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17
Dec

#ThroughGlass

I am now posting to my WordPress blog directly from Google Glass.  It’s simple.  Very easy.

26
Oct

Digital Natives and the Concept of Nature or Nurture

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When Marc Prensky (marcprensky.com) wrote about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants in his 2001 work, he provided people with a nomenclature to categorize users of technology by both perspective and adoption willingness in a socially acceptable way.  Some might say that he actually provided us with language that describes/d the generation gap that has become increasingly evident with the speed in which technology and the world changes.

In a video entitled, “Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner” by the MacArthur Foundation (2010), Nichole Pinkard, who was then a visiting associate professor at DePaul University, said, “I don’t think any kid is born digitally native.  I think kids are born consuming media, but I don’t think kids are born producing media.”  Producing media would be one of the characteristics, though certainly not the only, of a digital native.  Pinkard brings up an interesting point in which schools need to consider carefully.  Just because the students we teach are part of a generation that is considered Digital Native, we must be careful to assume:

(1) that every student is a Digital Native

(2) that every student has experienced the same exposure and practice of Digital Native skills

Because the nomenclature provides us an easy classification in which to group people (either Digital Native or Digital Immigrant), it is easy for us to assume the those we classify one way or the other, have very similar skills.  On the contrary, a student may be an avid consumer of digital media, yet this does not mean that they are strong producers of digital media.

It is important for us to remember that our students, even in the area of technology, come to us with a wide spectrum of skills development.  Though we may hear from a variety of sources that children today are born with a technology skills, it is not actually true.  These skills are developed, over time, through a variety of experiences.

Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner (2010): MacArthur Foundation.
http://www.macfound.org/videos/106/

Marc, P. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424816

26
Sep

10 Truths about Writing in the Digital Age

Edutopia released a September update to their “Big Thinkers on Education” series entitled “Writing in the Digital Age” by Elyse Eidman-Aadahl.  Elyse Eidman-Aadahl is the co-director of the National Writing Project.  The video is full of statements that describe the current state of writing and that are critical for language and literature teachers to digest.  I pulled 10 truths about writing in the digital age from Elyse’s ideas.

 1. Humans are communicators

(00:02)  “Human beings are born storytellers.  We’re communicators.  That’s in our DNA.”

2. Writing is technology

(00:17)  “Human communication is gone in an instant.  ….  Writing, at the base, is technology.  It’s something we have created to extend communication into the future.”

3. One person can do it all

(01:12)  “It used to be that the writer made the words, the writer handed them to a new person, that new person was an editor.  That editor was followed by a publisher, a designer, someone who distributed and marketed and circulated the book.  All of these professional niches, now, can be done by one person using new digital tools.”

4. No more controlled channels

(01:50)  “We can control our own publication.  Anybody can circulate content to any other person if they are connected via the internet.  Point to point.  One computer connected to one computer, anywhere.  So we don’t have to go through controlled channels anymore.  We can share with and learn from anybody else connected to the internet.”

5. The entry barriers are low

(02:17)  “The opportunity to link computers together to collaborate among people to create evermore sophisticated maps of content, … to build knowledge together, even if actually we’ve never met and may never meet.  All of these things have very low barriers of entry.  … Things which just a few years ago could only be done by professionals after long periods of apprenticeship and really expensive equipment, now can be done by anybody, even children.”

6. Writing isn’t getting easier

(03:20)  “Just because the tools that we use to write and publish might be getting ever easier to use, doesn’t mean that writing itself is getting any easier.  To write well means to really think about purpose, and audience, to be able to really have credibility.  To study, to prepare.  To be able to put something out there that represents something significant that you want to say.”

7. Craft requires more attentiveness

(03:57)  “So now that we can all actually see our writing be published, we probably have to engage with the fact that we really are writers.  When we put something on Youtube, we really are a video maker.  When we build a website, we really are a content publisher.  So, that actually means that we have to be much more attentive to craft.  We really have to take more responsibility for what we put out there.”

8. New types of writing are being created

(04:26)  “With that craft comes the knowledge of some new kinds of writing.  We certainly still have novels and we certainly still have the long form in journalist, and people who make their living as authors.  …  But when I am writing a wikipedia entry, I am thinking about both what I want to say but also how what I am writing fits in this amazingly larger context.  So the sense that I am a participant and a contributor, as opposed to a kind of a lone, solitary author, is really different.  It really means a more collaborative stance on writers and more of a sense of building knowledge together.”

