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.

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.


Students Writing and Teaching While Looking for an Audience

Seats

Image: Apple\’s Eyes Studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over the last few weeks, more students are looking for audiences for their writing and stop animation movies. Mostly the avenue chosen is to send out email messages individually to students and teachers or to a conference where all students can read the request. I think this is a great indicator of the changes that are taking place not only with our students but also with teaching and learning. As the Innovation and Learning Cohort continues to discuss the book: The New Culture of Learning we run into this shift in each chapter. While we could feel threatened by it, I think we need to realize the power this affords us in our classroom. We no longer have to be the smartest person in the room, but do need to be the wisest. This wisdom will allow us to guide the learning, asking questions that allow learners to go further in their thinking and learning as well as modeling that learning is something that does not stop. The changes taking place in education are thrilling even when I am not sure what comes next.

There will be those who read the student writing below and wonder why the writing is not essay or formal quality. I believe this is a new informal writing that is more conversational then it is formal so while I too cringe at some of the errors, I also believe that we have to allow the students to own their learning and at times learning is, well messy.

I asked the students if it was OK to blog their requests so here they are. If you have a moment, add a comment and let them know what you think.

Ashwin writes:

MORE!!! A observation on blogging by: Ashwin S.January 9th, 2012  Tagged blog, more, personal I’ve noticed over the time I’ve been blogging that most people have the same overwhelmingly feeling. That they want more comments more replies or as I phrased it in my title they want MORE!!! Well you think that I am stating the obvious because who wouldn’t want people to see what they were writing that’s the whole point of blogging isn’t it? Well I think that a lot of people want more comments because of human nature. The more people pay attention to you the better you do in life. Even I am feeling like I want more comments (So please comment) it’s just the way we are. A common phrase I say is the perfect way to describe this observation. That phrase is “That’s just life”. http://pdroom212.edublogs.org/2012/01/09/more-a-observation-on-blogging-by-ashwin-s/

Students in sixth grade have really taken to blogging as you can see from some of their posts. I hold great hope that we can begin to see more teachers use this method of authentic writing with their classes.

Alex G sent out this message to a select group of people both at our school and outside of our school:

You may have already gotten an email message like this from me (Alex G.) or Gus L. but we’re just really trying to spread our stop-motion videos to the world. Me and Gus make LEGO stop-motion on imovie and are going to start using ikitmovie (agreat stop-motion sowtware) which I got a few days ago. I’m currently putting my BEST VIDEO YET on youtube so it will be visible probably tommorrow (thurs. january 12). It’s called The Gang, a LEGO STOP-MOTION and don’t worry none of our or my videos are inappropriate unless you say clay blood  or lego guns are but if i can stand watching it, you probably can too. I’ve sent this to my advisory and many other 6th graders and 5th and 6 grade teachers

If you go to youtube or google (and yes, google) just look up in search: “stopmotionbro alex lego” and some of my videos will come up and in the description of the video, if it says stopmotionbro (me) and doofuzz123 (that’s gus) that means we bothmade it. We’ve only made a few together though. I make them on my own out of lego, clay, caplas, puppets, and on paper. My best Videos will say in the description, used IKITMovie.

This is not chainmail but it would be great if you did send this to or tell other people about our videos. thanks and enjoy the videos!
ps, I CURRENTLY HAVE 999 VIEWS FROM 2 MONTHS OF POSTING VIDEOS SO I ATLEAST WANT 1000 BY THE END OF THE DAY but i don’t need to worry because i get about 50 views a day.
Alex G. 6th grade student

Gus and Ian sent out this message. Clearly Gus is working with many students so must be a good collaborator.

Ian L. and I created a youtube account. It is IGLProductionz. We are uploading videos DAILY, and we hope that you subscribe, as it means a lot to us and will encourage us to make more videos!

So when you hear about how teachers need to harness the passion of their students, this, I believe, is the passion we are talking about. What would happen if these students were directed to create videos for subjects and concepts in the classroom as well as the ones they are passionate about like stop animation and Minecraft? Besides, these students are learning about copyright, fair use, Creative Commons and other 21st Century issues.

