"The quality of our future depends on the quality of questions we ask & answer today. Be bold & realize that we are creating that future now."
It's so easy to get distracted. It's so easy to not listen due to the noise in our lives. It's so easy to get caught up in our own routine. It's so easy to just let the time roll by. Yes, there is a time for distraction, a time for noise, a time for routine. But if we really listen to the needs of our future we will quickly understand that the time is now to ask better questions. Questions that will not only inspire but motivate. Questions that will encourage and bring hope. Questions that will lead to answers that our future is in need of. You see, we are creating our future right now. Be bold.
photo credit BEYOND Technology
Current studies show that today’s students are exposed, on average, to 7.5 hours of multimedia content per day. In actuality it is closer to 11 hours per day due to the fact that kids know how to multitask. With that fact in mind, educators must begin to look at how these skills can be incorporated into classroom curriculum through lesson plan integration. Modern teachers must find a way to utilize student’s current skills to help them learn and share their knowledge more efficiently.
As classroom teachers, we’ve all seen the studious child cowering in the back of the room just praying they don’t get called on for fear of stumbling or being ridiculed. We know the students that are shy are afraid to present reports to the class despite their knowledge of the topic. So what can we do as educators to help these students be more creative and outgoing? Many teachers are now including multimedia projects into their curriculum. With project based instruction on the forefront there are endless possibilities. There are sites to help with digital storytelling, Skype to assist in bringing experts to the students, and various presentation tools that can not only allow students to express their creative side but also allow them to present their knowledge in a less threatening way then standing in front of a group of 30 peers. Often times text messaging based quizzes or student response systems give students the voice they never felt comfortable to express. The time to use these tools in the classroom has never been better and the time for lesson plan integration is now.
THE “3 C’S” – CONFIDENCE | COMPETENCE | CONTENT
The methods to incorporate these ideas into classroom curriculum are not always easy. Appropriate training needs to be given to not only the students but also the staff. By applying the “3 C’s” theory where teachers develop the required confidence, competence and content , teachers will have the tools to apply what they have learned into their current lesson plans. With so many options educators can be overwhelmed. However, support is available. When done correctly, not only can teachers begin to integrate these innovative solutions into their lessons but they can also use digital media projects as summative assessments. Streamlining technology in the classroom can be daunting but the right tools and training can create an environment with exponential possibilities.
Story co-written by:
Michelle August, M.Ed., Education Account Manager and Ernie Delgado, Founder and Co-CEO at BEYOND Technology Education.
photo credit ISTE
Day 2 of the ISTE Conference and “overwhelmed” seemed to be the word of the day, not just from us, but from everyone we talked to! There just seemed to be so much to see, so much to learn, and so many people to meet! Lots of information, tips and hands-on demonstrations. And if you like to network and meet people, there were folks from all 50 states and over 70 countries!
The keynote speaker that day was Steven Johnson who talked about where great ideas come from. He emphasized how innovative learners solve problems by borrowing ideas from multiple fields and how this collaboration leads to creative solutions. Rick, Veronica and I, again, decided to divide and conquer. Our focus seemed to be on learning more about Windows 8, Google and platforms for BYOD. It is good to see that many of the web tools and iPad apps that are being used and recommended are tools and apps that we are already using in our classroom integration projects and professional development. We have been on the “look out” for new and interesting ways to use some of these tools. We also found out about education at the national level, and possibilities of getting involved in Connected Educator Month in October.
Melisa Collins, Education Account Manager
BEYOND Technology Education
photo credit BTE
Around 20 thousand educators, thousands of vendors, and 100s of daily workshops are part of the San Antonio, TX ISTE Conference this year. It was an overwhelming spectacle to take in. The opening keynote, Jane McGonigal, was interesting and engaging, sharing her perspective on gaming in education. She kicked off the conference on Sunday night. Monday was full of workshops to attend and showcases to visit. Melisa, Rick, and I decided the best strategy was to divide our resources and each attend a different workshop at every time slot. Morning and afternoon workshops were full of new tools, new ways to use familiar tools, and new perspectives of technology education. We had a few minutes for lunch and about an hour to check out the exhibits.
