The Mac Lab

AMP to ZIM: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose (Week 15)

by on Jan.03, 2012, under Blog

The first two legs of the Type I tripod, autonomy and mastery, are essential. But for proper balance, we need a third leg—purpose, which provides a context for its two mates. Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people—not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied—hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.
Daniel Pink / Drive

Just before earning my credential via the Teacher Education Program at SDSU back in December of 2001, I interviewed for and landed a temporary teaching position at Valhalla. In January of 2002, armed with a shiny new teaching credential and a six month contract, the students and I began a grand experiment in the Mac Lab. Here’s a look back at one of the first success stories:

I’m a huge proponent of competition. No, not me versus you or us against them or even Macs vs. PCs. (Please, let’s leave the platform wars out of any discussion here.) It’s the inner competition (Michael W) — competing with oneself — that matters most. Doing one’s best. And then doing even better. Here’s an example…

A former student felt strongly about Macs so he made a Flash project to express his feelings. I challenged him several times, Is that the best you can do? He responded with this and this and this. That’s it? That’s the best you got? That’s pitiful! And the kids around him laughed, though not at him. He was a hero for taking the pro-PC stand against Skocko — for putting down Skocko’s beloved Macs. But he knew what I really meant. He felt the challenge. And he rose to meet it (press the play button).

Now we were getting somewhere. While the other kids just saw a cooler version of destroying a Mac, he and I discussed the robot and its movement. What he’d accomplished was actually quite impressive. It showed real promise and I encouraged him to take the animation further. He worked. We talked. He came up with this series of animations (resize the browser window to better fit the SWFs): one, two, three, and four. Only those who understand Flash can begin to appreciate just how far this student pushed himself. That’s a journey one doesn’t easily forget.
— from Competition Begets Progress (Jan 2009)

From day one in the Mac Lab I’ve had the luxury of utilizing Daniel Pink’s Type I tripod. (The “I” is for Intrinsic Motivation.) I was given autonomy because in 2001, virtually no one at Valhalla really knew how to run a computer lab. I was left alone to sink or swim. The drive to become a better teacher—to approach mastery—is a natural consequence of doing what I chose to do as I saw fit to do it. As for purpose, I have the firm belief that what we’re doing has the potential to put a ding in the Universe (to quote Steve Jobs). It matters.

May it [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.
Thomas Jefferson / Last known writing

My goal is to declare independence from the tyranny of 20th century educational models by teaching students to be self-motivated and self-reliant. Each year in the Mac Lab, we move ever-closer to that ideal, but as Jefferson has also written: The qualifications for self-government in society are not innate. They are the result of habit and long training.

Ol’ Tom has a point; instilling that habit takes long training. If not for the willingness of some students to embrace this dream, our educational experiment might have died on the vine. Instead, every year the success stories have grown more brilliant and more numerous.
— from Feedback Loops (Feb 2010) 

The idea behind the Zone of Intrinsic Motivation (ZIM) surfaced last year as I worked on my Masters Degree. The driving force?

To raise new questions, new possibilities,
to regard old questions from a new angle,
requires creative imagination
and marks real advances in science.
Albert Einstein

Question: How might I connect with more of my students? Ah, the eternal quest for educators.
— from A Work in Progress (Oct 2010) 

And that brings us to our new adventure. One I think you might like.

I wanted to do something special to mark my 10 year anniversary in the Mac Lab but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what we’re about to try. Here’s how Pink summarizes the three legs of the Type I tripod:

Autonomy: The desire to direct our own lives.

Mastery: The urge to make progress and get better at something that matters.

Purpose: The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

In the context of the Mac Lab, only you can decide how you’ll spend the the rest of this semester. I’ll take all requirements off the table (with the exception of your blog and XP scoresheet where you’ll track your own progress) and you’ll direct your own digital life. Since what you decide to do will matter to you, the urge toward mastery should be a natural consequence. As for purpose, that’s easy: Other teachers and students pay attention to what we’re doing but believing that students can direct their own education—what we’re about to try—flies in the face of common sense.

What most people don’t understand—and don’t want to understand—is that what we call common sense is often based on faulty assumptions.

