Collaborative photo collections in Google Photos

Google Photos offers the opportunity to create a photo album allowing invited individuals to contribute images. This collaborative opportunity seems perfectly suited to classroom projects.

I had not explored this capability until attending a recent wedding and recognizing just how many individuals were taking photos the best of which could be integrated for all to view.

Getting what you need

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometime you find

You can get what you need

Words from the Rolling Stones.

When I was an administrator, I did some things that were probably weird for reasoning with Ph.D.s. I would quote lyrics from popular songs in some of the presentations I made. I used the Rolling Stones “You can’t always get what you want” because it was suited to the reality of the under-resourcing of higher education in North Dakota.

The lines from the famous hook popped into my head again, but for a different situation. Just what was the message and to what circumstances does it apply? I guess it can mean whatever you want it to mean, but I read in the wikipedia analysis that the lyric can be translated as life involves us in optimism, followed by disillusionment, followed by pragmatism.

I somehow connected “what you want and need” with the world at this time as given to us by the Internet and social media. With the Internet, the wisdom of the Stones from the late ‘60s may have changed. Maybe, more and more, the Internet gives us what we want rather than what we need. Search has been tweeked over time so that our personal history is taken into account in responding to our queries. Our wants end up prioritized over our needs. We can adjust our Facebook feed and others can target what appears in our feed based on what is known about our preferences and interests. We do see what we want to see.

Maybe it is time to rethink getting what we want.

You can always get what you want

You can always get what want

But if you try sometime (and read more widely)

You can get what you need


What is required for real innovation?

I was in college during the late 1960s and then as now it was a time of unrest and reexamination. These characteristics extended to our thinking about education. I have never been a student of history and it is probably too late to start now. How  ideas come and then go does intrigue me.  Innovation is often not that innovative.

I remember reading a couple of books during this time that proposed learner independence and self-direction. The one I remember was A. S. Neill’s Summmerhill.

According to Wikipedia, Summerhill continues to exist, but I remember the logic of the experiment as being largely discredited. Young learners were mostly not capable of making productive decisions when it came to guiding and motivating their own education. Fascination with these ideas faded.

These ideas are experiencing a Phoenix moment. Are the ideas now appropriate because of new opportunities or new demands? This is not for me to say. There are certainly new circumstances. Work opportunities, if preparation for these is a primary goal of K-12 education, are certainly changing. It seems there will be fewer “good” jobs, but these jobs will be far more lucrative. Perhaps revisiting Summerhill is a way to avoid educator responsibility – you will face far more difficult circumstances so students play your hand as you want and see what happens.

Perhaps general anxiety associated with a changed future have led to a focus on vocation and an abandonment of other educational goals. The time devoted to personal interests must be subtracted from something else. Will it be history, social sciences, arts, and/or government that are sacrificed for STEM,  entrepreneurship and explore your own passions?

Back to Summerhill. What might be proposed as a way to avoid another failed fantasy? My recommendation would be a combination of individualization through technology and mentorship. I recommend individualization with technology because I see no other way the general public will pay for a system allowing sufficient adult encouragement and oversight of individual student needs and interests without a way to free teachers from some present responsibilities. This combination will not be ideal for all students, but too many forget that many students do well with the present system. No system regarded as financially practical is ideal for all.

You see little of this type of thing in public schools, but major donors have been investing large amounts of money to explore this possibility. Mother Jones (I admit a surprising source) provides a lengthy and deep analysis of the big money folks investing in these ideas. The motives of these individuals have been quested because their ideas encourage a large role for technology and for-profit resources. Of course, paying for curriculum content is pretty much the way education gets done.

I keep hoping more public schools will involve themselves in truly innovative approaches to education, but I fear most decision makers see the personal risk as too great.