Tag Archives: ed tech teacher

The iPad Conference that isn’t an iPad Conference

I recently got some great news. My school, Ransom Everglades, has approved my funding request to attend the iPad Summit in Boston. I have attended every iPad Summit in the past. It’s a unique conference experience – not because of its focus on iPads, but rather its focus less on the tool and more on innovation.


What I love about the Summit is that you can get real, hands-on training at one of their Pre-Conference workshops. You will walk away with tangible tools that you can apply right away. The conference itself is full of both practical and theoretical topics on the current state of Educational Technology. Be sure to check out the list of speakers and topics here.

In the past, they have featured champions of “big ideas” such as Tony Wagner while at the same time highlighting current classroom teachers, working in the trenches, such as Jennie Magiera.

I have no doubt that this year, I will learn a number of concepts that I can bring into my own classroom as well as to my peers. I’m so excited to be in Boston this Fall!

iPad Summit Keynote Day 2: Ruben Puentedura

SAMR Model of Educational Technology

SAMR Model of Educational Technology

I can hardly contain my excitement for the keynote speaker of day 2, Ruben Puetendura, Ph.D., the father of the SAMR model concept. His topic is: Of Lively Sketchbooks and Curiosity Amplifiers: Thoughts on the iPad and Learning.

Ruben’s primary focus is the implementation of technology in the realm of education – not just in simple ways, but in meaningful and revolutionary ways. Today’s talk focuses specifically on the iPad. Why is the iPad special? One is its ubiquity. We find them everywhere. Another key element is that the iPad is intimate. We can use it without feeling that it gets in the way – it doesn’t have the same barrier that we feel using a laptop for example. The iPad feels like it blends into you. The third feature of the iPad is that it promotes a feeling of embeddedness. For example, you can take a picture of an object in a museum and then use it to look up information online and perhaps write a few notes on that image. It’s a portable recording and research tool that is embedded in how you think and what you expect to do.

Mobile devices, once you’ve had them for a certain amount of time, became a part of lives – they’re expected. We don’t anticipate being out of touch with those around us or not having access to content. The iPad is ubiquitous, intimate, and embedded in our lives; it is always with us, doesn’t get in the way, and can promote broader and deeper understanding and ideas. Ruben believes this has important implications for education.

The Curiosity Amplifier

Ruben highlights several elements pertinent to using the iPad. One is the iPad as curiosity amplifier. The iPad can be used to record not only your own actions/activities (e.g. surfing) but because it is connected to the web you can examine images of others doing the same thing (surfing, snowboarding, etc). You can then take your exploration to another level (what types of exercises should you do to improve your surfing technique?). Handheld devices are curiosity amplifiers – each element that you find or record further drives curiosity and exploration; it feeds off of itself in a circular way. The exploration has not specific end element – you continue until you choose to stop. To learn more about devices as curiosity amplifiers, check out this article

Another element to consider is that social learning encourages curiosity and passion. Learners accomplish more with “more knowledgeable others” than they do alone.

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The device (the iPad) puts you in contact with a community of “more knowledgeable others” that is both real and virtual. It is also available to you all of the time. This is not the same as “I’ll look it up when I go home” or “I’ll catch up with those people at that conference.” No, this is available all of the time. Ruben hypothesizes that the curiosity amplifier effect is a result of the device becoming this ubiquitous, intimate, and embedded object.

With the iPad, there is a broad range of tools and resources that we can throw into the curiosity amplifier: Google Scholar, Image Search, Social Networks, news sites, situated searches (GPS/geographic), etc. There are a world of situated, social, and curated searches available to us based on what we want to explore and where. So it’s important when thinking about how we want to use these devices in learning, we must consider the whole spectrum and dynamic of the device.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 8.34.41 AMRuben brings us back to the basis of the SAMR model. He highlights the levels of the model and its impact on learning and students’ needs. As we move up the ladder, student levels of learning increase and results are more sophisticated and developed. At the top level, redefinition, you are accomplishing tasks that were previously inconceivable and you start to see radical shifts in student outcomes.

