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How bullying has moved from the playground to cyberspace

How-Bullies-Have-Moved-From-the-Playground-to-the-Web-Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Aug 1

Only Reporting the Planes that Crash in #edtech

As Don Henley once sang that the news loves to report when planes crash:

"We got the bubble headed Bleached blonde

Comes on at five

She can tell you ‘bout the plane crash

With a gleam in her eye

It’s interesting when people die

Give us dirty laundry”

-Dirty Laundry 1982

The fact is of course, that the news rarely reports the planes that land safely. News is only news, it seems, when the unusual happens. Houses that DON’T burn down are never news, Houses that burn down? Always news. Marriages that last forever? Not News. Divorce rate goes up? News. You get the idea.

With that in mind, I am noticing a trend in the news of reporting when big ed tech initiatives crash and burn. The most famous of course is the Los Angeles Unified iPad rollout where the kids immediately found a way around the built-in security and the iPads had to be recalled. Amid all of that, the district’s $1 Billion program crashed and burned, and recently the district rebooted the initiative with Windows laptops. I won’t debate the merits or lack thereof of the program, but it made for great news: giant ed tech program crashes. Millions of dollars wasted!

Then just this week, we learned that another large scale 1:1 initiate was cut back by the Hoboken School district, which decided to pull back it’s large-scale laptop initiative: Listen to the story here:

Of course, we could have a nice discussion about how these programs had some significant failures in implementation, not in goals. Poor logistics, bad training, poor communications. In the Hoboken case for instance the current Superintendent Toback “admits that teachers weren’t given enough training on how to use the computers for instruction. Teachers complained that their teenage students were too distracted by their computer screens to pay attention to the lesson in the classroom.”

The planes crashed in LA and Hoboken. Sigh.

The point however, is that there are 100s if not thousands of successful iPad and mobile device rollout programs across the country that the media does not report on. Both large scale and small scale. From chromebooks to laptops to tablets. From classroom implementations to district wide, to statewide programs. Consider the McAllen ISD in Texas who has had a wildly successful iPad 1:1 program. They are not alone. Remember the state of Maine? They still are going with laptops for all their kids in grade 7-12. Don’t hear too much about that anymore do you?

McAllen and the state of Maine: The planes are landing safely there. No one talks about them. Sigh again.

One major downside of all of this is that the average news watcher is going to see the plane crashes in Ed Tech and think that the NORM is for a bunch of money to be unwisely spent in times of budget cuts which it is not. Never seeing the positive or only tangentially by going to their kids school and seeing kids with technology.

We as ed tech proponents need to get the word out to our communities, not just report to ourselves about how wonderful we are, That is preaching to the choir. We need to preach to those that watch the bubble headed beach blondes for the evening news.

We need to celebrate the planes that land safely.

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.

Free Epub: Redefining the Task

From the Site:

Many of you will have heard of the SAMR model for embedding technology in education, developed by Dr Ruben Puentedura. This two phase, four step model posits that the true aim for anyone seeking to harness tech in the classroom should be to redefine the actual tasks we are setting as educators. The iPad offers a wealth of opportunities to reach this goal due to its innate versatility and mobility.

A teacher recently told me that she didn’t see the point of iPads in education as there was nothing she could do with them that she couldn’t do without them. This is a classic case of someone who is only able to see/utilise technology within the “”Substitution” band. It’s the 21st centrury and we’re preparing children for a future that is inescapably threaded with the use of technology. We need to do all we can to prepare them for this.

They are ready. We know they are and more importantly they know that they are. Their lives are imbued with daily technology use and they access the world in a much more tech-friendly way than ever before. It also allows them to create work that is modern, polished and in line with their own goals and expectations. A parent recently spoke to me about an iPad project that I ran last year where the children used Book Creator to collate a whole term’s worth of multimedia work rather than use an exercise book. The parent in question told me that she had never seen her child so eager to share this work and that over the summer she had taken it on holiday to see their extended family and shown every single one of them!

Genuine pride.

The only problem for educators is that inescapabilywith over a million apps in the App Store and 60,000 within the education section, the location and choice of apps can be daunting. When it came to choosing the apps for our presentation, we selected those that are best suited to modifying and redefining the tasks set for students. What these apps have in common is that they are creation tools. Taking a constructivist approach towards selecting apps allows educators to get more out of each application as these apps work across a range of curriculum areas and age ranges.

