Education, Technology, Technology Integration

Learning Is Down! I Mean The Internet.

Can a classroom be considered a 21st-Century learning environment without internet access?

For many of our students, it seems impossible to imagine a life without internet. In school, if it’s not accessed a 1:1 device, it is at the very least via a teacher’s computer or computer lab. The more we experience the power of digital resources, the more we rely on them to support meaningful learning. The question now is how much do we rely on the internet as a tool?

What happens when the internet goes down? Does learning stop?

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Education, iPad, Technology, Technology Integration

None to One: Thoughts On Year One of 1:1

iPadProgram

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 Freed from the chains of classroom walls, outdated textbooks, and the grip of an all-knowing authoritarian teacher.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).

Professional Development:

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.

Faculty Support:

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.

Digital Literacy:

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.

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Education, Technology Integration

21st Century Competencies: Nothing And Everything To Do With Technology

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 There is no denying that current technology trends in education are here to stay. Whether you choose Apple, Samsung, Google, or Amazon, the platforms, companies, and devices will come and go, but the learning outcomes they produce are everlasting. The user experience might be different, but the goals for their use are the same; We want our learners to be able to achieve 21st-Century Competencies. It is evident that these technology tools allow learners to gain these skills while achieving faster and higher quality products, through a more efficient and practical processes. This is why

21st Century Competencies have nothing and everything to do with technology.

 In fall of last year I began to research how to support learners’ and educators’ understanding of 21st-Century Competencies. I discovered many amazing resources, but felt that each one lacked one key component. Acquiring 21st-Century Competencies cannot be defined through the lens of the technology itself. It must be through the lens of what the technology allows us to create and the experience gained. 21st-Century Competencies are about social interaction that helps connect individuals in a way that achieves a more developed and meaningful outcome. This has absolutely nothing to do with technology as it is nothing but a connector between two or more people.

21st-Century Competencies allow for strong, independent learners that are highly functional in environments that require advanced skills in collaboration and human interaction, aka the real world.  

The challenge was to concretize this process in a way that could achieve measurable results including the hope that through developing a formalized process, learners and educators would be more open to failure. This means that even though we did not “solve” the problem this time, we still gained skills in organization, collaboration, communication, as well as a better understanding of the process of problem solving and critical thinking. This process also allows for a reflective and revisionist process where learners can continue to work on identifying strengths and weaknesses in the project and in themselves. This is because learning is not always about solving the problem, it is also about gaining a deeper understanding through experimentation and discovery, with the understanding that even failure can lead to a significant learning experience.

Together with my colleague, Samantha Pack, we set out to create a rubric that would support the development of 21st-Century Competencies with the following criteria in mind:

1. A clear definition of each of the 21st-Century Competencies.

2. Ability to measure proficiency in each of the 21st-Century Competencies.

3. A universal approach that will support the development of 21st-Century Competencies regardless of discipline.

4. Ability for learners to achieve skills through reflection and revision.

5. To ensure that the 21st century competencies work together with various pedagogical models.

In June during a PD Workshop with middle school faculty, I shared the rubric to get feedback for the final draft slated for launch in the fall. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The faculty described it as supportive but not restricting, giving students the ability to capture the essential idea of each skill, and assist them in becoming independent learners with the ability to assess their own performance. One faculty member said,

This rubric doesn’t describe how to use technology, this rubric describes how to be human.

Ladies and Gentleman, we have arrived. This is the true purpose of technology. Its ability to help us build relationships, foster personal growth, and truly arrive at a better more connected global community.

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I will be sharing this rubric at my session “The Invisible iPad – Significant Learning Experiences Without Actually Losing Your iPad” at the EdTechTeacher Summit July 28th-30th at the Navy Pier in Chicago.

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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?

DontBelieveTheHype

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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Education, Technology, Technology Integration

Technology is a Tool, and so is a Hammer!

While it is true that there is an app for just about anything, that does not mean that it is a valuable and authentic replacement for other methods of achieving a specific goal. This is why I am a strong advocate of the philosophical approach that,

Technology is a Tool, and so is a Hammer!

