Thursday, August 01, 2019

Two UVM online courses this Fall featuring pedagogy and technology



Are you looking for a UVM course that counts towards your educational technology specialists endorsement?  I'm teaching the following two online courses this Fall.  Register by August 5 at 

EDCI 322 UDL and Differentiated Instruction with Technology (online)
Explore how technologies can support learner-centered strategies that address the diverse needs of students. With an emphasis on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and differentiating instruction to ensure appropriate educational opportunities for all learners, this course investigates the use of adaptive and assistive technologies. (FALL)


EDCI 323 Amplifying Inquiry and Project Based Learning with Technology (online)
This course provides student-centered, active learning experiences using technology resources and tools to promote questioning, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Explore and learn about technology resources and tools that support problem-based, project-based, and inquiry-based learning in all disciplines and design a project-based or inquiry-based activity with assessments for the students (or educators) they teach. (FALL)

Friday, March 01, 2019

Day 1: Framing the Conversation Around Makerspaces

This March we're going to kick off  our third annual  30 posts in 30 days series around Creating, Making, and Learning.  This  2019  March Madness Maker Series will be focused on some of the questions that I've been using to frame the conversation around making  over the past few years.




The earlier conversations are usually focused around the WHAT questions.     Just exactly WHAT is a maker space?  I was once sitting across the desk from a principal who shared that she  had just googled "makerspaces' during our conversation so she would know what we are talking about.    The term Makerspaces conjures up different images in almost everybody who uses it.  Personally I like to use Space for Creating and Making  as a way to shake preconceptions that come with the term Makerspace.   A makerspace can be many different things to each of us.  It can have all types of tools, supplies, and equipment.   We've traveled to many makerspaces across the country and have yet to find any two alike. 

We have visited many different Makerspaces in our bus, and each of them have different tools and take on different formats.  This month I hope to introduce you to a few different configurations of makerspaces,  each with their own unique sets of tools and supplies.   
We have visited many different Makerspaces in our bus, and each of them have different tools and take on different formats.  This month I hope to introduce you to a few different configurations of makerspaces, each with their own unique sets of tools and supplies. 


Another area that many want to talk about is HOW do people MAKE?  There are so many different ways to approach making.  In this series we will explore different types of makes that you might see in a makerspace. This could range from a skill building make to a quirky expression of self.  I look forward to introducing you to some of the comments types of makes as we share projects from different schools. 



Probably one of the most important questions is the WHY question.  Simon Sinek encourages us to KNOW OUR WHY! And while I agree that knowing your why is one of the most important things you can talk about in the conversation about makerspaces,  it is NOT necessarily the first question you need to find the answers to.  Sometimes you just need to start Making!  And the more you make the more you will be able to articulate your why.  Too many people think that you have to know your why BEFORE you move forward.  I think knowing your why is a process and sometimes you just have to LAUNCH and the clarity about WHY will happen as you reflect on your process. 



 The WHO questions are not always obvious.  But they are important ones.  Without explicit attention to the WHO questions, you might accidentally end up creating a space that is not inclusive.  Unfortunately that is a challenging condition to remedy.  There are several ways to talk about WHO is making in your makerspace, and making sure that you have someone on your team who wears an equity lens in your conversations about making is helpful.


These conversations are not linear or hierarchal.  So don't expect a recipe or a step by step guide. We'll interview various members of the CREATE MAKE LEARN community and come at this conversation from many different perspectives, each meant to to get the gears turning helping to  frame your own conversations around making in education.


and of course we'll invite you to join the conversations already happening in our CREATE MAKE LEARN community. 







Sunday, February 24, 2019

Planning Educational Technology Conferences with Pedagogy in mind

As I was commenting on Katie Martin's recent post, I felt my comment was getting a bit long and though maybe I should expand as a blog post.

Katie's post  was timely as I am on a committee that is  in the middle of planning our annual spring conference in our state and having conversations about types of sessions.  I agree with Katie's comment that

"Technology is a part of our world and is increasingly changing how we live, work, and learn.  If we are really going to create experiences in schools that spark curiosity, ignite passion, and unleash genius as I believe we should, it’s about both the instructional practices and how we can leverage the technology to provide new and better experiences for students."


If we are to model sound instructional practices,  our conferences should include different types of session for different learner needs.










ALL teachers need to see models of  instructional practice that are supported or augmented by powerful use of technology.

Sometimes teachers need to see a project that inspires them to freshen up a tired unit or lesson or completely redesign it.

