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Posts tagged with "technology"

1:1 iPad Initiative: A Four Year Study & Review

Do those iPads actually work in a classroom? Interesting study from a high school that has had them for four years.

How will the Internet of Everything change education by 2018? | ZDNet

The increasing connectivity speeds and decreasing hardware costs - on which the Internet of Everything’s future value is predicated – will create learning environments which are more immersive and interactive than ever before. In a world where a student in London can attend a lecture at Berkeley in the US, contributing in real-time via the device in front of them, distance will become irrelevant. Along with it will go the notion of inaccessibility to information, all learning and all information will be available to students all of the time. Perhaps then, the ability to evaluate and analyse could be become a skill more valuable than any other.

Making the Switch: Moving from Traditional to Electronic Textbooks Part 5: Getting On the Same Page

This is the fifth part of a multipart series on how the El Paso ISD in El Paso, Texas began the move from traditional paper textbooks to digital open textbooks.

After figuring out the adoption cycle, finding OER and CC resources, teaming up with CK12 Foundation and getting a team in place (See links at bottom of page), the next step in was to get everyone on the same page.

Collaboration was the key to success

Once the team was selected, it became obvious that we were not going to be all meeting at the same time in the same location. Part of our team was teaching summer school, part of the team was away on summer vacation, part of the team was ready to roll, and of course the CK12 team was back in Palo Alto. We would have to figure out a way to work collaboratively not only locally but with the CK12 personnel that were helping us.

We had several factors that were going against us, the major one being time. We were tasked with creating the books but we had a deadline of Oct. 1. It was June 21 before we got everyone in place, trained and running.

We didn’t want to have to train everyone on a collaborative solution that would require extra equipment or extra training time, so we as a group decided to use a Google spreadsheet as the place where we would work online.

I know a spreadsheet may sound unusual as a collaborative space for this type of work, but it worked out surprisingly well. We shared the spreadsheet with anyone on the team that had ANYTHING to do with the process, including the trainers. All were able to edit the sheet.

All the curators had to agree to some basic rules:

1. They would actually USE the spreadsheet as their collaborative document

2. The local writers would have to agree to keep a daily diary on the document of what they accomplished that day

3. Any questions both content related and technical had to be written on the spreadsheet

In order for the collaborative document to work, it could not be a one way conversation. The CK12 team had to be a daily contributor as well. The Ck12 team agreed to:

1. Actually use the spreadsheet as their collaborative document

2. Check the document on a daily basis

3. Leave any answers that they had on the document

The larger spreadsheet had many subsist that went with them:

Sheet 1. General Information:

Contact info, who was writing what, emails, phone numbers. This was for everyone.

Sheet 2-5: These were the daily question sheets:

All questions for the CK12 team, the managers, and the trainers were left here. All answers were given in red so the writers/curators would not have to dig through all the spreadsheet to find the answers. Anyone who left a question or answered had to leave their initials next to the entry so we would know who wrote it.

Sheet 6: Professional Development:

This was a running list of all the topics that anyone thought a new teacher to the electronic textbook would need.

Sheet 7: Daily Agenda:

Each team wrote their daily accomplishment on this sheet. While this may sound inconsequential, it became a running diary of accomplishments. That was good for looking back and seeing how far the team had come in such a short period of time.

Sheet 8: Daily Editor Diary:

When we brought in editors (upcoming entry) they would leave a list of changes that they had made, so the curators could go back and see where changes were made without freaking out about big changes. This became important because the curators could see exactly what the editors were doing so nothing was a surprise and the editors were able to get feedback.

Sheet 9: Resource Links:

Both CK12 and our own curators created a list of resources (mostly online) that would be embedded into the new books.

Sheet 10-12 Cross Check Rubrics:

All of the books and all of the chapters needed to have some non-negotiable components that were common across the books. For instance, all chapters needed to have the standards that were being addressed at the beginning of each chapter. Each chapter had to address vocabulary. This sheet forced all the editors and writers to address missing components or ones that were not formatted properly. Missing components were listed in red until corrected.

Sheet 13-15 Standards Review:

All of the standards for each content area were listed and then the curators checked off where they were addressed in each chapter. This was a great visual for making sure all of the standards were addressed. Missing standards, or ones that needed extra love because of low test scores could be addressed.

