Technology’s Promise: How can we leverage technology to aid learning in the 2014 and beyond? EDUC 5101 Synthesis

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There is no question that learning in the internet age is completely different from any time in history. Traditional structures, routines and institutionalized practices in education (like all other industries in 2014) are being categorically replaced by the promise of technology for a more open (and seemingly endless) access to resources, expertise, information (in varying degrees of relevance and accuracy) Most importantly, technology’s potential to connect individuals, experts and learners from across the globe in real time is quite profound. In the last decade in particular, the classroom with its familiar set up of desks, chairs and chalkboard can potentially be replaced as a monopolizing hub for learning as we can learn anywhere, collaborate locally and globally and frequently do using technology The potential for redefining learning tasks and the struggle to survive and hopefully thrive in this new learning environment, has been experienced by all stakeholders in education including the learner at the center, parents, teachers, administrators and politicians. This post will explore four topics of areas of discussion: curriculum relevance, the role of standardized testing, socio-economic disparities and finally the resistance to change traditionally characteristic of our educational settings. The problem based learning model and approach by Dr. Desjardins is vital to our analysis as we take on the roles of the stakeholders and attempt to identify the problem, current situation, desired situation, obstacles, knowledge and resources towards approaching a solution from one perspective and then from another perspective and so on.

pbl3
“To begin with, the concept “problem” (P) can be described as being equivalent to the difference between a current situation (Sc) and a desired situation (Sd) or goal, and this difference becomes a difficulty as it is multiplied by the number and size of the obstacles (O) that stand between these.” (Desjardins, 2011 – Source)  

No question that our curriculum has to evolve to make the needs of students today (at least?!) and tomorrow (ideally).  A significant majority of students feel disenfranchised in schools. (Ito et al., 2013) They seem disinterested in both the content and pedagogies that characterize traditional approaches to learning in K-12 environments. (Ito et al., 2013) We, as educators, have to be committed to change, upgrade and re-define tasks if we are to attempt to prepare students for an uncertain future with important life and learning skills. As always, the focus must be on creating an enhanced and connected learning environment rather than teaching technology in isolation. According to Heidi Hayes Jacobs, educators should be upgrading and updating tasks constantly to help prepare students for tomorrow rather than learn the skills of yesterday. She suggests a number of updates to consider: content and assessment (what to keep, cut, create and add to a portfolio?), program structures (by grade, use of time, space), use of technology, media literacy, globalization, sustainability and habits of mind (thinking habits to all succeed in life). A mention of Dr. Punterdura’s SAMR model is also a relevant and important lens to critically and honestly examine all learning with technology. When integrating technology into instruction and learning, perhaps our goal for updating is to move an increasing amount of tasks to the re-definition level. From a curriculum leader or administrator’s perspective, providing opportunities for staff to become connected through school collaboration embedded into their weekly schedule would also aid teachers to plan rich learning experiences (more re-definition tasks) for students. Another invaluable solutions is encouraged our teachers to become connected educators who use external collaborations, social media like Twitter, webinars as well as action research and conferences to aid their students and learning community. The accessibility to leading educators, researchers, academic and pedagogical leaders as well as experts on any topic through digital means (i.e. Skype, email, IM etc.) is too rich a resource for educators and administrators to pass up. In short, creating connected educators with vibrant Personal Learning Networks (PLN) is going to be a more powerful way to upgrade curriculum and learning for students than traditional top-down staff meetings or even one-off conferences.

From the student and parent perspective, each of these stakeholders is keen to experience activities that showcases a student’s strengths and prepares them for future success. Engagement then becomes key and seeking connected learning experiences is one strategy where the learner can participate, learn by doing, face constant challenge and be able to explore the interconnectedness of learning not only to prepare them for the outside world but as an active participant immediately. An example of this is found on the Scratch 2.0 website where enthusiasts of coding and programming from all walks of life are able to share, remix and build programs by topic, function or theme. From collections of projects by topic, subject even principles like loops provide a venue for showcasing and learning skills in a public setting purposefully. Sites like Scratch, Google Apps, Prezi or Voice Thread (link to more by parts of the SAMR model)  where creativity is encouraged and designers have the option to share work to a limited or specific and when appropriate a wider audience will not only motivate and engage but also allow students to become digital leaders with a positive digital footprints upon graduation.

