Give a Learner an iPad, Task, and Let Them Teach

IPad VoiceThread 1

Ms. Donnelly’s class has had an assignment this week that asked them to create tutorials on how to use the iPad, Apps, and other things that teachers should know.

“One minute presentation about specific topic related to Evernote, Voicethread, Google Docs, or the iPad.”

I prompted her to do this with her students as I think our school is going to move ahead with an iPad program for Middle School students. There are still many details to be worked out, but the energy is moving in that direction.

This is one example done on an iPad at school with more then one student working on the project. It also took multiple attempts since even though the apps and technology worked very well, there were limitations to what the students could get off of the iPad because of the setup and the file structure that is not apparent or familiar with the iPad. Perseverance and a growth mindset proved successful.

This American Lie

Retraction | This American Life 1

I feel really bad for the entire This American Life crew who were taken in by the story teller Mike Daisey and his fabricated monologue which morphed into a highly touted journalistic report. Ira Glass does a nice job of talking us through the retraction and as I listened to it, I could hear his anger and sadness for having been manipulated. It is all so easy to get manipulated like this when we are faced with some facts that force us to face something that we had hoped to keep hidden both from view and from our collective conscious. You can read more about what was true and what was story by listening to both of the radio podcasts aired by This American Life. I listened to both on my Apple iPod as I too am a conflicted soul. I love the shiny devices and want to believe that we can keep getting new versions while also having no downsides. That is the fundamental point of consumerism and if we stop believing this, we will both hurt our economy while also appearing to be anti something.

January 6, 2012 show with Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

March 16, 2012 show with Retracting Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

Apple does make great products and folks who use them, (me included) love them. This is not a zero-sum game in that we need raw materials to make them that must come from somewhere by someone’s effort. Do we all think that every particle that goes into a digital device has no adverse side effects? Or is it that we no longer care or contemplate where our “stuff” comes from as all we can think about is the desire to have it and how soon can we get it?

I have no answer to these questions, but believe we must give voice, like This American Life and Mike Daisey, have tried in their own way. We are all connected globally by these devices so I think we should connect mentally as well. When you get a new device that was manufactured by someone, think about what their life may be like. How it helps your life is important as well but not the only equation to consider.

Apple is trying to both make great products while also improving the lives of workers who build the devices while trying to improve their lives. They are being more transparent with audit information. How about other vendors who also use Foxconn? How about the Chinese government?

Jon Gruber of Daring Fireball does a great job of tearing apart Mike Daisey’s story and his recent admissions on how what he did is not so bad.

We should also remember our history as this type of selective memory has happened before and will happen again. While trains are not what they used to be, they certainly changed the course of America in the 1850s. I seem to remember that even then we had Chinese workers doing some building for us.

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Khan Academy as an App and TED Ed

Khan Academy  Watch Practice Learn almost anything for free for iPad on the iTunes App Store

These two announcemets came in through Twitter (TED-Ed) and Google Reader (Khan Academy App). I think both are huge as potential resources for our teachers and students to use.

Khan Academy website: http://www.khanacademy.org/

Khan Academy App review by Edudemic: http://edudemic.com/2012/03/sneak-peek-the-new-khan-academy-ipad-app/

I played with it this morning and it really is quite a useful resource for students or teachers with iPads. The web site offers the same material but they have done a nice job of integrating most of the tools into the app. I do like how students could download videos for off line use.

Some teachers use Khan Academy to flip their classroom where the students view the tutorials as homework and then work problems in the classroom when they are with their teachers and not without their teachers. While some argue that Khan Academy does not do much that is innovative, in the hands of a gifted educator, this resource could help all students no matter their skill level. I would hope some students use the site to learn things other then what they are studying in class.

TED-Ed will allow teachers to harness the power of TED to take their teaching to a larger audience while also bringing in animators to make engaging resources. I hope it will work as I think many TED talks can serve to start a conversation or spark an interest.