Ruben begins to outline how this process works in a concrete, real life example that focuses on math. The substitution level in this scenario involves adopting a “math application,” in this case “the math of sports.” They can see the Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 8.44.54 AMconnections between the sport and mathematic (statistics). At the next level, augmentation, we can use simulation apps for students to tweak angles and force (Angry Birds anyone?). At the modification level, students can use tools like Wolfram Alpha as a curated resource for content. The student can investigate the data and form a broader understanding of content based on their interest (e.g. Michael Jordan’s statistics) and apply it to broader statistical analysis. At the redefinition level, the student engages in a task that was previously not possible. In this case, the student takes their new understanding and makes a project that is tangible. In this case, the student builds a model of a device to throw a ball at the same force and angle of a ball player or perhaps to explore their own skills (in archery) to become a better archer.

The Lively Sketchbook

Ruben notes that the iPad is not designed to use large, prolific apps. Instead, it’s designed for smaller, bite-sized chunks. The students can create sketches, drafts, explorations of their ideas. Sketches help us to examine process and ideas in great detail than the finished product. Learning is a processual journey. For an effective sketchbook, we need tools. For doing good work in a sketchbook, Ruben argues you need tools in five categories: social, mobility, visualization, storytelling, and gaming. This tools allow for a lively and sophisticated sketchbook.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 8.56.43 AMAgain, he takes us through the SAMR model. A the substitution level students visit a museum and take photos and write notes using the iPad. At the augmentation level students use tools like timeline 3D to create a timeline. They may also modify the images or notes to explore their images in greater detail. At the modification level students choose an artist that they are especially interested in and explore them at a deeper level – exploring art through mapping or creation. At the redefinition level students can build their own three dimensional exhibits using the iPad. The exhibition is then shared with other students so that their peers can provide feedback and constructive input. The student creates an embedded narrative in a digital space.

Participatory Culture

Ruben recommends a paper by Clinton, et. al. “Confronting the Challenges of the Participatory Culture.” Students (and adults) belong to a social media environment. It involves expression, affiliation, creation, circulation, and even problem solving! It is not just a consumptive environment. We often think that students are already there and engaging creatively. But the reality is that only about 1/3 of students are engaged fully in this participatory culture (most are consumers or not engaging meaningfully). We need to work with and guide students in terms of how to behave in a participatory culture as well as ethical participation.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 9.01.36 AMIf we can harness the participatory culture then we can engage it more fully and deeply in our learning environments in the 21st century. Leveraging the participatory culture is key.

The example Ruben provides is a Social Studies project focused on Hurricane Katrina. In substitution, students would simply read content about the Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 9.09.34 AMhurricane or witness other peoples’ work in various media (painting, photography, comics, etc). At the augmentation level students can “remix” and play with the content in interesting ways. At the modification level students choose an element of Hurricane Katrina that they find interesting and explore at a deeper level. To ground the project in an ethical context, the teacher provides data – e.g. the economic impact. At the redefinition level, there is both a group and individual project. Students edit, re-edit, and revise in a group context and then explore new environments as a community.

To learn more about Ruben’s ideas and the SAMR model, visit his blog.

Challenge-Based, One-Screen, & T21: The EdTechTeacher Approach to iPad PD

In keeping with my focus on Professional Development (the life of a tech administrator), the next session I am attending is “Challenge-Based, One-Screen, & T21: the EdTechTeacher Approach to iPad PD” by Thomas Daccord of EdTechTeacher (the hosts of the iPad Summit). Tom’s focus in this session is ETT’s approach to professional development and pedagogy.

Challenge Based Learning

Instead of beginning with instruction, issue a series of challenges along with a time-limit. When asked “Aren’t you going to teach us how to use it?” He responds, “No. You’re going to learn how to use it.” Here is an example of the challenge he issued (FYI all slides can be found here):

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Ironically (or perhaps not so) they want participants to fail and to do so often. It is through failure that we learn to succeed. Otherwise, we foster a culture of dependency, which results in people constantly running to the Tech Director and asking “show me how to do it.” Through failure, you learn that you will ultimately “figure it out.”

