Can Students Have Too Much Technology?

Too much tech STICKERI recently read a very interesting article about how access to technology impacts students’ success. The article, published by the New York Times, was called “Can Students Have Too Much Technology?”. It shared research findings and comments from Duke and Stanford researchers that do not support the idea that handing a kid an internet-connected laptop or device will increase their success in school. Here are some highlights from the article:

  • ” ‘Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores,’ the economists wrote, adding that license to surf the Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.
  • “With no adults to supervise them, many kids used their networked devices not for schoolwork, but to play games, troll social media and download entertainment.”
  • “If children who spend more time with electronic devices are also more likely to be out of sync with their peers’ behavior and learning by the fourth grade, why would adding more viewing and clicking to their school days be considered a good idea?”
  • “Even [with highly trained teachers facilitating the use of the technology], we still have no proof that the newly acquired, tech-centric skills that students learn in the classroom transfer to novel problems that they need to solve in other areas. While we’re waiting to find out, the public money spent on wiring up classrooms should be matched by training and mentorship programs for teachers, so that a free and open Internet, reached through constantly evolving, beautifully packaged and compelling electronic tools, helps — not hampers — the progress of children who need help the most.”

What do you think? Have you seen technology help or hinder your students? Tell me what you think in the comments below! 🙂

Blended Learning: The Classroom of the Future?

I recently read a fascinating NPR article called “Meet the Classroom of the Future.” It describes the experience of a sixth grade class in Brooklyn, NY as they implement blended learning in an effort to increase student scores. The article defines “blended learning” as “combination of human capital and technology” in a classroom.

Blended Learning STICKER

 

Here are three excerpts from the article I thought were interesting:

“Beneath all the human buzz, something other than humans is running the show: algorithms. The kind of complex computer calculations that drive our Google searches or select what we see on our Facebook pages. Algorithms choose which students sit together. Algorithms measure what the children know and how well they know it. They choose what problems the children should work on and provide teachers with the next lesson to teach. This combination of human capital and technology is called “blended learning.” And regardless of whether it makes you uneasy, the program, Teach to One, seems to be serving Boody Jr. High well. A recent study of the 15 schools using Teach to One, had mixed results, but showed they are outperforming their peers nationally on average.”

“When these sixth graders get to class, they either log onto their laptop or check a monitor at the front of the room. It tells each student where to go — the room is quasi-divided by book shelves and small dividers into 10 sections… The computer also tells them what kind of lesson they’ll do.”

“Whether [the students have understood the lesson] or not, the algorithm will ultimately find out. At the end of class the kids do a short quiz called an “exit slip,” which the algorithm uses to gauge what they’ve learned. In five questions, this exit slip gives the algorithm the information it uses to decide which students will be grouped together the next day, and what work each of them will do. In a sixth-grade class, in theory, students might be working on everything from 4th grade level math to 8th grade level math. Around 5 p.m. every day, teachers get an alert telling them how students will be grouped and what lessons they’ll need to teach.”

This concept of blended learning is very interesting. As the article indicates, there are many pros and cons. One of the main concerns is that these algorithms end up teaching to standardized tests. I haven’t researched the idea enough to have a solid opinion for or against. The article ends with this sentence: “What remains unclear is the point at which standardization begins to take away from those other educational hallmarks: creativity and critical thinking.”

What do you think of this idea? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Top 10 Digital Trends in K-12 Education (2015)

tech trends 2015 STICKER(My most recent research topic is near future of educational technology? Can you tell by all my posts about technology?!)

Fortunately for students, learning is becoming more and more student centered. This shift, combined with the creation of better and better technology will lead to a number of big digital technology trends in K-12 in 2015. Here’s the Center for Digital Education’s list of the top 10 trends to watch for in 2015:

  1. Personalized learning
  2. Competency-based education
  3. Digital learning outcomes
  4. Digital course access
  5. Blended and digital learning adoption at the local level
  6. Open content and educational resources
  7. Adaptive technology
  8. Badging
  9. Community connectivism
  10. Mobile learning

The full article provides a brief description of each digital trend as well as what is driving/will drive the trend. Click here to read the full article (a pretty quick read).

4 Lessons Learned from 2014 Ed Tech Failures

Tech failures STICKERI recently found an article called 4 Lessons from K-12 Ed Tech Failures of 2014. (It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one who occasionally fails!). The educational use of technology evolves, grows and improves just as the technology itself. But growth does come with bumps and bruises. This was a quick easy read, but in case you’re crazy pressed for time, here are the four lessons shared in the article:

  1. Plan for digital initiatives centered around the learner, not the device
  2. Bring all learning initiatives under the umbrella of digital transformation
  3. Put privacy protections in place for student data
  4. Find sustainable ways to fund digital projects

Have you ever had an ed tech failure? What did you learn from it? Comment below!

Horizon Report K-12 Edition (Educational Trends)

Tech Trends STICKERWhat’s on the horizon for K-12 education? The NMC Horizon Project has published the 2014 edition of their annual NMC Horizon Report to answer these questions for you! The NMC Horizon Project, established in 2002, is a comprehensive research venture that identifies and describes global, large-impact key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies in education. Below is an outline of the report. If you see something interesting, click on the links at the bottom to learn more!

 Key Trends Accelerating K-12 Ed Tech Adoption

Fast Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools over the next one to two years
Rethinking the Roles of Teachers
Shift to Deep Learning Approaches

Mid-Range Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools within three to five years
Increasing Focus on Open Content
Increasing Use of Hybrid Learning Designs

Long-Range Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools in five or more years
Rapid Acceleration of Intuitive Technology
Rethinking How Schools Work

 

Significant Challenges Impeding K-12 Ed Tech Adoption

Solvable Challenges: Those that we understand and know how to solve
Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities
Integrating Personalized Learning

Difficult Challenges: Those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive
Complex Thinking and Communication
Increased Privacy Concerns

Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address
Competition from New Models of Education
Keeping Formal Education Relevant

 

Important Developments in Technology for K-12 Education

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Cloud Computing

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
Games and Gamification
Learning Analytics

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
The Internet of Things
Wearable Technology

 

Click here to view the preview of the report (11 pages).

Click here to read the full report (55 pages).

Squarehead Teachers on Google+

Hello friends and readers! I just joined Google+. I’ve created a page, but I still don’t know very much about Google+, circles, etc. I would be very grateful to hear any tips or suggestions you’ve got about how best to use it and what the best aspects/features are. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Thank you!

Here is my page: google.com/+Squareheadteachersblog

Cool Math Website

Check out this cool math website:  http://www.math-aids.com/

“This is a great math website for generating a math worksheet on just about any math topic.  You can customize it to be easy or hard, to say how many problems, etc.”

(Submitted by a 2nd grade teacher)

Know of a cool website you’d like to share? Let me know!

 

BrainPop Educational Videos

If you’ve never heard of BrainPop, you’re missing out! It’s a cool internet resource with games, review videos and other stuff for kids. There’s a paid membership available, but you can find tons of stuff for free without it. There are many free, animated movies (available for all content areas) that seem to appeal to kids. many of the review videos include a cute story line and dialogue between Tim and his robot friend, Moby. Click here to view all the free BrainPop stuff