Politicians on the topic of curriculum relevance have to listen to their educational advisors and economic leaders and support initiatives that will allow for graduates to find economic independence and be happy as measured on the Happiness index. As educators in 2014, I think we have the opportunity to leverage a variety of assessment tools including diagnostic to plot a learner’s position on continuum of learning. I find in my practice that some traditional questions (especially when using a combination of open and closed questions) are helpful for a quick check for learning and feedback and this aids both learners and educators. However, at the end of a unit or period of time, when student needs to demonstrate a fuller spectrum of their learning, a digital portfolio of student work, artifacts and achievements is definitely a better gauge of their progress. In 2014, the ability to take pictures, videos and links to digital content (always protecting student’s personal data and likeness) could allow “testing” to reflect a learner’s true perspective especially if curated by them dependent on age. Politicians aided by academics and administrators could then examine student’s created artifacts for specific criteria and benchmarks. This is no doubt a longer process of assessment, especially for those keen on clean and simple numerical data. However, in 2014 I would argue that no one can have their learning boiled down to a grade level or number!  This document shared by a colleague demonstrates the student’s perspective and input on the potential and exciting future possible for students. (source)
student's imagine future of education

Funding and support for open source and publicly funded learning initiatives can certainly aid the digital divide that is taking place in Ontario and to an even greater extent internationally. (Chen et al. 2014) As most initiatives and educational technology move to a cloud based model, access to a web enabled device unlocks a wealth of rich learning opportunities for students. Luckily, the price of one device is becoming increasingly affordable to point of complete market penetration. Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) initiatives in schools can increase the integration of technology in class as along as students who arrive to school without, are provided with a device without stigma or a vast gap in access to tools accessible to others. (i.e. If classes are using tablets, students should not using computers and vice versa.) As educational technology becomes increasingly entrenched in schools, parents with limited purchasing power are going put tremendous pressure on schools to provide devices to maintain equity. Partnerships between companies and schools in need can also be encouraged by politicians and administrators to provide devices in a mutually beneficial exchange of student use for ethical and discrete data collection and research. BYOD can help but can also reinforce inequity and therefore a 1:1 environment with all teachers and students sharing a similar device is more ideal.

Governments also have a role to place in providing funding for technology hardware and seemingly free educational materials (software, digital textbooks,  web based etc.) accessible by all students in a learning community or province. The example of Bitstrips for Schools is one web tool where a powerful and creative online tool is freely available to Ontario students. Administrators and school leaders have an important role in advocating the needs of the students and considering the resources, tools and especially technology to meet the needs of their students.

Educational institutions have traditionally been skeptical to changes and adopting new technologies and learning practices in the classroom is wholly dependent on the teacher. (Chen et al. 2014) This critical approach has merit when the focus is on maintaining a high standard of learning in the classroom but has to shift as the teacher-learner relationship evolves in the internet age. Educators no longer have a monopoly on knowledge and in the information age, students from all ages have the potential for greater knowledge on a specific subject than the instructor. Successful instructors will shift their focus on process and provide opportunities for students to demonstrate a synthesis of their ideas, adapting one format (writing to multimedia or multi-sensory etc.) or even leaving it up to the students (depending on the age) to select their own form of expression to meet the learning goals. This flexible model creates an environment where change is welcome and adapts to the needs of the students. Administrators are also encouraged to support teachers whose innovative practices help their students and by allowing them to share with others in their internal school PLN and external PLN to more input and suggestions. An open approach to new ideas and modes of learning is a strong element of creating a vibrant learning community.

Another important resource for all stakeholders in educators (from the learner to the politician) is the adoption of a growth mindset as proposed by Carol Dweck. By transitioning to a growth mindset rather than a fixed one, all stakeholders in education are encouraged to note that our skills, achievements and practices are not fixed and can constantly evolve to be better and more effective. No doubt failure is an important, necessary and acceptable outcome for new ideas and initiatives. This is so true when working online as “pulling the plug” or horror of ‘no wifi” can bring Plan A to a grinding halt! However, the capacity for new student centered models where parents, educators, curriculum leaders, principals and politicians all work from the mindset that FAIL stands for “First Attempt in Learning” encourages innovation and risk taking that forms the basis for the economy in society today and in the future. Another quote that supports a dynamic of change and innovation is from Heidi Siwak “You are only ever working with your current best idea.” This expression of integrative thinking offers an approach that would help educators and administrators use the tools (in our case technological) currently available to help students but be willing to reflect, critically examine, change, revise and update when a new approach or technology becomes available.

Collaborations, partnerships and connections between many perspectives leveraged through technological tools and face to face discussions and interactions become critical for growth. Creating connected learners, educators, parents and politicians allow all stakeholders to share, debate and discuss new approaches to learning and education. Learners need to feel that they can connect their ideas and interests to curriculum whenever possible through technological tools like social media, cloud based creative and productivity tools, educational games and simulations. Parents need to model themselves as the “primary educator” in their child’s life, supporting a growth mindset and seeking help and be recipients of support when social, societal, economic factors inhibit the growth of their child. Educators need to similarly adopt a growth mindset with their curriculum documents, adapting to the newest, best expressions of technology and supported by investigations and interactions within their PLN. Administrators need to focus on school wide assessment practices of both students and educators to create a vibrant learning environment where each student has an individual learning plan and both educators and students are continuously looking to grow with confidence. Politicians are in a position to look longer term and support Ontario’s citizens in each stage of life, with learners at the center, while considering the needs of parents, educators and learning communities with funding, support and a growth mindset. In short, technology’s promise is tied directly to an individual’s ability to learn, unlearn and relearn as Toffler states below.

