Hello! My name is Jenna Marks, and I am the newest addition to the rethinkED team. I dove headfirst to this group, and I’ve been reading the philosophy of design thinking for educators (DT4E) and sifting through the inspiring work that rethinkED has done so far.
As an academic, I am interesting in bridging the divide research and practice, which makes me very well-suited for this team and the work we do. I’m working towards an Ed.D. in Communications in Education, and my research interests include 1) how we can use technology to facilitate meaningful learning, 2) how adding game mechanics to the learning paradigm can make it more fun and engaging, and 3) the potential for “learning by doing” to cultivate 21st century literacies. I currently teach first grade robotics in an afterschool program and work in labs conducting research on the topics I just mentioned. I also have a background in social/cognitive psychology and have done research on intergroup interaction and prejudice in higher education. I am excited to contribute my unique perspective to the work we do here.
I began my review of the team by reading our manifesto, and proudly (alone in my own apartment) exclaimed “heck, yeahh!” I am truly excited to be a part of this team, and I love everything that we aim for. As I’ve just mentioned, rethinkED is amazing in that it’s the bridge between worlds. In every discipline I’ve worked in, the biggest failure is that there is a lack of communication between cogs in the machine. RethinkED connects research with practice. The rethinkED team has experience with teaching and a relationship with teachers that promotes mutual learning and beneficial outcomes, rather than frustration and assumptions that the other side “doesn’t get it.”
While by no means a magic pill, DT4E looks as though it can remedy many of the problems in our education system and seems to be a promising method for helping teachers to form curriculum that will meet the 21st century needs of their students. I’ve heard of the debate about whether teaching is an art or a science, and- from what I’ve surmised- DT4E suggests that the teacher is a designer (somewhat melding the two). While research shows that design thinking is great for students to use in the classroom, rethinkED works at the level of the educator, helping him or her to use design thinking to better their ability to teach.
My experience so far has involved many google hangouts, a lot of reading, and my first trip to Riverdale, where Joy and I met with Karen Fierst to discuss an exciting new project for the spring. I am excited to catch up, become a more prominent voice within the team, and to work with teachers to help them develop new and exciting innovations for their classrooms.