Okay, there are tons of old overhead projectors out there.
For 2 bucks and a few minutes, you can convert them into nice little iPad stand.
Here is how:
Okay, there are tons of old overhead projectors out there.
For 2 bucks and a few minutes, you can convert them into nice little iPad stand.
Here is how:
“I think it’s common for us to look at digital devices and how they can best support what we’ve already been doing in class and with students, rather than thinking about how they could transform what we’re doing… into even better practices and activities.” Wes Fryer via Facebook, January 2014Online discussions by Miguel Guhlin and others have come up with lists of “things” that students should be able to accomplish using technology in class. Miguel’s list looks like this:
Miguel, along with some other ed tech bloggers are using these “lists” to create matrices in which to judge technology equipment before purchase. They then will rank before they purchase. It is a good starting method of trying to look before they leap. For instance, in Miguel’s list above, the iPad scored 7 out of 10. A Chromebook, 8 and amazingly enough, a Linux device of unknown origin or manufacture had 9 out of 10. Miguel’s list is rather “Texas-centric” of course, because he is a Ed Tech director in Texas. Other states or countries have differing needs. Of course, anyone can create a list that slants a prospective purchase one way or another. For instance, in the list above, one could have easily have added “mobile” to the list which would have wiped out any desktop computer from the running. Adding “Runs Linux” would wipe out a possible iPad purchase.
The fantasy of course, is to come up with something that people claim is “software agnostic” meaning that whatever they are looking at can run everywhere anytime. Steve Jobs tried to push this idea when he forced iPads to NOT run Flash with his now famous “Thoughts on Flash declaration, claiming it was a battery hog and that HTML5 could do just as much. (Of course, at the time, people went into spasms claiming that Flash was the only way to go. Now, three years later, Flash is dying , and HTML5 is doing pretty much everything that Flash could do.)
There are of course, issues with these lists. Every list I have seen so far has one or more of the following errors in them:
Districts in the same state or schools in the same city might have differing needs. For instance, a school that is an Arts magnet school might have differing needs than say a technical school, or a traditional school. Grade levels have differing needs.
They require a specific tool or tools that binds them to a specific technology. (How many RFP’s have gone out with the phrase “Must run Windows XP or later..?)
They are not aligned to actual curriculum.
They are not aligned to any kind of educational technology standard.
I think a better way of deciding what technology to purchase, or how to construct a matrix to decide, would be to start with the standards that the students are supposed to learn, followed by the district created (or purchased) lesson plans.The Six Strands for the Texas Technology Application TEKS are:
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the ISTE NETS-T will think these are familiar. Indeed, a closer look at these strands for grades K-8 will reveal that students are asked to do such a wide variety of things as:
Word processing, creating spreadsheets, create original products, use proper graphic design, research topics, pick appropriate tools to do digital work, evaluate appropriate tools, create multimedia products, use a variety of digital tools to measure, explore and create, as well as of course use digital citizenship skills and basic computer skills, manipulate audio and video files, use models, simulations communicate results of data analysis, create collaborative work and more. Of course not all of these are at each grade level, but the idea here is that tech purchasing should not ignore the standards.
I created a video a while back on the standards:
So with the standards in mind, I think that any type of purchase should be looked at in much the same way Alton Brown looks at kitchen appliances: They should not be purchased with a single task in mind, but should be able to accomplish multiple tasks. (Take the Hutzler 571 banana slicer for instance. That tool can do one thing and one thing only.) The more versatile a piece of technology is, the better. The less you have to spend on OTHER pieces of technology.
When purchasing technology for students one should look to the tool that is the most versatile, not simply the one that is the “least expensive.” For instance, no one, I think, purchases digital cameras anymore that cannot also record video and even audio. The camera is both a camera and a camcorder. You are getting two devices for the price of one. Savvy tech buyers look for the greatest amount of utility. Can this piece of equipment do more than one thing?
One of the overlooked capabilities of the iPad (and perhaps other tablets) is the ability to replace other pieces of classroom equipment. The iPad EASILY can replace document cameras, camcorders, cameras, even interactive whiteboards and student responders. That ability cannot be understated. No matter the low cost of devices like Chromebooks and Netbooks, they simply cannot be used as camcorders, scanners, camcorders, document cameras and more. The value add of the tablet device must be taken into account when doing any kind of calculation. I wrote more about it here.