21st-cent-illiterate
Sources

Achieving Excellence: A renewed vision for Education in Ontario
, Government of Ontario,  2014.
Digital Learning in Ontario Schools, People for Education, 2014.
Dweck, Carol Mindset, 2007.
Desjardins, F.J. PBL: Thoughts on the “Role” Effect, 2011.
Ito et al. Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design, 2013.
Jacobs, Heidi Hayes (editor) Curriculum 21, 2010.
Puentedura, Ruben R. SAMR and Curriculum Redesign 2014.

How can Technology be used to help keep education relevant at all levels?

“For more info about the video:

http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/

This video presents a glimpse of what the current situation is in terms of information, technology and knowledge generation around the world.   It presents a situation.  As we discussed, if a “problem” is the “gap” or distance between a current existing situation and a different maybe more desirable one, then what you need to do here, is to look at this and first of all decide if “education” as a social project in its current form, meets its own objectives.  Is it and will it be relevant to it’s own context (the current situation and it imaginable short term future)?

More specifically, if digital technology is having such an impact on all domains of human activity, how can this technology be used to help keep education relevant at all levels?

You are asked to discuss this question and try to clearly identify the associated “problems” in this forum.  Maybe start by identifying clearly what the situation is currently and then what would be a desired situation.  Following this, you should likely work on establishing what the “gap” is (and maybe even assessing if it is within the ZPD of each group?).  Each of you is asked to choose a specific perspective (thread in this forum) that you will adopt for the purpose of this activity only. Hopefully we can get a few people looking at each one?  (We will rotate the groups for the other “problem” activities so that you can experience at least four different perspectives during the course).

  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Administrations
  • Politicians”

From Francois Desjardin’s class on September 15th 2014

Along with full time teaching. I have focusing on my Academic studies, so feel free to check out my Academic Research pages.  Each week we are encouraged to explore the perspective on the above list. My Learning (B)log here for EDUC5101g will be recording my progress as I learn and explore. Feel free to explore my latest posts here.
~Anthony

My #summerofpd – A few activities to “level up” my #edtech skills

A summer break for teachers is definitely a privilege and an opportunity for growth.  The intense, 24/7, always on, crazy schedule during term time sometimes demands a complete break to rest, recover and recharge!  I definitely get that and felt that I took enough time to feel refreshed but also decided to use this time to explore  a number of opportunities to “level up” my #edtech skills through some self-initiated studies. (Perhaps the absence of my enthusiastic camp-bound kids was a significant and contributing factor!)  Here are some of initiatives I explored during this time I dubbed the #summerofpd.

1. Certified as a Google Educator
ARC Google Educator Aug.2014

This site offered teacher-created screencasts with accompanying documents for educators to explore how Google Chrome, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Gmail and Sites can aid teaching and learning. The Level 1 tests were straight forward with everyday experience using the apps but the Level 2 questions  proved challenging as their specificity really tested my revision and study skills. (I’ll have to remember that feeling come December when my students mention all the ISP’s, exams, activities, clubs, teams, events presentations on their to-do list.)  Here is a brief summary of my particular favourites. (More detail to come as I can’t give away all my future blog posts!)

Gmail – Added tabs and tags to sort and organize my messages easily (i.e. academic studies, receipts, notifications, personal etc.)
Google Sites – Created student portfolio templates (Hapara Dashboard makes the process even easier)
Google Calendar – Built shared course calendars for myself and students and ready to assign project calendars student led collaborative assignments
Google Chrome – Created distinct users (home vs. school) and pinned tabs to keep important sites keeps separate yet easily accessible, also some added great apps like Powtoon and extensions like Clearly or goo.gl URL shortener
Google Drive – Collected a number of a good screencasts on using Google Apps. I focused on Google Forms and Google Drawings which were relatively unfamiliar to me. Here is a Google Drawing I created as a model on how Google Classroom (another recent release to explore!) will adjust the workflow in my classes.
BVG Workflow sample 2014

Overall, I passed all the exams and that felt good! Here is the proof. Next steps, will be to include my learning into my professional practice and then share with colleagues in my PLN internally and when appropriate externally too.

The link to the Google Certification site is here and even if you do not decide to pay for the tests, there are some amazing teacher-created videos on many Google tips and tricks.

2. Became a Graphite Certified Educator

The Graphite Certified Educator programme appealed to me as an excellent strategy to review and explore the exponentially increasing amount of educational apps, software and websites now available. (I think of this site as Wikipedia for educational technology.) With so many educational technology resources released frequently, this opportunity to “crowd-source” and collect reviews and experiences of educators is invaluable as a tool to stay “current” in busy times and be able contribute my own ideas and suggestions when inspired. I am lucky enough to explore much educational technology in my professional practice, academic practice and self- professed GeekDad moments (i.e Right now its all about the Sphero 2.o with my two but I digress…)

The Graphite site has many features but here are the sections I would like to emphasize.

