Nov 22, 2009

Stuck in Program Mode

(This post the second in a series commenting on Kathy Sierra's presentation about creating passionate users.) 

One metaphor Kathy briefly made was having your camera stuck in Program Mode. Thinking about teachers, I took that equivalent of teaching the lesson as the textbook says to or if it is a lesson or project designed by the teacher, teaching it the same way every year. Getting the teachers out of P Mode means getting them to reflect on their lessons. They need to reflect on the TPC of the lesson, and who their students are so that they can modify it (or ditch it) for greater success.

One way curriculum designers can encourage this reflection is to design lessons with optional activities. I don't mean optional in take it or leave it, I mean optional as in a flow chart or a football option play, where depending on what is observed/experienced, the teacher makes a choice. If we add in reasons why they might choose different options, the teacher can make better choices, but also "hear" an expert's thinking. Who knows, they may even internalize it with time. Otherwise, we have merely created a new textbook for teachers to teach from.

A second way professional development and curriculum facilitators could lead teachers away from only using Program Mode, would be to build up their understanding of a wide variety of activity types. This would need to be accompanied by discussions of the affordances and constraints of these activity types as well as how each of those might be modified depending on the technology used to accomplish them. Teachers would then have myriad choices and a better feel for when to select one activity type or technology over another.

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