In the course of a one or two day workshop, the majority of instruction is learner centric and developing skills through the application and exploration of the device, apps, and/or web. It is a constructionist philosophy – learn by doing. Exploring pedagogy and tools on your own, experiencing it for yourself, and access to guidance allows for stronger development. By putting participants in small groups, the learning environment becomes collaborative – all members of the group must succeed and excel on a task. This process is also differentiated, there are “advanced” challenges you can move on to when you have completed an individual task. It is also highly personalized – less “talk sage” and more “just in time” instruction. It is also goal oriented; there are objectives and end goals in mind.

The particular goal in their workshops is to help educators envision a more constructive learning environment for their own classrooms. At the end of these activities, they ask “How will this help learning?” It is important to set the technology in the classroom not on top of the classroom. Tie the technology to informative assessment. If you are using the iPad, you must consider how the framework of your learning works with the iPad (generally, this is the mobility of the tool). This may mean picking up and moving around the room, reorganizing your learning space, and exploring kinesthetic values (e.g. pinch and zooming). Can this allow us to address all learners in a universal framework?

One Screen Philosophy

When using iPads, people often focus on “the apps.” Many educators focus on subject or content apps. While apps can be useful, they are not the end all be all of the iPad. Instead of being focused on subject level apps, Tom argues you should focus on the EverGreen Apps

“Educators shouldn’t think of iPads as repositories of apps but rather as portable media creation devices.”

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By focusing on a handful of apps, you can focus on what you want students to do, not a content based app. One excellent tool on EdTechTeacher is the link, “iPad as.” You outline what you want students to do (record podcasts, create presentations, curate a digital notebook, etc) and they show you one or two apps that will work for it. You lead with pedagogy, not with tools. You lead with pedagogy because you know what your mission and objective is, you then select the tool (app) that will help you reach that goal. Our goal is not to teach technology, but to help teachers understand how we can create these constructivist learning environments. By focusing on a handful of apps (preferably that all fit on one page), we can avoid getting stuck in the convoluted world of apps and focus on the content.

“Learning seems useless unless it prepares us to be creative.” – Ben Shneiderman, Ph.D., University of Maryland

It’s no longer about what you know (we can find information at the push of a button on a phone) but what you can do with what you know. You can couple content learning with practical creative projects – e.g. students can pair their spanish vocabulary with creating a video of a scene. By integrating creative apps into learning, we can unleash a creative process in the minds of educators.

T21 Program

Meaningful change is often accomplished by day to day instructional and pedagogical practices by other teachers – our colleagues.

“Classrooms are rarely changed in substantial ways by educational policies.” – John Diamond, Ph.D., Harvard University School of Education

A blended environment, face to face combined with asynchronous online learning allows teachers to most effectively navigate their own path and for communities to build a solid relationship (in person and online).

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 11.19.31 AMHaving worked in entirely online environments as well as hybrid workshops, I can tell you that these are the most meaningful for me. It allows me to get an initial understanding and then work at my own pace – as well as touch base with a team that I have a relationship with.

Tom states that with his teams, this allows educators to apply these techniques and tools in their classrooms and workout the bugs and kinks that will arise. This allows for cost-effective, ongoing and sustained professional development. Teachers feel supported and part of a broader team – they get ongoing and “just in time” support. Sustained Professional Development as well as the “just in time” element are critical components.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 11.23.45 AMSo when incorporating new technology (be it iPads, laptops, Chromebooks, etc) it’s important to put the tool in the classroom not on the classroom! If you don’t put it inside the pedagogy and build on the benefits, then your teachers will be frustrated and the process will be a failure. The instructional practices need to direct the tech – a key component in choosing your tool or directing your pedagogy. If you are using an iPad, for example, view it as an iPad – not a substitute for another platform or tool (like a laptop).

Tom highlights that in their PD model, they like to simulate the process they would like the teachers to emulate in the classroom – self-direct, problem solving, communal, differentiated, and creative.  A creative environment allows agency for personalized learning.

Key Elements in Learning

We want to teach students not just to memorize facts, but rather to develop more sophisticated abilities and methods:

  • Consumption
  • Curation
  • Creation
  • Connection

By learning, discerning, creating, and sharing we can build a broader community of learning within our classroom.

