Holt Think: Ed, Creativity, Tech, Administration


Posts tagged with "ed tech"

Adding new technology to old pedagogy does not make it better.

Adding new technology to old pedagogy does not make it better.

(Source: recitethis.com)

Schools moving toward ‘BYOD’ with student technology

From the Article:

"In Prince William County, this school year marks the third for BYOD, and its use has been on the rise, said A.J. Phillips, supervisor of instructional technology services. The first year, high schools, for example, had an average of 45 active devices in use at any given time during the school day, and last year that average rose to 534.

“Every year I’ve seen an increase in the number of devices,” she said. Use varies by school and teacher, she said. “Like any tool in the classroom, some teachers are going to embrace it and some are not.”

(Source: Washington Post)


The team behind the programming language SCRATCH have created a classroom user guide and website with creative computing as the focus:

Creative computing is…creativity. Computer science and computing-related fields have long been introduced to young people in a way that is disconnected from their interests and values – emphasizing technical detail over creative potential. Creative computing supports the development of personal connections to computing, by drawing upon creativity, imagination, and interests.

Creative computing is…empowerment. Many young people with access to computers participate as consumers, rather than designers or creators. Creative computing emphasizes the knowledge, practices, and fundamental literacies that young people need to create the types of dynamic and interactive computational media that they enjoy in their daily lives.

Creative computing is…computing. Engaging in the creation of computational artifacts prepares young people for more than careers as computer scientists or programmers. It supports young people’s development as computational thinkers – individuals who can draw on computational concepts, practices, and perspectives in all aspects of their lives, across disciplines and contexts.

The guide can be used in a variety of settings (classrooms, clubs, museums, libraries, and more) with a variety of learners (K-12, college, and beyond). No prior experience with computer programming is required, only a sense of adventure!

Download the guide here! Download the workbook here. Download the workbooks and guides as Powerpoint files.

7 keys to making a city a true “Smart City”

If you are not reading the blog”Getting Smart” the website/blog/aggregator from Tom Vander Ark of Getting Smart, you need to be It is insightful, cutting edge, and while it leans over towards the private over public sector in education, it does have lots of good information. I like it because Vander Ark is talking in a space that many public educators are not aware of and need to be: the side of education that attract the venture capitalists and the entrepreneurs. From my experience, the public education practitioners almost universally dismiss those that are making or trying to make a buck or two on education by changing the paradigms we are driving ourselves in. I think that this is wrong, because frankly, all of us can learn from each other.

With that in mind, I liked this entry from Tom’s blog “Leading the Shift to Digital: School, System & City.” In it, Vander Ark discusses seven components of what it takes to make a city a “smart city.” It is not an easy thing to do, and even large cities may or may not have these seven things in place.

Without the seven, a city cannot be expected to make significant changes to how the population is education, stays educated, or changes. Want to change a city? You need to have the seven in place:

  1. Innovation Mindset: a combination of growth, maker and team mindset—from classroom to city;
  2. Sustained Leadership: building political capital to create a portfolio of options;
  3. Talent Development: preparing and developing great teachers, leaders, and edupreneurs;
  4. Collective Impact: partnerships and community engagements;
  5. Aligned Investments: aligned public and private investment;
  6. New Tools & Schools: incubation capacity for new tools schools and connecting teachers and technology; and
  7. Advocacy & policy: a supportive environment for schools and startups.

Think about those seven: I would postulate that most cities DO NOT have these in place. I would also venture to say that if change happens in the cities where the seven are not in place, it takes place in fits and starts.

If I am reading this correctly, Vander Ark is saying that great schools cannot happen by themselves. There has to be a symbiotic relationship with the city and the businesses that they exist in. Got 6 of these? Un uh. You need all 7 in order for smart change to happen.

All seven of these are hard to come by in singular instances, and indeed I would suggest are almost impossible to come by in anything other than large metropolitan areas that have money, will power and the capital base to do this. I wonder how rural cities, towns or villages can even hope to succeed in a smart city way when these would be difficult for e much bigger, richer city to do the same?

Finally, Vander Ark and crew have seen the future and have a hopeful vision of innovation:

  • Every person, organization, and region needs to get smart—to skill up, learn more, and build new capacities faster and cheaper than ever;
  • Innovative new tools and schools are making that possible everywhere
  • Innovation starts with a mindset that can be developed in every classroom and every city
  • Innovation is scaled by leaders that develops talent, and align partnerships and investments for collective impact
  • Innovation is sustained by advocacy and policy

So, you know where you live. Can your city become a smart city? An innovative city?

Why or why not?

If a teacher is not teaching at a high level, how can we expect students to learn at a high level?

- Tim Holt

Would you trust education to Silicon Valley?

I actually do not have a problem with this. We have been trusting “Silicon Valley” with computers and equipment for years. I guess the problems comes when the shift happens from just supplying equipment to supplying the actual teaching.
Who is vetting?
Who says this or that meets the standards?

