Archive for June 2010

EduBloggerCon Resources

I’ve been try­ing to take notes and gather resources today as I sat through the ses­sions at EduBlog­ger­Con.  Hope­fully, I can find addi­tional resources to add to this post.  If you have some­thing you would like to add, please send me a link through Twit­ter (njsauers).

Be warned.……these notes are cer­tainly not complete!

ISTE 2010 part 2

I’m going to tag on Nick’s post yes­ter­day about ISTE 2010 next week in Den­ver. I know there are some of you out there going — there will be 10,000 plus tech-loving edu­ca­tors there, many of them from 1:1 schools.

If you ask most peo­ple after a con­fer­ence what the best part was, they will say, “the peo­ple I met and the con­ver­sa­tions I had in the hall­way.” There are ways to increase those odds!

1. Net­work — this is not the old back-slapping buy-you-a-drink net­work­ing. This is a way to lever­age online con­nec­tions into mak­ing new acquain­tances. Sign up for the ISTE Ning ahead of time and read some of the posts. There are dis­cus­sions, events, invi­ta­tions and more up there right now. Attend Edublog­ger­con (it’s not just for blog­gers) on Sat­ur­day and don’t be shy. Peo­ple do really want to talk to you, you just have to start the con­ver­sa­tion. You’ll be sur­prised at the instant, deep con­nec­tions you will have with some of these folks. Hur­ray! You are not alone in your vision for tech­nol­ogy in edu­ca­tion!
2. Exhibit hall — yes, even if you hate the “boat show” aspect of a big con­fer­ence like ISTE, there are gems to be found. Look for com­pa­nies that have real teach­ers and stu­dents to help show their prod­ucts — you can get straight answers from them.
3. Ses­sions — talk to the pre­sen­ters. 99% of the atten­dees at any ses­sion will rush out the door. If you loved the pre­sen­ta­tion, hang out and talk to the pre­sen­ter. They will most likely be happy to chat fur­ther (once they pack up and get out of the room.) Pre­sen­ters aren’t usu­ally scary peo­ple and love to hear great feed­back!
4. “Rock stars” — I hear this all the time — some­one tells me after ISTE that they saw me but didn’t want to join a con­ver­sa­tion because I was talk­ing to some famous edublog­ger. They thought that some­how they didn’t mat­ter as much to me or to that per­son. This is sim­ply crazy, these “rock stars” don’t see them­selves that way, most of them love to talk to every­one and don’t miss an oppor­tu­nity. If they are there, it’s to talk, oth­er­wise they would be hid­ing in their rooms! If you see a group talk­ing, just join in — that’s the fun of con­fer­ences. There’s every chance you’ll get swept up going to lunch or din­ner or some­where fun with great con­ver­sa­tion guran­teed.
5. Ses­sions part 2 — Don’t over-schedule your­self. There’s noth­ing wrong with a lit­tle down time, but don’t just go back to your hotel. Serendip­ity can be very reward­ing! Wan­der over to the Blogger’s Cafe or the booths ISTE always sets up for Social Net­work­ing, Vir­tual Worlds and other spe­cial inter­ests. It’s casual and usu­ally has good wifi — another bonus!

Oh, back to #1 — if you are there in Den­ver early, there is another pre-conference event on Sun­day called the Con­struc­tivist Cel­e­bra­tion that you should check out. There is a fee for this, but you get a LOT of stuff in return. It’s a full day work­shop focus­ing on cre­ativ­ity and com­put­ing, and how to use com­put­ers in authen­tic projects. For $60, you get hun­dreds of dol­lars worth of the best cre­ativ­ity soft­ware on the planet, all of it REALLY use­ful for lap­top schools, lunch, and a great event. Bring your charged lap­top and recharge your cre­ative bat­ter­ies. More info here.

And if you do get to the exhibit hall, there are two booths you should check out — con­ve­niently right next to each other. Gen­er­a­tion YES (855) will have local stu­dents talk­ing about how they help inte­grate tech­nol­ogy in their schools, and Intel (854) will be doing live pod­casts about tech­nol­ogy suc­cess sto­ries. The Gen­er­a­tion YES stu­dents will also be print­ing out busi­ness cards, so if you for­get yours, you can get some replace­ments. Stu­dents to the res­cue — as always!