Some of you may be thinking that a wiki is a better way to go with this type of work, or even an online group, and you might be correct. However, for our purposes, and with the timelines and personnel we were working with, the collaborative Google Spreadsheet was the way to go. Training is the key to all of this, and that is the topic of the next entry.

Here Comes Nobody: Put Your Laptops Away. A Response to Clay Shirky.

Clay Shirky wrote an interesting piece about how he has now shifted his teaching style from a “Laptops always” policy to a “Leave your devices at home” policy entitled "Why I Just Asked My Students to Put Their Laptops Away." Now Clay, for my gentle readers who do not know him is no ed tech slouch. He is the author of such works as “Here Comes Everyone" a seminal work on how the internet has changed group dynamics and interactions. He is oft quoted by ed tech speakers at conferences and is generally regarded as a guru on all things relating to how students interact with the internet. So it is a big deal when he says something like he has decided to have his students put away their laptops.

(Clay Shirky’s worst nightmare class)


As Clay puts it the reason he asked his students to put away their laptops was directly related to the level of distraction on the screen:

"The level of distraction in my classes seemed to grow, even though it was the same professor and largely the same set of topics, taught to a group of students selected using roughly the same criteria every year. The change seemed to correlate more with the rising ubiquity and utility of the devices themselves, rather than any change in me, the students, or the rest of the classroom encounter."

He goes on to describe how students cannot “multitask” nor can they resist the siren call of the pop-up in the computer’s notification center, telling the user that Aunt Mary has just posted a new cupcake recipe on Pinterest. (Note: I think neuroscientists would argue that no one can actually multitask. You can switch between tasks rapidly, but you cannot carry on multiple tasks at a time.)

Okay, so here is a guy in a post secondary setting complaining that his students cannot stay on task.

Yikes. Where have we hear this story before? Oh yeah, Dan Willingham made a stink awhile back on the same topic. He lamented that whatever was on the computer was so much more interesting than what was in his lectures. And that was from a brain guy, who should know more than ANYONE how to make something more interesting than a computer screen.

"I think the problem is different w/ laptops because the alternative to whatever is happening in class is so appealing to students.”

After reading this, I couldn’t help but think that this was AGAIN more of a classroom management issue than anything else.

Whenever I hear folks in post secondary complain about how students are not paying attention to them, I immediately ask myself what is it abut the class that is causing students to NOT pay attention.

By his own admission Shirky is not changing up his delivery: “…even though it was the same professor and largely the same set of topics, taught to a group of students selected using roughly the same criteria every year.”

Same class, same criteria, same topics…same same same.

So, we have a professor that by his own admission hasn’t changed his style in years.
We have a professor, that by his own admission has little or no classroom management skills.

Is there some kind of way that a really smart college professor could control his class use of digital devices besides a draconian putting all the laptops away?

Look at what we are using in our district: A simple stop light:

Red: Put it away
Yellow: Wait for Permission
Green: Use it

We have Kindergarten teachers that are using this. Why can’t a college professor do it?

It really is that simple. Is there something that post secondary education that they cannot control their classes? Set some expectations up front. Dang. Go over to your University’s College of Education and learn some classroom management skills.

I am a professor and my lectures are less interesting than Aunt Mary’s cupcake recipe. REALLY? Shouldn’t that be some kind of red flag about the delivery of the content?

Wes Fryer responded to Willingham, and I think it applies to Shirky as well:

“How about using our scarce and precious face-to-face time with students to have them DO something with their digital technologies instead of just asking them to sit there passively and listen and take notes?”

Really, if you are lecturing to students, you really are not setting very high expectations for them in class anyway.

Maybe you are getting what you deserve.

Making the Switch: Moving from Traditional to Electronic Textbooks Part 4: Creating a Team

This is the fourth of a multipart series on how the El Paso ISD in El Paso, Texas began the move from traditional paper textbooks to digital open textbooks.

In Part 3 of this series, we looked at how the El Paso Independent School District chose the CK12 Foundation’s Flexbooks as the basis for their new electronic science textbooks. The Flexbooks provided an experience that rivaled the traditional textbooks publishers texts without the publisher’s prices.

The next step was to create a team to work on the district books. Since the books were in essence, already written, the team would be more curators than writers, gathering the already complete material and putting it into the sequence that matched the district’s scope and lesson plans. They also would align the books to the state standards.

