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Ed tech behaviorism

Audrey Watters said:

I look around technology today (tech and ed-tech) and I see an incredible reverberation of the work of the behaviorist BF Skinner, for example. Now if you turn to “education theory programs” in “academia,” you’ll find that Skinner isn’t so “hot.” He hasn’t been for decades. He was resoundingly dismissed in tech circles too via Noam Chomsky. And yet, all around me, I see Skinnerism – click-for-immediate-feedback. People as pigeons. Zynga. Farmville. Gamification. But without the language and the theory and the history to say, “hey we recognized in the mid-1960s that this was a wretched path, one with all sorts of anti-democratic repercussions,” we’re not just making the same mistakes again, we’re actually engaging in reactionary practices – politically, pedagogically.

It matters what we know about the history of education. It matters what we know about the history of technology.

via http://www.hackeducation.com/2014/06/07/what-should-technologists-know-about-education

Take the state assessment seriously or …

Thoughts on the message below? Motivating or punitive? Celebratory or disenfranchising? Meaningful choice or duress? What do you think?

As a celebration for students working hard on Iowa Assessments, we are taking all 6-8 graders who showed improvement or evidence of effort to Perfect Games.

The schedule is listed below. All students will start their day at the middle school and either go to Perfect Games from 10-12 or 12:30-2:30. They will be able to bowl or play laser tag and relax and interact with their friends. We will return to the school to eat school lunch. Students may bring extra money to purchase snacks or play additional games, however this is not necessary, and large amounts of money should NOT be brought.

Those who attend Perfect Games in the morning will have classes/support/work time in the afternoon. Those who go to Perfect Games in the afternoon will have that structured time in the morning. (It is not a half day off and attendance will be counted.)

The vast majority of our students did as we expected, putting effort into assessments and showing growth. The very small number of students who didn’t take the test seriously have been notified or will be notified by this Wednesday that they won’t be attending. Parents will also be contacted if their child has not earned this privilege.

Please let the main office know if you do not want your child to participate in this activity.

Thursday, May 8: 8th grade Perfect Games day

Monday, May 12: 7th grade Perfect Games day

Tuesday, May 13: 6th grade Perfect Games day

Which vision are you selling?

Blindfold

Are you selling a vision of student empowerment? Of kids as autonomous, self-directed learners who are thinking deeply, collaborating to make societal contributions, and using digital technologies to do powerful, meaningful, and authentic work?

Or are you selling a vision of recall and regurgitation? Of kids as passive listeners, masters of basic skills, and completers of worksheets, end-of-chapter review questions, and bubble tests?

Or maybe you’re selling a vision of fear? Of students as untrustworthy, of the Internet as dangerous, and of technology as a nuisance, a distraction, and the cause of numerous social evils?

Or perhaps you’re selling a vision of compliance? Of policy mandates and directives, of educators and schools as helpless victims, of students as voiceless, powerless recipients of “do what we tell you or else” educational systems?

Which vision is more in line with the realities of today and tomorrow? Which vision – future-oriented or nostalgic, progressive or replicative, brave or fearful, innovative or compliant – better meets the needs of kids and society?

Which vision are you selling? (and which one do your kids and community deserve?)

Image credit: Blindfold game 1, Lee Carson

Replication or empowerment?

Let go

We’ve got to decide if our vision for educational technology is around replication or empowerment. And if it’s about empowerment, then guess what? We’ve got to give up the things that we do that feed replication. We can’t hang on to all of those and get to where we’re trying to go.

What are we going to give up? 

Image credit: Let go, Andrew Mitchell

Change agents and the hiring dilemma

For hire

Here’s a working hypothesis:

The organizations that most need change agents probably are the least likely to hire them because change agents typically make people with non-change orientations scared or nervous. If the people within were already oriented toward change and innovation, their organizations wouldn’t be the ones in the most need of change agents.

So a change- and innovation-oriented job candidate has a steep uphill battle to get considered and hired. The challenge is how to get people on hiring committees in non-change-oriented institutions to recognize the value of hiring for innovation, not replication…

Got any thoughts on this?

The best school technology leadership program in the country?

