Technology is something powerful. The innovative and imaginative experiences that we are able to create today are unlike anything seen in history. Technology by definition gives us the ability to make and modify any object in order to solve a problem, improve an existing solution, or achieve a goal. No one questions the qualitative enhancements of the use of technology, as these results are clear and well documented. Our challenges now are in our ability to achieve these previously inconceivable outcomes in a reasonable period of time. Continue reading
It was 1997 and Apple challenged the world to “Think Different”. This cliché is more than meets the eye, speaking more about the decision not go with the status quo device than a challenge for us as innovators and users of technology to use their devices to, think different. This is because 1997 was the same year that Apple almost went bankrupt. Twenty years later, we see Apple is a leading technology company, one who continues to push the limits of how technology can shape our future. Continue reading
What makes a great educator? Is it passion? pedagogy? adaptability? Is being forward thinking and a risk taker the yardstick of a quality educator? When I arrived at the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institute in Miami I was told,
You are all here for a purpose, and you all deserve to be here.
This statement has still yet to be digested as I try to piece together amazing, meaningful moments together on my journey as an educator and a lover of technology, and I do love technology. I find technology empowers its users with an uncanny ability to create and explore hidden talents, skills, and ideas that without it would lie dormant, and hidden away.
When I applied to the ADE program this year, I was
nervous anxious totally freaked out. I saw amazing educators who are doing amazing things in their classroom with amazing students. Then I saw me, the bearded Chassidic Rabbi trying to “change the world”, and then it hit me, April 22nd, 8:00pm.
The following are 4 take aways that made this experience powerful in the moment, and priceless in where it will take me.
This Isn’t Just A Conference:
As an avid cliché user, and life long learner, I am always trying to find new things to learn, and new ways to learn them. When I attend conferences I am usually caught up in the hustle and bustle of presenting and finding worthwhile sessions to attend. At the ADE Institute, something was different. During the opening keynote, it was said that
if all we did at the institute, was bring you all together, we are certain that amazing things would happen.
The Institute hosted without questions some amazing presenters. Outside of the unbelievable work that fellow ADEs presented at the showcases, we also heard from the developers of Garageband and iMovie who shared with us not just how to “use” the apps, but how to “think” while using them. Our surprise keynote, Jason Hall of Chicago’s “Slow Roll Bicycle Movement” show us how passion and activism can unite a community, a city, and the world. Still, my biggest take home without question was those impromptu conversations with fellow ADEers whether over an iPad, a Beer, or both. These colleagues and friends will definitely be part of my continue journey as a professional educator.
Learning Is A Journey:
One of the biggest challenges as a learner is to make time to reflect, redo, and reread pieces that make an impact on us. In our educational journeys, many times we are simply pushed forward in an effort to “learn more”. The process of going back to something that seems old, and discovering something new is a tenant of the Jewish faith. Every year, we reread the Torah anew, and every year I discover something completely amazing, something that is as relevant today in 2015 as it was 2,000 years ago. With this outlook I try to impress on my students, and anyone who will listen, how critical review and reflection are. One of the amazing experiences of the Institute was to see so many amazing educators on very unique journeys. Still, no matter how unique we are, there was always something to learn from one another. Some of the best discoveries I had at the Institute were in conversation with a kindergarten teacher and a university professor. In the end we all shared the same focus on not just where we are, but where we are going.
We Are In This Together:
“Let me know how I can help.” This was a mantra at the institute, and everyone was serious about it. It seemed that every time I shared a story, a struggle, a dream, there was someone at the ADE Institute who could help me. It really felt like a great big family of educators and this is something that I know will keep going throughout the year and beyond. It was humbling, inspiring, and outright exciting to interact with so many talented and creative experts who want to share more than just ideas, but their time and effort to help me grow as well as my students.
We are Advocates:
The four pillars of being an Apple Distinguished Educator is that we are Authors, Advisors, Ambassadors, and Advocates. For me, it was the idea of advocacy that hit home. As a Chassidic Orthodox Rabbi, I must admit that I was very nervous about attending the Institute for a number of reasons. The challenges of the Sabbath, access to Kosher food, and some of the cultural differences made me unsure if I would “fit in”. After speaking with Matt Baier on the phone prior to the Institute, these worries simply melted away. Not only did I feel welcomed and supported, I felt integral. I felt that the diverse and unique educators at the Institute is what makes the Apple Distinguished Educator community so great.
