This is the blog of Dr. Curt Bonk, Professor at Indiana University and President of CourseShare (there are NO Guest Blogs and NO advertisements permitted).

Dr. Bonk's Home Page

Bonk's Emerging Learning Technologies course

Video Primers in an Online Repository for e-Teaching and Learning (V-PORTAL)

Click here for information about my recent book, MOOCs and Open Education Around the World.

Bloggers I follow
My reading list
The Wide Open Learning World: Sea, Land, and Ice Views
Thursday, October 22, 2009
As we all realize, informal learning is exploding--especially with innovative Web options. Such learning extends far beyond traditional learning venues. For the past few years, I have become interested in how people use technology in unusual ways to teach or learn with it (from trains, planes, mountain tops, resorts, caves, icebergs, parks, cafes, boats, etc.). There are teachers today on sailboats in the ocean who communicate with kids in schools about what they are doing or seeing.

With this in mind, I had an informal learning article come out this week in an e-newsletter from the UK. I explore teaching and learning from the sea, land, and ice. I think this will be my new research area. Here is a link to that article.

Bonk, C. J. (2009, October 19). The Wide Open Learning World: Sea, Land, and Ice Views. Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter, Issue 17, Available:

Hope you enjoy it.

Lots happening. Earlier today (Thursday) I was interviewed for the Kathryn Zox radio show (tape delay--to come out later). She does radio shows for the VoiceAmerica Women's Network. It will also appear on WMET 1160 AM in Washington, DC. Later today (Friday morning), I will be in Indianapolis presenting to the Central Indiana chapter of ASTD. This will be a three hour talk. Saturday I travel to Vancouver for a week for the International E-Learn conference. I am heading the executive advisory board so I need to go. Besides, many great friends will be there. I think that there are five other similar conferences happening that same week. Oh my!
Subscribe to the TravelinEdMan podcast
  posted by Curt Bonk @ 9:48 PM   4 comments
Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to my RSS feed  
The October Road Show..Bonk to it!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Time to Hit the Road:
I will be on the road the next few days with four radio shows on Thursday the 15th of October in Chicago, Racine (Wisconsin), Mequon (Wisconsin--a suburb of Milwaukee) and downtown Milwaukee. The Chicago Public Radio one is at 9 am on Thursday. You can listen in since it is being streamed. It will also be archived. I have never done 4 radio shows in four different cities in a day so this will be fun and a tad challenging. Fortunately, I grew up in the Milwaukee westside burbs. I get to stay one night in Chicago (across from Navy Pier) and a couple of nights with my mom in Milwuakee with a night in Madison sandwiched in between. This will be a fun trip!

On Friday October 16th, I will do two Webinars for Magna Publications in Madison, Wisconsin. The first one is from 10:30 to 12 noon. It is titled: The Flat World Swung Open: Now WE-ALL-LEARN with Web Technology. The second one is from 1:00 to 2:30. It is titled: Creatively Engaging Online Students: Models & Activities. Perhaps your college, university, or organization has signed up for it and you can sit in. Hope to see some of you asking me questions at the end.

On October 20th at noon EST, Robin Good from Rome, Italy will be interviewing me about my World is Open book. Robin is simply an amazing person with a wealth of resources in the world is media. I will be in my home office for this one.

Friday, October 23rd, I will present to the Central Indiana ASTD (CIASTD) chapter in Indianapolis at the pyramid buildings. The talk is titled: The Flat World Has Swung Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Training and Education. For those in the Indianapolis area, this will be at the Holiday Inn near the pyramid buildings on the north side. This will be more of a corporate training audience.

The E-Learn 2009 Conference is in Vancouver in a couple of weeks. The preface is up. As executive board chair, I will be there the entire week from October 24-31st. I also have a 1:30 pm session on Tuesday in the Grand Ballroom B: The World is Open: Introducing the Heroes, Gurus, and
Revolutionaries of the Shared Internet
. This links to my World is Open book. It will be a unique talk with pictures of people who have changed the world of education (the people who created the 10 openers mentioned in the book). I will let the audience pick the opener and, hence, the stories that I will tell. Ironically, four years ago I keynoted this conference when it was last in Vancouver. It was my very first talk that I gave on the open learning world. Now it is a book (or 2 with the free e-book extension to come) and my life. Well, not my entire life. I do other things like YouTube and Wiki-related research. By the way, Grace Lin from the University of Hawaii, and Georgette Michko from the University of Houston, and I also have a talk in Vancouver on our YouTube research. I will just watch that one and let Grace and Georgette perform. Grace helped in my keynote in Vancouver 4 years ago.

