I partner with organizations in helping to understand the changing nature of learning by working together in long-term, embedded professional development that prepares us all for our future, not our past.

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A couple of interesting things over the past 6 months or so that I have been a part of and/or witnessed that I wanted to share and reflect on.

I have been working with a lot of International schools over the past six months. I find it fascinating that in a lot of these schools, I end up having conversations with the administrative team where someone (usually the head of school) will say something along the lines of:

“You have spent a couple of days with us now, how do we compare to other International Schools you have worked with in the region?”

There is this sense that we need to keep up with our neighbors…the idea that we don’t want to get too far behind. I have yet had a head of school ask me.

“Jeff….what do we need to do to be a leader in the region?”

Photo Credit: Kadath via Compfight cc

Please do not get me wrong. I have consulted with schools now from coast to coast in America and in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. International schools are far ahead of their counterparts in the US, and in the International School world, Asia schools are leading the way. Part of it is money, part of it is where Asia is right now in the world and its own pace of change. Part of it is teachers, administrators, parents and students who I think see a change that is coming.

However, I don’t see a lot of schools pushing. Maybe schools that are pushing don’t need my services…which is alright by me. But there are many schools that have in their mission statement to “be a leading school in (Asia, Region, World)” but then they ask if they are keeping up?

So, what should schools who want to fulfill their mission statement be asking/talking about/planning for? Looking at the next three years, I think you’ll see many of these International Schools in Asia going to a “2 to 1” program. Many of them are already 1:1 or in the midst of rolling them out. The conversation has now turned to what comes after 1:1.

I don’t want to name schools here, but let’s just say there are many in the Asia region who have started looking at 3 year technology plans that call for both some sort of tablet device as well as a laptop for MS and HS students. Some schools are picking up the cost for both, other schools are buying the computer while having the student buy the tablet, and yet others are putting it all on the shoulders of parents. The individual school community is what determines how each individual technology plan plays out. There are a few reasons for this:

1. Textbooks are changing and schools are preparing for that change…although personally once you go this route, I think you do away with textbooks pretty much all together. In a 1:1 culture you can, in a 2:1 culture it’s easy.

2. Feedback from students: Personally I can’t find too many students who say they love it when a school turns their textbook into a PDF to use on their computer. Really…this isn’t the “new textbook” this is an old textbook in PDF form. So wrong on many levels.

3. What a tablet offers is a new way to interact with information. Tablets, as I have stated before, are mainly consumption devices. Yes…you can create with them…but they are consumption devices first and foremost and they do an amazing job at it. Once we start creating material that is specific for the interactions that tablets allow we “get it”. Tablets allow us to interact with information in a touch sensitive way, much the same way as books do. I’m reading a book in the Kindle App right now and I get to look words up, highlight, and take notes much the same way I did in old textbooks. But I also get to click on links, rotate objects, watch videos and interact with information that a paper-based textbook (or a PDF version of my old paper-based textbook) just can’t allow. The size and feel of a tablet is…well…made for this type of learning.

I am also happy to report that within these conversation all around the world, Professional Development is making its way more and more into conversations (maybe because I’m pushing it, maybe because the technology has been in place for a while, maybe because people are seeing that the technology without the PD is ineffective). Which is why I think we are still seeing growth in programs like COETAIL and for the new GAFE Course. More schools are encouraging PD around technology. Either in preparation for 1:1 rollouts or in preparation for what’s next.

So what will the next three years of education look like? Personally I think we will continue to accelerate in the transformation of a new type of education….what I think that will look like and technology’s role in it is a blog post yet to come. 🙂

The Baseball Winter Meetings just ended in Nashville. Which means absolutely nothing….unless you are a baseball diehard like myself…then it means everything.

Today while listening to Eric Wedge, the Mariners manager, give a press conference, he spoke about building a team.

He basically says there are two ways to build a baseball team…you either build for the short-term or the long-term.

Building for the short-term you focus on this year, you make a run for the World Series and hope you reach the playoffs.