Tom ties it all together by highlighting Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model.

SAMR_modelWe need to move past simple substitution and transform our classrooms and learning environments by taking advantage of the tools around us. We can build these communities by collaborating and sharing with us.

Mobile Learning Conference

promo6Mobile Learning has become a hot topic in education, especially on the heels of recent publications demonstrating that nearly 40% of teenagers have access to a Smart Phone device (with many anticipating a purchase in the near future). In June, Ed Tech Teacher is hosting a mobile learning conference at the Hill School in Pottsdown, PA. To learn more, check out their website here. and the flyer: 1-1&MobileLearningSummit.



The Curated Classroom: Finding and Sharing Great Online Content with iTunes U

Jen Carey is LIVE blogging for us from the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. You can also find these posts on her site – indianajen.com.

Day 2 Concurrent Session with Douglas Kiang – The Curated Classroom: Finding and Sharing Great Online Content with iTunes U

I am a big fan of iTunes U, so I was thrilled to learn about Douglas Kiang’s presentation on creating and curating content using iTunes U in your classroom. He started out by telling us that teachers are storytellers, curators, and publishers.


Being creative, a designer, is what is key in this new world. Storytellers, or concept bearers, are the purveyors of information in not only the modern world, but also throughout history. The problem, however, with the written word is that our stories become “static.” We cannot change them as we evolve. The internet age has changed that drastically. Our stories are becoming dynamic; they have the ability to change. At the same time, we have an expansive audience. Bill Rankin, Ph.D. rather provocatively addressed the issue of the death of the written word:

We are in a new age!


Douglas returns to the topic of curation, as it is the core focus of this discussion. A curator is not a master artist or scientist. A curator is someone that shares knowledge and groups information in a way that can best convey knowledge. A key element of curation within education is personalization. We can create individual exhibits for our audience (students). We know our students well enough to create the best play list of material that will work for them, and ideally, we will ultimately provide them with the skills they need to curate for themselves.

iTunes U itself is simply a collection of multimedia artifacts (video, audio, and/or PDFs), and everything within iTunes U is FREE. Some of the top academic institutions (Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc.) are avid contributors. Douglas demonstrates different ways that you can use already existing content in your courses simply by using the links in your course assignments or assigning students to find content.

iTunes U

iYunesUApple has recently released the iTunes U App, so individuals are able to browse and download content via the iTunes Application. However, to get the full experience and content of iTunes U, you must download the iOS App. If you create an iTunes U course, you can then add PDFs, links, audio, video, textbooks from the iBooks Store, and other content from within iTunes U. Douglas does recommend, however, that when building a course, be cognizant of what does and does not require a wireless connection.

What can/should you do within the iTunes U course?

  • Deep link
  • Upload original content
  • Duplicate your course (you cannot edit once its published)
  • Send in-session announcements (only works on an iOS device)
  • Preview your course on an iOS device while you are building it

What is not supported within the iTunes U course:

  • Track individual students’ progress
  • Give synchronous quizzes
  • Have students turn material in
  • Create a discussion forum
  • Have more than one (official) course author

Douglas notes that while iTunes U may have limitations, it is the easiest and most simple platform for producing and disseminating high quality content. If you would like to see a sample of K-12 course content created and published on iTunes U, see the list that he has on his content site. He strongly recommends taking a look at what other people have completed before going forward and drafting your own iTunes U course.

Douglas then walks us through Course Manager (Apple Guide). He points out that while he loves iTunes U, he does not use it on a day-to-day basis. He feels that education requires true face-to-face interaction. Right now, this is effective for small chunks of information or conducting workshops.

You can view Doug’s presentation materials – as well as those from other presenters – on the iPad Summit web site.

Redefining the Classroom: The AUSL & Chicago Public Schools

Jen Carey is LIVE blogging for us from the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. You can also find these posts on her site – indianajen.com.

Day 2 Morning Keynote: Redefining the Classroom: The AUSL and Chicago Public Schools by: Autumn Laidler Anita Orozco Huffman Jennie Magiera

Please see their presentation content here and on the iPad Summit Site.

