A mashup of all things educational! From technology and social media to leadership and international education, this is where I will be reflecting and applying everything thing I learn from the web and my PLN. Join me on the adventure and add your opinion to the mix!

05 August 2013

6 Thinking Back, Looking Forward

I was recently asked to write a follow up blog post on my experience at ISTE13 highlighting the most compelling ideas that I took away from my time in San Antonio.  By far, the ideas that have impacted me the most are the role of Design Thinking and Gaming in Educational Technology.  These two themes were certainly supported through the keynote speakers, Steven B. Johnson and Jane McGonigal, who spoke passionately about their respective topics.  Their passion clearly inspired me as I wasn't back for more than 2 weeks that I've already implemented many ideas based on what they Begdiscussed!

In the weeks since the conference we've:

Each of the links or pieces of information above were shared with me while I was at the conference through keynotes, workshops, and one on one meetings with other attendees.  While these are only small actions, they are huge leaps forward in getting the vision of Design Thinking and Gaming in Educational Technology noticed in my school and in our area.  With so many valuable ideas at my fingertips during the conference, it was hard to decide which ones to share and implement first!

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11 July 2013

3 Still Not Catching On!

I'm mad.  Yes, mad.  I read an article about Educational Technology from the Economist last week and I've been stewing waiting to calm down before writing this blog post.  While the title is "Catching On At Last," I believe that the Economist in their article only shows that The Economist and America still has NOT caught on to what we are trying to do as educators with Educational Technology!

In the article they talk a lot about data driven computer programs and content software that collects data about the responses of the children.  They mention that this data can be used for tracking success and individualising education to improve scores and help schools and teachers improve the retention and graduation rates of students.  More than 2/3s of the article highlights the use of computers, iPads, and 1 to 1 programs for CONSUMPTION purposes only.

We, as educators in the educational technology sector, have been fighting too hard and for too long about the CREATIVE uses of technology to let an article like this go by without comment.  What they fail to mention in this article is the other side of educational technology that uses software like Edmodo (which was actually mentioned in the article!), Show Me, Educreations, iMovie, My Create, etc. etc. etc. that teach and help students use technology to CREATE and COMMUNICATE their understandings to the world.  Nothing in the article mentions the use of technology for these purposes or in any way that supports collaborative or interactive use of technology with their peers.

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02 July 2013

1 What ISTE13 Taught Me

It's been a week since I left #ISTE13 and I'm just now starting to process all of the information and experiences that I had while I was there.  It was a great experience to share with my colleagues that went with me which you can read in my blog post for the official ISTE blog here.

Along with that initial post, there is another view that has been shared by many that I feel compelled to expand upon.  I've been reading many "ISTE reflection posts" this week and they all have a common theme: relationships.  Amanda Dykes (@amandacdykes) mentions in her refection blog post that the most important tool she found was people.  Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) in his guest blog post for the ISTE Connects blog highlighted the fact that connections matter more than the information that we gain.  Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) and Drew Minock (@TechMinock) both list the amazing people that they met at ISTE in their reflection blog posts and how it has inspired them to continue to build their personal learning networks.  And Maggie Hos-Mcgrane (@MumbaiMaggie) explored in her ISTE post the information from the Steven Johnson keynote on liquid networks and how that connects with the relationships that we develop online through twitter.

And yes, relationships and connections do matter long after ISTE is over.  This year at ISTE I was able to organise possible projects with many different people as a way of continuing our learning through relationships.  We're hoping to have skype chats with my colleague Sofia (@sophiesofiamb) and some of the teachers she met like Erin Klein (@kleinerin), Heather Davis (@heatherd1951), and Martha Lackey (@lackeymartha).  I've volunteered to help test the new augmented reality app that Drew Minock (@TechMinock) and Brad Waid (@TechBradWaid) helped create with our 3rd grade teachers.  I made connections with gamification experts like Rory Newcomb (@roryelieen) and Diane Main (@dowbiggin) to help my colleague Julie (@TechGeekFest) get gaming and minecraft started as an afterschool project and inspire our science team.  I introduced my other colleague at ISTE, Renato (@rhamelalonso), to middle school teachers like Lisa Butler (@srtalisa) to try and build social studies connections using our geographical distances as a platform.  And for me, I was able to make many personal connections with leaders like William King (@wkingbg), Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy) and George Couros (@gcouros) to help me bring the message of connected leadership to my school via future skype sessions.

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15 June 2013

3 ISTE13: Catalyst for Change!

In my last blog post, What makes ISTE different, I mentioned that I was going to have a meeting with past ISTE attendees at our school and have them give "feedback to feedforward" to the two #newbies I am bringing with me this year.  I expected the conversation to be engaging and interesting but it was so much more!  It was such an inspiring moment to hear these three teachers explain how going to ISTE has actually CHANGED the type of teacher that they are!  What a powerful statement for a conference!