There’s so much more I could go on and on — but I’ll save it, and hope you come up to me dur­ing the ISTE events and say hello. I’m on twit­ter as smartinez, and I want to talk to you!

Sylvia Mar­tinez
Gen­er­a­tion YES

ISTE 2010

I’m extremely excited to be head­ing out for ISTE tomor­row morn­ing.  Yep, I know, I’m a cou­ple of days early, but I thought I should try to expe­ri­ence Den­ver a lit­tle bit. 

My con­fer­ence week will begin on Sat­ur­day with EduBlog­ger­Con 2010 which will be held at the
Col­orado Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.  This con­fer­ence, which is not part of ISTE, is a social media in edu­ca­tion uncon­fer­ence.  The whole con­cept of an uncon­fer­ence was totally for­eign to me prior to a con­ver­sa­tion with Dr. John Nash as we were plan­ning for our 1 to 1 Insti­tute in April.  Wikipedia defines an uncon­fer­ence as:

… a facil­i­tated, participant-driven con­fer­ence cen­tered on a theme or purpose.”

After pop­ping in on some of our uncon­fer­nce ses­sions in April, I real­ize how pow­er­ful they can be.  Uncon­fer­ences are much more par­tic­i­pant dri­ven, and there is typ­i­cally lots more par­tic­i­pant involve­ment.  The EduBlog­ger Uncon­fer­ence will be awe­some, and I’m very excited for the con­ver­sa­tions that will take place there!

On Mon­day there is a ses­sion by Project Red that is of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to me. The ses­sion is titled, Rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing Edu­ca­tion: What We’re Learn­ing from Technology-transformed Schools.  Project Red has com­piled a great deal of data from tech­nol­ogy rich schools, and I’m excited to hear about some of the con­clu­sions they are mak­ing from that infor­ma­tion.  Project Red is also directly con­nected to the One To One Insti­tute

The CASTLE team (Yep, I’m part of that team) will present a 30 minute ses­sion at
ISTE Unplugged
on Mon­day morn­ing.  This ses­sion will cover the train­ing that we’ve been doing across the
coun­try to help boost school admin­is­tra­tors’ knowl­edge, under­stand­ing,
and skills as they work to cre­ate learn­ing envi­ron­ments that pre­pare
grad­u­ates for the next half cen­tury, not the last.  Please feel free to stop by and say hi!

I really hope to meet some read­ers of this blog and make con­nec­tions with lots of other edu­ca­tors through­out the con­fer­ence.  You can also fol­low me on Twit­ter at njsauers through­out the conference.

Nick Sauers

I’ve got to think of a new job title

 

I cringe a bit when I try to explain to
peo­ple what I do.  I usu­ally end up explain­ing that I am involved with
edu­cat­ing oth­ers about tech­nol­ogy in edu­ca­tion. The rea­son I am uneasy with
that descrip­tion is because I don’t believe using tech­nol­ogy just for the sake
of using it changes any­thing.  It feels like some peo­ple look at me as “that
guy” who thinks schools need to rush out and pur­chase the newest fad in
tech­nol­ogy.  I also cringe when I hear edu­ca­tors speak as if they have
finally “made it” and become suc­cess­ful once they have pur­chased a piece of
tech­nol­ogy.  Some peo­ple act as if schools will mag­i­cally change sim­ply
because tech­nol­ogy is thrown into classrooms.

With that being said, I believe that
the tech­nol­ogy avail­able today can allow schools to oper­ate in ways that have
been very dif­fi­cult in the past.  Stu­dents can col­lab­o­rate more eas­ily
with one another and oth­ers through­out the world.  Stu­dents can cre­ate
things in ways that are nearly impos­si­ble with old tech­nolo­gies.  Stu­dents
can assess infi­nite infor­ma­tion, which can allow them  to view events from
mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives.  Stu­dents can bet­ter syn­the­size and eval­u­ate
infor­ma­tion because of that wealth of information.

 

A post by Jeff
Utecht
sug­gested four ques­tions to use when eval­u­at­ing tech­nol­ogy use in the
class­room.  Each ques­tion is very straight­for­ward.  They are worth
look­ing at if schools truly want to assess how tech­nol­ogy is being used.

