Shift Happens

In my last blog post, I talked about schools continually updating their technology and I gave some example of technology resources I thought were important to have in a school’s library media center. One of the suggestions I made, was to bring in at least one class set of iPads or Chromebooks. Here is my opinion on the 1-to-1 iPad trend:

Do I think schools are moving in the right direction? The short answer is yes (without making it a comparison post about iPads vs. Chromebooks). I really like what they are doing with the iPads and the interactive and engaging activities. Students are also excited about it so they want to do the projects. The learning is more engaging since the students are able to access so much more than with paper and pencil. There are apps that allow students to dissect animals and there are apps allow students to write stories and get them published through Apple. These types of activities make students excited because they take learning outside the classroom and apply it to real life situations. This makes the information take on an application role in the classroom and less of a memorization role. The iPads put a new twist on learning that can really make the students excited and engaged.

If this is the way schools are going, is it a sustainable trend? I believe this trend is sustainable because technology is continually expanding and the students coming into the schools are more and more familiar with this technology. Also as more technology is being produced the older technology is getting more affordable. With the amount of grants and older generations of technology, adding iPads to the classroom a feasible options for many schools. After more research about the effect of iPads on learning is done, I think more administers will look into getting iPads for their students.

One of the biggest reasons schools have failed at integrating technology into their classes is because they didn’t take the time to properly train their teacher and students on the use of the iPads. By releasing the iPads to quickly, the students were not properly restricted and the teachers weren’t sure how to incorporate them in to the lessons so they were ineffectively used. Not only were they used incorrectly, but they students were monitored so it’s difficult to keep them on track.

Proper training can make the difference between a successful and a failed launch of the iPads. Teaching the teachers how to use them effectively is the foundation of a successful launch. If the students have an assignment and want to complete it, then that’s what they’ll be doing. But if the iPads are just sitting in front of them without much of a use, then the students will use them to surf the web and the students won’t be on task. Also training the teachers and administrators about monitoring the students’ access on the iPads will help the students learn that the teachers are paying attention to what they’re doing and they will start to self-monitor their iPad use. Training the students on how and when to use the iPad will also make it go smoother because the teacher won’t have to consistently remind them.

Overall, I think the use of iPads can be very useful and effective in classrooms. It engages the students and give them opportunities they might not have been able to have without these devices.

Library Media Must-Haves

In this every changing digital world, schools need to make sure their libraries stay up to date. For many schools the library is the place where you check out books, but you can also check out media and technology as well. Back when I was in elementary school, hearing that your teacher checked out a TV and VCR was pretty much made my week, but now that’s not so exciting. According to Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: Fall 2008 Report (p. 7), 97% of public schools in America are equipped with a projector hooked up to the computer, which would allow you to play any DVD or CD. This means probably none of the current students in the elementary schools have ever heard of a VCR let alone get excited for one. So the libraries need to evolve as the technology evolves and here’s some of my library technology must-haves:

I think it is important of schools to have at least one classroom set of iPads or Chromebooks (I personally prefer Chromebooks, but this post isn’t about arguing which one is better so I’ll let you decide). Desktop computers no longer interest students and a weekly trip to the computer lab isn’t enough to satisfying to these digital natives. Most of them are already pretty familiar with these devices and hearing they are getting to work with will probably make their week. There is so much that can be done with them. They can be used to supplement a lesson or to control the lesson. The options these devices have are endless. They can serve as the introduction or provide the meat of the lesson. They can also be a good alternative to an assessment or a new option for creating a project. Using the iPads or Chromebooks can really get students excited about and engaged with the material.

Also back when I was in elementary school, PowerPoint presentations were all the rage. However, I’m pretty sure students can create those in their sleep nowadays. The more technologically advanced version of the PowerPoint is video making, so having resources available in the library for check would be very advantageous for students. Creating a video is becoming a popular project choice. One way to make this accessible to students is through the iPads or Chromebooks. iMovie can be downloaded on iPads so all the students have to do is use the iPads’ built in camera and microphone to capture their video and then it can be edited directly on the iPad. Another option is to purchase some camcorders and microphones that can be rented by the students or teachers. The film and audio recording can be edited on Windows Movie Maker in the school’s computer lab or media center.

These video making resources might seem too advanced for the younger students, but they could be mostly teacher led. There are adorable videos that the teacher has made of her class and I’ve posted two below. The older students would need a lesson on how to use the programs, but if you go step-by-step they aren’t difficult.

One fun extra piece of technology would be a green screen. This could really enhance the students’ videos and make them a little more fun. These might be difficult for younger students to use but if it remained in the library then the media specialist could help them.

