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Day 2 of TICL and other awesomeness

Tony Vincent

Below are my notes from Day 2 of our Northwest Iowa TICL conference

Tony VincentLearning In Hand@tonyvincent

Powerful Projects (see all of Tony’s resources)

  • The best projects are connected to the real world and to students’ interests
    • Student ownership, authentic audience, make a difference
  • What’s the best project you’ve ever seen students do? What made it so good?
  • Adobe Voice app (free)
  • Psychological ownership – causes = control, intimate knowledge, time and energy – positive outcomes = responsibility, attachment, accountability, and confidence
  • The Ikea effect” – We value things more when we played a part in creating it (even if it’s not perfect) – much more satisfying than somebody making it for you
  • Love also leads to more labor – we work harder on things we care about and in which we are interested
  • Harvard Business Review – “When we choose for ourselves, we are far more committed to the outcome – by a factor of five to one”
  • Don’t get too attached to tools – they disappear!
  • Apps students can use to show their knowledge
    • Tony is showing us a memory / tribute video for all of the tech tools we’ve lost!
  • The questions you ask will greatly affect the quality of the work you get
  • “Let’s make a dent in the universe” – Steve Jobs
  • How Can Student Projects Make A Difference?How can student projects make a difference?
    • Educating others
    • Solving a problem
    • Calling others to action
    • Building something useful
    • Planning an event
    • Raising money for a purpose
    • Recognizing or inspiring others
    • Designing a better way to do something
  • Developing inquiry questions (get from Tony!)
  • Quozio, QuotesCover, Recite, and Canva allow you to post quotes or questions
  • Photofunia (see also top 10 tips)

Josh Ehn (@mr_ehn) & Tim Hadley (@mrhadleyhistory)

Awesomeness 101 – Tim

  • The truth is you’re already awesome, we’re just going to help bring it out
  • If you’re happy and you know it…
  • Awesomeness is a choice – what will you choose?
    • Who can I be awesome to today?
  • Steps to be awesome
  • We come up with all of these great ideas – why don’t we ask students?
  • If you don’t live kids, please stay home. If you love content, write a book…
  • Mt. Pleasant CSD (Iowa) teacher reconfigured room to favor collaboration – behavior referrals dropped in half
  • Genius Hour work should be authentic but not graded
  • Students will meet the level of expectation that you set
  • Read. Learn. Get Better.
  • Our capacity to learn these days is endless
  • It’s all about relationships
  • Daily routine: 1. Wake up 2. Be awesome 3. Go to bed
  • I’m not here to be average…

Awesomeness 101 – Josh

  • 3D printing is awesome and is going to revolutionize manufacturing
  • Videoconferencing – ask an expert, “hey, do you have 10 minutes to talk to my class?’
  • The world’s best teachers are already stealing your students (online for free, live streaming or recorded video) – Periscope, Meerkat
  • Internet of things
  • Raise your hand if the phone is the #1 / #2 / #3 / #4… thing you use your smartphone for
  • Your smartphone is a computer, not a phone
  • The conversation should not be about keyboarding anymore – we’re heading toward voice dictation – typing is going to become like cursive
  • Embrace the smartphones – teach teachers how to use them in the classroom
  • LinoIt of Awesomeness

Innovation, 3D roller coasters, and questioning the status quo

Change Post Its

Below are my notes from Day 1 of our Northwest Iowa TICL conference

Tony Vincent, Learning In Hand@tonyvincent

Question the Status Quo

  • Entrepreneurs are curious, creative, and fearless about experimentation – Hal Gregersen
  • Showing us a series of ‘life hacks’ to help us think outside the box
  • What does innovation mean to you? (using the Post-It Plus app to display audience responses)
    • Sometimes innovation means you have to stay within a box and think creatively
  • MyScript Calculator and PhotoMath
  • Use ‘-teacherspayteachers’ to exclude that site from your Google searches for teaching resources
  • Other places to search for resources include Pinterest, Diigo, Slideshare, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
  • Eric Schmidt – “the best way we’ve found to foster [innovation] at Google is to create an environment where ideas can collide in new and interesting ways, and the good ones are given resources to grow”
  • Plickers is an innovative tool created by an educator
  • Limitations can lead to innovations (e.g., using the address app to make our own dictionary / word wall)
  • Using Amazon book reviews with 5th grade students
  • Inklewriter allows students to make ‘choose your own adventure’ stories
  • Obvious to You, Amazing to Others video (Derek Sivers)