  1. Is the
    tech­nol­ogy being used “Just because it’s there”?
  2. Is the
    tech­nol­ogy allow­ing the teacher/students to do Old things in Old ways?
  3. Is the
    tech­nol­ogy allow­ing the teacher/students to do Old things in New ways?
  4. Is the
    tech­nol­ogy cre­at­ing new and dif­fer­ent learn­ing expe­ri­ences for the
    students?

Many edu­ca­tors like to say that
stu­dents are using tech­nol­ogy in their class­room.  Just using tech­nol­ogy
isn’t enough.  I ques­tion the use of that tech­nol­ogy if the answer to
ques­tion four isn’t “yes”. 

 

Nick Sauers

Ban complacency, not computers

Col­lege lead­ers usu­ally brag about their tech-filled “smart” class­rooms, but a dean at South­ern Methodist Uni­ver­sity is proudly remov­ing com­put­ers from lec­ture halls. José A. Bowen, dean of the Mead­ows School of the Arts, has chal­lenged his col­leagues to “teach naked”—by which he means, sans machines. — When Com­put­ers Leave Class­rooms, So Does Bore­dom – Tech­nol­ogy – The Chron­i­cle of Higher Education

This is one of the sto­ries where you have to really, really need to read the whole
thing. Because at first glance first you think, “Oh great, another edu­ca­tor who hates
tech­nol­ogy and refuses to join the 21st century.”

But you would be wrong.

He’s not really
against tech­nol­ogy, he’s against being bor­ing, espe­cially being bor­ing
with Pow­er­Point. He thinks when stu­dents come together, the best thing
to do is have a con­ver­sa­tion. Let the stu­dents read the mate­r­ial, or
lis­ten to a pod­cast ahead of time. Use class time to talk, ask
ques­tions, and inter­act with the teacher and other stu­dents. He asks his col­leagues to “teach naked” — that is, with­out the prop of a slideshow.

Even though he is tak­ing com­put­ers out of class­rooms,
he’s not anti-technology. He just thinks they should be used
differently—upending the tra­di­tional lec­ture model in the process.

Aha! He’s talk­ing about ped­a­gogy, not tools. He’s against lec­tur­ing,
with or with­out slideshow accom­pa­ni­ment. And guess who he has to
con­vince about this — yes, those dig­i­tal natives, the stu­dents. Because what they really are is com­pla­cency natives. They are used to wait­ing pas­sively to be told what to learn, how to learn, and then repeat­ing it back.

But he’s tak­ing com­put­ers out of the class­rooms! Evil!

But
wait, keep read­ing. He’s remov­ing the fixed com­put­ers hooked to
pro­jec­tors. And buy­ing lap­tops instead. And unbolt­ing the desks and
replac­ing them with mov­able chairs and tables so the teach­ers and
stu­dents can adapt their class­room to suit their learn­ing needs. Oh,
hmm… not so crazy.

It’s a great les­son in the haz­ards of sloppy vocab­u­lary.
All “tech­nol­ogy” is not cre­ated equal. It’s not an equation:

Tech­nol­ogy = good; there­fore,
remov­ing it = bad

We have to be more pre­cise about this when we talk about lap­tops chang­ing learn­ing. What’s the
learn­ing envi­ron­ment where the lap­tops will be used? What do you believe about learn­ing? How is
tech­nol­ogy sup­port­ing those goals? How will teach­ing change to meet those goals?

Teach naked? Ok, got to give the guy credit for com­ing up with
some­thing catchy. Get­ting atten­tion for advo­cat­ing doing away with
lec­ture is OK in my book. A wor­thy goal for K-12 would be to pro­duce
stu­dents who aren’t com­pla­cency natives, who arrive at col­lege ready for deep dis­cus­sion, real learn­ing, and mean­ing­ful inter­ac­tions with other human beings.

Sylvia Mar­tinez
Gen­er­a­tion YES

Blog | Web­site | Twit­ter

21st Century tools for educators

Some
of my work with CASTLE involves teach­ing tech­nol­ogy boot camps for
admin­is­tra­tors.  Last week we held
one of those boot camps for 30 admin­is­tra­tors. Teach­ing tech­nol­ogy tools is
only part of the work I do, but I have to say I enjoy watch­ing the excite­ment
as these eager learn­ers blog, tweet, and Skype for the first time.   Hope­fully,
the tools that we empower them with will help they move their schools forward.

