Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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Day 3 of the #EduroChallenge is about teams and it’s something I’m personally very passionate about. Not only because we at Eduro Learning are a virtual team. We have no office space, yet we meet and work together all the time.

In 2009 I set up a camera to UStream our COETAIL session live from Bangkok as we had two virtual participants

In my opening keynote this year to educators I talk about that collaboration means in 2017 and beyond. We’ve always wanted students to be good team members, to learn to collaborate. However, in 2017 we need to make sure we’re also teaching students how to collaborate across time and space. That is a skill that is highly sought after in companies today. When are we creating learning experiences for students to collaborate across time and space?

I have a friend who works for Amazon (everyone in Seattle has a friend that works for Amazon). He is based in Luxembourg because it’s more central to the two teams he manages. On in Seattle, the other in Bangalore, India.

A survey by Gallup in 2015 found that 37% of American’s telecommute to work. I wasn’t able to find research newer than that but the trend is definitely heading upwards to 50%. If half the students in our classrooms need to know how to work in virtual teams, when are we giving them the opportunity to practice and understand how to communicate in that form, respectfully and productively.

Do you have stories about virtual teams? How do you help students learn to collaborate across time and space?

Can’t tell you how excited I am that our program COETAIL (Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy) has joined forces with the Google for Education team to offer educators the ability to complete both your COETAIL micro-credential and your Google for Education Certified Trainer (GET) certificate at the same time. As one COETAILer put it.

It would be like the best of both worlds – COETAIL’s pedagogy and Google App for Education Suite make a formidable force to have in your teaching toolbox! ~ COETAIL Graduate

If you haven’t heard of COETAIL before. You can head over to our about page for more information. For a real look at what COETAIL is all about, make sure to check out the homepage where you will see blog posts from current COETAILers.

We are in the process of gathering data of who might be interested in completing both the COETAIL program and their GET certificate at the same time. If you are interested please fill out this form and we’ll keep you in the loop.

Here is the official announcement:

Announcing a New and Exciting Collaboration

Dear COETAILers

It is with great excitement that we write to you today to tell you about a new and exciting collaboration to benefit COETAILers past, present and future.

We have worked with the Google for Education Team to bring an exciting new collaboration to COETAILers. A collaboration that will allow COETAIL graduates priority access to apply to the Google for Education Certified Trainer (GET) program and future COETAILers to complete the COETAIL program and at the same time earn their Google for Education Certified Trainer credentials.

We are so excited that Google for Education chose to collaborate with COETAIL. COETAIL has always strived to be a leader in supporting educators in authentically and purposefully integrating technology into the classroom. The rigor and reflective nature of COETAIL and the GET program have many overlapping objectives and outcomes making this collaboration one that will benefit COETAILers past, present, and future.

Aligned Mission

COETAIL and Google for Education Certified Trainer program

Foster a network of globally connected educators

Support members in authentically and purposefully integrating technology into their classroom and the school as a whole

Support members in being seen as technology leader within their school

Help create a culture of ongoing, sustainable, professional development program for all educators

If you are a COETAIL graduate and are interested in becoming a Google for Education Certified Trainer please fill out this form by Thursday, March 9.

If you know someone who might be interested in completing COETAIL and the Google for Education Certified Trainer certification, please feel forward this email and have them fill out this form as well.

In the coming weeks, as we finalize the collaboration we will be sending another email with specifics of what will be required for past, present and future COETAILs to earn their Google for Education Certified Trainer credentials. For now, sign up to become a Certified Trainer and forward this opportunity to fellow educators who might be interested in completing COETAIL featuring Google for Education Certified Trainer.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thank you

Jeff, Kim and the Google for Education Team

 

I haven’t made much time to blog this semester…..OK….this year. But what a year it has been!

I am currently writing this sitting at Rialto Beach on the coast of Washington. One of our favorite ‘get off the grid’ places to go. We hike in about a mile, no Internet, no cell service. Just the waves, nature and prana.

It’s here that I find time to finally sit and reflect on this year’s journey into amazing new educational adventures with more on the way.

Eduro: Marysville School District

eduro logo 800x300I wrote last year about the 5 year contract we signed with Marysville School District and the work the team and I would be doing there. The first year has been simply amazing. From August when we started training 150ish teachers in Cohort 1, to deploying over 8000 Chromebooks to students 6-12 grade in October and November. Then “Doing the Work” to start changing teaching practice to understand how to make the most of this new tool and connected classrooms…it’s been tough but exciting.

