Throughout the day participants were engaged in conversations about teaching and learning. Dr. Mishra also spent a fair amount of time discussing and modeling Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). His message centered on how learning can be enhanced when educators are able to leverage technology, effective pedagogy, and content knowledge. The TPACK model also highlights that point.
Archive for March 2011
1-to-1 is no longer a term that requires an explanation, at least to nearly anyone in a school. You might even say it’s “tipped” in the Malcolm Gladwell sense of become ubiquitous in society if you call “society” education. Nearly any educator can point to their own school or another as an example of providing laptops or tablets to students and teachers and describe at least some of what has happened because of this.
If you have been on this planet long enough to remember or to even have seen reruns, you know that the TV series Star Trek was once innovative, unusual and unique. Then it was cancelled and went off the air. After a while along came Star Trek: The Next Generation and Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg and others took the idea even further. A new set, further innovation, different characters and entirely new species, drama and decisions ensued. At some point Patrick Stewart usually said, “make it so” to a direct report who described a seemingly impossible series of tasks to undo the latest fiasco.
1-to-1 as a factor in schools has moved from the original Star Trek (Anytime Anywhere Learning) to a a bigger budget and wider cast over a number of years and to larger and larger installations (OneLaptopPerChild; Maine: 2002; Sydney: 2008-present) to now The Next Generation where public, private (independent), parochial and charter schools have considered and adopted 1-to-1 in many flavors and iterations. I’m not sure who said “make it so” at all these schools but it is so, now, and there are many 1-to-1 schools, districts, states and even countries.
I will be writing a longer blog post here, at my personal blog, and for the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation all about how 1-to-1 has evolved. But first I’m hoping to get a better picture of what The Next Generation means, and what morphing has occurred since the very first laptop school at Methodist Ladies’ College Melbourne (1990). So I’m hoping if you are at a 1-to-1 school, district or state that you will consider responding to the 1-to-1:The Next Generation survey. I’m going to leave it live for about a week or two and may interview a few people as well.
Thanks very much,
Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview Jan Harris of Cullman City Schools in our series of interviews with superintendents selected as eSchool News Tech Savvy superintendents. The entire interview can be found on the right side of this page under blog talk radio.
Jan’s interview may be of special interest to some of you because she has led a one-to-one laptop program for five years. She is also currently experimenting with a bring your own technology initiative at the high school.
The interview is full of useful advice for any leader or school that is seeking to enhance learning through technology, but two things in particular were very powerful.
First, Jan talked about the process of changing and growing as a journey. She actually used the analogy of the Lewis and Clark Journey. This is essential for schools to remember as they change. Very seldom is a one-to-one initiative implemented without bumps in the road and the entire map cannot be planned beforehand. Successful one-to-one schools acknowledge those problems and work together to solve them so that their school keeps changing in a positive way.
The second point that I found extremely powerful was about the role that teachers played in the school. Jan referred to her teachers as leaders which I believe is essential. She made it clear that teachers were part of the professional development planning. Although we didn’t focus on her design too much, it brought Schmoker’s Results Now to mind. More specifically, section three of his book focuses on the power of the professional learning community. Throughout the interview it became clear that empowering teachers had substantially helped improve the school.
The interview made it clear that Jan along with the help of other stakeholders are doing the “right things” at her school. Those actions have paid off with some amazing results. At the end of the interview Jan highlights some of those achievements.
- Test scores moved from 11th in the state to 3rd in the state
- Disciplinary referrals decreased by over 40%
- Increased honor roll students by 12%
- Writing assessments improved by 14%
- Math scores at the middle school increased by 19% on the statewide tests in the last 3 years
These results highlight how true change can happen when a visionary leader works with all stakeholders to design a system to genuinely transform a school.
On March 20, The Sun Journal published an article reflecting on the 10 years since Maine legislators approved a plan to give every 7th grade student a laptop. The article is insightful because of the comments from those who have been involved with a laptop program for such a long time. It is worth taking the time to read the article, and see the quotes from those involved with the program.
One of those individuals is Peter Robinson who is in charge of technology for the school department in Auburn, Maine. One common fear of schools that are new to one-to-one or considering the move to one-to-one is about filtering. They also have fears about their students being distracted once they are “connected”. Robin, who is certainly one of the more veteran one-to-one educators in this country, makes some very good points about this topic.
“We tried filtering. It’s a losing battle,” Robinson said. “There’s always a way around it. Now our approach is teaching responsibility.”