I kinda am ok with this as long as there are monitors and safeguards in place.

From the article:

Venture capitalists are pouring funding into new technologies for a trillion-dollar industry in the US that could be ripe for disruption: education.

Education technology startups attracted $1.25 billion in funding in 2013, according to analysis by CB Insights, and the boom has grown in 2014, with ed tech companies attracting nearly half that amount ($559 million) during the first quarter alone.

It’s not just new startups that want a piece of the education pie. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has signaled a major push into education. Its Amplify division, run by the former New York City schools chancellor, Joel Klein, earlier this year launched an interactive digital curriculum aimed at middle school students, after releasing an education tablet last year. Pearson, which publishes the Financial Times, makes most of its money (pdf) in its education businesses. Yet the shift from print to digital (painful as it has already been for the news media) is only just beginning in education. States are in the process of shifting the billions in dollars they spend on textbooks into digital alternatives. It’s a similar story at the university level.

Click on the title to go to the article.

- Presently Perfect! 10 Powerful Presentation Tools for Educators

Tired of Powerpoint? Think your kids can do more than make slides? Try these tools for presenting.

Click on the title to go to the link.

Cheat Sheet for Ed Tech Terms

This is a good infographic for newbies to ed tech. Maybe there are terms even the vets are not familiar with. Of course, there are tons more of these terms that are not on this graphic.


For many years, educators and policymakers looking for strategies to close the achievement gap and improve student learning have sought solutions involving new uses of technology, especially for students placed at-risk. Unfortunately, the results of technology initiatives have been mixed. Often, the introduction of technology into classrooms has failed to meet the grand expectations proponents anticipated. The educational landscape is replete with stories and studies about how at-risk students were unable to benefit from particular innovations seeking to use computers for teaching.

There are, however, successes among these efforts, and they reveal some common approaches to technology use. Based on a review of more than 70 recent studies, this brief describes these approaches, particularly as they apply to high school students who have been at risk of failing courses and exit examinations or dropping out because of a range of personal factors (such as pregnancy, necessary employment, mobility, and homelessness) and academic factors (special education needs, credit deficiencies, and lack of supports for learning English). The brief then outlines policy strategies that could expand the uses of technology for at-risk high school youth.

Download the full report
Sep 7

Parent Engagement Rises as Schools Communicate with Tech Tools

Kind of makes sense doesn’t it? The more you communicate with parents, the more parental engagement you will get in return.
In these days of social media, there really should not be a single campus administrator out there that is not using these tools for expanded conversations with their communities.

Of course, any administrator has to be cognizant of the rules, who they can put picture of on the net, what they can say and cannot. But in these days of open almost everything, transparency almost always trumps silence. I keep thinking of the Dembo / Shareski tag team presentation on Social Capital I posted a few years ago.

Here is a quote from the article:

"Principals and teachers have their smartphones out all the time so they can tweet pictures of student projects, record podcasts with them and share what’s happening with the hashtag "teamkid." Now the students ask Welcome to tweet out pictures of their projects, and he frequently tells them, "I’m going to make you famous!" as he captures their work.

At Parent Teacher Association meetings, he goes through what Twitter is and how to get the school’s feed, which is embedded on the school website. After using these tools over the last three years, PTA membership has gone through the roof because people feel connected to the school, Welcome said. They typically have more volunteers than they have positions to fill.

"I’d rather have parents be informed and know what’s going on than feel out of the loop," Welcome said. "Bringing them into their child’s education is important, especially because of Common Core. We need parent support, and they need to be on board and speak this new language of Common Core."

Scientific American: Learning in the Digital Age

Not sure if this got past me or not, but I don’t recall posting about it. From 2013: An entire issue of Scientific American dedicated to digital learning. A lot of it is MOOC based, bt there are some interesting articles within the special edition.

Here are the articles in the special edition:

Big Data Makes Big Inroads into Schools

Introduction to a special report on the ways technology is remaking every aspect of education—bringing top-notch courses to the world’s poorest citizens and reshaping the way all students learn

Free Online Courses Bring “Magic” to Rwanda

An inside look at a daring global experiment: using freely available online courses to bring top-tier instruction to the neediest parts of the planet

How to Make Online Courses Massively Personal

How thousands of online students can get the effect of one-on-one tutoring

Take a Data-Driven Geography Lesson

Part exam, part tutorial, LearnSmart’s state-capitals quiz continuously adjusts to your performance.

How Big Data Is Taking Teachers Out of the Lecturing Business

Schools and universities are embracing technology that tailors content to students’ abilities and takes teachers out of the lecturing business. But is it an improvement?

