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Posts Tagged ‘technological integration’

Obsolescence in Education by 2020 – Judging the pace of change

December 11th, 2010 No comments

1. Desks
The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning.2. Language Labs
Foreign language acquisition is only a smartphone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.

3. Computers
Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: ‘Our concept of what a computer is’. Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we’re going to see the full fury of individualized computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can’t wait.

4. Homework
The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).

5. The Role of Standardized Tests in College Admissions
The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn’t far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.

6. Differentiated Instruction as the Sign of a Distinguished Teacher
The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn’t yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won’t make you ‘distinguished’; it’ll just be a natural part of your work.

7. Fear of Wikipedia
Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it’s time you get over yourself.

8. Paperbacks
Books were nice. In ten years’ time, all reading will be via digital means. And yes, I know, you like the ‘feel’ of paper. Well, in ten years’ time you’ll hardly tell the difference as ‘paper’ itself becomes digitized.

9. Attendance Offices
Bio scans. ‘Nuff said.

10. Lockers
A coat-check, maybe.

11. IT Departments
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade’s worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT — software, security, and connectivity — a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.

12. Centralized Institutions
School buildings are going to become ‘homebases’ of learning, not the institutions where all learning happens. Buildings will get smaller and greener, student and teacher schedules will change to allow less people on campus at any one time, and more teachers and students will be going out into their communities to engage in experiential learning.

13. Organization of Educational Services by Grade
Education over the next ten years will become more individualized, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.

14. Education School Classes that Fail to Integrate Social Technology
This is actually one that could occur over the next five years. Education Schools have to realize that if they are to remain relevant, they are going to have to demand that 21st century tech integration be modeled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers.
(Ed. Note:  Check out Plock’s 2010 nomination for best blog post:Why Teachers Should Blog”)

15. Paid/Outsourced Professional Development
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN in their backpockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of schoolwide prof dev programs. This is already happening.

16. Current Curricular Norms
There is no reason why every student needs to take however many credits in the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in middle schools to a role as foundational content providers and high schools as places for specialized learning.

17. Parent-Teacher Conference Night
Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.

18. Typical Cafeteria Food
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.

19. Outsourced Graphic Design and Webmastering
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade — in the best of schools — they will be.

20. High School Algebra I
Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school or we’ll have finally woken up to the fact that there’s no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and IT in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).

21. Paper
In ten years’ time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.

Its easy to miss when we try to extrapolate current trends ten years into the future; particularly in a period of technological hyper-change. Experience demonstrates traditional practice and attitudes are far more tenacious than we would like them to be. Education’s failure to actualize John Dewey’s ideas about education is a case in point. My current excitement attempting to integrate inquiry based, differentiated learning into my classroom is actually a reintegration. I was trying this in the mid 1980′s and I modeled my approach to projects from my tenth grade English teacher at Campbell Collegiate Institute in Regina, Saskatchewan (1972). Forty years later, his differentiated approach is still not the norm.

Never-the-less I agree technology is driving educational reform and learners are grasping the tools of democratic learning. Only a general totalitarianism would stop that. We see tentative efforts to limit the freedom of information, so it is possible but I am optimistic the movement is too powerful. Predictions related to technological integration are going to be realized. Changes in our thinking about what it is to be an educated person will come much more slowly.

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Flickr Photo Download: The Networked Teacher

May 2nd, 2010 No comments

I love a good graphic. I am largely a consumer in a number of these areas. For example, I have done little more than experiment with podcasting. I wish my network connection with school-based colleagues was much stronger. Those of us that are networked have weak connections with each other. Our spheres do not overlap well. I think this is understandable. We are largely grade level specialists networking our own areas of interest. There are common interests though. At this point Twitter seems to me to be the critical connection. It is my most important conduit of ideas and resources.

If we changed the wording a little and focussed on “The Networked Student” how would our students profile? I created a Google Doc around this and surveyed my class on my wikispace: My twenty-one nine and ten year old students have a growing digital footprint. They are also fairly discriminating in their preferences. They have been exposed to each of the networking options listed below but the question presented was, “How many of these different ways to connect (or link) with others do you use?” It really is not about teaching students to be users or proselytizing technology. It is about inviting technology into our classrooms and helping improve young people’s technological literacy in the sense of making them responsible digital citizens.

Grade 4-5 survey

Who will be in the driver’s seat as we integrate technology?

March 11th, 2010 No comments


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I think we are unnecessarily anxious about technological integration in learning. It is happening. I was in a meeting this week puzzling out how to move my school division colleagues forward toward integrating a variety of technologies into our classrooms. We were all educators so our arsenal of strategies is pretty good. At times, the discussion reminds me of a personal struggle: physical fitness. That struggle informs my attitude toward integrating unfamiliar technologies. You know fitness is good for you but you don’t think you have the time to focus on the problem. If I started training I know I would feel better and it would gradually become easier. How does a gym teacher invite a reluctant student into physical activity? I imagine the response to that would be varied. Some approaches would be direct and others indirect. Force the poor kid to run laps or include her in a game? The goal in either case is to embed physical activity into the life of the child. I reflect our common bias. If you are reading my reflections then you likely feel a little technological integration would be healthy in the classroom.

Like learning, technological integration is not something we have to do, it is something we need to let happen. We are discussing the height of the dike and wondering how much water we can handle as the unstoppable waters rise. We will have some opportunity to influence the flow and some sound advice about how each individual might maneuver in the turbulence, but we will not stop the flood. The young people are not going to stop surfing simply because we tell them it is dangerous either. The ocean cannot be ignored. It will find a way around or over us.

Learning and creativity will find a way around or over us. We are working on Heritage Fair projects in the grade four and five class. Yesterday one of my students asked me if I thought it would be be acceptable for him to present a slide show using his Nintendo DSI. “I think the ‘I’ stands for image,” he offers tentatively. He has the DSI, it made sense to use it. I have to applaud his effort to add value to an expensive toy. He is by no means the only student integrating technology in his learning.

In the course of the last two days students initiated evening Skype calls to my home laptop. One was a girl in my class who decided she should add me to her contacts. She connects with friends and it must have seemed natural to add me. The other was more interesting. This was a girl from South Carolina. Her class has been talking to my class and I guess she had the same impulse as my own student. The young people see the practicality of this all and they will do it. I’m not worried about technological integration.

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