Archive for category Technology

Technology Integration in Schools

At a session at International School of Prague as part of the Spring CEESA Conference.  Discussion about the integration of technology and pushing the boundaries of our thinking on the topic.  The SAMR model helps us to see the context of integration and the transformational aspects that we are all seeking:

SAMR-Puentedura1

 

 

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ECIS Panel Discussion – April, 2012

Initial thoughts:

 

The initial question posited to the conference panel that I’ve been asked to address:

Information Technology in school – Does it improve  learning?

Gathered some resources to begin to address this question and related topics:

https://www.evernote.com/pub/chinazurfluh/technologyitems

The key issue associated with answering the question revolves first around how you define improving learning.  The learning targets that are currently accepted often revolve around norm referenced test scores because of our reliance on these measures to show growth or performance against a larger data set.  There is some validity to this because of the large data set available after decades of using these measures and the large body of experience with these measures.

However, these kinds of measures are ill prepared to measure 21st century skills.  They effectively measure math, reading, writing, and core knowledge competency, but they do little to measure attitudes, intellectual processing skills, and skills revolving around independence, collaboration, and innovation.  We have scores of examples of students who are truly gifted as leaders and complex thinkers that routinely scored below average on the accepted measures.

So, if you are asking me whether information technology improves learning, I would have to answer “No”.

There is no clear empirical evidence that information technology as an independent variable has a correlation to improved student learning as a dependent variable in the traditional, measured definition of the term.

I would suggest that addressing this question from a quantitative point of view is faulty at the outset.  This is the same logic that has led to American ignorance of the impact of poverty on education and learning.  We’ve spent more than a decade comparing our results to international measures only to ignore how poverty has impacted our bottom line.  A recent AASA blog entry highlights the fallacy of the standards movement to address educational reform while ignoring this poverty gap between the countries (e.g. Finland with 4% in poverty vs. U.S. at 21%).  Quantitative measures are insufficient in addressing complex issues.

Logic confirms that If we want to address what technology enables, we need different goals for education.  In the truest tradition of backward design, it begins with this question:

What world are we preparing kids to live in?

Addressing that question and looking at essential skills for a 21st century world is where we truly should be focused.  In regards to this question, the next logical qualified questions is:

Does the use of information technology in schools prepare kids for a technology rich world we can scarcely describe in the current moment?

Then the answer would be a resounding and passionate — YES!!  Now let’s design and build measures for addressing skills that emerge from this backward design and use measures that are meant to really test whether students are developing 21st century skills.  Let’s get beyond the issue of technology as an entity and look at how we create technology rich environments that eminently prepare students for the world of their future.

 

Hattie research:

and one recently reported danger from CNET:

 

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The Holiday Season Begins @ AAS

AAS 5th Grade from Jon Zurfluh on Vimeo.

Erin and her classmates entertain parents at recent gathering.

BTW – All video done with iPhone and edited with iMovie on the iPhone. Amazing…

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The Future…

I know this is just a gadget on one hand, but for those with a science fiction come reality sort of mind, what are the implications of this?  Are we preparing kids for a world with stuff like this?  I mean really – Do the classrooms of today bear any resemblance to the technology they will live with after graduation?  Really???!?!?!?

This changes everything…

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Parents – Time to Select Your Child’s Hardware

Schools are increasingly struggling with decisions on how to support the growing trends in technology adoption in a fast paced and constantly changing technology rich world. The number of schools moving toward greater access to technology is growing with exponential magnitude. The challenge is the cost associated with these adoptions and further compounded by the increasing pace of obsolescence. Often, we are buying equipment that has a usable lifespan of far less than three years making traditional depreciation schedules useless.

But, first we need to begin with the rationale for including technology in the learning process. Even after two decades of study, there is limited empirical support for academic achievement through implementation of technology alone. There are benefits that emerge from the use of technology, but the tools we currently use to measure educational progress are unlikely to capture the nuances of how technology helps us to achieve those goals.

