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Posts tagged with "edtech"

Drs Smith and Crawford discuss digital textbooks and the EPISD project. Awesome!

Aug 9

Reflections on District Site Visits: Not Everything is About Money

This week, I have the privilege of traveling with a delegation from my school district to three Dallas Texas area districts: Plano, Lewisville and Coppell. The purpose of the trip was to meet with representatives of the districts and see first hand some of the interesting and innovative programs that they have instituted and to pick their brains on the good and bad of what they were doing.

Now I know that these three districts are in economically well-off areas of the state of Texas. There is no way around it, they have money. They are located in high SES bedroom communities outside of the Dallas-proper area. They don’t have many of the problems that property poor districts have. I understand that. But we were not there to feel sorry for ourselves and make a wish list of things we could never afford. We were there to see how innovation works in innovative districts. Innovation was easy to find there.

After a few hours, it became apparent that some major themes were common in these districts.
And it wasn’t about the money. It was about attitude.

Without exception, the employees we met with seemed to have a consistent set of attitudes:

They enjoyed working in the districts they worked in.

They believed that they could do interesting and awesome things if only they tried.

They were not afraid to fail at something if they learned, moved on and grew from the failure.

They had a spirit of cooperation. One district even called another their “sister school district.”

They understood the direction that the district was headed. They were familiar with the district’s plan.

They worked hard to incorporate the community into their decisions and to maintain a strong community relationship.

I noticed that many of things that they did were not as much to do with money but rather simply attitude. For instance, one district had a professional development center that had a snack area which included an area that looked like it came out of a 7-11: Hot Dogs, popcorn, nacho chips and sauce…serve yourself and clean up after yourself as well. When teachers were hungry during PD, go get a snack.
A very inexpensive thing, However, what that does is send the message that we value having you here and we value you enough that we will provide little things to make you more comfortable.

That attitude of valuing the employees, was evident everywhere and that does not require a lot of money. Employee input was not just something done as part of a yearly or quarterly survey, it actually was just the way business was conducted.

Having an enjoyable place to work. Is that a money thing? I don’t think so. I think it is a leadership thing. Indeed, almost all of the above points are leadership things.

Cooperation, no fear to try new things, communicating the district’s direction, community involvement. Are those money things or are they leadership things?

It is easy for us in the low SES districts to look at districts like these and say “Yeah, well if WE had money, we could do that too.” It is easy to have that attitude and it is easy to use that attitude to not try to excel. (It reminds me of the old story of the amateur photographer that owned a less expensive camera that told the professional photographer that they could take good pictures if they just had a “good camera.” Turns out it is not the camera, it is the photographers. Crappy photography comes from crappy photographers, not crappy cameras.) In districts with High SES, it might be easier to get the word out to parents for instance and that translates into better parental involvement. But really, that is just a logistics thing, not a money thing.

When I was leaving, one of the ladies I was with had an interesting story. “Tim, she said “When I got married , I really wanted to dress like celebrities that I saw on TV and in the movies. Of course we were poor and just starting out, so I couldn’t afford the fancy clothes. My husband said to me ‘You know how they look. You know where the cloth store is, you know how to sew. Why not try to replicate as best you can? It may not be the exact copy, but it would be pretty close.” She went on to tell me how she would make clothes that were pretty close. Good enough. (As Kevin Honeycutt once told me it was “China Good.”) Maybe, she said, we could duplicate what these districts are doing but on our terms, on our budgets (Much like this website tries to do with celebrity fashions.)

The point was, we may not be able to exactly duplicate what these districts are doing, but we can try, with the limitations we have, work to replicate other’s successful programs so that they fit in our needs , our community.

And if we aren’t afraid to fail, we can make magic.

A Response to Joshua Kim’s “3 Reasons Why Chromebook Beats iPad in 1:1 Programs”

A few weeks ago, Edsurge republished a piece I did on how the iPad / Chromebook debate was not being correctly framed. Essentially, I said that the iPad was a totally different type of device and since it’s interface could change to meet the needs of the user, that that certain value-add could not be overstated. The issues of not “meeting needs” arise when schools try to make tablet devices into laptops. Since tablets are not laptops the efforts to make them “pseudo laptops” often fail.

Chromebooks on the other hand, are great if you want a laptop and a laptop experience. Unfortunately, 21st century skills are not all about the “laptop experience” or the MS Office experience.

