Many have already weighed in on what 2015 will bring for education or what big trends may surface.
Here’s what I see happening in 2015:
I believe that for individuals and families living and working in international settings or engaged in some aspect of language learning, the use of language applications will become commonplace.
There are numerous free apps available to help one learn dozens of languages and they are different enough from one another to provide variety and great choice.
The other trend I believe will happen is that MOOCs will become better understood and more commonly utilized for life-long learning. MOOCs haven’t met original predictions to change the higher education landscape. In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, the average user already has a degree and the completion rate is low.
Instead of bemoaning the lack of course completion, I believe we should celebrate adult learners and their ability to dabble in learning opportunities by some of the best professors on the planet.
A couple of years ago I kept seeing the word “Coetail ” in my Twitter feed. Eventually I discovered it was a program in educational technology and information literacy. I noted that many of the educators I was following and learning from were in Coetail or were Coetail graduate s.
Coetail has the potential to redefine educational leadership in numerous ways, including promoting ongoing reflection and learning, connection and collaboration, and creating educators who are able to learn, unlearn, and relearn. In other words, helping us to become technologically nimble.
In addition, I really appreciate the ways in which coetail has promoted a growth mindset. It’s about being learners with our colleagues and our students. It’s about modeling learning, including struggle, and making failure simply a normal part of the process.
I used to worry about technology failing at critical times. I appreciate that I can fix whatever might not be working, even for colleagues, at least most of the time. I have Coetail to thank for thi s. Our school recently hosted a literacy conference with regional participants. Two couldn’t make it and we were able to connect them via a Google Hangout. This too, I wouldn’t have been able to manage with out the great learning I’ve just finished.
At the same time I think it’s safe to say I’ve just begun. the world is changing quickly and in order to prepare our students for their futures, we have to keep up.
My favorite session at ECIS this year had to be Francesca Zammarano’s session on the Colaboratory at UNIS. Francesca is the Junior School Technology Integrator at UNIS and she walked participants through the space, purpose and curriculum of their makerspace.
The space is designed to inspire making, learning, collaborating, failing, and trying again.
I’m particularly intrigued by the curriculum strands they have integrated into their program:
As a school leader, I love collaborating with teachers, particularly when there are opportunities to redefine students’ learning experiences.
One of my favorite ways to transform a unit is to tap into the Communication & CollaborationISTE Standard, which is “to interact, collaborate with … experts … employing a variety of digital environments and media.”
Scientists had hijacked Seventeen Magazine’s Manicure Monday and were posting photos of their hands engaged in science work. As I looked through the tweets I discovered a ton of engaging, passionate scientists on twitter.
Why not try to connect them with classrooms?
What happened …
The first connection was between Abby Othman Wilson, fern researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a grade 6 class at the Anglo-American School of Sofia.
“This was authentic and real,” said G6 science teacher Linda Dimitrov. Students wanted to know: Do you really have to record everything? and Do you have a hypothesis for every experiment that you do?
“Why do you care about ferns?” some students wondered. Abby explained that ferns are older than dinosaurs and ferns are still here. Studying them gives us insight into possible effects of global warming.
There were two grade 6 classes. One participated with Abby and the other watched the recorded Google Hangout.
Guess which class was more engaged?
The students who asked questions with a live contact were significantly more engaged in the process.
Perhaps it’s like listening to your favorite band on iTunes vs. seeing them in concert. There’s something about a live connection that creates powerful motivation and connection.
Later in the spring, I matched COETAIL Graduate Lauren Teather‘s middle schoolers with a scientist studying kinetic energy.
She found it very helpful to clearly introduce the activity to students and have them write questions ahead of time. It also helps to be prepared if the conversation becomes too technical, she explained.
What we learned:
A live connection is authentic and creates engagement.
Researchers are experts in their fields and passionate about their content. This is contagious for students.
Have students generate questions ahead of time. Categorize them and send them to the researcher prior to the connection.
Have clear begin and end times. (A great 25 minute conversation is more rewarding than an hour in which the last 15 minutes becomes to technical for half of the group.)
Be prepared with a back-up plan to bring the conversation back to ‘student-level’ if it gets too technical.
The connection provides a great way to embed aspects of digital citizenship and model reaching out to experts via technology.
The present …
I’ve recently collaborated with a grade 3 teacher at my school, Christine Szeryk, to bring researchers into the classroom as part of a unit on adaptation and evolution.
We were incredibly lucky to connect with Natalie R. Hofmeister from Columbia University. She was open and a fabulous contact for our students. Natalie engaged students in a discussion about DNA and adaptation.
A week later student generated questions for our second scientist, Dr. Carla Easter of the Human Genome Research Institute. Some of the prior questions were repeated, but most of them had evolved to a new level of complexity.
When we ask students what it means to them to connect with researchers, they say it’s interesting because scientists know so much and can answer all sorts of questions.
“When we’re talking to scientists it feels like we are talking to them in real life and they are answering our questions,” said one Grade 3 student.
If you haven’t tried bringing a researcher into your classroom via technology, I encourage you to try. It’s truly wonderful for students!
As a school administrator in COETAIL, I have greatly appreciated being able to apply my learning to my work, even though I’m not in a classroom. In addition, I have found COETAIL to be transformative in numerous aspects of my role of Director of Teaching & Learning at my school.
Some of these include:
Facilitating professional learning experiences
Connecting educators for global collaboration
Connecting educators (and students) with content experts
Organizing professional resources
Presenting to faculty and parents
Collaborating with educators across the globe
The SAMR model is designed for instruction, but I see aspects of the core concepts (redefinition, modification, augmentation, & substitution) that are applicable to school leadership.