Last week at a training that Kim and I were facilitating for Cohort 2 (the next 150 teachers) a math teacher said to me, “I’ve started using Google Forms and ‘Flipping’ my class, but other than that I’m not doing much.”

Let’s see, you made a transition from a PC to Mac operating system, you are learning and are continuing to learn the power of Google Apps for Education. You also have started to change lessons, units and overall pedagogical approaches you use in the classroom. Yeah…..I think you’re doing plenty for a 7 month roll out.

So often as teachers, we don’t take time to step back and reflect on the journey we have come on in a year with our students and with ourselves. The changes are so small at the time that we don’t often see that they add up to something much larger. If this is where we are at in 7 months. I can’t wait to see where we are in 2018 and beyond.

Cohort 1 is on training 7 of 12. Cohort 2 is on training 5 of 12 and Cohort 3 starts their training the end of June. Soon we will be changing learning for students from 3-12 grade across a district. Impacting the learning of roughly 11,000 students. What an honor!

COETAIL: Another Cohort in the Books!

COETAIL

Who would have thought a program started in 2009 to help the teachers at one school (International School Bangkok) would 7 years later have over 1000 educators going through this learning journey……not us.

A couple weeks ago our 6th online COETAIL Cohort completed their 18 month learning journey with some amazing final projects. You can view them here (link to blog) or follow COETAIL on Facebook or Twitter as we release them once a week over the summer.

The program continues to get rave reviews from educators who complete it. Full disclosure our dropout rate is roughly 15%. This is not just some courses that you do to learn. This is a community you join to truly reflect on your teaching practice and make the most of the technology you have available to you in your classroom. Our instructors and coaches (COETAIL graduates who want to continue supporting the community) are what make this program work. The program continues to focus on being reflective in our practice while learning together to better ourselves as educators. A simple approach with an amazing impact. Our next Online Cohort starts in September. If you want to be a part of this amazing community of dedicated, learning focused educators please join us.

Learning2: Expanding Globally

L2-profile

It’s been a big year for Learning2. Our 8th successful Asia conference was incredible in Manila this past October. Then off to South Africa for our 2nd Learning2 Africa conference. Then it was on to our first ever Learning2 Europe in Milan, Italy where Stephen Riech and Carrie Zimmer helped to pull off an incredible start to Learning2 in Europe. This conference does not have a big keynote speaker but rather teachers doing “Learn2Talks” or 5 minute inspirational talks on their ideas, passions and thoughts. Follow Learning2 on Facebook and Twitter to get a weekly talk sent to you, or subscribe to the Learning2 YouTube channel to get all the Learn2Talks past, present and future.

Next year not only can you find us in Asia (Saigon) in Europe (Warsaw) but we expand to South America (Quito) in October. With flights from the US being around $800 I hope to see some American teachers expanding their PLNs and making connections in South America this coming school year.

Personal Consulting: Enumclaw School District

Doing the work in Enumclaw #esdimagine
Doing the work in Enumclaw #esdimagine

This past year I had the honor to lead the Connected Classroom Teacher (CCT) in Enumclaw on their learning journey to 1:1. This group of 15 teachers not only did the work. They did it in a humbling fashion. Taking failures (First Attempt In Learning) in stride, learning not only a new OS (Chromebooks) but also thinking differently about teaching and learning in a connected classroom. Chris Beals, IT Director in Enumclaw and myself put together a case study of our work and partnership together here. The work continues with three more CCT Cohorts this coming year. Work once again that I am honored to be apart of. There is nothing like a 6am drive towards Mt. Rainer on a clear morning to remind you to be humble and be present.

Personal Consulting: Auburn School District

As Auburn School District prepares for their 1:1 rollout they have put together ATLA Cohorts (Auburn Teacher Leaders Academy). Cohorts of teachers to go through a series of trainings to think about teaching and learning in a 1:1 environment. Our work continues next year with a new group of ALTA teachers.

Auburn SD this year also launched #techconnect a one day conference for their teachers to come together and share their learning, their classroom practice and have conversations around teaching and learning with devices. I was honored to be this year’s keynote and look forward to continuing our work over the next year.