Any adult attending a meeting might check e-mail every now and then or send a text, but he or she is still paying attention, Robinson said. Auburn’s approach is to teach students that their job is school.
In class, teachers set boundaries, he said. “Some say, ‘It’s OK to check your Facebook if you’re done with your work, but you have to let me know you’re doing it.’”
Besides, he said, the laptops go home, where kids have access to all sites. And students are going to grow up, go out into the world where there is all kinds of social networking.
“We’re doing them a disservice if we don’t start at this age teaching them how to handle that, whether it’s school, college or a real-world job,” Robinson said.
It is exciting to see that his school has embraced teaching responsibility as opposed to avoiding the issues surrounding appropriate technology use. His school’s approach certainly has the potential to give his students an advantage when the enter the “real world”.
You may have heard already that digital literacy and increased technical capacity are critical components of the K-12 education. I happen to agree. The problem is that public education hasn’t had sufficient means to put enough computing devices in the hands of students. Computers have been expensive and if you have had a computer lab that you could visit with your class once a week then you had more than most. Now with the evolution of mobile platforms, netbooks, tablets, and “Bring Your Own Technology” programs (like this one explained my @micwalker) there is a warm feeling in the education community that meaningful 1 to 1 access in the classroom is possible everywhere. Teachers are excited, students are stoked, and technology directors are petrified. The possibilities are endless including live streams from our classrooms, social media at the hands of every learner, and every student becoming the smartest kid in school because she can search Google on her iPad. I am energized that the promise of educational technology — a world of connected learning, collaboration, and creative design to engage and impact student achievement — may finally be mature enough to implement in all classrooms.
But before we start the parade let’s take a step back. Not every teacher, in fact, most teachers are not ready and will need significant training to prepare for this world. Furthermore, let’s be realistic in that this technology can cause significant distractions in the classroom if we do not craft a management plan that ensures appropriate use. I have managed 1 to 1 departments and classrooms for seven years and I would like to share 5 ideas I have for creating a successful, connected environment for learning.
1. Use a LMS
Learning Management Systems are basically online classrooms. They allow teachers to create a classroom web presence and will greatly enhance accessibility to the curriculum. 1 to 1 is not just about what happens in the classroom but creating a mobile environment to enhance learning with 24/7 access. A LMS will improve classroom organization, help students when they miss class, inherently build digital literacy, and add many more benefits. There are the big players like Moodle that are incredibly powerful but can be a challenge to administer. If that is not your flavor, look into some free and stable web options. I used Edmodo for years and the more I used it the more dynamic my class became — not to mention that other teachers saw how easy it was to use and began using it themselves. Score.
2. Have a Classroom AUP
Step one: Make sure your school has a strong Acceptable Use Policy. A good AUP is critical because it will support you with behavior consequences in the event that a student inappropriately uses her access. I‘m a realist and students will misbehave with technology. The AUP, with clear expectations, provides fair guidelines that can help ensure technology is being used for educational purposes and keep a safe learning environment for everyone. If your school does not have one or you think it is weak, talk to your principal and ramp it up. See these tips on AUPs from EdWeek and the University of San Diego. The AUP will be incredibly important during the rollout of a 1 to 1 program. That being said, the AUP may still not address all the pieces you need in your classroom. Set up your personal classroom rules to supplement the efforts of the AUP. Consider including pieces like “no technology during discussions” or “no more than 5 minutes on email per class period”. Keep your classroom dynamic but still manage it the best way that works for you while promoting student success.
3. Move to the Cloud
Again, the goal should be to use mobile devices and create mobile platforms for learning. The LMS will get you started but it also becomes frustrating if the productivity suite that you use needs to be installed, needs versions coordinated, and is unaffordable to students. Sure, access to these tools is available at school but how would that be mobile? My recommendation would be to connect with Google Apps for Edu. This free suite continues to expand in features and has been adopted by several state departments of education. It meets the needs of file management, scheduling, data storage, collaboration, and many more in a we-based option. Learn more from the Google Apps and Apps Certified Trainer YouTube channels.
4. Be a Steward of Technology
The principles of good teaching do not change and modeling is one of those basic techniques that can effectively impact a student. As educators we are charged with the responsibility of being change agents. If we are going to ensure the adoption of positive netiquette by our students, then we need to display these actions for them. I am not saying that teachers should “friend” their students or post to social networks a hundred times a day. In fact, I would discourage this practice, when would you find time to teach? I am saying that teachers need to be honest. Say something like this to your students:
“This stuff is new to me and I don’t know it all. But I am excited to learn it and I know that it empowers you as learners. Therefore, I am willing to embrace technology because I know it will make your education more valuable.”