The apps we focused on were:
  • - BOOK CREATOR
  • - EXPLAIN EVERYTHING
  • - MOLDIVv
  • - PUPPET PALS
  • - FRIENDSTRIP
  • - SLOPRO
  • - MASTER FX
  • - MORFO
  • - COMIC LIFE
  • - MADPAD
  • - STAGE
  • - SKITCH
  • - PLAYART
  • - PLAYSCHOOL ARTMAKER
  • - MAKEDICE
  • v- TYPE DRAWING v- FOLDIFY

Details on these and examples of their use can be found within the ebook itself (link below) as well as in various other features and reviews across the site. Naturally there are others we could have included and we hope to produce a second volume of the book next year.

If you have any issues downloading the ebook, feel free to contact us.

Download from Google Docs: DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK Please note that the ebook is in .epub format to enable all the multimedia elements to work in full. This means you have two choices: 1. open the link on your iPad and download the file (Open in iBooks) 2. open the link and save the file to your Mac or PC and open the file using the Google Chrome browser’s Readium app (free to download)

Interview with David Thornburg author of “From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning Environments.”

Physical environments that impede learning hurt both students and teachers, and it’s clear that traditional classrooms are failing to meet the learning needs of many students. The redesign of educational spaces, both physical and virtual, can play an important role in rectifying this situation.

In this timely and intriguing new book, futurist and educational consultant David Thornburg discusses how the old lecture hall, or “campfire” model of education, needs to change in order to better engage students, reach a diverse student population, provide opportunities for project-based learning, and fully integrate technology. To make classrooms and schools that engage all learners, it’s necessary to create a balance of Campfires (home of the lecture), Watering Holes (home to conversations with peers), Caves (places of quiet reflection), and Life (where what we’ve learned gets applied).

The ultimate environment that brings together all of these spaces is the educational Holo- deck, a classroom in which students’ rich learning experiences are limited only by their own imaginations. Whether you are a school administrator interested in redesigning your school or a teacher who wants to prepare better lessons, From the Campfire to the Holodeck can help by providing insights on how to boost student engagement, enable project-based learning, incorporate technology into the classroom, and encourage student-led learning.

About David Thornburg:

David is an award-winning futurist, author and consultant whose clients range across the public and private sector across the planet. His razor-sharp focus on the fast-paced world of modern computing and communication media, project-based learning, 21st century skills, and open source software has placed him in constant demand as a keynote speaker and workshop leader for schools, foundations, and governments. His current work on new learning spaces resulted in the creationg of the Educational Holodeck – and immersive, interactive, learning environment suited for interdisciplinary exploration of academic topics through realistic simulations.

As a child of the October Sky, David was strongly influenced by the early work in space exploration, and was the beneficiary of changes in the US educational system that promoted and developed interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. He now is engaged in helping a new generation of students and their teachers infuse these skills through the mechanism of inquiry-driven project-based learning.

His educational philosophy is based on the idea that students learn best when they are constructors of their own knowledge. He also believes that students who are taught in ways that honor their learning styles and dominant intelligences retain the native engagement with learning with which they entered school. A central theme of his work is that we must prepare students for their future, not for our past.

In addition to his work with technology, David also consults on the relationship between classroom design and learning. In this capacity he is Senior Consultant to the architecture firm, Fielding Nair, and is currently writing a new book, From the Campfire to the Holodeck: How Place Matters in Education.

David splits his time between the United States and Brazil. His work in Brazil also is focused on education, and he has spoken at conferences and consulted for firms and educational institutions throughout that country.

Thank you for taking time to talk about your book “From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning Environments.”

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

After working at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center for a decade, I shifted my focus to exploring how personal computers could be used in education. This meant that I had to learn a lot about pedagogical theory, and I ended up teaching a bit, consulting for schools and districts (and governments) with the idea that technological tools could be applied in ways that advanced educational progress, or in ways that held it back. I now teach part time in the doctoral program at Walden University where I designed a course on how to identify emerging technologies in education.

Can you give us a 10,000 ft view of the book?

About 11 years ago I wrote a book called Campfires in Cyberspace that explored the idea that humans have always occupied one of four primordial learning spaces at any given time, ranging from the Campfire (home to the presentation of information by a teacher) to the Watering Hole (the domain of social learning from peers), the Cave (home of reflective construction) and Life (home to the construction of artifacts based on what we have learned). We explore the idea that, in an ideal setting, students will move between these spaces on their own and that computer technology has a positive role to play in each of these learning spaces.

Your book looks at learning spaces and how what we have now, traditional spaces, don’t match what we need for effective learning. Sounds like an expensive retrofit. Is it?

