If you could give a TED talk, what would it be about?
The public value of learning. Social media gives students an opportunity to learn while creating knowledge of value to communities outside the school. They can conduct research of public interest, post it to blogs, wikis, and video-sharing sites, and then judge the reception of their work. By doing this, students not only develop knowledge and skills but learn why learning matters. Not everyone thinks about educational technology in these terms, so I’d like a chance to convince them.
Why do you use Curriki?
I am inspired by the vision of educational resources that are open to all–and to building an online educational environment where teachers, students, and other citizens can learn bycontributing to the learning commons.
What advice would you give to new teachers?
Cultivate a habit of reading newspapers, magazines, professional journals, websites, and well-written public scholarship. Watch films and documentaries, too, and listen to radio and podcasts, looking for ways in which these give purpose, meaning, and value to your subject matter. Obviously, a new teacher will spend a great deal of time developing basic practices of teaching like managing a classroom–and rightly so! But the more you can remain connected to both your students and to broader public conversations, the more sustaining your work will become.
What’s the first website you check every day?
Probably Slate.com. I love provocative well-written opinion journalism. Social studies teachers should also check out their new blog of intriguing historical documents, The Vault, written by Rebecca Onion.http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault.html
What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current role today?
Today, I’m a postdoctoral scholar, but I’d also love to be teaching high school AP US History. More and more, though, I find myself interested in documentary photography and film making. There’s no career change in my future, but with luck, I’ll find some way to work that in to my research and teaching.
Name your favorite guilty pleasure.
Spy novels on audiobook. Lately, I’ve been hooked on a mid-twentieth-century writer named Eric Ambler. Try Epitaph for a Spy or A Coffin for Dimitrios.