Imagine for a minute a group of children, outside with their teacher. They look like they’re playing a game of tag or maybe an obstacle course from far away, but, as you look closer; they’re using small tags around their necks to touch a certain object a tree, the playground slide, and each other. All the children are active and engaged and the teacher is there as a resource and to help enhance the learning that’s happening.
This may be how children learn arithmetic or spelling in the future. With certain technological breakthroughs that are happening right now, these types of learning opportunities will be available and will change the way children learn.

Technology can help Learning

This technology was described in Infinite Possibility by B. Joseph Pine II. There are programs where a teacher can place a tag with correct answers on objects (like a sticker) and set up a program where children get a random question on a device. The child then needs to run to the object with the correct answer and touch the tag with the device. The device then records how many questions the child gets right. What’s so great about this? A number of things 1) Instant feedback 2) Child-controlled learning 3) Being able to do this as a social, mental and physical activity which increases engagement.
Technology is often seen as a “bad” thing in education. It absorbs the child’s attention, there’s minimal social and physical interaction and it’s addictive. But with technology like the Kinect, children are now moving their own bodies to video games and challenging other children to “dance offs”. Imagine if children can reach out and virtually touch the correct answer to a math question. If their scores are automatically tallied so they know how they are doing immediately after the game.

Education and the 4 Es

In the book Infinite Possibility by B. Joseph Pine II states that, “every rich experience must appeal to all four aspects: entertainment, education, escapism, and esthetics – the 4Es…”
Education or learning in the state of “Flow” is empowering to children. Giving them rich experiences encourages a joy of learning and finally, being able to anchor those experiences in the real world gives a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
If technology and experiential learning are used well, learning becomes exciting and a joy for children (and adults). Children will feel responsible for their own learning and are more active participants when “traditional” learning is scheduled into the day. Teachers will be there as the planners (which they already are), and the most invaluable resource for the children, and real person to ask questions, bounce ideas off of and discuss their findings. This may sound a bit chaotic, but having worked in day care, there is a sense of harmony and industriousness that happens when a group of children are engaged in their learning/play.

Can schools use Hack schooling?

Going back to Logan LaPlante’s ideas of Hack schooling, I loved that he took time to learn and volunteer in a business. If children got opportunities to do things like package food for the homeless, run a school fundraiser or even start their own “business” in the classroom, this gives them real world experience and if a clever teacher can tie this back into the core curriculum, children will feel like they truly understand the concepts.* I remember, my experience in a course called “Desktop Publishing” gave me the confidence to pursue a career in graphic, and later web design.

To recap Logan LaPlante’s Hack schooling Philosophy:

There are 5 Aspects of hack schooling
1) Integrating the 8 Happy/Healthy factors into everyday learning
2) Adding Experiential learning as often as you can to learning.
3) Using technology and online resources to enhance learning.
4) Encouraging and rewarding creativity
5) The Hacker Mind set: Finding faster, better and more effective ways to produce a result
6) My addition to teaching in the classroom: Using teacher as a resource


What can you do about it?

Be aware that this exists, encourage your school’s technology program. Talk to your teachers and principals and do your research. I’ll be giving links to a couple of programs that are happening right now.

Further reading

* I am aware that many teachers are facing standardized testing and feel that they must teach to the test. I would feel the same way. But, I am discussing possibilities and a different way to look at learning. I know that it will be a long, hard road to change, but we should be aware of the possibilities. Right?