9. Tools for ‘now’ aren’t enough

(05:20)  “The issue is in this really rapidly changing, innovative moment in communications technology, how do we help students, how do we help young people, understand the form, the context, the purpose, the potential in the tools and get ready to learn about that – about ever new tools?  It’s now what’s out there today.  For teachers, it’s not whether you are using Facebook or Twitter, so much as its how are we preparing people to use whatever is going to be there in five and ten years from now.”

10. Teaching writing isn’t about the tool

(05:55)  “The real core of learning to write and teaching writing isn’t actually about the tool.  It’s actually about what you’re going to do with the tool.”

2
Sep

Technology & Innovation “Look-Fors”

Walk-throughs, sometimes referred to as Learning Walks, are a common practice in schools used for building collegiality and providing feedback for teachers on instructional practice and classroom management.  A walk-through can be a short 5-minute observation or a longer 30 or 45 minute time period and is not meant to be an evaluation of an individual teacher, but instead a means to provide on-going data collection of “look fors”, monitoring of specific program or professional development training practice, or build a common understanding among teachers in a school of instructional practice.

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Walk-throughs are often conducted by principals, but also can be conducted by headsof department, grade level leaders, other teachers in the school, or by a group of teachers.  There is often a protocol used that has a list of “look fors” that the observer makes comments, sometimes in the form of questions, that can be given to the teacher being observed.  Some schools organize their walk-through look-fors to include Marzano’s Instructional Strategies (Marzano, 2001).  Another option is to organize the look-fors around Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction (Gagne, 1965)  or Hunter’s Elements of Lesson Design (Hunter, 1984) as a framework.  There are many formats and protocols for walk-throughs to consider.

To what extent should technology integration and innovation be included in walk-through look-fors?

One element that is starting to show-up in walk-throughs is educational technology use.  The way in which the category is developed on the walk-through and the feedback given can be a critical component in helping build a common understanding of instructional practice and expectations within a learning community.  Certainly, the lone use of an educational technology component on a walk-through will not provide the change in practice without additional supports, but it may be helpful when used in addition to other educational technology professional development and training within a school.

Questions that come to mind regarding including the educational technology integration component on a walk-through:

1. Should the look-fors focus on use of technology alone or the integration of technology into the instruction in the class?  How would these look different on the walk-through form?

2. How should integration be included in the look-fors?  Could an integration model, such as SAMR, be translated into look-fors for a walk-through?

3. To what extent should innovation be a look-for in a walk-through?  If innovation in learning, transformed classroom learning, is the one of the goals in educational technology use, how could we provide feedback to teachers on a walk-through form?

“The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction [Paperback].” The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction: Robert J. Marzano: 9781416605713: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2013.

“Conditions of Learning (Robert Gagne).” Conditions of Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2013.

Marzano, Robert J., Debra Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock. Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. Print.

“University of Tasmania, Australia.” Mary Ann Hunter. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2013.

Hunter, M. (1984). Knowing, teaching and supervising.  In P. Hosford (Ed.), Using what we know about teaching (pp. 169-192). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

2
Feb

Numbering Lines and Jumping through Hoops

Jumping Through HoopsDo you distort the grades of the students in your courses?  I recall many times as a child losing interest in learning because I did not want to (and sometimes couldn’t!) jump through the hoops that my teachers required.  I am a smart person (not bragging), but was not always a good student.  The sad fact is that too many times teachers focus on their personal desires and requirements instead of on learning.  As a teacher I have tried to learn ways to not construe my desires for student work for authentic learning by students.  I am not perfect at this, but it has become something that I believe strongly.

Often I see the these “hoops” written into rubrics by teachers.  Deductions in points for late work, deduction in points for behavior (talking in class or being out ones seat), and deductions for formatting or style.  The problem that I have with these is that when points are deducted for such things a students grade is distorted and does not accurately reflect their learning or achievement of the learning goals for the course.  Sadly, it has a dramatic effect on student motivation.  My understanding and beliefs concerning the separation of academic achievement and behavior comes primarily from my reading of Stiggins and McTighe/Wiggins.