Common sense is judgment without reflection which is shared
by an entire class, a people, a nation, or the whole human race.
Giovanni Battista Vico

Judging by common sense
is merely another phrase for judging by first appearance…
The men who place implicit faith in their own common sense
are, without any exception,
the most wrong-headed and impracticable persons.
John Stuart Mill

Sound English common sense — the inherited stupidity of the race.
Oscar Wilde

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18.
Albert Einstein

Wouldn’t you like a chance to prove that young adults can direct their own lives?

And it’s not just teachers who are paying attention. Adobe is the second largest software company on the planet and the undisputed leader in software for people in the creative fields. I wasn’t going to tell you but since it serves a larger purpose, Adobe is paying attention to what happens in here too.

That award is as much yours as it is mine; none of this happens without you.

So, what’s it going to be? We’ll watch this video (blocked at school) 20 to 30 minutes into each period and then discuss our plans. Here’s an updated version of ZIM! that might spark a few ideas from our respective perspectives:

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0104: Today we’ll be watching a video (blocked at school) that I’ve watched four times. Tom Friedman weaves an entertaining (yet serious) message aimed at an adult audience but 100% relevant to high school students. Yes, if you’re in multiple periods, you’ll be watching this twice. Like I said, I’ve seen it four times and bought the book. Watch, listen, learn, adapt, and succeed.

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0105: Today, guided by ZIM 3.0, Daniel Pink, Tom Friedman, and the conversations we’ve had so far this week, we embark on the great Mac Lab AMP Experiment.

Note: As stated in this post, ZIM was inspired by Bud Caddell’s brilliant Venn diagram and modified with Bud’s kind permission.

AMP is:

Autonomy: The power to choose your own digital direction.

Mastery: The urge to make progress and get better at what you’ll choose to do.

Purpose: The yearning to do so in the service of something larger than yourself.*

*Our purpose is to inspire others to try this by proving that it works—that students are ready, willing, and able to handle AMP. Our proof will be initially collected in your blogs but eventually shared to a wider audience via this blog and in presentations to educators at conferences.

You can always begin with our resources:

Third-Party Illustrator Resources: Adobe | Adobe TV | Layers | Creative Cow | Real World | Graphic Mac | Vector Tuts | VecTips | AI Vault | Bittbox | Tute Outpost | Vreel | Smashing | More Smashing | Scatter Brushes | Kevin Hulsey | Noupe 80 | iShift 125 | Pixel2Life |

Third Party Photoshop Resources: Adobe | Adobe TVLayers | Planet Photoshop | Russell Brown | Creative Cow | PS TV | CS Four | PSD Tuts | Abduzeedo | PS Hero | Killer Tips | PS Lab | Julieanne Kost | Julieanne’s Blog | Tute 9 | PS Star | PSD Fan | Computer Arts | Photoshop Lady | 10 Steps | PS Roadmap | Noupe 60 | PSD Vault | Invest in Tech Collection | Photoshop Star | DP Blog Links | Pixel Perfect | Graphpedia | Mac Design Pro 300 | PS Roadmap | Tutzor | PSD Rockstar | Luna Core | PSD Core | PSD Learning | Photoshop Lab | Lorelei Web | Pixel2Life | Tutorialized | Spoono | Pixel Perfect |

If you need images we don’t have, use Creative Commons Search. You must cite your sources (name and link).

Let me know what else you’d like and I’ll dig up more resources.

500 XP: Almost forgot to remind you to create your own Week 15 blog post and claim your 500 XP. Write something about your plans.

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0106: Continue with your self-directed projects.

5.5 Hours of Fun: Mac Lab Saturday School™ is tomorrow from 6:30 to 12:00. Only one more before the semester ends.

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1210: Welcome intrepid MLSS digital artists. If someone is sitting at your computer, you obviously followed the instructions on the board and are now looking for an answer. Here you go. Have fun!

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  • Week 15: Project AMP | Locksley's MacLab Blog

    [...] *Our purpose is to inspire others to try this by proving that it works—that students are ready, willing, and able to handle AMP. Our proof will be initially collected in your blogs but eventually shared to a wider audience via this blog and in presentations to educators at conferences. (Mac Lab Week 15 Post) [...]