Perhaps it’s time for a little remixing and the creation of a new model that combines SAMR and ISTE Standards for Administrators.
Let me know if you are interested in collaborating with me!
I’ve really enjoyed following the great interest in Grant Wiggins’ recent guest post by a teacher who shadowed a student for a couple of days and was shocked by what she learned.
Wiggins has long been an advocate of hearing / seeing from students’ perspectives. During a UbD training with him a few years ago he brought in local students for participants to interview. That small sample of honest insight from a student was powerful for the group.
As of October 19, this post had been read over 650,000 times!
From Granted, and … ~ thoughts on education by Grant Wiggins:
“The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys.
I have made a terrible mistake.
I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!
And for those of us swimming in the edtech world, they are an integral part of our professional and personal lives.
However, there are very good reasons to put our phones and laptops away and to focus on the now.
For educators, summer is the perfect time to turn off our devices and the monkey chatter of our minds. For international colleagues who work in countries far from family and long-time friends, it’s a time to connect face-to face and be fully present.
Below is a collection of articles and resources in support of unplugging for short or long periods of time.
Your body, your mind, your heart, and your loved ones will thank you!
“We discovered that the meditators not only felt more upbeat and socially connected; but they also altered a key part of their cardiovascular system called vagal tone … Your brain is tied to your heart by your vagus nerve. Subtle variations in your heart rate reveal the strength of this brain-heart connection, and as such, heart-rate variability provides an index of your vagal tone.”
“By and large, the higher your vagal tone the better. It means your body is better able to regulate the internal systems that keep you healthy, like your cardiovascular, glucose and immune responses.”
“Beyond these health effects, the behavioral neuroscientist Stephen Porges has shown that vagal tone is central to things like facial expressivity and the ability to tune in to the frequency of the human voice. By increasing people’s vagal tone, we increase their capacity for connection, friendship and empathy.”
“The practice of taking an intentional break from technology and civilization is probably as old as technology and civilization. But it seems increasingly urgent now, in an era when the Internet—and thus most of the planet—is as close as an iPhone. We go to seek waldeinsamkeit, as the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson described it—the feeling of being alone in the woods.”
“We’re living in a remarkable time, when it will soon be impossible to be truly alone. Waldeinsamkeit becomes more and more endangered with every cell tower. And if you’re the kind of person who can only leave email behind when you go off the grid, that means you’re going to need a new plan. Our streets are already filled with people staring into their hands. So are our dinner tables and cafès, even our living rooms and bedrooms. Rather than focusing on taking temporary breaks from technology, we need the discipline to live with it at all times. We can’t rely on a mountain or a remote wasteland to create waldeinsamkeit; we have to create it ourselves.“
“The phone isn’t the problem. The problem is us—our inability to step away from email and games and inessential data, our inability to look up, be it at an alpine lake or at family members. We won’t be able to get away from it all for very much longer. So it’s vitally important that each of us learns how to live with a persistent connection, everywhere we go, whether it’s in the wilderness or at a dinner party.”
In this piece, Wayne shares a variety of advice from experts around the world:
“We’ve known for some time now that multitasking does not work,” said Clay Shirky, a professor in journalism and interactive telecommunications at New York University. “People keep doing it because it’s emotionally pleasant to multitask even though it’s cognitively damaging. So that makes it parallelized procrastination.”
Maite Barón , the founder of London-based Corporate Escape: “I teach [clients] how to be in the present … Stress and anxiety happen when you’re managing the future. Take the TV out of your home. Read one newspaper a week. It’s the same news, repeated every day.” Check email ‘maximum, twice a day.'”
“Juggling a million emails and phone calls throughout the day can turn out to be not only an interruption, but also an exhausting full-time job. Pew Research Center found that 67% of cellphone owners check their phones, even when it isn’t buzzing.”
2. You’ll return better after you’ve taken a break.
“Studies show 44% of cellphone owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on any calls, texts or other updates overnight. But checking a lit-up screen during the middle of the night can prevent us from falling asleep and sleeping well. “
It’s exciting to have the first four COETAIL courses behind us! Reading through our earliest blog posts, it’s amazing how much learning has occurred during this academic school year and in our cohort!
Looking ahead I have several ideas to mull over and possibly play with in the fall.
Technology Use for Today’s Families: Finding Balance and Understanding Learning in Today’s Classrooms
The main emotion I hear from parents about technology is fear.
This past spring our ICT Manager and I ran a 21st Century Learning Coffee Series that was quite popular.
I’d like to respond to our community’s deeper questions and take our work to the next level.
Thinking about our specific population this might include more research and examples of how families are navigating this brave new world of technology. Some parents also expressed a desire to better understand how to control their own digital footprint.
I have done many parent presentations and professional learning sessions for teachers. However, I anticipate this would be a merging of the two styles in which I engage our parents to be learners at a new level and one that also integrates technology.
It could be a series in which they, too, got to see and understand what a flipped classroom feels like or are asked to experiment with visual note-taking during a session. This would be quite different from what we’ve done in the past.
Collaborating with Elementary Grade Level Team to Redesign a Unit
Another possibility is to collaborate with one of our teaching teams to redesign a traditional unit. Our collaboration could serve as an example of how this type of shift could work at our school.
While there are many great examples of technology integration happening, there are still numerous questions about the process. In some ways our school is still sorting out what technology integration looks like from the ground up — starting with the first conversations and early ideas.
We could also document a sort of open lab blog space in which we keep track of our meetings, conversations, and unit evolution and share it with the entire elementary team.
This process would model shared learning including grappling, risk-taking, (occasional failure!) and transparency.
This would be helpful for our school community to see as we continue to raise the bar with regard to transforming our classrooms with technology and learning practices such as project based learning.