Most schools are set up for teacher-directed presentations, and in this setting, the accommodation of other spaces is difficult. But, in fact, much can be done by the creative placement of furniture in an existing classroom. The cost comes in when the entire school is being redesigned to incorporate these ideas.

You use terms like “Campfires,””Watering holes” and “Caves” to describe student learning spaces (which reminds me a lot of Prakash Nair and his work). Can you talk a little bit about these types of spaces and why you don’t think we have them in our schools now.

Prakash learned about these spaces from me a long time ago, and has used them in the design of schools all over the world. I hold him in highest regard. He hasn’t talked much about the “Life” space, but with the rapid growth of the Maker Movement that is bringing 3D printers and other amazing devices into schools, this learning space will be getting a lot more attention soon.

As for the challenge in implementing these ideas in most schools today, many educators feel that the high stakes testing requirements virtually mandate that they “teach” students what they need to know for the examinations. Fortunately, the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards virtually demand that we rethink the educational process and move toward a more progressive model supported by Dewey and his followers.

How can we convince the people that build schools now (most of which were trained in the last century) to utilize these spaces in new school design? Typically, I don’t think architects think much about learning outcomes. They think about square footage, and cramming as many rooms into a space…

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that many school architects also design prisons. As Prakash Nair has said, most schools operate on the model of “cells and bells” where students are sorted into rooms by age, and the instructional period is signaled by bells. Fielding Nair is one of the top architectural firms in the world for breaking the mold of traditional schools, and one day their vision will spread to other firms. In order for this to happen, the communities building schools need to understand the impact “place” can have on education - something I hope our book and my presentations can help to achieve. Personally, I’d love to give a speech on these ideas to any community or district who is adding a new school. Schools designed on these ideas are places children love to attend, and they actually complain when the school day is over.

How does the idea of learning spaces fit in with 21st century learning skills?

21st Century learning skills fit very well with our model as they foster the kinds of involvement by students that develop collegiality, teamwork, and other important skills - all while learning the traditional subjects.

What do you envision the classroom of 2034 to look like?

I have no illusion that schools will look very much different in 2034 than they do today (no matter how much I wish for change) simply because, short of fires and earthquakes, schools last a long, long time. This doesn’t mean that changes won’t take place inside individual classrooms, though. My sense is that teachers who see the value in change will find ways to do it on their own, within existing school budgets. For example, interactive whiteboards are expensive tools that basically replace the traditional whiteboard without fostering any basic transformation in pedagogical thinking. If that same money was spent on things that supported multiple learning spaces we could accomplish a lot.

What do you hope to accomplish by writing this?

I thought it was time to refresh the ideas in my first book and to expand them in new directions. My hope is that people who read the book are able to see the benefit of these ideas. We provide lots of support for anyone getting serious about the topic, and the press coverage of the book has been quite favorable. While I have been asked to give keynote speeches on this topic at major conferences, the real work comes when these ideas are brought back to the school. Everyone - parents, teachers, administrators, and students - needs to see how educational practice can be changed in ways that support all learners.

Where did you get your inspiration to write this?

The inspiration for this book came from a conference I attended on the future of educational technology. At that time, I was a consultant to the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the President, with a special focus on education. The audience was filled with some of the best thinkers in the world. As for the speakers, they were world-class visionaries (for example, Arthur C. Clarke spoke by satellite from Sri Lanka) and the presentations were stacked one after the other with no breaks except for lunch and dinner, followed by a second day with a similar schedule.

After the first two speakers were done, I noticed that some people took a short break but, before coming back into the auditorium, stopped to converse in the halls. That night I, and most other participants, engaged in quiet reflection on everything we had heard. From this I concluded that we had seen three important learning spaces - the campfire (the lectures), watering hole (peer conversations) and caves (quiet reflection). Later when I shared this idea with my colleague Prasad Kaipa, he pointed out that I was missing one important space - Life - where the things learned were put into practice.

This book has been out for a few months. I always like to ask “Who is listening to your message?”

While I’m not sure who all has been reading the book, I have received amazing support from educational leaders as far away as Melbourne, Australia. It takes time, but the word is getting out.

Looking back, is there anything you wish you had written but didn’t?

No, not really. I’m blessed to have my own magazine column, and whenever I have a new thought to share, I toss it on my blog (thornburgthoughts.wordpress.com). We live in a world where the free interchange of ideas is both supported and celebrated.

That said, my next book is on the use of inexpensive 3D printers in education and I should be done with that one in a few months.