Hope to see you in Vancouver. I love Vancouver! That is enough traveling for a while.
Subscribe to the TravelinEdMan podcast
  posted by Curt Bonk @ 3:53 PM   0 comments
Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to my RSS feed  
World's Youngest Headmaster, Open Courses, and Other News this Week
Ok, I posted a three-part interview with the World's Youngest Teacher. Now the BBC has an article and associated video with the World's Youngest Headmaster. It came out yesterday. Imagine a 16-year-old named Babar Ali who is a schoolboy in India and decides at age 9 to create his own school for children from his village who are left out of education. He is helping educate hundreds of other children. Barbar Ali's specialty is history so he is the history teacher. You can watch a video from a young girl who are impacted as well as a question and answer session with children from the UK. This is quite a story. What would all the credentialing and accreditation people in North America say about this?

I see quite a caring individual who has gone out of his way to provide education for others. What happens when the world is filled with thousands of Babar Ali's? Could it? Do we have thousands or even dozens of such people? Let's hope. And when you can peer in with videoconferencing or even letter writing back and forth, you can expose those in the West to what is happening. Perhaps mobile learning can add to his efforts someday. I know my friend, Dr. Paul Kim, a mobile expert from Stanford was just there in the slums of India.

Lots of other interesting news stories lately. I was quoted in one article for on Technology and Higher Education by Anna Weinstein. My friends Ron Owston at York University in Toronto and Randy Garrison at the University of Calgary were both also quoted. The site is for K-12 education and makes resources available for parents, teachers, and K-12 educators.

There is also an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week: "Open Courses: Free, but Oh, So Costly Online students want credit. Colleges want a working business model." The article is by Marc Parry of the Chronicle of Higher Education, October 11, 2009. In it people like David Wiley caution about the business models of open education and open courseware. He says that OCW could be dead by 2012. In the article, David argues that "Every OCW initiative at a university that does not offer distance courses for credit," he has blogged, "will be dead by the end of calendar 2012." Marc Parry, the author of the article says, "In other words: Nice knowing you, MIT OpenCourseWare. So long, Open Yale Courses." More from David: "I think the economics of open courseware the way we've been doing it for the last almost decade have been sort of wrong,"

David is right that we need better business models. Marc Parry even likened David to Nostradamus and education's "Everywhere Man." We need people like David to push our thinking as well as our planning. David is the type of leader who gets the field the attention it deserves. However, in terms of the future of OCW, I think it may have a huge role outside of traditional university structures. I like what Catherine Casserly, Senior Partner, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, had to say in this article. In the article she says, "I find it like a disruption," says Catherine M. Casserly, the Hewlett foundation's former director of open educational resources, speaking in general about the movement for openness. "It doesn't shift what's happening in some of the very stable traditional institutions of higher education. But there are huge numbers of others who aren't being served. And it's with those that I think we'll begin to see new forms."

Yes! OCW and open educational resources help those who are not normally served by traditional schools, colleges, universities, and training centers. And that is billions of people. Read the opening story about Steven T. Ziegler who works at a restaurant-equipment company in Pennsylvania and is about to lose his job. He has been learning from courses at Yale and MIT using OCW and he loves it. There is a video interview of him at the top. I recommend you watch it. Fascinating how a hang gliding experiment left him with not much to do for a while and so he decided to start learning from the free and open courses that he found.

There is also an intereesting and quite long article in the Chronicle this week (October 11, 2009) By Eric Hoover. "The Millennial Muddle: How stereotyping students became a thriving industry and a bundle of contradictions." Eric Hoover gets different opinions about the books, papers, and propoganda related to different generations in the workplace. Are Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2004 like my son, Alex, and daughter, Nicki) any different from previouos ones?