Sometimes educators need a HOW to use a tool that they have seen others use in powerful ways, but need to build their own confidence or fluency before they try it.

Perhaps a tweak to the way we approach these could help us refocus on the WHY and the pedagogy.

What if we changed a How to session to something like this:  "How to use Voicethread to support Multiple modes of Representation (UBD).

or perhaps change the  20 apps in 60 minutes to  20 Apps to increase Student Voice.


I also believe  there is value in just playing with technology in the Playground area to help us stay curious and ask questions like "How might I use this feature of this robot platform" with my students.  Sessions like this lead by teachers and students can generate some amazing conversations and ideation.

Walking through the vendor areas with a pedagogy lens,  curious teachers will quickly discern which tools might connect with their instructional strategies and which ones are just flashy tech.

Partnership with vendors who value the input of educators to shape their products to meet the needs of our schools are essential.  There are vendors out there who truly listen and make changes to their product based on educator feedback on what works for kids and what we need to do a better job with designing learning.  I still remember the day when I met a CEO  from WeVideo at a conference and shared with him a barrier to using WeVideo in my classroom.  He had no idea this was a barrier.  The next day I bumped into him again, and he said " I contacted headquarters last night and we fixed that!"  Wow!  We need vendors who  are responsive to our needs. They are out there.  It's a win win!

I think a great conference has lots of different opportunities to meet the needs of different learners.

Planning this experience is not easy, but we can do it.  Especially if student learning is on our #1 goal.



Saturday, February 02, 2019

Leveling up on our Digital Literacy skills with Twitter

Walking along the Riverbank in Austin during SxSw

Using Twitter is like taking a walk by a river
Sometimes you walk by and hardly notice the river 
Sometimes you walk by and notice the river, but keep on walking
Sometimes you walk by and dip your toe in
Sometimes you jump in and take a deep dive
You might even play hooky from work, rent a kayak or paddleboard and come back even more productive than ever from having refueled

I still remember that Twitter/River metaphor from  Sheryl NussbaumBeach . @snbeach  many moons ago. I might have added the playing hooky part. ;-) 

I must confess that lately I've been the person who dips their toe in every once in a while.
Every time I do, I  feel refreshed and yearn for more time to dive in. 
However this  month, I'm experiencing a deep dive into my Twitter stream

Part of that is because I'm trying to create an experience for my #EDCI325 Technology and Leadership grad students  that leaves them more fluent with using technology to help them grow as emerging leaders in their school.  And of course I want that experience to be authentic and I certainly want to model how to make the most our of Twitter and other social media tools in your leadership role.   I was an early adopter of Twitter, and also an evangelist in my edtech circles.  The conversations felt both authentic and manageable.  Twitter certainly grew my PLN in rich and helpful ways.  

But Twitter has changed and I can understand that for new teachers or leaders onboarding now, it's NOT the same experience I had.  My entry point yielded rich resources everywhere I looked.  For today's new Twitter user, it probably feels more like entering a jungle, where the rich fruit is in there but buried in the dense vegetation.    

I think that those of us who find value in Twitter need to do more than evangelize it and tell educators to be patient and they too will eventually curate just the right blend of followers and people to follow resulting in helpful resources or answers to our questions.  We need to mentor our newbies and guide them through  helpful ways to leverage Twitter and other social media tools.   

The topic in our class this week is digital citizenship.  As I was planning the prompts that might guide our discussion on this topic, I noticed that we had just missed a #digchat Twitter chat.  Since the chat was just last night, it was easy to read through.  It was like listening to a conversation of educators talk about the very things we would be discussing this week.




  At that moment I was nostalgic for Storify and all the valuable Twitter chats I had curated.


Not long after the sunset of Storify, I had heard about Wakelet, as a digital tool from @bonniebird   I had even  played around with it some and then stuck it in my digital toolbox.  But today I reached back into that toolbox and blew off the dust, and found it to be the PERFECT tool 
to mentor my grad students through an authentic experience where they could see the benefits of Twitter and other social media tools.   

The first thing I did was to curate last night's #digcit Twitter Chat using Wakelet  As I read the tweets and added them to my Wakelet, I noticed that the conversation hit many of the same questions we would be talking about.
Who's accountable for Digital Citizenship at your School?
How do you find the time to add this important topic to the curriculum?
How can they as emerging leaders play a role in making the changes necessary to prepare students for today's digital world? and more. 

If only I could have assigned participation in that Twitter chat to my grad students.  But due to a tool like Wakelet,  they would now be able to eavesdrop on the conversation and listen to real educators like themselves sharing ideas about the challenges they are experiencing in their school.  The conversation itself was helpful, and every resources that was shared during that twitter chat was new to me except for one.



