Third Keynote: Bill Rankin

Bill Rankin on sustainable learning in the post-PC world.

He starts with a short history of indoor lighting. He asks: which light is best? Depends on what you’re trying to achieve – mood? Quality? Durability? Pervasiveness? Sustainability.


“If you want your students to exercise their brains, let them sleep in class!” Why is class such a flatline? It’s a passive activity.

If technology is now an extension of us, telling students to put it away is not something that will work. Teachers get itchy when their tech is threatened, eg smartboards – but are happy to threaten student tech and push them.

Outside of school people seek out challenges and things that are harder – this doesn’t happen in schools for some reason. Students carry amazing tech with them all the time and the possibilities for them are endless.

Facebook has 1 million % more photos on it than the US Library of Congress. We take, every 2 seconds, the entire number of photos taken in the whole of the 19th century. Pictures of ordinary people, such as those at Pompeii, help to build a picture of everyday life and those on Facebook will be invaluable to historians in 500 years.

Bill talks about foldit – a puzzle game about folding protein molecules. In 2 weeks, gamers solved a protein molecule key to tackling AIDS that a supercomputer had worked on for 10 years unsuccessfully! Communities of practice involve us all, and all of our students.

One Cubic Foot – a project to count how many species move through a space in 24 hours – showed that cornfields are monocultural and this is counter-productive. Putting corn, squash and beans all in the same field is much more productive, but then it is not harvestable by machinery. What’s happening in schools, Bill thinks, is the same as what’s happening in the cornfield. Focus is narrowed to what can be measured – but is the stuff you can measure the same as the stuff you want to develop in your students? We fail to grow the kind of diversity our students need in this kind of world when we take it down to just what can be measured.


…but out of school this is ingenuity!

What should the new classroom look like? There’s a trajectory from beginner to mastery and we need to support students in getting there. In fractals, complexity builds by following a pattern. Weneed a fractal design for schools. This ties in with other messages from today: we need to be crystal clear on what we want the end product to be and make sure that everything we do is focused on achieving that. Take the consumption model of education and add curation, creation, collaboration (I think that was it!) and at the end you have 4C to exploded the old ways. V clever 🙂

Bill finished with some stories of experience learning: was a notable tale.

Very enjoyable end to a very interesting day!

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1 Response to Third Keynote: Bill Rankin

  1. Mark Anderson says:

    Some cracking live blogging today Sally. Sorry wasn’t able to catch up for longer. Was all a bit bonkers. Was great to see you! Thanks for the write ups!


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