App Fluency, Education, iPad, PBL, SAMR Model, Technology, Technology Integration

The Invisible iPad – Part II

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Invisible Technology in Theory is powerful. Its practical application for educators can be challenging, frustrating, and fill even the most confident learning facilitator with doubt. Invisible Technology empowers its user to be independent, collaborative, and truly shift learning into the 21st century. How do we measure its success? Is there a definitive technology yardstick to build confidence not only in the student, but in the teacher as well? What are our goals and skills we wish our students to acquire, develop, and reflect upon?

If our goal to create an army of App Savvy iPad Aficionados then we have utterly failed.

We are not trying to create students that successfully use technology, because they don’t actually need us for that. We have seen the viral videos of toddlers successfully executing in app purchases on their favorite game, and their digital literacy skills will only increase with their exposure to new technologies. My colleague Yossie Frankel stated it simply that,

 We cannot confuse Digital Literacy (ICT) with 21st Century Competencies. 

If we do, we rob our students of what we really can offer them, which is the ability to communicate, think critically, collaborate, solve problems, and create dynamic ways of internalizing information and sharing it with others. This is what our place is in 21st century learning. Yes, we will need to support them with certain technology skill building, suach as keyboarding skills, app fluency (Greg Kulowiec), best practices of sharing and store, and the certain nuances of utilizing technology tools, but this isnt a class or a workshop.

Students don’t need theoretical workshops, they want hands on action with a purpose.

As I wrote in my previous article, when we teach someone to effectively and properly use traditional tools, our reason is not for the tool itself but for what we are able to achieve. No one gets excited over using a welder, but its ability to connect difference pieces together to create something unique and useful from raw material, is where its value as a tool really shines. Our challenge with technology like the iPad is that it has so many different abilities, that the user is faced with a real dilemma of losing sight of what the tool accomplishes, for the experience of using the tool. 

Before we even begin to think about how and where we place the iPad in our learning process, we have to concretize our goals, possible challenges, and the planned path of process. If we reach a point during the project and hit a road block, it can be flustered to not have even a rough outline to backtrack to a clear point of success. This all starts with identifying which skills we will need to use. In elementary and middle school, these skills need to be clear and simple so students know that right now they are “collaborating” or “problem solving”. We can expect these skills to be sub conscience as adults, but this is not realistic for most students below or even at high school level. At each grade level the following Learning and Innovation Skills can be acquired by students and built upon as they learn and grow.

  • Learning and Innovation Skills (the 7 C’s) + (2 P’s)

    • Creativity/Contribution

    • Critical Thinking

    • Communication

    • Collaboration/Cooperation

    • Connection

    • Community

    • Continual Learning

    • Culture

    • Problem Solving

    • Personalized Learning

Once our skill sets are assessed, we then can use these skills in our PBL experiences. Bloom’s Taxonomy, ISTE 21st Century Standards, UNESCO Competency  Framework, are all great sources to teach these foundational skills. Many confuse the SAMR Model as a way to learn. The SAMR Model, is not viable method for learning. Its success is in measuring and assessing effective use of technology in our learning.

The challenge for educators, especially Directors of Educational Technology, Innovation, etc. is that we need to not limit how our teachers teach, but to focus on the foundational skills, and provide a clear and concrete formula for how different technological devices and applications will enhance these skills and give a learner the ability to create a product that will change the world.

How to translate this vision to a tangible process is a challenge. In the next few weeks I will be featuring guest articles from faculty members that have successfully integrated technology into learning.

Im having trouble locating the iPad though, must be that invisible thing.

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App Fluency, Blended Learning, Google™, iPad, Torah, Uncategorized

Is Education Technology Worth The Hype?

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Is Education Technology worth the hype? Are we talking about iPads and Macbooks, or changing the tools we use to facilitate, integrate, and accumulate learning experiences.

iPads are hype, but using them to creative dynamic and creative personalized learning experiences is priceless.