The Founder of Khan Academy on How to Blend the Virtual with the Physical

Technology can humanize the classroom

Diane Ravitch: 3 Dubious Uses of Technology in Schools

Technology can inspire creativity or dehumanize learning

How MOOCs Can Help India

Online courses may help alleviate faculty shortages and improve education

Online Courses Can Improve Life on Campus

The future of on-campus learning lies in the right combination of digital and traditional tools

Arne Duncan: How Technology Will Revolutionize Testing and Learning

Greater broadband access will bring the latest digital tools to more teachers and students

Students Say Online Courses Enrich On-Campus Learning

One in five science students surveyed by Nature and Scientific American has participated in a MOOC—and most would do so again

Click on the title above to go the article.

Apple Was Right: TECH CEOs Want Employees with Liberal Arts Degrees

I remember Steve Jobs once stating that Apple could not do what it does without the marriage of the technical with the beautiful. It was, I recall the “intersection of Technology and the Liberal Arts.”

In 2005, Fortune Magazine writer Peter Lewis had a profile about the late Apple CEO: “As his company moves deeper into music, video, consumer electronics, telephony, software, and services, Jobs is asked, How does he describe Apple Computer Inc. these days? He responds by picking up the new Apple remote control device and placing it against a giant, peanut-shaped remote that comes with a computer running Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition PC operating system. The Apple remote, sleek and white and smaller than an iPod, has six buttons. The Media Center PC remote is a handful, with more than 40 buttons. ‘Apple is a company that takes complex technology and makes it easier and simpler to use,’ he says, and seems satisfied with his answer. But moments later he smiles, and refines his definition: ‘Our goal is to stand at the intersection of technology and the humanities.’

As usual, Apple, even way back in 2005, was using their very clear crystal ball to see what is needed to make a successful company. It cannot always be about the circuits and the

I wonder sometimes, with the current emphasis on STEM, are we forgetting the importance of Liberal Arts?
Apparently, some CEOs are concerned as well.

Click on the title to go to the article.

Use Visuals in Teaching: The Must Use Learning Tool

Are you using visuals when you teach? Are you using them correctly? This is a nice graphic and article that explains why you need to incorporate more visuals in your teaching: From the article: HOW VISUALS HELP US LEARN

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • The brain can process 36,000 visual cues in an hour
  • The brain takes about 1/10th of a second to get the idea of a visual scene
  • Almost 50% of your brain is involved in visual processing
  • Black and white images garner your attention for about 2/3 of a second
  • Color images garner your attention for 2+ seconds
  • The average consumer’s attention span is only about 8 seconds
  • The brain processes visual cues 60,000 times faster than text
  • 40% of nerve fibers are linked to the retina
  • The use of visuals improves learning outcomes by about 400%
Click on the title to go to the article.

Surprise! The internet is not turning teenager’s brains into mush.

I have been noticing a lot of gloom and doom articles (especially coming out of Great Britain) about how this or that technology is turning our kids into brainless automatons. (The heat is especially turned up on iPads for some reason.) I am old enough to remember almost the exact same phrasing being used about television back in the late 1960’s and 70’s. I even remember “studies” that said too much TV would rot your brain, make you cross-eyed, or heaven forbid, sterile.

Of course, critical thinkers and true educators would like to see actual research before they make their decisions and I haven’t yet seen the “iPad will make you sterile” article yet, I am sure that someone is working on it. So it is always nice when a real bit of research is done, such as a piece by Kathryn Mills at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London who recently published some research in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Entitled “Effects of Internet use on the adolescent brain: despite popular claims, experimental evidence remains scarce” her research shows that, to no one’s surprise except maybe the Brits, tha the brain is a resilient little organ that can rewrite itself much more quickly than we thought it could, and the kid that is addicted to some video game today can probably learn how to code tomorrow if they wanted to. Ogh, and they can actually go outside and enjoy nature as well.

It is a complicated topic because there is no “one way” to use the internet, just as there is no :”one way” to use a pen or pencil r paper.
As a recent article in Wired stated:

"Part of the difficulty with discussing the effects of Internet use is that there are many ways to use the Internet, and there are many ways for it to have an effect – from how we conduct our relationships to how we think, to how our brains are wired up. Despite the fears spread by many commentators, there is actually a good deal of research suggesting positive psychological effects for teenagers from using the Internet. For example, a 2009 study found that online interaction boosted teens’ self-esteem after they’d been made to feel socially excluded. There’s also evidence that moderate Internet use by teens and youth goes hand in hand with participating in more physical activities and sports clubs, not less. There is some limited research on how Internet use may be changing how we think (for example, how we use our memories), but this is not specific to teens, and most research in the field is on the more general topic of “media multi-tasking” (which may have positive as well as negative effects), rather than Internet use specifically."

So stop freaking out about your kids using the internet. It will be alright.

Aug 8

My school district is making the move to digital textbooks, starting with high School science classes this year. Here is a little video that a local news channel did on it.