Do they really multitask? One thing that they do engage in more than most is text messaging. It is kinda hard to refute that when you see the summary counts on our phone bill. You can read about young kids who text too much and some concerns parents and others have in an October 12th New York Times article by Perri Klass, "Texting, Surfing, Studying?"

Finally, there is an interesting article and video from Business Week (October 9th) about this generation and those slightly older who cannot find jobs. They are the so-called "Lost Generation." The writer is thios article, Peter Coy, says that "The continuing job crisis is hitting young people especially hard—damaging both their future and the economy." The recent recession really made things a lot worse for those without many skills or relevant experiences. I sent this article to my brothers and sisters and their kids. I worry a bit for my millennial kids. But maybe they can learn more stuff from open educational resources and OCW. Maybe they can be like Babar Ali and start their own schools for those without jobs.
Subscribe to the TravelinEdMan podcast
  posted by Curt Bonk @ 1:43 PM   0 comments
Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to my RSS feed  
Part 3 of 3: How Does “The World’s Youngest Teacher” Use Web Technology? An Interview with Adora Svitak
Friday, October 09, 2009
Below is the third and final part of my interview with Adora Svitak. If you want to watch one video that summarizes Adora and her influence, you might check out the one appearing in the center of her YouTube Channel at the present time. Enjoy....

How Does “The World’s Youngest Teacher” Use Web Technology?

An Interview with Adora Svitak

by Curtis J. Bonk, Professor, Indiana University, USA

20. CJB: Which place (or places) that you have traveled to impressed you the most about their use of technology to teach and learn? Please explain why.

AS: A few years ago, I went with my family to England, where I taught at the Burley School. I was very impressed by the fact that each student had a laptop, and was able to use it for school projects. I was able to conduct writing sessions very effectively when students were able to get their thoughts out onto a word processing document. I know that many children have difficultly writing quickly, and I think that giving students laptops is a very time-effective measure. Also, it prepares students for a future of which technology will be increasingly a part of.

21. CJB: I know you often read 2-3 books per day. But likely not ones like my book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education? What were 1-2 ideas that caught your attention when you were reading it?

AS: One idea in the World is Open that really caught my attention was the idea of alternate reality learning. We have all heard so much about technologies, such as Second Life, that offer alternate realities, but “education” is not the first word that comes to mind when I hear “alternate reality.” So this really opened up my mind to that possibility, as well as to the fact that some of the things we don’t automatically associate with education may be, in fact, very valuable in learning. Another idea I liked was the use, and the availability, of open-source software. I am used to using technologies that you have to pay for—Microsoft Office and Encarta Encyclopedia, for example—but as open-source software is becoming more common, schools have the choice to use open-source technologies like Google Docs, OpenOffice,, or Wikipedia to address their schools’ needs.

22. CJB: How has the world become more open for learning during the years you have been a teacher? How is it different since you were 7 or 8?

AS: I think that definitely open-source technology has become more of a presence—companies like Google are churning out free software ripe for the taking. As a teacher, reaching out to the world has become easier to me through distance learning. When I was 7 or 8, physically traveling to schools to deliver workshops was the norm for me. Now, I use new technology to deliver my message. Students are connecting with classrooms through the internet, schools across the world are connecting with each other—the world has opened considerably since my “younger days.”

23. CJB: Do you think that the world of education is ready to be more open and online? What needs to happen to make parents, kids, teachers, politicians more aware of the benefits of learning online?

AS: We live and work in the 21st Century; it is time to learn in the 21st Century. Ample resources are available to create supportive learning environments. It is essential that leaders in education and government, parents, and families become aware of the need to use these resources. Leaders need to realize that schools must use technology to help students today become the leaders of a new and open world.

24. CJB: What do you think teaching with technology will be like in 5, 10 or 20 years or more?

AS: Considering the rapid speed at which technology has grown since I was 7 or 8, it is really difficult to predict what teaching with technology will become. I think that less influence will be placed on physical presence in the classroom and more influence on online learning. Also, I think that students learning at their own pace with the aid of technology will become the norm. Teachers may teach students who are more geographically diverse in their locations.

