Wednesday, December 10, 2014

PBL VS PBL

Photo Credit:  fishbrain.randy@sbcglobal.net
I was meeting with a team of teachers brainstorming what their school would look like in 2020.  This team has been developing concepts for a Design Learning Center, where students can follow a Design Thinking model to show 21st Century skills, and the 4C's: critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

This discussion reminded me of reading John Larmer's blog post, Project-Based Learning vs. Problem-Based Learning vs. X-BL The room of teachers were broken down into 3 groups:  Specialist teachers, Upper Elementary teachers, and Lower Elementary teachers. When I was talking with the teachers, there seemed to be two schools of thought:  PBL and PBL.  They both thought PBL, but didn't really understand that they were talking about similar, but not the same idea.
These ideas are Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning.

The Specialist teachers seemed to show more of a collaborative approach, with the Project Based Learning model.  Their ideas were to collaborate, and develop whole school projects.  They were discussing ideas about how the school could create a community garden or creating a school play, bringing working collaboratively across the school and local community.  Building in concepts that each area of study can contribute.

Where the Upper Elementary Teachers approached the topics more with a subject based lens, and their ideas followed more of the Problem Based Learning model.  These teachers were looking how to bridge the curriculum through thematic units, that tackled problems that could be taught across the grade level.

 

The 3rd Group, the Lower Elementary teachers tended to lean toward a more blended approach.  They were also very concerned that adequate time needs to be spent on the basics, so the learners have the skills to communicate their ideas.

The Lower Elementary teachers are normally not concerned with Multidisciplinary studies, because that is what they do best.  Shifting from one type of learning to another happens all the time in Lower Elementary classrooms.

This group was concerned with how to scaffold the problems for their learners, so they can communicate their ideas effectively. At the end of the task, all the teachers were concerned with how to best engage their learners with their curriculum.

Understanding how PBL (whichever version you like) can add variety and show new ways for students to showcase their new learning.    

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Building Capacity


   

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

My wife hates it when I hover.  She might be helping the kids with an iPad, and it isn't working correctly.  I know how to fix it, and she can sense I want to help.  But I shouldn't.  You see, my wife wants to fix it, and learn what to do.  She does a good job, and seeks further help from me when she can't fix it, and she knows the basic iPad troubleshooting stuff.  In my home, I try to build capacity... but struggle watching my wife fix things.

As part of my role as an EdTech Specialist, is that I assist teachers with Integration of technology in the classroom.  Some integrations are well planned, and others not so well planned.  I like to integrate technology, being involved in the idea for the lesson.  Plan, research, design, integrate, reflect.  I feel it is more of a coach's role.

Reflecting on Jeff's post, he talks about embedding rather than integrating.  I like the thought of making the technology in the classroom as a seamless activity.  I still like the word integration, because sometimes teachers are not sure about how the technology can be best used.  And that can take some coaching, research, and planning.

What makes a good integration of technology?  All stakeholders learn something.  Capacity for the technology is built.  The teacher, the students, the EdTech specialist.  The Technology is absorbed into the learning.

A good integration starts with a discussion or consultation about the classroom and the needs of the learning.  This has a lot of components to consider, but the ultimate goal is the learning, not the technology.  Sometimes the planing is in the conversation, sometimes it takes longer to find the correct technologies to assist the learners.
 

But some integrations do not go well.

These are the ones where I am given no time to help plan, but often called in to fix the problems. Time was not allowed to properly prepare for the integration.  Sometimes the tech just did not work on the day.  Servers go down, updates get applied at the wrong time.  The tech didn't work for the teacher, or administrator, and I am assisting with the mop up of the situation.

Some "integrations" are not integrations at all.  The teacher does not get involved at all, and expects me to do the "techie" lesson.  So they can do some work in the back of the room, or as a last minute emergency sub plan.  These are not the situations I seek out, as they do not fit what my job is.

My job is to help build capacity for Technology in all instructors and learners at my school.

If an Integration works, the teacher takes away new tricks that they can apply in future lessons.  The students learn to be more savvy users of technology.  Lessons can be adapted to promote more divergent delivery methods for the classroom, depending on the needs of the students.

Capacity is important, because the teachers and learners are not always going to have a EdTech coach standing over them to ensure everything works.  Absorption is important, because the lesson goals are more important than that of the technology.

Friday, October 10, 2014

REMIX YOUR DIGITAL STORYTELLING


 In the above Video, a student created a short clip about their feelings about Cyberbullying.  It's a short digital story, that shows some of the feelings that come out when kids are confronted with Cyberbullying.
I work as an Educational Technology specialist, and one lesson I am often asked to help deliver is about Digital Citizenship.  The next time I work with one of these units, I'd like to do a Remix!