 

Because
of that work, and my own curios­ity, I am con­stantly scan­ning my Reader and the
web for new tools.  I recently came across an online book by Michael
Zim­mer that cov­ers many of the basic tools that we teach in our ini­tial boot
camps.  His books are
free
and can be shared with oth­ers.  His book, Tools for the 21st
Cen­tury Teacher, cov­ers a lot of what I would con­sider the basic tech­nol­ogy
tools for edu­ca­tors.  (I should men­tion his book is short, 17 pages, and
very easy to read.)  This would be a great book to pass onto edu­ca­tors for
a short sum­mer read.

 

Tech :-) Happy also recently posted 50
Sum­mer Sites for Kids and Teach­ers
.  Although you may not find all of
the sites help­ful, it is cer­tainly worth giv­ing them a quick scan.

 

Enjoy.….and
happy sum­mer reading!

Nick
Sauers

1:1, Digital Distraction, & Internet Inattention

attentionA num­ber of recent media pieces, includ­ing two arti­cles in
the Wash­ing­ton Post (March
9
 and April
25
) describ­ing col­lege pro­fes­sor back­lash against stu­dent note­book PCs in
class, give me pause as I con­tinue to move my mid­dle school toward a 1:1
stu­dent com­put­ing program. (Last Mon­day, our Upper School Divi­sion Head
and I [Direc­tor of IT] pre­sented an update on our draft 1:1 stu­dent com­put­ing
pro­posal to the full school Board, bring­ing us one step closer to
implementation.)

Uni­ver­si­ties have been bell­wethers in the use of infor­ma­tion
tech­nol­ogy in edu­ca­tion, hav­ing led the adop­tion of com­put­ers, com­puter
net­works, the Inter­net, wire­less net­works, and wide­spread stu­dent lap­top
pro­grams, but these arti­cles describe a rebuff of com­put­ing technology’s
grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity. Has the pen­e­tra­tion of IT in edu­ca­tion out­stripped its
effec­tive use? Are we see­ing the early warn­ing signs of an insti­tu­tional
rejec­tion of mobile com­put­ing in education?

Nor­mally, I would dis­miss the Post arti­cles as mere
news-mongering, ped­dling iso­lated if sen­sa­tional inci­dents such as the physics
pro­fes­sor who shat­tered a liq­uid nitro­gen frozen lap­top to announce his ban
.
How­ever, hav­ing also expe­ri­enced uni­ver­sity hos­til­ity toward stu­dent note­book
PCs first-hand, I am inclined to refrain from dis­miss­ing these arti­cles
out-of-hand. A few of pro­fes­sors in my own Mas­ters pro­gram at the Uni­ver­sity of
Chicago have dis­al­lowed stu­dent com­put­ers in their classes for the same rea­sons
cited in the Post arti­cles. One included an entire read­ing
in the course packet to explain his stance. Thank­fully, in my pro­gram, unlike
the U of C law school, where Inter­net access
has been banned
, such restric­tions have been the excep­tion. (Nick Sauers
has pro­vided com­men­tary on more recent law school lap­top bans on this blog already.)

Hav­ing seen the mas­sive invest­ment
in cam­pus com­puter net­works and the rise of note­book com­puter pro­grams at many
schools, and hav­ing per­son­ally used a note­book PC in class as a stu­dent for the
past 20 years—since I was a senior in high school—I have been some­what
dumb­founded by this turn.