Keynote: Washington State School Directors Association

A true highlight and memorable moment of this past school year was being asked to be a keynote speaker at the Washington State Schools Directors’ Association (WSSDA) Conference. To be asked to keyonte, inspire and push the school board directors’ in the state that I was educated in, love and call home was simply an honor.

Selfie with students after Keynote
Selfie with students after Keynote

I have now had the pleasure of working with over 25 school districts in my own state and was able to bring my knowledge of what I’m seeing, hearing and thinking about to those ultimately responsible for leading the change in our schools. It was great to be able to talk about the above mentioned school districts, to highlight the great work I have seen being done on behalf of students across the state and at the same time to push for a future of schools within Washington State that will prepare students here for a future that is continually evolving.

Whatever I said must have hit home as I will be keynoting this year’s conference as well. This time in the town where I grew up Spokane, WA.

Then there were the countless other experiences. Keynoting the WCTSMA student conference in Kennewick, WA. The State of Education address to parents and community in Enumclaw. The work with Everett School District’s Leadership Team over the past year in preparation for their Tech Levy passing, which it did, this April, and starting our work together to bring 22,000 students and 1,100 teachers into a 1:1 teaching and learning environment.

It has been an incredible year. Full of learning, of meeting new people, and most importantly helping schools help students prepare for their future not our past.

COETAIL

It’s that time again as we’re about a month out from another COETAIL Cohort starting. Excited that Ben Sheridan is the lead instructor for this cohort. Ben is currently in Kentucky doing his PhD in Online Learning…could you ask for a better pairing? To get a glimpse of Ben’s thinking in action you can check out our latest COETAILcast where he wastes no time at all getting into whether the “hour of code” movement is the right movement for education.

At the writing of this blog post there are about 20 spots left for this cohort. As we start 2016 think about starting a PD journey that time and time again educators have said this is some of the best PD they have ever done. If you need more convincing here are some final projects from COETAILers that just finished up in December and their final projects after 18 months of transformational learning.

Mark Mouck: Collaborative Notetaking in 9th Grade English

Mark has captured his students talking about collaborative notetaking in class warts and all. I really enjoyed and appreciated the variety of their reasonings for doing (or not doing) notetaking in this way.  His project is both student-centred and student-driven.

Annie Hall Paulson: Technology in PE Class

What I really love about Annie’s Course 5 project is that despite the challenges, she demonstrates a growth mindset and flexibility. Her students make cute appearances all through the video sharing their learning with us all.  This project will definitely inspire you to try technology in a curriculum area that you may not think you can.

Sonya terBorg:  Student Blogs in the Junior School

If you are wondering how to blog with students – especially in the Junior School, then you really need to watch Sonya’s Course 5 project! Even with a number of obstacles, often times, beyond her control, Sonya remained flexible and with her growth mindset, was able to work around those challenges.   You’ll hear from both students and teachers and gain some really great tips that apply to anyone working with students/teachers and technology.

Colleen McCabe: TourBuilder in Literacy

A very student-orientated Course 5 project! You’ll get to hear students talk about what they did in Colleen and Angela’s combined TourBuilder Unit. There’s great modelling of the tool and the task and what’s even cooler is that the students want to continue to learn in this way.  A great example of how technology can be integrated in powerful ways.

Ann Lautrette: The End but really the Beginning

Ann has done something “different” with the presentation of her Course 5 project (I don’t want to give too much away – but just so you know, I really enjoyed watching it!!).  If you’re interested in a redesign of the core of IB – using blogs instead of an exercise book for TOK, then you really need to watch this one!  What I really like about this project is that it is an awesome example of a student-centred, student-driven project that shows that the sharing of student work really reflects the power of blogging and how you can make it work for IB.

Erika van Vogt: Introduction of A Class Blog

It’s quite obvious that I’m a big fan of blogging with students. Erika’s student-driven (through roles) Introduction of a Class Blog has digital citizenship deliberately and authentically entwined throughout.  Her students explain what’s going on and it’s very powerful to see inside Erika’s classroom as the students work on their tasks.  The enthusiasm of the student interviews in this video presentation is fabulous to see!