Recently I experienced this in my first graduate course with Purdue University.  Here’s a brief summary of the story:

I am an avid Apple user and fanatic.  It’s no secret.  And, I completely expect all university professors in 2013 to allow for freedom of platform and tools in order that students can learn with their own flair and style.  I once had a professor require that I use Microsoft Powerpoint for a presentation when I felt that Prezi was a much better tool for expressing the ideas and content of my presentation.  I turned in the Microsoft Powerpoint with a single slide that had a link to the Prezi.  I am quickly finding that the flexibility and freedom students need to learn is not common practice at Purdue.  On one of the first assignments in my first course the rubric required the numbering of lines as well as numbering of pages.  Yes, you read correctly, the numbering of lines.  Something I haven’t asked students to do ever and haven’t seen in at least the past 7 years due to collaborative comments in Google Docs.  Further, it was clarified in the task requirements that Microsoft Word was needed to in order to number the lines.  Honestly, I failed to see the line numbering and Microsoft Word requirement when first looking at the task.  I then, completed the task in Google Docs, the most appropriate tool for collaborative commenting, from my perspective.  I completed the assignment , feeling as if I had learned through the process and produced a solid case study as the task required, but failed to number the pages or the lines.  In the end, the professor gave positive feedback on the overall work (the academic work) but reduced the score on the assignment by 15% due to the formatting.  Though, according to the rubric, he could have reduced the score up to 25%, you can imagine how frustrating that it is to receive a reduced score for not numbering lines.

More importantly, the issue that I take with this practice more than any other, is that now my overall grade, which is supposed to reflect my achievement of the learning goals, is skewed because there are no learning goals in the course related to formatting or line numbering.  Actually, in reading the course goals, I absolutely learned and achieved, and it was reflected in the work I submitted.  Instead  of accurately reflecting my learning of the course goals, this grade reflects my inability to number lines on an assignment in addition to my achievement of the learning goals.  This is what happens when behavior and other elements are combined into a rubric for a task that do not reflect the learning goals of the course.

It happens all over the world, every day.  Especially in university courses.  Even in colleges of education who may teach the opposite.  And it kills the motivation and learning of students.  Some hoops are inevitable, but I hope teachers around the world will leave the hoops at home, focusing on learning instead.

***Caveat***  Now, I want to conclude by saying that the professor is not a ‘bad” educator or person.  Actually, I am learning a lot through the class in spite of struggling with the new online format.  This story is just to express one experience in a wide range of experience that I will have with the professor during the course.  Additionally, it allows me to reflect over time on my experiences with Purdue University.

16
Jan

Regret is a Choice

The start of my second graduate degree has commenced and I am cautiously trying to decide when it is appropriate to regret my choice. Let me explain.  There is no potential regret for choosing to start another graduate program, but there is potential for regretting which university and program I chose. After much research, I originally narrowed my options to three programs:  Pepperdine University’s

Purdue UniversityMaster of Arts in Learning Technologies, Michigan State University’s Educational Technology Master of Arts, and Purdue University’s Master of Science in Learning Design and Technology.  All of these allowed me the option of studying via distance and, on paper, seemed to match my educational goals.  Pepperdine’s program was too expensive and required me to be on-site in California for two summers, which I was unable to commit because of prior commitments to summer volunteering and service.  After choosing Purdue’s Master of Science in Learning Design and Technology, I am wondering if it was the correct choice.

In choosing to study further about educational technology, I was hoping that program would utilize the newest of tools and professors who modeled both global learning and cutting-edge instructional practices.

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Though much too early to make a decision, here are my first observations after several weeks of classes:

1. I cannot find professors from the program using social media

I haven’t been able to find even one of them active on Twitter.  Actually, I have yet to find any professors from Purdue active on Twitter.  I certainly expected that professors from the Learning Design and Technology program actively sharing and engaged with others around the world through Twitter or other social media platforms.


2. Digital Services

Blackboard.com

The learning (course) management system that is used by Purdue is Blackboard.  Had I known just how antiquated and inefficient this learning management system is, it would have influenced my decision to choose another program.  Currently I am spending way too much time fumbling through terribly organized discussions on Blackboard.  There is almost no social aspect to it and I really do not want to spend the next two years of my life trying to communicate with people via poorly designed discussion boards.

Further, Purdue’s Mymail system feels like, as did Blackboard, stepping back in time.  Truly, I do not understand why schools do not get on board with Gmail.  Even Yahoo, Hotmail, and others have figured out that they have to improve their email services.

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3. Lack of Response

Throughout the admissions process I had a great experience with my admissions counselor.  Truly, I felt like he helped walk me through the process and actually cared about my application.  Then, once an enrolled student, I received the “mass” email from the Director of Recruitment welcoming me to the program.  There main thrust of the email was a specific request to respond to him answering five questions.  I answered them, thoroughly and thoughtfully, providing positives and negatives concerning my experience.  I never heard back from him.  That was three weeks ago.

