Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blog Post 8: What Can We Learn About Teaching and Learning From Randy Pausch?

kids having fun on computers

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams posted by Carnegie Mellon

      First, I'd like to start by recommending this video to you. Click the link above when you have can spare an hour and change. Second, I would like to give you a quote from the video. "Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard. That's pretty cool." I think that this is a nice way to start my blog because it is where everything in his speech led to. I think that it is a good quote, and it can tell you a lot about what needs to be learned about teaching and learning. Kids need to have fun while they're learning.
      Now I want to talk about what Randy Pausch did while he was a professor at Carnegie Mellon. He piloted a project-based program where students built virtual worlds. He got 50 students from art, design, drama, and CS. Once he did that, he randomly chose teams and changed those teams for every project. There were two weeks to design and test these virtual worlds. I think this is really cool. The students got to experience working with other people. And since this changed with every project, they figured out how to adjust to different people. After all, in the real world, they don't get to choose how easy the people they work with are.
      Since Randy Pausch was piloting this program, he wasn't sure where to start. With content, he said anything with a couple restrictions. He was super amazed at what everyone came up with, and he wasn't sure what to do next. Randy called a friend of his to figure out what he should do, and his friend told him to tell them they can do better. Since Randy didn't know how high to set the bar, don't set one. This part of the video proves that students can learn on their own, and that they will do much better if they get to. I learned that I need to not set a bar and allow my students to fly as high as they can!
      This led to Randy Pausch and Don Marinelli heading up a two year professional degree at Carnegie Mellon. It was called the Masters of Entertainment Technology. He believes there were a several keys to the success of this program, but I'm only sharing a few of them. Their curriculum was project-based, and the students had a lot of fun and went on field trips. I've learned that project-based learning truly engages students and makes the students thirst for more knowledge.

I hope you enjoyed my blog post,
Jennifer L. Cole


  1. Jennifer,
    Isn't Randy Pausch a wonderful inspiration for us as future educators? I love his comment on brick walls. "Brick walls are there for reason: they let us prove how badly we want things." I hope that I will have the same determination as a teacher as he does with everything in life. I enjoyed reading your blog!
    Julie Jones

    1. Julie,
      Yes, he is an inspiration for future educators. He was extremely innovative, and his students reaped the benefits of that! I'm glad you enjoyed my blog!
      Jennifer Cole