Teacher Criteria:

The teachers that we decided to work with had to have several qualities:

They had to be open to new ideas

We were not necessarily looking for “techies.” We were looking for teachers that could look at something new and not immediately dismiss it. This is harder than it sounds: many teachers are stuck in tradition, or have the “We already tried this” mindset. And while that mindset is a defensive one and at times understandable, we needed teachers that were able to get beyond that way of thinking. We also wanted them to work with the OER list that we had originated to use that material and discussed in Part 2 of this series.

They had to be respected by their peers

We knew that the teachers that we chose would have to end up becoming cheerleaders for the project. We needed teachers that had gravitas with their colleagues. This was important because we needed to have teachers (not central office administrators who are often portrayed as the enemy) leading the charge, not the central office. Teachers that were respected by their peers were more likely to be listened to by peers.

They had to be experts in content and standards

We knew that the books we were using from CK12 were good. We had no doubt that the content was okay. We needed teachers that could look at the content and find holes (if there were any) that they could fill with other content. The teachers also had to be experts in the Texas state standards because we needed to have them align the Flexbooks. The teachers also had to be well versed in our scope and sequence so that they could look at the Flexbooks and put them in the order that we wanted.

Using those criteria of openness, respectability and content knowledge, it was time to get the rest of the team in place.

Trainers up first:

Trainers were needed to teach our curators how to navigate through the CK12 Flexbooks. We chose three technology trainers that would train the teachers, in concert with the CK12 staff, on the ins-and-outs of the CK12 system. Although CK12 Flexbooks are relatively easy to navigate, they are not intuitively obvious. Three trainers would be availalble to also troubleshoot minor technical issues should they arise as well.

CK12 Jumps In:

CK12 then provided their support by providing pretty much their entire team to help with the process. We would be able to access them, and one was assigned as the lead. That person was the one that we would filter issues through.

Final Touch:

The final piece of the creation puzzle was a set of editors that were tasked with going through the created books to make sure not only the basics of grammar and spelling were observed but also the look and feel. We wanted to make sure that the books were consistent from one to another, which if we simply kept the original CK12 Flexbooks would not have been an issue. However, because we were adding materials and aligning to our standards, we were changing the basic formats to match our needs. The editors kept the formats the same throughout.

To create a OER textbook, we needed a team. Our team included:

  • Teacher Writers/Curators
  • Trainers
  • CK12 Facilitators
  • Editors

Once the team was in place, we needed to make sure everyone was on the same page. That is the topic of the Part 5: On the Same Page.

Previous Entries in this series:

Link the arts to the sciences to the tech? I think most nerd know about the Star Trek connections, and the hundreds of other ways that art has influenced the tech world (Could we have made it to the moon without Captain Kirk and friends?)

Hell, Shatner had an entire series about how Star Trek changed the world.

This is a great little 6 minute video on how art influences more than just gallery owners and collectors. Show this to your art classes and show it to your math and science classes. Then understand why we are moving towards STEAM, not just STEM.

Thanks to my buddy David Bell for the heads up on this video!

Making the Switch: Moving from Traditional to Electronic Textbooks Part 3: The CK12 Flexbooks

This is the third of a multipart series on how the El Paso ISD in El Paso, Texas began the move from traditional paper textbooks to digital open textbooks.

In Part 2 of this series, we looked at how gathering a database of OER resources is crucial to starting the conversation and the process of moving to not only e-texts, but free e-texts. You cannot know what you can create if you are not aware of the resources that are available.

I think that many people are hesitant to make a move to Open Education Resources (OER) because they think that Free = Cheap. While that CAN be the case, I also think that paid textbooks are also not always the best they can be. I remember my days teaching and running across spelling errors, incorrect information in general, wrong answers in the teacher’s editions and mislabelled pictures. Expensive does not always equate to quality either.

Looking at some of the free resources that are now available and readily accessible to anyone, I think that many of us would be hard pressed to say that some do not have the quality of traditional texts. And being online, many of these have advantages that paper texts do not have. For instance take a look at the Big History Project, an online course that presents history from the Big Bang to the present. Totally free.

Surely no one will argue that E.O. Wilson’s free iBook “Life On Earth" and the corresponding curricula that is attached to it on the iTunes Books Store is not both at a level found in traditional textbooks but probably at a level that exceeds that created by the major publishers. And it is free.