Microsoft made quite an aggressive move for presence in education by giving away 10,000 Surface RTs to educators who received permission from their district to receive one. Google showcased its support of the Nexus 7 as their move to have a tablet presence in schools. They are working to develop more educational apps for the fall rollout.
It’s been quite exciting with tons of information to process! In the evening we have taken in the local sites and culture enjoying dinner on the River Walk. Dinner has been our time to relax, recoup and share all of the great information that we absorbed. Day 2 was another full day.
Veronica Holbrook, Regional Director
by Michelle August, M.Ed., Education Account Manager
image provided through istockphoto.com
As school's race to provide 1:1 (one mobile device for each students) technology for classroom and mobile computing to their students the debate continues... "What is the best tool for our schools to use in a 1:1 environment?"
Many schools quickly jumped on the iPad bandwagon but without training, to both the staff and students on the benefits and uses of the technology, many are left feeling like it's more of a burden than anything else. Many schools that use their "advanced 1:1 technology" as a selling tool for enrollment are actually falling short in the area of technology. They have handed their staff iPads, which are only used for note taking or for students to log into online textbooks, but there are so many other uses for these machines. With new options like the Chromebook for education, Google Nexus, and Microsoft Surface schools are now given more options in computing than they had before. Schools that currently have a Windows interface have the option to continue with their current structure but training may still be an issue.
When I was working in the classroom we were left to take online training or required to use an in-service day to continue our education, but how much can one really learn in a day or from an online tutorial? Furthermore, many teachers are still left feeling that they don’t know how to effectively integrate what they’ve learned into their lessons; and not to mention they then need to find the time to do so.
So, what’s the classroom and mobile computing answer to the 1:1 dilemma? Each school and it’s staff must be open to assess all the options available and choose the best tool for their unique purpose. iPads are not fully capable computers but can be used in the classroom very effectively; however, computers are still a must. Other tablets may provide more computing options but some projects still require laptops or a more substantial machine to complete them. Even more important than the tool we use is to ensure all the staff are trained and supported. Stuff doesn’t teach, teachers do.
by Ernie Delgado
As mobile student and teacher devices (iPads, smart phones, laptops, Chromebooks, Android and Surface tablets, etc.) become more commonplace in our schools, technology planning becomes more important than ever. The question I hear often is "When we move to a device friendly environment, ie. one-to-one, is student computer curriculum still necessary?" The answer is a definitive yes!
Let me start by listing the 5 major areas your technology plan should address and where the curriculum should fit in.
1. Teacher preparation | assessment, professional development, and on-going support
2. Student preparation | basic skills (computer curriculum!) that prepares them for integrated content areas
3. Classroom Curriculum | re-writing existing lessons that apply project based learning with relevant technology connections using Web 2.0 tools, mobile devices, and productivity software
4. Infrastructure | a bullet proof wireless network, appropriate security, coupled with IT support and policies
5. Project management | assessments, on-going planning and accountability
There are other areas that can be included but these are the key 5 areas that will lead to success. Many smart administrators have learned the hard way that a "one day in-service" is not your answer and a "one size fits all' approach will not work.
While your teachers begin the professional development phase of the technology plan (teacher specific training including hands-on, instructor led support and modeling with on-line support); students should also have access to a project based computer curriculum that is both age and grade appropriate. The best fit for this type of technology curriculum is in a K-6 or K-8 environment. Ask yourself the following questions to see if your computer curriculum is worth the weight of the 3-ring binder:
• Is it project based?
• Is it based on a scope and sequence referencing national standards?
• Is it based on games or productivity tools?
• Does it have integration links to your classroom lessons?
• Is it designed to be delivered by a computer teacher or a classroom teacher?
• What skill level is it written to?
• Does it come with training and support?
• Are there templates?
• What software or on-line resources does it require?
• Is it available in digital formats?
• Does it support both computer and tablet environments?
If technology basics are introduced to students correctly in a K-6 or K-8 environment, students should no longer have to "learn" computer skills in high school. All the basics should be handled before high school. With that said, we encourage higher level tech skills be taught via computer curriculum in high school. Areas we encourage development in are; network administration, desktop support classes, graphic design, publishing, programing, app development, video and multimedia production. For students that may not have a higher education plan, these skills can be invaluable for future earning potential.