If you build for the long term, you develop your players in the minors. In the long term, you stick with your players, you develop your young talent, you stay the course and you improve.

Now in baseball we know this approach works. The Texas Rangers changed to a long-term approach after they found out buying expensive players for the short-term just doesn’t work in the long term. (See: Alex Rodriguez).

Since they changed their approach here are their win – loss stats:

They steadily improved as they rebuilt their minor leagues and focused on good draft picks. Five years later they make the playoffs including a World Series appearance….and they are picked to be the top of their division again this year.

Since new management and Eric Wedge took over, the Seattle Mariners have been rebuilding the club for the long term. Here are their stats over the past few rebuidling years.

Eric Wedge took over as manager in 2011 and we have seen steady improvement. So his comments today that the team is building for the long term makes me happy. Makes me really happy. We are going to be good again someday soon…but we need to be patient, develop our players, watch them grow, learn, and blossom into some awesome baseball players. Would I love to see a winning season this year? Absolutely! But I would take 5 winning seasons in a row over 1 any day.

 

So what does this have to do with Education?

 

I started thinking about this today and then started thinking about where we are with technology in education:

Do we build for the short-term or long-term results?

Here’s what I have heard from teachers:

“I would love them to create movies, but iMoive takes too long to learn.”

“I would love for them to create a game using Scratch, but it takes too long to learn.”

“I would love for them to create a podcast, but it takes too long to learn the software.”

“I would love to have them blog, but it takes too long to show them how to do it, keep them updated, and monitor them.”

 

All of these above statements are focused on short-term results. You never hear a Kindergarten or 1st grade teacher say:

“I would love to teach them their numbers, but it takes too much time.”

“I would love to teach them to add, but it takes too much time.”

“Yes…I do think they should be able to write, but we just don’t have the time to teach that.”

 

You will never hear a Kindergarten or 1st Grade teacher say that. Why? Because it’s not about the short term. It’s about giving them skills that they can build upon. It’s about understanding learning is a process and every teacher at every grade level does their part to bring students along in a long-term approach to learning. The major leagues for us in K-12 education is graduation. We should all be focused on giving students the skills they need to be successful at the next level and in life.

 

Yes…it takes time to learn iMovie, to blog, to create a podcast. But they need to learn the skills at some point and at some point someone needs to step up and say I’ll get the skill building started.

Some rights reserved by @superamit

When I was at ISB, the 5th grade team stepped up and said they would teach students to blog. Yes, it took away from other curriculum “must-dos”, yes it was hard, yes it was time consuming. But somebody had to do it. Each year each grade builds on it and now there is a school of bloggers. Every teacher above 5th grade should be thanking those teachers for taking the time to teach the kids how to blog. Just like every teacher above Kindergarten should be thanking the teacher before for teaching writing, their numbers and their letters.

How do we change our view of technology in education of one from being a short-term: this assignment, this unit, this school year; to a long-term, “I’m going to teach them something they can use and build on year after year?”

How do we change our direction, our outlook on technology?

How do we build for a long term future that will see us year after year make improvements instead of build for June when the kids will move on to the next grade?

How do we make sure every year our students have skills that will help them improve next year?

How do we develop these technology skills that most people agree students need, but very few are willing to make room for to teach?

The first step might be understanding that technology is more than a tool…it’s a skill set that needs to be developed year after year just like the skill of reading, writing, and math problem solving. Technology is a skill, a skill you are going to need if you want to make it to the major leagues and be successful.

A View overlooking all fo Addis Ababa

Sitting here in my hotel room after six great days with the ICSAddis COETAIL cohort that we kicked off this week and I can’t stop thinking about what an exciting time to be in Ethiopia. In fact what an exciting time to be alive!

I have a lot running through my brain right now so this might be a bit disjointed…but it’s my reflection and thoughts….so deal with it. 🙂

Our Connected World
We continue to talk about and try to understand just how connected our world is becoming and just how fast this change is happening around the world. Ethiopia is no different. This is a country prime for change, prime for the connection, and they are moving there quickly. Most people outside of Africa don’t give much thought to the development that is happening here. We hear about Asia, about the Middle East, but Africa and the changes that are affecting this continent are not mentioned much in the Western world. But make no mistake of it, Africa is primed and coming on fast.

