sprinter's 10 second performance; the BMX rider's 30 second trip around the track; the precision and elegance of the 10 meter diver's splashless entrance to the tank. It is great to have talent - but ask any of these Olympians about the value of persistence, discipline, multiple takes, revisions and tries, and it becomes clear that to reach the top of any sport, that inspiration and talent are essential but not enough -- it takes perspiration and discipline to cross the finish line.

All Physics – Honda Advert” - I find the following video a useful way to think about the habits of mind that 21st century learners need to be successful - [¥ouTube].

Multiple Takes: There are no computer graphics or digital tricks in the All Physics video. Everything that you see happened in real time exactly as you see it. The video required 606 takes and in the first 605 takes there always was something, usually of minor importance, that didn't work. It was necessary for the recording team to install the set-up time after time and it took several weeks working day and night to achieve this effect (emphasis mine). The recording cost 6 million dollars and it took 3 months to finish, including the engineering design of the sequence. The duration of the video is only 2 minutes. This commercial has turned out to be the most displayed in the history of the Internet. When Honda senior execs viewed it, they immediately approved it without hesitation-including costs.

The Honda advert video illustrates the real world value of inquiry, persistence, revision and multiple experiments – Edison's idea of perspiration versus inspiration -- both are needed, but one really takes an idea to the finish line.

Reflection on Industrialized versus 21st Century Learning

21st century learners need opportunities to engage with mathematics in the same ways, using the same technology, as mathematicians. I question what we are teaching students when we quiz them, over and over, using "Mad Math Minutes", fill-in-the-blank worksheets, and recitation. From kindergarten to grade twelve, learners need opportunities to think like mathematicians whose work with problems and ideas might stretch over weeks or months, and even years -- often with no one "right" answer.

I question what we are teaching children when we give them photocopied pictures to "color in" or pre-cut, pre-colored shapes to "decorate"? How will we convince children (and parents) who have become accustomed to hallway bulletin boards covered with cookie-cutter "artwork" to value free drawing, creative expression, inquiry into multiple art forms, or to develop the patience , persistence and discipline demonstrated by artists, carvers, musicians, or sculptors?

Seymour Papert argued that learning should be “hard fun” (and in Papert, 1996 - The Connected Family). "My whole career in education has been devoted to finding kinds of work that will harness the passion of the learner to the hard work needed to master difficult material and acquire habits of self-discipline." Think about this idea - the hard work that is needed, the value of self-discipline, and how we can design engaging learning experiences to support the development of these habits of mind.

21st Century Learning - The Galileo Network

Inquiry, multiple drafts, continuous improvement, peer and self assessment, problem solving, scientific and mathematical reasoning, and yes, even active living are all well supported and facilitated by the meaningful and academically rigorous use of digital technology and social networking tools. The Galileo Educational Network offers hundreds of classroom exemplars that answer the following two questions:
  • What does authentic inquiry and assessment look like in the classroom?
  • What can happen to learners and teachers when technology comes to school?
Working alongside Galileo professional developers, classroom teachers have created a number of inquiry-based studies which are freely available online. One of these, a project co-created by Neil Stephenson and Candace Saar, is the Calgary Science School - Virtual Museum.

What the Virtual Museum and hundreds of Galileo supported inquiry projects demonstrate is that:
  • 21st Century Learning that is situated in a larger context of a discipline and body of knowledge
  • 21st Century Learners are designers and knowledge builders
  • 21st Century Learners can and do engage in work that is personally important and meaningful
Inquiry starts with Essential Questions -
Essential questions allow us to explore what knowledge is, how it came to be, and how it has changed through human history. An essential question engages the imagination in significant ways. EQs arise from people's attempts, throughout human history, to learn more about the world(s) we live in. An essential question reaches beyond itself.

The Inquiry Rubric, developed by the Galileo Network, demonstrates an proven approach to designing and developing rich inquiry, and articulates the essential conditions of meaningful and engaging "hard fun" learning using eight criteria: authenticity, academic rigor, ongoing assessment, connections beyond the school, appropriate use of technology, active exploration, connecting with expertise and elaborated communication. The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Using the Inquiry Rubric, conversations about the relationship between inquiry and technology in 21st century education can occur using a shared language.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Embracing Pat

Today I will attend a memorial for my good friend, Pat Clifford.

I first met Pat in 1997 -- I hold in my mind a vivid memory of Pat in a bright yellow raincoat out with the children on the playground - she was comforting a young girl who had fallen down. I had heard that Pat was an amazing teacher long before I met her; I had read work she had written with Sharon. The icon, this mythical woman, put me immediately at ease - she was so smart, so real, very approachable; I fell in love with Pat and her beautiful voice that year.