Field Notes – Here educators create and share their reviews of  educational technology (#edtech) resources (apps, websites and software). Through crowd-sourcing and the work of many, there is an excellent opportunity to collect a vast database of information to benefit those interested in reading reviews from educators with experience with the technology. (After all, how many of us spend time “clarifying” things on wikipedia.org! I think I have a problem as I have to “wikipedia” EVERY form of media (book, article, movie, show etc.) I read or watch :)

Boards – a perfect place to curate Field Notes and educational resources (apps, websites and software) together on a particular theme. I built a board called “Kids Can Code” that allowed me to collect reviews and links on programming for kids from familiar ones (i.e. I even added my Scratch review too) to unfamiliar software  and everything in between in terms of familiarity and quality.

App Flow – A place to share “gourmet” lesson plans which integrate technology successfully into lessons. I like the emphasis on a “Hook” too as an important element for all exemplary lessons,  as can be an overlooked element for successful learning. (I think Daniel Pink covers this in his A Whole New Mind book.) App Flows could be excellent resources for teachers especially when just getting started with a particular #edtech resource. I hope to share my best “gourmet” lessons and resources from my professional practice when appropriate. Sometimes an app, software or website gets even more interesting when you read the specifics on how educators uses it to successfully enhance learning. App Flow provide the app and how is integrated successfully in the class. Helpful!

3. Completed a MOOC ” ICT and Primary”

Full disclosure, I was encouraged to explore a MOOC in a recent graduate course but I signed up for it as it was completely relevant to my professional practice (and I finished the whole course too!)  Here is a link to a full blog post on my takeaways from the MOOC called “ICT and Primary” from the University of London.

In addition, to these opportunities, Twitter and LinkedIn continued to be excellent places for “micro-PD” to collect resources, explore new ideas and connect for professional discourse. Overall, I am deeming the #summerofpd a success (You can do that when it’s self-initiated!)

~Anthony

Reflecting on my first MOOC – ICT and Primary – University of London & Coursea

Screen shot title

In June, I enrolled in my first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and I am pleased to say that I completed all six weeks earning a certificate (with distinction no less!) in this self-directed learning opportunity. Here’s why?  Well, basically, the stars aligned for completing this MOOC for me: as the topic mirrored my everyday professional role as an ICT specialist, MOOC’s  were a recent area of discussion in my latest graduate course and probably the main reason, June means the end of term here in Canada so with some of my own children off to camp I actually had some time to spend on it. And boy was it worth it…

Here are top 5 takeaways from the course. (A link to my full course journal is at the bottom of the page.)

1. ICT provides much opportunity for student learning.

Dr. Laurillard suggests in her book Teaching as a Design Science (Laurillard 2012) that ICT provides learning types or opportunities in the following categories (acquisition, discussion, investigation, practice, collaboration & production.) This model will be helpful for me and my PLN for future lesson planning, collaborations and discussions on technology integration. In the course, there was considerable emphasis on a student’s ability to learn, play and create as a core foundation which resonated with me. Although technology skills are increasingly proving vital for student pursuing academic studies and eventually finding employment, the emphasis of the integration of technology should be primarily focused on creating the best learning opportunity for students.

2. Much can be learned from exploring globally how primary schools integrate technology. 

As teachers we are always so focused on our own schools and students (pupils) that the opportunity to peek through classroom walls (and schools), hear directly from leaders and review specific case studies was a powerful learning opportunity in this MOOC. In particular, a school in Singapore had an excellent 1:1 model which comprehensively involved all members of their learning community. I also liked the emphasis on ICT in UK primary schools away from traditional ICT skills like word processing  towards an updated curriculum emphasizing computational thinking and creative tinkering using technology. Robot arms, Beebots, Probots and other educational programming. Yes, please… In fact, one of the assignments was to make a technology decision for your school, my proposed suggestion was to add more computational thinking opportunities through apps like Scratch Jr., Kodable, Cargo Bot, Hopscotch, Move the Turtle and Daisy the Dinosaur and hardware like Beebots, Probots and Lego We-Do and Mindstorms.

3. I reaffirmed the importance of Computational Thinking and its place in the primary curriculum.

(OK from my blog, you probably figured that I was sold on this one but there are so many interesting resources that I plan to champion in school.)
Here are a few computational thinking resources that I explored in the course.

Developing Computational Thinking. Some interesting ideas and resources from Bosany, Slovakia. Their exploratory approach of Beebots with primary students was helpful and definitely worth adopting.

comp1

National curriculum in England: Computing at Key Stage 1 and 2 Wrote about this in my presentation on Scratch at last year’s ECCO conference but the UK is making some bold moves in updating its curriculum to promote programming which is quite commendable.
national curriculum uk2

Computational thinking video by ISTE

In specific to my experience, I would love to implement Beebots, computational programming apps for primary students like Scratch Jr., Scratch among others  and extend use of programmable Lego like We-Do and Mindstorms. This should make for an exciting year.

