Reciprocal Learning

Posted: June 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
English: Adora Svitak speaking at The UP Exper...

English: Adora Svitak speaking at The UP Experience 2010 in October 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Educators in the past have generally pushed information to their students in lecture based formats, failing to maintain the attention of their audience and provoking mind-numbing boredom in many students. Many teachers today have come to realize that the students themselves have a vast amount of quality information to offer the class and the teacher, which ultimately enhances the learning experience for everyone in the classroom.  Allowing students to apply their own innovative thinking to solving problem sets offers insight to others that may generate new ideas for curriculum development, inspire another student to take interest in a topic, or facilitate valuable discussion among the group.  Child prodigy Adora Svitak provides insight on reciprocal learning in her TED presentation “What Adults Can Learn from Children.”  Ms. Svitak’s presentation was an outstanding reminder to all adults that children have fantastic ideas, usually dismissed by adults who lost the imaginative outlook on problem solving. We continue to REMIND the collaborative work effort to “think outside the box”. Kids do it every day, and when we listen we can certainly learn a tremendous amount.



MOOC Crib (Photo credit: snowpup5)

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) concept is to provide free programs of education to anyone who feels the need to participate; the classes generate a certificate, but no actual credits, are either self or peer evaluated, and are conducted by highly respected education professionals. The issue with concept is the concern that the free education system, which is gaining notoriety with the American Council of education, could potentially cause institutions of higher learning revenue loss, which could ultimately lead to loss of (or at least a reduction of) face to face instruction. Daphne Koller’s presentation entitled “What we’re learning from an online education” argues the MOOC concept provides millions of people who could not otherwise afford a college level education, the opportunity to learn in an online format without the burden of cost. Jason Ohler’s article “MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used” compiles a number of arguments from prominent education professionals that argue against the concept. I have provided a link to both sources and a digital copy of Mr. Ohler’s article. You be the judge and provide your own opinion on the topic.

MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used

The Idea of 20% time allows students the freedom to research, design, and execute their own project in the classroom. Students have an opportunity to break away from the standardized learning model, planned regulated by the instructor and learn about something that appeals to their own interests. The concept, originally initiated by Google is actually beneficial not only the student, but also the educator and student body. The one aspect of the original Google concept that would not necessarily work in a K-12 classroom is Google never required the 20% time to be productive, if an employee wanted to shoot pool or sleep, it was accepted activity (Hayes, 2008). A K-12 learning environment would need a validating project to account for time spent in class. A 20% time project offers teachers insight into the unbiased interests of their students, while other students acquire ideas and points of interest from their peers. The idea is a great way to encourage creative thought when used with appropriate guidelines.

A similar variation is Genius Hour, where students are given several one hour sessions of independent learning at the end of which they are required to present their projects to the class. The idea of Genius hour is credited to Dan Pink author of Drive and to Passion Based Learning expert (ZVI, 2012).


ZVI, G. (2012, June 06). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Hayes, E. (2008, May 12). Google’s 20 percent factor. Retrieved from

A traveling space suit exhibit is shown at a local venue. Credit: NASA

A traveling space suit exhibit is shown at a local venue. Credit: NASA

Would you like to engage the entire student body in one event? Contact NASA and request to borrow an exhibit.  Request can be made from the following Space and Research Centers:  

·         Johnson Space Center

·         Langley Research Center

·         Ames Research Center

·         Dryden Flight Research Center

·         Goddard Space Flight Center

·         Jet Propulsion Laboratory

·         Kennedy Space Center

·         Glenn Research Center

·         Marshall Space Flight Center

·         Stennis Space Center

Each center has a regional responsibility and offers a variety of exhibits to choose from. The program is a free service provided by the government and allows organization an opportunity to display authentic NASA artifacts for short term basis of up to 29 days or long term loans to learning institutions. Visit to learn more about requesting exhibits and other educational resources available to both educators and students.

Fishnets Over Phoenix

Posted: June 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

091028_boston_5719 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have great respect for individuals that have the ability to visualize a concept or plan, incite passion in others to realize the vision, and bring the concept to life. Sculpture, Janet Echelman, realized a way to use unconventional material such as fishing net, and other nearly weightless textile to create exceptional works of ark. Her concept harnesses the power of Mother Nature to exhibit constant fluid motion within her artwork. Her sculptures are not only visually astounding, but offer an incredible three dimensional view of how wind force manipulates the suspended figure. Her work has the potential to assist a variety of research projects such as, architectural movements during earthquakes, wind patterns, and climate change. Ms. Echelman’s work can be viewed in a number of cities both domestic and globally. In her 10 minute presentation Taking Imagination Seriously (, she provides a dialog of her inspiration, her first sculpture using this design, and examples of other pieces she completed. The picture displayed here is on a sculpture she displayed in downtown Phoenix, AZ (

Janet Echelman Public Art Phoenix, AZ