Since YouTube is blocked at school, all of this work is taking place outside of school and with their parents knowledge and support.

Here’s to a bigger audience for your teaching and learning.

The Year 2011 by Google with a Thanks to Richard

2011

Image from:http://www.adrdesignonline.com/happy-new-year-from-adr-design/

Quoted From Richard Bryne’s Blog: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2011/12/year-in-google-searches.html

 

“Today, Google launched their 2011 Zeitgeist site. Google’s 2011 Zeitgeist features a menu of the most-searched terms of 2011. You can view the overall picture or use the menus to see the most searched terms according to region, country, and theme. The menus are nice and they reveal some interesting patterns, but the real highlight of Google Zeitgeist 2011 is the year in review video. Like other year in review videos, Google’s year in review video features a lot of short video clips and pictures of the year’s biggest stories. The video includes both serious news topics and lighter stories from the world of entertainment.

Applications for Education

Before showing the video to students ask them what they think were the most searched terms of the year. Then show the video and see which stories they missed. That activity could spark a good conversation about news cycles and why some stories stick in our heads while others are quickly forgotten.”

 

http://www.googlezeitgeist.com/en

My reaction to the movie was emotional as the events fade from memory with each new one that hits the screen.

With all of the changes in the world, it is easy to loose track of what matters most, human interactions and a kind word.

Happy New Year

 

Karl

Using Google Docs on iOS Device – Eureka!

Google Search

Those of you who have been reading this blog since the iPad was announced have read my posts about the issues with using Google Apps for Education on an iOS device. Sure you could sort of use them if you were willing to do equal parts troubleshooting and lowered expectations. I have tried various apps that purport to be the best with being able to connect to our Google Apps for Education accounts to create, edit, share and use without limitations or at least few limitations. Most of the apps come close but when any number of students report having lost work, I believe the system is not a true system. Granted in baseball, .400 is a good average, but if you only have 40% of the work you did, you would agree it is not a system.

Because of this issue, I have been concerned about what we would loose from our normal educational routine if our school adopted iPads for students over laptops since there is virtually no issues with Google Apps for Education from a non-mobile computer. While I am still not sure what is the best device, I have been able to solve the main issue with creating, editing, and sharing Google Apps on an iOS device. I used the new Google Search app and clicked on Applications to select Documents. Once I did this, I could do in iOS what I can also do on a non-iOS device. The only caveat yet to overcome is that when the document is shared with another user they can not see who has shared it with them. Until that is resolved, yes I am talking to you Google, students or teachers may need to add their first name to the title of the document.

If you have yet to update to the new Google Search App, [iTunes Link] do so now as it is really slick with other features as well.


Client Software Downloads When You Do Not Own the Device

upload

‘Upload / Download’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/59158146@N00/1229138273

Our students use FirstClass Communication for their school email and messaging system. As part of my Digital Learning class, I assign the act of downloading and configuring the client software so students have the best possible experience with the system. There is a web-based interface which to their credit has become pretty good. However, it is not apples to apples between the client software and the web interface, so we still prefer that students download and install the client software on their “home” computers. For many students this is not an issue as siblings may go to school here as well so the software may already be setup. Others share computers with their parents and while many parents do allow the downloading and installing others do not for any variety of reasons. Perhaps the laptops are the parents work computer or perhaps they prefer to only install software that is needed for their use. It may also be a case of the real fear of being infected with malware or viruses. Computers for the most part become quite personal and must be dependable since new software can cause issues with other software. Again, great strides have been made, but yet the client is more powerful.

Here are some responses I received from my 5th and 6th grade students. You can see that the success and reactions are all over the place. If this were the class textbook, how would this be handled?

Dear Mr. Schaefer,

Success! It was very easy. However, if we ever have to download more downloads, my mom needs to know what we we are going to be using it for. Thank you and I can’t wait for another fun day in Technology!! 🙂

Best wishes,

N

Dear Mr. Schaefer,

Sorry but my mom won’t let me download first class on my computer, sorry once again

Your friend,

I

Dear Mr. Schaefer,

I tried to download First Class they way you told us in class, but it still would not work. I usually would ask my dad to help me but both of my parents are out of town right now. My dad gets back on Thursday and I will ask him to help me then. I apologize if this causes any trouble and I will do my best to install it.