4. Collaboration and teacher support is vital for the successful integration of technology.

6.1.1 sarah hill image
This theme was echoed in forums, discussions and projects throughout the course. In one part of course, an Australian ICT teacher named Sarah Hill worked side-by-side with teachers at all stages of integrated projects, starting with an initial professional training and development session, followed by collaboration and team teaching when necessary. Although not mentioned in this specific video,  the need for reflection and evaluation after integrated projects is critical but often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the busy classroom and lives of teachers. I try to emulate this practice in my collaborations with teachers emphasizing support and student needs over any of my technology preferences. Other resources explored in the course include Learning Designer, Diigo and Twitter as excellent online tools for teachers to connect and share resources for the successful integration of technology. Increasingly the creation of a online and growing PLN both inside and outside the school is a helpful strategy for teachers.

5. Children love learning with technology. (I can echo this from over 15+ years as an educator and as a parent of two primary digital tinkerers!)

I believe children see technology as “their” medium with so many opportunities for them to explore and create. Even traditional subjects are more motivating when explored through technology. Here is a research paper from UNESCO on the perspective of children.

Read Chapter 7 ‘Students’ perspective’, of the UNESCO Book ICT in Primary Education. Volume 2: Policy, Practices and Recommendations.

Here is a link to a Padlet with some drawing, pictures and perspectives shared by teachers in the course.
‘Children’s Voices’ Padlet Wall: http://padlet.com/wall/wbarmwiy24



My #summerofpd continues, next up, a more “MOOCy” madness for me. I have signed up for a fun MOOC on the history of  Beatles (Bring on the (pub) quizzes!?) and on a more professional note off to get my Google certification… (More tests !?)

Here is a link to my Course Journal from my Academic research tab.

~Anthony

New – web based learning tool on creating new learning environments with the Microsoft Surface Pro

Feel like ALL the tablet guides on the internet are about the iPad ONLY. Me too! The iPad is great as a learning tool but definitely does have some limitations. Hello Flash! Exploring this web based learning tool encourages educators explore the benefits of a Windows-based tablet (I use the Microsoft Surface Pro 2.)  as a full laptop replacement.
http://surfaceandbeyond.wordpress.com

This tool explores…

1. Using the Microsoft Surface.
2. Why Tablets? What Surface?
3. Creating a vision for use
4. Resources for communicating that vision  
5. New pedagogies and approaches to learning.
5. Implementation resources (i.e. carts, 1:1, posters, handouts, lesson ideas.)
6. Next steps with tablets.

Thanks in advance for your ideas. Join the conversation!
Click below to begin.

title

The Surface and Beyond: implementing the Surface Pro 2 with Junior students: Part 3 – Implementation

Ok, so now comes the fun part (i.e. less talk more action!)  where we actually put the devices in the hands of our students. We have created a vision, planned and collaborated and communicated as professionals, set up routines for support among other steps outlined in prior posts. In fact, in the meeting prior to this stage, I got the impression that all the teachers were ready to get going. I shared this feeling too and but felt it was a good sign that the communicate stage (from the Common Sense Media site) had been comprehensive enough and they were ready to have a go with this disruptive yet exciting technology in the class. In truth though, this communicate stage does not stop ever but shifts some of the conversation from planning to implementing and then reflecting on the learning opportunities for students. In other words, back to business as usual (plan, teach, reflect) but with an added technology platform available anytime or anywhere or any size of learning tasks.

In specific, our Grade Three-Five classes had access to three carts bookable through shared calendars in Outlook and we planned a few initial lessons and pilot projects for each grade.

Below are a few resources I used with students during the first lessons. We started by discussing rules, strategies and routines for the new devices on the classroom. Students had already signed an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) at the beginning of the year. Next year, the tablet implementation and AUP can go hand in hand in our September rollout. However, this third term rollout was great for a trial run and a short turnaround before we reflect upon the experience and start a entire year with these devices at our disposal.

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I focused on the opportunities for learning that these devices provided and invited students to earn their “Surface licence” through a checklist of activities. I adapted this routine from Suzie Brooks’ excellent GradeThree blog which outlined her iPadding rules and I also drew inspiration from activities teaching in the early days of the internet where students had to earn their “internet driver’s licence” to go online. (These days students earn that “licence” really early at home with all the devices available to them!) However, the idea of the licence is a good one in a classroom as it acknowledges that using the device effectively is a learned skill (i.e. like driving ) and students need to protect themselves and others while engaging in rich learning experiences.

Here is a copy of the Power Point slides I used with our Grade 3 students.

I also provided a few posters along with the Surface Rules and their signed licences and asked if teachers could find a place for them in the classroom. I felt that these could be references by teachers and students if and when needed. All these posters are found from the Common Sense Media site.

