Tag Archives: 21st century learning

Back Seat Conversation

On our recent driving vacation, it was quite interesting to listen to the back seat discussion from two teenagers – my daughter and a long time close family friend. As one might expect, there was lots to share, and the conversation easily wandered from topic to topic without ever missing a beat. I was interested in how various aspects of technology wove through the discussion.

This past year, each of the girls took at least one elearning course. Things they liked about the elearning environment were:

  • flexibility
  • scheduling your own time
  • independence
  • enjoy working online (not paper based)
  • work with students with similar abilities (profiles of online learning candidates)

These girls live in a connected world. They talked about being connected, in a good way. They can barely remember not being connected. I note their keen ability to find free wifi networks to connect to. Both girls read and follow blogs. Both write their own blogs based on their own individual interests. One has a tumblr based photography blog to track and share photography of interest. The other reads and writes fan fiction, and uses other social media tools to develop an audience.  Without any prompting from me, they talked about finding people with like interests, sharing and developing a “real audience” to share their interests and passions.

I couldn’t help but take note of their their ongoing but subtle search for wifi – not because they didn’t enjoy the vacation activities, but because they are passionate about this aspect of their lives. They are used to being connected with wifi at home and school. Being online is simply part of their lives.

Classroom activities need to tap student passions. I encourage all teachers to find way ways to use and leverage online sharing and collaboration tools to help capture student passion for learning.


Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

Digital Citizenship is an important theme in today’s online world. Educational systems are actively developing strategies to weave this concept into the curriculum. Mike Ribble describes Digital Citizenship as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.  He believes Digital Citizenship is characterized by 9 elements.

1. Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure.

2.   Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information.

3.   Digital Literacy: process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology.

4.   Digital Access: full electronic participation in society.

5.   Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods.

6.   Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds (ethical use)

7.   Digital Rights and Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world.

8.   Digital Health and Wellness: physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world.

9.   Digital Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety.

The full details of the 9 elements are online at DigitalCitizenship.net.

In our Board, Digital Citizenship will handled as part of our Character Development initiative. While this is certainly a topic for most grades, we feel the greatest impact will be achieved working with students grade 4 through 9. We are in the midst of preparing classroom resources to assist with the delivery of this initiative.

To date, we have purchased reference books for each school library, shared some resources and teaching strategies with our Technology Steering Committee and designed a poster which will be distributed to all schools and also used for electronic media. Elements of the electronic media will be used as the background for the computer desktop display image.

The books we purchased for school libraries are:

Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey (ISTE) and

Raising a Digital Child by Mike Ribble (ISTE)


Digital Citizenship and Creative Content

Cyber Smart Curriculum

Safe Social Networking

Brain Pop: Spotlight on Digital Citizenship

Wired Safety

Safe Surfing, An Introduction to the Internet

Doug Johnson’s technology ethics

Stop Cyber Bullying

Web Awareness Workshop Series Note: This series is licensed for use in Ontario publicly funded schools by OSAPAC. OSAPAC priorities for 2009/2010 will include Digital Citizenship and Online Safety through online delivery.

Thank you for teaching, promoting and role modeling Digital Citizenship.

~ Mark

Clarifying 20c / 21c learning

This blog post is the result of connections made between a live event, Twitter, blogs and related commenting. This is a good example of technology supporting a focused learning session,  with an invitation extended for some participation by remote educators. 

Background: David Warlick was delivering a visioning and leadership session at Greater Essex County School Board. As part of the session, David had posed the question: What is the difference between 20th and 21st century learning? There is no doubt this is a great question to ponder and attempt to wrap your mind around. 

The Connections:

  • David wrote a blog article focusing on this question
  • An invitation to ‘weigh in’ on the discussion was posted on Twitter
  • Many active educators on Twitter would view the invite
  • Some would check out the blog post, while others would participate in the commenting as well
  • For those who commented, their writing was reviewed and posted if suitable

The original blog post and the comments are all well written and interesting to read. As an active member of the educational online community, I certainly appreciated the opportunity to ‘weigh in’ and participate. 

A few highlights from the ongoing discussion include:

  • positive traits of 2oth and 21st century learning
  • a decade into the 21st century, why do we still refer to 21st century learning?
  • student engagement – who owns this? and do teachers own it alone?
  • are education and learning the same thing? or different?

After reading the comments and decided to submit a comment, I was thinking about some connections to the Element by Dr. Ken Robinson. In his book, the Element, he discusses the need to develop ALL of the intelligences in a person. Robinson declares that you are in ‘the element’ when you hit the sweet spot of doing what you excel at and what you are passionate about. 

Helping students find their element, by using the best instructional strategies available while taking advantage of appropriate technologies to support student learning and success is the journey we are on together. Perhaps this is what we mean, at least in part,  by 21st century learning.

David Warlick’s original blog post:  What is the difference between 20th and 21st century learning?

My comment (now posted): I like your definition David. There are a few points that stick in my mind that I would like to share.

1. I believe the use of the term ’21st century learning’ is inclusive of embedding the technology tools that we have access to as part of the learning process. It is not about the technology itself, but rather strategic integration of the tools we have (now or at some future point) to foster the best possible learning environment and opportunities. Certainly, we have those that embrace, and those that do not and perhaps this comparison drives our notion of 21st century learning.

2. I also think that there is a potential to make today’s curriculum more individualized for the independent and collaborative learners we develop.

