Tag Archives: EdTechTeacher

iPad Summit San Diego: Audrey Watters

Audrey Watters, the esteemed educational writer, is keynoting the iPad Summit San Diego. Audrey blogs at HackEducation. Her topic is, “The History of the Future of Ed-Tech” focuses on what educational technology is going – and where it won’t.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Audrey highlights the idea of what do we think the future of technology holds and why does the present always look quite different? Why do we not have hover boards (as promised by Back the Future). So looking at technology today, what is the future of technology going to look like? If we look back at the 1960’s or 1970’s, many of the cool innovations never came to be. However, some truths have held firm. For example, Moore’s Law (that predicted that the number of transistors on integrated circuits would double every two years) has become a truth in the tech industry.

Other innovations were not adopted for a variety of reasons, not because they weren’t interesting, but because we became focused on other things and

Prototype of the first mouse. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Prototype of the first mouse. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

forgotten some of the great names. Douglas Englebart, for example, was the inventor of the mouse. He demo’d the mouse (one of the most important tools that we still use today) in 1968. This demonstration, “the mother of all demo’s,” featured not only the mouse, but the ability to collaboratively edit documents and communicate via computers. However, we forgot these tools over the years (I have colleagues that still want to email Word Documents back and forth). So many of the features that we saw in the “mother of all demos” (when the mouse was introduced) was not adopted right away and in fact were shelved for years to come.

So why weren’t these tools picked up and developed right away? We can prototype new technologies right away, but when it comes to doing things differently… changing practices, behavior, and culture is really, really, hard. How many of us have had those discussions with friends and family? There is a new, more effective, and easy way to do something yet we are met with fierce resistance: “Why can’t we just email it instead of using Google Drive? Why should I use cloud storage instead of a network/hard drive?”

If we look at the future of Ed Tech, Audrey argues that it will largely focus around the work of Alan Kay. Kay designed the prototype around a personal

Dynabook prototype, courtesy of wikimedia commons.

Dynabook prototype, courtesy of wikimedia commons.

computer for children of all ages, the Dynabook. Kay argued that all children need to have a personal computing device, not just businessmen or academics. He argued that computers should be common place devices and be utilized by non-professional users. Personal computers are a revolution akin to the invention of the printing press – ready access to a broad array of information. In his vision of the Dynabook, in 1972, he argued that this device should be portable, easy to use, and cost less than $500 (about the price of a color television). He stated that this was within the reach of current technology – in 1972. If you recall, this was well before large, bulky personal computers such as the Apple IIe or IBM or Commodore 64. But why did these bulky, expensive tools become prominent and not the Dynabook?

The iPad is not the Dynabook. Kay stated that the main notion of the Dynabook would be the reading, writing, and sharing the notion of ideas – programmable by its user. The iPad, like all Apple Machines, is not a device that is easy to program; in fact, Apple invests in preventing you from doing just that. Kay also argued that the purpose of the Dynabook was to help us to collaborate, to teach and learn together. A lot of these elements stay out of reach in today’s world of technology. Again, we all grew up in a world of education as consumed rather than created and shared. Changing behavior is hard!

Seymour Papert, Ph.D. argues that the “Kid should program the computer” and not the other way around. He created Logo, a programming language for children. It is based on the idea that computers can be the seed of cultural change, but cutting across traditional lines that separate humanities and the sciences, challenging current believes, and questioning the standard of assumptions of development psychology. Computers are moving away from the realm of engineers and towards the realm of adaptable language that we can all access. Papert envisioned computers as the tools that children would use to access and be able to understand the most profound ideas. Again, this was introduced in 1980 (well before the advent of internet to the public). Papert recognized that great teachers know how to use computers effectively in the educational environment, but that schools know how to nip that right in the bud!