Last year, I was at the Beyond Laptops conference, where we did a group remix of our takeaways from the conference.  Just one simple statement of what we got out of it.
 In the above playlist, these are creative examples of what a short clip of a takeaway can turn into.  Simple statements, crowd sourced video, and lots of creativity.

Students often tell stories of what they have heard about bullying online, share examples, and often know some things of what to do.  Why not capture these stories?  Let students CREATE rather than regurgitate. But why not Remix it into student Visual Stories?

With tools like Youtube Capture, iPad Cameras, and the old school pen and paper, students can show their feelings and reflections to show their understanding of an important topic.  Uploaded student videos can be labeled for Creative Commons licensing, so that students can Remix the videos using Youtube Editor to build a class video.

How to start?  Ask some leading questions.  Have the students record short clips.

The techie bits.  In YouTube Capture, upload the Videos.  Have the kids label the clips in the "Tags" area with a common tag, to make it easier to find.  Change the "license", to 'Creative Commons - Attribution' so that others can use it too.  These videos, if you want others to be able to borrow from each other, need to be listed as "Public".

YouTube Editor.  Then the students can remix them using Youtube Editor.  Upload drawings and pictures, if any were created.  Add a new backing song, and voila....

Collect up links for the new clips.  Might be a Google Doc, Form, etc. Create a playlist in Youtube, and have a movie marathon.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Doctopus: your digital photocopier

Break your chains from the photocopier!
Spend your time of more important things!
Maybe even save some trees!

You Need Doctopus!



Goal:  Add Doctopus to your arsenal of digital tools and decrease your workload.
Fishbowl  Times: 8:20  --  10:30  --  12:35  --  2:05

 

What is the plural of octopus? You might be surprised by the answer.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

COETAIL Course 2, Final Project, Responsible Use Agreements

Photo Credit: ToGa Wanderings via Compfight cc In my Master's Program, COETAIL,   I was assigned to do collaborative assignment, with another teacher, at another school.  I found a partner on Google+, in the same course.  My partner and I worked on Option 1 of the Assignment, to create a Responsible Use Agreement.
"Option 1: In a small group that contains at least one cohort member outside your school, create a Responsible Use Agreement (RUA) for your division level (Elementary, Middle or High School). You may start from scratch or use a framework from some of the resource that are covering in the course or from what your school already has in place. Include a reflective blog post describing choices you made in developing the RUP i.e. choice of language level, topics covered, issues of focus, describe how it would be shared with students etc."
I worked with a teacher in Myanmar, Ivory Chang, over a Google Hangout chat.  We looked at each other's schools Responsible Use Agreements, looked at what we liked, and didn't like. We came across this template, from NetSafe NZ, which is a Creative Commons licensed Responsible Use Agreement, meant to be used by schools to adapt for their own use.  We liked the positive language used, and decided to adapt it for our assignment. Here is our final outcome.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's a Small World


The Universe is expanding, but our world is getting smaller.

The above image is an assemblage from the Cassini Space Probe, credited here.
With the power of the internet, we can push into details of the world we could never find published in books, magazines, and other places.  We can learn to communicate in new ways.  We can find out about ideas and concerns that others have.  We can learn new skills, right at our fingertips.  We can find lots of things, and remix them into new things. I live in South Korea, and... I don't speak Korean, and cannot read Hangul.  But due to Web Apps like Google Translate,  I can sometimes make sense of what I see around me.  Here, translate my blog into another language.

This is a translation example for Google Translate.

I have a family, with two small kids, who love to get around.  Thanks to the power of the internet, We can get directions, find parks, and other great things to do.  Like this little blog, Kids Fun in Seoul.  It gives you information on things going on, what is good about the place, and how to get there. It has a fantastic interactive map, that shows you where things are... View Seoul Map for Kids & Families in a larger map
The internet can help to make you "Happy" You can find music, artists, and many creatives you may never have seen without it. The link above is the Australian band, John Butler Trio, covering Pharrell William's song, "Happy".

 The internet can help to fix important issues.

The internet can provide a way to promote change... and that issue, is important.  Maybe not the most important issue,  but something that has to change. With the internet, I can learn to use the internet better.  Just in writing this blog, I used Google to help research methods for embedding some of the gadgets used here. Here are some of those links.
Embedding a Youtube link from a specific time.
Embedding Google Translate
Embedding Google Map
Finally, the power of the internet allows us to be more creative.  The possibilities are endless.  Here is a remix of images from the Cassini Mission, against Nine Inch Nails, "Ghosts".  Science and Music combine to make Art, through the power of the internet.

 
  CASSINI MISSION from Chris Abbas on Vimeo.

