New Teachers Won’t Save Us

New Teachers Won’t Save Us

This is going to come as a shock I know…but pre-service education programs are not preparing teachers for a technology rich classroom teaching experience. Or to put that another way the classrooms of today. According to a Project Tomorrow Report …principals concluded that they want to hire new teachers with creative ideas about how technology can be leveraged to create authentic and differentiated learning experiences. But student-teachers report that their tech training focuses only on simple management tools. At the same time, the report concludes that those who have the biggest influence on new teachers — veteran educators –  don’t always embrace new ways of using technology to engage students. ~MindShift This is an issue and one I have seen first hand. I have had the privilege of meeting with pre-service educators in both undergraduate programs and Master’s In Teaching programs…mostly here in the State of Washington. Now some of these programs are doing things different, trying to do things differently or bring a different approach. However, for the most part what I’m finding is technology is still an afterthought in these programs and not a true representation of what is happening in schools. One of the main issues I see is that technology, in many programs, is a separate course and is not integrated into each of the subject/classes that a pre-service educator takes. History teachers….as part of their program should be required to know how to use all the amazing layers found in Google Earth. Math teachers should know about things like PhotoMath and how you could leverage this in the classroom. English teachers should study and understand how writing has changed over the years and have students practice writing in mediums that apply to 2014. Blogs, Tweets, Status Updates, images and videos. Those are the writing tools of today and of the future. Or how about just on an professional level. I wonder how many pre-service program cover things like: How to respond to an upset parent over email How to respond to an upset student over email How to respond to colleagues professionally over email How to write a professional email that conveys your message and will be read How to handle a situation in which a parents sends you a DM on Facebook about their child (yes they can…yes it happens) How to handle yourself professionally when everyone has a camera in their pocket...

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Taking Advantage of the Pause

Taking Advantage of the Pause

This week I had the opportunity to do a talk at the ECIS IT Pre-Conference here in Amsterdam. I found it challenging to come up with a message to help drive a conversation forward when you’re speaking to the committed. Usually my talks are aimed at teachers who need a reason to use technology in their classroom not to those already understanding the changes taking place and wanting to know where we go from here. It was a great challenge as it forced me to really think deep about where we are right now in this world of technology integration…and just where we are in the world in general right now. What I came up with is this: To start with I have come to an understanding that this technology trajectory we are on isn’t a straight line. That we go through moments of great technological growth…usually around new hardware….and then we have these plateau periods. They might not be as flat as they look in this image…but there are definitely slower periods I think of innovation as we prepare for the next disruption. So the image above shows my thoughts on this kind of innovation and plateau idea that I think we go through. We saw steep climbs when the desktop came out…then there was a period of using them before the Internet came out that created another steep climb of innovation. The laptops and then mobile where other steep moments in technology innovation. These times when we try to figure out what we do with this thing. How does it impact education, what’s it’s best use, etc. We are all trying to figure out how to best use this new technology. In between these climbs we have moments of pause that allow us to really look at learning, the new technology, and start thinking of ways to really truly use it in the classroom to impact student learning. I believe we are in one of these pauses right now….we’ve been in one since about 2011…or a year after the iPad came out. There hasn’t been any real new technology. Sure things get faster, smaller, lighter…but it’s all mobile right now…that’s the stage we’re in. I think we also have a couple years left in this pause before wearable technology creates the next steep stage and sends us all once again scrambling to figure out how this new technology impacts education. I have been thinking about how we use this time well....

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Why Not take a risk?