So now the conversation shifts away from DO we want to use OER materials, to the more interesting WHAT OER materials do we want to use? The embarrassment of riches could cause a district to have a paralysis of choice: Too many choices, so we choose none.

Luckily for EPISD, we had already been familiar with the work of the CK12 Foundation, started by Neeru Khosla and Murugan Pal. The purpose of the foundation was to provide high quality no cost textbooks in the STEM fields to anyone or any organization that needed them.

I had first heard about them at the 2012 TCEA Conference when I made this little video:

CK12 just happened to have the textbooks that matched the core content area that was up for adoption (See Part 1: Understanding the Cycle): High School Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. CK12 offers something called Flexbooks, which are, as the name implies, Flexible textbooks that can be modified by the end user, whether that user is a district, a teacher or even a student.

What makes the Flexbooks “flexible?” A district can become a curator of content from any of the other Flexbooks that are offered and mash up the content into their own book. For instance, if a district has a curricular sequence that does not match the sequence of the book chapters and subchapters can be rearranged to match the district’s sequence. If the district has a scope that includes content not in a particular book, sections and even entire chapters can be copied into the district’s Flexbook. Conversely, if there are topics that are not being addressed, those can be simply cut from the book.

Non-CK12 content can also be added the flex books. For instance, information about a new planet or the topical Ebola Virus can be added into the book, or a new Youtube video can be embedded. None of that could be done with a traditional textbook. And it was free. Best price ever!

After seeing and understanding the possibilities of the Flexbooks offered by CK12, EPISD then contacted the organization in order to find out if other districts had tried what we were attempting to do. Apparently, not too many districts in Texas had attempted to do what we were proposing to do: Dump the traditional publisher-created textbook model and create our own. However , the state of Utah had done exactly that a few years previously. Over a quick series of webinars, Google hangouts and phone calls, the folks at CK12 agreed to help the district create four books: High School Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Integrated Physics and Chemistry.

We had had matched the move to the adoption cycle, we had gathered a database of information and we had now chosen a way to go with the CK12 Foundation and the textbooks.

The next thing we needed to do was gather up a team that could put all of this together.

For more information about CK12, go here.

Previous Entries in this series:

Making the Switch: Moving from Traditional to Electronic Textbooks Part 2: Finding Open Education and Creative Commons Resources

This is the second of a multipart series on how the El Paso ISD in El Paso Texas began the move from traditional paper textbooks to digital open textbooks.

In Part One of this series, we looked at the need to understand the cycle of adoption as basic in any strategy to shift from traditional textbooks to digital textbooks. At least in Texas, an optimal time to make the switch to digital textbooks would be when a major core area of textbooks are being adopted, This is because the maximum amount of funding is being given by the state to purchase instructional materials and it is a natural “break” in the textbook cycle. Decide to stay with paper text now, and you are stuck for the next eight years. Paper texts in 2023? Really? That is where you want your students to be?

After the decision was made to move our science textbooks to science digital books, the hunt began for free or low cost materials that could replace the traditional texts. We knew that there was a lot of material out there, we just didn’t have a place to start looking for it.

Open Education Resources

For the last few years, I had been interested in open education resources (OER). I was first introduced to the idea of PER when I came across a young woman that was at the TCEA 2013 OER is a worldwide informal movement to put the information found traditionally in textbooks up online so anyone can access it. Over the years, I have had a love/hate relationship with the term “open.” I have issues with “open” software that appears to be nothing more than a freely copied look and feel of software that was developed by software companies. (Don’t tell me that GIMP is not a total rip off of Photoshop. It is. And would Moodle even exist if Blackboard wasn’t there first? Doubtful.)

I don’t however, have a problem with open CONTENT. As I said earlier in that post:

The difference in my mind about FOSS and open education resources is that OER is simply, for the most part, general knowledge. There is no copyright on knowledge. For instance, if I write an article about the 8 planets, unless I have some new insight or some unique perspective, the knowledge is general and in the public domain. Biology textbooks in the OER world are, for the most part, simply collections of generally known general information. The ones in CK12.org for instance are written by authors that understand they are simply restating general knowledge. A cell is a cell, whether it is in the US or in Botswana. Knowledge cannot be owned. Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, the human skeletal structure, the quadratic equation, what makes a verb a verb and a noun a noun are all common knowledge that cannot be copyrighted. Now I COULD copyright, if I chose, the delivery method of how I wished to present the Laws of Motion or the skeletal structure. If I had a way cool multimedia way of teaching the human skeleton, then I certainly COULD claim intellectual property and protect it from people or organizations that would want to put it into their products. But I cannot copyright the knowledge of the names of bones, the structure of bones, the layout of the skeleton, etc.