So with that information in mind, let’s rework the 10 criteria for technology purchase for students to match the standards and the idea of versatility.
Any student device should have the following capabilities:1. Create graphically correct collaborative documents from single page to multiple page, up to book length 2. Access online collaborative spaces, such as Google Docs, iCloud, or Moodle. 3. Be able to be used as a presentation tool 4. Be able to be used as a data collection device using built in sensors.(The more built-in devices available the better.) 5. Imbedded audio, still and video recording capabilities 6. Have audio, still image and video editing capabilities. 7. Has basic computer commands such as “save file” built in. 8. The ability to be used as a web based research tool 9. Can be used as a video collaborative device using such applications as Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Webinars 10. Can change it’s interfere to meet the needs of the user.
If we change the CRITERIA to meet the needs of students and not the needs of the IT department, then the scoring changes a bit.Score: iPad: 10 PC/MAC: 7 Chromebook: 8
Some may ask why I left off the Texas Success initiative materials that Miguel mentioned. These are supposed to be used as RTI (Response to Intervention) and not meant for every student, except those that are struggling in specific areas. I will assume that the hundreds of thousands of laptops and desktops already in place can meet the needs of these students.
One might also ask why I left off “ability to program or code.” The answer is simple: Not every kid needs to code. It is like saying every kid needs to learn to play a musical instrument. That is a fad movement that is making lots of noise right now but will die as sure as the sun comes up in a year or so. (And yes, the iPad can do that…)
Perhaps we need to also redraw the triangle that Miguel created:
to more closely match how we should be looking at ed tech purchases where the standards and the ability of the device to adapt are more important than whether or not a device can use this or that website. (With the advance of HTML5, this is a non issue mostly, but not completely.)
I started this post with a quote from Wes Fryer that he left on Facebook: “I think it’s common for us to look at digital devices and how they can best support what we’ve already been doing in class and with students, rather than thinking about how they could transform what we’re doing… into even better practices and activities.”I
f you believe what Wes is saying, you HAVE to ask yourself what device do you think actually transforms the learning environment. What device would lead to “better practices and activities?”Well, which one? So what do you think? Agree or disagree? Add your thoughts in the comments section.
The State of Texas is participating in an exciting opportunity that will allow your children to read engaging digital books on computers, tablets and other devices, wherever they are over the holiday break.
Readers will be able to choose from a collection that includes thousands of digital books in a variety of genres and formats. They will be able to read the books independently or activate audio and text highlighting to support their reading. An embedded dictionary provides help with pronunciation and definitions for words they may not know.
There is no limit to the number of times your child can read a book or to the number of children who can read the same book at the same time. All books are available whenever your child chooses to access them: during the day or evening, weekdays and weekends, and holidays.
We are delighted to make these books from myON, a business unit of Capstone—the nation’s leading publisher of school library books—available to our students.
Please encourage your child to read independently or with you and other family members during the winter break.
It takes only a few simple steps to access myON books:
• Go online to: www.myon.com
• Click the Log In Now button and enter the following information:
o School Name: TCEA
(Begin entering the first few letters and then select from the drop-down menu)
o User name: read
o Password: read
• Click on submit, select a book and start reading!
If I were selling a K-8 technology text in the state of Texas, I think I would do one thing that none of the other publishers do:
I would align my technology lessons to the other guys Math, Science, ELA, and Social Studies textbooks.
Here is why:
Say for instance I have a technology lesson where I am asking students to create a chart and a graph using a spreadsheet. Now usually, if I am JUST teaching technology applications, that type of lesson would be taught in isolation. A random technological event. A drive-by technology lesson if you will. It would not be related to anything actually going on in the classroom other that it was another lesson in the classroom.
However, if my technology applications textbook were aligned to say the Math textbook of another publisher, then as a teacher, I would be able to take that isolated spreadsheet lesson and plop it right into the time when I am teaching graphs and charts in my classes. Same with science. When the Pearson book or the McGraw Hill book calls for us to be collecting data and creating graphs, then I would know exactly when it is done not only in my science lesson but also in my technology lesson as well. I wouldn’t have to do a lot of searching and waiting. It would be done for me already.