Yup, tell them that a teacher doesn’t know everything, put yourself in a vulnerable position. At the same time you will build a culture of honesty, a value for life-long learning, and display a transparent and vested interest in the success of your students. Try new web tools from Go2Web20, join a Ning, and if you are really brave go to a educational tweetup. If it fails miserably then stand up, dust yourself off and be proud of yourself for trying something and taking a risk for your students. That is the worst that can happen. But what if it is a huge success?
5. Weekly Digital Citizenship
Lastly, make the enduring understanding of digital citizenship a regular component in your classroom. No matter what your subject, there is an opportunity to promote proper and meaningful use. Our roles as educators will not be fully realized unless we are able to guide students toward becoming skilled and capable citizens with an appreciation for knowledge. Leverage resources that we know well like TED Talks and The Do Lectures. Perhaps you can pull the RSS feed from Mashable’s Social Good or Big Think and have students follow them. There are plenty of options for you to choose from. I can tell you that as I made more efforts to increase my own capacity it was evident that my students were energized from it. Pulling content and resources from all of these great sites helped me learn and engaged my audience. It kept my classroom vibrant and fresh and I hope you have the same experience.
Rich Kiker is an Instructional Technology & Design Consultant and Google Apps Certified Trainer specializing in professional development for new media, web applications, 1:1 computing, online learning, and technology pathways. Formerly a Media Technology Chair and Technology Coordinator, he is now a consultant for several educational agencies, school districts, and a professor of instructional technology. For more information or to follow up please visit www.kikerlearning.com or he is also on Twitter with the username @rkiker.
A while back I started a Google Doc with books that I have been reading. That document included a short summary of the books, and it placed each book in a category. The categories included leadership, education reform, one-to-one, and “the world is changing” type books. My intention was to have colleagues add to the document so that it would become a place others could go to when searching for appropriate books for their schools.
Like many ideas, this one has been put on my back burner for some time, and my initial list is very weak. Although my Google Doc idea may never truly get off the ground, I have decided to post about some of these books as I read them, or as I reflect back on them.
One of those books that I would strongly recommend for schools that are truly trying to transform is Education Nation by Milton Chen. The book’s subtitle, Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools, certainly gives the reader a glimpse into the book’s content. Chen’s six leading edges of innovation are:
- The Thinking Edge: Getting Smarter About Learning
- The Curriculum Edge: Real Learning and Authentic Assessment
- The Technology Edge: Putting Modern Tools in Young Hands
- The Time/Place Edge: Learning Any Time, Anywhere
- The Co-Teaching Edge: Teachers, Experts, and Parents as Co-educators
- The Youth Edge: Digital Learners Carrying Change in Their Pockets
The book pushes the reader to think about the future of education. The author brings a valuable perspective because of his work as an innovative researcher and one who has participated in some of these cutting edge programs. Chen is also a contributor to Edutopia which many of you may recognize.
If you are truly trying to rethink your schools design, this book would be a great way to start and guide some of those conversations.
The Music Industry
Photo credit: gcouros from flickr http://bit.ly/eLapcZ
With all of the drastic changes in our society in the past 15 years attributed to technology, it is amazing to see how some schools are dealing with that change. I have the opportunity to work with many very forward thinking schools that are using technology to change their system. A reality check tells me that in truth there are very few schools nationwide that I would consider technology rich. The number of one-to-one schools is certainly under 50% of schools, and although the number varies by report, the percent of our students with one-to-one access is likely much lower. Across the country, most of our students have much better access to technology once they have left school.
Most of you who read this blog, are in that small minority of technology rich schools. If not, you are most likely trying to get there. So how do we ensure that we don’t “lose” something or fail because we do not change?
As I looked at this image and read the words posted by George Couros, it struck me in a unique way. Just like art can be interpreted in many ways, this image had a message for me that is probably unusual.
The word “adapt” that was used really got my wheels spinning. I couldn’t help but think of how frequently technology is simply used in adaptive ways. Schools spend thousands, or even millions, of dollars on technology that enables educators to basically do the same things they have always done. An online worksheet at a one-to-one school would be one of the most obvious examples of this. This type of adapting is simply aligning our old methods with the new technology.