The district had to find some OER resources. We gathered a team of ed tech trainers and created a spreadsheet of all the OER materials we could find on the web. The spreadsheet was a good start, and it demonstrated that there was a lot of material out there to access. (You can see the spreadsheet here, and even add to it if you like.) We opened up the spreadsheet so that anyone could add to it. As of this writing, it had been edited over 200 times!

We learned about quite a few OER resources, public domain resources, and more. I even presented on the topic at a conference:

We also noticed that there was a lot of Creative Commons copyright materials in our list. (For those of you unfamiliar with Creative Commons, check out this website.)

So we had created the need for switching to digital texts. And we had created a large database of possible OER, public domain and creative commons materials that we thought could be the basis of creating our own textbooks.

Now we had to go through the material and see what was acceptable. Luckily, we had noticed that there was one set of links that kept popping up over and over: the textbooks created by the CK12 Foundation.

Up Next: Making the Switch: Moving from Traditional to Electronic Textbooks Part 3: The Ck12 Flexbooks

Making the Switch: Moving from Traditional to Electronic Textbooks Part 1: Understanding the Cycle

This is the first of a multipart series on how the El Paso ISD in El Paso Texas began the move from traditional paper textbooks to digital textbooks.

Understanding the textbook adoption cycle.

In Texas, textbooks for public schools are adopted statewide on a regular cycle. This cycle moves core area texts through schools at a suggested rate of once every eight years. If the state is adopting say, math textbooks this year, they will replace textbooks that have been in the schools for eight years.

The state adoption cycle also includes an inner cycle, where the state will make a “Proclamation” to textbook publishers (telling them what books will be adopted on what year), publishers will submit their books, the state will evaluate the books to see if they meet the standards (this is called “conforming to the standards”). Then a period of public input is allowed, and then the state tells districts which books met the standards and are able to be adopted. Districts then go through an “adoption process” where textbooks are vetted, and voted on, usually by a committee of teachers and administrators.

Districts can choose from the “conforming list” or not (non-conforming list).

A few years ago, district were locked into the walls of choosing only from the conforming list. The state would provide the district with funds and the district would have to purchase books from the state. (Remember the infamous “schoolbook repository” where Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK from? That was the old warehouse where all the state’s textbooks were held before shipping to districts across Texas at the time. How is that for trivia?) Districts were given money called a “textbook allotment” and could purchase textbooks from that allotment. New texts were sent to districts, and old texts were send back.

Then things changed.

In 2011, the state legislature, in an effort to save money, decided that the state would be getting out of the textbook warehousing business. Instead of making districts pay for pre-chosen textbooks, they allowed districts to choose any text they desired, as long as the district could show that it was meeting the state standards. The state also took the old textbook allotment funds and combined them with previously earmarked technology allotment funds to create a new “Instructional Materials Allotment” (IMA) fund, where districts could also choose to purchase technology as well as textbooks. Textbooks no longer had to be “traditional” paper texts. In fact, there was some underlying discussion that the state was actually encouraging electronic textbooks over paper ones for a variety of reasons.

Times change.

Even with the new IMA allotment of funds, districts found themselves with less money to purchase textbooks than in previous cycles. That was because the two previously individual funds of textbooks and technology actually were greater than the combined fund of IMA, and the cost of textbooks was rising not falling. Districts were left with the choice of textbooks or technology, but rarely did thy have the monies for both.

As noted on the TCEA website:

The 82nd Legislature passed SB 6 to create the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA). This allotment is designed to provide funds for districts to purchase the instructional materials that will be used to support the teaching and learning of the curriculum established by the State Board of Education (SBOE) as outlined in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). As the delivery of information has changed over the last 10 years outside of school, from print to digital, the IMA is designed to give districts the flexibility that is needed to allow them to deliver content digitally as they deem prudent. SB 6 combined the funds that had been set aside for technology in the Technology Allotment, with the funds that had been set aside for textbooks. This requires districts to think strategically when deciding what content they should use instructionally and how technology can support the teaching of the content. In order to make the best use of the allotment, districts will want to include a variety of stakeholders when deciding how to utilize the IMA.