Becca Allen: Making Thinking Visible

Becca did an outstanding job of not only sharing her learning from Course 5 (along with all of the other elements of this project like student feedback, student learning in action and student samples), but she also constructed her video in such an organized, clear and thoughtful way so that the viewer can really understand her entire process. Personally, I also always love to see examples of technology being integrated seamlessly into regular classroom routines like visible thinking routines. It’s a great way to see how technology can support good pedagogy without becoming a massive project.

Kara Cole: Minecraft in the Classroom

Kara did an amazing job of both structuring this project for student success and letting it be completely student centered and student directed. For me, this project is an outstanding example of the importance of being structured and organized, but how you can make that experience all about the students. I loooove the very first few seconds of the video where her grade 5 students are in the computer lab and the noise level is out of control with their enthusiasm and energy about learning, but when you get closer you can hear that they’re so engaged and purposeful. For me, this is what a classroom should be. Thanks for bringing it to life so clearly in your video, Kara!

Kristy Godbout iStop Motion with the Who Am I? Unit of Inquiry

Kristy has done such a fantastic job of connecting hands on learning with visible thinking and technology in her kindergarten classroom. Kristy has so many great examples of her students learning in action, as well as their finished product. Her video is so well organized and thorough, including all of the elements required for the project in such an engaging and inspiring way. It’s always fantastic to see young learners using technology so purposefully, and for it to be so well integrated into the classroom environment, rather than an add-on.

Daena Greig: Animated .gifs in PE

I have to admit, I can’t stop talking about this project. It’s such a simple idea technologically speaking, but one that has such a far reaching impact, not just for PE but for so many other subject areas. Daena and David have worked together to use animated .gifs in PE (and David has worked with other subject area teachers along the same lines as well, so it’s not just great for PE, it’s great for lots of subjects), so that students are able to record very short, repeating, animated images of themselves demonstrating PE skills. The addition of an animated rubric for them to evaluate themselves takes this project to another level. I know this idea is going to spread!

Angela Spitzman: Tour Builder for Literature Circles

I love this idea from Angela! I’ve used TourBuilder a number of times, but never in the way that Angela describes it here. She has her students delving deeply into the stories they are reading to create animated tours of either the actual story or a possible continued version of the story. The students are truly interacting with the characters of the story as they plan and map the path of their adventures right on Google Earth.

Carly Thomas: Global Collaboration with Ning in AP Environmental Science

I am so appreciative of the fact that Carly took a risk and created a globally collaborative project for Course 5! I think we can all appreciate how hard it is to create a global project – and she did it from China with tons of restrictions on what kinds of tools she could use, in a very content heavy subject area as well. It’s great to see the value her students have placed on having that global interaction, as well as her ideas to continue to further the collaboration.

Registernow

Not sure how it got to be December already…and the end of December at that. Where did 2015 go? It’s been a year to remember for me as many things continue to change and grow as we make our home here in Seattle. This is our 3rd full year living here…one more and we match our longevity record of Bangkok. So we’ll see if that holds true.

As I have been thinking about writing this blog post I can’t help but think what went wrong with The Thinking Stick this year. By far the fewest blog posts I have written since I started the blog in 2005. Yes…10 years of blogging this past September and that didn’t even dawn on me until just a few weeks ago.

Why haven’t I been writing more here? Does it mean that I’m not creating content anymore? I’ve been thinking about this over the past few weeks and I think I’m producing as much as I ever have, it’s just not all in one place. For better or for worse there are now four different companies that I am a part of and each of those have me creating and producing content in some way shape or form for them. Maybe my goal for 2016 should not be to blog more here, but to make sure that more of what I produce in other places ends up here as well?

So here’s 2015 by the numbers.

117,000 miles flown

I’m really liking this first number. A far cry from the 250,000 miles I flew in 2013…and I’m really excited about that. I would like to keep this down to around 100,000 miles a year if possible. That’s a good number for me. 14 countries and roughly 100,000 miles is a good goal for 2016 as well. As I continue to do more here in the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region in general the less traveling I’ll have to do. I still want to travel and I know the opportunities will continue to be there. It’s just nice spending more days at home than traveling.

29 Blog posts

15 here on The Thinking Stick and 14 over on the Eduro Learning Blog which honestly surprises me a bit. I really didn’t think I had written that many blog posts. If you missed them here are a couple of my favorites from this year.

Understanding Wikipedia in 3 clicks

The Millennials are here

Where do we teach email?