CASTLE Logo

Let’s see…

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Does the University of Kentucky have the best School Technology Leadership program in the country? I’m biased because I helped set it up but, yeah, I think it does…

Three thoughts that are percolating in my head today

Think Think

Here are a few thoughts that are swirling around in my brain today…

  1. It’s hard for schools to teach kids how to make a dent in the universe when they’re focused so heavily on teaching compliance. It’s very difficult to reconcile ‘go out and change the world’ with ‘we’re going to tell you what to do and how to do it every minute of the day; just go along and don’t make trouble.’
  2. It’s hard for schools to teach kids how to make a dent in the universe when the majority of the people working in them don’t understand how most of the world-changing tools work.
  3. We’re afraid of an awful lot of stuff that never seems to actually happen.

Image credit: Think – Computer History Museum, Scott Loftesness

Instead of an AUP, how about an EUP (Empowered Use Policy)?

Yes

Most school technology acceptable use policies (AUPs) contain these kinds of phrases:

  • “Students shall not use technology unless authorized by appropriate school personnel.”
  • “The use of the Internet is a privilege, not a right, and inappropriate use will result in cancellation of those privileges.”
  • “Students will not access or modify other accounts, data, files, and/or passwords without authorization.”
  • “You will be held responsible at all times for the proper use of district technology resources, and the district may suspend or revoke your access if you violate the rules.”
  • “Users have no right to privacy while using the district’s Internet systems. The district monitors users’ online activities and reserves the right to access, review, copy, store, or delete any electronic communications or files. This includes any items stored on district-provided devices, such as files, e-mails, cookies, and Internet history.”
  • And so on…

That’s a lot of legalistic language. That’s a lot of negativity.

How about an empowered use policy (EUP) instead? In other words, instead of saying NO, NO, NO! all the time, how about saying yes? Here’s one to consider…

[SCHOOL / DISTRICT NAME]

When it comes to digital technologies in our [school / district], please…

  1. Be empowered. Do awesome things. Share with us your ideas and what you can do. Amaze us.
  2. Be nice. Help foster a school community that is respectful and kind.
  3. Be smart and be safe. If you are uncertain, talk with us.
  4. Be careful and gentle. Our resources are limited. Help us take care of our devices and networks.
Thank you and let us know if you have any questions.

Is there anything major that this EUP doesn’t address? Other thoughts or reactions? Help me make it better…

Image credit: YES, Transcend

New resource page: Internet filtering and blocking

I created a new resource page on Internet filtering and blocking. Hope it’s useful to you…

See some of my other resources too!

Visioning for desired awesomeness [ACTIVITY]

I asked 3 questions of the educators in charge of their district’s upcoming 1:1 student computing initiative. They worked in small groups and used editable Google spreadsheets to record their responses…

  1. If our 1:1 initiative is wildly successful, what will we see? We tried to create vivid, concrete images that were emotionally resonant, thus helping with meaning-making. We took our answers and lumped them into ad hoc categories on a separate Google document (e.g., student independence and self-direction, student interaction and collaboration, learning cultures and processes, digital citizenship and information literacy, management and support). We now had a basic picture of desired awesomeness.
  2. What will we need to do to ensure our envisioned successes? We focused on the success enablers that will lead to the positive outcomes and desired results that we identified in Step 1. [Not shown in results: We also put those into an effort-impact matrix to see which ones were easy wins or were more difficult but worth the hard effort (and which ones weren’t).]
  3. Why will our 1:1 initiative fail? Instead of doing a postmortem afterward, we did a premortem up front to identify reasons that the initiative will fail. We wanted to identify the success blockers that will get in the way of what we envisioned in Step 1.

We then took the responses in Steps 2 and 3 and organized them by Bolman and Deal’s leadership frames. This helped us identify main themes, see patterns, and think about necessary action steps across the spectrum. See our final results.

See the documents that we used to facilitate our work

Tips: Two to three sentences for each response – not single words or short phrases – to facilitate depth of understanding and conversation. After each step, have them look at the other groups’ responses and discuss, first in their small group and then as a large group. Have a separate notes document ready to capture thoughts that emerge from those large group discussions. Working through the three spreadsheets takes 2 to 3 hours; this doesn’t include writing up the final results.

Thoughts, reactions, questions, or comments?

Success enablers and blockers

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