Thursday, September 2, 2010

Advice from New Zealand (Edu-tainment entrepreneur Gordon Dryden)

Don’t have such a network, Steve.

Our original book, The Learning Revolution, sold 10.2 million copies there. But all sold by bookshops and at seminars by independent educational software companies.

So we don’t have a permanent record of their names and addresses (and, at the time rthe sales were made) no one ordered online and provides email and other physical addresses.

We have not launched “UNLIMITED: the new learning revolution and the seven keys to unlock it” we have decided to switch all our international editions and future ones to become digital, online touch-screen editions. We are working through that right now. Among other things, we will be launching a global competition to get the brightest students in the world to reinvent education. This will be launched through facebook (and its 500 million members) andf YouTube before the end of this year.

You’ve asked my opinion of your videos, and, from the tone of your email, I think you’re asking for genuine honest appraisal. And, to do that, I can only quote from my own experiences from both making presentations, running workshops and seminars around the world: and seeing some of the world’s best nvolvers in action at educational/learning conferences.

So my first genuine impression, of each of the first two videos: I found the opening of both so boring I couldn’t really go on:-)

So first I had better summarize my own strong beliefs (and my experience from many years as a national TV presenter):

  1. Particularly with video or other online material: you have to start with a big “Wow!” Think of what I describe as the new 80-20 rule: Students today spend 80% of their waking hours in a year outside the school classroom (only 20% in it). For 80% of their time they are 21st-century citizens: using 21st-century instant-action digital tools .

I’ll demonstrate some ways I use or have seen used to actually involve entire audiences in immediately learning-the-message by acting it — and then I will leave you to draw your own conclusions . . .

2. You really have to (actively involve people from the first impact), and even before that. For example, as teachers or other seminar attendees are moving into a room or conference, I will always have some involving video/ music/montage etc on to set the entire theme. And then (if the theme is to convince teachers or students that the students – or teacher conference participants – should be in charge then put them in charge:

This is how we opened a
one-day think tank of New Zealand entrepreneurs last year:

That BEFORE anyone had spoken:-) (You’ll find thousands of similar great “ice breakers” on YouTube. In fact you will find dozens of adaptations of that one presentation. They set the scene for the entire proceedings. By the way, four of us came up with tht same idea, off the ingernet, well before the conference started.)

And immediately the conference chair, on his feet, immediately said
: “Today we’ve got 580 of New Zealand’s most innovative entrepreneurs in this convention center. During the rest of this day we’re gong to come up with art least 580 incredible ideas to reinvent New Zealand. And together we’re going to boil those ideas into 20 great ones by the mid-morning break. Then we’re going to drilll them down into the 10 best ones by lunch. Then, by the mid-afternoon break, the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zeland will be here, and we’re going to present to him the one incredible idea that will make the difference. Entrepreneurs can change the world. Let’s start.”

Or look how, this year, during a five-day New Zealand
sporting-tourism congress for 100 Australians, I had to run a two-hour interactive session on both New Zealand history and sporting history (bearing in mind that there is a three-hour, across-the-ocean flight to get from Sydney to Auckland). And then, by the end of the day together

  1. The interactive multimedia session was announced with this title: “What every smart Australian should know about New Zealand since we drifted apart 65 million years ago”. Then: “Welcome to the Youngest Country on Earth” — with this video clip:

Now Australia and New Zealand are great sporting rivals, especially in rugby union and rugby league football. Traditionally New Zealanders international sporting teams do
a Maori (native Polynesian) war-dance challenge at the start of international sporting games [later, check YouTube + New Zealand rugby haka), in Maori, but Australians never know what the words mean: so, right after the video, we had all the Australian guests stand up and perform the welcoming-challenging haka in Maori and in English. Until 240 years ago, the Polynesians had no written language: they passed on their heritage by song and dance — so our Australian guests actually learned that by doing it

So that is the next point: a good involving opening (and throughout a seminar) to
demonstrate (in all different learning styles) etc) the theme-of-the-day in action.

So let’s get back to your message: to prove that students themselves (or an audience of teachers) should really (and immediately) act out that theme, to prove it: with actions, movements, songs, dancing, fun, humor, involvement.