We have to start with a different perspective on the function of education to understand the “why technology?” question. In our look at curriculum and instruction, we often take time to ask another critical question — “What do children need to know and be able to do to be successful after schooling?” In the time of Sputnik we shifted our educational focus to include science and math in order to generate a work force that could challenge emerging Russian competence in the race to outer space. We have more recently shifted focus to develop skills in collaboration and communication because corporate leaders suggest that graduates join the workforce woefully unprepared for a fast-paced and competitive global environments that require teamwork and flexible ongoing skill development. We shift curriculum to include more phonics when basic reading scores show a decline and we return to a whole language approach when motivation, comprehension, and fluency lag. This tipping back and forth on agendas has often been described as a swinging pendulum and it serves as the primary source of teacher frustration.

With technology we confront a sustained trend that is more profound than these cyclical curricular iterations of the past. Can we legitimately argue that the concept of integrated technology is a fad? Can we continue to posit that a productive and intelligent life can emerge in an environment bereft of technological tools in the current age?

With each iteration of innovation, technology becomes increasingly embedded and ubiquitous in daily life. Along with that trend, the challenges of adequately preparing students to live in a technologically enhanced world increases at an ever quickened pace. More than any other curricular challenge of recent memory, this trend is poised to leave us with a growing split between those who can and those who cannot – a digital divide that will become the new yardstick of competence.

Schools have to recognize that there, in fact, technology is becoming embedded in schools despite their lack of responsiveness. Students bring technology to school in increasing numbers and this technology is a demonstration of how the trend has created a ubiquitousness without intervention. In light of this, it seems prudent that school consider a different approach to technology integration.

It’s time for schools to let go of control methodologies that are founding in outdated frameworks. Authoritarian control over choice is a throwback to an over-structured approach to teaching that has been proven ineffective. Instead, schools should welcome technology with open arms and — and this is important — students should bring it, not unlike the annual selection of the latest binder or pencil on the Fall supply lists. The recent BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) initiatives are an initial realization that schools can divest themselves of responsibility for user hardware and instead focus their energies on infrastructure and backbone to a technologically capable learning environment. The same should be expected of teachers and administrators.

I suggest that the time has passed where schools should expend capital on narrowing options for achievement with discussions of operating systems and minimum configurations. It’s time for schools to create an open and welcome environment enriched by cloud based applications that removes the need for Microsoft or Linux allegiances. Even the Horizon 2011 report finds this to be the most critical trend in the next few years and repeated again after first introduced in 2010.

The bottom line for parents – pick your child’s computer and then demand that schools allow that computer to accompany the child. By becoming an advocate for this paradigm, you support a move to a future-focused education that is more likely to prepare your child for the reality we all have to admit is on the near horizon.

The bottom line for teachers and administrators – build your own self-efficacy in regards to technology in order to assure your competence in guiding effective integration. If you don’t own and regularly update your personal technology, you should. If you don’t embrace the use of technology as a core skill for the future, you must.

Don’t delay! With the pace of change, we dare not pause and watch more ground lost for the sake of mindless caution and a stoic grip on entrenched and unenlightened attitudes.

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Another look at the future…

I remember a similar video from Microsoft that takes a look at the future – not too distant – to conjecture on the state of the world associated with products already in the pipeline.  I like to think of it as the nexus between StarTrek and reality.  We’ve seen many crossover and successful products emerge this way. On the backs of Roddenberry style imagination, the future is crafted.  Science fiction brought us cell phones and iPads.  This video suggests what is next in interactive environments.

So the question that emerges is what do we do about preparing students for a future like this? If they only used today’s computers, will they be ready to demonstrate proficiency in a world of this level of interactive demand?

Leadership requires that we move education closer to the leading edge of this kind of development. I have to prepare students for this in school, so that they can go on to dream the next level of accomplishment. The people that are crafting these new ideas were enabled at some point in their education to see beyond the limitations. Can we create another generation of unimagined innovation?

