Tag Archives: tech integration

We shouldn’t be carnies

Carnivalinmotion

The carnival comes to town. It’s exciting, it’s thrilling, it is SUPER fun. But then it leaves and we’re back to business as usual.

Does this describe our technology integration activities? Or our STEM programs? Or our PBL projects? Momentary, short-term bursts of interest and excitement followed by the regular same old, same old?

We could make these higher-interest learning experiences regular and frequent components of our day-to-day instruction. Or we can continue to treat them as occasional, perhaps primarily extracurricular, carnival-like events. Personally, I believe that we shouldn’t be carnies.

[insert mental image here of scruffy carnival worker dragging on a cigarette and saying ‘Hey, kid, want to do some STEM?']

For more, watch our video, What Makes a Quality STEM Activity?, for this year’s 2014 K12Online Conference.

Image credit: Carnival in motion, Steve Petrucelli

Did the question change because it’s now a QR code?

Rafranz Davis said:

I get that one must learn about tech tools but … why are we NOT putting the “how to use this app” things online and offering more discussion-based sessions on things like writing better questions, learner empowerment, designing student-driven lessons, community-based projects, teaching beyond the test, reflection, feedback, research, and soft skills … you know … the things that technology can support.

At some point we’ll figure out that while playing assessment app games are somewhat informing, our kids deserve much more than that when it comes to technology.

Scanning a [QR] code for a math problem to solve is “fun” but how is that technology really supporting learning? Did the question change because it was scanned versus written in a book or on paper? Don’t even get me started on augmented reality. Yes, some kids love competition, but how is playing Kahoot different than “insert clicker name here”  and don’t you dare say, “because it has bright colors and music!” Just … No.

via http://rafranzdavis.com/is-this-all-there-is-an-edtech-rant-of-sorts

Should schools be a refuge from the societal onslaught of digital technologies?

Doomisyourfate

I said in a comment:

Any school or classroom or educator that ignores our digital information landscape, our digital economic landscape, and our digital learning landscape – or relegates children to passive consumption rather than active participation and interaction in those landscapes – is doomed to irrelevance. The argument that school should be a refuge from digital technologies is a desperate plea to hold on to our analog past.

via http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/social-media-valuable-tool-teachers/#comment-1622241200

Image credit: Doom is your fate, Chris

Our technology messages are important

Important message

When we take away technology access because of student behavior concerns, we send the message that digital devices and the Internet are optional, ‘nice to have’ components of schooling rather than core elements of modern-day learning and teaching.

When we ban teachers from using social media – but not other forms of interaction – to communicate with students in or out of school, we send the message that we are unable to distinguish between behaviors and the mediums in which they occur.

When we decline to devote adequate time or support for technology-related professional learning and implementation, we send the message that low-level or nonexistent usage is just fine.

When we require educators to go hat in hand to IT personnel to get an educational resource unblocked, we send the message that we distrust them so they must be monitored.

When we wag our fingers at students about inappropriate digital behaviors without concurrently and equally highlighting the benefits of being connected and online, we send the message that we are afraid of or don’t understand the technologies that are transforming everything around us.

When we make blanket technology policies that punish the vast majority for the actions of a few, we send the messages of inconsistency and unfairness.

When we ignore the power of online and social media tools for communication with parents and other stakeholders, we send the message of outdatedness.

When we fail to implement hiring, induction, observation, coaching, and evaluation structures that emphasize meaningful technology integration, we send the message that it really isn’t that important to what we do in our classrooms.

When we treat students as passive recipients of teacher-directed integration rather than tapping into their technology-related interests, knowledge, and skills, we send the message that they don’t have anything to contribute to their own learning experiences. And that control is more important than empowerment.

When we continue to place students in primarily analog learning spaces and ignore that essentially all knowledge work these days is done digitally, we send the message of irrelevance to our students, parents, and communities.

Are these the messages that we intend to send with our technology decision-making (or lack thereof)? Often not, but what counts is the perceptions of the recipients of our decisions. 

What technology messages is your school system sending? (and what would you add to this list?)

Image credit: Important message, Patrick Denker

We can do better than this

Thiscomputerismonitored

Some random technology-related incidents that I have seen and heard about during the first few weeks of school here in Iowa…

1. Big Brother

Nothing says ‘students, get excited about our new 1:1 initiative!’ like frequent, numerous, vehement reminders from administrators during the rollout that WE ARE WATCHING YOU and that WE CAN SEE EVERYTHING ON YOUR SCREENS AT ALL TIMES.

2. More sign-offs than buying a house

Nothing says ‘students, get excited about your new laptop!’ like both students and parents having to initial each and every one of the items below AND having to sign their name twice for the overall list.