Let’s just look at the hard facts about Ethiopia.

The GDP of Ethiopia has been in a double digit climb year over year since 2004. Even during the recession Ethiopia saw 8% and 7.5% growth of their GDP.

In a recent news article while here Ethio Telecom (State ran Telecom company) released its latest numbers.

  • Ethio Telecom’s customer base has reached 18.28 million people, registering a 59pct increase in the last fiscal year.
  • Mobile services, which constituted the vast majority of the customer base, had anticipated reaching 21.9 million subscribers and in actuality attracted 17.28 million customers. This was an increase of 700,000 people, a 79pct achievement of the target. Fixed line numbers reached 805,000 people or 81.4pct of intended performance targets.
  • Internet and data service customers reached 221,000, 89pct performance. This does not  include 2.44 million users who receive mobile Internet service.
  • There were more than 4,000 SIM and Voucher card retail distributors by the end of the fiscal year, while the number of wholesalers increased from six to 45, as the number of points of sale in the country reached over 45,000.
  • “The number of mobile phone subscribers we have currently ranks us in the sixth position in Africa and first in east Africa,” said Abdurahmin adding that prominent countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt are the ones beating Ethiopia’s figures.

Now….those numbers are fantastic for a country who is growing quickly and also shows just how fast the middle class is appearing here in Ethiopia. But…this isn’t what blew me away about this article. No it was this quote (bold by me):

As we all know in this age of Information Communication Technology service is not a luxury, but it’s a basic necessity and development accelerator of every nation,” Jean-Michel said adding that Ethio Telecom accomplished encouraging results and should meet the sector target of the five year GTP plan.

Does every nation know this? There are some countries that believe the connection, the Internet, is a basic necessity. But there are others….to name one….America…..that from what I’ve seen haven’t made this type of commitment.

Stop and think for a minute about what that statement means to a developing country like Ethiopia and where this could lead them into the future. How exciting of a time for Ethiopia.

Being here and experiencing Addis Ababa has been amazing. The construction that is going on everywhere is insane and totally reminds me of Shanghai when we arrived in 2005. The country is growing so fast, the middle class is growing so quickly, that trying to build the infrastructure to handle it all becomes frustrating. But make no mistake…it’s being built.

There is no such thing as too fast a connection

View of my hotel window. Looking at all the sky cranes reminds me of Shanghai in 2005

Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never heard anyone complain of their Internet connection being too fast. Internet speed is something we all complain about. No matter if you have 1mb or 100mb we’ll find a way to complain about it. At ICSAddis I was reminded about it this week. The school has continued year over year to increase their bandwidth based on what the countries infrastructure allows. This year they are up to 20mbps which isn’t a bad speed for a school of about 800 students. However, because Ethiopia is growing so quickly it’s not a stable connection. The line gets cut, the speed drops at heavy use times during the day, and overall the connection isn’t reliable. But it continues to improve, it continues to get better, and we (OK…..me) have to remind ourselves just how amazing this whole things is. China went through this with their growth, and so did Thailand (and still is). It’s a natural part of wiring a country…it’s not an easy task, and when everyone wants the connection….craves the connection….you physically can’t built it fast enough.

Why the future might belong to Africa

Also in the paper while I was here (who knew reading a paper would be so informative 😉 ) was the release of the 2012 Edition of the African Economic Outlook.

With almost 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world. And it keeps growing rapidly. According to recent estimates, the number of young people in Africa will double by 2045. If this trend continues, the continent’s labor force will reach one billion by 2040, making it the largest in the world.

Now that’s something to think about! What does the world look like when the largest labor force is in Africa?

The report warns that high unemployment among youth poses a serious challenge for the economies of African countries, whose recovery from the 2011 global economic and financial crisis had been remarkable.