3. In some ways, we reference 20th century learning as if was all bad. This is certainly no so in my mind. I expect we could make a good case to revisit a few areas we excelled at before the ‘digital’ time began.

Our journey is all about the learner. Creating the best possible learning environment covers the ‘whole playing field’ – curriculum design, building design, teacher training, assessment, changing with the times, best use of technology and steady, reflective incremental improvement. After all, we are life long learners!

~ Mark

iPod Roundup 2

Earlier in the summer, I posted ‘iPod Roundup’, a collection of resources and ideas for using iPod technology in the classroom. Since then, I have run across a few more sites and blog posts related to this topic. The resources are listed below.

The Digital Backpack:  voice recorder ideas

Teacher Magazine:  Adding a ‘Touch’ of Technology

Newhartford Schools:  iPods in the Classroom

School CIO:  Getting Started with iPods in the Classroom

My earlier post:  iPod Roundup


~ Mark

Social Networking in Education: Friend or Foe

Last night I read Joe Corbett’s post on ISTE Connects: Is Facebook the Enemy of Education? While looking for Facebook applications for education, he came across research indicating that Facebook could negatively impact studying. The general indication from the research was that Facebook is a distractor – Facebook users typically spend less time studying which in turn negatively impacts grades. Now, hold this thought!

Like Joe, this got me thinking and I decided to review some of my recent readings on the topic. The links below encompass a good selection of views on the subject.



Social Network Access: available or blocked/content filtered
Classroom learning vs. socializing
Supported by teachers, not supported by administration
Social Networks are just tooks – can we use them in educationally effective ways?
Keep the issues separate
Social Networking is part of web 2.0 literacy and digital citizenship


Reference Articles/Blog Posts

Classroom 2.0: The Value of Social Networking

Sue Water’s Blog: Educational Networking and Staying Out of My Face

Cool Cat Teacher’s Blog: It Is About Educational Networking NOT Social Networking

Fran Smith, Edutopia: How to Use Social Networking Technology for Learning

Harold Rheingold: Attention Literacy

Mark Carbone: recent blog post re school content filtering and social network access


OK, you have been holding that thought …. I believe you will find Joe’s article interesting, and it includes a reader survey. His post and survey are at: Is Facebook the Enemy of Education by Joe Corbett, ISTE. Have you voted yet?

~ Mark

Strategic Planning for 21st Century Learning

A typical Sunday morning for me includes catching up on blog reading, and this one was no different. While the reading is always interesting, what intrigues me is the way in which things link together and stimulate new thinking about things. Topics today made me think back to comments I made in a presentation to our trustees as part of my technology strategy update. 

There are many things you could do with technology in education. The real question is: what are the right things? Choices and decisions have to land on some key areas including: impact on student learning, investing in the future and a key one in my mind – sustainability and supportability in terms of both human and financial resources. This last point can not be overlooked, as I believe it is the fundamental reason many initiatives/projects fail. A final area looks at focus vs fragmentation. It is not possible to do everything, do it well, support it and sustain it. Strategic planning is about doing the right things for the long haul. 

Here are a few highlights from recent reading.

Angela Maiers – Mission to Transform
David Warlick – Teaching and Technology
Doug Peterson – A Plan Needed (netbooks, cloud computing)
Howard Rheingold – Attention Literacy
Will Richardson – If Every Student Had a Computer

The content covered in these articles embraces many of the significant issues in K-12 education today: technology available to every student, netbooks, cloud computing, student learning, literacy in the 21st century and teacher training (changing instructional practices). From my perspective as a K-12 CIO, these articles are all right on the money. I will throw IT infrastructure planning into the mix.

How do we best move ahead? Based on the validity of each of these key areas, none can be ignored – each one needs to be addressed. I believe the key to success and system level strength, is to work at these areas with an eye to alignment. Achieving major successes in some of these areas while others are excluded will not yield the best overall results. I believe the answer lies in alignment – the ability to drive each of these areas forward in a planned way at the same time. We are having these discussions in our Board. I am impressed with the dialogue, thinking and collaborative approach to date. It is early in the process, but I believe we are solidly headed in the right direction. We will keep dialoguing, learning and collaborating about best to move forward. I will continue to share thinking, dialogue and questions.

In the meantime, more thinking and learning to do.

~ Mark

Education Is The Place To Be

Working in education is a great place to be. In many respects, we have more opportunities than ever before.  Consider all that is before us: curriculum requirements, improved achievement scores, literacy, digital citizenship, the role of technology,  integration of technology, web 2.0 tools for learning, the changing role of the library, content filtering, the many forms of elearning, use of smart phones, content delivery,  social networking, equity and inclusion, funding, sustainability, infrastructure, sufficient staffing levels, user generated content, engaged learners, teacher training and best classroom practice. This is by no means a complete list, but gives a good idea of the complexity of challenges that all educational institutions are grappling with. 

One of the key points to ponder in my mind, is the notion of systemic change. Every educational organization has a complicated landscape of successes, excellence, innovation, broken fronts and perhaps some failures. How do we capture all of the right aspects of the many educational ingredients I listed above and mould them into a plan for systemic change to benefit all students? 

In my role as a K-12 CIO, I am actively engaged in analyzing and developing strategies to align our IT planning with the learning agenda in a sustainable and progressive manner that will give us the best of 21st century learning and support systemic change for improved learning. While this topic will be the main theme of my blog, I will write about educational technology in broader terms as well as other personal interests.

~ Mark