Computer curriculum takes a major role in elementary school. Starting in Kindergarten students should be learning basic level skills at the lower levels of a scope and sequence for the 9 major technology areas:
1. word processing
2. spread sheets
3. data bases
6. desktop publishing
7. applied technology
9. operating systems
Many Principals have given me a perplexed look when I share with them that we encourage Kindergarten students to learn basic spread sheet skills. Of course, we start with simple concepts like rows and columns using hop scotch or database skills such as, sorting by attribute. Believe me, primary level students sort things all the time by colors and type. Venn diagrams are another great tool to teach these basic skills. Intermediate and upper elementary students can get into higher levels of each of the 9 areas with the right computer curriculum, and often times the higher levels of the scope and sequencing will go into middle school as well.
Another interesting computer curriculum approach we have taken with both high school and junior high school students is what we call our "entrepreneurial training series". CEO Challenge and CEO Marketing give students the ability to dream about what it would be like to start-up their own company. The 2 courses focus on the following key areas: Start-up and Marketing of a business. Students choose a business idea they are passionate about and began researching their business concept. Seeing a room full of high school or junior high school aged students focused, on-task, and preparing for their future in a highly constructive technological environment is a sight to see! Even more impressive than their focus and drive are their business plans.
So, who is going to teach this computer curriculum? That is a great question, and it depends on the technology level of your teaching staff. The answer 90% of the time is that you need a specialist such a computer teacher or technology coordinator. I emphasize teach in this context because this project based environment requires someone with classroom management skills and an understanding of instructional design and learning theory. A techie type person, generally speaking, does not have the skill set to motivate and manage a class of K-2 students. The instructor must have the ability to keep the attention of children who have 101 keys in front of them or a touch based tablet. That requires patience and a high level of classroom management ability.
Providing basic skills to your students using a scope, sequence, and project based computer curriculum will give them the skills they need to be prepared for an integrated lesson that should be based on your existing classroom curriculum. In a future blog post, I will explain why integrated lessons should be the center of your technology plan, and if done correctly will bring the teaching and learning processes with technology together.
by ALEFIYA BHATIA
Mobile school apps (Graphic: Edudemic.com)
When was the last time you turned to your smartphone to locate an ATM or a restaurant? How about to check your bank account, pay your bills, monitor your fitness program or buy those shoes you fell in love with? Maybe you just used your mobile phone to plan your next trip to the beach?
It likely wasn’t more than a few hours ago...
Smartphones have enabled us to practically live our lives on the go, helping us make time for all the things that our busy schedules often don’t allow for. With smartphones becoming your trusted help, catering to EVERY need that you have, shouldn’t you give your parents, staff, alumni, and related stakeholders the convenience to access information about your school on the go?
Here are 4 reasons Your School should have a Mobile Communications Solution:
1. Mobile Trend - According to Pew Internet research, 85% of American adults own a Mobile phone and now use the devices to do much more than just make phone calls. While 56% of Mobile phone users access the internet, 43% of them download apps. Tapping into the trend of increased mobile usage, more and more schools are turning to mobile apps to better engage with their community.
2. Increased Engagement - The involvement of parents and the greater community in the process of a child's education is critical. Engaged communities result in higher academic and social outcomes, stronger values, and increased future success in a child’s life. With hectic work schedules, it’s not always easy for parents to be as engaged in their child's education as they would like to be. A mobile app is an instant solution for parents, alumni and other stakeholders to access all school-related information anytime, anywhere.
3. Greater Edge - A lot of schools are already leveraging the power of mobile apps for greater cohesion between their teachers, parents and alumni. Moreover, schools with a mobile solution have a higher propensity of getting more referrals as parents really help spread the word about the school and the apps can easily be downloaded by anyone from any of the popular app stores.
4. Budget Friendly - With the gaining popularity of school apps, it is becoming easier to find School Mobile App solutions providers who can make customized apps for your schools at low costs. The pay as you go or easy subscription based models make it very convenient for schools to get exactly what they want without exhausting their budgets.