  • Invading ZIM (Week 15) | Justin M.

    [...] wish upon anyone. Although I was regretably unable to see the concept and interpretation of AMP within the classroom as it unfolded, I found that it was extremely intrigued by both [...]

  • AMP so far | Locksley's MacLab Blog

    [...] AMP is going awesome some far. Since I’ve been doing what I’m inspired to do, i feel like my work is now important not only to my class but to me to and I’m putting  more pride into my work. And even though there are times where i have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m going to do, thats where my inspiration begins. And thats when i become flow with my work. [...]

  • Amp and My Thoughts | Hakim's Blog Site

    [...] AMP is such a great tool to use, especially if your somebody like me. I procrastinate about everything whether its homework or something in my everyday life. A perfect example of how this has helped me is by finishing my study packet for history. It was sixteen, thats right, SIXTEEN long pages of notes that took me a lot of hard work and focus to do. It took me over 6 hours to do in a day! The reason why I had to do it all in a day because I was procrastinating about it for the 4 days we had to actually had to complete it. Anyway, I want to say that I completed it by simply using AMP. When I read about it in the Mac Lab, I got a better understanding of why I need to complete it and why its so important to always be successful no matter what and it was everything that AMP said it would be. AMP has helped me to become a better and more successful student than ever. I now have a B in history, something that I used to have an F in because I never really tried. That’s what Amp can do and why it is so important to me now. This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Dominic H.. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  • Final Reflection | Jissette's Site

    [...] AMP; the best idea EVER! I absolutely loved the idea, so much freedom without worrying about finishing this many number of projects to prove that I worked hard. I took my time and experimented with different projects. I must admit that some were in fact left unfinished, but simply because they didn’t interest me much. I chose to work on a project of my own. For a while I was stuck and would randomly scribble or draw on Illustrator, especially on bad days when I had no interest in working. Those days ended up being my inspiration. I came up with Madness. I remember that day I was frustrated and stressed about school and other things that I just randomly made lines with the pen tool. Music, being one of the things I can’t live without and something that tends to put me in a better mood, was what caused me to start writing the lyrics of my favorite songs. The next day I came back (a little less stressed) and by the end of that period, by the end of my random typing, I felt a whole lot better. It might not be the best of my work, but I must admit I was surprised to see art in something I randomly started because I had a bad day. I absolutely enjoyed AMP because it allowed me to think outside of the box, and work on things that simply came to mind. Like Drops of Jupiter, it is based on the song by Train, but along with that it was inspired by a friend. I spent about 2 months working on it, I have a feeling there’s still a lot to work on (like Earth) but it’s something to start with. [...]

  • Final Reflection (Week 37) » Husam's site

    [...] lessons on every grade I get, and Skoko’s motivations whether if it’s in the blog or AMP, or even when he stands up in front of the class talking; I personally realized that I have a [...]

  • Final Reflection | Jakey Jay's Blog

    [...] AMP:  I could be on either the “AMP is abused by the class.” or the “AMP is great!” bandwagons, but I want to be honest in this self reflection. All through out school we have had structured agendas that we have become used to: lectures, followed by brief reviews, then tests. Only in this class we’re we urged to act on on our own and see what our minds can conjure up. I really didn’t know what to quite do. I dabbled in and out of projects, but never truly committed to anything until 3/4ths of the year had dragged by. As I had said before, once I committed myself to a project, it was incredibly hard to stop.  But I know I could have done more if I took the class more seriously towards the beginning of the year. I could say I took advantage of it, but the prompts says to reflect honestly. [...]

  • Final Reflection (Week 38) | Trey's Playhouse

    [...] went on, Skocko presented a video talking about the theory of autonomy, mastery, and purpose (AMP). At first, I wondered: “What does that have to do with me and digital arts?” Then [...]

  • Final Reflection | 268559

    [...] I’m planning on turning Fridays into AMPday and providing multiple ways for students to earn full-time AMP. Note: Full-time AMP will be earned, not given. What I’m interested in hearing about is how well [...]

  • Final Reflection | SWAT or NOT?!?!?!

    [...] Autonomy: The power to choose your own digital direction. [...]

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