The Mac Lab

Painful Processes (Week 29)

by on Apr.16, 2012, under Blog

Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we’ve hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next.

…The feeling of frustration—the act of being stumped—is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer—before we probably even know the question—we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach.
Jonah Lehrer / Imagine: How Creativity Works 

I’ve heard many of you say: I don’t know what to do. Or: I can’t think of anything to do. My stock answer is: Go to Inspiration (our digital morgue file) for inspiration but how many times have I also suggested you try re-reading the 5 Stages of the Creative Process?

The real questions for the frustrated among you is: How many times have you actually revisited the Inspiration pages or re-read the 5 Stages of the Creative Process? Saturation and incubation are part of the process.

I’m not immune to feelings of frustration. Heck, I’ve wrestled with one problem since 1988. But I’ve worked in creative fields virtually all of my adult life and I know every problem contains its own solution, no matter how long it takes to find it. Or, as Richard Bach says:

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.

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Now What? (Week 28)

by on Apr.09, 2012, under Blog

When institutions—families, schools, businesses, and athletic teams, for example—focus on the short-term and opt for controlling people’s behavior, they do considerable long-term damage.
Daniel Pink / Drive

We have 10 weeks until finals. Just 52 school days before summer begins. How will you use the time?

As much as I want to step in to provide direction, I’m going to listen to Dan Pink (and the researchers he cites) and give you room to exercise your own judgment. So talk it over with your classmates. Will it be business as usual or will you be making a little Mac Lab history of your own?

After a couple of short videos and a few additional words today, the week will be yours. Make the most of it.

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Fantastic News (from last Friday): Regular blog readers will know that our school district has informed us that they cannot afford to purchase Adobe’s CS6 Master Collection for any of our schools. In response, I posted what was to be the first of many donor requests (0322 update) so that we might continue to explore the cutting edge of creative technologies. I also sent out a flurry of emails in search of a benefactor.

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Humble Beginnings | Spring Break Quest Fest

by on Mar.30, 2012, under Blog

Satisfying work always starts with two things: a clear goal and actionable next steps toward achieving that goal. Having a clear goal motivates us to act: we know what we’re supposed to do. And actionable next steps ensure that we can make progress toward the goal immediately.

WoW offers a guarantee of productivity with every quest you undertake. The world is populated by thousands of characters who are willing to give you special assignments—each on presented on an individual scroll that lists a clear goal, and why it matters, followed by actionable steps: where to go, step-by-step instructions for what to do when you get there, and a concrete measure of proof you’re expected to gather to demonstrate your success.
Jane McGonigal / Reality is Broken

Satisfying work. That is TAG’s target.

In this post, I laid out some preliminary ideas for a gamifying our classroom. During our open beta some of the ideas worked wonderfully while others crashed and burned. Don’t dismiss the latter result; I’m a firm believer in the positive power of failure. After all, out of our collective efforts we now have the beginnings of a self-contained Web 2.0 framework for the next version of TAG.

The 1.0 version of TAG will officially launch in the fall but we’ll be testing the new version very soon. No more XP Scoresheets to deal with. Everything (and more) will be handled within the blog.

More on that later. For now, let the Spring Break Quests begin! (Alumni and visitors are welcome to join in.)

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AMP is a Verb (Week 27)

by on Mar.26, 2012, under Blog

Creativity is a step beyond imagination because it requires that you actually do something rather than lie around thinking about it.

To develop our creative abilities, we also need to develop our practical skills in the media we want to use.

Being creative is about making fresh connections so that we see things in new ways and from different perspectives.
Sir Ken Robinson / The Element

I’m hoping those three sentences sound familiar. Are these concepts more believable when someone else writes them?

How about this one?

Creative insights often come in nonlinear ways, through seeing connections and similarities between things we hadn’t noticed before. Creative thinking depends greatly on what’s sometimes rolled divergent or lateral thinking, and especially on thinking in metaphors or seeing analogies.
— Sir Ken (again)

Think about that.

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Ticket 1329330978 (Week 26)

by on Mar.19, 2012, under Blog

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
— André Gide

Every start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
— Albert Schweitzer

What academic value does playing World of Warcraft have exactly?
Kyle Wheaton

I imagine that Kyle isn’t the only one to pose that question. Before I begin listing all the reasons why I’m offering kids a chance to play after school and on Saturdays, here’s a peek at an email from a district-level technology specialist to the two administrators at the top of the district tech food chain (the ones who approved my request):

Though he’s already expressed it, I just wanted to reiterate how much Mike Skocko appreciates Larry and Dustin’s efforts on behalf of his media classes. Gaming and the World of Warcraft could scare a lot of shops from accommodating his request, but an understanding of the educational objective and careful planning of the time-based policy exceptions have really created a win-win: enabling activities that ignite student learning while protecting other network users from negative impacts: a real coup. Reviewing ticket 1329330978 it is evident how much research and testing went into getting to this solution. I know they had to fit this in between more urgent tasks.

I feel fortunate to work with two guys who bring to their jobs a love of meeting challenges head-on and learning new things.

In other words, three very busy guys (the one who wrote the email helped too) spent a lot of time finding a way to give us the opportunity to play World of Warcraft in the Mac Lab. Why would they do that? And even more puzzling: why would the administrators approve the request in the first place?

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