Quote from TED-Ed website. TED-Ed Launches on YouTubeTED-Ed’s mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world. We do this by pairing extraordinary educators with talented animators to produce a new library of curiosity-igniting videos. A new site, which will launch in early April 2012, will feature these new TED-Ed Originals as well as some powerful new learning tools.

 

3 Free Tools to Manage Your Social Learning

I will be going to Canterbury School in Greensboro, NC for the NCAIS Innovate Conference where I will present a session called “3 Free Tools to Manage Your Social Learning”. While I do not consider myself a totally connected person, I do have a system that may help someone. Besides, I present at these conferences to challenge myself and my learning.

In the age of information that we live and teach in today, it can be hard to manage the flow of data. In this presentation, I will share with you 3 tools I use and love to manage my data stream. All are free. All work together. All are available on multiple devices. All connect you with others. To take most advantage of the time we have together, participants should come to the session with accounts already created.

Google Reader: Create a Google Account or sign up at http://www.google.com/reader

Twitter: http://twitter.com/

Instapaper: http://www.instapaper.com/

This is the presentation I will be using for my session III at 2:10 in room 117 Armfield Hall. This is the actual presentation.

Bill Ferriter – Digital Advice for School Leaders – Great Stuff

Leadership

3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept‘ 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22177648@N06/2137729430

Bill Ferriter teaches only a few miles away from where I teach. Even though we are located in similar numbered zip codes, I have never met him or shared air with him. Yet, I have learned a lot from him by way of his blog, his tweets, his book, and since we are both teachers, his profession. He blogs at The Tempered Radical and I can only imagine what it was like before he became “tempered”. I think his ability and courage to say what is on his mind resonates with me as I too often dance close to the edge but then back away due to a fear of over-reaching or that I may not have all of the facts I need. This may be due to my insecurities or self-limiting thinking, but I struggle with how honest to be sometimes in this blog. I try to promote my ideas, but do not wish to be seen as divisive to my colleagues and others who may read this blog. How to advocate while still being open to ideas is something I try to do in my teaching and in my learning. The balance of tension is hard as too much pull and objects snap and not enough force and they droop.

Our school is beginning to search for a new Headmaster which is why Bill’s last post was of particular interest. I agree with what he shared and hope our next leader possess these traits.

On Wednesday, I’ll have the chance to present to the technology committee of our school district’s Division of Principals.  In the process of preparing, I asked my network the ONE bit of advice they thought school leaders interested in driving change in their own buildings needed to hear.

Many of the responses shared the same theme — a theme that was summarized nicely by Tim Wilhelumus, who wrote:

@plugusin Lead with the learning and not with the tools. Always. #wcpsstech #cpchat

— Tim Wilhelmus (@twilhelmus) February 13, 2012

In the end, driving change in schools means remembering that technology alone isn’t revolutionary.  Technology just makes it possible for teachers and students to do revolutionary things.

Our choices about technology need to start and end with our beliefs about learning. Forgetting to put learning first in ANY conversation about education is a recipe for failure.

I also loved Jon Becker’s advice:

@plugusin that very few things could be more impactful than them modeling what it is to be a learner.

— Jonathan Becker (@jonbecker) February 13, 2012

Jon’s right, isn’t he?  Principals ARE the lead learners in our schools.  Your modeling means everything to us — and that includes the example that you set when exploring the ways that new tools and social spaces can change learners.

Finally, Steven Anderson’s point is worth noting:

@plugusin Get connected. Team up with other admin and share and learn and grow, together. It’s how we improve ourselves and our craft.

— Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) February 13, 2012

Whatever you do, move forward. Take the digital plunge — and bring some friends!  Learn together.  Experiment.  Figure out what’s possible and what matters.  Change your own learning and then start changing the learning in your buildings.

Any of this make sense?

Dan Meyer – A Few Words – Says A Lot

Inafewwords

I enjoy reading Dan Meyer’s blog as he is both a deep thinker and a great writer. He is also a teacher in his core fiber no matter where he finds himself these days. I thought this post was both thought provoking as well as summed up well the description of the role of a teacher in today’s classroom. Well said Dan, well said. Emphasis is mine.