This has been Cross Blogged, from my COETAIL blog.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Remove the "Cyber" from Cyberbullying


 
Some rights reserved

I was reading this posted question on Louise Phinney's Blog, about removing the "Digital" that we associate with things like Digital Citizenship, and Digital Footprints.  I commented on her blog about this idea, and I thought I'd continue that idea here.

Remove the Cyber from Cyberbullying.  Why? Because kids disconnect that what they are doing is Bullying.

I think that Bullying is Bullying, no matter where it is done.  The problem is that most kids understand what Traditional Bullying is, and think it is wrong. There is a disconnect from actions online being bullying.  Kids think that they are having a joke, but the receiver doesn't think it is funny. Raychelle Cassada Lohmann discusses the proportions of kids that do Cyberbullying vs Traditional Bullying in her article.
"Cyberbullying is a big problem, even more common than traditional bullying. About 25 to 30 percent of the young people surveyed admitted experiencing or taking part in cyberbullying, but only 12 percent said the same about traditional bullying. To top it off, 95 percent of the youth said that what happened online was meant to be a joke and about 5 percent was actually meant to harm someone."
That 95% troubles me.  They do not understand that a joke can be taken another way, in a bad way.  It also troubles me that a joke gets spread online, other users repeat it, or jump in on the joke.  The rumor or joke spreads quickly, making the comments worse.  Online, bullying gets messy in a hurry.  So here are my tips about combating Bullying online.

Tips for Better posting. Send better messages.

It starts with the message sender.  What you post matters.  Who you post it to matters.  How you post it, again, matters.

  1. My parents always told me that Good Manners are for everywhere, use them online too.  If you can't type it politely, than maybe it shouldn't be posted.
  2. Please, Thank you, Your Welcome... should be used as much as possible.  When they are used, it is more difficult to communicate a nasty message.
8399272897_5867d0b004_q
 3.  Use Emoticons or Emoji to show emotion or expression, when texting short messages.   In face to face communication, you can get a bigger picture of the context of the message.  With Emoticons, you send the person your mood... to help give some context to the meaning.  But short messages, often miss out on clues to show your meaning.  Some rights reserved on above image 

 4.  Another movement, the Sarcasm Font, is for showing some of your other meanings.
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some rights reserved
5. Jokes should be funny to both people.  If it is meant to be a joke, share it in a Peer to Peer message, rather than on a group message board.  That way, if it isn't taken well, it isn't spread far.

6.Don't post anything online that you wouldn't mind your parents seeing.

7.Most importantly, treat others as you want to be treated. Think before you click. Look at what your posting or uploading and ask "Would I want someone saying or putting that about me online?" If the answer is "No" then don't do it.

Tips for the Reciever.  I didn't like that message.

Not every bad message is Bullying, but know what to do if you are being bullied.

  1. Choose your friends wisely.  "Unfriend" and block users.  You do not have to be friends with everyone.
  2. Re-read the message for understanding.  Are they just having a joke?  Maybe let them know that you did not appreciate the comment.
  3. Save all evidence if you're being bullied. Don't delete without keeping a copy for yourself. Screen Shots are great for this.
  4. Don't respond to rude messages.
  5. If someone angers you, wait, don't fire off a rude comeback. It'll only make things worse.
  6. Tell a trusted adult about the messages.
  7. Contact host/site providers if inappropriate material is being posted on their site.

I saw someone being bullied online.  What should I do?

Don't take a backseat, and let things happen in front of you.

  1. Take a screenshot.  Gather some evidence.
  2. Don't join in, but if you know someone who's being a cyberbully tell her/him to knock it off, if they don't report it.
  3. Tell a trusted adult about the messages.
  4. Contact host/site providers if inappropriate material is being posted on their site.
Some of the above tips have been adapted from Raychelle Cassada Lohmann's article.

This has been Cross Blogged from my COETAIL Blog

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Radio Broadcasting and Copyright

Photo Credit: bricolage.108 via Compfight cc


Copyright is a difficult issue for today's youth.  As a teacher, I taught Media Studies, with a Radio production course.  Students would come to me with their plan for the program, showing me "their" content, and "their" playlist.  They would often look at me, shocked, when I asked them where the music came from.  And when they couldn't answer with what I wanted, I sent them back for more planning.  


Post by RoxFM.  Above, one of my former students broadcasting with members of the local community.


My students would take their plan, and go to the local radio station, RoxFM, next door to our school.  This would be all done, Live - on - Air, with a bunch of fantastic teenagers at the microphones and mixer at the Radio station.  When they signed up for the course, they thought that they could just play some random music off their iPod, and ramble on about whatever came to their heads.  But I was concerned about Copyright and Slander.