Do you have a website or some way for readers to contact you or get more information?

Our Center’s website is www.tcpd.org, and people can always email me directly at dthornburg@aol.com

From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning Environments by David Thornburg

Available on iTunes

Availalble at Amazon.com

Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America

The JGC Center does some interesting work, especially when it comes to small ones and digital media. For this not familiar with the name Joan Ganz Cooney, perhaps you know her work: Sesame Street and the Children’s Television Workshop.

From the Link:

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center has conducted a national survey of more than 1500 parents of children ages 2-10 to find out how much of children’s media time is devoted to educational content, platform by platform, age by age. Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America is the first comprehensive analysis of parents’ experiences with the educational media their children use: Which subjects do parents feel their children are learning the most about from media? Which platforms do they perceive as being most effective? And what are some of the obstacles to greater use of educational media? All of these issues are explored by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The report measures the degree to which children and parents use media together, overall and by platform, and looks at how this joint media engagement changes as children get older. The study also examines children’s reading behaviors, especially online or on electronic reading devices.

Eight Key Findings:

Here are 8 key findings from The Joan Ganz Cooney Center study: Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America.

Educational Media Is Popular. “80 percent of kids use educational media weekly (including 34 percent who do so daily). Parents say that their children’s learning experience goes beyond the screen, with many weekly users talking about (87 percent), asking questions about (77 percent), engaging in imaginative play (78 percent), and wanting to do projects (61 percent) based on something they have learned from educational media.”

Older Kids Are More Likely To Be Couch Potatoes. “Two- to four-year olds spend more time per day on educational media than any other age group: 1 hour 16 minutes for ages 2-4, 50 minutes for ages 5-7 and 42 minutes for ages 8-10.”

My Boob Tube Is Bigger Than Your Tablet. “Television continues to dominate, according to parents, with children spending an average of 42 minutes a day with educational TV compared to 5 minutes with educational content on mobile devices and computers and 3 minutes with educational video games.”

Sesame Street Is Still Better Than An App. “Even among those who use educational content on each platform weekly, learning from mobile lags behind TV: 39 percent say their child has learned “a lot” about any subject from mobile compared to 52 percent for TV.”

Kids Still Read…Paper & Print Dominates. “Children are reading an average of 40 minutes per day, including 29 minutes with print, 8 minutes on computers, and 5 minutes using e-platforms. The majority (62 percent) has access to e-readers or tablets, but less than a third (31 percent) use them, often because their parents prefer printed books to the digital form.”

Sometimes, It’s A Racial Thing. “There are significant differences among racial groups: across almost every subject area and platform, Black parents were most likely to say their children had learned from educational media, with Hispanic parents least likely to think so. For example, 91 percent of Black parents said their children had learned a lot or some about math from computers compared to 79 percent of Whites and 63 percent of Hispanic-Latinos (among those whose children are weekly users of educational content on computers).”

Black, Hispanic-Latino, And White Parents View Educational Media Options Differently. “Both Black (60 percent) and Hispanic-Latino (52 percent) parents are more likely than White (37 percent) ones to consider interactive media a very or somewhat important source for the lessons their children most need to learn, and they are more likely to say they want more information about how to find quality educational media for their children, especially Hispanic-Latino parents (74 percent, compared to 57 percent for Blacks and 46 percent for Whites).”

Not Enough Science In Digital Media. “There are differences in what parents say their children are learning from educational media. More parents report that their children have learned a lot about reading (37 percent) and math (28 percent) from educational media than science (19 percent) or the arts (15 percent). ‘Parents are telling us we need to do a better job in creating science-based educational media,’ said Levine.”

The report was authored by Victoria Rideout, and conducted with the generous support of the Bezos Family Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, AARP, and the LIFE Center as part of the Families and Media Project.

Download the full report here (PDF).

Computers Are The Future, But Does Everyone Need To Code?

I totally agree. Not everyone needs to know how to code, just like not everyone needs to know welding, or how to play football.

It’s sort of like an obsession with being an auto mechanic. … Should you know how to change oil? Absolutely. There are basic things you should know when you use a computer. But this whole ‘become an auto mechanic’ thing? It’s just really not for everyone. - Jeff Atwood, Software Developer

Moving at the Speed of Creativity | Improving Student Writing Using iPads

From Wes Fryer’s presentations

These are the presentation slides for a series of hands-on workshops I’m sharing Thursday and Friday with elementary teachers in Lewisville, Texas, on the topic, “Improving Student Writing Using iPads.”