So for the students, the technology lesson would not be a discrepant event. It would just be a natural part of the science or math lesson cycle. For the teacher, the technology would make more sense as a tool.
It would not be THAT hard to do:
I would find the top ten adopted core curricular textbooks for grades K-8 and then align my lessons to those in the books.
I would put the page number, the standard and the lesson title of each book right next to mine.
Of course, my idea is not totally original. The folks at NROC, the creators of Hippocampus.org have taken all of their online courses and aligned them to the top textbooks in the US for years.
Check it out:
As you can see, the book, the page numbers and the lesson are all aligned.
Pretty sweet. Makes me wonder why the other Tech Apps publishers haven’t thought of it.
This past Saturday I filmed a few of the vendors at the YISD textbook adoption fair.
Here are all of the videos:
To: John Lopez
Managing Director of Instructional Materials and Educational Technology
Recently, I have had the opportunity to review some new textbooks that are up for adoption across the state. While my main interest is in the Technology Application K-8 adoption, I thought it might be interesting to look at the Math and Science offerings that are also up for consideration. My interest is in how the publishers are addressing the integration of technology into their books.
Here is what I have noticed:
The publishers of the core curricular areas, for the most part, are oblivious to the Technology Application TEKS at any grade level. I asked every publisher representative at a recent textbook adoption fair (see the videos elsewhere in this blog) how they get students to use the 21st century skills that we in the classrooms across Texas are supposedly trying to get our students to learn. Without exception they were ignorant of not only the 21st Century skills (perhaps because none of them are part of the 21st Century Partnership ) , but also the NETS-S as well as, and more importantly, the mandated Technology Application TEKS, K-8, which, if I understand correctly, are our state’s methodology for producing “technology literate” students.
“Technology integrated/infused lessons” to most of the publishers I spoke with involved allowing students to go online and play simulations, to view online videos or to provide teachers with interactive whiteboard lessons. While those have their place, they are, for the most part, low on the SAMR model of technology integration. Students are not asked to communicate, collaborate, connect, or do many of those TA TEKS skills that are required by the state.
This is disturbing on many levels.
First, since the Technology Application TEKS are still separate from the core curricular TEKS, the publishers (and by extension the districts and teachers) view them as, not something to be embedded into a course, but something to be outside of a course. Education technology is not being used as a tool for 21st Century learning, but as a course add on, something more to do, and more importantly, to be avoided because it is not a mandatory part of the core curriculum.
Secondly, if the textbook publishers are allowed to ignore true technology integration, then this will no doubt filter down to wherever those books are adopted. District curricula already have time management issues due to testing and other constraints.
Thirdly, to a publisher, I was told that they “concentrated” only on the core TEKS when making their product. If that is truly the case, and book publishers get their direction from the state offices, who is dropping the ball when it comes to tech integration in the core curricular areas? Who is telling the publishers that true technology integration is not essential enough to be part of a proclamation?
Finally, since the publishers are defining what technology integration is to them and ignoring the TA TEKS, they are essentially driving the car when it comes to how technology is used in the classroom. If they say interactive whiteboard lessons are “technology integration,” who is to argue, since they get their direction from the state? Districts wont. Publishers can say “We are meeting the criteria of the proclamation” and with that statement include classroom technology by implication.
Might I suggest the following:
It is time to move away from the Technology Application TEKS K-8 as separate standards. There should be Tech Apps for Math, Science, English Language Arts and Social Studies. That way, we will assure that these are addressed by publishers and districts at all grade levels. We have seen, and still see, what happens when the TA TEKS are separated from the core. Quite frankly, they are ignored. The time has come to intertwine the different TEKS. If they are important to you then they should be important to everyone.
Part of any State proclamation should include the TA TEKS as part of the proclamation in all core subject areas. This should be a non-negotiable for every single publisher doing business in the state. If the TA TEKS are important enough to create as part of a student’s overall Texas education experience, then they should be important enough to embed into the core curriculum.
If the TA TEKS are truly part of the core area TEKS, not something that districts, publishers or teachers can opt out of because of convenience, then we will go a long way towards actually making our students true 21st Century Learners, something your department has been advocating for as long as I have known you.
Lab Aids discusses the technology component of their science adoption.
CPO Science Technology Component at the YISD Textbook Adoption Fair October 26, 2013.