Thursday, May 29, 2014

Empowering Introverts and the Invisible iPad

The Invisible iPad: It’s Not About the Device
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.

Empower Introverts with BYOD
Although we still do sometimes have traditional discussions that require them to raise their hands, much of our collaborative work happens via technology . . . . Everyone is sharing and introverts have more time to shape their words and ideas the way they'd like. Fast paced out loud class discussions often have less depth than the online version. 
12 Ways To Share Almost Any File With Your Students
As a 21st century teacher, you probably need to share stuff, and have stuff shared with. “Stuff” like pdfs, various word processing documents, video files, and other digital fare. The traditional way to do this has been email, but limits here–including speed, file size, and the relative clunkiness of sharing with large groups–make sharing files through email less than “best practice.”

Iterating and Ideating: Teachers Think Like Designers
It’s just a much a matter of how they perceive themselves . . . .
With the help of on-the-ground teachers, Speicher and her design colleagues at Ideo have come up with a toolkit, and an entire website called Design Thinking for Educators devoted to explaining how to use it, to help educators build the design process into their day.

Top 10 Rules for Developing Your First Online Course
Humans are fundamentally pattern-recognition animals, meaning that we will look for patterns to help guide our actions. Create a template of what you will want from students in each module and follow it. It might be that your modules start with a video overview of the material, links to various content, three discussion questions, etc. Changes in midstream invariably lead to students missing content or assignments

Saturday Showdown: Apple TV versus Roku 1

"The Introvert 3B" by h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

Sunday, May 25, 2014

P.S.-- Online Classes the Dark Side!

Recently I have posted some debate over online courses and I have also written about my positive experiences creating EDU 6270 online for Madonna U. Masters program students.

I think I should balance this off by venting some frustration with the course experience from the instructor's point of view. (Call this blogging as therapy).

It is extremely frustrating to load up an online course with content,
Morguefile photo: pedrojperez
assignments and instructions thinking everything is crystal clear, only to have your very bright, motivated students fall into a pit of confusion.

I realize that no matter how much I have tried to lay things out, the first time through, the students are the guinea pigs.  Or to switch metaphors, my course is one big beta-test.

One forgets how much trouble-shooting and clarifying can be done on the fly in a face-to-face situation, excepting the problem posed by absent students. In an online situation, everyone is an absent student.  So even if I get over a hurdle with one person I have to count on email or a web announcement to straighten it out with the others, hoping my written message is accessed soon enough to help and that my email or podcast does not create more confusion.

And of course without any face-to-face it is more difficult to establish a level of personal trust.

I am pretty sure this would get better the second time through, however this does not ease my anxiety about my guinea pigs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Some Thoughts about Online Courses

In my last blog post I collected some varying opinions about online courses.  I was inspired to do so by two recent conversations.  I was at a meeting when the subject of how online courses would play at Mercy came up.  One participant immediately interjected that he "strongly favored" face-to-face. 
e-learning home page at SCAD
Two days before, I was seated at a banquet when I mentioned that I was currently teaching an online course for graduate students.  The gentleman sitting next to me reacted enthusiastically, describing how he had been responsible for the technical design for the e-learning program at the Savannah School of Art and Design which has been recently recognized for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching by the Sloan Consortium.

My course is operated through the Blackboard and is certainly not going to win any awards for technical brilliance.  That said, I do believe that project
Assignment creation page for my online course
oriented courses like mine and those at Savannah certainly do lend themselves to asymmetrical learning experiences for students.  This is especially true if students like mine work or have to travel quite some distance to campus.  Furthermore, I am not sure I would teach the course this term if I were required to travel periodically at scheduled time to the Madonna campus.

Perhaps my students would not consider this a great loss.  However it can certainly be argued that it would be a great gain for hundreds or even thousands of students to have access to the very best teachers.  Not everyone can afford to attend Georgia Tech or Savannah, but one can earn degrees through online courses at those top programs.

Online or face-to-face does not have to be either-or propositions.  And for very legitimate reasons many secondary and higher ed students are blending online coursework into their programs.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Debate Rages over Online Education

Some online course offerings from the University of Minnesota

In my next post I will be reflecting on my current experience teaching an online course.  In casual conversations I have found that the topic provokes strong opinions and categorical statements.  Here is a sample of the current debate regarding online courses. — Larry

Where robots fail: Why education can’t just be digital
 . . . kids and their parents tell us every day that they need a real person to teach them, to learn with them, to react in real time to errors and successes, and to provide the kind of personal warmth and encouragement that computers cannot provide.

The Case for Online Education
Saying that online education will never be as good as offline (because it's not currently as good) is like taking one look at a Model T, saying that it's unsafe, and urging everyone to switch back to horses. The reason online classes will eventually be better than offline classes is simple: We can measure and respond to students' behavior much more easily and quickly when education is digital than when it is analog.