It was then that I decided to go back through the chat one more time and pull out all the resources and curate them using the same Wakelet.  The Wakelet now starts with twenty fresh resources that were actually suggested from educators currently using them in the field.  How great is that? If that doesn't persaude some that the hour was well spent,  I'm not sure what will.   Some of the resources from our textbook are already dated, and some  no longer exist at all.
Even the resources I've curated with  Diigo would not be as fresh and relevant. 

Yes, it took me a little extra time to organize the chat and resources using Waklet, but now it's available for each of my grad students, and hopefully some of them will be just the right tool for them to use as they navigate the world of leading change and influencing others in their school

But more importantly, I hope that I have modeled an authentic benefit to investing some time with Twitter and other social media tools and they will use this approach as they grow as leaders. 

One of the ironic things about choosing to add this story to this blog, instead of in Blackboard is that it brought me back to read my last post on this blog - which just so happened to be on the same topic!  It was great to reflect on what I was thinking a year ago.  And yes, it's been a year, since I added to this blog - but most of my blogging fits better in the Create Make Learn blog these days, except for reflections on topics like these which don't fit in on that blog.  
Hopefully, I'll revisit this blog more often in the upcoming year. 











Monday, January 01, 2018

Digital Literacy


I love days when I don't have a deadline!  Today I played around and followed so many links just enjoying the wandering.    At one point I found myself reading this 2013  article by Marc Scott  about Why Kids Can't use Computers. 


It's a bit long, and he's a bit harsh, especially on the teacher who does not understand proxy servers,  but it's definitely worth a read.  You can  just skim through the long list of examples of people who don't know how to use computers, or you can go down memory lane with your own examples of people who you have helped/saved when their computer became a barrier to the tasks they were trying to accomplish.

What this article got me thinking about today was the concepts of 'computer literacy, digital literacy,  or technology literacy'.  The indicators of what it means to be computer literate or digital literate are a moving target.   With the exponential changes in technology,  I'm wondering about the pace by which we as educators  update what our kids should KNOW about technology.



Do we (as the author of this post suggests) assume kids already know this stuff, or that they know more than us?

Do we update our own technology skills or stay current?  Or do we give up because the pace of change is too fast for us to stay current?

Schools all around the country are charged with preparing students for the future.
This is an overwhelming responsibility!  We frequently ask ourselves 'what do kids need to know' and we answer it the best we can  using concepts and skills that we are comfortable with.  But whose job is it to advocate for the technology literacy skills of our students in a landscape where we are preparing our students to be future ready.

 I think we all agree that computer literacy or technology literacy or digital literacy is important!
Yet many years ago many schools started to eliminate mandatory computer literacy classes.
We made assumptions that kids were coming into school with those skills already  or that they could learn those skills embedded in their current curriculum.

Instead of updating  the content of 'computer literacy'  from "How to create a folder and organize files within folders  and 'how to perform basic word processing tasks'  to more current materials that every student or teacher needs to know to be considered digitally literate, we got rid of the class.   We even got rid of opportunities for kids (and teachers)  to learn some of these skills on their own by creating filters that blocked  access to  Internet resources or blocked access to features of computers where they can be in charge of their own devices.  Teacher preparation programs also got rid of classes like Emerging Technologies in their teacher preparation programs, assuming that the new generation of pre-service teachers were all digital natives.

We assumed that every  content area teacher was going to embed CURRENT computer/digital literacy skills in their content area.  But often, there is no requirement that a teacher demonstrates that they are computer/digital literate to get certified or re-certified. And  there is seldom any time for this type of learning in a very crowded curriculum where teachers are asked to focus on the power standards amongst a long list of content related standards in their discipline they might not be able to 'cover'.


I think the most powerful parts of Marc's  long article are towards the bottom where he quotes Cory Doctorow definition of computers around us, or ask us to think about how the general public reacted to Snowden,  or where he challenges those who are

"creating laws regarding computers, enforcing laws regarding computers, educating the youth about computers, reporting in the media about computers and lobbying politicians about computers."


I' have copied and pasted this section  below.. since I think many readers might not finish the article before getting to the WHY section of Marc Scott's post.

And I'm wondering whether we have not come to a time where we need to revisit what we mean by computer literacy, technology literacy,  or digital literacy in our schools  for students and teachers!

