CASA13: An important remix

As June came to a close, I eagerly anticipated my attendance at the CASA conference as a good learning opportunity and to present with Ed Doadt on the use of social media in the classroom and school community.   With a conference title of Pedagogy to Technology &  Hardware to Headware  I certainly felt some great learning and networking opportunities would unfold.

I must admit that I was taken aback by the approach taken in the keynote address.  The intent may very well have been to cause people to stop, reflect, and engage in meaningful dialogue about the use of technology to support student learning, but the rather hard nosed approach taken seemed to disengage the audience. Although several key points were made, including:

  • innovation has a high failure rate
  • technology is an expensive and ongoing investment
  • the “light house” approach typically ends up as a moth balled project that went nowhere
  • improvement strategies in education must be based on the best instructional and assessment practices

the message seemed to be stay out of this arena and focus on aspects of education that are already proven by research.  Two important questions emerged from this framework: a) why would we (educators) get into the innovation game in K-12 education where funds are limited?, and b) where is the research that demonstrates technology makes a difference?

The audience reaction was rather subdued and there was a smattering of polite applause.  While a few people offered up examples where technology was making an observable difference in student learning, the comments were essentially shot down based on statements of “lack of research”.  There was a real sense of disconnect in the room. The view presented was polarized relative to current directions and thinking in this area by many.  Audience member and conference presenter  George Couros ended the session with a very important point: learning with technology is significantly different than learning about technology.

I have been reflecting on this scenario since attending the conference trying to sort through the various perspectives that come into play.  First off, I don’t think anyone would debate the 4 bulleted points outlined above. These are known facts that are well researched and documented.  Teaching and learning with technology must be done well, and in the framework of best instructional and assessment practices.  Learning WITH technology IS different:  it is about NEW possibilities. The SAMR model, as described in the diagram below, offers a great way to define stages of development in terms of how well technology may be used to support learning.

SAMRgraphic

Yet, there is this nagging question: why do educators want to move in this direction if it does not make any difference?  So many people I talked to indicate that technology DOES make a difference in how students learn.  Many shared reports that perceptual, observation based, focus group data etc. indeed show differences in this area.

After chatting with several people after the presentation and some personal reflection time, I think there is an important perspective missing:  the timing of the research (assuming that this should be researched at all).

REMIX:  In reality, we are still in the infancy in this area of teaching and learning with technology.  We need to apply the right lens and connect the dots differently. Why? Learning how to use technology effectively in education is NOT wild reckless expensive innovation in my opinion.  It is about doing things differently and exploring new possibilities.  We are not at a point in time where enough teachers use technology effectively in their practice. To me, it would make sense that if one researches and measures the effectiveness of technology  now, the results may indeed be somewhat marginal. Then again, if any educational tool/resource is used ineffectively, research will show that the impact of that tool/resource is marginal.

So Now What?  We need to consider the way in which the term innovate is used in the context of education.  Like it or not, technology is here to stay.  Learning to use it effectively is not reckless innovation or transformation.  We need to learn how to leverage it in the most effective ways possible. This means trying things, and sharing the learnings — blogging about is would be great!  I believe we need to invest in teacher training, close the gap, and raise the bar in the area of technology use. Continuing to gather data and formalizing research is a ‘must do’.  Every educator needs to commit to sharing their learnings and best practices (add another plug for blogging).

Finally, in the keynote, technology was portrayed as the big bad beast:  you were IN or OUT. I strongly believe that we  can not look at this sandbox stage as some definitive point of decision.  We do need to continue leveraging learning WITH technology, exploring new possibilities and sharing.

Perhaps it is time to throw a technology challenge on the table:  eliminate technology from your line of work and personal use for a month  — no corresponding, collaborating, note taking, internet enabled research/fact finding, analysing, exploring, reading, social media, email … well you get the picture.  At the end of the month, reflect on whether or not technology makes a difference to how you work, then share your learnings by commenting on this blog post.

I also wanted to share a few notable quotes from the #CASA13 Twitter stream from this session.

<insert screen caps from storify> 

CASA13-1

CASA13-2

CASA13-3

CASA13-4

CASA13-5

CASA13-6

CASA13-7

Other Resources

SAMR model resources from Scoop.it

Happy reading and reflecting

~Mark

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Branding Lesson

In today’s digital world, personal branding is just as important as company and product branding. One needs to consider usernames, public names, pictures and profile management as part of the thinking. I am sure that like many other users, I did not think about this very much when I started my online work years ago. Over time I have recognized the importance of branding and worked to achieve high consistency in this area. I have settled an internet identity, and fortunately, I have managed to obtain my desired user ID on the wide variety of services I use with just a couple of exceptions.