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Autumn, Anita, and Jennie are all veteran and distinguished educators with the Chicago Public School System as well as a network of schools within the Academy for Urban Schools in Chicago (AUSL). These teachers are clearly excited and enthusiastic. Those of who saw them at the last iPad Summit are excited to see them again. The AUSL is a network of 25 neighborhood Chicago Public Schools. The majority of the schools are low income and high need. These are not contract or charter schools.

The women characterize the National Teachers Academy as a “regular neighborhood school.” Their journey with iPads began in 2010 when the devices were first launched and well before they were being used as a teaching tool. An initial grant paid for several iPad carts.

SAMR-model Jennie, Autum, and Anita begin discussing their journey with iPads following along Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model. When they first brought iPads on board, they decided that they didn’t want to just “duct tape iPads into their curriculum”; rather, they wanted to ensure that this program had meaning. To prove this, they provide several examples of using iPads at the higher levels of integration according to SAMR: Augmentation and Modification.

The ladies’ infectious enthusiasm is also sprinkled with humor. They highlight the fact that iPad implementation is a journey, and there are a lot of struggles and challenges along the way. While their polished presentation looks fabulous, they ensure us all that they struggled as well. Thank goodness! I was starting to feel like a terrible teacher.

One of the most effective elements of their presentation is that they use short video clips of their students to help explain what they are doing in the classroom. The students clearly understand the processes of their assignment as well as the intricacies of producing dynamic, multimedia products. By using iPads to replace traditional media (such as the Science Journal), it allows students to be better organized. By using the Mental Note App, Autumn’s students can choose a paper that they need (lined, graph, or blank), can type or annotate, include voice notes, insert photos, tag their notes, incorporate PDFs, and present an effective workflow end product. author_iconNot only does this make their work better organized and stored, but it makes the life of educators easier. Their students’ work is more accessible and portable. Autumn even asserts that students can create their own books of their completed projects via iBook Author – consider the power of students creating their own science textbook!

iPad has also had great success in the realm of Special Education as Anita explains. Again, we see a video of the students explaining what is going on in their classrooms with iPad. Anita highlights that her students regularly know more than she does when it comes to the technology, and noted that one of the greatest impacts of incorporating iPad is that her students experienced a significant boost in self-esteem. Students take pride in the work that they complete in the classroom, and have even taken on leadership roles to “teach grown ups how to use various applications.” Additionally, iPad allows her to further differentiate and individualize her classroom. Using iBooks author, she curated live reading materials for her students. She demonstrates, using a video, how her students used iBooks to do reading more independently (using the book to help her sound out a word for example). Her students also use iMovie to create videos and presentations on topics they are exploring in class. Anita showed us an amazing clip from a film that they constructed about the Freedom Riders. This is an activity that would have taken a lot of work and expense without iPads.

The group finished up with an example from an elementary math classroom. Jennie highlighted a great program called Schoology which she likes over competitor platforms. With Schoology, she feels that the focus really is on the learning. I’ve played with Schoology a bit, but have yet to incorporate it into my own classroom, looks like I need to do that…

The nice thing about Schoology, in conjunction with iPad, is that it allows you to incorporate not only text, but also rich media (images, video, voice, etc). Students can them show their work in a discussion. If you would like to learn more about Schoology and the iPad in Ms. Magiera’s classroom, check out her blog article: Schoology vs. Edmodo.

In terms of recreating her math classroom, Jennie demonstrates a problem put forward by Dan Meyer: the Three Acts of the Mathematical Story. After watching the video by Mr. Meyer, her students demonstrated the mathematical problem using the app educreations. By watching a student’s screen cast of their mathematical process, you aren’t just looking at the answer, but rather can see their entire thought process. Screencasting provides educators a deeper understanding of how their students are thinking, and also allows students to better self assess.

The Chicago team finishes up their keynote by telling us how they are not only revolutionizing their classrooms, but their professional learning network. They maintain a blog and have a Google group that allows them to share ideas and meet virtually.