Click on title to go to presentation.

We Do It, They Should Do It: Lessons from the Spaghetti Challenge

Yesterday, I was leading a professional development session where part of the time was spent on the famous “Spaghetti Challenge aka a the Marshmallow Challenge. For those of you not familiar with the Spaghetti Challenge, here is Tom Wujec’s TED talk on it:

This was the first time I had ever asked teachers to try this, and it was part of a team building session.

I noticed something very interesting to me as I walked around the tables and observed the teams working on their Spaghetti towers:
After being presented with the problem, several teams appointed a member to look up on the internet how others had solved the problem.

As soon as the problem was presented, there were teams researching how others had solved the Spaghetti / Marshmallow challenge.

That got me thinking about how we solve problems now:

Adults look to the internet for the answer immediately, almost as a matter of course.

I wonder if we let our students do the same thing?
This all has to do with the NETS S standards, specifically the Information fluency.

We as adults use the internet for problem solving.
Are students allowed the same ability on class?

Is automatically turning to the internet to solve problems a good thing or bad?
Are we teaching our students where to look, or is it just a Google free-for-all?

Lots of good thought provoking questions just in one 18 minute exercise.

Oh, by the way: Most teams that used the internet as their guide were unsuccessful in the challenge.

I wonder what that says?

War on #iPads: The Atlantic has a Clifford Stoll Moment: Immersive experiences and Tablet Book Reading

A recent article in The Atlantic, entitled "Tablets Make It Nearly Impossible for Kids to Get Lost in a Story" provided a brief Clifford Stoll-like moment by an obviously ill-informed author with an agenda. (For those of you unfamiliar with Clifford Stoll, he is the author/astronomer who in 1995 wrote a book entitled “Silicon Snake Oil" in which he wrongly and famously predicted that e-commerce would never work and that news would never be delivered electronically. )

The author of the Atlantic Piece, Asi Sharabi makes the (poorly constructed) case that children cannot become “immersed” in books that are on a screen as much as they can a book on a piece of paper.

"Interactive stories are designed for young children who may still need guided reading, but that interactivity often creates more of a game experience than a reading experience. Instead of being the focus, the story becomes merely a background."

Calling tablets the current “pacifier of choice” Sharabi goes on to detail how his bases his theory the fact that a recent , somewhat dubious poll found that only 13% of parents read to their children every night.

"Physical books offer a parent and a child a unique opportunity to bond. During a bedtime story, the only stimuli are the adult’s voice and intonation and the book’s pictures. The best stories require interpretation and stimulate discussion between parent and child." The survey, done by a Department store in the UK had some serious issues as pointed out in this article:

"Before we all start clutching pearls and promising to burn the UK for their anti-bedtime story stance, let’s remember that this data should be taken with a grain of salt. This was a survey carried out by a retail store, after all, and therefore not a scientific study. Furthermore, as of 2012 there were approximately 63,705,000 people living in the United Kingdom, so 2000 moms hardly represents a huge swath of the population. And for that matter, who’s to say the dads in those households don’t do the reading?

What about those kids with two dads—are you going to ask them, Littlewoods? Are the women polled single mothers? If so, it’s understandable they would feel too stressed to read to their kids at bedtime. It doesn’t make them bad parents. Also, what’s the socio-economic standing of these women, married or no? How many hours a week to the have to—not elect to—work each week?

Too many open questions here for me to consider this survey even remotely valid.”

I am now getting to the point in my life where I have heard quite a few things that are going to be responsible for the downfall of our youth’s literacy: radio, Elvis, television, The Beatles, video games, rock music, Alice Cooper, Rap Music, and now, it appears, tablets.

Source

So lets talk about interactivity in books for a minute:
Paper books have tried for years to more “interactive.” Children’s books in particular have tried to do this I remember reading Encyclopedia Brown detective mysteries as a boy, in which you had to figure out how Encyclopedia could solve the mystery, and then you had to turn to the back of the book to see if you were correct. Books that have 3D cutouts, pop ups, even illustrations are in fact, interactive. Just because, in my mind, they are on a piece of paper does not make them better or worse. There are way too many variable involved to make a blanket statement like Sharabi has done here. What book? What type of interactivity is there (there are MANY ways to embed interactivity)? Look at this book that uses color changing ink to be “interactive.”

Does paper-ink book interactivity take away from the story? Do children not get the full experience when there are distractions like pulling little paper handles or watching ink change color? Of course not.

