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Monday, November 21, 2011

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Just got back from the ACTE (Association of Career and Technical Educators) conference in St. Louis. Have you ever had butter cake? It's my new favorite dessert. And maybe my new favorite meal!

That aside, however, what I really wanted to share with you today was some insight from Sir Ken Robinson. He is the author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, as well as Out of Our Minds, a book on creativity and innovation. Sir Robinson spoke at our opening general session. He was very funny, but he also made a number of sobering points about education.

His general theme is that our schools fail to recognize anything beyond society's standard definition of intelligence or learning. (His talk reminded me of the concept of multiple intelligences, to a degree). He laments that we continue to try to teach the same way today that we taught hundreds of years ago--and that in the process, we are alienating millions of students and convincing them that education is boring, old-fashioned, and unnecessary to anything of interest or use to them.

You Tube has an animated video of a presentation given by Sir Ken. It's fun to watch, and contains much of the information he shared with us at ACTE. Check it out at (The animation also made me want to revise every online lecture note I ever created and build them like this animation is built!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A National Digital Public Library

An article in the Chronicle last week notes that plans have been underway for some time to develop a national digital public library. The goal of the project is to, "assemble the collections of archives, museums, and universities across the country."

In the last year, planning has apparently become more serious, with a target date of April 2013 to have it "up and running." It appears that there is cooperation among a number of organizations to provide funding AND to provide access to a variety of digital collections, with Sloan and Arcadia currently serving as the primary funding sources.

It's an intriguing idea, and of course, entirely possible technologically. Many challenges exist, however, as shared by Doron Weber, vice president for programs at the Sloan foundation:

"There's a massive amount of physical, logistical meetings that have to take place in the next 18 months," he said. It will be essential to get firm commitments from institutions about what they're willing to make part of the library. "Right now we have phenomenal support from most of the institutions in the country," he said. "I think it's always hard when you have to get very specific about what collections are in and what collections are out."

While the Chronicle article is password protected, there are several articles online about the concept, as well as a Wiki that houses planning information ( and the DPLA page (