The second, and certainly more powerful, way to adapt is to embrace a new environment and change with that environment. This is much harder in education. This type of adapting means actually changing old methods in order to move education forward through the use of new tools. As your school continues to change and progress, it is important to think about what type of adapting you are doing.
Johnathan Martin’s recent post on Connected Principals really got me thinking about the impact technology can have on relationships. Very often we hear people talk about how technology is harming relationships. Johnathan’s post referenced his experience listening to Salman Kahn, and he summarized Kahn’s message with the following phrases.
if we use technology effectively, we don’t diminish the interpersonal and relational qualities of education, we enhance it.
technology used well makes our learning spaces more human and humane, more interpersonal and relational, than they have been for the past two centuries.
As Johnathan went on to say, technology used appropriately can help embrace the “best of both worlds”. Students can and should still make face-to-face connections, but technology allows students to make those relationships even richer. It also allows students and educators to connect with others which wouldn’t be possible without technology.
Many educators, board members, and parents worry about teachers using technology to connect with students. Unfortunately, they don’t see the opportunities that technology can provide to enhance the relationships that teachers have with their students.
I believe that as educators one of our major jobs is to build relationships and get to know our students. If technology helps us do that, we need to embrace that!
The video below is Van Meter, IA students talking about how they have used technology to connect with others.
On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to hear John Avalon speak at Iowa State University. John is the author of Wingnuts, How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America. Although his message, doesn’t have a direct relevance to what I usually write about, I feel compelled to build off of his message.
John’s book focuses on how the extremists on both sides in politics “came to dominate the country’s political dialogue” and his book along with his No Labels organization aim to show the way back to a smarter national conversation. The hope in his message centers around the fact that there are many more people in the middle than at either extreme in politics. Building concensus and developing a voice for that large group in the middle is truly what he is pushing for.
It seems that more and more, the hostile environment that exists in politics is beginning to be seen in education. Many states are currently in the middle of fierce battles over education budgets and unions. My state of Iowa has also been debating universal preschool, and I’m guessing we’ll soon be moving into a debate about merit pay for educators.
Those of us involved with using technology to transform education have also certainly been involved in conversations with the “non-believers”. Those individuals who don’t seem to believe that technology can have a positive impact on schools or students. The challenge for us, and them, is to build consensus. Rather than focusing on how technology can enhance so many things, maybe our conversation needs to start with what things we want our schools to teach. If we can first agree that we need to teach collaboration, research, presentation, inquiry, etc., we at least have developed a common goal. The challenge is then showing how technology can help better teach each of those skills. If it doesn’t, then we need to consider if it is the right tool.
There was a post today in the Washington Post entitled Why schools should try things not ‘research-based’. The article wasn’t meant to undervalue research in education, but rather as a catalyst for schools to become more innovative. The following two quotes truly reflect the idea that schools need to embrace change.
But if we want to see real change in our schools and move the needle on closing the achievement gap, we need to try some things that aren’t “proven.” We need to experiment with practices we intuitively think are good ideas and can deliver results but haven’t been subject to exhaustive research yet.
But if the current system isn’t working, then we should do what innovators and entrepreneurs have done since the dawn of humanity — try something different. Any educator knows that some of the latest research-based best practices come out of a 20th century classroom. Most of them are textbook driven, classroom driven, and teacher directed. That type of classroom is not a reflection of the future, so we have to break away from some of the research-based best practices.…
It seems that so often in education, we are afraid to be innovative and try new things. Many school leaders stomp out these new ideas before they have a chance to blossom. Instead, schools should genuinely seek out and evaluate innovative ideas put forward by teachers, students, parents, and community members. That certainly doesn’t mean that all will be embraced, or that the entire school will shift to one of these innovative practices. Experimenting with a classroom or grade level are great ways to pilot a change.
I’m certainly not calling for an end to research, or for schools to ignore educational research. I am actually very involved with research in my work and certainly value research. High level policy makers need research as they consider major changes in the education system.
In the most basic sense, school leaders need to decide if they truly believe that their system is working. Are students being prepared for today’s world? If the answer to that question is no, their next step should be clear. They have an obligation to our students to make a thoughtful change in that system. Those changes will most likely embrace research-based methods, but they also should seek out innovative ideas that have great potential. Numerous great ideas that have led to remarkable steps forward in many fields are often seen as impossible or crazy when they are first imagined. Like leaders in other fields, schools need to seek out those innovative ideas that will truly transform their schools.