As for “getting lost in the narrative, many children’s books have no real narrative. Fox in Sox? ABC’s? Picture books? Beginning readers are not trying to immerse themselves in the narrative. They are trying to recognize the letters and words.

What Sharabi completely disregards are the advantages to tablet based books and stories. The interactivity can be used to enhance the experience of early readers, especially those that have no experience with the types of words or phrases being used. I see little difference in a picture in a book that shows, for example, a castle, and a castle in an interactive text. The difference in the interactive text might be that the child can have the ability to open the castle doors, raise the flags, become part of the castle environment, something that may seem simple, but to a child that is disinterested, can be enchanting.

Even simple interactive books have the ability to read aloud. Why is that important? Children can read along with the words, JUST LIKE PARENTS could do. Many highlight the words as they read, just as a parent would point to a book. How many children skip over words they don’t understand? Even simple eText devices have built in dictionaries, that require children to only point to access a dictionary.

English language learners can hear how the word is annunciated. Many tablets have built in text to speech. Highlight the word, hear how it is pronounced.

Dan Willingham who I sometimes disagree with, but always respect, commenting on Facebook, said “It is… odd, to put it charitably. It completely ignores nearly two decades of research on CD-ROM books, Leap Frog, and most recently ereaders (sic). That research indicates that this issue is nowhere near as simple as the author makes out; you can find examples where interactive books (compared to print) are better, worse, or no different on outcome measures like motivation (which the piece is about) but also on comprehension (where it’s usually the same) and developing pre-reading skills (where it’s sometimes superior to print books).”

Perhaps the most telling reason Sharabi writes AGAINST the use of tablets is the fact that he is the president of a publishing company that prints traditional children’s story books. At the end of the article, is this:
“ASI SHARABI is the co-founder of personalized children’s book publisher, Lostmy.name…”

He has skin in the game. He makes money off of traditional paper/ink children’s books.

This is another example of the small but growing backlash that I have noticed against iPads in the classroom that I have written about here. Almost every single one of these is either ill informed or presents a half truth to the audience. Such is the case in this article. Half truth. Half story.

Zero correct.


More on the War of iPads®

Why we are misunderstanding the Chromebook/iPad debate

Stop me if you have heard this argument before:

We have decided to buy Chromebooks for our students because they do 90% of what students can do on a typical computer at 1/3 the cost. Chris Lehman used it to justify his sweetheart deal with Dell to move the Science Leadership Academy to a Chromebook environment.

Okay, I get it. Cheap is good. “Low bid is the go bid.” And at first glance, the Chromebooks seems to be a very good deal: They are laptop-like and basically if you have an internet connection, you have pretty much all the things a LAPTOP can do. These babies sell for about $300. about 75% of the low end iPad.

I get it.

But the iPad is NOT A LAPTOP.

What is wrong here is that when anyone compares Chromebook to iPads they are forgetting one of the basic value adds of iPads that emerged after the iPad was released several years ago: The iPad (and I suppose other tablets as well), can change it’s interface to match the user’s needs. No Chromebook, no laptop, no desktop can do that. Just the tablet.

The value of the iPad is not just it’s basic interface and portability. It is that the interface changes with the needs of the users.

Need a keyboard: It is a keyboard:

Need a camera or camcorder: It is a camera or a camcorder:

(I know the Chromebook has a built in camera, but not front and rear facing. Very difficult to take a picture of something you are working on with the Chromebook’s camera.) Think about what would be a better device to document a field trip to the zoo or to record leaves on a tree, or record a video of a word problem in math?

Need a document camera? The iPad becomes a document camera.

Need a musical interment? The iPad BECOMES a musical instrument:

Piano, drums, synthesizers, guitars..the device transforms into that instrument.

Need paint brushes? The iPad can become a full artistic set of artists tools:

Need a microscope?

Oh, and you can run Google Chrome on your iPad
So the iPad can even become a Chromebook. Google is even building Chrome Apps for iPad.

The point is, the value add of a device that changes with the user cannot be underestimated. What has happened over the course of a year or so, is the IT people in school districts across the country are desperately trying to make iPads into laptops because that is the model of management they know. In the course of doing so they are changing the conversation in ed tech and looking backwards. The conversation needs to change. We need to change the conversation and say “How does this device, whatever it is, meet the FUTURE NEEDS of our students best?” The conversation needs to be FORWARD looking. Not BACKWARDS looking.

Is the device mobile?
Is the device dependent mainly on an internet connection?
Can the device change to meet the needs of the user?