Sincerely,

J

I have had it since the begining of the year. In fact, my mom is the one who thought of getting it on my computer!

See you later,
C

Firstclass is downloaded on both of my computers, my ipod, and my ipad.

Thank You,
D

The most telling part of our class discussions around email is that while almost all of the 5th grade students use FirstClass, almost all of the 6th grade students use a non-school Google account for their personal Gmail. FirstClass is only their “school” account. Since FirstClass has Instant Messaging, I asked them if they use it. Their response was, uh no, we use GTalk.

How are schools supposed to work in this new frontier when the approved tools become outdated because newer ones are available faster then schools can adapt and/or adopt? Is this OK since should schools attempt to be responsible for all aspects of a students technology?

As our school continues to contemplate issues a device to students there will be more questions like these that will need discussions. A good point of issuing a device is there will no longer be a need for students and parents to do homework that involves downloading, installing, and configuring software. Or will it?

 

 

Is it studying or learning?

Studying

‘Studying’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/90151774@N00/3349594759

I have blogged in the last year about how I wanted to flip my classroom with posts called When Students Teach Themselves and When Students Run the Class. Both highlight for me how I must adapt the ways I have always taught to the current culture of learning. I am helping to lead a cohort of teachers reading the book: New Cultures of Learning by John Sealy Brown and Douglas Thomas. We meet once a month and have great conversations about learning, future, past, current and our role and place. Read more at the blog. We are reading chapter 5 which talks about personal collectives. So the idea of observing what is going on in the labs and in the classes I teach is at the forefront of my thinking these days. In addition, the digital device project is going strong with near constant daily insights.

So with all of this going on, yesterday I overheard an interesting exchange between a very well-meaning teacher and a group of students. The teacher is responsible for an after-school study hall which is housed in a computer lab. Students sit at computers accomplishing work or sit elsewhere reading. Since it is after-school, most students have out their cell phones and iPods which are not allowed during the school day. There are rules for what students are supposed to be doing in order to maintain a productive environment. One thing they are supposed to have is a book to read if they have no homework I understand these rules and support them, for the most part, especially as the numbers of students has grown from 10 or 12 to over 30 students.

What happened yesterday though got me thinking, what is the difference between studying and learning? Are we in the studying business or the learning business? I believe it is the learning business and even though we are often hard pressed to describe what learning is, most teachers know it when they see it, or do they with the changes? Why is not one of the rules to be learning something and not just studying it since to me that implies the knowledge being gained is coming from a source outside the learner. I think we as educators may not recognize learning in this new form and instead may actually quash it in favor of the view of studying which is more familiar.

Sketchup

So what happened? Two students (both girls which is a whole different post about girls and computer science) just finished my class. In their last rotation they both created incredible SketchUp cities as they taught themselves and each other how to use and create. There was another student who they were teaching how to use Sketchup. Students teaching each other SketchUp has been going on constantly since the last rotation. They were not disrupting the study hall but were working on creating a village of their designs. As the teacher, who is well meaning, asked if they were done with their homework, check, they all were. Then came the fateful question, is what you are doing for a class? The students said no, and were told to quit it then as they should read a book or do something else as they could not “play” on the computer. They did quit and went about doing something different. These are exceptional students. I was disheartened but recognize that what looks like learning to me, looks like not studying to someone else.

As I prepared to leave for the day, the student who had been getting instruction stopped me to ask if she could create a petition to get a technology elective class for seventh and eighth grade students since there is not one. I told her I would support her doing that and asked what tool she would use hoping she would choose a Google form which she did. I gave no instructions on how to do anything but today in my email was a sample form asking for my feedback.

As Alan November states in his Global Education Keynote “Who controls the learning?” I would add, would we recognize it if we saw it or would we attempt to stop it?