 The Radio Station, RoxFM, is a Community radio station, not for profit.  Members of this station would broadcast, volunteer their time, and work at events for the station.  Students at the school were Youth Members, that paid a fee to take the course, and gain a qualification in Media Studies.  Our school was accredited through Radio Adelaide, which helped us with our program, and certifications.  This is a rich experience that I wish I had as a teenager.

 In my course, the students needed to show understanding of items they discuss, the music they played, the news they reported, were all part of someone's livelihood.  The students also needed to do so, legally.

They all knew about record companies making money, and the band makes money.  But they didn't know that all Radio stations, in Australia, pay money for playing music.  A portion goes to the Record label, The artist, the composer, the songwriter, the producer, .... the list goes on.  They didn't know the reason why in movies or television, you didn't often hear "Happy Birthday" being sung in the way you know it.  Its because of copyright.  The TV show or movie did not have the right to the song, and did not want to pay for it.

My students had to learn about the Community Broadcasting codes of Practice.  It gave them guidelines as to what they can say, and what they cannot.  This was a vital part of the program.  If you would like to know more, visit the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia website, here.

I often steered my students towards Creative Commons licensed media, so that students could create new things by remixing content.  Students often recorded interviews, mixed audio, to create something that sounded better.

Another reason I wanted the source for the content, was when they were discussing issues in the news, and opinion.  These ideas were formulated by someone else.  A writer, a newspaper, a journalist.  When the student 'went to Air' they needed to site on Air, where the idea originated, at some point during the discussion of that topic.  This helps the student, the producer, and the radio station, to protect themselves (partially) from slander.  But, it is mainly to show where the idea for what they were talking about came from.

With today's technology, anyone can create a podcast, youtube clip... etc.  You do not need a broadcasting license.  Grab some music, read someone else's ideas.  But understanding and higher order thinking is better shown through analysis of ideas, and creativity.  Kids discussing a topic they read about in a magazine article or online, shows better thinking than just reading the article alone.
Crafting a message, that people want to tune into, is even harder.

 Copyright is important, because anyone can copy and paste.  But did it require thought?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Privacy

Why post it, if you don't want someone to read it, watch it, look at it, or hear it?  Do you know who your Audience is... when you post?

Facebook and other social media platforms, are worrisome. I worry about the implications that could come about from what I post. I have accounts on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, ...and the list goes on. I look at my former colleagues Facebook posts, and I wonder, will their post be what keeps them out of an interview for a competitive job?
Spacebook Facebook, Storm Trooper moaning about boss Darth Vader by artist unknown
  Image credit

I use Facebook for posting photos of my family to my parents back in the USA, and my wife's family in Australia. It helps me keep connected. But, I don't use social media to show off all of the content I create. I don't post photos of myself, or colleagues from social gatherings, mainly to protect their privacy. I might post something relaxing from a holiday, but I tend to post them to my inner circles, and not to all of Facebook. Jacquelyn Smith of Forbes.com states in her article,
"A third (34%) of employers who scan social media profiles said they have found content that has caused them not to hire the candidate. About half of those employers said they didn’t offer a job candidate the position because of provocative or inappropriate photos and information posted on his or her profile; while 45% said they chose not to hire someone because of evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her social profiles. Other reasons they decided not to offer the job: the candidate’s profile displayed poor communication skills, he or she bad mouthed previous employers, made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion, or lied about qualifications."
What you post matters.  It could be the difference between you winning your next job, or not. But, there are tools like Simplewa.sh that help to remove your social media 'mistakes'.  It may be a good idea, when you look for that next teaching position, to have a look at your profiles and see what may be questionable.

This is Cross-blogged from my COETAIL blog.

Footprints...


Above image used with Creative Commons License.  Original Image hosted here.
Most students love Social Media.  They post pictures, chat with their friends, and think they are all doing the right thing.  Unfortunately, most people are breaking the law when they post other people's media to their profiles.  They all leave footprints in these social media accounts, but it is important to learn how to not have their past come back to haunt them.

Why?

User Agreements.  You know, the thing that everyone clicks past as they sign up for something, the 75+ page document that is only really readable by someone with a law degree.  Social Media like Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr all have language written in their user agreements that passes legal and financial blame to the users.  So, if a person posts something that belongs to someone else, and it goes to court, the user is already hung out to dry. Here is an example of such language, from Pinterest.com Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 8.21.29 AMThis has been posted and reported on before, Here is a link to another blog, that explains this issue in more detail. Schools can be a fantastic place for kids to learn to be better at leaving a better digital foot print.

What?!