The death of cursive writing

Citizenship and Chromebooks

8 Podcasts (COETAILcasts)

CC-profileEvery year I find a way to continue to podcast. The last couple of years it has been over on the COETAIL site. Our COETAILcast is approaching 30 episodes for COETAILers and everyone alike to listen to us discuss some of the pressing issues in education and educational technology. It’s a global crew that gets together once a month to just talk and learn together. Find us in all your favorite podcast apps as well as on YouTube. Hangouts continue to get better and so do we with producing these monthly discussions.

87 Days of Training Delivered

I delivered 87 days of training over the year from what is in my calendar. This still is where my passion lies in helping teachers learn how to authentically and purposefully use technology with students. I’m excited as I look at my calendar that I’ll probably end up right around this number of days again in 2016.

3 Days of Substituting

mruOn days when I can, I substitute for teachers at the school my wife works at. This past year that was 3 days total. Not a lot, but 3 days that I got to be in a classroom in front of kids and allow a teacher to take a sick day, or do some PD training themselves. Just a small way for me to give back to educators that do the day to day hard stuff of teaching students.

Day to day running of 4 companies

Who starts four companies? All this means is four bank accounts to manage, four company taxes to keep track of and a host of talking with lawyers and accountants to keep things going. By far my greatest learning this year and where all my “downtime” was spent was learning about businesses. Everything from Eduro Learning with stockholders to Learning2 which is now a Non Profit 501(c)3. Each one of these companies (COETAIL and my personal consulting being the other two) serves a different purpose and all of them have different needs. I have learned more about business law, accounting and taxes than I ever really wanted to know. However as I look back on what I’ve learned this year, it truly has been a journey of learning something and learning that has not always been fun or what I have wanted to spend my time on. To that end however, all four businesses seem to be doing well moving into 2016. What does it take to make it as an educational consultant today? It means having your hands in many different areas of training.

83 more COETAIL Graduates!

CIRCLE-RGB-300pxBetween our Online2 and our Online3 cohorts we’ve graduated another 83 COETAILers. This program continues to be some of the best professional development that educators say they have ever had. Why? Easy…it focuses on classroom practice, reflection, and doing meaningful work with students. If you have some time go check out some of the final projects and if you want to join COETAIL or know somebody that might want to our next online cohort starts in February so register today!

6 more online classes start at Eduro Learning

google-plus-profileOver at Eduro Learning we created 6 online courses for educators with more coming online soon. Over 100 people have already taken the courses and our goal for 2016 is to continue to build these courses and create courses that teachers want to take and are meaningful to them and their classrooms.

1 School District in Transition

MSD Logo_Only_MSOfficeBy far the biggest announcement of 2015 and where the majority of my time has been spent and will be spent for the next few years is with Marysville School District (MSD). Eduro Learning signed a five year contract with Marysville in early 2015 to take roughly 450 educators through three years of training on teaching in a connected classroom. This past October/November the school district rolled out over 5000 Chromebooks to all of its Middle and High schoolers. Now it is our duty to help the district and the community understand what that means in the way of learning. It is a long slow journey but one that I am very excited about. You will be able to follow along with us over at the Eduro Learning PD training site. We have made all our training materials open to the web to help others and to see the training we are taking this district through. More to come on this long-term training over the years, however 2015 marked the beginning of this incredible journey.

Overall, it was a whirlwind of a year. Looking back I did create content just not all of it in one place. My content creation is mirroring my work life for sure…..kind of all over the place. We’ll see what 2016 brings.

Happy New Year!

COETAIL

Just a quick announcement to let you know that COETAIL Online5 Cohort is now open. Kim Cofino along with Robert Appino and Rebekah Madrid will be leading this cohort.

COETAIL continues to amaze me. As we continue to evolve the program with the changes in technology we also continue to see amazing things happening in classrooms all over the world at the end of the 18 month program.

Check out Reid Wilson’s Final Project video below and the rest of the details on his blog here along with more in-depth interviews with his students.

Some amazing higher-order thinking coming from these fourth graders and just a really great look at true technology integration leading to new and different learning.

If you like that one you’ll love this one from Laura Klecker and the integration and crossover of art and technology.

Just two of the many great projects from the 50+ COETAIL graduate this year.