  1. I understand that I am responsible for my use of the district technologies and the use of the tools is for academic and educational purposes.
  2. I will practice digital citizenship by using information and technology responsibly, legally, and ethically.
  3. I understand the use of the Internet and technology is a privilege and not a right; there are consequences for not adhering to the Acceptable Use Policy.
  4. I will honor property rights and copyrights with information and technology.
  5. I will keep my intellectual property safe by saving in specified locations, using and safeguarding passwords, and using my own account at all times.
  6. I will practice personal safety by safeguarding identities while online or offline.
  7. I will not participate in any form of cyber-bullying or harassment.
  8. I will use technology in a respectful manner, sharing equipment and resources.
  9. I will only use district-approved technology, tools, resources, and applications while on [the district’s] campuses.
  10. I understand that users must use the district wireless access points; no personal or other access points should be used while on [district] campuses.
  11. I understand that personally-owned devices are not allowed on district networks nor used for online access.
  12. I will not attempt to use any software, utilities, applications, or other means to access Internet sites or content blocked by filters.
  13. I will not capture video, audio, or pictures without the consent of all persons being recorded, their knowledge of the media’s intended use, as well as the approval of a staff member.
  14. I will report any problems with the equipment, resources, or network to a teacher or administrator in a timely manner.
  15. I understand that the district’s technology resources are the property of the district. I have no expectation of privacy with respect to any materials therein, and all use of district technology resources may be monitored without notice.
  16. I understand that I may be responsible for any damage or loss I cause to district technology resources.
  17. I have read the acceptable use policy, which [sic] are incorporated by reference herein, and agree to the stated conditions in this form as well as in the entire policy and regulations. I also agree to abide by any school technology handbook which may be applicable.
  18. I understand that I am responsible for taking care of my laptop and accessories, including proper cleaning, avoiding hot and cold temperatures, and storing the laptop in the district-provided case.
  19. I will not leave my laptop unattended unless it is locked in a secure place. I (or parents) may be fully responsible for the cost of replacement should my laptop become lost or stolen.
  20. I understand that I (or parents) may be fully responsible for the cost of repair or replacement due to damages that occur to the laptop issued to me or damages I am responsible for on another person’s laptop.
  21. I will bring the laptop to school every day and to the best of my abilities have it fully charged.
  22. I will use the laptop for educational purposes and in accordance with the handbook and other applicable [district] policies, including, but not limited to, policy [ZZZ]. I will use academically-appropriate sounds, music, video, photos, games, and applications.
  23. I will not attempt to use any software, utilities, applications, or other means to access Internet sites or content blocked by filters. [duplicate!]
  24. I will only use the laptop’s recording capabilities for academic purposes, with consent of the participants, their knowledge of the media’s intended use, and staff approval.
  25. I will report any problems with my laptop to a member of the technology staff in a timely manner. The only technology support for the [district] laptops are [sic] through the [district] technology department, not a store or technology service.
  26. I understand that the district owns the laptop and has the right to collect and inspect the laptop at any time. I have no expectation of privacy in the laptop on [sic] any materials and/or content contained therein.
  27. While off campus, I will abide by [district’s] policies and agreement with respect to the use of the laptop, including but not limited to the 21st century learning handbook and board policy [ZZZ].
  28. I will only use public or personally-owned access points and not privately-owned points without the owner’s permission.
  29. I will turn in the laptop and accessories on or before the designated day and location, or prior to my leaving the [district].
  30. We have read the [district] 21st century learning handbook and policy [ZZZ] (acceptable use), which are incorporated by reference herein, and agree to the stated conditions. Questions or accommodations regarding the device would be directed to your building principals.

3. RTF or WTF?

Nothing says ‘students, get excited about your faculty’s technology knowledge!’ like your community college professor sending you a bunch of .RTF files to start the course.

4. Nope, and nope

Parent: “The kids all have laptops. Can we use this free online graphing calculator program instead of having to shell out $100+ for a separate graphing calculator?” School: Nope.

Student: “We all have laptops. I know you cited some random study that I will retain more if I handwrite my notes but I’m an A+ student even when I type my notes. Plus there are many things that I can do with digital notes that I can’t when they’re handwritten. Can I use my laptop for notetaking?” Teacher: Nope.

I think we can do better than this. How about you? What would you add from your own first few weeks of school?

Image credit: Warning – this computer is monitored!, David King

Toward better technology integration: Introducing trudacot

Leadershipday2014

[My Leadership Day post this year introduces a new tool, trudacot, that we have been using to facilitate productive conversations with educators about technology-infused learning and teaching…]

[UPDATE 1: trudacot was featured on the MindShift blog. Awesome!]