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What we really should be doing…

To learn what Alan November believes a successful school environment should look like, watch the 10-minute interview below:

This is similar to Ken Robinson’s plea for a revolution rather than evolution in education.  It strikes me that we often try to build on what we know rather than making the leap forward.  Innovation and accomplishment will only come from competent and inspirational discord – not from compliance or cohesion with current paradigms.

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Presenting at #globaled10

Update:

Only had a few participants, but enjoyed talking about my topic and the powerpoint seemed to have just the right amount of data.  Had some nice involvement, but it would have been even more fun with hundreds.  ;-)

Here’s the recording link: https://sas.elluminate.com/drtbl?sid=gec2010&suid=D.C0BBFA0A2D7CF1BE39A2A24C253474


I’m presenting today at GlobalEd10 in my first online Eluminate session.  This is a wonderful first attempt at global staff development in a virtual environment and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on leadership in a multi-cultural environment with whoever shows up.  I have not been pushing for participation because I’m a bit nervous, but looking forward to sharing my thoughts as they relate to my doctoral work on the topic.  Slideshare is now ready and this post is going up about 2 hours before the session.  Hope it doesn’t give too much of it away to otherwise turn people away.  Truthfully, I have lots of stories to tell to go with this content.

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Simplicity is our enemy…

A couple of issues are nagging on me and, as I watched an old TED video by Dan Meyer, some thoughts formed on why we are struggling with change and reform in schools (or anywhere for that matter).  Dan quoted David Milch with the following when reflecting on the ills of a sit-com society:

It [television] creates an impatience … with irresolution….

We can see examples of this in every aspect of life.  We see it in politics and government.  We see it in advertisement and product delivery.  Certainly, in computers and technology, we have examples of this modality where immediate gratification drives our interest and decision making.

In fact, a recent parent conference confirmed my ongoing frustration with this simple solution mentality.  My son, who is generally a capable student, made a mistake on a recent test.  In one section of the test, he failed to read a direction that required students answering false in a true/false section to also correct the statement to make it true.  Like many of his classmates, he failed to follow this subtle direction and, thus, an “A/B” grade became a “D.”  At the conference held to discuss this issue, it also turned out that this was an object lesson in “following directions” and the teachers actually expected many of the students to mess up.  As luck would have it, the principal sat in on our conference and reiterated the school’s belief that this was a fair judgment of what my child was “taught.”  After all, “we have to teach kids that there are consequences in life and you don’t always get second chances.”

After holding my breath for a few moments, I simply asked for assessments that actually measured what my child knows and can do.  The response was, “we are not doing standards based grading, so we can’t do that.”  Interesting for a district that cites Stiggins on their website as a key reference and has pride in a “guaranteed and viable curriculum.”

So here is where simplicity fits into this discussion:

  1. We like the simplicity of object lessons, because it means we don’t have to monitor students as they work to assure success.
  2. We like the simplicity of quick and easy solutions because we can stand stoically behind them as ingeniously logical and sustainable despite the mythology upon which they are based.
  3. We like standardized tests and common core curriculum because we don’t have to be accountable for the hard work or results associated with our own professional expertise.  Instead, we can just implement and follow instructional guides with little thought to adaptation or unique insight.
  4. We like the political election cycle because we can regularly blame whoever is in power and vote them out only to find similar reaction to those elected in the next cycle — and on and on and on….
  5. We like to eliminate technology and leading edge curriculum from schools because they are far too complex to allow in a simple solution environment — and we might have to struggle a bit to get it right.
  6. We like making parents sign forms (with a witness signature) for every image that may accidentally be displayed on a school website (if there were any school website pages actually updated regularly) because we like the simplicity of signatures and absolving ourselves of responsibility.
  7. We like the simplicity of spending oodles of money contemplating geo-engineering to fix our planet in the future rather than conserving resources today – it’s simple and I don’t have to deal with it.