That last question is the most important. What needs to happen is that the conversation needs to change more towards how can we make a device that changes fit the needs of the students, rather than changing the device to fit the needs of the IT department.

If you listen to folks talk about Chromebooks, it almost is NEVER in terms of what students can do with the device and almost always about how the devices can be managed (old school IT department thinking) and how low the cost is (finance department making academic decisions). That conversation has to change especially if the bring your own device takes off in school districts.

Consider this graphic:

It is still the old argument that digital technology in schools should be the technology of BUSINESSES. That discussion has got to change.

Dec 8
"The job of a technology coach isn’t teaching how to but teaching why to" Vicki Davis

"The job of a technology coach isn’t teaching how to but teaching why to" Vicki Davis

Dec 3

What is the best excuse you have ever heard for not using technology?

Students can hold the sum total of human knowledge in their hand with a device that is the size of a deck of cards. Yet we still tell them to “turn those devices off.” —Will Richardson

Related post here: Sum Total of Human Knowledge and Bathroom Pictures

Students can hold the sum total of human knowledge in their hand with a device that is the size of a deck of cards. Yet we still tell them to “turn those devices off.” —Will Richardson

Related post here: Sum Total of Human Knowledge and Bathroom Pictures

(Source: recitethis.com)

Dear (Insert Big Name Ed Tech Vendor Here),

It is always a pleasure to see you at (insert big name ed tech conference here). 
As usual, your slightly evolutionary product blew me away with it’s ease of use and clever “ergometric”  design. It was obvious that last year’s product was so well received that your company paid homage to it by almost completely copying it again for this year, much like car makers do! And your Apple-like packaging and booth set-up really blew me a way. I think you had the best free coffee mugs and t-shirts of any vendor on the exhibit floor. I even visited your booth 32 times in an effort to register myself for the iPad mini with Retina display giveaway that you were sponsoring. Unfortunately my name was not chosen, by I look forward to receiving 32 emails daily reminding me about your product and how I need to “act now” to get the best pricing available. 

But that is not the reason I am writing you. 
I am writing you because I think I have a way of not only changing your business plan for the better, but also helping teachers as well. 

Here is what I think you need to do:

You need to stop selling your product to the Education Technology community. We already know about it. We have seen you every year at the same conference in the same booth space (Row 11, Space 32). We have been there with you and have done that with you. We have gone to your “after conference” dinners and social events. Thank you by the way for that great party with that DJ that played all that music that I never heard of. 

But I digress. 

You need to start selling your product to the teachers and educators that are actually teaching core subject areas. You know, like science and math and ELA and social studies. 

Here is why:
When you are at the (insert big name ed tech conference here) the audience is there to see how ed tech works. 
Your interactive whiteboard, or your cool interactive website builder, or your 21st century thingamajig is really awesome. But the crowd there already knows you and already knows what your product can do.  

The crowd at (insert big name ed tech conference here) is already convinced that your product works in ed tech. 

You have already sold them. I mean really, how many times can you show someone that your classroom clickers click better than the classroom clickers down the aisle?  We have seen them, and even though you added a 1 inch screen on your clickers that now have Skype capabilities so that students can “phone a friend” to help get answers, it really isn’t too much different than the product you showed three years ago.

So how about this?

Stop attending the (insert big name ed tech conference here) and start attending the conferences that are dedicated to specific core subjects! Have you ever really attended one of those? Teachers at those conferences are dying to see how technology integrates into their specific core curriculum areas. AND NO ONE IS SHOWING THEM!

How does this year’s interactive whiteboard work in a science class? A social studies class? A ELA class?
How do those clickers work in Math?

Teacher don’t need to be convinced that they should use ed tech. Why look at this article about how teacher WANT to use ed tech, they just don’t know HOW to use it.

You need to be out there showing specific examples of specific lessons that fit into specific curricular areas. You can’t be generalizing anymore.  You can’t just say stuff like “This works well in math classes” and “It works with the standards.”

You got to show them exactly how it works in math classes at math Conferneces.
And science classes at Science conferences.
And social studies classes at social studies conferences.
And language arts classes at language arts conferences. 

Teachers don’t have time anymore to try to shoehorn your product from an ed tech conference into their core lessons hoping they “get it right.” 
Technology does not and never should drive the curriculum.

Curriculum should be driving the technology.

Is that your message? If it isn’t then you are dead wrong. 

You need to change your message from “Our Technology is cool, put it into your curriculum somehow” to “Our technology is cool, here is exactly how it works with your curriculum.”