Oculus Rift 02

Dane Barner, StuCamp, @MrBarnerWCMS
Sustainable Innovation: Creating a Space for Innovation to Happen
  • No Box Thinking chat, #nbchat
  • Is lack of change just implementation fidelity?
  • Me: If you say to a teaching staff that we’re going to try a bunch of stuff and expect most of it to fail, they’ll look at you like you’re crazy
  • Dane: Innovation is change with purpose. Innovation is not something that we do, it’s something that happens.
  • Adam Bellow: Innovation occurs at the intersection of fear and bravery
  • Dane: Innovation requires an innovative mindset, the removal of restrictions, the right people, and failure as an option
  • Rachelle Mau: Fossilized mindset = they have concrete in their shoes and they’re buying concrete for others…
  • Dane: growth mindset = doing things you haven’t done before, innovative mindset = thinking in ways you haven’t before (and accept them)
  • Two core beliefs in schools: just tell me what to do, and there is a right answer (I just have to figure out what it is) – for both student and adult learners
  • What does it say about us as educators that we tenaciously hang on to what we know doesn’t work?
  • The curse of the three Ss – sports, schedule, and staffing
  • How do the people around you affect your ability to be innovative?
  • Dane: Dreamers and grounders
  • Failure is an event not a destination
  • Learning to walk: After falling, have you ever seen a baby say, “That’s it, I’m a crawler!”

Iowa State University FLEx trailer, Pete Evans, @petemevans #ISUFLEx

  • I experienced a virtual roller coaster wearing Oculus Rift (very cool!)
  • Also present: 3D printer, Little Bits, and more!

The roars of approval as we revert back to what we’ve always done


George Couros said:

Sometimes when the statement is made, “it is not about technology, it is about pedagogy”, you then hear the roars of approval, and off we go on our merry way with nothing changing for many students.

In reality sometimes it is about the technology, and the opportunities that it provides that were not there before for a student.


Image credit: and the crowd went wild, Tim Bayman

Option 3: Actually USE the smartphones

Door sign: Cell phone prohibited

Murphy & Beland’s recent study is making the rounds online, particularly among those who are eager to find reasons to ban learning technologies in classrooms. The economists found that banning mobile phones helped improve student achievement on standardized test scores, with the biggest gains seen by low-achieving and at-risk students. Here are my thoughts on this…

The outcome measure is standardized test score improvement. Is that all you care about or do you have a bigger, more complex vision for student learning? For instance, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving are difficult to assess with a standardized test. Most schools I know didn’t adopt their learning technology initiatives for the sole purpose of test score improvement. (if they did, how sad is that?)

The accepted dichotomy in this study and the media seems to be 1) doing low-level knowledge work while smartphones are banned, or 2) doing low-level knowledge work while smartphones are present (and, presumably, distracting). Neither of these two options addresses the fact that decontextualized, low-level work isn’t very interesting or engaging to many (most?) students, particularly those who already find that traditional schooling doesn’t meet their needs very well. So, faced with the opportunity to do something else, many students do. Youth today aren’t any different than when we were young and adults made snarky, woeful comments about us. They just have different opportunities and resources. How many times were you bored in high school? Lots, so admit that if you’d had access to a smartphone or your friends on Facebook back then, you would have turned that way too. I know that I sure would have. Let’s stop blaming students and/or demonizing technology as an evil succubus and address the real problem, which is disengaging learning environments. The solution to that problem is not to try and force students to pay attention to and comply with our boring lessons. That’s not teaching students ‘grit.’ That’s an indictment of our failure to differently imagine learning and teaching.

How about a third option, that of doing higher-level learning and USING the smartphones to help with that? That sounds pretty good to me. Why isn’t this ever brought up as an option to be considered?

Image credit: Cell phone prohibited, SmartSign

The problem with ‘any time, any place, any path, any pace’

Any time, any place, any path, any pace

In most online courses and/or ‘adaptive learning systems’ …

  • Students do low-level work at times that are convenient.
  • Students do low-level work from places that are convenient.
  • Students do low-level work on their own, unique path.
  • Students do low-level work at their own, unique pace.

But it’s still low-level work. 