You get the picture?  We have allowed simplicity to guide our thinking to the point of seeking the 30-minute solution to all our problems.  We elected a president to a 4-year term of tough change only to be abandoning his efforts halfway through our commitment. We look for simple and quick solutions around every corner.  An economic meltdown should be solved in a fortnight.  Somebody please wave the wand and make 10% unemployment turn into 5% by morning.  Elect me and I can make that happen.  Right!?!?!?!?

Politics, education, and life are complex matters.  Get used to it.  Turn off the TV, read a book (I dare you), write frequent letters to your elected representatives, and realize that the world still turns at roughly the same velocity as it did decades and centuries ago.  Give our kids a break and let them explore the wonders of the universe rather than just mastering the drudgery of sanitized benchmarks.  Open their minds instead of hardening their hearts. Please?!

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Time Travel – Kids Explaining it – Can you see the motivation?

In this video, kids talk about time travel and use various resources to explain their concept.  Since I was recently in an 8th grade classroom talking about black holes, this was especially interesting and, thus, I’m sharing it with you.  This is consistent with the previous message about reaching higher in our expectations than we might otherwise consider.

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This is Granularity…

Coming on the heels of my post this morning is a new release from TED.comAditi Shankardass — who shares her work on brain research that has uncovered the misdiagnosis of 50% of autistic children due to using behavioral observations alone.  Sounds like examining the boulder from the outside again and coming to inaccurate conclusions.

Seems, despite the associated costs, that we should address this issue by examining our decision-making paradigms.  Should we assess the American Educational System on the basis of high-stakes tests alone?   Should we use carrot/stick methodologies to increase competition and offer rewards for excellence when we want a comprehensive and viable education for all?

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Granularity

While deeply involved in Marzanno and Waters (2009), I had the opportunity recently to attend a recent high school orchestra concert. It is, thus, logical to reflect on instructional leadership as similar to the experience of developing a musical harmony that mingles concepts from Marzanno and others such that we have a cohesive, but responsive approach to student achievement. While many would assume that a musical composition is static in nature, it is in fact a highly dynamic endeavor that yields different results when factors of acoustics, instruments, expertise, and the emotions behind the score spread and mix upon the stage. In this most recent concert, graduating seniors and year-end farewells set the stage for an once-in-a-lifetime version of a particularly complicated flute solo that was masterfully presented as a farewell tribute to the conductor and teacher.  Much like an orchestral piece of music, the notes and staff only told a very course version of the story behind the music. The instrumental process that yields note dynamics, breath control, posture, precision (or lack thereof), and a weaving of expertise results in a performance – an experience.

In much the same way, our current approach to achievement is more about looking at the music rather than reflecting on the elements of the performance. This emerges from an issue of granularity. When we look at a large boulder, we see the surface and get general information regarding the face of the boulder and maybe some insight into the color, texture, and weight of the object. Summative testing is akin to this global view where we derive scores and assess program by examining the accomplishment of large groups of students. What we don’t see, and teachers often reflect on this, is the material just below the surface. If we begin by breaking the boulder into smaller and smaller pieces, we reveal the details of the musical composition – the subtleties, the nuances, the complexity.  Ultimately, when we arrive at grains of sand, we have a very complete picture of the boulder – even though it is a boulder no longer.

Formative testing is largely about breaking the boulder of education into grains of accomplishment and by looking with this level of scrutiny, we greatly improve our chance of impacting performance in a positive way. The key is achieving a high degree of granularity while not distracting from our primary task of achieving broad spectrum learning goals. Formative assessment meets this criterion and provides an instructional strategy that not only focuses teachers on viable instructional objectives, but also informs both students and teachers about their progress toward accomplishing the same.  The musical score transcends the subtleties of the dynamic factors of performance by forming the foundation of the presentation. In this way, we have a metaphor for the core structures that Marzano and Waters (2009) propose in the form of nonnegotiable goals. Their reflections on the inadequacy of NCLB and other summative high stakes measures gives way to a formative system of measures aimed at developing a “value added” approach. This is consistent with multiple recent research endeavors including Hatie’s (2009), where formative feedback to teachers regarding their efforts with students yielded the 3rd highest effect rating on overall achievement – approximately d=0.90.

