Google and the Future of Learning

Google and the Future of Learning

What has becoming somewhat of a tradition….ok…it’s really just my geek side coming out (yes this would imply I have another side….not sure what that is though), I sat down on Thursday last week to watch the Google I/O conference. For years now I have watched the Google I/O conference as well as the Apple’s WWDC (coming June 8th) for no other reason (or so I tell myself) than to fill in teachers at my school what was announced and how it might impact them. When living and working in China and Thailand this meant staying up until 2am or so to watch it live and write an email that would be in every teachers inbox by the next morning. Now living in Seattle it means a cup of coffee, four devices and watching it on my TV. It also means I no longer work in a school or have teachers to send this to…so you get my thoughts this year. Basically a brain dump of things I’m thinking after watching Google layout the next year and beyond of the future of technology. Education was at the front of this year’s talk. I say that every year of course because I hear and see things through an educational lens. For example, Google’s new Photos app (Android, iOS) had nothing to do with education…or they just made it even easier for students to take pictures, create movies, stories and share those photos with their classmates and teacher. A common photo app on both Android and iOS devices with unlimited upload and storage space for all the photos and video you want to take. Yes…this can and will impact some classrooms. “Please take out your phones and record via videos and photos your experiment today please. One person in your group needs to be the recorder for the experiment and I expect to see written notes along with video and image evidence of what happened.” Google Expeditions One of the biggest educational announcements was the release of Google Expedition. A virtual reality toolkit for educators being released, I’m going to guess, in time for next school year. Using Google Cardboard and any Smartphone (again both Android and iOS) you turn every classroom into a 3D immersive experience. This is very early stages but if you think 2 or 3 years down the road what this means for classrooms it could be...

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Eduro Learning: Changing Culture and Minds

Eduro Learning: Changing Culture and Minds

There has been a lot going on with my new adventure that is Eduro Learning. Kim Cofino and I, along with 5 others, founded the company last May. The idea behind the company was that there were many conferences, summits, and PD opportunities to learn about technology tools however very few focused on the change in classroom culture that needs to happen or the change in the mindset of educators that needs to happen to truly take advantage of what technology has to offer. It’s 2015 if you hadn’t noticed, and we’re still in a place where very rarely is technology replacing learning in the classroom in meaningful ways. I believe that’s because “integrate” is the wrong word…the wrong mindset. In 2015 we need to start thinking about replacing… What skills need to be replaced in our curriculum because of technology? You see replacing is a different mindset. It’s a different way of looking at technology. We don’t have a lesson created already and try and integrate technology into it. No…we need to start replacing the whole lesson with something different because of the technology we have available to us. We’re not talking about small changes here….we’re talking about shifting the way technology is viewed. Shifting the way technology is used and thought about. Of course this culture shift needs to be understood by the administration. It needs to be more than we’re giving every student a laptop and move into a deeper question of how do we change the culture of our school? I’m excited that we found a school district, an administrative team, and a staff hungry for a new way of looking at learning in 2015 and beyond. Eduro Learning has entered into a five year contract with Marysville School District in Washington State to do just that….to take 450+ educators through a program that changes the culture of the way learning happens (Press Release). This goes beyond conferences, summits and institutes. Beyond one-off PD days and looks at long term embedded learning. Each educator who teaches 4th – 12th grade in Marysville will spend three years with the Eduro Team. This is the type of long term professional development that truly can change the culture of a school or district. Very few school boards and school leaders are willing to invest this type of money and resources into changing the culture of their school. Even...

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Online Learning Research

Online Learning Research

Seeing that I’m fully invested in online professional development for educators through both COETAIL and Eduro Learning, I’m always on the look out for research on how to make online learning better. What is it that sets good online learning apart from the OK online learning systems? How can we use that research to start blending our classrooms more and more to prepare students for the universities that away them? Universities that more and more are requiring students to learn online. New research out of MIT, Tsinghua University, and Harvard came to the conclusion that online learning…specifically MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) do work….or at least work as good as traditional teaching. An article overview of the the research can be found here.  Check out our online courses at Eduro Learning here. What’s even more interesting is in part because of this research, MIT released their Future of Education Report. There are whole sections of the report looking at blended learning and game-based learning. What I find most interesting however is their commitment to creating communities both online and offline. Personally this is what sets apart good online courses and why MOOCs work. MOOCs are about creating a community of learners, good online courses do the same. They create a community that allows everyone to learn from each other, to support each other and not rely on a traditional teacher to “teach” the course. That is the mindshift that needs to happen. Not only in our traditional classroom settings but specifically in online courses. Online courses work when a community forms and learns together.  We continue to improve our systems both at COETAIL and Eduro Learning to be more community centered. Setting up the system to create a community is one thing….helping people to understand how to learn in a community and not from a teacher is tougher. If you have taken online courses before. What aspects do you like and don’t like about...

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Preparing for the worst = opportunity

There is more than one way to get a school to start looking at online learning as a way to reach students. As an international educator, I have found no greater motivation to get the conversation started around online learning than planning for the worst…..school closure. In 2003 it was the attacks on the compound in Riyadh that led my school to think about how we were to educate students if we were to shut our doors. The following year we implemented Moodle and started training teachers. In 2005 we moved to Shanghai, China and within weeks of getting my feet on the ground I found myself in a meeting talking about how could we sustain learning if SARS was to return to Asia. Luckily SAS did not have to shut their doors during SARS but other schools had to and they were now looking for ways to sustain learning if the worst was to occur. Two months later we install and start using Moodle, we got a couple teacher on board and we started to build a wave of technology users. In my eyes that was the true start to online learning systems at SAS. Of course now they have a whole e-learning portal system and are going 1:1. A couple days ago I get an e-mail from the leadership team here at ISB who are starting to have conversations around H1N1 and what systems do we have in place that would allow us to carry on the learning process. There have been international schools that have already had short term closures throughout Asia do to H1N1 and just last week we saw our first confirmed case at school. These are not the best ways to bring attention to e-learning systems, but honestly I’ll take what I can get! 🙂 Here’s the problem with all three of the above stories. Online learning is not something you can “switch on” and do well. There is so much training to be done on both the teachers end and the students end that switching it on is the least of your worries. Why every classroom should be a blended classroom: Of course I could go into the learning theory on why I believe every classroom today, especially in the middle school and high school where students are more tech savvy should be a blended model of both classroom learning and online...

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