Differences of Opinion on Online Courses
Given MOOCs’ huge enrollment, is “a strange paradox: these professors are simultaneously the most and least accessible teachers in history” . . . .
While MOOCS are a great equalizer when it comes to students around the world, they are a great unequalizer when it comes to teachers,” giving rise to a list of online celebrity professors who come to define their fields—a possible risk to “the biodiversity of the academic ecosystem.”

"Surfed Too Long" CC photo by Matt Joyce
Can MOOCs and Universities Co-Exist?
The distinction between "campus-based" learning and "distance" learning will be blurred in the years ahead. It's already happening. We are finding that some graduate students at Pepperdine who are receiving face-to-face instruction are also asking that some of their coursework be delivered online. They want both/and. Thus, it won't just be nontraditional students in remote locations who will benefit from online instruction. 

 Study Finds Online Courses in California Community Colleges See Major Growth—But Student Success Rates Lag
Online course enrollment at California’s Community Colleges —the nation’s largest postsecondary system—has increased by almost 1 million since 2002. Today the colleges offer more online courses for credit than any other public higher education institution in the nation. Online participation has increased among each of the state’s largest ethnic groups . . . . But overall online course success rates are lower than those for traditional courses.

The Case For Online Education
No one is arguing an online course, no matter how brilliantly designed for immersive interactivity and engagement, will ever equal sitting in a Harvard seminar with a senior faculty member. Blessed with admission to Harvard and the time, proximity, and money to attend in person . . .the smart move is to be in the room. But for the rest of knowledge-starved humanity worldwide, is it better to be excluded entirely from that seminar, or to attend virtually in the most collaborative, learning-rich manner possible? The answer seems obvious.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reimagined Learning Spaces, Essential Questions, and More

3 Things We Need To Remember For Every Professional Development
Keep it simple..well you know the rest. Often, especially in technology professional development those that do the training try to cram in every little thing into a session. . . . Now, I love technology. I live, eat, and breathe this stuff. But most teachers are completely different. Most are content specialists. They know what they teach backwards and forwards but when it comes to learning technology they really have to take their time. 

To Inspire Learning, Architects Reimagine Learning Spaces
“There’s no teacher at the front,” says Gensler’s Shawn Gehle. “The rooms are like different scenes in a video game. They inspire active learning. . . . Like PlayMaker, Wiseburn moves away from the traditional classroom, opting for neighborhoods of teaching spaces — “pods”— that open out to a large commons area for each school and an atrium that interconnects all three but provides each with a unique address.

6 Reasons for Using Evernote as Your To-Do List Application
Every Monday morning, I open and start a brand new list. Using the Evernote's check-box feature, I create a box and enter each item. I check off items as the
week progresses, and I add new ones as I stumble across them. As often happens in the life of a school administrator, I have a few items left over at the end of the week. I just copy and past them into the next week's Task List. There are several great reasons for using Evernote as your "To-Do List App.”

'Broken schools' -- or broken debate over education?
So, we become susceptible to the idea that there is a kind of broad, cultural consensus that public education is failing.  Polls can be made to say almost anything, but it seems that most parents with children in public schools carry in their brains, simultaneously, two divergent things.  First, they basically appreciate the people who are caring for their children and think they ought to make more money and have job security.  But, second, they think there is a broad consensus that public schools are “broken.”  

4 Universities Innovating in the EdTech World
Several major campuses of Missouri University are using technology to insert personal and adaptive learning opportunities into their large-enrollment courses in order to boost learning outcomes and budget carefully.  . . . .Missouri University flipped the lecture hall format and redesigned their course structure, partnering with Pearson’s MyLab to provide the best possible learning experience for its students.

Learners Should Be Developing Their Own Essential Questions
Although essential questions are powerful advance organizers and curriculum drivers, the problem is that the essential questions are typically developed by the educator not the learners.  The educator may find these questions interesting and engaging, but that does not insure that students will find them as such.

photo by scottwills via Compfight cc

Sunday, May 11, 2014

How Teaching Is Changing, Educators Flooding Twiiter-sphere, and Must-Have Apps

How Teaching Is Changing
The Old: Delivering content shaped for universal consumption

The New: Modeling affection and curiosity

The Difference: Truly valuing how students think

Twitter Exec Reports that Educators Dominate the Twitter-sphere
Educators like to tweet! Out of the 1/2 billion tweets that post every day, 4.2 million are related to education, according to Brett Baker, an account executive at To put this in perspective, while you read this past sentence, over 3,000 edu-related tweets have flown across the Twitterverse.

Stop talking tech: 3 tips for pedagogy-based coaching
Many tech coaches feel pressured to be the expert in the room, especially when it comes to technology. However, it’s often more effective to approach teachers as learning partners. By asking questions about specific learning activities and areas where a teacher might be interested in collaborating, coaches can provide a more personalized learning experience.

