More on the killer app question

1. Killer field trips. Imagine taking a group of kids to the mall for a field trip.  What do you think they could learn?  How would your answer be different if they had a smart phone application that showed them the history, economy, demographics, and engineering of the place?
Gerald Huff from Intuit mentioned an augmented reality iPhone app at the Philanthropy Roundtable conference.  If subsequent versions provide a series of overlays that allow students to drill down on the specific questions of place, it would make for really interesting field trips…maybe schools based on field trips.  Imagine ELOB or Big Picture or SOTA schools with augmented reality apps.  Imagine a virtual school with field trips two days a week.
2. Killer shop. Imagine a class where you could make anything.  MIT Media labs have spawned Fab Labs around the world where students can collaborate on the design and creation of just about anything.
The ‘maker’ economy is blossoming in the recession.  After the cliff of stimulus support, we may see a blossoming of DIY schools with a few foundation supported Fab Labs.
John Lock, Project Lead the Way, just distributed 800 copies of Shop Class as Soulcraft that highlights the joys and benefits of making stuff.  Like thousands of superintendents, I eliminated all the shop classes in my district and with it the chance for kids to make stuff.  But I now realize that if you combine a pre-engineering class with the chance to actually make  (and occasionally break) stuff, it could be life changing for some kids.
OK, maybe it’s not a killer app, but I think we’ll see hundreds of secondary schools adopting Fab/pre-engineering/make stuff applied learning opportunities along with the rush to STEM.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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