We can not expect teachers to take a risk and try something new if we ourselves are not willing to try something new. I held a PD session for K-12 teachers after school today. It was one of 5 technology sessions we offered to teachers in what is known as TECH Wednesdays. Basically one Wednesday a month is set aside for tech PD. Today’s sessions included: Blogging: (Brought 15 more teachers online) Netvibes: Learn about Ginger and the new Universe function (Netvibes is the dominate RSS reader at our school) Photoshop: Basic photo munipulation (resize, crop, rotate, etc) Beginner Basics: For those who need just basic computer help at a beginner level Why Not?: My session which focused on the question Why (BYOL=Bring Your Own Laptop session). Not only did I want to try and help teachers understand why we need to be using technology to teach but I also wanted to demonstarte how one of these tools could be used in a classroom setting. If I was asking my teachers to take a risk in their own classroom, then I felt I needed to show that I too was willing to take a risk with my presentation and push myself to try something new. So, I set up a chat room using chatzy.com. As people filed into my session I had them open their laptops and helped them to log into the private chat room. I was taking a risk on a couple of different levels. I had never used chatzy.com before and was praying that it was stable enough and easy enough for teachers to be able to figure out with little instruction. I was worried that our wireless access point would not deal with more than 20 laptops in the room. So earilier in the day I asked the IT department to install two other access points…praying we could make it work. We are in China…and there is always the “China Factor” that you need to worry about. Would the teachers take the chat room seriously or would it, like it could with students if not structured correctly, become a place to play rather than to think deep? And of course…just in case something failed I brought chocolate! Teachers, after a long day of teaching, will forgive you when you fail if you have chocolate….I always have chocolate. 🙂 I began the session by explaining that...

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Shift happened what's the hook?

I’ve been catching up on my RSS reader over the past couple of day. I’ve decided I need to prune the aggregator again and really focus in on some good solid learning that I need to do. George Siemens’ connectivism blog is one that always makes my brain hurt. I’ve just tried reading four articles in a row and now I’m looking for the advil. George has a writing style that is so clear, so true that, for me at least, pulls me in and really makes me think about my own learning, my own beliefs and question what it is I’m trying to accomplish. If you don’t use an RSS reader he allows you to sign up for a bi-weekly newsletter that is well work an extra e-mail in your inbox. Out of the four posting I just got done reading, the posting on Digital natives and immigrants has me thinking about where we are in society. Siemens believes that the Prensky analogy of Digital Native, Digital Immigrants has outlived the role it initially played in getting educators to think about the different types of learners now entering our classrooms. I agree with this statement the more I think about it, but I’m still left searching for a better analogy of the shift that has occurred. Siemens goes on to explain that the shift has been in society and not in the generation itself. Something that easily hits home with me working at a school in China that has gone from 850 international students to almost 3,000 in the same time the Internet as we know it today has existed. Coincidence? I think not. As I gave a presentation to parents today explaining to them their children and how they learn, communicate, collaborate, and live digitally, I found myself still using Prensky’s analogy. Those of us in the business need to understand that it is society that is changing and why we need to change our educational systems. But for mothers and fathers understanding that the tools their children use are different, allow them to communicate and live in different ways continues to be an emotional attachment that the digital natives, digital immigrants argument still fits nicely into. In 2001 when Prensky wrote the paper I do not think many of us understood the changes to society that were and would take place over the next six years....

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Pedagogy defines School 2.0 (revisited)

I was reading Will’s post today It’s Not Just the “Read/Write” Web and then thanks to twitter John Pederson’s post on Networks (I think that’s what it’s on anyway). As I read I started thinking about a post I did back in January on defining School 2.0. Not sure if it’s OK to quote yourself but back then I wrote: School 2.0 although driven to change by the advancement of technology is not about technology, it’s about the advancement of society, of our culture as a world. Technology played a large part, but it is society that has changed. Everything from out-sourcing work to Asia, to the built in GPS in your car, to the phone/pda/web/music/video/picture iphone. Society has changed that’s why a new school is needed. If you think schools need to change because of technology…I’d argue you have it wrong. Schools need to change because our society has changed. And I still believe this is true. What is School 2.0? It’s the new network world we live in. In the past couple of year I have started looking at everything differently. Is it just me or do you go around noticing all the ways our society relays on networks? Today I went to the dentist where they took my picture because they are going  “Chartless.” Why? Because if all the information is in the computer they can easily access it from any room in the office. I go to room one and by the time I sit in the chair my chart is on the computer screen. The hygienist has a complete history of my visits, with pictures of my teeth and all the information she needs to do her job. The dentists in our area are also all forming a network to easily transfer and share files of patients. So now if I needed braces they would send the complete file electronically. Or what about last week when my wife was looking for a new pair of shoes. The store didn’t have them in her size but the lady helping us scanned the shoe and then looked at the inventory of 5 other stores within our area to see if they had the right size. With a couple clicks the nice lady tells my wife that the shoes will be in the store in two days. Will writes: But here’s the thing that’s been sticking with...

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