Of course, my pre-WiFi, pre-World
Wide Web, mono­chrome Tandy 1100FD
offered far fewer oppor­tu­ni­ties for dis­trac­tion for me in my high school and
col­lege classes than do even today’s lowli­est net­books or smart­phones. I had
the advan­tage of build­ing my in-class com­put­ing habits on a com­par­a­tively
bor­ing plat­form. Com­puter tech­nol­ogy has changed, how­ever, and given my own first-hand
expe­ri­ence of the dis­trac­tion fac­tor offered by wire­less note­book PCs in
classes, I do under­stand the moti­va­tion behind the bans, even if I do not agree
with the tac­tic. The lure of instant Google grat­i­fi­ca­tion of any stray thought
dur­ing an oth­er­wise unin­ter­est­ing lec­ture is pretty pow­er­ful. While I use my tablet PC in class
for tak­ing notes and ref­er­enc­ing class e-texts, I admit to hav­ing suc­cumbed to
check­ing e-mail dur­ing lec­tures that did not engage my full atten­tion. I have
had the pres­ence of mind to avoid the egre­gious exam­ples of on-line shop­ping,
instant mes­sag­ing, social net­work­ing, and gam­ing that are cited in the back­lash
arti­cles. I am a mid-life adult, how­ever, not a late-adolescent col­lege stu­dent
still devel­op­ing the impulse con­trol sys­tems of my pre-frontal cor­tex. As a
result, I may be slightly bet­ter able to resist the itch to update Face­book when
faced with a dry lec­ture on finance. More impor­tantly, I am not—like the
stu­dents for whom I am plan­ning a 1:1 program—a pre-adolescent even fur­ther
back on that devel­op­men­tal path.

That devel­op­men­tal issue is the
one that gives me the great­est pause. While the premise of 1:1 pro­grams is to
make learn­ing more inter­ac­tive, engag­ing, and effec­tive than tra­di­tional
class­room lec­tures and activ­i­ties, I worry that they may instead train our stu­dents
for the sort computer-enabled dis­trac­tion, inat­ten­tion, and escapism
exem­pli­fied in the back­lash arti­cles. On a broader soci­etal level, such wor­ries
have got­ten press in recent New York
Times arti­cles
high­light­ing the distraction-addiction-dark side of Inter­net
tech­nol­ogy. Nicholas Carr sparked the con­ver­sa­tion about the down­side of the
Inter­net with his thought-provoking Atlantic Monthly arti­cle “Is
Google Mak­ing Us Stu­pid?
”, which he has now expanded into a book. Of
course, I have not the time to read it (as if to prove his point ;-), so my
under­stand­ing of the brain changes induced by Inter­net use and the
well-documented pro­duc­tiv­ity drops attend­ing mul­ti­task­ing come from the
syn­op­tic Wired arti­cle.

Touch­ing on sim­i­lar ground, Philip
Zombardo’s RSA Animate-enhanced TED Talk on The Secret Pow­ers of
Time
at one point argues that the 10,000 hours of video games played by the typ­i­cal Amer­i­can
boy by the time he turns 21 traps him in the mode of instant gratification/present-hedonism and wires his brain for an always engag­ing, con­trol­lable, immer­sive vir­tual exis­tence mal­adapted to
tra­di­tional class­room learn­ing, exac­er­bat­ing our nation’s school drop-out
prob­lem. While I am not con­vinced that heavy expo­sure to infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy
nec­es­sar­ily ends in an inevitable night­mare of self-destructive
present-hedonism, I think the propen­sity for Internet-inattention is real. So is
1:1 com­put­ing the rem­edy for that home/school dis­con­nect, mak­ing school more
engag­ing, allow­ing it to com­pete with richer, more engag­ing expe­ri­ences out­side of school through more
inter­ac­tive tech­nol­ogy? Or is it sim­ply another dose of dis­trac­tion and easy
escapism?

I do not pro­fess to know the answer to those ques­tions, but
sev­eral things occur to me as I reflect on this issue. First, this dis­tract­ing
tech­nol­ogy shows no signs of dimin­ish­ing, only of becom­ing more immer­sive, com­pelling,
and ubiq­ui­tous. To remain rel­e­vant, schools need to deal with that real­ity.
Sec­ond, con­trol of atten­tion is cen­tral to suc­cess. In the short-term, stud­ies
show that multi-tasking is less effi­cient than single-tasking, by up to 40%. In the
long-term, con­trol of atten­tion is linked to the devel­op­ment of exec­u­tive
func­tion­ing and the self-regulation skills so vital to suc­cess in life. Third, in
embrac­ing class­room com­put­ing, schools have the oppor­tu­nity to teach stu­dents how
to develop their self-control to deal with dig­i­tal dis­trac­tions. Pri­mary and
sec­ondary schools have much greater lever­age than do col­leges in guid­ing
stu­dent class­room behav­ior. Nick Sauers has cov­ered class­room man­age­ment in the
con­text of 1:1 pro­grams in his post “Ban Bore­dom
not lap­tops
” on this blog. The teacher’s art of effec­tive class­room
man­age­ment will become even more impor­tant as tech­nol­ogy pro­gres­sively moves
into schools. Sim­i­larly, and more sig­nif­i­cantly, this envi­ron­ment requires
increas­ing empha­sis on devel­op­ing stu­dents’ metacog­ni­tive reg­u­la­tion, exec­u­tive
func­tion­ing, and emo­tional self-management.