LMS

 Schools now have resources that they never had before.  Learning Management Systems, like Schoology and Edmodo and Wikispaces Classroom, are a place where students have a ‘Facebook-like’ interface for interacting with other members of class.  These are a great way to have a conversation with their teachers about choices made with media ‘borrowed’ from other people for assignments. The nice part of Learning Management Systems, are that they are private, not public.  That means that students have a space where they can make mistakes, get messy, and have conversations about how to do it better. These systems are not fool proof, and schools need to adjust to using them.  Grading, posting assignments, and great features are built in to these systems, but they still need a good teacher and time to facilitate them in the classroom.  Teachers get notifications when their students add items to their class, and parents can see their child's activity.

How?

Searching for Creative Commons Media, to include in Assignments.  Showing students to CREATE, BUILD, and IMPROVE, rather than steal others work.  Although “Fair Use” covers most students work in Education, discussing doing things properly is important.  If the student and teacher decide the work done is amazing, posting the work publicly means the work would need to be fixed. Creative Commons is a search engine that helps its user to search for media that the creator will allow you to use, build upon, and adapt.  Music, Photos, and other items can be found, downloaded, and used.

  Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 8.50.58 AM

Students need to know about how to ask for permission to use the items they post.  Some Artists want their items shared, some do not.  Understanding where to look is to find these things will help them to protect themselves.  Teachers and students can have conversations about the origin of images, video, music, in Private Forums, rather that in Public Domains.  Give kids a safety net.

Friday, March 14, 2014

OSX Mavericks upgrade and Pages update



Photo Credit: jacobovs via Compfight cc This week in the KIS EdTech Fishbowl, we have been discussing the upgrade to OSX Mavericks, and some of the features of the New Pages application.  Some of these features are great, and well received.  But one feature in particular, about the New Pages, adds a small layer of complexity, when attaching a Pages file to a Gmail email.   The presentation below is from this session.  


If you would like a copy of the presentation, please contact me.

UbD Mavericks and new Pages PD


Image Source

The Problem.

"A Student sent me this Pages file, but I can't open it!" The cries of the teacher were heard across the EdTech office. Administrators calling the office... "Hey, I upgraded to Mavericks, and installed the new Pages... now people getting my Gmail attachments tell me they can't open it."

We were at the start of a problem. At Korea International School, we were mostly running MacBooks running the "Lion" operating system. But there was this new operating system, "Mavericks" that was free from Apple to download. It was time to make a change, and do some Professional Development. 

With the lesson, we already identified the need. As it is a new operating system, there are many students upgrading their systems, many students have been sharing files to turn into their teachers, but teachers having troubles opening them. Administrators were having trouble attaching files to their GMail.

In this lesson, it is intended to be a Professional Develpoment session for teachers, administrators, and school councellors. The PD will be delivered 20 times over a given week, during common preparation times for teachers. This lesson will run for 30 minutes, to allow for the teacher's free time. As the lesson is taught so frequently, it will be delivered by multiple members of the EdTech team, so the lesson is planned by one member, and taught by all.

Gentlemen, let's get planning.

Below, is my Understanding by Design (UbD) plan for the lesson.
As the Mavericks operating system is new, and free, it was very tempting for people to upgrade. But, others, were very apprehensive to this change. I had one teacher, who was afraid of losing software and files, had not upgraded his computer since he was issued it over 4 years ago.

The idea for the lesson was simple. Show teachers the things that will immediately make their life easier. As time was short, showing a few of the big items, and a few of the things that had to be done differently. As all learners have different learning needs, having resources that they can review, and use as a reference later is a good idea.

PD Presentation Materials.

 

Discussion Points.

As the lesson is repeated often, the session evolves as the week progresses. Common discussion points arise from teachers. These are often reflected in later sessions. Different instructors for the sessions handled delivery slightly differently, and variations were added to the session. Some of these common discussion points included:
  • New pages vs Google docs...? Some of the features gained include some that are already done through Google Docs. Why use this feature, when you can already do this in Google?  Answer:  Pages handles Printing and Graphics in a better way than Google Docs, but Google Docs may still be more convenient for working in collaboration as students all have accounts, and are familiar with this system.
  • Why has it changed that I cannot attach a new pages document directly to GMail? Answer:  Apple retained the .pages file extension in the upgrade, confusing GMail.  GMail tries to convert the file, and makes it unable to open. Until Google updates GMail, the new format will not share neatly as an attachment.
  • My system works. Why should I upgrade? Answer:  It doesn't. Everyone around you has left you behind. Now, you are having difficulty opening newer files, because you haven't upgraded.
  • How do I keep students from jumping on my Reflector? Answer:  Reflector can be password protected, or turned off, when not needed.
  • I heard of some bugs in this operating system. Why should I risk it? Answer:  All change requires risk. Backing up your files decreases risk.