We’ve got a lot of technology floating around our schools and classrooms these days. And while that can and should be a good thing given the digital age in which we now live, we often find that our technology-related efforts aren’t paying off for us as we had hoped. There are many reasons why this is true, but a main one is that we don’t have great ways to think about what’s occurring when we see students and teachers using technology for learning and teaching purposes.

TPACK and SAMR are the two main technology integration frameworks being used right now. While conceptually useful, both of them have their limitations. Neither are very specific when it comes to helping teachers think about what to change to make their technology integration better. The SAMR levels have the additional challenge of apparently meaning very different things to different people (I have witnessed on numerous occasions a particular usage of technology placed in all four SAMR levels by educator audiences). Resources like the TPACK activity types help with some of this, but my colleague, Julie Graber, and I were looking for something different. Failing to find what we wanted, we decided to make our own…

Starting with purpose

Technology integration should be purposeful. That very simple statement is at the heart of the trudacot template. When we use digital technologies for learning and teaching, those uses should be intentional and targeted and not simply ‘tech for tech’s sake.’ My team continually asks the question, ‘Technology for the purpose of what?’ With that in mind, Julie and I set out to create a template of questions that would allow educators to think critically – and purposefully – about their technology integration.

For example, if a class activity was using learning technologies for the purpose(s) of enhancing personalization or enabling greater student agency and choice, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:

  • Learning Goals. Who selected what is being learned?
  • Learning Activity. Who selected how it is being learned?
  • Assessment of Learning. Who selected how students demonstrate their knowledge and skills and how that will be assessed?
  • Work Time. During the lesson/unit, who is the primary driver of the work time?
  • Technology Usage. Who is the primary user of the technology?

In contrast, if a lesson pulled in digital tools for the purpose(s) of enhancing student communication / connection, and perhaps even facilitating collaboration across locations, we would ask very different questions. The types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:

  • Audience. How are students communicating? If with others, with whom? [students in this school / students in another school / adults in this school / adults outside of this school]
  • Communication Technologies. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate the communication processes? [writing / photos and images / charts and graphs / infographics / audio / video / multimedia / transmedia]
  • Collaborators. How are students working? If with others, who is managing collaborative processes (planning, management, monitoring, etc.)
  • Collaborative Technologies. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate collaborative processes? If yes, in which ways? [online office suites, email, texting, wikis, blogs, videoconferencing, mindmapping, curation tools, project planning tools, other]

Similarly, if teachers wanted students to use technology for the purpose(s) of enabling them to do more authentic, real world work, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished would be different from those previous and might include:

  • Real or Fake. Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by real people outside of school?
  • Domain Knowledge. Are students learning discipline-specific and -appropriate content and procedural knowledge? If yes, is student work focused around big, important concepts central to the discipline? [not just minutiae]
  • Domain Practices. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and -appropriate practices and processes?
  • Domain Technologies. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and -appropriate tools and technologies?

And if a lesson or unit integrated learning technologies for the purpose(s) of facilitating students’ deeper thinking, creativity, or metacognition, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:

  • Deeper Thinking. Do student learning activities and assessments go beyond facts, procedures, and/or previously-provided ways of thinking? [e.g., ‘syntheses’ or ‘analyses’ that actually are just regurgitations]
  • Creativity. Do students have the opportunity to design, create, make, or otherwise add value that is unique to them?
  • Initiative. Do students have the opportunity to initiate, be entrepreneurial, be self-directed, and/or go beyond given parameters of the learning task or environment?
  • Metacognition. Do students have the opportunity to reflect on their planning, thinking, work, and/or progress? If yes, can students identify what they’re learning, not just what they’re doing?
As I hope is evident, trudacot tries to get at some specific, concrete ‘look-fors’ that can help educators think about what they might change. In other words, we are attempting with trudacot to make explicit the kinds of questions we might ask when considering which intersection of TPACK – or level of SAMR – a particular instance of technology integration may be inhabiting (and how to shift it toward more robustness).
Using trudacot
The complete, annotated, first version of trudacot is now available and includes some tips for usage. First and foremost is the suggestion to focus on just one or two sections of the template. Unless we’re designing a big, multi-week project, we need to pick and choose a few focal areas rather than trying to cover the entire template. Let me be clear: the trudacot template should NOT be used as a massive checklist of things that should be present in a teacher’s lesson or unit. A second suggestion is to answer a question or two from trudacot about a lesson or unit – preferably in small groups, not just individually – and then ask, ‘If we wanted the answer(s) to the question(s) to be different, how could we redesign this to make that desired answer happen instead?’ THIS is where the powerful conversations occur; THIS is the work we should be doing with educators. Finally, we are finding trudacot to have the most power as an up-front brainstorming, idea-generating, and design tool, not an after-the-fact evaluative tool. We want educators thinking about lesson and unit (re)design in ways that are safe and generative, not worrying about being judged.
In addition to the trudacot itself, you’re welcome to see the resources that we considered when creating the template and/or sign up on our mailing list for updates. Soon I will post some examples of how we have been introducing and using trudacot in our pilot activities this past spring and summer. Until then, I hope that you find trudacot useful to your own technology integration efforts and that it helps you foster rich discussions about lesson and unit (re)design with your educators. Please stay in touch as you have questions, ideas, and suggestions. The trudacot template is very much a work in progress – help us #makeitbetter! The more people that we have looking at and working with trudacot, the more useful it can become. Julie and I would love to hear how you’ve been using trudacot yourself so let us know!
Happy Leadership Day 2014, everyone. Thanks to all of you for helping me celebrate my blog birthday!