So over straight into that. My co-author, Dr Jeannette Vos, is fantastic with music and dance.
So she often starts one of her seminars by getting everyone up, immediately to a vigorous dance to music to get through that you can only learn well if your brain is fully activated and oxygenated.

And then she say something like:
“What an incredible volume of talent and brainpower exists in this room today. Imagine if we combined it all — right now. So let’s do that.” In front of each participant (or at the top of individual folders) has a US letter sheet of paper with a grid of 12 squares, four across and three down. And (depending on the seminar topic) you’ve have had typed along the bottom of each square such “experiences” as:

Plays a musical instrument
Speaks a foreign language
Loves public speaking
A great cook
Good photographer
Can do computer animations
Can edit video

Then (as you start playing the music theme “Getting to Know You . . . Getting to know all about you” you ask each person to find 12 different people who can perform one of those great achievements, each person has to
find 12 people to match the squares: introduce each other and write down the person’s name to march each specialty. First to get a full set of 12 yells out “Bingo” (a game we play in the British commonwealth) and wins a prize.”

And then the seminar presenter may say something like: “I am reasonably good as three of those talents. But look how the big majority of you are much brighter, much more talented in your own way.” And that applies to every group, every class, every school, every company.”

Everyone has a talent to be highly competent art something. Combine your talent, your passion and your dream and you can become truly great. Then keep adding on skills (often by working with other people who are talented in different ways) you become multi-skilled. (we’ve got hundreds of examples of those in the photos and paragraph I our book). Use the photos to illustrate your slides.

(I happen to be designing a multimedia game on that subject at the moment
: I have attached a pdf of the slides, but stress that the original Apple Keynote slides are very interactive. I have also attached the seminar board game I designed to teach British high school teachers how to teach “business innovation”- at ten one-day seminars around their country: on how to turn their talent into a great business plan.

I do this professionally for a living (I am NOT school teacher): teach creative business management – but using the same “involve them” principles that are the core of good teaching – and especially if teaching by videotape.

“If you want to learn it, do it.” . . . Don’t just talk about it. Get ‘em involved in different ways to embed the message naturally, in their own learning style or stmyles.

All I can say, mate: compare some of those “involvement methods” to starting with two lifeless fingers on a video, over the top of a one-color one dimensional long sentence . .. and then a closely-typed list of questions (with hand-writing under them) - thst telegraph a message of another boring lecture: “This is what I am going to tell you” . . Rather then involving them in “doing it – and thus learning it.”

Maybe you don’t fell like cribbing great live demos from the Internet (Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital team which won five Academy awards in a night for the digital effects they made for the movie Avatar, also made that “youngest country on earth” video. Steal only the best!)

So why not start off by asking (directly) for a show of hands from your participating audience:

“Let’s start today with a simple show of hands:

“How many of you first learned to talk in a school classroom?

“How many of you first learned to walk – in a school classroom?

“How many of you learned to ride a bike by first reading a textbook on riding a bike?”

“How many of you learned to speak by reading a book on speaking?”What none?

“So how many of you learned to talk by talking, and chuckling with your mum or dad? Wow, all of you.

“How many of you learned to walk by walking, by first creeping then crawling, then tottering up, holding a chair; then finally wwalking?” Great.

“And how many first learned to ride a bike by sitting on a tricycle? Etc.”

(Now, using a slide of our first graphic photo on page 1 of “Unlimited”: the plugged-in world.

“Now let’s take some of the things you do every day, in this age of the internet and the world is the touch of keyboard away: how many of you learned keyboard skills by first reading a book right through? None! How many of you learned to type by actually typing.”

So what is the main lesson we learn from this? Get some quick responses.

360 years ago (photo from our book), Comenius invented the so-called modern classroom: with backboard, chalk, slate, and children sitting in rows listening to a teacher talk, with chalk, 95% of the time.

“Now one of the finest research universities, in America, Carnegie-Mellon, has spent a fortune getting rid of boring lectures . “


“Today we don’t just read about science, we actually become computer scientists - by making computers.”

Dinner time here. I feel a good wine coming on.

Hope that helps

END OF letter by Gordon Dryden

Let's talk about the points made by Dryden. This guy should be cloned. +1 954 646 8246

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