The aftermath:

The session was received well enough that administrators have decided to adopt the operating system as the official system for our School. The session was adapted to add to staff meetings, to allow staff that had not attended to do this professional development.

In reflection, the EdTech team felt that we had gotten ahead of an issue, before it was a major problem. We were proactive in the issue, researching the changes, running experiments with Mavericks and new Pages, before the students forced the issue to become a major distraction to learning.

Change in technology will always occur. Sometimes, it is not too major of a change. But often in One to One environments, change can turn into distraction.

Something no longer works the way it had. A school can either block adopting new technologies, or grow to accept the changes on mass.

Blocking of technologies, decreases the creativity a user. New features, allows for new learning, and discovery.

This has been Cross Blogged with my COETAIL blog.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reflection on Shaping Tech for the Classroom


Photo Credit: racatumba via Compfight cc This week's reading has me reflecting on my career as an educator. Marc Prensky's article, Shaping Tech for the Classroom, has a way of looking at technology, that is broken down into some simple categories.  I'd like to reflect more on this reading, but first watch this clip.


An excerpt from the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey" directed by Stanley Kubrick.

I have often felt like Dave.  School IT Admins have decided that I cannot do something.  Principals and Parents have decided that new technologies, do not belong at school.  Dave, in 2001: A Space Odessey, struggles with a computer that will not do what he needs, with life and death consequences. In Education, we often struggle with different consequences, some parental, some from administrators, some from politicians, and others from students, but all of them are very important.

Old Things in Old Ways

Record keeping and educational reports have not changed.  We continue to assess as we always have.  Documents are passed around electronically now, instead of in stacks of filing cabinets.
Locking down technology, killing off features, such as cameras in phones, email access, instant messaging, wikipedia, filtering the internet, killing off educational features.

I have worked in the past at a school that had a ban on listening to music in the classroom.  This same school moved from hand written school reports to having each student's report as a word processing file.  The internet at this school blocked web mail, banned student phones, had lots of troubles with cyberbullying online, outside of school.

As an Art and Technology educator at this school, I often struggled with some of the blocking and banning of technology at the school.  It added to my planning time, because all of my technology lessons could be planned at home, but needed to be retested at school before the lesson, to ensure it would work.  It wasted lesson time, as I had to enforce school policies that I did not believe in.  I may have needed to get a website "whitelisted" so that my students could access it.  I may have needed to send letters home for students to have permission to use their smart phone's camera to document their work in Art class.  In reporting time, The old school method of reporting would only allow me to have access to the student's report, only when someone else was not accessing it.  I would often need to come to school, late after hours, to enter my reports to the word documents.

In short, blocking of technology increased my workload to the point where integrating technology in lessons became cumbersome.  Too much red tape for good ideas.  I did what I could, but often was unable to achieve outcomes desired for the learning.  But the ban of technology added to my workload, because I was unable to work on reports during work hours, I was unable to use collaborative tools, such as Google Docs.

Old Things in New Ways

Many technological advances happen every day, and in education, we are often too slow to adopt new ways to enhance learning.  Students use social media, computer programming, photoblogs, multiplayer gaming, and all kinds of technological ideas, that may, with appropriate guidance by an educator, show their understanding of other topics.

Students will embrace technology faster than schools can handle it.  In another school I have worked at, students use social media for school projects, to get the word out about a school concert or other event.  But schools fear that these technologies will grow into an uncontrollable beast with a mind of their own, Like HAL, in Kubrick's work.

Some schools have been adopting Learning Management Systems, Like Edmodo, Schoology, and the like.  These are like Facebook for schools.  Lessons can be planned, reflected on, and posted in these environments.  These are moderated by Teachers, Parents, and Administrators.  Teachers can post assignments and deadlines, checking on a student's workload.  Administrators can post about school events.  Parents can have access to information and notices from school, as well as access to their child's work and assignments.  Unlike Facebook, these are private communities, which require access codes, and are not searchable from Google, Bing, and other search engines.

The nice part of Learning Management Systems, is that students can be taught positive and meaningful skills about being online, with a safety net.    Why do I need a safety net?  Many employers "Google" a prospective candidate for a job.  Why hire a person who cannot get along with others online?  It may be a risk for them.  These LMS services allow for negative behaviours on these networks can be discussed with the student, creating education about social media.