PLATO system, circa 1981; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

PLATO system, circa 1981; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The next topic that Audrey covers is the introduction of PLATO (1972), the first computer aided instruction. Most of PLATO’s early programs focused on “drill and kill,” but ultimately became more sophisticated and included networking tools for students and instructors to communicate and engage with one another. It also allowed users to create and edit their own programs. PLATO would ultimately contribute chat rooms, instant messaging, forums, multiplayer games, emoticons, and more technology communication norms and platforms (although few of us can name it). This tool was the dawn of cyber culture. PLATO also allowed for differentiated learning by allowing students to move at their own pace. However, PLATO was prohibitively expensive when released to market: $50/hour, $1900/course, hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop courses, and several million dollars to maintain and access. Educational technology takes a multi-million dollar industry. Its cost ultimately killed it in the 1970’s. However, it still saw rapid adoption among business groups.

Skinner's Teaching Machine, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Skinner’s Teaching Machine, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The last innovator that she covers is B.F. Skinner, a scientist at the turn of the 20th century. In 1925 he put forth the idea of a “Teaching Machine” to score multiple choice tests (four options). This was used to grade intelligence tests given to members of the military. Skinner believed that positive reinforcement could help shape student behavior, and that the Teaching Machine could be used as a reinforcing mechanism. While his machine may seem out of date today, if you look back on the work of Skinner you can see the roots of education and educational technology. His work has been highly influential on how we view learning and schooling.

So as our world becomes more technological, as we become surrounded by more data what future do we want to build towards? Do we want a behaviorist future or use technology as a tool that will enable students to build their world?

“One might say the computer is being used to program the child. in my vision, the child programs the computer, and in doing so, both acquires a sense of mastery over a piece of the most modern and powerful technology and establishes an intense contact with some of the deepest ideas from science, from mathematics, and from the art of intellectual model building.” – Seymour Papert (1980)

Advanced iPad Classroom

Today is the pre-conference workshop for the iPad Summit here in beautiful San Diego. I had the privilege of working with the esteemed Shawn McCusker. Working with advanced teachers, we were able to play with advanced creative techniques and really get to the heart of building creative and innovative lessons.

If you would like to see the agenda for the day, you can do so by clicking here. Because our classroom of teachers really wanted to delve deeply into the material at hand, we could only touch on a few of the topics we had planned to tackle.

Keeping with the EdTechTeacher model of hands on exploration and learning (see my article “Challenge Based, One-Screen, & T-21: The EdTechTeacher Approach to iPad PD“). This means that there is very little direct instruction – instead, the focus is on allowing teachers to explore, experiment, and create. It’s effective in helping teachers to experience the process the same way our students’ do: figuring things out as they go along. In fact, I have brought many of these same concepts into my own classroom.


One Screen Model

A key concept that we employed is that it’s about using a handful of apps to do a variety of projects effectively and creatively. This is the “One Screen Model” (see “All the Good Apps Fit on One Screen“). It’s easy for teachers to feel quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of apps out there. This is why EdTechTeacher curates a handful of apps to help you accomplish your lesson objects, see their incredibly helpful post “iPad As;” it will help you to navigate the App store with an eye to utility.

The central tenet of using iPads is App Fluency: “The ultimate goal of fluency challenges is to be able to move information from app to app and from device

App Fluency, courtesy of Shawn McCusker

App Fluency, courtesy of Shawn McCusker

to device in order to process it and share it efficiently and effectively (Shawn).” This means that to effectively navigate the iPad, you must understand how to pull content into an app and what you can push out. For example, pulling images or videos into iMovie from the camera roll or Google Drive, editing them into a composed single piece, and then publishing it via YouTube or Google Drive. Shawn expressed his opinion that any app on the iPad that cannot work with other tools (is an isolated program) is ultimately useless.

App fluency allows you to create more complex and advanced projects via a process known as “App Smashing” – “Using two or more applications or web tools in conjunction with one another to create a final product or experience that would not be possible with using a single tool (Shawn)”. By collecting content from a variety of sources and then manipulating them in multiple ways incorporates higher level learning and skills. Check out “App Smashing with iOS 7.” You can also check out this great example below:

As workflow was a common topic throughout the session, we decided to switch up in the end to discuss some ways to facilitate collecting and curating student material. One of the most popular tools for getting content off of iPads and shared with the teacher is Google Drive; many schools have become Google Apps for Education institutions making this much easier. One of the best tools available to teachers working in a GAFE environment is the script Doctopus. This tool enables teachers to distribute content effectively and collect it easily without having to worry about all of the snafu’s that happen with sharing (typos in email addresses, titles, etc). If you would like to see a run through, check the video below:

Overall, it was an exciting and innovative day with high enthusiasm, excitement, and energy. I can’t wait to continue the moment tomorrow with the rest of the iPad Summit!