New inventions tend to generate hype. Its a natural cycle which at some point will inevitably lead to jaded and sometimes scornful attitudes toward the tool.

The iPad wont make us better thinkers, but if we actually think independently and creatively, it just might help us make something amazing.

The technology breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution and even more so in the past decade, have completely transformed how we go about our work, our learning, and even how we relax. The question is why do we hype the technology itself instead of what it gives us the ability to achieve? Is there hype surrounding technology and its long term relevance in education? Many question its ability to authentically and effectively integrate into learning. Others are concerned about high costs and planned obsolescence. If technology is about the devices themselves then we fail to appreciate the experience and results that we gain from our use of technology. Take a simple hand tool for example. Very few people get excited about a hammer anymore. Even less consciously appreciate its multi use function, adaptability, durability, and efficiency. Thats because their challenge and needs were the main focus, not the experience of using the tool to help them accomplish their desired task.

Successful use of technology is only as strong as the vision and goals we believe we can achieve.

The education world is aware of these challenges, and visionaries such as Dr. Pentedura have created the SAMR Model, and others have incorporated Gartner’s Hype Cycle into tangable realistic measures of successful use of technology in education. I constantly use these models to support faculty in their curriculum building as well as enhancing current projects. However sometimes these models in their simplicity put unrealistic pressure on educators, and in many times make teachers feel inadequate if they do not reach the “highest level”. I had a teacher question my Modification label of their project, which they felt was more in line with Redefinition. If the project can be Redefined by specific students, or by others at different points during the process, I still believe that quality learning is achievable by simple substitutions and augmentation. This point is expanded on by Beth Holland who wrote about how many teachers feel Redefinition is what defines their success in technology integration. Darren Draper wrote an article that offers constructive criticism of the SAMR Model. He offers great insight into how a model that helps put perspective on the challenge of integration, can unintentionally hamper its potential success.

I think that as educators and learners, we need to consider for a second that successful technology integration into learning is not about technology at all, its about experiencing the information, relating to it, and discovering how we are able to share it with others. The tool itself isn’t more than a substitute for a previous tool. Its not until our creativity, innovation, and passion for discovery is filtered through the tool that it becomes anything more than a tool with possibilities.

When analyzing the essence of the SAMR Model, I find that it is not limited to computing technology. It is applicable in any change in process to achieve a better, faster, and stronger result. Take mail delivery for example;

MailTransportBetween the horse and the iPad, the desire has not changed. People want to communicate as often and fast as possible. The only thing that has changed is the process. We have found faster, more efficient, and more cost effective methods to communicate. When you received a letter by horse, it was expensive, and timely. This meant you received only a dozen or so letters in your lifetime and cherished almost all of them. As the process advances, the quality of communication has deteriorated, while other factors such as speed and cost decrease. This final result is that we spend the first 20 minutes of our day deleting emails from list serves and have an inbox count of over 2,000. Still, our desire to communicate, connect, and share makes even a little bit of hype worth it.

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App Fluency, Apple™, EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, Education, iPad, Technology

The Invisible iPad

InvisibleiPad

If this event becomes a meeting about how we got rid of power cords, extended battery life, and solved workflow challenges with some neat app, then we fail.

The iPad summit is not about the iPad

With these words, Greg Kulowiec  had me hooked. Since the launch of the iPad in 2010, we have seen a revolutionary transformation in how we create, consume, and communicate. Whether the iPad is an authentic educational tool is not relavant, because

it’s not about the iPad.

Is the automobile an authentic education tool? What about the refrigerator? Revolutionary inventions are not about the invention itself, but whats the invention gives use the ability to do. A truly revolutionary invention should in time become invisible. No longer is it viewed as something special, yet its effects are far reaching. The lightbulb changed the way the world functioned. The world was no longer bound to productivity during daylight, or the length of time it takes your oil lamp to burn up. It was about what you would be able to do because now there was a constant and stable source of light.

While the iPad does a little more than a lightbulb, its success in eduction is on the principle that the iPad does the same for learners as the lightbulb.

It liberates us from the limitations of creative tools, the challenges of access to quality content, as well as our source of inspiration, and innovation being based on geographic location. 

Yes, the iPad needs to be invisible because we are searching for something deeper than a manipulative touch screen device. We are looking to start a conversation, create a personal expression, and to fashion a brick in a collaborative digital structure.

Before the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, I understood the philosophy, but I lacked the language to express it with words like App Fluency and App Smashing, as well as the support of like minded visionaries with more experience than myself. This and more I found at the #ettipad conference. In the past I have written about the process of integrating technology into education and its correlation to the experience of building something by hand. When we build something, our tools are chosen keeping in mind their quality, versatility, and ease of use. A responsible individual does not put someone in front of a table saw and say, “Good Luck!”, so why do we drop an iPad in someones lap and do just that? Cutting off a finger is not the only danger of using technology wrong, and I see it time and time again with the iPad.

The iPad isnt a great way to take a test, or read a book, or even create a movie. It isn’t enough to change how we use the iPad, but why we use the iPad, or any other device for that matter.

We use technology to liberate ourselves from mundane robotic like tasks that lack any sort of creative drive or purpose. A robot can memorize 100 vocabulary words, the question is now, what do we do with those words? Do we use them for creative expression, or do we let them collect dust in the deep recesses of our brain? Technology is not here to make us lazy, or to avoid basic communication skills, but

it is here to make us think critically, solve problems, collaborate, communicate, create, and ideate. 

These words have far surpassed cliché status in education, as if they are the key to tagging successful learning outcomes, but the truth is that when the iPad is invisible, you really get to see those words in action.

As long as our focus is on learning outcomes and the experience it brings, then the this just might be the best iPad experience yet.

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As a Director of Educational Technology, my biggest challenge is giving students and teachers the guidance to help foster authentic and imaginative learning solutions with the help of technology. Its sounds glorious when I type it, yet in practice it sometimes seems near impossible.

When we launched our iPad 1:1 Pilot program as well as three classroom iPad carts, our philosophy has been centered around the SAMR Model coupled with content creation and curation based apps. This meant staying away from “Appcentric” Apps that either perform a singular function, or do not have the ability to export its content.

Today in the Advanced iPad Workshop with @GregKulowiec in addition to filling my brain with so much information it was ready to explode, we put a name to this philosophy.

It’s called App Fluency

and its my favorite new word. In the video above I used multiple apps to create a hopefully humorous video short about the difference between App Fluency and App Addiction. (Camera, Tellagami, Morfo, iMovie, Google Drive & Youtube) The process of App Fluency is that our experience with the iPad is not based on the iPad itself, but its ability to achieve a specific and hopefully lofty learning outcome. This means that our ability to glide seamlessly through multiple apps should be not only effortless, but effective, and with practice, invisible. Since our main focus is on achieving our goal, each App and the iPad itself is simply part of the tool kit to build the project.

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While hammers and screw drivers have lost their technologically advanced luster, they are a reminder of how effective tools are when they become invisible.

We all know what it feels like to put together furniture from IKEA, and no one seems to get caught up with the screws, compressed particle board, or even the  “super useful” allen key.

 We see the pieces on the floor of our living space, and  close our eyes  envisioning a sturdy, complete, beautiful bookshelf that doesn’t take us an entire Sunday to put together. This is how a person needs to approach using an iPad as a learning tool. True, your IKEA bookshelf doesn’t have Angry Birds loaded on it, or the ability to stream movies from your Netflix account, but it has everything to do with how we view iPads as a tool for teaching and learning. 

@GregKulowiec wrote that if we “believe that […] pioneering the use of iPads and tablets in schools […] is about the iPad, then […] we have failed.”