Sunday, August 2, 2015

School Library Redesign on My Mind

For the bast few days I have been completely absorbed in a redesign pilot for our Media Center. This flows out of A) The new movement to renovate libraries from places to receive information to places where information is used to create things. B) The need for today's learners to have flexible collaborative spaces. 

I have plowed ahead with my planning and you will hear more about this as I gather input from my project team. In the mean time I am pausing to share some interesting resources that I have come upon.

Innovations at Monticello High School Library Recognized
In alignment with the County’s “maker curriculum” philosophy, Ackroyd and Craddock’s focus has been on making library spaces more flexible to facilitate active instruction and learning that isn’t possible in a traditional classroom. “It used to be you go to the library and check out a book on how to sew things,” Craddock said. “Now you will get the book, and sit down at the sewing machine in the library and make something. It’s knowledge that doesn’t sit still, but creates.”

Designing Collaborative Spaces for Schools
According to researchers Heron and Heward, not only do ambient characteristics such as sound, light, temperature, air quality, and spatial support for bodily movement affect how individuals acquire knowledge, but social relationships and cultural values play an important role in students' level of engagement in learning.

10 Steps to a Better Library Interior: Tips That Don’t Have To Cost a Lot
If displays are taking over your library, consider paring them down so remaining fixtures have more impact. If you have painted walls to enliven your interior, did you use too many colors and lose the effect in the process?
Formulating Research Questions with birds of Feather Collaboration and Writable  Surfaces
While I know there are virtual mediums for doing this activity, I increasingly feel that being “unplugged” and having students do this work in a tactile and physically present way makes the thinking more concrete and gives students chances to interact socially in an academic context that would not happen through a virtual tool.
My High School Library Redesign Pinterest Board

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Staff's Self-Measurement of ISTE Standards Revisited

In 2013 we developed a likert scale survey for our teachers at Mercy several of the the ISTE Standards and published the results to iMercy.  We are now nearing the completion of an iMercy second edition.  In order to update the book's section on the "Compelling Evidence of Success" of our iPad program we revisited the staff with the same survey.

We were pleased to discover that a greater number of teachers agreed when applying ISTE standards to themselves than they did in 2013. 

I conclude that this across-standards improvement is due to the faculties' greater experience with Apple technology and our decision to adopt a more user friendly LMS.

For a look at the survey results from our ninth graders, see Strong Evidence of iPad Success with Mercy Students

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Solution for Finding Files You Squirreled away in the Cloud.

I just discovered an app that is hugely helpful to me.  You may be interested too if you use more than one location for cloud storage.  I am particularly guilty of this-- I have files stored in Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive (two accounts) and Box.  I actually like each of these services and the search functions work very well within each one. But too often I can't remember where I stored a particular file.

ClipCard has been developed for this purpose.  After setting up an account it was easy for me to link all of the aforesaid storage sources to ClipCard.  Now I can run a single search in ClipCard and it will scan all of cloud storage for hits.

The only drawback I have found to date is that the app is only available in OS. I haven't recommended an app in this space for a while, but this one could be quite valuable to others who have spread files throughout the cloud.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Strong Evidence of iPad Success with Mercy Students

This spring we completed a survey of nearly all of our ninth graders using a likert scale to measure their perceptions of how intrinsic their iPads were to their learning in school.  We used the the ISTE Standards for Students as the criteria for measuring this.

We has used the identical survey in 2013 when we applied to become an Apple Distinguished School.  In every instance the 2015 students were in greater agreement that they had made the fifteen standards that we had selected.

The above chart is an excellent example. Asked to what extent they agreed that they had fun learning with their iPads, about 57% agreed or strongly agreed in 2013.  In 2015, 60% strongly agreed and the great majority of the rest agreed.

Impressive results were measured with other very important standards, such as "My iPad aids me in exploring solutions":

Why did the 2015 ninth graders a higher percentage of agreement with the survey statements shaped from the ISTE Standards. My own classroom observations lead me to believed that their teachers integrated the iPad more fundamentally into instruction. I also believe that the Mercy's adoption of Schoology as and LMS was a factor. The iPad app for Schoology is closely approximates browser functionality.

Click through the following slide show if you are interested in seeing the other survey results* as well.

*Thank you Christopher Blitz for creating this great slide show for our updated version of iMercy.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Visions of the Future of Educational Technology-- Wearable Tech, Hackerspaces, and More

Imagining the Classroom of 2016, Empowered by Wearable Technology
Mr. Brannon is the P.E. teacher at an elementary school. Each student in his class is equipped with a special bracelet that measures heart rate, hydration levels, how many steps they’ve taken, and even breathing rate. From his iPad, Mr. Brannon keeps track of each student’s fitness and knows how far to push them. Students get the physical activity they need, while Mr. Brannon makes sure they stay safe.

Tear Down This Wall! A New Architecture for Blended Learning Success
 The teacher’s desk, if there is one, is pushed to the margins. Consequently, blended-learning “habitats” look nothing like their predecessors. Photographs of these learning spaces tend to be engaging because people are curious about how they work.