I know that is sounds like a lot of work, but really it is not. 
There are generic lessons across grade levels and across standards that can be used. For instance, pretty much everyone teaches the Water Cycle in science. Find out where the water cycle is being used and show how YOUR product can be used to teach the water cycle. But don’t do it at an ed tech fair; do it at a Science conference. The impact will be much more meaningful to the attendees. 

If you can do that, you will get a big leg up on your competition, because, quite frankly, they are ignoring the core curriculum conferences. 
Why, the last big Science K12 conference I went to, there were hardly any of your competitors there selling your thingamajigs. 

Don’t thank me now. 

You can thank me when the orders start coming in. 


Sincerely, 
Tim

Dear (Insert Big Name Ed Tech Vendor Here),

It is always a pleasure to see you at (insert big name ed tech conference here).
As usual, your slightly evolutionary product blew me away with it’s ease of use and clever “ergometric” design. It was obvious that last year’s product was so well received that your company paid homage to it by almost completely copying it again for this year, much like car makers do! And your Apple-like packaging and booth set-up really blew me a way. I think you had the best free coffee mugs and t-shirts of any vendor on the exhibit floor. I even visited your booth 32 times in an effort to register myself for the iPad mini with Retina display giveaway that you were sponsoring. Unfortunately my name was not chosen, by I look forward to receiving 32 emails daily reminding me about your product and how I need to “act now” to get the best pricing available.

But that is not the reason I am writing you.
I am writing you because I think I have a way of not only changing your business plan for the better, but also helping teachers as well.

Here is what I think you need to do:

You need to stop selling your product to the Education Technology community. We already know about it. We have seen you every year at the same conference in the same booth space (Row 11, Space 32). We have been there with you and have done that with you. We have gone to your “after conference” dinners and social events. Thank you by the way for that great party with that DJ that played all that music that I never heard of.

But I digress.

You need to start selling your product to the teachers and educators that are actually teaching core subject areas. You know, like science and math and ELA and social studies.

Here is why:
When you are at the (insert big name ed tech conference here) the audience is there to see how ed tech works.
Your interactive whiteboard, or your cool interactive website builder, or your 21st century thingamajig is really awesome. But the crowd there already knows you and already knows what your product can do.

The crowd at (insert big name ed tech conference here) is already convinced that your product works in ed tech.

You have already sold them. I mean really, how many times can you show someone that your classroom clickers click better than the classroom clickers down the aisle? We have seen them, and even though you added a 1 inch screen on your clickers that now have Skype capabilities so that students can “phone a friend” to help get answers, it really isn’t too much different than the product you showed three years ago.

So how about this?

Stop attending the (insert big name ed tech conference here) and start attending the conferences that are dedicated to specific core subjects! Have you ever really attended one of those? Teachers at those conferences are dying to see how technology integrates into their specific core curriculum areas. AND NO ONE IS SHOWING THEM!

How does this year’s interactive whiteboard work in a science class? A social studies class? A ELA class?
How do those clickers work in Math?

Teacher don’t need to be convinced that they should use ed tech. Why look at this article about how teacher WANT to use ed tech, they just don’t know HOW to use it.

You need to be out there showing specific examples of specific lessons that fit into specific curricular areas. You can’t be generalizing anymore. You can’t just say stuff like “This works well in math classes” and “It works with the standards.”

You got to show them exactly how it works in math classes at math Conferneces.
And science classes at Science conferences.
And social studies classes at social studies conferences.
And language arts classes at language arts conferences.

Teachers don’t have time anymore to try to shoehorn your product from an ed tech conference into their core lessons hoping they “get it right.”
Technology does not and never should drive the curriculum.

Curriculum should be driving the technology.

Is that your message? If it isn’t then you are dead wrong.

You need to change your message from “Our Technology is cool, put it into your curriculum somehow” to “Our technology is cool, here is exactly how it works with your curriculum.”

I know that is sounds like a lot of work, but really it is not.
There are generic lessons across grade levels and across standards that can be used. For instance, pretty much everyone teaches the Water Cycle in science. Find out where the water cycle is being used and show how YOUR product can be used to teach the water cycle. But don’t do it at an ed tech fair; do it at a Science conference. The impact will be much more meaningful to the attendees.

If you can do that, you will get a big leg up on your competition, because, quite frankly, they are ignoring the core curriculum conferences.
Why, the last big Science K12 conference I went to, there were hardly any of your competitors there selling your thingamajigs.

Don’t thank me now.

You can thank me when the orders start coming in.


Sincerely,
Tim