 

Khan Academy acknowledges the difference, though, and attempts to split it by saying, in effect, “We’ll handle the math that plays to our medium’s strength. Teachers can handle the other math.” So Khan lectures about things that are easy to lecture about with computers and his platform assesses procedures that are easy to assess with computers. Teachers are told to handle the things for which teachers are a good medium: conversation, dialogue, reasoning, and open questions.

 

Assignments That Do Not End

Revisions

In my Digital Learning Classes students have written reflections after watching movies in our course. They share these Google Docs with me using a template I created. The reflections are not meant to be in depth and for the most part are done when the unit is over. However, the sharing never stops, unless the student stops sharing the document with me or deletes it. A couple days ago when I opened Google Docs, I noticed that this particular student had edited a long ago “finished” assignment. He is no longer my “student” but he is clearly still thinking about role models as he updated his reflection from May 4, 2011 to include the following new information.

Not only is he a brilliant scientist but also a perfect dad. I learned that every role model has his problems.

I felt a jolt as I looked at the revision history to see what caused this student to open up a long ago closed assignment for a class that he is no longer in. Clearly, he wanted to adjust his role model to more clearly define his current definition of what role models are as it relates to his dad. He left the first part, but deleted the last sentence. As a teacher, I think there are two really great things going on in this revision. 1. Connected learning as the student is still thinking about role models. 2. His realization that every role model has problems is profound and will serve him well as that was a hope of mine when I posed the question.I also felt sadness and am curious as to what happened with respect to “his problems”, but am not sure if I should inquire as the assignment is over and perhaps he did not mean to share it with me. What if he did mean to share it with me and is waiting for me to ask him about his revisions? In a world where documents are not deleted each year and learning continues, the relationships with students do not always stop just because a class ended. Welcome to connected learning.

BTW: I will be talking to the student, but not sharing what I find as that will be between us.

How would you handle this situation?

UPDATE: I did speak with the student and he assured me everything was OK and I assured him that if he ever needed to talk with me about anything, my door and document was open to him. I believe, and studies show that the best way to improve education is to improve the relationships between teacher and student. I would like to think this is an example of how we have one more area to connect.

Why SOPA and PIPA are DUMB Squared!

wikipediadark

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wikipedia_Blackout_Screen.jpg

On January 18, 2012, the Internet began to live up to the collective tool that many of us think it is by unleashing it’s power on Congress. With many sites going dark or putting black banners across their name along with links to Congressional Members many members of Congress withdrew their support. Read more at Wikipedia (if it is not blocked) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

After you listen to Clay, read about ACTA which is ACT II but on a world stage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement

Reading The Spicy Learning Blog, I came across Clay Shirky’s TED Presentation. Very good for the full story of why SOPA and PIPA are DUMB Squared. (Doing Unknown Mischief Because you are Dumb).

No honest person supports piracy so it is a false argument. As Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Book Publishing, discusses in his post, SOPA and PIPA are bad industrial policy, piracy has always been around and in fact publishing started that way.

But history teaches us that it is primarily a result of market failure, the unwillingness or inability of existing companies to provide their product at a price or in a manner that potential customers want. In the 19th century, British authors like Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope railed against piracy by American publishers, who republished their works by re-typesetting “early sheets” obtained by whatever method possible. Sometimes these works were authorized, sometimes not.