I am trying my best to wait and choose whether to regret my decision at a later time.  I realize it is far too early to tell, but so far the signs have me worried.

17
Feb

iBooks Author: Now Anyone Can Create Multi-Touch Books

A snapshot from "Visiting GSIS", my first try at designing an digital, multi-touch book in Apple's iBooks Author.

Apple has long been involved in revolutionizing a variety of industries such as design, music, and the mobile telephone industry.  They have been rumored to have plans to shake-up the publishing and television broadcast industries.  The release of iBooks in January 2010 was a big step in the revolutionizing of the publishing industry.  Just a few weeks ago they released an additional, free tool which allows anyone to create their own interactive, multi-touch book for the iPad…. iBooks Author.  This authoring tool was released along with a small selection of digital textbooks from McGraw Hill and Pearson (others on the way) and new features in iTunes U. I decided to download the new iBooks Author tool and try it out.

You can download my “first try” at using iBooks Author from the iTunes/iBookstore.  It is entitled, “Visiting GSIS”.  The link is here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/visiting-gsis/id503432369?mt=11

It’s Easy!

Using iBooks Author to design a multi-touch book for the iPad is simple.  I found it to be very similar to working with Pages, yet with some very neat additional features necessary for digital book publishing.  The Inspector is a very important tool as in other Apple applications.  There is a new “widgets” tab in the inspector that allows you to customize the layout and interactions of the various widgets that can be easily added to your book.

Preview

When using iBooks Author, you are using your computer to design a book that is intended for a device with a very different user interface, input and control methods.  Though you are designing on the computer, your product will be used on a tablet device in which a touchscreen is used.  Therefore, what you see in iBooks Author does not fully allow you see or “feel” how the book will act on the iPad.  iBooks Author has an amazingly simple “Preview” feature that allows you to interact and test your book on the iPad.  You will need to connect your iPad to your computer and open the iBooks application.  Once you do this, you can use the “Preview” button in iBooks Author and a sample of your book will be transferred to your iPad so that you can see, touch and interact with it.  It works very well.

Here are a few things I learned while working in iBooks Author:

Think Horizontal and Vertical

A page in "Visiting GSIS" using one of the interactive widgets found in iBooks Author

Most of us are used to creating media for use on computers with fixed-orientation screens.  This means that almost all of our media (whether documents, brochures, presentations, spreadsheets, images, videos, etc) are meant for either portrait / vertical or landscape / horizontal viewing.  They are not meant for both portrait and landscape viewing.  Tablets are different.  They are not fixed-orientation devices, they use free-rotation orientation, depending on how the user is holding the device.  iBooks Author allows you to design your book to be used in both orientations.  This means that a person can hold the device in portrait mode or landscape mode and view the same content, though the layouts may look slightly different.

While I knew this when I started the design of my book, I found it difficult to master designing for both orientations.  Because this was a “quick” project and my first try, I decided to stick with only landscape orientation by disabling the portrait orientation (you can do this in the document inspector).

Chapters, Sections & Pages

Prior to creating your book, consider what type of product or outcome you would like at the end of the process (think with the ‘end in mind’).  A little pre-planning will help when you consider how many pages will be given to each chapter and if a chapter needs sections or not.  Because iBooks Author is a “book” creation tool, it assumes that you will be creating chapters, sections and pages.  There is really no way to get around this even if you are creating a short book.  Plan ahead for the organization of your digital book prior to your work in iBooks Author.

When I started on my first project, I had no idea how long it would be.  I decided to take a brochure that I had designed in Pages (which our school distributes in pdf format) and re-create in iBooks Author format.  It was not originally written with “chapter” or “section” organization.  I had to change the organization several times because I did ont consider my product’s organization prior to design.

Importing from Pages:  Documents

The original brochure that I began with, created in Pages, would not import into iBooks Author.  When Apple says that you can drag and drop a Pages or Microsoft Word “document” into iBooks Author, it means only documents.  You cannot import newsletters, brochures, etc.

File Formats and Sharing

Once you’ve created your book in iBooks Author, you can export it in text, pdf or iBooks format.  Obviously, using the text or pdf format causes the loss of interactive features that you may have included.

At this point, Apple has said that you can distribute your creations in the iBookstore (iTunes) or elsewhere if it is free.  However, if you are planning to sell it, you must use the iBookstore (iTunes).  I tried uploading the iBooks file format to an online location and opening it with the iPad (using Safari), but the iPad would not recognize that the file needed to be opened in iBooks.  Therefore, the only way currently to distribute the book to others is by email or by syncing your iPad after downloading the iBooks file to your computer.  This makes distribution to students or multiple iPads very difficult if your iBooks file size is larger than what your email client can handle.