The problem is that sometimes we use the wrong tool at the wrong time and justify it because we are using Technology!

I would like to preface the following with how inspired I get when I see teachers who have been in the profession for 20+ years tell me they want to use iPads in their class and they are serious about not only integrating the computer and tablet technology into their current curriculum but even to use it to create new ways to teach their students. It’s unbelievable and really is something to reflect on as an educator who grew up with computer technology and doesn’t know what life is like not using it.

One of the main challenges in integrating technology not just into education but life is general, is when individuals misunderstand what “technology” really is. Technology is not an iPad, or an app or even something battery powered.

Technology is making or modifying an object, in order to solve a problem, improve an existing solution and achieve a goal.

This means that a pencil is technology, and so is the printing press, and so is instant coffee, and thank God for the latter! Technology is when you are able to utilize tools and the advancement of these tools to achieve a better quality product with faster results.

While it is important to utilize all means possible to solve a problem or challenge, it is easier than ever to force a solution for the sake of using technology. Technology is supposed to give a user a better end-product in a more productive and effective manner. If it takes you twice as long to do something, even if the results surpass the quality of another method, the individual should honestly reevaluate whether this longer process is the best option or if it was done for the sake of Glorified Technology. A good example of this concept can be explained through the

HitTheNail

Now, the first step is to acknowledge the problem or the challenge. In this case, I have two pieces of wood that I really want to attach together, and I need it done fast and as cheap as possible. I have decided that a thin small metal rod aka a nail would be the best method to secure the two pieces of wood together. The question is how do I complete this task? Anytime an individual attempts to solve a problem, the diagram below should be put into consideration.

In the ideal world, all three circles overlap. The outcome of the center of the venn diagram, should be top quality, low cost, and with a fast turn around. Unfortunately we live in reality where that central area does not exist. This means that

The cost involved in technology must be justified through the quality and time invested in its use.

This is simple with the above analogy because everyone can agree that using a rock to hammer in nails is cheap but gives you a time consuming and low quality result. The modern hammer is a huge leap in the right direction in that cost is still minimal, quality is greatly enhanced, yet time is still needed to get the job done . The more nails needed to hammer, the greater the time needed to finish the job. That is where the  Bostitch Nail Gun gets the quality job done fast, but with a price. The cost is justified by the precision and speed in which an individual is able to accomplish the task.

Cost = Success

The problem with Technology today, is that many users think that Cost = Success, in that if they invest the money, the best product is guaranteed. This is unfortunately FALSE, as you can find cheaper paper notebooks than $400 and cheaper whiteboard than $5,000 as we see many users using iPads and Smartboards as glorified technology that simply substitutes previous tools. When I read that Los Angeles Unified School District was putting an iPad into the hands of every student and teacher, I wondered how much of that $30 Million would go towards professional development? Why is an iPad any different than a robotic arm at an automobile assembly plant? A technician at an automobile plant is not permitted to operate such a machine without extensive training to make sure that they can safety operate the machine not only for themselves, but around others as well. Why is a teacher with an iPad any different? While, thank God, the iPad when used improperly is not able to sever a student’s limb, technology in a classroom used superficially is very destructive.  

Image courtesy of: tecong-cn.com

Authentic Technology Integration

The above seems to be clear in the educational community because conferences such as #ISTE13 had dozens of presenters showing how they effectively and appropriately utilize technology in the classroom. The SAMAR Model is an amazing model of taking current projects and lessons and enhancing them through technology integration. Here is a great article in Understanding the SAMR Model in 120 seconds  by Med Kharbach.

The Power of Technology

Technology can be powerful, beautiful, inspiring, but it can also be destructive, revolting, and depressing. We have to be certain that we are using technology to benefit ourselves and humanity, and not just as an infatuation to let us shed our responsibility to work hard. If a process becomes instant through technology then it is our responsibility to utilize the time we would have spent to instead be innovative, creative, and thoughtful.

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