Transforming Monticello High’s Library Into the Creative Hub of the School
We gave purpose to many of our spaces. We transformed our markerspace library from a blank canvas to a veritable craft room with art supplies and tools. This makes it a perfect space for all those messy things that teachers want to do in their classrooms but can’t because they’re, well, messy. An area of the library that we dubbed “the hacker space” for its innovative technology usage got a green screen, a gaming system, and glass boards to make it perfect for filming and for group projects.

wilding.andrew via Compfight cc
The Next Experiment in Education
Now several education leaders are exploring how micro-credentials can be used to increase transparency and drive improvement in teacher learning, as well as recognize learning pursued through non-traditional pathways. . . .Digital Promise has also been assisting several school districts across the country this year as they implement micro-credential pilot programs for teacher professional development

Future Ready: Roadmaps to Tech Integration
In all of my research and experiences working with schools, this is the common idea that schools gloss over. Technology integration is not about devices, nor is it about apps. Simply put, it's about challenging our students' thinking and trusting in our classroom teachers to develop and design creative paradigms for instruction.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Part 2: Pushing back against the Scorn for “Using Tech for Tech’s Sake”

In my last post I pushed back against a common theme I heard at the ISTE 2015 educational technology conference in Philadelphia. The theme was that using technology in schools “for its own sake” was a practice to be avoided at all costs and far too many schools were pursuing it.

In that post I argued that tech “for its own sake” did indeed make if one considered that it is unreasonable to expect the students to leverage technology for innovative projects that call for self-direction creativity,and critical thinking if they have not practiced and played with the tools. Essentially such practice would be “tech for tech’s sake”. I pled guilty to appending technology activities to assignments that did not directly align with outcomes— the purpose being to reinforce the their competency with the technology.

In this post I wish to consider the following poster that was pushed out on Twitter by ISTE shortly after the conference:

Once again I would like to push back on criticizing technology use for its own sake. In this illustration, merely using tech is in every way secondary to higher more dynamic purposes like "learn from anyone (and everyone!)

It is my contention that a technology leader must model competency with tech tools in order to have the credibility to lead. For example I think if a leader did not authentically use technology (left column) his or her feet of clay would be showing as while attempting to change a school culture (right column).  My Becoming a Digital Administrator course is predicated on the importance of leaders walking the talk, which I guess to others would be tech "for its own sake."

I get it that simply being able to use tech tools is not leadership. However I think that some tech for its own sake-- modeling the use of technology oneself to collaborate, create, and discover-- is essential for the desired leadership outcomes I see on this chart. 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pushing back against the scorn of “using tech for tech’s sake”

I recently attended the ISTE 2015 Conference in Philadelphia. In several of the educational technology sessions that I attended a theme very prominently emerged: Using technology in schools “for its own sake” was a practice to be avoided at all costs and far too many schools were guilty of pursuing it.

The contention of course is that instead of using tech for its own sake, technology should be subservient to good pedagogy. Ideally, technology would be used to construct creative lessons and achieve experiences for students that would be impossible without it.

This argument on the face of it is entirely persuasive. However, I think it is a bit of a straw man and overlooks some powerful realities about building a culture of innovative educational practice with technology.

I will make two points referencing two presentations by educational thought-leaders who I follow closely and reference frequently at the Drive-thru — Scott McLeod (@mcleod) and George Couros (@gcouros).

Scott and Julie Graber lead a three-hour workshop on “Tech-Infused Lessons for Deeper Thinking”. They introduced a model for determining if technology is being applied to achieve deeper learning in class activities. In groups we deconstructed and discussed case studies especially identifying instances where technology was included in a lesson but was helping to achieve significant learning objectives. We then suggested how the lessons could be redesigned to advance deeper thinking.

I felt our critiques failed to recognize one important consideration: When and where will the students learn the technology tools that make-up their toolbox for self-directed learning and product creation? 

I plead guilty to at times using tech pretty much for its own sake. I’ve done so in order to allow students to familiarize themselves with tools or rehearse using them.  For example, for a simulation in my American Government classes, students needed to be able to collaborate, share, create, and research using various tools.

They did not know how to use these tools when they came to class. While they were exceedingly helpful to each other in gaining competency with these tools, success required time and practice. Consequently, I attached requirements to use tech tools into other activities even though they did not add value beyond tech for its own sake in those particular lessons. I wanted them to have enough experience so that they could leverage the tools to achieve the kind of self-direction and critical thinking that McLeod and Draper urge us to seek. 

In other words if the teacher does not do some tech for its own sake isn’t he or she failing to prepare these students for challenges that leverage these tools? Contrary to what many adults suppose, kids don’t just “pick up” the knowledge of how to use any kind of technology. 

Well, this post has gotten way too long. I will resume next time with my reaction to a George Couros resource that reflects on technology leadership— a subject near and dear to my heart.

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