After this lesson, the classes were off and running; creating and sharing a variety of pilot projects. In Grade 3, students were adapting their “Hamburger” writing into a recorded slideshow format for sharing. (“Hamburger” writing is of course the introductory and conclusion sentences as the buns plus 3 juicy facts of research in the center of the burger but you knew that :) In Grade 4, the students were researching Ancient Civilizations using collaborative Popplets as a graphic organizers and the Google Slides as their final presentation tool.  Grade 5 students were creating a Grecian Urn and completed sketches on an app called Fresh Paint, researched a report about Grecian Urns(pots)  in Google Docs and the Urn was, of course, clay and bought and decorated to fit their chosen style.

Finally,  I suggested three resources for teachers as “backpocket” ideas (all good teachers have those) for early finishers. My picks were: typing practice (we use an site called typingtraining.com), Scratch for creativity and programming and abcya.com or BrainPop’s Game Up for some educational games.

Overall, this rollout has been reasonably smooth with lots of excellent collaborations and definitions. Going forward we will be analyzing projects using Puentedura’s SAMR model and aim to design learning experiences for students that fall into the “redefinition” area.  It is always a great start to class when the students say “yeah, we’re Surfacing today” when myself or colleague roll the carts into class. A few interesting questions and challenges came up but that is for future posts. Next up, I am building a WBLT (web based learning tool) for teachers to explore at their own pace which mirror our ongoing discussions and activities around technology integration.  I look further to sharing updates on our progress.

~Anthony

The Surface and Beyond: implementing the Surface Pro 2 with junior students: Part 2 – Communicate

Phase 2 communicate
After having established our vision for the devices, I now focused on efforts to collaborate with our teachers and learning community to get ready for the implementation stage (Phase 3). We are encouraging teachers to use tablets to support a anytime, anywhere and “anybite” (i.e. 5 min.,10 min.,30 min. or ?) model for learning.

In this stage, I offered regular F2F sessions on Wednesday morning, regular correspondence though email, shared documents in Google Drive along with informal discussions and sessions. Eventually, I would love to share and connect with a significant majority of colleagues in school through social media like Twitter or Google+ but I have to go where my audience is. At the moment, our audience uses email for everything. So what did we talk about in those F2F sessions..?

Excerpt from my OneNote binder

One note phase 2

1. ISTE expectations for students

ISTE-Nets-Graphic

The ISTE standards were helpful for providing overall expectations and addressing what students should actually know about using technology in their learning. We also supplemented our discussion on the Digital Citizenship section of the NET-S with Common Sense Media resources. In addition to the ISTE standards, we obviously mapped our activities to support Provincial standards and added more specific skills to meet the expectations of each area i.e. teaching a Grade Four student to correctly cite digital images would fall under the Digital Citizenship banner.)

2. SAMR model
doi:10.3402/rlt.v22.22648

As a group we explored this model as a guide to current and future practices with technology. We saw the benefit to creating  new projects and experiences that redefine the learning experience for students leverage these devices. However, this process cannot happen overnight and perhaps it is more helpful to first define activities and current practices in the SAMR model (i.e. Typing in Word as “substitution” etc.) before moving on to new practices. In other words, we cannot quite abandon all activities that are not in the “redefinition” category but evaluate each activity on its own merits for learning. After all, some substitution activities have value for learning. Eventually, we will strive to have a significant number of redefined activities and experiences never before possible in a traditional classroom. However, we need to work progressively and incrementally with teachers to help them define and work through each stage in order to understand the learning benefits of new and exciting pedagogies that leverage technology.

3. Workflow diagram

eBackpack-workflow-full-blown
I adapted this diagram created by e-Backpack and to use with Google Drive, Blackboard (our LMS) as well as other cloud-based applications to drive our workflow with our Junior students. We found that this diagram helped us envision how the process of learning might look in a tablet environment and invited changes, suggestions and clarifications. This workflow discussion led to further discussion and training ideas on collaborating using Docs, Forms, Spreadsheets or Presentations. In addition, determining the most effective pedagogy and the application from Google  (Lucidchart (graphic organizer) (although I prefer popplet.com),  Kaizena (Voice commenting), Floor Planner and Powtoon (Animated presentation tool) will be areas for future sessions,  discussions and sharing.

4. Lots of other quick tips and resources

At the beginning of the F2F sessions, we took time to learning the in’s and outs’s of the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and explored tips and tricks specific to Windows 8.1. For this part of the PD, I leveraging Twitter and in specific @surface  and @MicrosoftPIL for useful resources and guides.

Here is one of many example graphics that posted in our training resources.

finding your apps on surface

Reflection

What is interesting to me about this stage is that it is now ongoing and never has to end. I can provide links and resources for teachers and vice versa until we all feel comfortable sharing tips and tricks to improve student learning. Helping teachers develop a PLN using Twitter, Zite, Flipboard and other sites would be a valid next step to build our collective and shared knowledge and experience to aid student learning. (Here is a post I like that discusses one vision for “information wrangling.) For me, Zite, Flipboard and Twitter do the trick for anytime, anyplace, “anybite” (Have 2 min?) with next steps being emails to colleagues, or posting to Twitter, Delicious ( links), OneNote (articles and files) and perhaps eventually my blog at WordPress (for hopefully semi-articulate posts:))

For the next round of training and professional development, I would love to create a self-directed course on our LMS where teachers who learn best on their own and often forget (ahem) things eplore once in lessons or professional sessions. (Full disclosure – this is one of my learning styles (or I’ll call it a quirk.)