The Big Tech Barrier: One-to-One

One to one device capability is a big barrier to education.  It is difficult for a student to show how their understanding of a topic, when they do not have adequate access to the technology.  The Computer Lab model is a tried and tested model, that no longer works. Class scheduling and lesson planning often get in the way of lessons with computers, waiting for computers to start / shutdown. Students have limited time to do their work, and if they miss a lesson, are behind.  One to One programs offer a way to get a device in the hands of students, more often.  Many programs are now able to get the price of the device within reach of many schools…

Many schools are not set up to handle the volume of devices that a one-to-one environment would need.  The physical walls, electrical points, wifi, get in the way.  Most schools are not ready to handle the infrastructure that a One to One program needs.  The usage of internet bandwidth increases, and in some schools, their internet access is already poor.  

The Social Barrier: Digital Immigrants

Teachers, Administrators and some parents are slow, or resist change to education.  There are many factors that cause Technology to turn into an extra burden: political, parental, social, organizational, supervisory, and financial.  These areas are often lead the teacher to have less time to add new learning to their plate.

Many parents and teachers do not share the understanding of their students, taking their understanding of what education should be and pressing it into education.  New technologies are not always welcome by parents.  Even when schools do try to move forward, they often face antitechnology pressure from parents demanding that schools go back to basics. And getting back to basics, adds more blocks to technology, as this is a reflection on the parent's education.  The parent's education was fine for their generation, with an approach that may have suited the technologies that were available for them.  But, education has moved on, technology has moved on, and a 'back to basics' approach may be now better assisted with new technologies.

New Problems, New Solutions

Go get ideas from the intended learners.  Students understand their new world of technology, in many cases, better than their teachers.  Most schools do not involve students in decision making.  The teacher knows about the learning that needs to take place, but the student needs options, where they can best show their knowledge.

Getting students involved is always the $100 question.  How can I engage my students better?  Start small, ask a student, then another.  There is no global approach to reaching students, but engaging their culture, and online culture, in the classroom is a good place to start.

We have many non-traditional students today.  Not every school student attends normal lessons, during normal times.  Some students are also parents, some have special needs, work to support their families, do not live in a traditional setting.  There are many ways that technology may be able to bridge some gaps for our students that need further support.  These may be able to extend the classroom hours, and get assistance in other ways.

New Things in New Ways

Its time to reinvent how education does it’s business.  Look to change what we teach, how we assess it, improve ownership of the learning, when it is done, and improve attitudes toward technology.

The Understanding by Design model, if used effectively, allows for reflection on lessons, and looks for us to question the learning activities in our classroom.  Is the activity giving us the best learning opportunity for the topic?  Are we measuring what we think we are measuring with the task?  It is time to get rid of the 'Elephant in the room' lessons, the ones that we do, because we always do them in the grade. We need to communicate in a method that meets the needs of families, and all learners.

Getting involved with 'Learning Management Systems' can be an improvement on how school communication is done.  With these, notifications can go to Parent's and Student's mobile devices and computers, automatically.  The traditional note in the backpack, often does not make it home, and emails go unread, but a message to their phone often does.

We need to improve the 'back to basics' approach to education, but showing how technology can support this traditional learning.  We need to improve school culture to accept that education has changed since the parent was in school, and we are looking to improve education to meet the needs of the future.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reflection and Upgrades



This week has been fun.  Reading and trying to apply it to my daily work.  When I was reading the Living with New Media section, I began to wonder about the ones that don't fit in to these groups.

 One project I am involved in at school is Mac and iPad Management.  I use a Mobile Device Manager, (Casper Suite) to assist students and faculty with these devices.  We deploy out software and updates on demand, via the Mobile Device Manager.

 There are many kinds of learners out there, and some are not the "messing around" or "geek-out" type.  What about the more apprehensive group, the ones who fear change?

 What I am concerned about is the resistant to move with the times crowd.  The "too scared" to try.  The more cautious, that have to be forced to update software.  The unorganised that never have a backup when their computer fails, or "lost" that assignment.  The ones who get upset by the "new" Facebook.  Mired down in their workflows, wishing Netscape Communicator was still able to run.

 I am moving the network of 1500+ Macbooks to Mavericks.  I've done iOS 7 on the 300 iPads a long time ago..  But in this process, I am constantly asked, "Do I need this upgrade?"

 Now, I love and hate this question.  I think, why would you NOT want to upgrade.  In computers, it's upgrade or die.  The computer is asking you... I have new things I can do for you, can I please do them?  It may take some tinkering to do the new things.  You may need to relearn some things... But they may just get better.

 I love the question because it makes one think that someone needs to question authority.  I have a thing that works right now, if it isn't broke... Don't fix it.  Thinking is involved, sometimes there are reasons.

 I hate the question because it is a refusal to grow, learn, and adapt.  It means that there is something new to geek out on, that they are too afraid to try.  They might loose something, afraid it may mess something up.  Life may just get better than what you had before.