I’m Excited to Attend the iPad Summit in San Diego

I am so excited for the inaugural West Coast iPad Summit in beautiful San Diego. I have attended all of the iPad Summit since the program’s inception in Massachusetts. Although labeled an “iPad Conference,” it really is a place for professional educators to discuss innovation, creativity, and the future of education in the realm of mobile computing. At past summits, I’ve had the privilege of seeing prominent Keynote speakers, Tony Wagner (the father of innovation in education), Ruben Puentedura  (the father of the SAMR model), the esteemed Jenny Magiera (Ed Tech Pioneer), and many others. I always walk away with new connections and renewed excitement and energy.

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 8.27.58 AMThis February’s conference promises to be another exciting experience. With keynote speakers Audrey Watters and Mizuko Ito, I’m excited to be further inspired. I will also be presenting on my experiences of retroactively managing an iPad program – in other words, starting with a program and then reigning it in after the fact! Additionally, I have the esteemed privilege of being the official blogger of the conference! I have live blogged all of my experiences at the iPad conference.

You can read my previous live blog posts here.

I will be in another live-blog competition again with Beth Holland. If you would like to see how we do it, check out our article: “5 Great Live-Blogging Tips.”

The conference is February 4-5, with a pre-conference workshop day on February 3. There is still some space left (although the last three conferences have sold out and this one is on track to do the same) and early bird pricing ends January 10. I hope to see you there!

You can register for the iPad Summit San Diego 2014 here.

Redefining the Writing Process

The last session I am attending is “Redefining the Writing Process” with Beth Holland and Samantha Morra. Beth highlights the idea we all have about writing – that it’s about paper and keyboarding. Beth wrote a great article about this at Edudemic, “5 Myths About Writing with Mobile Devices.”

Now that we’re in a 2.0 world, writing has become a Digital Process. We can use tools like Google Drive to provide simultaneous feedback or even use audio comments instead of written ones. I wrote about leaving Voice Comments in Google Docs.

hero_penultimateBeth highlights the fact that we now live in a world in which writing is becoming mobile. Not just in the sense that we can pick up and go with our material, but that we can use multiple tools to scaffold and create our pre-writing projects. Not just the output, but the input! For those that need to hand-write for thought and comprehension, you can use apps like Penultimate that allow you to incorporate it into other applications (like Evernote). In addition to written notes, you can also use voice tools like Siri to help you think about and reflect on your content. Using multiple modalities allows you to explore the writing process in multiple ways.

Sam is now speaking about the tool “Speak Selection” that can be helpful for students with learning differences. Students that are speaking back and forth with the iPad, including punctuation, involve greater interactivity with the writing process. Students have to slow down and think about various elements of writing that are normally silent. Ultimately, writing is about communication!

Another great way to use the iPad in the writing process is to MindMap. The iPad construction facilitates mind-mapping in a kinesthetic way. Students can map  out their writing visually, using gestures, incorporating various media, etc.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Effective writing is also collaborative. There are many tools that you can use to make writing more collaborative, the most popular is Google Drive but there are many others (I also love Evernote for this purpose). It allows users to peer edit, see revisions, make comments, and more. There are many more ways you can provide feedback. For example, you can provide feedback via screencasting (using tools like ScreenChomp or Explain Everything).

Apple has begun to ship all new iOS devices (including iPads) with Pages. Using the technique of App Smashing (thanks Greg Kulowiecek and the great write-up by Beth on “Unleashing Creativity: App Smashing“). Beth highlights that we need to get beyond the 8.5 x 11 mindset (as stated by Shawn McCusker). Yes, the five paragraph essay has its place but writing has become so much more than that. Sam highlights that these tools can also help us to assess our students’ work – turning on speech to text, for example, can help us to explore a student’s piece in a different way.