In addition, working with parents and our wider learning community is also worthy of some consideration too. (That deserves much more discussion.)

Here were some ideas I had for future sessions but I have no doubt this list will change with feedback as well as some ideas from my PLN.

  1. Recording,  collecting and assess student responses i.e. Socrative, Top Hat and Poll Everywhere
  2. Allowing students to tell stories through video i.e. Camera app, Movie Edit Touch
  3. Using tablets for personalized PD i.e Twitter and Flipboard
  4. Using OneNote to collect and assess student learning
  5. Using OneNote (Windows 8 version) for daily lesson plans and materials (stylus at the ready!)
  6. Live sharing of content and learning using NearPod
  7. Leveraging QR codes for students to explore and learn i.e. QR scavenger hunt
  8. Blogging and microblogging with students to share and connect i.e. KidBlog, Scrawlar
  9. Creating teacher-made screencasts using the Surface for use before, during and after class i.e.”Flipteaching”
  10. Collaborative writing using Google Docs (Our “workflow” diagram in action, voice comments etc.)
  11. Using Google Forms to create quizzes, assessments and activities for students

Next up, Stage 3 implementation with the students.

The Surface and Beyond: implementing the Surface Pro 2 with junior students: Part 1 – Envision

surface picWith not much in the way of web-based research materials specific to the Surface (breaking new ground!), I concentrated my efforts on exploring tablet (mostly iPad) and notebook computer rollouts. Since the Surface Pro 2 is a hybrid device that is both a powerful computer (Windows 8,  i5 processor, solid state drive) and also leverages tablet capabilities (i.e. touchscreen, camera, apps etc.) I thought that this seemed a good approach for research and implementation.

I quickly realized this process (as suspected) needed to be team effort between a number of parties (students, leaders in learning, teachers, administrators, technical staff to be successful.) However, I felt strongly that I wanted to emphasize this initiative as a “learning” rather than a “technology” initiative with our students, with student learning in specific, at its heart or center. This approach helped “win over” the “hearts and minds” of teachers potentially suspicious of this disruptive technology in their successful classrooms.

This blog post by Sam Gliksman also provided a number of critical questions to inform and guide discussions about tablet implementation (iPad yes, but many ideas were very applicable to any tablet). I really like how the questions are categorized and this organization made it easy for this nosy and overly keen Technology teacher to initiate discussions and conversations with respected parties. Thankfully, a number of these questions were already answered but some were not. In particular, the vision question was ripe for discussion in order to incorporate the perspectives of all but maintaining a clear, simple, transparent and persuasive vision when asked by any and all in our learning community.

As far as structuring our tablet implementation, the Common Sense media offered an excellent model for 1:1 initiatives that could easily be adapted to our shared model of shared carts between classes. Here is a graphic from the site with a direct link.

3 stages

Here is screenshot from my Notes in Microsoft OneNote on the Envision stage.
Screen shot prep

Next up in Part 2…exploring the Communicate stage with F2F sessions with teachers, leveraging PLN’s and providing materials for self-directed learning for teachers with ultimate goal of getting this powerful devices in the hands of our capable students.

Leadership and Technology: becoming a transformational leader

I learned much in my Leadership and Technology course. (So busy to even update this blog recently.) However, one of our tasks was to create a learning log of my journey which is available at http://arclearninglog5103g.wordpress.com/ which allowed to me exercise my writing and blogging instincts on a new page.  (So hopefully, I am not totally out of practice!!!) My main takeaway was to apply new learning in my role as a technology leader in my school. To me a transformational leader requires vision, collaborative skills, creativity, supported by well founded research and interested in good pedagogy that improves learning.

I also added the text and some of the elements of my Learning Log to my professional blog after some feedback from colleagues. Next up, I begin a Technology and the Curriculum class in May.
highlights here

Thanks!

Digital Citizenship for the m-generation (K-6 edition)

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In this age of anytime, anyplace and any-device connectivity, this “always-on” m-generation (m is for mobile) has unprecedented opportunity to share and connect globally. Children are challenged everyday to make ethical decisions and choices that impact their digital footprint now and potentially forever. Increasingly, our children are seeking opportunities to share and connect using their favourite apps, devices and even popular social media tools like Instagram or Twitter. So how do we guide them to protect their privacy, act ethically, demonstrate empathy and use technology appropriate to the their age and stage. How do we teach them (as Oprah?! suggests) to be “heroes who do good when no one (and everyone…now and in the future) is watching?”

