While we were sleeping…

“Our assumptions about learning are fundamentally flawed!”

Now that is what I call an introduction!  In listening to Chris Dede speak about education in relation to three basic human behaviours; sleeping, eating and bonding, I am struck with how he take such complex issue and make it appear so simple and obvious!  Obvious to him perhaps – amazing to me! But then as Albert Einstein has been quoted –

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Dede’s words seems reflect the revelation  of Sir Ken Robinson and Sugra Mitra (1-4mins) about the origins of our educational systems and whether these models can continue to remain unchanged in the face of a world that is constantly changing and evolving around them.

“The learning styles, strengths, and preferences for students of all ages are changing as their usage of media alters the processes by which people receive, create, and share knowledge.” (Dede, 2005 as cited in Dede, 2008, p.55)

“many educational designers and scholars seek the single best medium for learning, as if such a universal tool could exist.” (Dede, 2008, p.58)

“We treat learning like sleeping!”

Dede also speaks of the dangers of adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach to ICT use in schools to improve instruction, citing Learning Management Systems (LMS) as one such example.

This instructional improvement strategy is the equivalent of asking a carpenter to build artifacts with only a screwdriver, or only a hammer – then concluding such tools are not useful because each in isolation has limited utility, as well as many weaknesses when broadly applied. In contrast, from an instrumental perspective, the history of tool making shows that the best strategy is to have simultaneously available a variety of specialized tools, rather than a single device that attempts to accomplish everything. (Dede, 2008, p.58)

“No educational ICT is universally good; and the best way to invest in instructional technologies is an instrumental approach that analyzes the natures of the curriculum, students, and teachers to select the appropriate tools, applications, media, and environments.” (Dede, 2008, p.59)

According to Dede, ICTs are “mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition” (Clark, 1983, 1994 as cited in Dede, 2008, p.55).

Dede also suggests that in order to get the most out of technology, students must engage and interact within it for learning to occur, explaining,

No instructional ICT is a technology comparable to fire, where one only has to stand near it to get a benefit from it. Knowledge does not intrinsically radiate from computers, infusing students with learning as fires infuse their onlookers with heat.  (Dede, 2008, p.56)

There appears to be a clear connect between the work of Chris Dede and the kind of approach to learning reflected in both the SAMR and TPACK frameworks as I discussed in my post – ‘Connecting the dots!’  More ideas to explore!  More connections to make!


In exploring Chris Dede’s ‘sleep, eat, bond’ analogue and thinking about its implications for both teaching and learning, I found the image of a McDonald’s restaurant menu stuck firmly in my mind.  Though not at the more complex end of Dede’s continuum, I couldn’t help but begin to imagine what education might look like, if we adopted a more individual ‘menu-like’ approach to learning.

People, in particular our young people, are  increasingly looking for ways to personalise their world, tailoring it suit their needs.  They want it their way and they want it now!  The commercial world of business has not only recognised this shift but is adapting and looking for new ways to engage with this new consumer.

Perhaps one of the more notable companies to embrace this idea of personalisation was Coke.  Their “Share a Coke” campaign saw Coke release bottles bearing different names.  Not only was it a hugely successful campaign for the company, customers got what they wanted – personalisation.  But of course not everyone’s name could make the cut so they created a ‘Share virtual happiness.  Share a virtual Coke!‘ website, so you too can create and download your own personal connection to the Coke brand!


Dominos have now come on board with their ‘Pizza Mogel‘ campaign.  This campaign not only allows you to create your own personalised pizza but can make money for your efforts as well.  All you have to do is “share it online with your friends and family and earn a slice of the profit for every one you sell” (“Pizza Mogul”, 2014).

While we were sleeping…the world changed!  Seems like the time has come to get out of bed start making up for lost time!

Is it so difficult to imagine that education might be able to offer some kind of individualised experience for our students?

“[T]o progress, the field of instructional design must recognize that learning is a human activity quite diverse in its manifestations from person to person, and even from day to day.” (Dede, 2008, p.59)

Below is a link to an example of how one teacher is endeavouring to try and do just that!  Mary Vagenas is using a ‘Learning Menu’ to teach US history to Year 7 students at the Queens School of Inquiry in New York.


While the model suggested in this video isn’t perfect perfect, it is example of the starting point of an idea.  Consider the possibilities!  What might this model begin to look like if we sort to improve upon its design by incorporating aspects of  NGL and other ICT tools.  Ideas are beginning to flow!!

But then this is what we have been talking about over the last few weeks isn’t it – the need to provide the opportunities through which ‘bonds’ can be forged in our learning environments and communities through which deeper learning and connections can be made ! In the words of Steven Johnson –

“Chance favours the connected mind!”

So here is to making more connections in the hope of uncovering, developing and fostering even more great ideas!

An brief aside…

When delving a little more into the work of Chris Dede I can across his ‘Dimension of Scale’ Model or what Microsoft have called  ‘The Scaling Framework’.  Having touched  briefly on the challenges of teacher uptake in a recent post and in light of comments made by Brendon in his ‘Harry Potter’ analogue along a similar line, I thought it might be worth sharing.


I also found this link a more simplistic explanation of the framework, without all the bells and whistles, if you are interested.


Dede, C. (2008). Theoretical perspectives influencing the use of information technology in teaching and learning. International handbook of information technology in primary and secondary education (pp. 43-62). Retrieved from http://www.msuedtechsandbox.com/hybridphd/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/dede_2008.pdf

Pizza Mogel. (2014).  Retrieved August 20, 2014, from http://www.dominos.com.au/menu/pizza-mogul


5 responses to “While we were sleeping…

  1. Lots of good stuff here. Saturday evening frivolities call, but just one quick correct it’s Chris Dede (2 letter ds) not Debe


  2. A really nice read – thanks. I do wonder where the ‘I’ generation will force learning to go. I’m hoping it will be good.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: New Structures and Spaces of Learning – the HOW | EVEN ELMO'S GOT A MOBILE

  4. Pingback: How NGL can inform my role as teacher | EVEN ELMO'S GOT A MOBILE

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