How can we help stu­dents develop strate­gies for con­trol­ling their
atten­tion given the dig­i­tal dis­trac­tions to which stu­dents are every­where exposed?
What is your school doing? 

The School of One

As I was read­ing my Google Reader, I came across a post by Ta-Nehisi Coates who is a senior edi­tor for The Atlantic.  In the post he describes his expe­ri­ences at school, which were any­thing but per­fect.  He attended a typ­i­cal school, but was turned off by the “mass pro­duc­tion” model in his school.  Ta-Nehisi’s post com­pares his school expe­ri­ence to the School of One in the South Bronx.  The School of One oper­ates in the fol­low­ing way:

Together they cre­ated an algo­rithm capa­ble of weigh­ing a student’s
aca­d­e­mic needs, his or her learn­ing pref­er­ence, and the class­room
resources. Here’s how it works: first, the stu­dent and his par­ents and
teach­ers are sur­veyed about his class­room habits. Then the stu­dent takes
a diag­nos­tic test to see how well he under­stands basic math. Those data
are then sent to the New York Depart­ment of Education’s head­quar­ters in
Lower Man­hat­tan, where School of One’s algo­rithm pro­duces a ten­ta­tive
les­son plan. That les­son plan is then e-mailed to the student’s
teach­ers, who revise it as they see fit. At the end of every day, the
stu­dent takes another short diag­nos­tic, which is used to cre­ate another
ten­ta­tive les­son plan that appears in the teach­ers’ inboxes by eight
o’clock that evening.”

Even after read­ing about the school and watch­ing the video, I still can’t quite wrap my head around the con­cept (I’m still hop­ing to get out to New York to check it out!)  There is one huge piece about the pro­gram that is clear, and that is the fact that the pro­gram has an edu­ca­tional plan designed specif­i­cally for each stu­dent.  The tech­nol­ogy is used in a way that enables teach­ers to indi­vivid­u­al­ize instruc­tion for each stu­dent.  I’ll end this post with an excerpt from the Ta-Nehisi’s post and a video describ­ing the School of One.  It is inter­est­ing that even in the 80’s he noted how the tech­nol­ogy was used in the same ways as pen and paper.  This con­tin­ues to be a chal­lenge even for some edu­ca­tors who embrace tech­nol­ogy, but the School of One is cer­tainly a model of some­thing very unique.

As for the class­room of the past—of my past—I entered school just as
edu­ca­tors began grap­pling with the computer’s poten­tial to help teach­ers
and stu­dents. By the time I was in high school, we were using the
com­puter lab once a week for math. But we were using it the same way we
used pen and paper—a teacher at the front of the class and all of us
fol­low­ing along. The com­puter lab bored me as much as the chalk­board. By
then, I knew that I wasn’t tak­ing to education-as-mass-production. I
thought I was lazy (and maybe I was) and lack­ing the will to learn. But
as I watched the kids at I.S. 339 work­ing at their own pace and in their
own way, I won­dered if all I had ever really needed was the equiv­a­lent
of a warm hug from a cold algorithm.”

Pro­gram Overview from NYCDOE Teacher Devel­op­ment on Vimeo.

Nick Sauers

The iPad and education

 
4497654857_b851db6680(2) 

Retrieved from Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivyfield/4497654857/sizes/m/


The excite­ment sur­round­ing the iPad prior to its release and
since that time has been astound­ing. 
Many edublog­gers have seen it as an amaz­ing tool to improve
schools.  Oth­ers have crit­i­cized it
for the things that it can­not do. 
Prior to receiv­ing my iPad, I was very skep­ti­cal about how it could
change schools.  It seemed like a
tool that would only allow stu­dents to remain as pas­sive con­sumers of
infor­ma­tion as opposed to cre­ators of infor­ma­tion.  My opin­ions have swayed some­what since get­ting my hands on
one, but some con­cerns still exist. 
Below I have listed things I see as major con­cerns and benefits.