I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by a PLN filled with educational technology specialists/coaches who are often the lens through which a school tackles this issue - but I also am VERY AWARE that most of our schools do not have such a position on their staff.   I'm also seeing this position being eliminated in some schools, or filled by uncertified staff with no evidence that they have the skills or are staying current on the skills needed to fill this role.   I've seen some schools where teachers are being denied professional development request to upgrade their technology skills, and diminishing course offerings as colleges are seeing reduced enrollments.

As we reflect on the New Year,  I think we need to ask ourselves "What role did technology play in the events of 2017?"

Is it time to make sure our students,  educators, and schools are technology literate as part of becoming  #futureready in 2018!



IMHO...the most important part of  the article by  Marc Scott  about Why Kids Can't use Computers. 




Why?

Technology affects our lives more than ever before. Our computers give us access to the food we eat and the clothes we wear. Our computers enable us to work, socialise and entertain ourselves. Our computers give us access to our utilities, our banks and our politics. Our computers allow criminals to interact with us, stealing our data, our money, our identities. Our computers are now used by our governments, monitoring our communications, our behaviours, our secrets. Cory Doctorow put it much better than I can when he said:
There are no airplanes, only computers that fly. There are no cars, only computers we sit in. There are no hearing aids, only computers we put in our ears.
After Snowden's revelations first came out, I went into school on Monday to find that most of my colleagues and students had either not heard about the scandal, or if they had just didn't care. While I was busy deleting my on-line accounts and locking down my machines, my friends called me paranoid and made jokes about tinfoil hats. My family shrugged their shoulders in that 'Meh' way, and mumbled the often quoted 'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.' Then, out of the blue, Cameron announces that ISPs are going to start filtering The Internet. It's described as a 'porn filter', but the Open Rights Group's investigations implies that far more than porn will be filtered by default. Then to top it all, Cameron's chief advisor on this issue has her website hacked and displays just how technically illiterate she really is.
Tomorrow's politicians, civil servants, police officers, teachers, journalists and CEOs are being created today. These people don't know how to use computers, yet they are going to be creating laws regarding computers, enforcing laws regarding computers, educating the youth about computers, reporting in the media about computers and lobbying politicians about computers. Do you thinks this is an acceptable state of affairs? I have David Cameron telling me that internet filtering is a good thing. I have William Hague telling me that I have nothing to fear from GCHQ. I have one question for these policy makers:
Without reference to Wikipedia, can you tell me what the difference is between The Internet, The World Wide Web, a web-browser and a search engine?


If you can't, then you have no right to be making decisions that affect my use of these technologies. Try it out. Do your friends know the difference? Do you?

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Important reminder for educators no longer in the classroom

A recent post by Bill Ferriter resonated with me and is so worth reading, especially by those of us who work in education but are no longer in charge of our own classrooms.

I started to write a comment,  but then it sort of turned into enough for a blog post... so here's my thoughts on his much needed reminder from Bill that

 there really ARE three things that I wish every person working beyond the classroom would know (remember?) about being a classroom teacher. 
(1). I really can’t check my email and respond to you during “the workday. 
(2). I’m responsible for moving the work of a TON of other people forward, too:  One of the hardest things about being a classroom teacher is that I almost always feel buried under a never-ending list of tasks that I need to complete for people working in positions beyond the classroom.

(3) Working directly with kids is still my first priority:  Probably the most important thing to remember as you work with me is that the day to day interactions that I have with students are ALWAYS going to be my first priority.




Bill,  So much of your post resonated with me.  I remember the 30 years I spent in K12 (more than 22 with my own students enjoying the benefit of those AHA moments you described.  I remember going to a  workshop at a conference lead by a time management specialist and thinking that this guy really has no clue that  classroom teachers  cannot 'block off  chunks of time in their calendar with the door closed, to check things off their list organized by like tasks."   During  the 8 years that I spent as an out of the classroom educator / tech integrationist,  I tried to do everything I could to relieve your day to day duties whenever I asked you to do 'something for me)  Sometimes it was 'take a group of your kids to lead a learning tasks  or take something else off your plate like collate or organize materials. Sometimes my husband would state "you seem willing to spend an hour to save someone 5 minutes" --  I would then explain Like you did in this post - why teachers have such great bladder control!  I think your post is a great reminder to those of us no longer 'in the classroom'  of things we can do to get your support with some of the systems work.  Even something as simple as long hallway conversations  or photo copier meetings while waiting for copies can help.  Advocating for teacher time to be built in for some of these out of the classroom responsibilities or always asking  - 'how does this directly impact students' and prioritizing our own request this way.