The Internet will not be the Internet if any of these laws are passed which also means that the new ways that learning can be changed by the Internet will not be available as many companies will for certain go dark. Call your representatives and let them know how you feel after you get informed yourself. In addition, this is a teachable moment that our students will connect with more then a historical fact although if you want to do a historical fact on the early printing, you might discuss the piracy that followed the invention of the printing press.

iPad – Like Other Inventions Too Different To Be Understood Fully

apple 2e

‘Apple IIe’  http://www.flickr.com/photos/41894164051@N01/297508829

The iPad is the talk of most schools these days and even crops up in other areas of conversation. On episode #49 of of Hypercritical John Siracusa and Dan Benjamin discuss a three year old using an iPad that someone saw on a subway (18:15 – 21:50). The gist of the conversation is that many of us look at the way young people interact with technology and are impressed with how easy they use it. Their contention is that young people do not view technology as hard to learn how to use while most of us think that computers/technology is or should be hard to use. John goes on to talk about a 3 year old using a jack in the box on a horseless carriage and how amazingly the young child could use it. “being impressed by a 3 year old using an iPad is both the point and missing the point of the iPad. The point of the iPad is that it is the harbinger of technology that is easier to use then the old hard to use technology”. It is a great synopsis of how technology has continued to change and how the older technology users always marvel at how the younger users so quickly adapt. It has always been this way and if we altered our view that technology is hard to use, maybe we could also be amazed at how easily we took to using the tools. We just need to unlearn the knowledge that we learned along time ago that technology is hard and only nerds or really smart people could possibly use it. We should be less amazed at how young users can use the tool, and more concerned with how we can use it and teach with the new tools in new and different ways. I love listening to John and Dan complain and feel like I learn something each week from John.

itunesu

Apple’s announcement yesterday about the new iBooks2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U app move us further down the road to either living totally in the Apple Universe or somewhere in between Google and Apple. I like Ryan Bretag’s post on Google or Apple: I Don’t Want to Choose. I could not agree more, but frankly see little hope with students and education being put before larger corporate goals. Education is both a market and an institution that people and corporations can say they support. Granted both do offer much support and have helped us move forward in ways we could not have imagined. I know that for the last 3 years or so I have been advocating the use of iTunes U resources to my colleagues. With the app, it will put it on the iPad while still being available through iTunes on the Macintosh or WIndows computer. Here are a few links that will give more information. Edudemic’s Ultimate Guide, Audrey Watters wrote a good Hands on With iBooks Author piece, (Thanks Richard Bryne) will get you started. I started playing around with all aspects of there announcement and what I felt the most was, sadness.  I miss Steve, and his energy at these types of events as he would get me so hyped I would look forward to learning how to use the tools so I could share them with my colleagues. I will still do that, but I like having Steve’s wind in my learning sails.

These three resources discuss the iPad as a learning tool and could help schools implement successful programs.

21st Century Fluency Project’s Launching an iPad 1 to 1 – A Primer. A very well written “punch list” of sorts for schools.

A blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Ed journals a professor’s experience using iPads with his students. Good lessons to be learned here.

Scott Meech did a great K12 Online Conference session on the iPad vs iConsumption.

Permission to Go Off Lesson Plans

Permission

‘Seeking Permission’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/50614028@N00/3827632898

At the last Innovation and Learning Cohort meeting, I suggested we could write a chapter called “The Permission Not Taken” after many members, and myself, expressed the reluctance to stray from a lesson plan that has always worked or that we just felt we had to do in order to meet our goals or the curriculum goals. All of us agreed that we have the luxury and support to experiment and adjust our classrooms as we best see fit. This is a benefit of working at a private school that trusts their teachers to be the professionals that we are. So I took a slight risk and decided to tryout the Pixton for Schools accounts I had purchased as I wanted to try something different. I knew I was onto something when students began to remix the assigned comic and were saying how it was awesome, fun and the best thing they had done. I was also learning how the Pixton Teacher Console works so I could show it to other teachers. We were in all ways, learning with myself modeling to my students by doing it myself.

After the initial introduction comic, I asked them to create a comic based on the Martin Luther King, Jr., themes of Equality, Freedom or any other concept they felt important since we had been discussing that all week at school as part of our Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations. I want to share a couple below as they created some wonderful ones while I learned how to use this awesome teacher friendly site.

My advice is to take the permission granted as we all might learn more.