One interesting aside of the SB6 was that districts were now allowed to use open education resources (OER) instead of publisher-created materials if they so desired.

With a knowledge of where the money was coming from (or not coming from) and a knowledge of the textbook adoption cycle, districts could now begin to revisit exactly where they wanted to spend their money, and if the traditional textbook model was in fact the only model to follow.

If a district was contemplating a shift to using OER or self created materials, it would have to be during a time when a major adoption was taking place, in one of the core curricular areas. The reason for that was that the core areas have greater funding associated with them for the IMA because all students are required to take core areas, such as science or math. A district would need to align their shift to OER and digital with the adoption cycle.

Enter Science.

It just so happened that 2014 was the place in the state adoption cycle where the science textbooks were being adopted. That created a natural breaking spot for districts to decide to either go with traditional textbooks, digital publisher textbooks, self created textbooks, or with OER.

In the case of the El Paso Independent School District, a new superintendent , Juan Cabrera, with new ideas was looking for ways to get technology into the hands of students and also save money in a time of lessening enrollment and budget cuts asked a interesting question to the people in charge of the textbooks for the district:

"Why aren’t we just using all the free material that is already out there?"

That question changed the way the district would look at textbooks and textbook adoptions.

Up Next: Making the Switch: Moving from Traditional to Electronic Textbooks Part 2: Open Education Resources

For a nice overview of the Instructional Materials Allotment go here : http://www.tcea.org/advocacy/resources/public-policy-issues/ima

Oct 9

EPISD switches to e-books for high school science - El Paso Times

Proud of my district! Making a bold move into ed tech!

El Paso Independent School District will take the first step in eliminating paper textbooks when high school science classes switch to digital textbooks today.

District officials say EPISD is the first large school district in Texas to move to all digital, teacher-edited digital textbooks.

"It’s our opinion at EPISD that this is inevitable," Superintendent Juan Cabrera said on Tuesday.

District officials say the move to digital textbooks will save money and give them more flexibility in teaching students.

AS STUDENTS HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL, THE FUTURE OF LEARNING IS MOBILE


AS STUDENTS HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL, THE FUTURE OF LEARNING IS MOBILE


(Washington, DC) – As 55 million U.S. children in grades K-12 head back to school, Mobile Future today debuted a new infographic—“EdTech + Mobile = Learning” —showcasing the tremendous promise wireless technologies offer both students and educators.

Tech pioneers are investing in wireless technologies that are transforming teaching and learning. With mobile devices and apps now front and center in the American consciousness, our nation’s community of learners has enthusiastically embraced mobile technologies as an on-ramp to untold educational opportunities and enhanced learning environments. To illuminate just how embedded mobile devices have become in our nation’s classrooms, here are some key points spotlighted in this latest “back-to-school” installment of Mobile Future’s infographic series:

43% of all pre-K through 12th grade students use a smartphone.

78% of Algebra 1 students using a tablet scored at least proficient vs. 59% of those using textbooks

6 out of 10 teachers say mobile devices allow them to provide more personalized help to students.

81% of teachers believe mobile devices enrich classroom education.

73% of middle school and high school teachers use cellphones for classroom activities.

Educational apps are the second largest category in Apple’s App Store and the third largest in Android’s Google Play.

E-textbooks can save schools $250-$1,000 per student each year.

“Wireless technologies are offering students, along with their parents, caregivers and the teachers who instruct them, fresh, engaging and constantly evolving ways of learning about, and examining, the world around them,” said Mobile Future Chair Jonathan Spalter. “With continued investment and innovation in wireless, mobile will continue to transform American education and help ensure all of our young people have the tools they need to succeed in today’s and tomorrow’s wireless world.”

Smartphone Microscope Can be made for a Dollar

Ever since the iPhone came out, folks have been looking at ways to make it do things it was never meant to do, and one of these is as a portable microscope.

$10, $2, now down to about $1.

Article summary:

Suppose you were a first responder, who got called out to investigate a suspicious substance found in a public place. Instead of having to transport that material back to the lab, wouldn’t it be better if you could just take a microscope image of it with your smartphone, email that image off to a remote lab, then receive the analysis within just a few minutes while you were still on location? Thanks to a very inexpensive new phone attachment developed at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), that could soon be possible.

Click on title to go to article.

Check out this video I made a few years ago, inspired by Hall Davidson:

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)

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?

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.