25. CJB: What has been your top or peak teaching experience in your life so far?

AS: Recently, I delivered a professional development session through Elluminate, an online conferencing tool, to hundreds of teachers and administrators around the world, from places as diverse as Brazil to the U.S., England, France, and Australia. This event showed me the great power technology puts in the hands of teachers as well as students—allowing the teacher to reach people across the globe, and allowing the student to connect with others outside of their own community to share learning practices and realize similar experiences.

26. CJB: Where can people go to watch some of your teaching episodes or read some of your work?

AS: People can go to my YouTube channel. You can also visit my TeacherTube channel; search Adora Svitak at Also visit my website,

27. CJB: What is it like being an author at such a young age? Are your books offered online? How might people find them?

AS: It is an incredible experience to have published books at a young age. It gives me another perspective that most of my peers do not have. My books are currently only in print form, but I am considering offering them as eBooks. They are available at my website,

28. CJB: What are you currently working on in terms of books, projects, etc.?

AS: I have just released my third book, Yang in Disguise, a satirical coming-of-age fantasy adventure story, and I am working on composing and compiling poems for a second book of poetry.

29. CJB: When might you attend college? At what age? Will you go physically or attend virtually online or both? What might you major in?

AS: I am thinking that I will attend college in three to four years. Although my language arts and history skills are advanced, my science and math skills are still at or slightly above grade level. So it will take me perhaps a little longer than some would expect. I think that I would attend both physically and online. I would hope to double-major in literature and education.

30. CJB: Is there anything else I left out that an audience interested in the topic of online learning might want to learn from an 11 year old teacher? Or any final commends you would like to mention?

AS: I would say not to be afraid of the changing world of education and to wholeheartedly explore new, online solutions for learning. I think that it is also important that we keep in mind tried-and-true best practices from the “olden days.” Ultimately, educators must help the students of today learn so that they can become the leaders of tomorrow.

CJB: Thanks, Adora, for the chance to interview you in the midst of your hectic schedule. Your comments should be helpful for online educators interested in the perspective of young learners as well as young teachers related to technology integration in education.

Bonk, C. J. 2009. The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Corr, K. 2009. Is Adora Svitak the cleverest child in the world? UK telegraph, January 14. (accessed August 29, 2009).

Sadovi, C. 2009. 11-year-old prodigy wows high-schoolers: Girl has had 2 books published and gives seminars around the world. Chicago Tribune, February 4, or (accessed August 29, 2009).

Sivtak, A. 2009. The school principal just friended me? Social networking in education. The Educators’ Royal Treatment. August 4, (accessed August 30, 2009).

Curtis J. Bonk is Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University. He has a popular blog called TravelinEdMan and is the author of The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education, Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Ideas, for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing, and The Handbook of Blended Learning: Global Perspectives, Local Designs.
Subscribe to the TravelinEdMan podcast
  posted by Curt Bonk @ 10:11 PM   1 comments
Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to my RSS feed  
Interview Part 2: How Does “The World’s Youngest Teacher” Use Web Technology? An Interview with Adora Svitak
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Part 2 of my recent interview with Adora Svitak, age 11, the World's Youngest Teacher is below.

How Does “The World’s Youngest Teacher” Use Web Technology?

An Interview with Adora Svitak

by Curtis J. Bonk, Professor, Indiana University, USA

7. CJB: What exact types of lessons, topics, or courses do you teach with technology? Do you have any favorite ways you use technology? What are the ages of your students?

AS: I teach language arts and social studies. More specifically, I present lessons that focus on typical elementary, middle, and high school curriculum, areas that are tested in state standardized tests, with an added emphasis on lifelong skills and writing inspiration. I also offer professional development courses to teachers that cover technology integration in classroom. The ages of my students range from elementary school students to college students and teachers.

I love to use technology to learn and teach; education, after all, is really a two-way street. Writing can be challenging to teach; the subject demands a real-time learning environment. Students need to be able to ask questions as soon as they see something they don't understand, and I need to be able to get to know my audience, so that I can demonstrate concepts in a way my audience understands. Technology has made this possible by allowing me to demonstrate the process in an immediate and interactive way. When I teach writing, I type up the writing on my screen and show it to the students, word by word, line by line, while incorporating their ideas into the writing. This approach makes writing not just an educational activity, but also a social one; it allows me to interact with the audience and it allows the audience to interact with me.