Partway through that first year, as some conflict in the school caused ripples of tension. I can remember talking with Pat on the phone one night. A bit naive about how to handle a particular situation, I was asking her advice. At one point, I said, "Dammit Pat, this is so hard, I am not sure what to do next", and Pat said, "Suck it up Michele, teaching IS hard work and it requires no small amount of courage - stick to it". In the days, weeks and months that followed, Pat and Sharon demonstrated how to be courageous, kind and steadfast -- they stuck to their beliefs about what was right for children and teachers, and I learned a great deal through their example. There was a great deal of laughter and joy balanced by some tears and frustration that year; when I think back on the magical times I got to spend in Pat and Sharon's classroom, the primary image is one of joyful stewardship of the intellect - I learned more about teaching, learners and myself that year than I had in seven years of university.

Over the past eleven years, I have cherished Pat Clifford's friendship and I have relied on her wise mentorship as I have navigated the professoriate and motherhood. She always knew just when to offer words of encouragement, when to administer a gentle nudge forward, and was both generous and thoughtful with her feedback. She listened patiently to my stories and offered sage observations, stories and advice in return. When I worried about being the youngest female professor in the faculty, she told me to keep the pony tail and to show attitude. Her friendship and mentorship has been so important to me on my journey; knowing Pat has enriched my life, Terry's life and the lives of my children. By believing in me, she has helped me to believe in myself.

A cherished memory -- a story, for Pam. My sons love to grow things in the garden -- one June, as a few things were ready to pick in the garden, I invited Pat for lunch. My two little sons and I were in the yard when Pat came walking down the hill. The first thing you noticed was her big smile, and her hearty hello -- she was always delighted to see my boys and showed great interest in their stories. If they showed her a bug, she bent down, examined it carefully, and questioned them thoughtfully; time stopped as these two people, one big and one small, shared in the wonder of the earth. A dandelion, a rock, a ladybug took on new significance because Pat shared a tiny boy's fascination with these marvelous objects and living things.

In this picture, Pat is accepting a radish from my dear son, who had just plucked a handful from his little garden. She raved over its fresh flavor, expressed delight in his skill as a gardener and made him feel so very important, accomplished and brilliant. Pat savored food as she savored life -- with rapture, gratitude and style!!

Recently, Pat's two lovable big cats came to live at our house. Named for characters in Shakespeare (of course - Pat was an English teacher), Olivia and Portia are ten year old female cats that Pat adopted from the SPCA long ago when she lived in her house. Olivia is a great black matriarch with compelling green eyes, one fang and a throaty purr - she doesn't want any trouble, but she stands her ground. Portia has a creamy white belly and paws, a peach colored nose and orange and black tabby markings on her back and tail. Portia has developed a habit of lounging on my husband's chest and watching television with him.

A few months ago, during a phone call with Pat, I offered to take care of her cats if she needed some help -- I knew what I was committing to, and so did she. In her graceful way, she simply said thank you.

Saturday, I brought my boys to see Pat in the hospital -- they had each made her a blue card. She greeted them enthusiastically as the new cat daddies. She held their artwork in slightly shaking hands, and asked them to explain the drawings, the sparkle paint, the stickers. Pat listened carefully to each of their stories and commented on the details they shared. Erik had drawn a castle with a room for each of us; he drew swirling cat mint plant with hundreds of bees beside it. Kai had painted a blue sparkle paint ocean for the Nemo stickers. Pat praised their work and let me hang them in her room - she made my boys felt very important. My sons basked in her attention and affection. My sons thanked Pat for letting them watch her cats. She asked them about camping. That day, I picked up the keys from Pat and Pam in the hospital -- Pat and I discussed details about Olivia and Portia, like who liked to be brushed, who ate first, where the cat's favorite blankets and toys were, and how much to feed them. We talked about how to best ease Olivia and Portia into our house given that we already had a ten year old cat, a feisty girl named Kiri. When the boys started playing with Pat's precious meditation bowl, I encouraged the boys to say good bye. Her smile shone from the bed, and as I kissed both cheeks, I told her I would visit on Monday.

Sunday morning, my older sister helped me pick the cats up from Pat's condo. I took a few pictures of the kitties in Pat's living room to show to her in the hospital. My husband and I thought it best to settle Portia and Olivia in our bedroom first -- so, once they were home, we set up their blankets, food and litter boxes upstairs. Our other cat, Kiri, had the run of the house downstairs. Portia and Olivia transitioned very well -- Olivia ate some kernels and sipped water from her vase. After the first few hours, Portia was still under the bed, but BOTH cats slept with us that night (along with our children). My sons continue to lavish attention on Olivia and Portia and are delighted with the new additions to our family. I took several pictures to show to Pat -- I knew she would be interested in hearing how her girls felt during their first few hours in our house. It was hard to drag the boys away from the two new girls -- I took the boys to see their grandpa and left my husband in the bedroom watching television with Olivia and Portia.