Filtering social media in schools because it’s a ‘distraction’

Annie Murphy Paul

Annie Murphy Paul said:

according to the [American Association of School Librarians], schools’ top three filtered content areas are social networking sites, instant messaging and online chatting, and games. Such activities aren’t (necessarily) inappropriate or illegal, but they are big honking distractions, and if we want our young people to learn anything during the school day, they must be kept away from these sites.

A growing body of evidence from cognitive science and psychology shows that the divided attention typical of people engaging in “media multitasking” – the attempt to pay attention to two or more streams of information at once – produces shallower, less permanent learning. And let’s not kid ourselves: when students are free to roam the Internet in class or in study periods, divided attention is the result.

Is it possible to use Facebook and Twitter in educationally appropriate ways? Sure – but as technology and education specialist Michael Trucano points out, tech enthusiasts often focus on what’s possible to the exclusion of what’s predictable and what’s practical. What is predictable is that young people, given the chance, will use the web for social and entertainment purposes; what’s practical is to remove that temptation during the school day.

via http://hechingerreport.org/content/schools-efforts-block-internet-laughably-lame_16588

This article misses the point. It’s fearmongering and control-driven and feeds the misbegotten ‘kids these days are bad’ narratives that are so prevalent in older generations. It’s yet another example of ‘we’re not knowledgeable enough to think of any useful ways to utilize these tools so let’s just block them.’

The myth of ‘digital natives’ has been busted time and time again. Research is very clear that while our students are increasingly savvy at using technology for gaming and social purposes, they’re much less proficient at using technology for academic and other productive work purposes. Of course they will not get good at using technology in these ways if we simply block the technologies instead of using them more productively.

Unlike what is stated elsewhere in this article, the ‘real world’ is digital. The real world is technology-suffused. People everywhere use social media and other online tools all the time to accomplish their work. How are educators supposed to prepare students for our new technology-infused information, economic, and learning landscapes in analog school environments?

As my supervising principal said every day of my administrative internship, ‘Classroom management stems from good instruction.’ The issue here is not the technology but rather our unwillingness as educators and citizens (and pundits) to rethink learning, teaching, and schooling.

UPDATE

Here are some tweets that Annie Murphy Paul and I exchanged today. As I read these (and her article), she believes that students simply can’t be trusted or empowered to use social media in class without being distracted. Although she nominally concedes that schools might be able to use social media in productive ways with students, she quickly reiterates that is only ‘possible’ and that it is much more ‘practical’ to simply block these powerful tools for connecting and learning. I disagree with both (and, of course, many of us can point to countless examples all around the world where these are low-level or nonexistent concerns, thus disproving her broad generalizations about students and classrooms). However, when I stated her ideas back to her, she denied them. I don’t know how to otherwise interpret what she said and she won’t clarify. I did invite her to please continue the dialogue in the comment area of either her post or mine. Your thoughts?

AnnieMurphyPaul01

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‘Managing students’ technology’ equals ‘forcing them to sit and listen’

Calvin Hennick wrote:

NetSupport’s Kingsley is more skeptical. He laughs at the notion that students will studiously ignore text messages and social media updates from their friends and simply put their devices down when the ­teacher is talking. “Have you been in a classroom?” he asks. “If only the kids would do that.”

“The level of temptation, whether it’s Facebook status updates or chatting with other students, there will always be students doing that,” Kingsley adds. “If you tell them to go to a particular website, how do you know all 30 kids are on that website? You don’t, unless you get up and walk around and check, and then you’ve just wasted 10 minutes of class time. The whole point of this [screen monitoring/blocking] software is to free up time for teachers to do what they do best, which is to teach.”

via http://t.co/HkDelF2ZFP

In other words, teaching = teacher talking while kids are forced to sit and listen.

You could view walking around and seeing what is on kids’ screens as wasting 10 minutes of class time (10 minutes? really?). Or you could view it as what teachers already should be doing.

Another technological ‘solution’ to what ultimately is a learning-teaching issue…

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

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

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