One of the exceptions was on Skype. Once I realized what I wanted to do with branding, I registered a second skype account with my desired username, which was available. This at least held the account until I decided when and how I would either use two accounts, perhaps for different purposes, or migrate to the new account.

… many months go by …

I have been working through an interesting scenario. I registered my new account with a (then) relatively new but rarely used email address. After leaving the skype account dormant, I could not remember the email address used for registration. Skype searching did not yield any clues, and although I could see my registered account I could not change the password without the email address, and in turn I could not ask the folks at Skype to give me access without that email account.

I decided to take a long shot and put in a helpdesk ticket at Skype. As it turned out, the email address I had used was phased out by the host vendor. Even though I did not have the ‘key email address’ Skype staff provided me a series of detailed questions about the account which I was able to answer to verify my identity. Well, today was success day as I finally gained access to the account and now I can move forward with my plans.

Lessons Learned:

1. Use mainstream email addresses when registering for user accounts.
2. Use a ‘keep’ folder for important things like this.

I am writing this blog post as a shout out and thank you to the staff at Skype who were able to help me resolve this scenario. Thank you for having a good identity management process in place.

~Mark

TPACK meets the knowledge domains

Last night I came across this article via Zite:   3 Knowledge Domains For The 21st Century Student.  I was rather intrigued by this way of looking at 21C learning, and have linked to the main graphic.

Many of you will no doubt be familiar with TPACK.

TPack

Image credit http://tpack.org/

Points for reflection:  

  • How do these ideas fit together?
  • Does the 3 domain chart replace part of the TPACK chart?
  • If yes, how?

Happy pondering!  Please share your ideas.

~Mark

ISTE13 BoF reflections

One of the sessions I attended at the ISTE13 conference was a Birds of a Feather discussion.  The original discussion topic was advertised was chromebooks.  When the actual event happened, the chromebooks topic was replaced by a more general discussion on mobile devices in K-12 learning environments.  There were about 8 people at the table, mainly representing independent schools as it turned out.

What really surprised me was the nature of the conversation put forward by most of the participants.  From most participants, the discussion centered around being a “one device school”.  The key question that emerged was:  “How might one go about choosing between the variety of available options: windows netbooks and tablets, android tablets, iPads and chromebooks.”

It seems to me that different tools have different strengths, and that there would be value to having a variety of options available. Besides, at the rate of change with technology,  it would be challenging to set a particular long term direction at this point in time that you could stick to.  Perhaps the key idea is to focus on learning with technology, and leveraging new possibilities rather than focusing on the device itself.  No matter what the device mix is now, things will change.  I believe investing in the infrastructure to support the needs of students and staff in todays 21C learning environment with a variety options including BYOD is the best way forward.

An invitation:  I am curious to know your view.  Please share your thoughts in a comment or tweet.

~Mark

Related Resources

Blog Post:  What’s in a device

CASA13 Presentation Resources

CASA Conference 2013 Presentation Resources

Conference Theme: Theme: Pedagogy to Technology: Hardware to Headwear

Our presentation  : Leveraging the use of Social Media Tools in your School Community — the use of social media tools in the Waterloo Region District School Board as things are now,  the journey and the challenges.

Video Samples from our CASA2013 presentation:

Haley   (Student)
Aaron   (Student)
Andrew  (Student)
Andrew Bieronski  (Teacher)
Kevin Donkers  (Teacher)
Kathi Smith  (Trustee)

additional video resources 

Twitter  (Teacher)
Facebook (Teacher)
Edmodo  (Teacher)
Student Perspective  (Students)
Principal Perspective (Bill Lemon)

Q&A from Today’s Meet backchannel

Information regarding the WRDSB iPad approach

Related Resources

Canadian Association of School Administrators  (CASA)  conference.

WRDSB  Responsible Use Procedure  (RUP)

Social Media Drive By (Blog post)

Quest Radio 1-24  Programming Info  – watch here for announcements regarding additional rebroadcasts of this session.

Join a live broadcast or rebroadcast  on Quest Radio 1-24.

Mark W. Carbone  and  Ed Doadt

~Mark and Ed