Saturday, October 24, 2015

What do we want kids to do with technology?

The above picture was shared with my classmates in Leading with Instructional Technology this morning. When I initially read the list, I immediately connected with the "right answers", but realize the reality in most educational settings is technology is often used as something to be taught, an outcome, but not a tool students can use to learn, present and create. I wrote in an earlier post related to maker spaces in ELA and social studies classrooms that I believe the reason we don't have students using these tools is the reluctance of educators to put them in their hands. Instructors feel they need to  be an expert or at least knowledgable about the tool. Our students are natives and most instructors are not. I understand the feeling of not wanting to hand technology to our students without some knowledge, but I believe we need to in order to engage them and assess what they are truly capable of doing we must. What do you think?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Billions in Change

Billions in Change: Manoj Bhargava

My goal this morning was to read an article for the Instructional Technology for Leaders course I'm currently enrolled in at Lewis & Clark College. I found myself distracted by a video my engineering instructor has been encouraging me to watch. His email with the link has been taunting me. Like many students, I chose to watch the video instead of addressing my homework. Hopefully my instructor will forgive me. One of our hopes for the students at the Clackamas Academy of Industrial Sciences is to develop graduates like Manoj and his colleagues. Graduates who are innovative in a way that serves and solves the huge problems our world is facing. I'm attracted to stories like Manoj's because it gives us hints on how to prepare the innovators of tomorrow. As educators, we are often listening to the experts, people Manoj describes as people who know everything about the past, to learn about best practices and better a system that is outdated. Our preparation lends itself to getting students into college. To preparing them in the way we have in the past… only more effectively. We are not often looking ahead for "next practices"that push us to prepare students to solve the problems of their future. I believe we need to know yesterday's best practices about how people learn, but spend much more energy searching out and finding tomorrow's next practices. Watch the video. Comment on what hints you think Manoj is providing us in how to prepare tomorrow's innovators. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Future Ready Summit: Transforming ELA & Social Studies Classes into Maker Spaces

I attended two breakout sessions during the Future Ready Summit at Sunset High School this morning. The first session was focused on transforming Language Arts and Social Studies classrooms into maker spaces. The second on different digital learning spaces. The basic idea of the first session was allowing students to access different maker space activities as tools for presenting their learning. Multiple examples were given and educators in the room were given the task of picking a learning goal and trying to figure out how to use the different activities to present their learning. The most significant part of my experience was listening to teachers communicate that they didn't feel comfortable having students access the different activities (Fakebook, MakeyMakey, 3D printing, Papercraft, Google Cardboard, etc) without having knowledge of how to use them. This same belief came out in the next session I attended focused on digital learning spaces. Teachers were worried they wouldn't be able to teach the students how to use the apps or tools. I felt our group missed the point of stepping away and allowing the students to figure out how to use the options and then how to communicate what they learned. To me, it just showed how scared we often are of moving away from feeding students knowledge instead of letting them use their own wonder, curiosity and creativity to create their learning experience. I found myself referring back to Sugata's self-teaching TED Talk. Would this session have gone differently if we had watched that video as a warm-up? Are we squashing the full potential of our students to learn while they are with us by always directing their learning?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sugata Mitra's New Experiments in Self-Teaching

After viewing Sugata Mitra's TED Talk on day one, there was a particular line stood out to me as the vital ingredient to his research and our work as educators. In referencing a conversation with Arthur C Clarke, he shares his statement that "if children have interest, then education happens". Whenever observing classrooms or student projects, the factor that always plays in their engagement is their interest. Their interest in the subject, project or activity. In working with students who are struggling, I often find they aren't interested. Imagine that. Their education lacks relevance to them, either because it has no relevance to their goals and interests or no one has helped them make the connection.

At the same time, I realize we can't make those connections all the time in every class and activity. I believe Sugata's research shows us another avenue to creating interest. We can make subjects that aren't relevant to them interesting. All of us as humans has a curiosity that showed in Sugata's work. Technology and teamwork gives us the ability to send students off with a task they know nothing about and learn. The unknown in itself can create interest for students. Students can self-teach and be motivated learners when we provide enough freedom for them to discover and uncover in a social way.

Do you think its possible we stifle student motivation and interest by not giving them enough freedom to learn on their own?

I would be interested to hear from anyone who watches the second TED talk and is not struck by the girl in the pictures response. I believe this is what our students are asking and waiting for us as a community to do. We need to put the tools needed to prepare for their future in their hands. It is time of the system of education we've had for centuries to lay down and make way for new forms of education that motivate and prepare our students for their future. Whether it is Sugata's SOLE or another form of innovative education, we need to find what motivates and prepares and stop trying to do it from the framework we've been working in for what seems like ever... how do we create enough freedom in our public schools systems to become innovative and relevant to our student's futures? 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

EDAD 536 Leading with Instructional Technology

Day One Reflection

We ended our class today with one of Sir Ken Robinson's well known TED talks on education. His final comment related to students bringing their dreams to our feet every day. He ends by reminding us to "tread lightly". I thought about this comment as it relates to his belief that we need to cultivate each students' passions and desires while preparing them for scores of careers and diverse futures. Our current educational system does not allow many of our students to cultivate their interests and passions with the exception of a few classes. If the student's passion is not represented in our master schedule, how then do we cultivate that passion and develop their individual needs? It sounds impossible, overwhelming and at times can crush the motivation of educators who want all of our students to be prepared and successful in their future.

In our discussions concerning the use of technology, the skeptics, the utopians and everyone in the middle, I can't help but think that technology is one way for us to reach the unique individuals in our classrooms. Many of the standards we are required to teach students have the flexibility to be adjusted to become relevant for many, and in some cases, all of our students. Teachers armed with the intent to make their student's experience relevant and the technology to allow students to connect their class learning with their individual passions can begin to couple students with their future while at school. Isn't that the point? 

I know many will respond that we don't have the resources to put technology into everyone's hands, but the truth is we do if we allow ourselves and our students to access different types. Many of our students have cell phones, teachers usually have at least one computer and it benefits students to have to share resources and work together when their isn't enough technology for one-to-one. In fact, we shouldn't provide one-to-one. Students need to work together consistently and for a large part of their day. Collaboration is a vital soft skill that is underdeveloped in the K-12 system. 

Do you think technology can be a tool to diversify student experiences in the classroom and allow students to connect with their interests and passions? Can we make their education more relevant with the technology we use and how we use it? 

Youtube: Learning to Change / Changing to Learn

I immediately connected to the message of the first comment made by Keith Kruger in the above video link. In my work with regional leaders in the area of manufacturing, I am often met with the reality that our educational system doesn't often enough provide students with the type of activities and technologies to match their future career reality. Our educational system experiences fiscal, physical and political constraints that can make change lethargic and challenging. While we often times lack the ability to provide our students with the most up-to-date technology, we can always provide them with a level of technology and activities that are relevant to their future.

In the video, Daniel Pink later mentions the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Our classrooms activities are too often individual and do not often enough provide students with experiences in collaboration and teamwork. There is never an excuse to not include activities that mirror the behaviors and activities involved in our students future careers. This we can often do with or without the most up-to-date technology. What other ways can we connect our students with activities the better prepare them for their future?