I am able to demonstrate techniques for writing with the click of mouse. For example, I can click on the synonym function on Microsoft Word to show students how to use better word choice. Making the writing process visual is very important to students.

8. CJB: Can you give 2-3 examples of innovation in your teaching pedagogy? Anything risky you have tried that worked or did not work? Along these same lines, is there anything controversial in what you do as a teacher? How might you push beyond the norms?

AS: Certainly I can think of things that I have tried and haven’t worked, although some of them are less innovative than others. One time, for instance, I was hooking up my computer to my video conferencing system to show my presentation to the audience. They said that they were only able to see a black screen. Because a great deal of important text was on my presentation, I instead resorted to something decidedly old-school—I wrote keywords on a whiteboard! I think that, as educators, we have to realize that innovation goes both ways—using, and knowing, new technologies well, and not being afraid to use old methods when we have to!

On a more pedagogically innovative level, I have students write more than slightly off topic when learning about persuasive writing. Although it is common practice to have kids stay to the same kind of dry persuasive prompts, I prefer something a little more—otherworldly. When I was introducing the persuasive letter, I had students write to aliens to convince them not to destroy Earth. My theory behind this is that when kids are introduced to a supposedly boring topic, such as persuasive writing, they might be more receptive to it if they are caught “off-guard” by a fun activity. How are they supposed to know it’s educational?

Another thing I do is employ my blog to share student work on the World Wide Web. Many schools are leery of blogs; I promote the use of blogging as an educational tool and a way to give students an audience for their writing. After working on a collaborative writing activity with students, I often post that writing on my blog.

9. CJB: How might tens of thousands of 11-year-old teachers like you be nurtured? What need or gap in education might a nucleus or core of such young teachers fill?

AS: A shift in thinking needs to happen in order for educators to embrace the idea that every student should be given the opportunity to share what they know, what they are interested in, and what they’d like to teach. The best way to show you value someone’s knowledge is to give them the platform to teach somebody else. The technology we have today can make it happen easily.

In order to create young people capable of teaching others, we need to instill in them a love of sharing their knowledge with others; empathy for students who may have more difficulty understanding certain concepts; and the importance of bringing their “kids’ eye view” to education. I love the idea of a mini-army of teachers—or would it be an army of mini-teachers? I think that other teachers my age would fill a huge gap in education—the fact that education is not always student-centered. Student teachers would draw attention to the issues that matter to them and their peers, instead of the issues that matter to grown-ups collecting paychecks. Although I’m not opposed to young teachers getting salaries.

10. CJB: I see that you have used YouTube and TeacherTube to post videos of your teaching. How many teaching videos do you now have in your channel? Can you explain how these are used? How might they be put to better use by other educators? What is YouTube lacking for teachers and students that might be added? How might you go back and reuse these in a decade or two?

AS: I now have approximately 300 videos on my YouTube channel. These videos are used in a variety of ways: I use them to demonstrate my teaching style to others; one professional development leader wished to use videos of me teaching the six traits [of good writing] to show other teachers how it was done. Many classrooms, before they connect with me over video conferencing, will view some of my videos to familiarize themselves with my work. I think that these videos have value as teaching tools (teachers can show them in their classrooms, for instance). I believe they could be put to better use if circulated among a wider audience. Ten years from now, I will probably refer to my videos as benchmarks for progress; I would see how much I had improved, and skills that I wanted to maintain.

YouTube lacks a consistent thread to link education videos; when you search for a keyword, you may find informative lessons mixed with slapstick humor and teenage singers. I think there needs to be a central area for students and teachers, where education videos can be posted, or a better way of organizing the search so that you can effectively find the right videos. Very few schools allow students to go to YouTube due to those inappropriate videos being mixed with possibly valuable ones. I think that when YouTube gives schools and classrooms the ability to filter their searches more effectively, they will have a larger audience in education.

11. CJB: Are there places you visit online for examples of stellar teaching? If so, what are they?

AS: Regarding technology use, I enjoy watching Promethean’s “Featured Teacher” series. It covers teachers who use interactive whiteboard technology to engage students in different ways.

