Meeting of the Minds

Using Edmodo to Facilitate a Role Playing Discussion

Introduction & Task
In the late 70's and early 80's, Steve Allen created a show on PBS called Meeting of Minds. Each show was a discussion that featured actors portraying historical characters who discussed philosophy, religion, history, science, and many other topics.

Today you'll create a low budget 21st century version with Chris Lehman, Larry Cuban, Howard Gardner, and Clay Shirky or Marlane Scardamalia.
  • The topic of discussion: technology in today's classroom.
  • The goal: an idealized, entertaining, but informative conversation.
  • The format: an online discussion in an Edmodo forum.


Step 1 -
Group planning
Make sure everybody is sure which role/perspective to research: (for Steps 2 & 3)
  • Technology Change Agent and Evangelist - Chris Lehman
  • Multiple Intelligences and 21st Century Thinking Guru - Howard Gardner
  • Technology Pragmatist - Larry Cuban
  • Social Constructivist - Scardamalia, Bereiter, and Shirky

Discussion Groups: (for Steps 3 & 4)
  • Group 1 -
  • Group 2 -
  • Group 3 -

Step 2 -
Role Immersion
Find the appropriate section for your role. Read, listen, or watch the resources provided. While you are watching, make sure to take notes related to the questions given for your particular role. If you finish early, skim through the resources for another role and compare their ideas to your role's ideas.

Technology Change Agent and Evangelist - Chris Lehmann (Principal of Science and Leadership Academy - Philadelphia)
Questions to consider:
  • What is Chris' vision for change in his school and in education in general?
  • How can we have so many passionate, dedicated educators in our schools and still have so many problems?
  • What does Chris mean when he says "technology must be like oxygen"?

Multiple Intelligences and 21st Century Thinking Guru - Howard Gardner (Professor in Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education)
Questions to consider:

  • What are the 8 Multiple Intelligences to which Gardner refers?
  • How might mobilizing technologies support better instruction for MI?
  • According to Gardner, what are the four most significant components of sustainable educational improvement?

Technology Pragmatist - Larry Cuban ( Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom. Cambridge: Harvard University Press)
Questions to consider:
  • According to Cuban, nearly 8 out of 10 public school teachers own and regularly use personal computers. Why, then, do most teachers resist employing technologies to reach beyond existing practices? How is this different from using the same tools to sustain existing patterns of teaching, or to simply improve delivery?
  • Cuban rejects common claims that lack of access to tools & resistance to training are the primary causes for the gap between the promise of revolutionary classrooms and the reality. Instead, he places blame on tool reliability , complexity and contextually constrained choice . Please explain what he means by this.
  • Considering Cuban’s suggestions for change, what impact might a learning community have on efforts to embed technology to transform practice?

Social Constructivists - Scardamalia, Bereiter, and Shirky
Questions to consider:
  • What components of Knowledge Building promote a deeper understanding of a topic or idea?
  • What principles of Knowledge Building have you incorporated into your classroom instruction?
  • Which form of knowledge building (individual or social) do you think will be more common in the 21st Century?

Step 3 -
Putting the Jigsaw Puzzle Together
  • A) At this stage, each of you will need to create a character sketch of sorts for your perspective. Think through what your person likes and dislikes, how they sound (energetic, thoughtful, pedantic, ...), what problems they see in schools or classrooms, how they would solve these problems, etc. If you would like to think through this with a partner, find the other Early Adopter who researched your role.
  • B) Then, you will need to present this character sketch to the other three members of your group. It is important they understand the core of your role for the next step.

Step 4 -
Role Playing
In Edmodo, find your group's forum. Have one person, in their role, pose a question that you think would generate an interesting discussion amongst your four perspectives (ideas below). Feel free to help each other think about how you should respond, this is not meant to be a real discussion, it is meant to look like a real discussion when you finish with your forum. If the conversation hits a dead end, have another person pose another question. Feel free to make up your own questions, the ideas below were only meant to get you rolling.
  • Should schools prioritize their funding so they can move toward 1:1 student laptop ratio?
  • If your District gave teachers about $2,000 which would you recommend they purchase for their classroom: digital whiteboard, flip cameras, or something else?
  • You have 3 sub days to plan for a group of teachers. How would you spend this time?
    • off-site conference on subject/topic if your choosing
    • hands-on training
    • summer curriculum development days
    • workshop on Habits of Mind
    • other ?
  • If in the Google generation memorizing facts & figures is a waste of time when information is a mouse click away, why is it that students spend so much time doing just that?
  • How is collaboration different in the age of Web 2.0 tools? Is that good for schools?
  • What new social skills do our students have/need?
  • What makes the tools used in schools today different from those used more than 5 years ago?
  • What makes integrating technology feel like creativity for some and change (being made to do it) for others?

  • F2F - In your discussion groups, consider the following questions:
    • How would you compare how this assignment would have worked if we had asked you to play out your role live on video or a podcast versus using the online forum that we chose?
    • What other roles might have created a different discussion?
    • How could this activity of a role-playing discussion be modified for your classroom? (Social Studies, Language Arts, etc.)

Additional Resources
Lev Vygotsky:
More Knowledge Building Information:
Chris Lehmann - Additional Presentation
Howard Gardner - EdOrigami wiki page offering strategies for connecting MI with digital tools & activities for learning

Finished Discussions