For more about this talented group of educators, follow them online:

You can view the team’s presentation materials – as well as those from other presenters – on the iPad Summit web site.

The iPad for Leadership by Patrick Larkin

Jen Carey is LIVE blogging for us from the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. You can also find these posts on her site – indianajen.com.

Concurrent Session #3: The iPad as a Leadership Tool with Patrick Larkin

I saw Patrick Larkin first speak at the iPad Summit last Fall. If you would like to read about that, see my blog post “Getting Your Entire School Community on Board with iPads (1:1).” Given that experience, I could not pass up an opportunity to watch him again. Patrick starts out his discussion by telling us about his journey implementing iPad into a 1:1 environment. He recognizes that we are not doing what we could with iPads. As leaders in education and educational technology, iPad provides a unique opportunity for leadership.

One of the key elements of leadership is the necessity of modeling tools and behavior. In the case of a massive transition in technology and pedagogy, you need to be not just the lead user, but the lead learner! Given that, what should school leaders be doing with iPad? If we ask teachers to build their curriculum off of their desired outcome, we need to do the same with technology as educational leaders. Leaders have different needs than educators (although there can be some overlap). They need to serve as evaluators, record keepers, communicators, organization, and professional growth.

ISTE provides a great structure and framework of skills modern administrators need to have:a-indicator

  • Visionary Leadership
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Systemic Improvement
  • Professional Practice
  • Digital Age Learning
Visionary Leadership

This is a collaborative experience and process involving administrators, educators, students, and parents. Broad initiatives need the input of learners. You also invest in key people – those who will help to share the vision and expand on ideas.

Digital Citizenship

We need to model what it is to be an effective digital citizen. He asks, “What would you think of me if the following Tweets were all that you knew about me?” He then showed us an example of various tweets from students (with expletives bleeped out).

Many administrators are uncomfortable with social media. Students are largely navigating this arena without adult supervision or guidance. If we ignore this aspect of education, then we are being negligent educators and not fulfilling our mission as educational institutions. Right now, litigation is a concern for many institutions and schools causing districts to legislate social media rather than teach and model it. Patrick makes an interesting point that we are regulating social media in a way unprecedented with other learning tools.

Digital Age Learning

This is another element of modeling tools and innovation that we want to see with our educators. We need to adopt digital learning tools in our own lives, training, and practice. For example, data collection can be done digitally via a google form, subsequently modeling an assessment technique that we may want to instill in our faculties and students.

Patrick’s argument is that learning should be an individualized experience. We need to empower educators in their own classrooms and provide them the tools that they want and need. One educator made the point that iPad can magnify problems that already existed. Patrick pointed out that the problem is generally neither iPad nor technology, but rather an underlying issue that is now brought to administration’s attention.

Outreach to parents about all of this is also critical. It allows parents to understand the objectives and goals of technology in the classroom. Ultimately, working with parents can help them to understand that we aren’t just “playing Angry Birds.”

Professional Practice

Administrators must provide an environment for professional learning, adequate resources, and direct professional development support for their faculty. Instruction can and should be differentiated (as we expect educators to differentiate their teaching). In addition to access, we need to provide teachers with time to do work.

Patrick outlined a 20% rule that he implemented for faculty. During the school year, he designated a chunk of time to be used for self-development. Two rules governed this time:

  1. Do not listen to your department head
  2. Do not grade papers.

He also stressed the importance of sharing our professional development innovations with one another.

Systemic Improvement

Administrators and educators must continuously use digital tools and technologies to improve organizations, communication, and overall systemic structure. We can engage the community in these conversations as well – technology firms, businesses, communication experts, etc. – to provide support. For example, Patrick uses Evernote (one of my favorite applications) to provide instructional feedback and support and highlights several other applications that he regularly uses.

In the end, I was surprised at the number of social media applications in his repertoire. Surprised, but thrilled. I love transparency in education and leadership. As school leaders continue to encourage their faculties to innovate, experiment, and transform learning experiences for their students, it will become increasingly critical for them to model the desired behavior for their teachers. Largely what I took away from this session is the importance of this modeling.