WYTECC Keynote Presentation – Alan November, Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning

Alan November
Alan November

The group who puts together the WYTECC conference does a great job. This year, I had the pleasure to sit in on two great keynote presentations; one from David Warlick and another from Alan November. Yesterday, I reported on David Warlick presentation called Rebooting the BasicsToday, I will fill you in on Alan November‘s presentation, Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning. November is the senior partner and founder of November Learning.

During the 90 minute, humorous presentation, November hit on some key issues that needed to be addressed in today’s education. In addition, he peeled back another layer of the onion and taught us some really interesting things about search engines and data. Throughout his presentation, he focused on the theme that we could be doing a better job in the classroom simply by opening the doors to the rest of the world. One of the first things, November stressed was

Getting a college degree is not a guarantee to getting a job.

As November explained, he consults around the world focusing on learning and education. He teaches at the university level about change management. What he has found is that teachers outside of America are more creative and have less fear than those within our borders. Within the US, we are constantly trying to control the Internet and shield kids from “danger”. As a result students are suffering for it. Students really do not know a lot about technology. Colleges are not teaching students how to use technology tools other than what not to do. 

November then provided a great example of how students do not know how to use the Internet. According to PEW, students look at the top results of a search, do not change search engines,  and give up early on a search (I am probably just as guilty). He showed how to get a typical biased search out of Google; he typed in the phrase “Iranian Hostage Crisis”. As expected, it provided results from a local perspective. However, when he added “site:IR” to the search query, we were able to see Iranian articles. Naturally, he had to also change the search phrase because Iranians did not see the event as a hostage situation.

While looking at the term “ear mouse”, he asked if the Wikipedia article or BBC article was more accurate. In this case, the Wikipedia article was more accurate. He just stressed the point that teachers often tell students that Wikipedia is wrong, when it may be the best answer. We must teach students how to be able to determine the truth. We need to teach students how to get to primary source documents. November provided a number of examples on how to manipulate the Google “Site:” parameter to filter to primary source documents. We should be encouraging students to use mobile devices to hone into accurate information as they answer questions.

Librarians are key to helping teachers and students learn to be better explorers of the Internet.

November highlighted a video created by a sixth grader that now has 54,000 hits. This video shows how to factor a number to primes. Mathtrain.tv is a site where students teach other students about math concepts. Sometimes, kids prefer to ask a friend rather than a teacher. November’s lesson is convince kids they can change the world in six grade. We need to turn kids on by showing them what other kids around the world are doing.

November also gave a demonstration of Wolfram Alpha. I had not previously used this program, but it has great potential. In the search query, he entered “hotdog and hamburger” and it brought up nutritional information.  At the bottom of the screen, you are able to view the sources. The program also has other query capability.

Finally, November left us with this video; a great example of making instruction student-centered. I like how he develops instruction based on the needs of the students.

November left us with this challenge.
What can you change during the first five days of school to excite students about learning.
Another great presentation!

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