Learning and Motivation at the ISTE10 SIGIVC Playground

The afternoon and evening after the ISTE10 SIG IVC Playground experience, several of the members of the planning team reflected about what exactly happened at the pirate playground. What made it so engaging?

Our Beliefs About Learning

First, the playground was an outgrowth of our beliefs about learning.

  • People learn best by DOING (as opposed to passive listening).
  • People learn best when given a meaningful engaging task.
  • Adults learn best when given CHOICE.
  • Scaffolding provides the safety net for learning something new.

How were these principles in evidence?

  • The attendees were very quickly drawn into dialing out to various IP addresses and talking to educators at zoos and museums across the country. They didn’t just HEAR us talk about it. They DID it!
  • The meaningful engaging task was to figure out who they were talking to – and visiting at least 3 islands before they could win some treasure. They didn’t just talk to anyone – they talked to educators at award winning, high quality zoos and museums that offer programming to schools.
  • Attendees had a choice. They could just visit the one island they wanted to and leave; or they could pick three islands; or many people visited all the islands because they were having so much fun! But they CHOSE!
  • Scaffolding includes providing helps and supports for constructivist learning. Scaffolding included the VC Continuum handout, cheatsheets for the attendees at each station, and lots of printed materials. The pirate crew provided scaffolding to the pirate guides as well: cheatsheets for the guide with contact information and bullet points of what to do; as well as little guides for the welcoming pirates. The instruction sheets made it easy for the pirates to assist at islands where they may have not been an expert at the technology, yet they knew enough about VC in general to pick it up.
  • The participants were never more than 3 feet from a pirate who could answer their questions or direct them to another pirate for more information.

Everyone Learns and Benefits

Another intriguing result of the playground is where all the learning took place. Some of it was unexpected and serendipitous.

  • The attendees and educators learned and benefited by the opportunity to explore different videoconferencing solutions and connect with content providers to learn about the educational programs available.
  • The content providers benefited by networking with additional educators, getting to advertise their programs, and hearing questions and comments from educators.
  • The pirate guides benefited by all the networking with each other, learning about new content providers, trying out different equipment, and sharing resources and projects with new videoconferencing educators.
  • The videoconferencing vendors also benefited! In addition to showcasing their equipment, they got a chance to see how educators actually use their equipment. One of the vendors represented brought two more software developers to experience and see first-hand what educators are using VC for.

Pirates have Motivation and Drive

Interestingly, the reaction of the pirates to the playground reminded me of Daniel Pink’s new book, Drive. You can watch the 18 minute Ted Talk here. Yes. Go watch it now. I’ll stay here!

  • Autonomy: The urge to direct our own lives.
  • Mastery: The desire to get better and better at something that matters.
  • Purpose: The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Pirates were motivated by:

  • The purpose. All the pirates believe in using videoconferencing in the classroom; are passionate about it; love to share that passion with others.
  • Fun and Interesting task/theme. Pirates supplied all of their costume except the hat. They really got into it!
  • The engaging learning. Pirates stayed longer than they had planned to. Some volunteered on the spot and were given a job!

Craig Moellerstuen, one of the pirates, found this in his fortune cookie. It aptly describes the pirates’ attitudes!

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