Con­cerns

  • Stu­dents can’t cre­ate on an iPad like they can
    on a laptop.
  • The iPad may pro­mote the tra­di­tional model of
    school as opposed to trans­form­ing schools.
  • Schools may need to pur­chase numer­ous
    appli­ca­tions to make the iPad more useful.

Ben­e­fits

  • Stu­dents will have access to much more
    information.
  • Infor­ma­tion can be pre­sented in mul­ti­ple ways  (print, video, and audio) which may
    increase stu­dent engagement.
  •  Stu­dents may be more engaged because teach­ers
    can use infor­ma­tion in classes that is more rel­e­vant to students.

I believe the jury is still out on this debate.  Even if the iPad isn’t the tool that helps
move stu­dents to the top of Bloom’s Tax­on­omy, it may enhance edu­ca­tion.  It cer­tainly has the poten­tial to
increase stu­dent engage­ment, which has been found to also increase stu­dent
achieve­ment. 

So how should schools proceed?

At work­shops I deliver with Scott McLeod or other CASTLE
mem­bers, we talk about how it is impor­tant to have “scouts” in edu­ca­tion.  Those scouts are teach­ers in the  dis­trict will­ing to exper­i­ment with new
tech­nol­ogy and report back their expe­ri­ences with it.  Did they work in their classes?  If the tool is no good…..ditch it.  If it looks, feels, and acts like it
could have a pos­i­tive impact on edu­ca­tion, latch onto it. 

It will be inter­est­ing to see and hear back from schools
that have already embraced the iPad. 
Those schools may serve as scouts for oth­ers who are a lit­tle more leery
about this new tech­nol­ogy.  It will
also be inter­est­ing to track the future gen­er­a­tions of the iPad.  As amaz­ing as the iPad is, it is only
gen­er­a­tion one!

Please weigh-in on this con­ver­sa­tion if you have feel­ings
about using the iPad in schools.

Nick Sauers

What message does your school website send?

 I recently par­tic­i­pated in a
facil­ity walk through of a school in an effort to eval­u­ate the facil­ity for
var­i­ous com­po­nents.  Safety and
sig­nage were two major pieces of the eval­u­a­tion check­list I was using.  I also tried to assess what type of
mes­sage the build­ing sent me as a new­comer to the school.  Because I was a total out­sider, I was
able to pro­vide the build­ing admin­is­tra­tor with some feed­back about things that
may be hard for some­one to see when they are involved in the day to day
oper­a­tions of a school.

This process made me think
that a sim­i­lar pro­ce­dure may be a help­ful way to eval­u­ate school web­sites.  I would argue that most school web­sites
are bad……real bad.  Some look nice,
but they aren’t very func­tional. 
Oth­ers are rarely updated, and most of the infor­ma­tion is very
out­dated.  Com­mu­nity mem­bers quit
going to the school web page because it is use­less or there is never new
infor­ma­tion on it.  Here are some
ques­tions to use when eval­u­at­ing your web­site:

What mes­sage does your web
page send?

Is ALL infor­ma­tion cur­rent?

Is it updated with cur­rent
events (grad­u­a­tion, plays, and other activities)?

Are stu­dent pic­tures
vis­i­ble?

Is the site easy to
nav­i­gate?  Can forms be viewed and
assessed eas­ily?
 

Can staff emails be eas­ily
found? 

The 2010 Schoole Awards selected
the top web­sites of the year.  The
win­ners were selected by vote, so the order of the win­ners may be a bit of a
pop­u­lar­ity con­test, but final­ists were selected by an “expert” panel.  The Clear Creek Inde­pen­dent School
dis­trict
is the num­ber 2 vote get­ter. 
The site has cur­rent pic­tures of grad­u­a­tion, and it is very easy to
nav­i­gate.  Although the front page
con­tains lots of infor­ma­tion, it doesn’t appear to be too over­loaded like some
web pages.  These sites may serve
as mod­els for dis­tricts attempt­ing to update their own web pages.
 


Nick Sauers

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