Life Hacks to Teacher Networking

For some teachers, the inevitable move to technology integration in the classroom, may be very intimidating. One of the best ways to ease that fear would be to get in contact with teachers who are already using technology in their classroom. Most of them will tell you it has been a great success and they are more than willing to give advice and ways to incorporate it in the classroom. But contacting those technology teachers, can also be intimidating. Here are two ways that make networking with teachers in this technocentric environment.

One of the simplest ways to contact teachers using technology is through their blog. On any blog post there is a comment feature. You can write directly on the blog post with your thoughts, concerns, and questions. Through this feature you can contact the author and others can also comment either responding to your comment or to author’s post. Not only can you comment on these posts, but many of the authors give you a way to contact them. Some do it through the blog directly and others give you a link to an email address.

One blog you can look at is Ed Tech Coaching by Krista Moroder. She writes about different things going on in the educational technology field and includes her own personal experiences. This blog is a little dull, but has some good information. She can also be contacted via email at krista@edtechcoaching.org.

ed tech coaching

A second blog that might be useful is Tech with Jen written by Jennifer Kimbrell. This blog is slightly more fun while giving just as good information. She gives updates about professional development and resources that could be helpful. She can be contacted directly through her blog.

tech with jen

A second tool for networking with technology coaches is the LinkedIn page International School Tech Coaches Network. This complies a list of groups where you can leave comments for the group leader and other group participants. You can also hold discussions in the discussion section. This is a good place to start networking with other teachers because it is a more professional setting compared to blog posts. Unfortunately, you cannot contact the person through email or a private message without having a LinkedIn username and page. Signing up is free for the basic package and, in order, to get the premium package you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. There isn’t much difference so the basic package should do the trick for networking purposes.

In this quickly changing academic environment, it is a very good idea to start networking with other teachers who are already familiar with technology integration in their classroom. It can make the task seem much less daunting and it is always good to have support when starting something new. A benefit of these tools for networking is there vast array of teachers. These sites are popular all over the world and can make for some very interesting and varied experiences. Being able to contact anyone from around the world is a big draw to these sources and they are free for anyone to use, so there will be someone who understands your situation and will be willing to help.

(Image 1 Source: http://www.edtechcoaching.org/)

(Image 2 Source: http://blog.techwithjen.com/)

Indiana University’s Cyberinfrastructure Building

On Thursday, September 04, my class and I visited the Cyberinfrastructure Building (CIB). This building is a technology leader and has created a space that allows the exploration of new technology. It has an area with all the latest technology. They have Google glasses, Oculus Rift, motion sensor plug-ins, and much, much more. In this area, as well as the rest of the building, the technology is open to the public.

20140904_140217 (1)Two of my favorite pieces of technology are the main focal points of the building. The first one is a spherehanging from the ceiling when you first walk into the building through the main entrance. This sphere is an interactive video screen. Four projectors are hung in such a way that the surface of the sphere is covered in a cohesive image that can be spun around and moved all over the sphere. One of the many ways it was used was during a Science Olympiad visit about plate tectonics. They had projected the Earth onto the sphere and used it to show Pangea and the plates moving to where they are present day. The kids got to control the images and got very into learning about plate tectonics with the interactive video.

 

20140904_140922 (1)The second focal point of the building is the enormous computer screen. It is composed of 24 TV screens that all work as a single monitor. It has a very high resolution, allowing you to zoom into and manipulate the images displayed on the screens. This space can be used by any Indiana University student, staff, or faculty member as long as they have a university login ID. This extra-large computer can also be used during events including the Science Olympiad plate tectonic event.

This trip inspired me to facilitate change in schools because of the innovative ways the CIB uses its technology. Our tour guide told us that the students that come in are so engrossed and engaged with the technology used in the activity that they forget they are learning. The task no longer seems like just another school assignment, but more of an investigation. This is want I want to bring into my classroom and my school. It is very important to foster a love of learning into students. This will help them at every level of education and in everyday life. It is very important for students to be interested in the lesson. The best way to do that is create an exciting activity. It isn’t feasible to make every single lesson every single day seem exciting. One way to do this might be through technology. It’s something students are interested in and familiar with.

I want to be able to help a school change to technology integrated classrooms. I feel that this would be a way to keep students engaged in topics that may not interest them. I know this change doesn’t come easily or cheaply. In order to be an effective facilitator, I will need to learn to write convincing grants and talk to other faculty members to gain support. I do feel that it’s a worthy cause to help students get excited about their education.