The challenge is not about curriculum, while it is valuable to continue curricular development processes as we currently do. The issue is the creation of common formative assessments that match the curriculum and provide for close scrutiny of granular accomplishment. With Marzano and Waters (2009), we find a proposal for a “value added” approach to education that calls for both horizontal and vertical alignment with a common scale of measurement for formative assessment tools used along the way. Arranged according to topic areas and grade levels, this proposal leads to a comprehensive look at how a curriculum should emerge in the classroom, the way in which we test pre-operationally for its introduction, and the way in which we report developmental progress along a scale toward achievement of that curriculum.

But they may not be going quite far enough in addressing the thousands of small bits that constitute a comprehensive child-centered approach to personal development that also addresses the development of character and emotional intelligence.  Education continues to stare at the boulder and misses this aspect under the surface.  A value added approach may also miss many of the grains of sand by sifting and looking only for the specs of interest.

If we really want to form sand castles, we need to address how all of the sand can be cemented together into the complex structure that is a whole “person.”  While I value assessment as important, it does little to address the complex nature of a child and the nuances of how the the score becomes a performance.


References

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.

Marzano, R. J., & Waters, T. (2009). District leadership that works: Striking the right balance. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

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New Horizons 2010

Under a grant from HP, the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released the latest New Horizon Report for K-12 education. Not surprisingly, the two critical trends to take center stage are Cloud Computing and Collaborative Environments.

The critical issues surrounding the trends that this collaboration brings to the forefront is the degree to which we have failed to link student achievement to the technology that we are adopting and, further, the degree to which schools have been forced to miss the boat on one initiative after another due to lack of financial resources or insufficient political resolve. The Horizon Report lists five critical trends that are not disappearing any time soon:

  • Technology is increasingly a means for empowering students, a method for communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives.
  • Technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed.
  • The perceived value of innovation and creativity is increasing.
  • There is increasing interest in just-in-time, alternate, or non-formal avenues of education, such as online learning, mentoring, and independent study.
  • The way we think of learning environments is changing.

With new devices (e.g. iPad), and new technologies descending upon us on a daily basis, we need to consider how to best approach the challenges that we now face since our prior efforts have been so stilted and restrained.  While we see pockets of excellence throughout the world, the systemic and sustainable changes to educational systems still evade us.

I understand why.  While we all recognize the import of technology on daily life, we continue to be circumspect because the research proving its efficacy lacks so far behind the intervention that new technologies have already replaced those originally reviewed.  Our system of reflection and review is insufficient in its capacity to truly address the actual effects of these trends.

A recent presentation by adjunct professors at Pacific Lutheran University is a perfect example.  Their research on purported unintended consequences of technology heaped upon young unsuspecting children was, in most cases, 10 years old.  Can anyone remember what kind of computers we were using 10 years ago? Can you remember which devices didn’t exist a decade ago?

In Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement by John Hattie (2009), computer assisted instruction was considered using 81 meta-analyses that included 4,875 studies involving 3.9 million subjects.  The effect size was approximately d=0.37, something just more than developmental effects – in other words an effect that was about equivalent to just normal growth and development.  Despite my argument above, there was little change in effect size when broken down by year of study which Hattie believes counters the belief in increasing effect with increased sophistication.  Like many, the only correlation was between the use of computers and increased student engagement. Hattie concludes that there is no necessary relation between having computers, using computers, and learning outcomes.

But, hold the phone – Hattie throws us a bone when he does further analysis of the data and proposes that the following conditions must be met.