12. CJB: Has anyone asked you to contribute to a website or portal of online teaching tasks or activities?

AS: Ken Royal, a columnist at Scholastic Administr@tor Magazine, has invited me to contribute to his blog, The Educator’s Royal Treatment (Svitak, 2009). CDW-G’s EdTech magazine asked me to contribute to their online website and to their print magazine.

13. CJB: Do you have an underlying philosophy, model, or framework you use for teaching?

AS: I wouldn’t say I have a unifying teaching dogma; I think, that in such a rapidly changing technological and educational environment, that the philosophy I come up with today might not stand tomorrow. I do believe strongly in three fairly timeless ideas: (1) The student comes first! In order to empower learning, student access to technology is essential. The students of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and the leaders of tomorrow need to know technology like the back of their hand. (2) The teacher should not be afraid to collaborate with students and be a team player. A lot of learning happens when students see their teachers working in symphony with them. (3) Teaching is an art. It requires constant tuning and crafting. As a continuous learning process for every educator, it requires innovation, creativity and vision. There is no “one style fits all.”

14. CJB: What do you particularly like and not like about education today? What do you think needs changing first?

AS: I like the fact that online public education is gaining support and that I have the choice of choosing a publicly funded online school to satisfy my learning needs and preferred style. I dislike the fact that many available educational technologies are banned in schools, such as YouTube and blogging. This only widens the digital divide, which is depriving some well deserving students the opportunities to excel in their learning and later in their career.

I also dislike the fact that much of education is not student-centered. As far as a general cultural attitude goes, I think that our culture does not have a positive attitude about education. Instead of aspiring to become astrophysicists or professors, modern youth may at times idolize felons and the “gang culture” that is propagated by modern music. Education needs respect. When we look at countries in Asia and Europe, a well-educated person—and continuing education—is highly-regarded, if not demanded.

The cultural attitude has to be changed.

15. CJB: And how would you go about any changing or reshaping of education?

AS: I would also offer a kid’s eye view of education so that teachers and administrators understand what students need and want in the classroom. I also try to make a larger difference by writing about my views on education.

If I were in a position of power, I would start out by selecting the best and brightest people to go into teaching and administration. People who have a passion for lifelong learning, who are open-minded about innovation, would be my top picks. I would make sure that students understand their responsibility, and the expectations society has placed on them. Both teachers and students will work harder to meet international standards. American students are competing, and will be competing, with students from all around the globe.

16. CJB: And, besides your young age, why do you think your work as a teacher is so popular?

AS: I think that my work as a teacher is popular because I really enjoy what I talk about. What I teach is very relevant to my students. Teachers find them very practical and useful for their own teaching. I use humor and encouragement throughout my presentation to make my audience feel at ease and eager to participate. Writing, for me, is high entertainment, and I depict it as such. Being an avid reader and prolific author has given me a lot of credibility when I teach. My passion and love for the literary arts comes across clearly in every lecture I present.

I don’t teach to the test—I teach lifelong writing skills and inspire and motivate writers whose enthusiasm will last long after acing the state standardized assessment.

17. CJB: How do you teach online? What approaches work best for you and why?

AS: I teach online through live two-way interactive video conference system; Webinars and on-demand videos. Typically, I try to incorporate many Web tools into my lessons, such as video streaming, so that audiences are able to see me and get a better idea of the person behind the lesson.

18. CJB: How do other children kids react to your teaching approaches?

AS: The reaction from my peers has been very positive. Those who are younger and the same age as me may think “She can write and publish; maybe we can too.” Those who are older may feel a little challenged to work harder. My use of technology, I think, really helps engage kids and make them feel comfortable with me and interested in the content.

19. CJB: Do you have international friends from all your online teaching and learning? If so, what countries do many of them come from? How do you stay in contact with them?