The umbrella term for this concept is “digital citizenship” and its presence in today’s Ontario curriculum is small but change is no doubt coming as influential organizations like ISTE with their Standards for Students (formerly NET-S) include it as a major strand of learning for technology. In addition, technology like social media, mobiles, tablets and web 2.0 tools are increasingly integrated (I like the phrase, embedded) across an increasing amount of our curriculum. I believe we have a responsibility to teach, empower, protect and guide our students to use technology safely both inside and outside the school walls for the good of others and themselves.

And their exposure to technology and sharing tools is happening at an increasingly younger age. At school, conversations about sharing I am having with students in Grade 5 are increasingly happening in Grade 1 or 2. The advent of popular creation (and connection) tools like Minecraft and the opportunity to connect through a myriad of game systems,  plus the ease of use with apps like FaceTime etc. means that we need to advise, help and manage our younger techies who have the savvy to use the technology but are still developing the judgment and ethical guidance to protect themselves and others. Open and transparent communication about digital citizenship and careful and considered access to technology from the early primary years and up (“sandboxing”) will help to build trust and aid students to make better choices when using a variety of devices in a variety of situations.

Here is an overview of the resources we use to promote and explore this topic with our students starting in Grade One.

Students learn Digital Citizenship (Internet Safety) as part of our Information and Communication Technology curriculum.  About twelve years ago, I began teaching our students in Grade Five about how to keep themselves safe on the internet (back in the day we called it the “Internet Driver’s Licence” and they had to “pass the course” to access email and use the “Internet Super highway” !!) Each subsequent year, our curriculum expanded to include more elementary students as they access the internet, play games and use a variety of devices (in variety of settings) at an increasingly younger age.

In Grade One and Two, we focus on accessing safe and approved websites, protecting their privacy, maintaining a good digital footprint, creating our own digital projects and acknowledging the creativity of others. Most importantly, students are encouraged to protect themselves and to ask for help when learning about the online world. We primarily rely on the Common Sense Media resources which offer excellent guidance and resources for students, teachers and parents.

In Grade Three, students access educational games and resources using a resource called Digital Passport. This site (and now app) from Common Sense Media includes age appropriate and educationally rich activities and resources on privacy, safe passwords, digital etiquette, protecting against cyberbullying, fair use of media, safe searches and good use of digital communications. Here is a link to my detailed review. Other resources include digital citizenship videos and activities from Brain Pop (Gr.3 and up) and Brain Pop Jr. (Gr. 1-4) as well as other lessons and resources.

In Grade Four, Five and Six, our students are using the internet frequently to learn, play and communicate with others. There are a number of lessons devoted to Digital Citizenship throughout the year as students increasingly use email, our Learning Management software (Blackboard) and other tools to learn and communicate their learning. Connect Ed. has an excellent curriculum guide called reallifeonline.ca with grade specific resources, lessons and activities. Another excellent source is a site called Media Smarts which includes activities and games on media and digital literacy. Their Passport to the Internet resource covers netiquette, maintaining a safe digital footprint, online privacy, security, preventing cyberbullying, harassment, impersonation and hidden identities. In Grade Six, students learn Digital Citizenship as an online course and topics include: making smart choices online, using technology and games in moderation, risks of social networking, responsible use of media, cyberbullying and setting up good privacy and security settings on devices and other technology.

Here is a partial list of useful resources for K-6 educators (most are free)

Common Sense Media – a complete K-12 scope and sequence, adopted by schools in a variety of countries.
Digital Passport – Games, videos and activities, recommended for Grade 2 -5 students

Kidsmart – Early Surfers Zone- 2 digital citizenship ebooks with lesson plans, games, videos and resources for SK-Grade 2 students
Kidsmart – KnowITall: online videos, activities and lessons on internet safety for Grade 2 -5 students

Mediasmarts.ca – comprehensive Canadian website on media and digital literacy and Passport to the Internet* (Gr.4-6)

Cyber café – Learn about email, social networking, safe searching & mobile technology for Grade 3 -6 students
Cyber-5 – Story and quiz on online safety – Grade 1 -3 students
Brain Pop* – digital citizenship videos, quizzes, lesson plans and activities for Grade 2 to 6
PBS Webonaunt game – a digital citizenship game for Grade 4 to 6
Digizen – a digital citizenship resource site with good resources on the risks of social media
Even Google have gotten in the act with their Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum
A comprehensive list of the Kidsmart resources  for K -12 students and educators

Let me end with a quote from a recent study which emphasizes the need for digital citizenship to be embedded in the Ontario elementary curriculum. “Some teachers whose project was in the early elementary years, felt that getting notions of digital citizenship in from the beginning of school life would alleviate many problems later as that knowledge would be taken for granted as children moved through the grades.” from a research paper posted on the Ontario Ministry of Education website called “Shifting landscapes…” by Pauline Biggs from Curriculum Services Canada.

I hope those resources aid your digital citizenship discussions in your class and school. On Twitter, I use two good hashtags for this topic: #digcit and #cybersafety. I can be reached on Twitter @anthonychuter and at my professional blog at ict4kids.ca.
~Anthony
qrfree_kaywa blog post

* not free