2015 Horizon Report: Educational Technology

What is on the five-year horizon for educational technology K-12 schools worldwide? Well, the answers are waiting for you in the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition, a report sharing the collaborative research and discussions of a body of 56 experts. The three topics covered in the report are:

  • key trends in educational technology
  • significant challenges with educational technology
  • important developments in educational technology

Click here to view the report!

Online Teaching Conference 2015

I recently attended another conference, the Online Teaching Conference. Held at the San Diego Convention Center, it covered a wide variety of topics from increasing participation in online classes to free tech tools to group work in distance education classes. I’m assuming that most teachers in America (of the world, for that matter) don’t teach courses exclusively online. However, many of the ideas presented there are applicable to any teaching arena.

Online Teaching Conference

The topic I found the most interesting was the conversation about group work.  One of the suggestions was to encourage the group to not only do an “ice breaker” at the start of their team experience, but to also explore what roles each member would have in the group. After the students discuss roles, teachers can have the group decide on group rules and expectations.  This is especially important for a long-term project.

One of the teachers presenting talked about how they have their students turn in a “group expectations” page detailing what the group expected of its members. The presenter said that while they give the group a grade for turning in the page, they don’t necessarily grade the group on how closely they actually stick to their original expectations. This is often because the students set unrealistic expectations for the group. On a number of assignments, the presenter said he asks his students to revise their expectations document part-way through the project so they can make their guidelines more realistic. The presenter indicated that the times when he provides this kind of group support to his students, the groups usually do better, produce higher quality projects and get along better.

This idea makes so much sense! But, I had never thought of it! Learning how to function in a group (that you can’t always choose) is an essential skill in today’s world, and we as teachers can do a lot to help teach our students how to be a good group members.

What have you learned about working with groups (in your experience as a student or as a teacher)? Comment below!

Digital Media Educator’s Conference

DMEC stickerA few months ago, I attended the Digital Media Educator’s Conference in California. (Yes, it’s taken me forever to write about it!) There was a wide range of workshops focusing on everything from technology tools and tricks to business and industry-related topics. I learned a lot from the conference, but there’s one thing that stood out to me as a “must share” resource. Drum roll please…

Adobe Education Exchange! This is a collection of free resources, expertise, and opportunities for educators of all ages (early childhood – higher education). It’s got a variety of support for educators: everything from instructional resources, professional development, and peer-to-peer collaboration. I’ve poked around a bit and what I’ve found is pretty cool. I definitely need to spend more time exploring everything they’ve got.

What do you think? If you’ve explored Adobe Education Exchange, please comment below!

Report: Educational Tablet Initiatives Around the World

TabletsThere’s a growing idea about the use of tablets and laptops in K-12 schools around the world. This technology, like any other tool, has the potential to make a huge positive impact on student learning. But how is it measuring up?

I recently came across a study by the Commonwealth of Learning called Large-Scale, Government-Supported Educational Tablet Initiatives. The authors studied tablet initiatives from around the world and evaluated their impact. Here are some snippets from the report:

ABSTRACT

“A growing number of countries are embarking on large-scale, government-supported initiatives to distribute tablet devices to students in the K–12 schooling sector. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that by simply putting this technology in the hands of students, educational access issues will be resolved and educational transformation will occur. In this research project, a systematic review of current government-supported tablet initiatives around the world was conducted to understand their origins, underlying principles, financial and organisational models, and expected outcomes. An extensive literature search and data extracted from identified documents showed that 11 countries have launched government-led tablet initiatives. The review concluded that the majority of these initiatives have been driven by the tablet hype rather than by educational frameworks or research-based evidence.”

 

CONCLUSION

“This review provides a snapshot of current large-scale, government-supported tablet initiatives around the world. The information collected confirms that the majority of the initiatives were launched in a hasty and uncalculated manner, similar to the uncritical enthusiasm that surrounded the One Laptop per Child initiatives.

However, this statement should be used cautiously, as the review was limited by the nature of the documents retrieved and the shortage of publicly available information. For a better understanding about the effectiveness of tablets in educational contexts and a clearer idea about best practices, a more focused review of the academic literature addressing tablet use in educational contexts is warranted.

Overall, we found that the initiatives focused on the hype around tablets and not on their use as a tool to achieve an educational goal.”

 

What do you think? Have you used tablets or other mobile devices in your classroom? What was your experience? Comment below!

Alter Your World by Recognizing Innovative Teachers

Here’s a cool opportunity from Altitude Summit:

“We have partnered with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who supports teachers and celebrates innovation in education, to bring our Alt community a fantastic opportunity. During the next two weeks, we hope you will join us in a contest to celebrate just that and participate for a chance to win a ticket to Alt Summer for yourself and $500 cash for a deserving teacher.

Between May 1st and May 15th, you have three ways to appreciate an educator in your life who is using social media in innovative ways in the classroom. If you’re an educator, we’d love to hear how you are using social media.”

Click here to read more.

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).