AS: I do have many international friends; it is one of the best parts of traveling and online teaching! My friends come from Canada, China, England, and the United Arab Emirates primarily. I stay in contact through email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Note: My interview with Adora Svitak, the World's Youngest Teacher, will continue with the final questions in a day or two. This will be the third and final installment of this interview. In the meantime, you can watch an interesting video she recently produced, "The Thankless Search for Intelligence Out There... Somewhere" for "Motherboard." She interviews people from SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). See the SETI Institute. Cool stuff for an 11 year old.
Subscribe to the TravelinEdMan podcast
  posted by Curt Bonk @ 10:01 PM   0 comments
Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to my RSS feed  
How Does “The World’s Youngest Teacher” Use Web Technology? An Interview with Adora Svitak
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
During the next few days, I will post an interview I did 1-2 months ago with Adora Svitak, age 11 (turning 12 next week), who is often referred to as "The World's Youngest Teacher." Adora, who is from Redmond, Washington, started teaching at age 6 and writing books shortly thereafter. For those interested in the online world, Adora is literally amazing--she teaches with various types of technology and learns via the Web. She even teaches teachers how to teach in workshops that she does. You can read about her fascinating story below. Imagine having spent nearly half of your life teaching and you are only about to turn 12 years old; oh, the stories she will have to tell in the years and decades to come. I hope you enjoy this one.

How Does “The World’s Youngest Teacher” Use Web Technology?

An Interview with Adora Svitak

by Curtis J. Bonk, Professor, Indiana University, USA

There is perpetual clamoring that teachers need to integrate emerging technologies in their classrooms. Often younger teachers are deemed to be more in touch with learner technology needs and demands. Adora Svitak, age 11, is one the world’s youngest teachers, writers, and speakers. She was 7 when her first book, Flying Fingers, was published. This child prodigy reads two to three books each day and types between 80 and 112 words per minute. Rough estimates place her writing at more than 330,000 words per year (Corr, 2009). Already, she has written more than 400 short stories, 3 books, and dozens of poems (Sadovi, 2009). As a technology enthusiast, Adora has a blog, Facebook account, and much of her poetry posted online. Not only does she teach with Web technology, she learns with it in a virtual school.

As a preteen, she is keenly aware of how children learn and socialize with technology. What differentiates Adora from others her age is that she experiments with innovative technology in her teaching; including the use of blogs in personal writing, wikis for team writings as well as creative writing, Google Docs in collaborative writing, and social networking tools for communication. She uses emerging technologies and creative pedagogies as an attempt to place students in charge of their own learning. By combining the two—the integration of online technologies with innovative pedagogies—her mission is to help transform the traditional curriculum.

Adora’s career as a teacher emerged when she began to speak to other students both in live performances as well as her now popular videoconferencing series. Adora was been highly sought after to speak in schools as well as at conferences and conventions around the world. During the past four years, she has reached more than 300 classrooms and school auditoriums. She not only teaches others students in some of the most prominent school systems in the United States, she conducts professional development seminars and workshops for teachers. In taking her message to wider audiences, Adora has shared her teaching and learning insights and ideas on the BBC, TLC, NBC, FOX, CCTV, the UK Channel 4, Good Morning America, Montel Williams, and the Tyra Banks Show, among other well known media outlets. She has also been featured on Oprah.

Given her writing, reading, speaking, and teaching background, it is clear that this is no ordinary 11 year old. In this interview, I ask Adora about her growth as a teacher during the past 3 or 4 years. My questions also address the technologies she uses today to teach and learn as well as those that intrigue her about the future. In addition, she is asked about her experiences as an online learner as well as her teaching philosophy, reactions from the students she teachers, and changes needed in education in general from her point of view. Finally, as someone who has recently written on the educational uses of social networking technology (Svitak, 2009) and read and endorsed my book, “The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education” (Bonk, 2009), Adora is asked for her opinion about open education and the technologies fostering this more open learning world.

1. Curtis J. Bonk (CJB): Can you tell the audience a brief few sentences about yourself?

Adora Svitak (AS): I am eleven years old; I am the world’s youngest teacher, seasoned speaker and the published author of three books. I teach every day during the school year to schools and classrooms around the world. I live in Washington State with my older sister, my mom, and my dad. I enjoy drawing, cooking, water fights, and, to quote my book Dancing Fingers, “expanding my plans for world domination.”

2. CJB: Some people call you one of the world’s cleverest people and a child prodigy. What is it like when you hear that?

AS: I have to wonder how many other children they have met—(smile). I know for certain that I am not the world’s cleverest person; I am talented in some ways, but so are many others. I think that everyone has a skill to share, at some time—I just made my mark a little earlier.