Emmanuel Nnadozie stated that challenges facing youth employment often vary across African countries and different income groups, he added, stressing the fact that in low-income countries, “youth in vulnerable employment and working poverty are the largest majority”, while “discouraged or inactive youth” are the most common group in middle-income countries.

Africa’s youth population is not only growing rapidly, it is also getting better educated. Based on current trends, about 59pct of 20-24 year olds will have had secondary education in 2030, compared to 42pct today. With the number of youth in Africa set to double by 2045, creating productive jobs for young people will continue to pose an immense challenge, according to reports.

You can read the whole article yourself but these quotes really stuck out to me. So, I’m reading all of this, I’m here in Addis experiencing the construction, seeing the people go about their daily lives, watching the growth happen around me and all I can think is WOW!

What if?

What if the government can make the Internet a utility for all? What if this growing youth population has a fast, steady connection to the outside world? What if, free online education sites continue to grow? What if the youth in Africa start educating themselves? What if this youth generation connect, grow, and learn together? What if this is the future?

I know those are a lot of “What If” statements. But I consider myself to be a pretty well traveled person (37 countries and counting) and I have to say the future is exciting on a global level. I see what is happening in Thailand, in China, in countries that many people haven’t even heard of like Burma, Laos or Cambodia and I am excited for humanity. Sure it has been hard work to get here, and sure there is a lot of hard work in front of us. But it’s OK once in a while to step back and be proud of what we have accomplished…where this is all going and how the Internet….the connection……might just be the best thing to happen to humanity yet!

As another school year draws to a close, I find myself both nervous and excited about the future.

clock
by JacobYarboroughPhotography

For 30 years, or since I was 5, I have been in the education system never taking a year off. Moving from High School to College to being an Educator never once pausing. It’s very much the “American Way” I guess. Our culture tells us we’re suppose to go to school and then get a job. There is nothing in the American Culture that says “Take a year off, go travel, see what you see.” Unlike many other cultures in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Cultures where in our travels have time and time again ran into 18-20 year olds out traveling the world before college, or taking a break during their college years to travel.I look back on my own rat race and feel so lucky that my wife pushed us to try international teaching. We’ve had the opportunity to travel to 36 countries, live in three very different cities and countries and experience moments that just can’t be put into words.

Staying in the education system that I know so well would be easy. We could continue to travel the world live in exotic places and enjoy life. But over the last couple of years I’ve felt this need to get away. This need to step out and try something different something other than cafeteria food, bell schedules, assemblies, and curriculum meetings.

To say that I’m excited for this coming year; Moving back to Seattle (something we never thought we would do) consulting full time, and just trying something different and seeing where it leads, would be an understatement. To say I’m completely nervous about it all would also be an understatement. I am finding there is a thin line between excitement and nervousness.

I keep thinking what it’s going to feel like come August when we’re not on an airplane back to our “home” or in September when all the schools in America go back and I’ll be at home enjoying my first non-first day of school. 

I have plenty of ideas to keep me busy for awhile. Here are just a few of the things I’ll be working on in the coming year. 

More Blogging:

I’ve really let this slipt the last two years as I worked on the book and then COETAIL took off. It’s been great these last two weeks to get back into a routine of blogging a bit more. I feel like I’m in Spring Training….stretching it out, working to get back into the flow of things and I’m excited to share my thoughts here more as well as leave comments on other bloggers around the web.

I also have an idea to bring back UTechTips.com a now defunct group blog that I feel never really reached its full potential. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about that here as I start putting together a plan for that site as well. 

More Writing:

Reach needs to be updated badly and this will be top priority later this summer. I think this time I’ll start writing the book with e-format in mind and then backwards edit for the paper format. I would go completely paperless but there are some university courses that are using the book now as text and would still like the paper copy. 

There’s also some article writing I’d like to do and get back into that a bit as well. 