Computers are used effectively…

  1. when there is a diversity of teaching strategies
  2. when there is a pre-training in the use of computers as a teaching and learning tool (min. of 10 hours)
  3. when there are multiple opportunities for learning (e.g. deliberative practice, increasing time on task, etc.)
  4. when the student, not teacher, is in “control” of learning
  5. when peer learning is optimized
  6. when feedback is optimized

These two pieces of literature coupled with our own sound judgment form a new approach to prudent thinking on deployment of technology resources.  A formula based approach of developing infrastructure, providing training, and prudently purchasing equipment may lead to a best practices scenario for technology’s next horizon.

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Yes!!!

These two look nice next to each other, don’t you think?

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Apple iPad and Learning

Nice video from Kevin Honeycutt on the possibilities…

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Update to Microsoft Surface…

I stand corrected. It looks like Smart Tech (www.smarttech.com) has got one in the works. Would love to know how implementation is going. Anyone?

Click here - The SMART Table

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Microsoft Surface – When?

So, it’s been out for a year or so and the educational implications are just starting to take shape.

surface

Here’s one in a UK Primary School

http://www.microsoft.com/surface/Pages/Experience/Videos.aspx?video=193f800f-5268-491f-9bc7-d2857080ef21

Here’s the link on educational development of this device:

http://www.rm.com/generic.asp?cref=GP1365987&SrcURL=/surface/

Microsoft Surface details:  http://www.microsoft.com/surface

Tech-savvy educational leaders will be watching this development with interest because it constitutes the first viable initiative that can effectively address the dynamic early learning environment.  If we can put these in ECE classrooms with all of the collaborative tools that are demonstrated here, we are on the road to a true revolution of the educational pathway.

Pay close attention to the details here.  Students login by placing a nametag on the table.  Content is tailored to their needs and level – even within the context of collaborative play.  In general, this resolves our discomfort with having young students in front of computers.  Let’s take it one step further and imagine walls that literally open to a child’s fingertips and allows them to interact with inexhaustible content.  Consider the live collaboration and then think of the virtual collaboration that is also possible.  This whole concept just screams for creativity and innovation.

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Students reflecting on learning…

This is a piece from Dr. Marilyn Simpson’s work on learning targets and students articulating their learning.

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Amazing song – We need teachers to learn…

A wonderful song for reflection as vision and mission statements are reviewed and re-thought.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

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Alan November – He Gets It

During the EARCOS Conference now in play in Malaysia, Alan November presented a keynote presentation followed by two breakout sessions on Sunday last.  As always, I was impressed with the way in which Alan understands and generates that understanding in others.

While some may have walked away from his keynote scratching their heads, I was very aware of a purposeful lack of structure to his presentation.  While I cannot confirm my suspicions, I am aware that his methods were likely directed more toward modeling rather than the typical format of bestowing knowledge from the podium of vanity that is more often the standard of typical conference keynotes.  Alan attempted a “conversation” with an audience of 500+ and I applaud his efforts.

Ultimately, two things occurred as a result of his efforts:

1) Many left asking questions that inspired very competent conversations.  This is the product of a good keynote: creating a degree of tension in the audience that inspires dialog and discourse well after the presentation.

2)  Many left scratching their heads wondering what they just did.  Despite that, it is clear that as time allows the example of his performance to sink into gray matter, many will look back on their experience in an unpredictable “Ah-Ha” moment and realize the import of what they experienced.

Technology integration will have to follow a path like this to really achieve what its potential purports.  We need competent examples (exemplars) of integration and observers must walk away under inspirational moments to apply those skills in their own classrooms.  I remember in my own teaching career that the most effective staff developments were the inspirational and engaging speakers that brought information and emotion together into that critical tension that engenders both motivation and deep understanding.  Staff development and learning in general has to reach into your soul if you expect it to convert daily realities into visionary change.

So, thank you Alan for changing me.  Either intentionally or unintentionally, you brought new insight to how I might choose to achieve our common goal of preparing students for the world in which they will eventually thrive.

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