Joshua Kim wrote his piece on Chromebooks entitled, “3 Reasons Why Chromebook Beats iPad in 1:1 Programs.”

Kim’s three points that make the Chromebook a “better choice” that iPads are:

  1. Chromebooks are for Creating, iPads are for Consuming
  2. The App Versus the Web
  3. The Google Ecosystem for Collaboration

Okay, I usually don’t revisit stuff like this, but Kim’s article has some outdated doozies that I feel have to be addressed. I feel like I am in an episode of Mythbusters.

Lets look at them one by one:

Chromebooks are for Creating, iPads are for Consuming

This argument was the first heard out of the mouths of laptop and PC users when the iPad initially came out with few apps and no camera. I cannot say it any other way: This argument is simply ignorant. It is an argument that has been disproven time and time again over the lifespan of the iPad.

There literally are hundreds of thousands of apps that are used to create music, written papers, animations, spreadsheets, movies, photos and on and on. Even 4 years ago, articles were being written about how creative types were using iPads to create content. Since then the number and types of creative content being don’t on iPads is astounding. See the video above to understand content creation using an iPad. Now, ask yourself, can a Chromebook do that?

Yet, Kim says:

"But I would submit that anyone making the argument that the iPad is adequate for creating should be willing to live with only an iPad. How far would you get in your work if were iPad only? Everyone I know who owns an iPad uses it as a complement and a supplement to a laptop. They might bring their iPad to meetings attached to this keyboard or that, but for serious work (which almost always means creating documents), it is back to the laptop."

That simply makes no sense at all. No one uses a single device to do everything. No one. That is what living in the 21st century is all about. A chef does not JUST use a stove top. A chef uses an oven, the stovetop, a microwave…the tool should suit the needs, same with the school technology.

My argument again is this: If you have to purchase a single piece of equipment, why not purchase the most versatile one not simply the cheapest one?

App versus Web

Kim makes the incorrect “either/or” argument that because Chromebooks live in the web they are superior. “Students using a Chromebook to learn can share materials and creations with everyone else on the Web. They can access the same sites and use the same tools.”

What? In his first argument against iPads, he claims that they are “consumption devices.” That IMPLIES that the consuming (watching videos, reading books, surfing the internet) all takes place on the web. He then says that the Chromebooks are better because they live in the web and that apps are an inferior place to teach and learn. You cannot have both. (Funny how we have been using PCs for years with “apps” and no one complains about them.) Either using the web is superior or it is inferior. Either way, the iPad has both spaces covered.

Without going too far into such impressive teaching apps like Doceri, it is apparent that Mr. Kim has not really picked up an iPad in a long long time. The iPad pretty much can do all of the “Chrome” things, including run the Chrome browser. Google docs, pretty much ALL of them, have apps that run on iPad. Not enough for you? Simply access your Google-office thing through the safari web browser and collaborate away.

Again, Kim is simply incorrect when he says that “Building our teaching and learning around an iOS device means that only those in the iOS club get to participate. Our students can’t connect or share or learn from anyone outside of the club. Is this what we really want?”

Collaborative tools such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and now Pages, and the Office Collaboartive suite all work in the web, with iOS devices and non-iOS devices. iCloud runs anywhere on any machine, for instance, including PCs.

The final nail in the coffin for this argument is that Google itself announced back in December 2013 that it was allowing all of it’s Chrome apps to be ported over to iOS. The advantage, if there was one to Chromebooks, is nullified.

Kim’s final argument is that somehow, magically, the Chromebook is the only device that allows for collaboration. Let me answer that with this:

Google Docs for iOS

Here is a description: Create, edit and collaborate with others on documents from your iPod, iPhone or iPad with the free Google Docs app.

With Google Docs you can:

  • - Create new documents or edit any that you have started on the web or another device
  • - Share documents and work together with others in the same document at the same time
  • - Get stuff done at any time – even without an Internet connection
  • - Add and respond to comments
  • - Never worry about losing your work – everything is automatically saved as you type
  • - Protect your documents with a 4-digit passcode
  • The same holds true for Google Drive for IOS and Google Sheets.

    A simple Google search “Collaborative Tools IOS” gives you amazing results like this.

    Kim ends his rebuttal with this question:

    "All the learning and the work that the student invests to learn how to use Google collaboration tools will be relevant in their future education and work life, even if they never own another Chromebook. Can that be said of an iOS device?"