Top 10 Apps in an Established 1:1 iPad School
Showbie allows you to assign, collect and review student work. As a tool it meets a demand that used to be supplied by a school VLE. The difference here is the ability to ‘open in’ a multitude of apps to create content or provide feedback. A couple of taps sees a student assignment opened and annotated with audio feedback or viewed in the teachers app of choice. It is then just as simple to return the assignment to the student for immediate viewing. Showbie works very well with larger classes where the transfer of information is common and often.

How to turn your iPad into a desktop with these remote access apps
The following guide is intended for individuals that have a single desktop computer sitting at home that they personally use and wish to access from across the internet on their iPad.

10 Must-Have Free Math Apps
MyScript Calculator
Math vs Zombies for Fluency
Coordinate Grid for iPads

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Some People Go to Florida for Spring Break…. I Went to Twitter

I stayed in town during my school's Easter break.  That also meant that I hung out in the Twitter-sphere even more than I usually do.  I discovered new Tweeters to follow and weeded out some that were not paying off.  One of my most pleasant discoveries what Historical Pics which provides a endlessly interesting variety of photos.

I also connected with Bad Prof after someone tweeted his blog post On Mitch McGary, Nietzsche and Ressentiment. I poked around his web site and learned about The Allrounder project.  Bad Prof (Yago Colas) and other professors around the world are trying to establish a very different sort of sports web site:

The Allrounder is a new online journal that brings a distinct perspective to sports opinion and analysis.
We won’t break down last weekend’s action, or make predictions for the upcoming season, or speculate about roster moves and lineup changes. Other sites are better able to do that.
Instead, The Allrounder examines the ways that sport impacts communities, shapes culture, and taps bodies and emotions.
This really appealed to me, and I ended up donating to this crowd-funding efforts.

My extra leisure also allowed me to pay extra-close attention to my beloved Detroit Tigers.  Whether I am attending a game or following it on MLB at Bat Twitter has become indispensable to my enjoyment of the game.  I particularly enjoy the way some of the beat writers interact with the fans.  My favorite is Matthew B. Mowery (Oakland Press) who is candid and humorous.  He is very responsive to questions.  Tony Paul of the Detroit New has very sharp insights and responds to to interesting comments.  Recently he used one of my twitter questions in his regular column.  Others like Lynn Henning of the News and Steve Kornacki of the Fox Sports Detroit also interact with laymen Tiger fans like me, enriching our entertainment.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Discussion Board Sampler from Leadership in Technology

In Thoughts on Creating an Online Course I described my experiences designing ED 6270 Leadership in Technology as an online course.  While I am
trying to allow students to move at their own pace through the major assignments, we will be interacting together on a weekly basis via forums at our Blackboard "Discussion Board".  Through the week, students are required to post, comments on others' posts, and respond to comments.

I am sharing a sampling below because I thought you might be interested.  I also thought my astute leaders might have topic suggestions.  Here we go!

The Horizon Report

Annually,  New Media Consortium issues a Horizon" report on K-12 education. 
"The NMC Horizon Project charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning, and research, creative inquiry. Launched in 2002, it epitomizes the mission of the NMC to help educators and thought leaders across the world build upon the innovation happening at their institutions by providing them with expert research and analysis."
The next report will be revealed at the ISTE Conference at the end of June. Too bad.  Fortunately the "old" one is still very relevant and interesting.  You may download it here.
I highly recommend that you look through the whole document.  For this discussion, read the "Significant Challenges" on pp. 9-10.   Identify one challenge that particularly resonates with you and elaborate in your initial post.

Our Update on "School Technology Leadership: An Empirical Investigation"

This is the most challenging and "scholarly" forum.  I will take my own medicine and offer and initial post, so pleased respond to mine as well
School Technology Leadership: An Empirical Investigation is a rare piece of research that bears directly on technology leadership.  (If any of you are aiming for a doctorate in the field, your opportunities are wide open).
I would demand that you read the whole article, except since it was conducted in 2003, the study seems out of date.  Instead, read the Indicators section pp. 14 - 18 and scan the rest.
I would like you to imagine that we were going to duplicate this study in 2014 using new indicators for determining "Technology Leadership" and "Technology Outcomes".  I think we all would agree that if an administrator uses email, this is not a sign of tech leadership today.  By the same token, if a student writes a paper using a computer, this would not be an indicator that a school was kicking butt technology-wise.
At this discussion board, I would like each of us to begin the conversation by proposing at leaset one measurable indicator that we would use to assess either "Technology Leadership" or "Technology Outcomes".  Explain your selection and we can comments on each others suggestions.
What are the implications of Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture on your role as an educator, your school's curriculum and educational leadership?

Photo Credit:  CC Chapman via Compfight cc

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