If you would like to join us for an amazing learning journey starting in September. Head on over to the COETAIL Online5 Cohort blog and register today!

COETAIL

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

Photo Credit: uoeducation via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: uoeducation via Compfight cc

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
  • How to update your “class website” in a manner that is appropriate, within school guidelines and gets your message across to your community

That’s a list that just rolls off my head in about 5 minutes…I’m sure you can add more to the list in the comments.

Teachers-in-training say coursework focuses on technologies that help a teacher stay organized, rather than ways to engage students. In their methods courses, where teachers learn the mechanics of running a classroom, 71 percent report that they’re taught to use simple word processing, spreadsheets and database tools, 64 percent report learning how to create multimedia presentations and 55 percent say they’ve learned how to use interactive whiteboards. ~MindShift

It’s not just that technology is not being integrated into the course subjects and methods courses but that what is required to be produced is not good stuff typically. Sure 64% report learning how to create multimedia presentations but are they good presentations that take into account what we know about brain research? I’m going to guess not.

Are pre-service programs and methods courses looking at what skills need to be replaced for this generation? Are they studying new approaches to learning such as gamification and reverse instruction. Where they might work and where they might not. Are they studying new and emerging learning theories like Connectivism that was written and has been around since 2005 and is the foundation to what MOOCs are based on.

I shouldn’t be complaining I guess this is exactly what has made COETAIL so popular. We cover all these topics and so much more over the course of our program. BTW a new cohort is starting in February…feel free to spread the word!

We have work to do throughout education and preparing students for their future. We can’t rely on new teachers coming from pre-service programs to be the answer. Yes…they use a ton of tech in their own lives but have never been taught how to apply that to the classroom in a safe and learning focused way. Are they ahead of the game….sure….but without the focus on how and why learning changes when we have access to a connected classroom that tech life skill is wasted.

We can do better…..

Photo Credit: MaceyBuchanan via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: MaceyBuchanan via Compfight cc

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

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google-plus-profileCheck out our online courses at Eduro Learning here.

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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 them?

I haven’t been blogging here much as my time has been spent working with teachers in their schools, Learning2 and COETAIL…which I love!

Replace is my new word of choice when talking about the skills of technology. 

replace1I have done the word dance on this blog. Going from integrate, to embed and now to replace. However, I think it’s just the progression of adoption of any new way of thinking any new skill set as we reach a new level. A level where we need to start replacing the skills we use to teach with new skills that must be taught. The standards haven’t changed….the tools and skills have and we need to make sure we’re updating the skills to match the needs of our students.

Here in Washington State our new state assessment is done on a computer. Typing has finally become more important than cursive writing. It must replace cursive writing and maybe even most writing done by students. Many schools are now complaining that students are doing poorly on the test because they don’t have the computer skills needed to even navigate the test software. So now we need to replace navigating a book with navigating a website. I wonder in how many schools these skills have been replaced?

I have been focusing my trainings on this idea. A standard is a standard I say….but the skill and tool to reach that standard has changed. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Maps:

Digital maps are replacing paper maps in our society as a whole. From your captain on an airplane to your captain of a ship. We’re relying on digital maps more and more. With pretty much everyone walking around with one in their pockets today I’m wondering why we are not replacing the paper mapping skills with digital mapping skills? The skills are different.

A paper map doesn’t zoom, a digital maps doesn’t have longitude and latitude lines.

A paper map defaults to North being at the top. A digital map can be changed to either North as being up or the way you happen to be facing.

A paper map you kind of know where you are, a digital map you know exactly where you are (within 30 feet and if you have GPS of course).

If you still want to teach the skills of a paper map….I don’t have an issue with that. But I do hope that we are introducing the skills of a digital map and we’re starting to replace the time we use to spend on paper maps with digital ones.

Reading Skills:

The new research, led by Donald J. Leu at the University of Connecticut, is appearing this month in Reading Research Quarterly. Although the study is based on a small sample, it demonstrates a general lack of online literacy among all students, indicating that schools have not yet caught up to teach the skills needed to navigate digital information. ~ NYTimes 24/09/14

This research shouldn’t surprise us. We’re spending more of our life online….outside of school anyway….and yet we are not replacing the literacy skills of reading offline with new ones of reading online. Skills such as:

When do you read a full article and then click on links?

When do you “link jump” looking for resources?

How do you quickly scan a webpage to recognize where the ads are, where the navigation links are, where the main content is located on the site? I have not heard of a single school that teachers the literacy of reading a webpage or a website.

Because an increasing number of life tasks and jobs depend on the ability to sift through boundless online information presented in various formats — text, videos, graphics and social media — the ability of a student to accurately search for and evaluate information on the web is becoming crucial to success. NYTimes 24/09/14

We know this but what are we doing about it in our schools? What are we replacing? 

The Common Core standards do contain references to digital literacy, however. “Whether you’re dealing with the readingwriting or listening standards, there’s a notion of students getting information both from print and digital sources and looking at credibility and accuracy of the sources,” said Susan Pimentel, a lead writer of the Common Core standards. NYTimes 24/09/14

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by CaptMikey9: http://flickr.com/photos/mjsciald/9142453756
creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by CaptMikey9: http://flickr.com/photos/mjsciald/9142453756

Even the new standards as schools update them are adding in…or have long ago….added in the idea of understanding digital sources. Yet I find very few schools where these new skills are replacing the old skills. Instead we send student to the computer lab once a month to learn these skills completely out of context and with no real follow up or meaning. Would love to know if some district has added “Digital Search Skills” to the report card. Yes…that means you should be assessing students search skills!

These are just a few of the skills that need replacing in our curriculum and classrooms. The standards haven’t changed that much but the tools and resources we have to teach those standards have. The skills needed to use the tools that allow us access to the information to learn those standards have changed. So we must update the skills we’re teaching students.

I’m not saying you have to 100% switch. Sure…still teach paper mapping skills…but teach them 30% of the time and digital mapping skills 70% of the time. Talk about the benefits and drawbacks to the different types of maps. When should you use one over the other? How do you download a digital map so you have it on your device without a data signal?

These are all great questions to explore in the classroom just around maps! Just this one standard alone needs it’s skills replaced in order to stay relevant today. Want students to create that oh so popular map to their house…no problem…but let’s do it digitally on Google My Maps.

Nothing makes me smile more than running into a tourist in downtown Seattle who is looking at a paper map trying to figure out which way to go. They’ll ask me if I can help them……”Sure!” I say…….and then I ask to see their phone.

What other skills do you see needed to be updated or replaced in the classroom?

Photo Credit: rwentechaney via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: rwentechaney via Compfight cc

I read an article today titled: Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of its Student Laptops. It only took me two seconds to figure out what the issue was here….I’ll give you a clue….it’s not the laptops.

There are some interesting quotes and lines in this article that caught my attention. Now I don’t know this school district, I give them an A+ for trying something at least. It sounds like they got caught in the netbook era of computing and just couldn’t get out. What follows are some of my thoughts around what went wrong here.

“We had the money to buy them, but maybe not the best implementation,” said Mark Toback, the current superintendent of Hoboken School District. “It became unsustainable.”

Problem #1: The funding cycle

Changing the mind set of thinking that technology is a one off capital expenditure rather than an operational cost. Technology, much like textbooks, paper, crayons, etc. need to be updated. This is issue #1 with our current system. Here the school was given stimulus money from the government…that I’m guessing…as usually….needed to be spent ASAP and on hardware. So it’s great we have this now…but thinking long term…thinking past year 2 or 3 needs to be a focus when starting a program.

None of the school administrators who initiated Hoboken’s one-to-one laptop program still work there. Toback agreed to share Hoboken’s experiences so that other schools can learn from it.

Personally I believe this is a solvable problem: Hire administrators who understand the changing nature of schools when every student is connected. Yes…you are going to have administrative turn-over. But hiring leaders who understand what giving a laptop to every student really means is on the School Board, the Superintendent and leadership. There are good administrators out there that get these changes….hire them….and then allow them to hire teachers who “get it”.

This year alone, schools are projected to spend almost $10 billion on education technology, a $240-million increase from 2013, according to the Center for Digital Education.

Problem #2: The Need to invest in PD

Students on devices
Photo Credit: Barrett.Discovery via Compfight cc

Really this is the issue of this entire program and the entire way the system is structured and goes back to a post I wrote (along with others) about professional development. The National Staff Development Council still recommends 25% of funds for any new project be earmarked for PD. Why…because that’s what it takes! Meaning in this coming school year $2.5 Billion of it should be marked for professional development. To this day I don’t know any school that does this (if yours does please let me know!). Does this mean lest technology? Absolutely! Does it mean better use of the technology we have available? Absolutely!

We also need to understand the type of PD that is required. When changing the classroom in such a dramatic way as giving every student a connected device, schools need to offer PD that goes beyond 1 sit and get institute, or a conference. You have to go beyond 1 PD day dedicated to technology. You have to think different, you have to start over….if you really want to feel the full impact of what technology can do to the classroom you have to give educators the time, space, and freedom to learn.

This is why Kim and I create the COETAIL program. Schools have come to us and asked us if we could do the whole thing in a year or even six months. No…we can’t….it takes at least 3 semesters to do the program and to change the mindset. We’re not after a quick fix, rush everyone through a process type of learning. We’re after real change…and real change takes time, support and dedication.

Screens cracked. Batteries died. Keys popped off. Viruses attacked. Crocamo found that teenagers with laptops are still… teenagers.

I love this part of the article….as I’m reading this, right away I started thinking to myself….I bet they took away all the personalization of the device. I bet they locked it down for the students…….and……

Hoboken school officials were also worried they couldn’t control which websites students would visit. Crocamo installed software to block pornography, gaming sites and Facebook. He disabled the built-in web cameras. He even installed software to block students from undoing these controls. But Crocamo says students found forums on the Internet that showed them how to access everything.

…and there it is. Let’s make this clear BLOCKING DOES NOT WORK, EDUCATING DOES!

Problem #3: Technology is Personal

Thinking that technology is not a personal thing is a trap. Technology is very personal and as soon as you put the type of over reaching controls…which don’t work….in place you force students to “not care” for the device. I’ve seen this in many schools. The more freedom you give students with their devices the better they care for them. In fact…..at my last school (ISBangkok) I would say we had more teacher issues with laptops then we had with students. You see even adults struggle with ownership. When the technology isn’t yours, isn’t personal, we have a hard time taking care of it. More coffee was split on laptops by teachers than any food damage we had by students using them in the cafeteria at lunch time. By blocking websites we force students to be rule breakers. We force them to be hackers….which I guess….is teaching computer skills in one way. 🙂

“Probably in the last few months I’ve had quite a few principals and superintendents call and say, ‘I bought these 500 iPads or 1,000 laptops because the district next to us just bought them,’ and they’re like, now what do we do?” Powell said.

Problem #4: No District Wide Plan

Setting Up Computers
Photo Credit: Barrett.Discovery via Compfight cc

 I have seen and heard of this same issue. Mostly at school districts who have decentralized the technology purchasing process. Principals get to the end of the year have money left and want to buy tech. I was at one district office recently when the phone call came in from the principal. She had money to spend and wanted to know how many iPads she could purchase with X amount of dollars. The Director of Technology told her about 12….then she asked how many Surface RTs she could purchase….he told her about 20. She decided to order those as she could get more devices. The Director of Technology looks at me with a look of sadness on his face. She just wants devices without a plan on how to use them, what she’s going to use them for, or how to train teachers on them. Because the Principals in this school district were responsible for there own budgets and the technology was decentralized the Director of Technology had no say…and was supporting every type of device across the district.

This summer, Hoboken school staff will go through the laptops one by one, writing down the serial numbers and drafting a resolution for the school board to approve their destruction.

Then they’ll seek bids from recycling companies to figure out how much it will cost Hoboken to throw them away.

Problem #5: The Exit Plan

Ah…..the exit plan. To often schools get into a mess like this not knowing how to get out of it. Of course this goes back to Problem #1. If you view these devices as a capital expenditure then you believe they’ll be around for a long time. I’m not sure where this idea ever came from, that you were going to buy a computer and have it last longer than 3 years. But it’s a mind set we need to change. We need to understand that this is a continual budget line that needs to grow with the program and devices. Textbooks continue to go up in price and we find money to buy them…..we need to start thinking of computers as textbooks. Better yet just have the computers replace the textbook line of the budget you might just come out ahead. 🙂

 

Again….I feel for this school….they did what they thought they were suppose to do…what everyone is doing….and it’s suppose to be easy. You give every student a laptop and BAMM! Learning changes!

If only it was that simple.