    Again, he looks at life with an either/or mindset. The iOS device CAN do many if not MOST of the web based tricks a Chromebook can, in many cases even better (For instance the recent collaborative upgrade to PAGES on iOS makes much nicer documents than Google Docs could ever imagine. For free. Same for all of the other IWorks for IOS apps.

    What I think we have here, is someone stuck in the idea that a device has to have a keyboard built in in order to be an effective learning tool. It does not. I once had a colleague tell me that he would never use a Mac because it didn’t have a “right click” on the mouse. I think that this is a similar argument: No tactile keyboard=little use.

    Times are changing and perhaps we need to rethink that whole idea that writing MUST have a keyboard in order to be prductive.

    11 Ed Tech Tools of Note from ISTE 2014 from #educationdive

    Interesting (paid for?) list of ed tech companies that appeared to have made a splash at ISTE at least according to EducationDive. Is this a form of advertising? I cannot tell form the article. However, some of these are interesting to note. The 11 are:

    Jul 8

    Apple Updates iTunes U Bigtime

    Apple updates the iTunes U app so that most of all the functionality is now available on the iPad. Introducing the new iTunes U New features in this version:

    Let the discussion begin

  • The new iTunes U makes it simple for students participating in private courses to pose questions on the course or any post or assignment
  • Other students in the class can jump into the discussion and ask more questions or provide answers
  • Teachers and students can keep up with the conversation when they receive push notifications as the discussion progresses
  • Create courses on iPad

  • Teachers can now create and update their courses using the iTunes U app on their iPad—getting started is fast, simple, and completely free
  • Provide every student a course outline, write posts, distribute assignments, upload class materials, easily track participating students, and much more
  • Take advantage of the built in camera on iPad to easily capture photos or videos and upload them for course assignments
  • Create materials using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—or other apps from the App Store—and add them to your course by using “Open in iTunes U” from within each app
  • Teachers affiliated with qualified institutions have the option to publish their courses to the iTunes U Catalog—making them available to everyone for free
  • Jul 7

    Got Chromebooks? Now what?

    "More and more schools are realizing that Google Chromebooks are the answer to updating outdated schools. Unfortunately though, in many cases they are making purchases for large scale deployment with little investment toward preparation for implementation issues or knowledge of where to turn to connect with others who have had experience in Chromebooks (and Google Apps for Ed) deployment.

    That’s where learning networks come in. Fortunately there is an experienced online community available to support others venturing into this world.

    Here are some resources:”

    Click on the title to go to the article.

    Can you add to the list? Do so in the comment section.

    American Assoc. of School Librarians Best Education Websites 2014

    Every year the American Association of School Librarians publishers their list of what they consider the best Education Websites for teaching and learning. This year’s list is broken down into these categories:

  • Media Sharing
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Manage & Organize
  • Social Networking & Communication
  • Content Resources
  • Curriculum Collaboration
  • I like these types of lists because they always introduce me to sites I have never heard of ,or had forgotten about. Although I wish they would be a bit more transparent on how they chose this year’s winners. Thanks to the AASL for making this yearly list. At the bottom of the page is the previous year’s winners. Click on the title of this entry to go to the article.
    Jul 5

    The 2014 Honor Roll: EdTech’s Must-Read K–12 IT Blogs

    I am honored to have been named to this list for the second year running. Thank you for reading my blog, and thank you for placing me on the list EDtech Magazine! This list has some of the finest ed tech thinkers around. (I have no idea how I got there!) You need to check out the writers.

    Must-read K–12 IT Blog
    EdTech’s Must-Read K–12 IT Blogs

    Click on the title to go to the list.

    Jul 3

    Lessons From the Los Angeles School District iPad Fiasco - The Mac Observer

    What happens when you try to do the same old thing with new technology? Ask LAUSD. Here is a good article that looks at the whole iPad fiasco in Los Angeles:

    From the article

    Throughout my career, in education and government, I’ve seen these effects. Purchase authority is exercised by those who have the least technical expertise. Those who have the expertise have no say in the process. Piecemeal test projects fail to generate the desired political clout and glory and are bypassed, and those at the bottom are burdened beyond belief by projects they had little say in, no control over nor adequate preparation and training.

    I don’t claim that the LAUSD had all these problems. However, reading about their experience reminded me of the kinds of difficulties I’ve seen in my own career. Perhaps the driving issue on all this is that in modern day American technology, those who most seek enduring power are those people least able to exercise deep technical judgment, whether it’s an iPad in the classroom or a billion dollar weapons program.

