The sandbox is open

At BBHMS we are moving in this direction though I haven’t come out and said this to the staff. I work with a Technology Committee and we are currently discussing what the tech culture should look like at our school. In our last meeting, all agreed there needs to be a wider array of tech being used and that tech is transforming teaching. We have not yet come to the point of researching the technology that should be used in our school as we are now beginning to phase in BYOD with a 1:1 in the future.

On Friday, October 19th part of the staff attended a tech forum that addressed BYOD and why we should use it. Some reasons we came up with were

  1. allows kids access to the Internet for information and webware
  2. opens technology to a wider range of teachers
  3. less expensive than a 1:1
  4. opens a culture of learning through technology
  5. kids are already using it

A step in the right direction
There has been a no cell phone use policy for years and for good reason. There is really no way to monitor what the kids are looking at or if they are accessing sites for information. This was a simple measure to keep students from doing what they should not. However, as a Cindy Hubert said in class, “…were born into the digital age…” and the students do not know what life is like without a computer. I recall my mother’s first computer which ran on DOS and had one stick of RAM. We had 5 1/2′ in floppy disks that sometimes worked and sometimes did not. The personal computer was beginning its way into homes. Now, the phones we carry in our pockets have the power and capability to do everything we need, and this is where we can leverage the power of BYOD.

Use it while you can
I cannot say that Brecksville-Broadview Heights Schools will go to a 1:1 in the next year, though we are on our way with the purchase of netbooks for science and social studies, but I do know that students have access to the world inside their pocket, so why not use it and abuse it for all it is worth. Students are eager to pull out their wireless device – show and tell to everyone! With such eagerness schools can engage kids in learning while helping them to learn how to search for information and then use Web 2.0 technology to create a new piece of information that documents their learning. While we wait for a 1:1 to come, using BYOD is a great way to engage students.

Conundrum
Heading down this path is awesome and I am excited to see what comes of it when teachers and students construct new knowledge! There are a few barriers that I could use some help with and would appreciate some feedback:

  1. What policies should we put in place when in appropriate digital citizenship is inappropriate?
  2. What do we do when students do not have a wireless device?
  3. How can the teachers come to some consensus on this topic?
  4. How do you get teachers to buy in?

The sandbox is wide open because we don’t have a view of what webware and hardware is out there to use. The important part is that we are beginning to use it.

Do you use BYOD, and, if so, how?

Some students prefer paper

I am almost always engaged in some sort of thought about education and technology picking my way through the nuances of going about connecting strong education practices with effective technology integration. Strong education practices may be known as best practices in education. Strong practices include classroom inquiry, open-ended questions, formative measures, authentic summative measures, and homework that matters. Without effective teaching practices, infusing technology becomes a toy rather than a tool. Technology should be the tool and tools should be used often, and when teachers integrate technology often, students see it as the preferred method of gaining access to the “sum of human knowledge” (Will Richardson) and portraying their understanding of content digitally. Now, not all students will want to use digital means to display what they have learned and transformed their understanding.

Recently I taught tech in an 8th grade science classroom and, going into it, my honest thought was that every kid would want to use the netbooks available to them. As I circled the classroom several times I noticed students who preferred paper over netbook. I was intrigued by this and asked why paper was preferred. Perhaps it is a tactile thing? Whatever the reason, every student has a preference while learning, and I had to stop myself from saying the netbooks had to be used. Upon stopping myself, and reflecting on my need to use technology, I respected the student who chose his or her preferred learning style. How does this relate to the opening sentence of this blog post? Effective technology integration is respecting the student who still chooses to use paper and pencil despite the clear technological advantage. Effective integration is planning for students who choose a different path.

One thing I do know is that students are more engaged in learning through technology. How might students react if we took away their tech to learn?

Play with tech, don’t teach it

I couldn’t agree more with the tweet from Matthew Weld; (@Matthew Weld) district technology coach & elementary computer teacher)! He tweets

I’ve found that kids don’t need to be taught the tool – just that it exists. Many teachers find this unbelievable #1to1techat

He says what I have been thinking for quite some time. In the winter/spring semester at BBHMS I taught computer technology to 6th and 8th graders and noticed they would tune me out if I tried teaching them how to use web technology. The look the class gave me with eyes glazed over was, “Seriously Mr. K, you don’t have to teach us this stuff. We’ll just play with it and figure it out.” Learned it they did and all while messing around with it. This experience gave me a brand new perspective on how kids learn, and not just technology.

Kids today were born into a digital age. While it may not mean much, it does mean the kids are comfortable around technology and are willing to play with it without worrying it will break which is in such contrast to older people who worry about breaking a computer. So, kids play and when they play with the technology they learn more about it because they are problem solving. The problem solving is a matter of how they can get the web-ware (web software) to do what they want it to do. Because computer software and web-ware use similar terms and methods of organization, kids are automatically looking for the modifying action in drop-down menus and icons. This automatic transference makes them potent web-ware learners (Internet in general) which means I have to do very little to teach the tech.

What does this mean for me as a the building tech coach, and am I still valuable to the district as a teacher? YES! My value as a teacher doesn’t diminish in the slightest. I add more value to the kids learning process because I offer knowledge of technology and facilitate the process of learning. Instead of being the focal point of all knowledge, I become the facilitator who helps kids make a jump in their learning broadening their understanding and use of Web 2.0 technology AND how to think about using it. Isn’t this the real point of education? It is helping kids move from one point of thinking to another expanding and deepening process and content. Love it!

Committed Reflection {05.09.12

Today was an interesting day as far as teaching goes. I found myself changing my lesson about a 1/2 hour before I was going to teach it and wondered why I was doing so. This really bothered me. I came to the conclusion that I have focused so much on teaching the big ideas of technology (information literacy, digital literacy, media literacy, and digital citizenship) that I forgot to include the skills that underpin learning technology. If I am being honest, this being the point of the blog, I didn’t forget about the skills, I just pushed them aside knowing I had to teach them. So, I neglected to make them apart of planning and now find myself backtracking to get the skills in before the teaching big ideas. I guess one could argue I could embed the skills into learning these big ideas but I would feel pressured to speed up teaching the skills so I can get to the stuff I really want to teach. I can only imagine what a college professor might say to me about changing the game plan just before teaching. Should I care what a professor might think?

Did you ever have a day when you were bored teaching? Yeah, that was me today, bored. The same lesson seemed to take forever having taught for it multiple periods (think middle school). I wasn’t bored with the technology, but I was bored with having to teach it so many times. Maybe this was the good kind of bored – I helped my kids create an infrastructure of apps in Google Chrome today so students can learn and apply them later. Makes sense to me.

The stuff learned today:

  • logging into Chrome why this is beneficial
  • changing settings
  • adding apps and extensions

I was satisfied with today and look forward to tomorrow.