The Apple Distinguished Educator Institute was unlike anything I have every experienced. I know that it is the spring board for amazing friendships, collaboration, and a driving force that will make a difference for the teachers and students that I support.
Now the next stage in this journey…
My One Best Thing
Interactive Book titled, “Students Teaching Students Is Totally Awesome”.
Imagine, a school where every student has a mobile device. Freed from the chains of classroom walls, outdated textbooks, and the grip of an all-knowing authoritarian teacher. A place where students carve out their own destiny through thoughtful and innovative learning experiences that not only result in a gain of knowledge, but character and life experience as well. Now wake up. Welcome to an edtech fairytale that simply does not exist – yet.
We all want to be there, but the question is how?
Since spending $1 billion dollars doesn’t guarentee success, and no amount of passion and determination will launch a costly technology project into reality, how is a school able to harness the power of mobile technology as a learning tool in a way that supports authentic learning?
How we did it
There is no magic formula for success. Every school culture is different and the Director of Educational Technology has little to do with an organic and sustainable 1:1 environment. During the 2013-2014 school year, we launched phase one of our iPad Program distributing 130 iPads to faculty and students, as well as a Macbook Mobile Lab with 30 laptops. This coming fall we will launch phase two adding another 110 iPad devices.
This is what we did, and how we did it (and didn’t).
I worked with a handful of educators for a full year supporting carefully guided projects with a set of 10 iPads. Students were always two or three to one, and no project launched without careful planning and focus on learning objectives that kept the iPad in check as a tool and not a solution. In June and August before the fall launch, we had a mandatory three day iPad Bootcamp for all 4th through 8th grade faculty led by our principle, Jason Ablin, and myself. Faculty learned how to use an iPad through collaborative projects that demonstrated the iPad’s power as a learning tool and helped build confidence for faculty that would have these devices in the hands of their students on a regular basis.
1:1 Student Launch:
This is an area where schools need to be very careful. No amount of teacher buy-in, and parent support can make this program a success without the students. When we toured Hillbrook in Los Gatos, Don Orth shared with us how they release iPads into the wild. It’s a method that we did not use, but retroactively wish we did and plan to use in the future. Instead of handing iPads to students and then working on digital citizenship, literacy, and expectations of learning, they flipped that process. Based on his advice, our fall 2014-2015 launch will be as follows.
During the first 30 days of school, students in the 1:1 iPad Program will work towards a educational technology certification that will demonstrate their proficiency in Digital Literacy with the iPad and Google Apps, as well as Digital Citizenship and 21st-Century Competencies. Students will not be able to take their iPad home until they become certified. In addition to the basic certification, student will have an opportunity to get certified as a student technology leader.
This past year we launched 1:1 iPads after a full day workshop with students and 1 parent. We had Lori Getz come 3 times to speak with students and parents on the social and emotional challenges and benefits of technology and internet use. We offered “Tech Cafe” events for parents as well. During the year, I taught the Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship curriculum to classes culminating in me becoming a Common Sense Media Certified Educator.
This process worked well, but the soft launch seems to offer better opportunity for conversation about how we use, and would like to use technology.
This is another crucial area. Workshops are great, but the faculty in the first two years needs to know there is someone in the building that is supporting them above and beyond. I work with faculty members daily supporting them in integrating iPad technology into current curriculum, as well as build up confidence to create new projects using the SAMR Model, ISTE & UNESCO Standards, and Gartner’s Hype Cycle. Together we documented our plan, our challenges, and closely record the process from start to finish. At the end of the project, we debriefed to determine how to better manage the project in the future.
I worked with faculty and students on digital literacy.
I am a true believer that our students are digital natives, and do not need to be trained on how to operate technology devices, but they, without question, need guidance on efficient, organized, and focused uses of technology.
Thank G-d, we have an amazing and truly innovative faculty. Their willingness to grow as educators, as well as find new ways to help students explore, is the key ingredient in the success of any type of program that supports education. Stay tuned for Phase 2 this fall.
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)
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.
HDMI is a must for anyone needing to share high quality audio and visual on the big screen. Oddly enough many of us have issues getting the audio to go through the HDMI Cable on Macbook Pro & Air Laptops. The solution is an easy one, but many dont know where to look in the first place. Rest assured, a solution to this challenge is provided below. Enjoy.
I hope to continue to share tech tips with you all.
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.