    It’s a malady without end in sight.

    Click on the title to go to the article.

    Jul 2

    Verizon VERIZON MOBILE LEARNING ACADEMY

    Verizon Foundation, in partnership with the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) and the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Technology in Education, is launching the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy, a virtual, moderated professional development course offered to teams of educators for free.

    The course, based on promising results produced by the professional development model delivered in the Verizon Innovate Learning Schools, includes five modules developed around ISTE standards. Course modules are designed to help teachers, administrators and tech coaches implement effective mobile learning initiatives in their schools and classrooms. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from Johns Hopkins University will be offered to teachers completing the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy courses.

    Registration for the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy will open in Fall 2014. If you would like to receive more information, enter your name and email address here:

    The five courses are:

    Course 1: Evaluating and planning for the mobile learning landscape
    Delve into the classroom implications of mobile learning with activities to help you gauge your institution’s readiness.

    Course 2: Developing digital fluency
    Enrich your digital awareness by investigating the key characteristics and compatibilities of available devices, operating systems and programs.

    Course 3: Seamless mobile technology integration
    Explore a framework for technology integration that steers teachers through the process of creating a mobile learning lesson plan.

    Course 4: Implementing effective mobile practices
    Teachers will learn how to apply the ISTE Standards to mobile learning, while technology coaches and administrators will gain strategies for providing visionary leadership and support.

    Course 5: Digital age students
    Discover how to teach and model safe online practices for students as they use their mobile devices to create and share content.

    Why Toddlers can Figure Out Your TV Remote and You Cannot

    A recent study suggests that the reason young children are not intimidated by technology, and can figure it out mud more rapidly than adults, is that they are better wired for figuring out cause and relation effects and are not intimidated by pre determined ideas.

    From the study "When children are better (or at least more open-minded) learners than adults: developmental differences in learning the forms of causal relationships."

    Children learn causal relationships quickly and make far-reaching causal inferences from what they observe. Acquiring abstract causal principles that allow generalization across different causal relationships could support these abilities. We examine children’s ability to acquire abstract knowledge about the forms of causal relationships and show that in some cases they learn better than adults. Adults and 4- and 5-year-old children saw events suggesting that a causal relationship took one of two different forms, and their generalization to a new set of objects was then tested. One form was a more typical disjunctive relationship; the other was a more unusual conjunctive relationship. Participants were asked to both judge the causal efficacy of the objects and to design actions to generate or prevent an effect. Our results show that children can learn the abstract properties of causal relationships using only a handful of events. Moreover, children were more likely than adults to generalize the unusual conjunctive relationship, suggesting that they are less biased by prior assumptions and pay more attention to current evidence. These results are consistent with the predictions of a hierarchical Bayesian model.

    Here is a story from NPR on the study

    Here is an audio recording of the story

    Bye Bye Textbooks

    bye-bye-textbook-how-digital-devices-are-reshaping-education-infographic
    Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics The Bye-Bye Textbooks! How Digital Devices Are Reshaping Education Infographic reveals shocking information about how digital devices have changed the traditional education landscape. As students become more dependent on technology, will the textbook become a thing of past? 38% of students say they cannot go more than 10 minutes without checking in with their laptop, smartphone, tablet or e-reader. 85% of students say that technology saves them time when studying. The average time saved is 2 hours per day, that’s 30 days per year! 48% of students who own digital devices say they frequently use eTEXTBOOKS. 63% say they have used an eTEXTBOOK at least once. Of the 91% of students who said they failed to complete required reading before classes, about half (46%) reported they would be more likely to complete their reading if it was in a digital format. Via: www.schools.com

    21st Century Education video. Similar to the old “Did You Know” videos by Karl Fisch, the end where it discusses what teachers need to be is important and worth retaking.

    The Blogger's Handbook – 101+ Resources On How To Start A Blog

    I have been tasked with rolling out , along with my team, a district wide teacher website initiative. One of the components that teachers could use is the built in blogging tool. This could come in handy, not all of it, but at least some of the ideas and links inside.

    Upgrading Blogs Through Lens of SAMR

    This is a nice blog entry about both teacher and classroom blogs and how to look and use them using the SAMR model as the backbone.

    Click on the title to get to the original article.