Watching a digital learner last week while someone else was teaching was a real treat.
I watched Deb Barrows, a Mission Sales Specialist for Fablevision, and former technology teacher, teach Sarah Fryer, who is famous for her youtube response to President Obama's talk with students, how to use Animation-ish. Animation-ish is a product produced and sold by Fablevision, a company dedicated to all learners developing their true potential.
Just as you would create a multi-page comic, a flipbook, you follow the same idea with Animation-ish. It is similar to creating a storyboard. It was the tool as much as the process that intrigued me. We were at the Maine Technology Conference ACTEM, where we heard Marcos Torres talk about using the resources of youth and media to learn with our youth. Animation-ish is one tool that I would classify as a current resource our youth will embrace.
Let me take you back to the vendor area at the conference. Deb demonstrated how to use the software to create a mini story. Sarah watched intently and followed the model and created a mini-story. Then Deb created a new story at a different level and Sarah immediately created another story. You can see an example of Sarah's final creation for the day.
Deb commented that, "What I really loved was watching Sarah use the interactive white board like a pro! You could actually see her thinking when she was creating and making choices. It was so cool." Lori Collins, Professional Development Director for Fablevision, was at the booth and her demonstrations focused on the options Sarah had with Animation-ish. Both Deb and Lori are expert teachers and they know how to engage digital learners.
Watching Sarah, I was reminded of looking at this moment through the eyes of a digital learner. How shall we teach differently for our different learners?
Sarah watched while Deb demonstrated. There were no words exchanged as Sarah drank this all in with her eyes. I watched as she observed for a few minutes while Deb modeled, then I saw her use her skills and create her own story. Lori picked out a couple of the important transitions and demonstrated them to Sarah. Sarah instantly transformed the the software and the experience into her own creation. She did not need the steps laid out for her, she did not need a worksheet to follow along, she viewed a model, created an attempt, erased, started again, and within 15 minutes she created her own story. There was no tentativeness, only trial and error, an attempt at an idea, an assessment, another attempt and then a brief reflection and satisfaction.
Do we need new tools for new learning? Animation-ish allowed for a story to be told and created. We all have a story to be told and shared. If we think back to all of the cultures before the written word was the norm, the history and culture were shared through oral traditions. Today our learners are visual, our teaching should be visual, our stories should be visual. We may not be very sophisticated with our initial attempts at visual story telling, but our visual stories will be powerful.