Ninja Program:

green100

The Ninja Program which I blogged about here is going extremely well. I have been amazed at how educators, schools and districts have taken it, updated it, and used it with kids. This project is my first priority this summer with hopefully a website launch by ISTE in San Diego. Over the last two months I have been working with a graphic designer to come up with new logos and badges for the program. To the left you’ll see a sneak peak of the new green belt ninja badge. Although it started with Google Apps, I am getting requests for creating similar material for WordPress and the Mac OS. As well as tests in Spanish and for elementary students. I think this program has some potential and I’m excited to be able to dedicate more time to it in the coming years. 

COETAIL:

COETAIL LogoAs mentioned above the COETAIL program continues to spread and we continue to add cohorts of international educators. By September we’ll have about 160 educators taking the program with more cohorts starting throughout the year. It’s been a great program and I have enjoyed watching educators grow and change their classroom with a focus on good pedagogy that incorporates technology in very meaningful ways. Feel free to follow along as well as find new people to follow at our COETAIL Twitter list. Or follow the #COETAIL on Twitter.

Consulting/Presenting:

I am looking forward to doing more consulting and presenting as well. I am still an educator and I still love sharing my knowledge with others and helping others to see things in a new and different way. My favorite is by far full day workshops where we can dive deep into an idea or product and really think about how it has lasting impact on a classroom, school or district. I already have a fair amount of things lined up for the coming year and am looking forward to continuing my own learning journey while interacting with other educators around the world. 

That’s my future plans for now. When I’m not traveling I’ll be working from our new home in Seattle, WA. We’re excited to be living back in the States for the first time in 10 years, to reconnect with family and friends and to give myself some time to work on all these projects I want to work on. Where the future will lead…..I have no idea but I’m excited to fine out. 

Disclosure: The following thoughts/reflections are not necessary the views of ISB or its community

It has been a few weeks since we were in a virtual school situation here in Bangkok. Although the flood water continues to slowly move South into Bangkok our school has reopened with no immediate threat to flooding in sight if at all.

floodingimage
SOME RIGHTS RESERVED BY MITH17

Some rights reserved by mith17The school was closed for a week, along with all schools in the Bangkok area, by the Ministry of Education. ISB is lucky in did not get hit by the floods. Not all International Schools were as lucky.I have done presentations throughout Asia on preparing for school closure as it seems they follow me where ever I am in the world. Saudi Arabia with terrorism, Shanghai with Typhoons, Bangkok with riots and flooding, and even Washington State with snow and earthquakes. Depending on the situation many times schools try to move into an virtual school situation. Here are some things that no matter why the school closes seem to be factors in having a successful virtual school experience.Blended Classrooms to Virtual Classroom is an easy Transition  Those teachers who use technology on a daily basis in a blended classroom environment have the best success when it comes time for virtual school. The technology is already in place and more importantly the students know where to go to find information and what the expectations are. The students and educators who struggle the most are those who have to try and set up the technology at the last minute….it just doesn’t work.

Virtual work isn’t Homework Virtual work is different than homework and both educators and students need to understand this. Many teachers not being trained as online educators have a hard time understanding what kind of work can be done other than just “busy work” or homework type of assignments. Creating lessons that are interactive, that are deeper in meaning then what educators are use to giving online is PD time worth spending.

Videos are Good Students like videos. They really like videos that their teachers have taken the time to make. Quick 3 to 5 minute videos (no longer then 10 minutes at the most) seem to always get high marks for students. A good YouTube video isn’t bad, but there’s something about a teachers touch that kids still enjoy.

Preparing Students for the Future

future of elearning  

Lastly I think every school should follow the lead of Idaho and require every high school student to take classes online as a graduation requirement. If for no other reason than to prepare them for the university that awaits them. The lastest research from universities shows that online classes in undergraduates is still on a very steep raise with over 500,000 more undergrads taking at least one online course last year than the year before.

According to the Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011 report, university presidents view online learning as a very significant part of their future school plans, which means more and more students will be taking classes online. The key finding in the report were:

  • Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year.
  • The 10% growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population.
  • Thirty-one percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
  • Reported year-to-year enrollment changes for fully online programs by discipline show most are growing.
  • Academic leaders believe that the level of student satisfaction is equivalent for online and face-to-face courses.
  • 65% of higher education institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy.
  • There continues to be a consistent minority of academic leaders concerned that the quality of online instruction is not equal to courses delivered face-to-face.

With the economy where it’s at, online schooling also makes fiscal sense for many families. As a university student you can take your classes and still live at home saving anywhere from $10,000 on up in room and board cost.

 

If we believe that part of our job as educational institutions is to prepare students for their future then I believe we need to prepare them to learn online.

As the school year draws to a close (one week left for us here in Thailand) I find myself reflecting on my first year here in the high school. The accomplishments I’m proud of, the failures to celebrate and the future that is so exciting. 

Accomplishments:

handshake
by Aidan Jones

First and foremost are the relationships I’ve built this first year. This really is the foundation to a Technology Integration position. Whether your first year in a school or just a new division building relationships, understanding the systems, and building trust and confidence with the facutly is in essential part to the first year.  

I feel I had an advantage coming into the high school this year as teaching the CoETaIL Program for two years at ISB allowed me to meet and collaborate with faculty from all three divisions. So transitioning into the high school, I wasn’t coming in as an “unknown” person from the elementary. It helped that I had some established relationships but I still had to “prove” that I knew what I was doing in the high school. Overall, I feel like I’m getting into departments more and have laid some great ground work to take the use of technology to a new level next year.

Building on the back of those relationships I was able to support teachers in taking some risks and rethinking some aspects of their teaching. Jim Fitzgerald, who I’ve blogged about before, took on the reverse instruction challenge, and we saw great success in redefining the role of the teacher and student engagement. The ideas that we proved posible in his class are now slowly spreading through the rest of the English Department and into other departments as well….a great foundation to build on for next year.

In December I was given 5 minutes at a faculty meeting to talk about technology in the high schol. The timing was right having been able to build relationships first semester and proven myself. I challenged teachers with ideas of small changes they could make that might just lead to great learning gains. One of those challenges was to think through how we have students present information.

Dave Krocker, another English teacher, took on the challenge and together we looked at the presentations students were doing in English class. We decided that there was learning in the process of making a presentation that we were not tapping into and we needed a structure that would make the process of building a presentation powerful. We decided to have the students do Pecha-Kucha presentations. They turned out amazing, and Dave was sold on the power of visual presentations. These presentations led Dave to re-exam other areas and tap into the technology skills that our kids already have, and students ended up producing some amazing products, including this video from Sarah on an interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.

Other accomplishments include continuing to use the blogs as reflecting web-based portfolios in Theory of Knowledge classes and Senior Seminor classes. A great foundation on the use of blogs that we can build on next year.

 

Failures:

winsome
by bjornmeansbear

Ah….the failures. If you’re pushing, thinking, and discovering there are bound to be failures along the way. If you don’t have any failures then you’re not pushing hard enough. 

One semi failure was the wikitionary project we did in English as an Additional Langugage (EAL) class. It sounded good, looked good, but in the end I think it was a failure. The kids weren’t as motivated as I thought, and the wiki community we choose to be a part of was not welcoming to the fact that we had students who were helping to build a wiki for EAL students when they themselves were EAL students. The project become frustrating both for teachers and students. The teacher, asking students to do specific things, soon found out that the wiki community didn’t believe the things she was asking kids to add were appropriate for the wiki. The kids adding things to the wiki would find that before the teacher had a chance to check their work, that the wiki community had deleted their hard work. 

In the end we learned how important it is that you choose to join a wiki community/project that truly supports your learning goals. 

Another failure was the Radio Club for the second year in a row that I have been trying to get started. This year we made some head way in that we actually produced a couple shows and had some fun. The problems started to mount up when our equipment which I had thrown together from pieces around the school (including a computer with a half working screen) started to break. Our sound quality wasn’t very good, and that frustrated the kids as they wanted to create high quality material. Also the promise of being able to be live on the Internet didn’t work out as all the live streaming services were blocked here in Thailand up until about three weeks ago. 