Still THINKING about getting a mobile app for your school? It’s time to spring into action! Crescerance is a trusted partner of Beyond Technology Education and has helped public and private schools across the country Go Mobile. Get in touch with them today to learn more about how you can increase the engagement of your community in the vital on goings of your school.
image courtesy of device.com
I came across an article on ZDNet is proclaiming that China has modernized its education system because it has installed 6,000 cloud service terminals in 300 schools. The article goes on to say that the project will save money and optimize resource allocation. I agree with the last part but I have a problem thinking that they have all of a sudden modernized their classrooms with the installation of terminals.
Chinese cloud services provider, 3Tcloud, is implementing the country's biggest education cloud project, enabling the local authority to optimize resource allocation and cut maintenance cost.
According to a report last week on Chinese tech site CCIDNet.com, the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang--one of China's most developed provinces--has installed over 6,000 3Tcloud computing terminal devices in 118 schools. The terminals are supported by 28 pieces of blade servers and a 60TB HDD storage installed in the city's information center.
The project, scheduled to be fully completed by 2015, would replace all obsolete PCs in the city's school system with over 30,000 cloud terminal devices. It would cut cost on software and hardware maintenance, lower power consumption to 3W per device level, as well as allow the municipal education authority to collectively allocate online education resources and enhance efficiency in administrating each school's computer rooms.
"By using such a system, we could effectively push forward the development of the city's teaching, resources, research, and evaluation--all of which is done on the cloud," said Chen Xikun, director of the IT center at Zhuji's education bureau. "Take teaching on the cloud, for example, students in different courses have full access to all resources available, and it helps the elementary and secondary education of Zhuji develop in a balanced way."
Since the project's commencement in April 2012, Shanghai-based 3Tcloud has been replacing PCs in the schools in Zhuji with X900 cloud computing terminals, a device that supports virtual machine under CHP protocol and is no bigger than a ADSL modem.
"To modernize an information-based education system, we will continue to set up multiple Zhuji-like education clouds in China in the future," said 3Tcloud CEO Tan Tianting.
We can learn from domestic schools that just providing the hardware is not the answer. What is the answer? Teacher training and support via curriculum integration workshops is the answer.
The bottleneck in education is that most teachers do not have the ability to use the technology tools that are available or they do not have the time to re-create their lesson plans to take advantage of those tools.
Many of them were never told or given a demonstration on how technology can positively impact their jobs. Even younger teachers are struggling to take their limited technology experience and carve out time to address their own classroom curriculum.
I believe that given the current teaching environment we need to increase training and modeling to teachers and also re-write lesson plans calling for the proper use of technology the entire situation can be fixed. Now how do we find the time and proper model to do this?
When I talk with school Administrators about their goals with technology integration I always ask about leadership.
What I have learned is that leadership and the ability to find answers and make things happen are one of the keys to a successful implementation. Let’s be honest, not all school Principals possess the tools to effectively lead a high level technology initiative. Now of course there are resources available but do they have time to commit to finding the right resources? Do they have the technical ability to understand the topics that they will be facing? Are they ready to jump into something that may lead to failure?
I have always learned to hire to my weaknesses. Many Principals can hire a strong AP or entrust their project to a well-connected staff member. That is one strategy for effective leadership. Another great strategy is to invest in building a strong administrator-friendly Personal Learning Network. This can actually be a fun and rewarding project if you find the right people that can lead you in the right direction.
However, it is not a sign of weakness to talk with a trusted and highly recommended Educational Technology Consultant. This process can significantly shorten the learning curve. What should you look for?
Experience in education
References in education
Knowledge of mobile computing and iPad integration
Samples of their past work
A strong and open working relationship that is based on trust and a mutual vision for where your school needs to go
Be aware of current integration models like flipped classroom, 1-to-1, blended learning and SWIM Grid
Often times a good consultant can provide references to other Principals or schools in exactly or close to exactly the situation you are in and the direction you want to go. A good consultant should provide information, guidance and a basic plan of attack before they ever charge you. It never hurts to ask and even if you choose not to move forward with that particular consultant at least you would have gained some valuable insights and knowledge so you can better prepare yourself for the journey you are about to take. But then again, if you are busy, they can probably make this happen in their sleep? Decisions!