All three mentioned that going to the ISTE conference helped them realise the following 3 essential points:
  • They are not alone- they all arrived at ISTE with different levels of technical knowledge but talking and sharing at the conference helped them realise that EVERYONE starts as a beginner but EVERYONE can move forward in embedding technology thoughtfully
  • There is a worldwide shared vision for educational technology- All three mentioned that ISTE helped them realise that the rest of the world is engaging in and using technology to develop student skills and concepts in a depth that they hadn't realised.  Seeing those examples helped them realise what is possible for our school.
  • That personal learning is necessary- Two of the three teachers hadn't used twitter before the confrence but through the discussions and examples provided (and a little from me pointing out some of my favorite #edtech "rock stars"!) they realised how powerful a PLN can be.  After the conference all three teachers have become active members of the #edtech and #edchat communities on twitter.  They all mentioned that ISTE inspired them to continue reading and engaging in learning as part of their personal professional development.  
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09 June 2013

5 What makes ISTE different?

I'm excited! It's my third trip to the ISTE conference and I'm just as excited this year as I was the first time.  Why?  It got me thinking... what makes a good educational conference and what makes ISTE different?

After a quick search on the Internet, I found this article from 2005, The Ten Best Education Conferences, from Education World outlining the opinions of a variety of educators talking about their best education conference experiences.  What stood out to me was that each conference was essentially the same format: reknown speakers, workshops, breakout sessions, posters, etc.   While each conference was aimed at different audiences and topics, the basis was that there is a group of dedicated professionals that come together to share and discuss what they are passionate about.  In fact, according to Dave Wingler from Edudemic in his blog article 6 Education Conferences to check out this year and the Getting Smart Staff from their blog article What Edu Conferences Should be on Your Agenda This Year, ISTE ranks as one of the important events of the educational conference calendar.

So what makes my upcoming trip to ISTE different than the rest of these conferences?  I've attended a few of the other conferences that were named and while they were excellent, they weren't quite the same.  There's something different about ISTE that is hard to define.  I believe it's because it is a technology event, where blogging, messaging, and tweeting are a norm for a majority of the people attending.  There seems to be this ever present community feeling at the conference; you recognize people from their blogs, their twitter handles, a connection that you had made a year before.  During each session you meet or connect with someone from your ever expanding PLN and develop plans for projects for the next school year.  The conference doesn't really end per se... it just carries on in cyber-space until the next physical meeting a year later.  I'm not sure that any of the other conferences can really make that claim to fame!

So, as in years past, I am bringing two #newbies to the ISTE conference with me and I am getting ready to have a "This is what you need to know about ISTE" meeting with them.  To prepare them, I plan on trying to explain this sense of ISTE to them so they can get a idea of how fortunate they are going to be and to take advantage of the connections they could make.  Is there anything else that I should include for them?  What makes ISTE special for you that I should share with them?

Looking forward to your thoughts!
Jessica :)

Photo Source: Crazybananas Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

06 June 2013

2 Professional Development: Standardize or Personalize?

We've been in the process for awhile to teach our staff why and how they can use blogs for their classes. We're still in the early stages of adoption and  the focus has been mostly as a communication tool with parents and the outside world. Since we're fledglings, we haven't broached the topic of having our students make blogs yet. (We're leaving that for another day!)

As we continue on our journey to help the staff implement this new tool, we have found ourselves at a curious cross roads: standardize or personalize?  We're encountering this again and again in three different areas: the training, the tool, and the product

The questions are: 
  • Should we expect all teachers to take blog training and make a blog or offer various technology training choices for the staff and support those that are interested in blogging in specific classes?
  • Should we make all teachers use the same blogging tool or give them a choice of two or three tools so they can pick one that they are comfortable with?  (we only use free ones at the moment so school wide cost isn't a factor)
  • Should we expect that all the blogs have the same type of information on them and the same list of recommended resources or give the teachers the leeway to have blogs that are distinctly different offering a personalized insight into their class?
My initial inquiry into the answer has led me to Personalised Learning's site run by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey who speak about their "Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization Chart" in a recent blog post.  This is an excellent chart to help determine exactly which type of learning you are providing while giving a road map on how to move to other types of learning if you would like.  It clarifies that there are three approaches to encouraging learning and through the identification of the approach you are desiring you can deliver the concepts and content needed.

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03 June 2013

0 My First Meme: ISTE13!

Inspired by an article by Anita Lee from Mashable on the history of Memes, I thought I'd try my hand at a few for my upcoming trip to ISTE13!  I love going to this educational technology conference for so many reasons, but the best reason is simply for the excitement that it generates for professional development!  There is nothing more inspiring than seeing more than 12,000 people get excited about learning!

Here are my meme attempts following a few of the different styles highlighted in the infographic above.  I thought I'd try and play up some of the funnier aspects of attending an ISTE conference.  If you've been to the conference before, you'll definitely get these!

Success Kid:

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