Smart Thoughts

About Designing the Future

Even Grade-Schoolers Can Now, Each One, Teach One

Written by: Leanna Archambault

What have you been waiting for?

For as long as I can remember, I have been imagining what the future might be like. One of my most vivid childhood memories from back in the ‘80s was getting an Atari 800 computer for Christmas. One of the cartridges it came with was a programming language called “BASIC.” From that moment, I set my sights on learning to code, way before it was the cool and hip thing to do, writing a program that would ask the user to enter a birthdate so it could calculate how old one would be in…gasp…the year 2000! As it turns out, it was a pivotal moment – not only learning programming at a time when it was virtually unheard of, but also thinking about what the future would be like in 20 years. Little did I know that a love of teaching, technology, and early adoption would lead me to pursue how to improve learning – making it more engaging, enjoyable, and most importantly, relevant.

Today’s young are having similar aha moments.   With the rise of cheap and ubiquitous video, every learner now can teach.  Narrative and story has been instructing since the dawn of time.  Now, however, we have become our own directors and stars—creating, remixing, and publishing content to a vast global audience.

Students often turn to “Crash Course,” “Minute Physics,” or “Khan Academy” when they don’t understand our teaching.  What’s new is how even grade-schoolers can now channel their creativity, teach a concept, and share their knowledge using free tools such as FlipGrid to create their own videos. 

Learning needs vignettes that fuse narration, video, illustrations, and audio/visual effects to produce a documentary-style digital narrative that is both based in evidence and that students can relate to.  What excites me is bringing us together to share our stories, to experience one another’s point of view, and to increase our empathy through walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. This is what our society needs more of, and I’m excited to be a part of envisioning how we can build learning experiences such that it becomes an increasingly large part of what we do in higher education.


About Leanna Archambault

Leanna is an Associate Professor in Learning Design and Technology at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Her award-winning research includes teacher preparation for online and blended classrooms, the use of innovative technologies to improve learning outcomes, and sustainability literacy among teachers.  Dr. Archambault has received the Vision Award for Research and Content from ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, the President's Award for Sustainability, and the Promising Research Scholar Award.