In addition to a traditional writing project, we can use lesson plans such as digital storytelling to demonstrate mastery. I did this recently with my students, having them make documentaries about US History. Incorporating imagery and sound makes the process more involved and allows students to demonstrate multiple intelligences.

Writing does not need to be a solitary experience. It can be collaborative (just like presenting, right ladies?). With tools like Book Builder and the internet, students can collaborate with people outside of their classroom and even in another country! By creating visual elements, there is a digital literacy component. This includes exploring copyright and faire use. So, Beth asks, these are videos and little to no text – is this a “writing assignment”? Beth then asks, what about this as a poetry unit?

Not only does it explore the traditional elements of poetry (structure, meter, etc), but incorporates multiple dimensions to further explore the topic. Beth says that the iPad with its multiple modalities and mobile elements allows for students and teachers to greater explore their work and the products of others.

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.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 8.27.45 AM

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.

Electronic Portfolios & Making Things Visible

My last session of the day is “Electronic Portfolios & Making Things Visible” by Michelle Cordy. You can check out her website, “Hack the Classroom.” Many of my teachers and administrators have expressed interest in learning more about digital portfolios. I’ve explored it on many platforms (see my posts Google Sites for Digital Portfolios and Digital Portfolios & College Admissions). I’m excited to learn about composing and building portfolios on the iPad.

Courtesy of WIkimedia Commons

Courtesy of WIkimedia Commons

Michelle said that she is an “education hacker” because we all (including students) work on projects that we neither need nor want. She asks, “Can your students take a photo in your classroom every day that shows that they are working on something larger than themselves?” Is it meaningful to them? To us?

When we make thinking and learning visible, we focus on what we believe is important – the learning we want to document for assessment. By taking photos, we put ourself in a “remembering” mode – we want to capture it for later. Taking pictures is also a way that we enhance our performance – if we know we’re being recorded we show our best selves. We also take pictures to remind ourselves of our failures – so that we won’t repeat them. As educators, we take photos to demonstrate learning. We also take photos to record what is beautiful and surprising. We take pictures as “proof.” We also take photos to reinforce relationships. So in our classrooms, we need to make moments that are “photo-worthy.”

New technologies allows students to be the ones doing to the capturing, not just the teacher. However, when we allow the students to guide their own learning do we leave it to chance? Does it allow the child who is the loudest or pushiest to drive education? As teachers, we need to take a primary role in the classroom.

“It doesn’t need to be HD, it just needs to work.”

gdrive_20120427161559_320_240Anyone who has used technology in the classroom knows that is true! So this brings Michelle to iPads – how can we use this device and not leave learning to chance? For constructing ePortfolios, she uses Blogger and Google Drive. She then introduces us to a classroom of Grade 6 students using both of these tools to build digital portfolios. They highlighted that Google Drive allows you to share content with your friends who can help you to edit and revise your work. The students use Blogger to do their weekly reflections (like a journal) as well as a way that they can reflect on their readings and materials.

While students publishing fully to the web will vary based on age and needs, this allows them to begin training to become meaningful contributors to the web. In dealing with younger students, teachers often filter and share their students’ content. This is often how we address issues of privacy. However, that means that the teacher owns that content and students cannot own or curate it. We must ensure that however we present students’ content we ensure that they own their own data. Of course, this means we may need to be creative about publication and privacy (e.g. age 13 restrictions, privacy concerns, etc).

Michelle says “I am okay with hard, but it should be fun hard. It should not be tech hard.” This is a great point – projects should be a challenge. The tech should work to support the learning – easy to apply. Projects may have a lot of ups and downs, but at the end the student should feel accomplished. Electronic portfolios should be about tracking the whole project, not just the finished product. She highlights several “sandbox” apps like iMovie, Book Creator, Explain Everything, and Screen Chomp. These can be stored electronically for future curation as well. It’s not the project that is rich, but the cognitive processing afterwards that provides deeper and more enduring meaning.

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):

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 10.49.06 AM

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.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 11.01.04 AM

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.