 There are many reasons to ask your school to adopt a new operating system, but in this case, I have too many variants of big cat operating systems at my school.  Lion, Mountain Lion, Panther, Leopard, Tiger...  It becomes impossible to support students in a BYO device environment to do their school work, when they cannot run the same versions of software.  Teachers cannot perform as well in class, if they cannot all work.  If we are all running the same operating system and software, supporting students and teachers becomes much easier. Let me know what you think about upgrades... or just the group who aren't engaged in their technology...

This has been cross-blogged from my COETAIL blog.

An App for that...

Are all technologies in the classroom created equal?
Well no.  There are many models to discuss what is a better use of technology in the classroom.
Revised Blooms and SAMR discusses the difference between the types of technology that can be used, and the levels of achievement in these areas.

SAMR

Both look to simplify how we approach technology in the classroom.  Giving us a prescribed App vs Higher order thinking method to the madness of the use of technology in the classroom.
When we look at use of technology, be it iPads, computer labs, smart board, laptops... We need to look towards the lesson plan and the unit plan, rather than that of the tool. Higher order thinking can be shown in almost any application or with any tool, as well as low level thinking can be shown with poor planning and lots of resources thrown at the problem.  The simple pencil with planning and educational creativity can be far better than expensive technology and little planning.

The idea that there is an “App for that” is wrong when it comes to education.

Technology doesn't replace good instruction, but supplements good instruction to show a student's grasp of concepts.  Technology should be there to enhance and contribute to ways the student can demonstrate their creativity and understanding.

There are millions of applications for iPads, smart boards, MacBooks, pc's, chrome books...but are they all good for the classroom?  Will they work well in every situation?  Probably not.

The best learning comes when the learning outcome is thought about first, and the technology second.  I believe that when you have a good lesson idea, the technology will come.  I consult with my teachers, and discuss curriculum first.  We discuss what the student should be able to understand, the time that is available for the learning, and what the high order processes we can incorporate into the unit.

In my job, I manage 250 iPads, and assist teachers in planning and implementing technology in the classroom.  When I look at the SAMR and Modified Blooms, I believe in a suite of apps to improve functionality for iPads that tend to meet the day to day needs of students and teachers.  With this, they can add lots of functionality, without adding Drilling and Fact absorption apps.  What the goal is to make a device that assists in Creativity for the students and teacher, so higher order thinking can be shown. So, here is my current list of Apps I believe add great functions for Creativity.
If you have a tip or app you think should be here,
add it to a Comment, or send me a tweet at New-twitter-bird-icon-64px@art_schultz

This has been cross blogged from my COETAIL blog.   

Minecraft in Education


This week I have been teaching about Minecraft to teachers in my job as an EdTech Specialist.  If you haven't used it, its a pretty interesting little game.  If you have a child that is between 7 and 15, just ask how interesting it is.  The presentation below is of my work mate, David Lee, who is an Elementary Tech integrationist, and wrote the training we presented to staff members at Korea International School.
 

 In this entry, I am going to explain how this new media game, relates to our course objectives. In the reading, "Living and Learning, a New Media Report" from the MacArthur foundation, a few main types of online communities are described.  These types are: "Hanging Out", "Messing Around", and "Geeking Out".

In "Hanging Out" one extends their real world to an online community, extending themselves across distances (or in the same room).  Messing around is best described as "... young people begin to take an interest in and focus on the workings and content of the technology and media themselves, tinkering, exploring, and extending their understanding."

The term "Geeking Out" tends to cover an area of online communities that revolve around gaming, creation of art and music, and finding like-minded communities online for their interest. Minecraft allows users to interact with their friends, to "Hang out", chat and collaborate creatively.  Its like digital legos, but you can build anything.

They can "Mess Around" by building, and creating, gathering things, and find what they need; exploring their virtual world they have created.  In Minecraft, "Geeking Out" is natural, they collaborate with others in the same game to create.  As the PC/Mac version supports for Multiplayer online play, many students play Minecraft outside of school, together across distances.

 In 3rd grade classrooms at Korea International School, we have students working together in Minecraft to create Communities.  They discuss common goals, how they may have a version of a government, trading, etc. They play the game in Minecraft Pocket Edition on the iPad in "Local Server Multiplayer" mode.   This allows the students to create a collaborative space, directly in the classroom.  To see how those rules and goals affect each other, they carry out their plan.  Following this, they reflect on their actions in Minecraft in discussions in the classroom and written in their class journals. The main advantages of Minecraft in Education, is to allow for differentiated approaches to learning.  It fits neatly into Project-Based learning, where the students can Research and Plan, then Create and finally, Reflect on their learning.  Students have the freedom to create, they can make mistakes, and learn from them in a safe environment.

This has been cross-blogged from my COETAIL blog