Summary

I am super excited about the potential of iBooks Author!  In its first release, it is already a powerful, simple tool for digital book creation.  Anyone can do it!  I hope to take this first draft of “Visiting GSIS”, expand and improve it so that an iPad can be placed in our admissions office for potential families can see our school.  Additionally, I can imagine administrators taking several iPads with them when recruiting, allowing potential teachers to read/explore our school through an interactive book.  And, the possibilities for student learning are endless!

iBooks Author Support http://www.apple.com/support/ibooksauthor/

11
Dec

Kindle Cloud Reader and Google TV

I have a lot of boxes of books in storage.  It is definitely past time to get rid of them as I have not opened the boxes or looked at the books in years.  At one time I had a couple of thousand books.  Readings is still a very important part of my life, but most of it is done digitally.  Over the past 2 years I have gradually moved away from buying any physical books unless required by a graduate course and have moved to reading only digital versions.  Though I have tried many different devices and platforms, I am currently most settled on Amazon’s Kindle app and iBooks.  Kindle has a definite edge with me because there is a greater selection in the Amazon store and it works across all my devices, including in a browser on my computers.

I have owned a Kindle reader and liked it, but find that in the past year the majority of my reading has been on my Apple iPad and iPad 2.  I also find myself reading a lot on my iPhone 4, though the screen is much smaller.  Reading on the iPhone is strangely comfortable to me as I swipe through pages quickly and can read anytime and anywhere.

Additionally, I find myself reading on my laptops quite often.  Whereas Kindle has offered the Kindle for Mac application for a while, it wasn’t until their newest Kindle Cloud Reader was released that I used my computers for reading.  Having access to all of my Kindle library in any browser is very convenient and I am growing more and more accustom to reading textbooks this way.

In the past several weeks I now have another, new favorite way to read.  Since Google TV (I use the frustrating Logitech Revue)  includes a Google Chrome browser, the books you purchase from Amazon.com can easily be accessed through the Kindle Cloud Reader.  This means that you can display books on a large television in your living room, adjusting the text so that you can see it from your recliner or sofa.  With a keyboard in hand, when you reach the end of the displayed text, simply tap the next (right arrow) key and you move to the next part of text for reading.

In the evenings, I used to find myself with my iPad 2 in hand reading for a while, instead now I find myself just laying on the sofa or sitting in the recliner reading on my television.  I have included some photos below so that you can see a couple of different text sizes and the distance from my recliner and sofas to the television.

1
Dec

“Life-long Learning” Has Changed

Image

Do you remember the first time you heard the words “Life-long learner”?  I remember hearing it as a child, but cannot recall the first time.  People in my life have encouraged me to be a life-longer learner as long as I can remember.  Typically people are referring to the “love of learning” or they are trying to encourage others to be avid readers and try new experiences.

The concept of life-long learning can be used to refer to informal learning experiences or more formal experiences such as adult education.  In either case, it has changed drastically over recent years as more educational institutions have moved content to open, online spaces.  Many universities are moving their courses to an open format and this makes life-long learning much more accessible!  We can now learn from any location and at any time.

Do you use any open courseware content for secondary school teaching?

 

Here are are some great places to go for free online, open courses:

  1. Apple iTunesU (Stanford, Harvard, many others) (University list)
  2. MIT Open Courseware
  3. Yale Open Courses
  4. Tufts Open Courseware
  5. Berkeley Webcast
1
Nov

ETaP – Where did it originate?

The Evolution of Thought and Practice (ETap), sometimes used by Apple to describe the stages of technology adoption in educational institutions has always resonated with me.  Giving some process or structure to the journey that most teachers take when engaging in educational technology is helpful in order to identify yourself and skill.  I have, however, often wondered where this model originated.  I first learned about it from Kathleen Ferenz and Apple education employees.  Recently I found an article in Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education where a number of different adoption models were compared.  The article, “A Five-Stage Model of Computer Technology Integration Into Teacher Education Curriculum” by Cheri Toledo at Illinois State University attributes the ETaP stages to Marsha Gladhart and states that she “developed a Levels of Adoptio n model by adapting the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) study by Dwyer, Ringstaff, and Sandholtz (1992).”

 

The next step… contacting Marsha Gladhart and finding out how she came about creating these ETaP stages.

In the mean time, I found it very helpful and interesting to compare the other models listed in Cheri Toledo’s work.  A graphic: