NETS Refreshed-Do we need tech standards?

My last full day in Shanghai before flying out tomorrow to Seattle. It’s also the first day of summer vacation, so as I try and wind down from school and gear up for the projects ahead of me this summer I opened up my RSS reader to catch up on some reading. When I clicked on Warlick’s A Magnetic Field of National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) post, I knew I’d better set aside some deep thinking time for this one. I was right! The post itself is excellent as conversations about the NETS Refreshed are starting to take hold as we draw closer to NECC. I’ve read over the standards a couple of times, and after reading Warlick’s post and the comments that followed I’m still asking myself do we need technology standards? I asked this question at the beginning of the year. The comments left back then were great and throughout this year I have returned to this question wondering if we are on the right track with technology standards. Warlick in his post…and often…refers to this new literacy we need to be teaching. Warlick even shows in his slideshare slides how the new NETS fit into reading, writing, and arithmetic. If these new standards embed themselves so well into our core content areas isn’t that where they should be? What we’re talking about here is a focus on skills. That there is a new skill set that needs to be taught, but cannot (in my opinion) be taught in labs separate from the core curriculum that is being taught each and every day in the classroom. I think David Jakes’ list of these skills is as good as any: Be able to connnectBe able to createBe able to communicateBe able to coollaborate A skill according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: 2 a : the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance b : dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks3 : a learned power of doing something competently : a developed aptitude or ability skills> We know that David is talking about skills because he starts each one with “Be able to” which tells us we want students to gain/use their knowledge to demonstrate to us as teachers that they can do something. There are two things I really like about the NETS Refreshed. 1) They focus on...

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TTWWADI

That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It I was hit this week with a TTWWADI right in my own teaching. It’s the end of the semester and so in TTWWADI fashion the students are creating web sites using Dreamweaver. The project includes everything we’ve been talking about this past semester. The only difference is the students have had a blog all semester and that is a web site. The students have been excited to learn how to use Dreamweaver but I keep coming back to: Is this a skill I should be teaching in 6 and 7th grade? Maybe…before Web 2.0 tools made it so easy to publish content to the web learning how to build a web page in Dreamweaver was a skill we needed to be teaching. But is it a relevant skill in a Web 2.0 world? I would argue we should be teaching how to hack css scripts. All of my students have a blog through our school site. Most have at least one other site, either on facebook, myspace, or some other social-network. All of these places are created using .php and the users can hack their themes by changing values in the css script. I would have done this on our blogging system that is running wordpress mu but users can’t hack into individual themes using this program. This would concern me more if this wasn’t the last year we will have “technology class” as starting next year we move to an embedded model where we will be supporting and teaching technology within content areas. However..there are still many technology classes out there that are teaching web design via Dreamweaver. I’m not against web design…I could use a lesson myself, but we need to make sure that we are teaching students web design for a new web and not web design because TTWWADI. Just something I’ve been thinking about. [tags]TTWWADI[/tags] Technorati Tags: css, dreamweaver,...

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Chaos vs Coherent

My Superintendent: “I’ve learned that there is a fine line between chaos and coherent.” This statement has been replaying itself in my head now for a weeks. Maybe because I’m feeling my life is on the chaotic side of that line at the moment. However, I’ve also been reflecting at where we are in education and where we are trying to go. Where does education fall on this line? What I’m afraid of is that education is too much on the coherent side of that line, although we are trying to push the education system as a whole closer to that line in the use of information, data analysis, and accountability. The problem is it’s a large system that likes coherent, is comfortable with coherent, and looks at the line and really doesn’t want to go there. The line is the different between controlling everything and having structures in place that allow a system to be flexible. Standards are structures that allow an educator to walk on that line. To be able to look at new ways of teaching, new ways of assessing, and new ways at engaging student’s in the learning process and still stay grounded in understanding what it is that needs to be taught. Most standardized tests control what we teach, and how we teach it based on what content is needed in order to do well. Standardized tests doesn’t allow a teacher to walk on the side of chaos in fear that what they might teach, what may be a different way of learning, will not be acceptable when filling in circles. A little chaos is a good thing; it is where we learn to take risks, where perhaps our best learning occurs. These past couple of weeks I’ve been on that side, and my brain actually hurts from such a steep learning curve. I don’t want to be on this side of the line for much longer. I need a little coherence in my life, a little more structure. I think this is where our classrooms need to be. We need to walk that line between chaos and coherent. I sometimes hear teachers refer to this as ‘controlled chaos’ which sounds pretty good to me. When I taught in the classroom I tried to keep my class in that controlled chaos state. This is where we learn, where we are able to push ourselves...

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Laptops Hinder Learning?

A Study on how laptops hinder learning made the front page of The International Educator newspaper that comes out monthly to overseas educators and schools. Jason Welker wrote a great article at U Tech Tips about it. First of all, to call this a “study” of the use of laptops inschools is inappropriate. A study with a sample size of TWO classes,yes, but its findings should be understood as applying only two thesetwo particular classes, which were large lecture-style universityclasses. This particular university’s laptop “program” is described asfollows: “Students were told at the beginning of the course thatthey could bring their laptops to class to take notes if they wantedto, but that they would never need their laptops.” (italics added) Any school thinking of implementing a laptop program should becareful NOT to emulate this university’s particular approach. What’sthe result when students are encouraged to use laptops, but told theywould “never need them”? Here’s what one professor observed: “‘You’d sit and watch the students, and wonder, ‘Whatare they doing with their laptops?’ You’d walk by other classes and seeeverybody playing solitaire. I wanted to know, ‘Is this a problem?,”‘said Fried, a psychology professor at Winona State. The laptop users reported in weekly surveys that they did otherthings other than take notes for an average of 17 minutes out of each75-minute class. Checking e-mail during the lectures was the most common distraction;81 per cent admitted to this transgression compared to 68 per centreporting that they used instant messaging. Forty-three per centreported surfing the Internet, while 25 per cent reported playinggames.” It should be no surprise that students spent most of their time withtheir laptops surfing the net, chatting and playing games, given thatprofessors apparently made no attempt to integrate the computers intotheir instruction. Obviously this represents a failure not of “laptopprograms” in general, rather of this university’s failure to implementa program effectively. The university’s failure lies in the simple factthat professors view the laptop as a fancy tool for taking notes,rather than what it is: a tool for communication, collaboration, andinnovative research. Laptop programs do not “hinder learning”, BAD laptop programs hinderlearning. The study discussed in this article focuses on one, very bad laptop program at a university that does not understand the role technology should play in education. Worth a read! [tags]laptops, 1:1[/tags] Technorati Tags: laptops, 1:1, Jason...

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A Week of Just In Time Learning

There is nothing like starting your week off with an e-mail from a teacher that simple says: “Moodle is not working…do you know why?” And then spending the next four days worried that you can’t fix it. It has been one of those weeks that I’ve relied on ‘just in time learning’ and my network of information to help me through what was a database disaster. I wish you could monitor learning and knowledge over time. Because my graph for the past four days on how Moodle works and mysql databases must have doubled. Of course I can’t tell you what I learned, because: 1. I don’t remember it 2. I no longer need that knowledge3. I probably couldn’t explain it right anyway It’s been an interesting week and throughout it I have tried to reflect on how I’ve used my networks to learn, share, keep motivated, and try to figure out the problem. Learning: As soon as the problem with Moodle was reported I headed straight for moodle.org where the free support forums are filled with issues, errors, and solutions to problems that others have ran across while using moodle. This network led me all over the web following links, reading postings, and trying out suggestions as I went. I soon found that learning to search within the forums took skill; understand how someone else might have phrased a question or answer and then sifting through the results was at times stressful. I soon realized that we do not teach students how to search effectively enough. We do cover searching in class…but it is a skill that we should practice frequently. Share: I used twitter to share with my network of followers what I was doing, what was happening and how I was feeling. This networked helped me in a number of ways: 1. They are educators, they understand how a system failure like this affects the learning process, and I could feel they understood my frustration and stress.2. My twitter network also turned into a learning network as three different followers offered support. Chris Craft even chatted with me and helped look for answers on his own (Thanks you Chris!).3. My twitter network also helped to keep me motivated by responding to my twits with motivational twits of their own, or just by simple stating “I feel for you.” Knowing that someone else understands your pain is...

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