Digitizing, chunking, and algorithmizing worksheet-like learning tasks doesn’t move them out of the domains of factual recall and procedural regurgitation. The modality doesn’t change the substance of the learning task. Until we are willing to address the kinds of work that we ask students to do on a day-to-day basis, not just the delivery mode, the any time, any place, any path, any pace mantra isn’t going to change a thing…

Today’s #ETCoaches Twitter chat

I had the pleasure of moderating the #ETCoaches Twitter chat today. Here are the questions I asked… (and here’s the archive)

  1. Welcome to our #ETCoaches Twitter discussion. Our topic today: Confronting some hard truths about our own #edtech coaching.
  2. After we do an #edtech PD session, what percentage of teachers actually implement what we showed them? #ETCoaches
  3. Should we judge our success as #ETCoaches by teacher #edtech use or student #edtech work products?
  4. Why do we keep doing ’60 apps in 60 minutes’ type conference sessions since they focus on tools, not learning? #ETCoaches #edtech
  5. When we do educator PD / conference workshops, what principles of effective adult learning do we routinely violate? #ETCoaches #edtech
  6. I’m struggling w/ SAMR, TPACK. Are they really helpful? Do they help a teacher know what to CHANGE or DO DIFFERENTLY? #ETCoaches #edtech
  7. What takeaways do you have from the previous 50 minutes of conversation? #ETCoaches #edtech #makeitbetter
  8. What might you rethink about your own practice? #ETCoaches #edtech #makeitbetter
  9. Thanks for joining us today. Great #edtech conversation. Go in peace. Do great things! #ETCoaches #MakeSchoolDifferent

Thoughts on any of these?

The Sock Monkeys are returning!

Sock monkeys

Just a heads-up that Team 4443, The Sock Monkeys (@4443sockmonkeys), from Oskaloosa, Iowa will be returning to this blog to share its experiences at the First Robotics Championships in St. Louis, Missouri. Molly Bleything will be sharing out this year’s challenge, photos and videos of the team in action, and other items of note. Hope you’ll leave her and the team some positive encouragement!

Image credit: Sock Monkeys

Is it wrong for me to wish the ISTE keynotes focused more on ed tech?

ISTE announced its 2015 conference keynote speakers yesterday:

  • Soledad O’Brien, journalist and news anchor
  • Jack Gallagher, comedian and parent of a child with autism
  • Josh Stumpenhorst, Illinois teacher of the year and ISTE Emerging Leader

I love ISTE and the ISTE conference. But every year I wish more of the keynotes were actually helpful to our technology integration and implementation efforts. It is an educational technology conference, after all, and we have lots of needs in the actual topic area of the conference.

Go get ‘em, Josh…

[UPDATE: See also Michelle Baldwin’s recent post on this issue]

Why must we ask the 21st century to wait outside our classes?

Internet kill switch

John Jones said:

why must we ask the 21st century to wait outside our classes? Is it just to protect the lecture? We know what a classroom designed around lectures, notes, and quizzes can do, and it is not impressive. . . . Perhaps by embracing the new forms and structures of communication enabled by laptops and other portable electronics we might discover new classroom practices that enable new and better learning outcomes.

There is a robust body of research exploring alternatives to the lecture. Never before has technology been so able to support a new understanding of learning but, as Rivers argues, suppressing the use of new technologies avoids and ignores such discussions.


Image credit: internet-kill-switch, CyberHades

The challenges of digital leadership

National Association of Independent Schools logo

I wrote an article for the National Association of Independent Schools on the challenges of digital leadership. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite!

Schools often purchase software, computer devices, and technology-based learning systems because they are effective marketing tools for recruitment, or because they want to keep pace with the digital investments of rival institutions, or simply because they fear appearing outdated. None of these have to do with learning, of course, and inevitably are insufficient to smooth over the challenges that arise as digital tools enter classroom spaces. 


Too often, when navigating faculty or parental resistance, school leaders and technology staff make reassurances that things will not have to change much in the classroom or that slow baby steps are OK. Unfortunately, this results in a different problem, which is that schools have now invested significant money, time, and energy into digital technologies but are using them sparingly and seeing little impact. In such schools, replicative uses of technology are quite common, but transformative uses that leverage the unique affordances of technology are quite rare.


As school leaders, in order to achieve the types of successes that we hope for with technology, we will have to overbalance for our staff and parents the side of the scale that contains fears and concerns with countervailing, emotionally resonant stories, images, visions, and examples of empowered students and teachers doing amazing things. That’s fairly hard to do if we’re technology-hesitant or unknowledgeable about the educative value of technology ourselves, which is why so many successful digital leaders preach over and over again the necessity of personal engagement and modeling.

Happy reading!

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