You mentioned one of the benefits of out of the classroom roles as having the time to thing deeply about things -  this is such a benefit for me now.  How I wish every teacher could have both - those direct contact moments that fuel us  AND also the benefit of time to think, process, create in long blocks of time required often required for deeper thinking. I had a superintendent who told me his goal would be for every classroom teacher to have a sabbatical  where they would have to take a year out of the classroom to regenerate, think deeply, learn out of the classroom.  Obviously that never happened for him,  but I have seen schools where classroom teachers get to spend a couple of year in an out of classroom experience, thus engaging in needed periods of deep thought, systems work, state of flow as they create as oppose to 15 minute chunks of prep time.   I also believe that every out of classroom educator/school leader should have to spend a year back in the classroom every so many years to keep their license.

Thank you Bill, for the thoughtful posts.  Sorry this got a bit long,  maybe I should go add it to my blog!  Your post definitely resonated.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful for Technology Bridging Distance and Timezones



Hope that you are all in a place where you can be thankful today with family and friends.  This Thanksgiving we are close to some family and friends, and  miles away for others. 
But I'm thankful to technology for helping to bridge the distance and timezones that separate us.
or should I say.. I'm thankful to the way PEOPLE are using technology to connect across distance and timezones. 
My kids  and grandkids have been using text, Instagram, Facetime, Google Hangout, and shared Google photos album to make me part of the joy of family gathered together back in Vermont.

My online grad students at Marlboro and UVM are regularly using both the tools in our LMS and several  other digital tools to share their PROCESS of learning and form community.  Together they are creating, making, learning, and constructing knowledge together. 
This semester I took on a new challenge, teaching a course called   Innovations in Education: Maker- Centered Learning class   that is part of Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies
Honestly,  I was a little nervous about teaching this class online.  My previous experience with maker centered learning PD has mainly  been face to face via various Create Make Learn events, at  Vita-Learn conferences, with CVEDC workshop, or with the EMMA project.   Despite my reservations,   this course has turned out to be a true joy.  I look forward every morning to seeing if there are any new post in our online class community.  It has been so enjoyable to watch the grad students in that class grow as a community!  I've tried a few strategies for online learning -that I was not sure would work (i.e. letting the Invent to Learn book discussion be between students,  "Less Us, More Them")  and VoiceThread so we can bring in voice and video into our conversation about learning.   

But honestly,  I think that the most important element to the sense of community that I have seen form in this class was  the the willingness  of these educators/grad students to SHARE their PROCESS!  Sharing our successes and fails is not always easy.  It takes time to stop and document.  Sometimes metacognition interrupts flow.   But since we are not in the same room, and can't look over each others shoulders as we create, make, and learn;  using online tools to  watch each others struggles, or celebrating each others WINS is so important. 

Out blog as we live and learn mobile

Earlier this week,  I did a blog post on our  travel blog that  had me reflecting on the ability of technology to bridge the distance and time zone gap -- but in reality it's not the technology,  its how PEOPLE  use the technology  that works to bridge that gap.  During this post,  I reflected on how  thankful I am  for .... 

 

-- my University of Vermont students this semester using technology to learn about Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction
-- my Marlboro College students this semester piloting learning about Maker Centered Learning in an online class
-- working with  Tarrant Institute on the EMMA project (moving conversations about #makered forward in rural  Vermont schools)
-- educators who have become part of the Create Make Learn tribe - both during the Summer Institute and during the school year by sharing in our Google Community
-- the opportunity to collaborate on projects as a freelance educator with other organizations like CVEDC, RETN, ECHO, and the Generator
--companies like Sparkfun, The Imagination Toolbox. Birdbrain Technologies, WeVideo, and Voicethread and so many others who have offered educators so much more than technology tools with their online tutorials, free PD, and other support to help us use innovative technology in our practice

One of the highlights of my week was getting text messages from  the new maker space  at Burke School as they were building  wind tubes as part of  a student leadership day  that I helped design with Tarrant Institute as part of my EMMA project.    

It was not quite the same as being there,  but today's technology does allow me to stay engaged with the #vted community as I travel around the country looking for new ideas and inspirations to support students and teachers.  Between Google Apps,  email,  chat,  text, and video conferencing,  I hardly feel the difference in time zones (except when meetings are scheduled at 8:00 EST)







So today.. I want to say  I'm thankful for all the people who are effectively using technology to bridge the gap of distance and timezones in both learning, teaching, and just playing being human together. 

 Happy Thanksgiving.