Monday, August 11, I took some photos of Olivia and Portia to the hospital to share with Pat -- she was delighted to hear that her girls had slept on our bed. "You must have known something that I didn't" she said. Pat smiled and thanked me when I told her that Olivia and Portia were eating, drinking and purring, and getting lots of love from all of us. She thanked me; and, I immediately thanked her - I feel truly grateful for the opportunity to do something that makes her so happy. I told Pat I loved her, I was grateful to be trusted with her cats, my boys were incredibly happy, Terry and I were happy, and that I was happy to adopt the cats because it made her happy. I promised to come and tell her more stories about Olivia, Portia and Kiri on Wednesday or Thursday. I knew she wanted to do some more writing. She and I hugged, kissed, and said good bye.

I am so grateful I got to see Pat on Monday evening. The next morning, my world shattered when I read Sharon's email -- Pat had died during the night. My boys asked me why I was crying; they, too, became quiet and subdued when I told them that Pat had passed away. "Mom, that is very sad - I am going to go hold the cats". My two little boys understand, like I do, that hugging and loving these cats is like loving Pat, because she loved Olivia and Portia so dearly.

I am so very grateful for Pat's love, friendship and mentorship. She helped me find courage so many times when I faltered; Pat was always open to hugs and laughter; she offered wise advice exactly when I needed it. I am grateful for the last few minutes I had with her, for the last few visits we shared in the hospital, for the phonecalls and the shopping trip and the walk to the park and the suppers, for the lunches and the wine, for the trust she placed with me, for the belief she had in me, for the last eleven years that I had to learn with and from this world class teacher, and good friend and dynamic, powerful woman.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Seymour Papert's Powerful Ideas

I often get asked, "who was the most influential educational technologist in your career?".

Here is a quote from Seymour Papert's book, "The Connected Family" that I love:

"There is a prevalent tendency to think that when children under-perform at school and dislike schoolwork this is because it is too hard. Nothing could be more wrong. Most dislike of schoolwork comes from finding it boring, the exact opposite of finding it too difficult. Children, like everyone else, don’t want “easy” – they want “challenging” and “interesting” – and this implies “hard” (Seymour Papert, 1996, p. 52)

Although I could cite many important influences, the most influential researcher on my own development as an educational technologist is Seymour Papert from MIT. His early work in the 1960s on constructionism and children’s thinking with computers was ground breaking, and his influence continues to this day -- in fact, Nicolas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child Project builds on Papert's work.

I have never met Seymour Papert, and I hope that I might – I have attempted to read everything Papert and his close colleagues have written. His ideas inspired my own passion for learning with technology. Seymour Papert has been credited with having some of the most powerful ideas about children, learning and computers. His work continues to be the most important and influential work on children’s thinking with technology to this day. A great deal of the philosophy underpinning the work of Sharon Friesen and Pat Clifford, from the Galileo Network, and subsequently, my own work (Jacobsen, 2006), is based on the constructionist ideas proposed and published by Seymour Papert, and several of the researchers who follow in his footsteps (Mitchel Resnick, Andrea diSessa, Ricki Goldman, Yasmin Kafai, Nicholas Negroponte, Sherry Turkle, Amy Bruckman).

During my student teaching, I became passionately interested in how children use computers for learning and play. I was first asked to read some work by Seymour Papert in a mind-numbingly boring, “computers in education” textbook and programming course we were all required to take (Ironically, years later I ended up teaching the labs for this course, and then the course itself as a graduate student and then as a professor -- as you might imagine, I aimed to teach with computers in a radically different way!!). The book was Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas, published in 1980.

I loved Papert’s ideas, and was very keen to learn how to program with LOGO in the lab. After the course, I wanted to pursue creative activities with the computer further, so I proposed and completed an independent study on using hypermedia for learning with a professor in educational technology who happened to be in Ireland on sabbatical for a year (Incidentally, Dr. Bill Hunter became my colleague years later when I was hired as an assistant professor in educational technology). Dr. Hunter and I used email to communicate and exchange assignments, feedback, etc., and I also used the internet to do a great deal of my literature review and research on hypermedia (at that time, access to the web was through Lynx, a command line interface). Specifically, I investigated the nature of children’s learning when they created hypermedia representations of their original stories. This project, and many others that I became involved with, ignited what has become a life-long passion for better understanding (what can be) the emancipatory relationship between learners and technology.

So, almost 20 years ago I was asked to read a 10 year old book by Papert and it transformed my ideas about inquiry and technology.