3. CJB: What motivates you to learn online? What gets you excited when you see it?

AS: I am really motivated to learn online because it allows me to move at my own pace, discovering new information along the way in new and engaging formats. I am excited by online learning because I really feel that I am able to reach out to the world—there are no limits in what I can do in learning and teaching through technology.

4. CJB: Can you describe the way you learn online? When do you learn online? What tools do you prefer to use and why? Do you learn from self-paced materials or do you interact with teachers or moderators?

AS: My school, the Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA), uses curriculum from the education vendor K12. This is delivered to me over the computer; I can access it at any time, anywhere. I am a bit of a night owl and thus I prefer evening hours. I have found something very basic—search engines—to be incredibly helpful to me when I am doing research for assignments. The majority of schoolwork at WAVA is self-paced, but we do have teachers, and they do conduct synchronous learning sessions online.

5. CJB: Do you meet other kids around your age who also learn online? Do you ever do projects with them?

AS: At WAVA, I get the chance to share work, collaborate, and communicate with my classmates through face-to-face meetings, live online collaboration sessions, and e-mail. I have not met another person my age who formally teaches online as I do, but I can say that many of my classmates do share presentations and projects online.

6. CJB: How might the online courses for K-12 students (such as those you take at the Washington Virtual Academies) be improved for young people who have hectic schedules like you? What might you like added? Would physically meeting other kids face-to-face as in blended learning be a benefit? Why or why not?

AS: My school actually does take a somewhat blended approach to learning; we have field trips every month, and many other opportunities to meet our classmates. I believe that, while purely online learning has its benefits, it is important to realize that we still live in a physical world and that it can be easier to make connections when we can see someone face-to-face. However, the face-to-face interaction is greatly enhanced if you have met online first. I think that one of the most valuable elements of online learning is the fact that students can move at their own pace; online learning gives more freedom for compacting a topic a student knows well and exploring in depth a topic they are interested in or need to improve on.

(Note: this story will be continued tomorrow and Friday with two more installments of interview questions with Adora Svitak, the World's Youngest Teacher. Stay tuned! By the way, portions of this interview will appear in Chapter 11 of the e-book extension of my book, The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education that I am working on.)
Subscribe to the TravelinEdMan podcast
  posted by Curt Bonk @ 5:38 PM   0 comments
Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to my RSS feed  
Ten Tips for Navigating a More Open World
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Instead of posting to my blog I recently made a blog post at the Mission to Learn website. Jeff Cobb, who coordinates that site, asked for "Ten Tips for Navigating a More Open World." So I gave him ten tips with many links. He posted it on September 28th. It looks longer than I remember it. Perhaps this is due to the editorial comments that Jeff added.

I had forgotten about this and tonight I discovered it went up. Also tonight, my assistant, Seth White, stumbled upon a blog post from Lisa Chamberlin who apparently has decided to create her own Ph.D. program in educational technology after reading my The World is Open book. Getting people to skip traditional doctoral programs and create their own degrees instead was not the main intent of the book. However, I bet people like Lisa will lead the way for tens of thousands or perhaps millions of others to do this during the remaining 90+ years of this century. Her blog post was made back on September 17th. It is title, "The Open PhD—What a Concept." It is a quite interesting post as are the comments posted by many others. You might check it out.

So, what are your thoughts...can self-created programs of study using open educational resources and open courseware replace traditional programs? Is Lisa among the first of hundreds, thousands, or millions of people? What is needed for more people to attempt to do this? What tips would you have for Lisa and others in navigating this open world? Where is this all headed? What is coming next?

I am curious what you think. If most people interested in a doctoral degree skip the university and create their own degree programs, many of my colleagues could end up in unemployment lines. Reading the comments beneath Lisa's post, it is clear that she is not alone in wanting more choice, flexibility in course selection, and cheaper options than prevailing price tags of doctoral degrees. The coming year will likely make this increasingly evident.
Subscribe to the TravelinEdMan podcast
  posted by Curt Bonk @ 10:38 PM   0 comments
Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to my RSS feed  
About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

See my complete profile

Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

Recent Posts
Popular Posts
Powered by

Free Blogger Templates