By semster it was getting harder and harder for me to motivate the kids to produce shows, and the core group that stuck with it were all seniors, which meant come Feburary they became focused on graduation and their senior year and the club took a back seat. My goal of producing three quality shows a week turned out to be 13 shows total for the year. I still think we could make a Radio Club fly here at ISB but I have to find a way to get quality audio equipment to create quality audio that the community wants to listen to. All year I’ve been trying to find funds, and hopefully by the start of next year I’ll be able to convince the powers that be somewhere that this is good for kids.

The Future:

The future is bright here at ISB and I’m excited in the direction we’re heading. Our 1:1 program expands next year from Grade 6 this year to Grades 6-8 next year, and then 6-12 hopefully the year after that. 

Our complete adoption of Google Apps for both students and staff will streamline a lot of our communication within the school and with our community.

The continued use of blogs as web-based portfolios as teachers now in 2nd Grade want to start blogging with their students next year. Meaning every student grades 3-12 and half of 2nd grade will be creating a web-based portfolio via their blog. 

The idea of reverse instruction continues to be a conversation in the high school and I’m looking forward to continuing to push teachers to look into it as an option for teaching content outside the classroom.

usPersonally I’ll stuggle agian to balance my 90% time here at ISB with my consulting and presentation work with schools, organizations and conferences. My calendar for next year is filling up fast and I’ll once again have to walk the fine line between being here for teachers and following my passion for teaching teachers the power of these tools. This year under a 100% contract my life got way out of balance and was unhealthy tipped towards my work. I’ve been able, with the help of a supportive wife, to step back and get refocused these last couple of months. You are only as good as the support system around you and I’m lucky enough to have a strong one!

All in all it was a great first year in the High School. People ask me if I like if better than the elementary. I’m not sure you can compare the two…they are so different as the kids have different skills and are in different place when it comes to using technology in their daily lives. I love all of it…the kids, the thinking, and the learning. As this year comes to a close I’m already excited for what next year will bring.  

 

loudspeaker
by alphadesigner

I always get excited when national international organizations (members in 45 countries) come out with statements that encourage the use of technology for learning purposes. Partly because my beliefs in the future of education and the tools students need to succeed, but also because it’s one more organization we can lean on as leaders.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals just released a statement advocating the use of Mobile and Social Technologies in Schools. Yes…that’s right….principals are saying we need to use these tools for learning. W00T!

A couple of quotes from the article that I like: 

Yet as mobile and social technologies become ubiquitous, attempts to block them are increasingly ineffective. For example, in schools that prohibit cell phones, 54% of students still report sending texts during the school day (Lenhart, 2010).

In recent years, there has been explosive growth in students creating, manipulating, and sharing content online (National School Boards Association, 2007).

(Love how this quotes 4 year old research)

Nowhere is the vision for the use of mobile and social technologies more clearly articulated than in the National Educational Technology Plan (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). The plan describes new models of teaching and learning in which students and teachers are virtually connected to one another, to colleagues, to fellow students, and to a variety of resources that maximize opportunities for anytime-anywhere learning.

I suggest you sent the article on to your principal no matter where they stand on this issue. Mine will be receiving it tomorrow in their inbox. 

(Full Disclosure: I own stock in Google)

The more I read about what Google launched at Google IO a couple of weeks ago the more I’m convinced that I’m going to continue to love Google and its products as well as where they are taking us into the future. 

HTC Incredible S3 weeks ago I traded in my iPhone 3G for an HTC Incredible S that had just been released in Taiwan and I haven’t looked back. The speed, the form factor, the 8MB camera on the back and 1.3MB camera on the front…and an open platform. 

I bought my wife an HTC Desire a year ago and we both fell in love with it. It was my wife’s first Smartphone and she was nervous at first about figuring it out. 2 weeks later she couldn’t live without it. 

When it comes to Android what I love is that because it’s open-source companies can take the base product and put their own spin on it. I love what HTC has done with their HTC Sense interface on top of Android, it really gives it a polished finish that rivals any iPhone. 

I also like the idea of widgets that you can put on the screens. I’m all about reducing my clicks, and having my calendar, contacts, and friend stream always open saves mini-seconds of time throughout the day that add up. 

But what I think excites me most about Google and Android is the future. 

At its recent Google IO conference they talked about Android@Home where they are releasing open APIs that companies can use to build into their home products like refrigerators, light switches, sound systems, etc. If companies adopt the standard then smart-appliances are in our not to distance future….and again because Android is open it basically could runs in the background allowing each company to put their own look and feel to the user interface (UI)

Then there is what Google continues to do with automobiles. We already know they have a car that can drive itself, but now they’re partnering with Ford to make our cars even smarter. 

Open Wins

Google has shown again that creating open platforms in the long run win out. There are now more Android phones in the US than iPhones and it’s predicted that by July there will be more Android apps than iPhone Apps

Then there’s the app building piece which, I’m not sure if they did this on purpose or not but looks and acts a lot like Scratch the MIT game building software.

So a school could have a computer game building class one year and the next year have an App building class where the skills build on each other (please tell me there are schools out there doing this?).

Wikipedia beat Encarda, Linux is the backbone of the Internet, Blogs beat newspapers, and Twitter is taking down nightly news.

In the long run open wins, it gives people choice and allows for creativity. 

The Importance of Failing

I also love the fact that Google takes chances and fails…and not little chances…big chances. Google Wave, Google TV (so far), Google Buzz, all products that Google hasn’t had a hit with…and that’s OK. 

When you’re pushing, when you’re being innovative, you’re gonna have failures….and I for one like to celebrate those. Good companies (and teachers) can fail big, get back up and try something else.

Constant Beta

I really wish I could convince educational leaders in this notion (as I wrote here). Google products are always in constant Beta. They still make somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 tweaks to Google Search. Google Docs is constantly getting updates and tweaks, and the same goes for Chrome, Maps, Android, and most other products. They are constantly innovating, seeing what works what doesn’t. Building on the positive and throwing out the negative. 

Teachers do this daily with their students, constantly adjusting to student needs, what’s working, what’s not….however are we doing it at an organizational level? Or is education “good enough” and we’ll continue to build curriculum like we’ve always done.

I’m excited for the future….I don’t know where all this is going, what my home will look like in 5 years, what this device I’m typing on will look like in 5 years….but I’m excited to see where it’s all going to lead. 

connected
By CLUC

Kevin Kelly co-founder of Wired magazine took the stage recently at a Web 2.0 event in San Francisco. In his keynote he discussed the 6 Trends he believes will affect our connected word. He broke these 6 trends down into 6 verbs (actions).

What are your thoughts on these? What do these mean for schools and our students?

  • Screening — Kelly notes that whereas there used to be just the television screen and then the computer screen, now screens are everywhere. And increasingly, everything will be a screen — all surface. There will be a “one screen for all,” Kelly says.
  • Interacting — Right now, interaction is limited mainly to our fingertips, Kelly says. But the iPad is changing that — it’s about using more of your body now. And going forward, things like gestures, voice, cameras, and other things in our technology will transform the way we interact with everything. And yes, he brought up Minority Report.
  • Sharing — While most people think of this right now as the top level social ideas, “we’ve just begun this process,” Kelly notes. The self-tracking of everything we do is now coming into play, he notes. This includes location, realtime pictures and videos, etc.
  • Flowing — “We’re now into a new metaphor for the web,” Kelly says noting that we started with the desktop on computers, then pages for the web. Now the realtime stream connected to the web is the thing.
  • Accessing — We’re moving to a world where it’s about accessing information and media and not owning it. We see this now with the rise of Netflix, but soon that will fully hit the music space too.
  • Generating — “The Internet is the world’s largest copy machine,” Kelly says. Going forward, there will be an importance placed on things that cannot be easily copied. A key to this is an easy way to pay and content that is hard to copy. Immediacy is a key — if you want something right now versus when it can be copied. Personalization is another key, he says.

Via TechChunch