Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One-to-One Is A False Summit

"How great would it be if every student could be connected to every other student by a web connected device?" This was my guiding question, and quickly became my quest, as I accepted a position as technology coordinator twelve years ago. This was before smart phones, iPads, 802.11ac, and 4G networks. One-to-One learning had yet to become an educational catch phrase, and our media-rich classrooms consisted of a desktop computer, a VCR, and a 600 lumen multi-media projector. Regardless of the name, a computer for every student was going to be my trophy. It would be my legacy as "the tech guy". Years later, as we are about to distribute iPads to all of our students, I have come to realize that I was aiming at the wrong target.

Today, while eating fresh at Subway, I began whining about my revelation to my friend and colleague, Keith Sorensen. Not only does he pay for lunch, he's also one of the few people I know that will sit and listen to my wacky musings for any length of time, which is at least as long as the food holds out. Being a sensitive listener, Keith agreed that my glorification of finally going 1:1 was "a false summit". After nearly choking on a slice of green pepper, I composed myself enough to ask for clarification. He was right, putting a tablet in every kid's hands can certainly be an educational game-changer, but the tech implementation is only a means, not an ends. 
"It's only a tool, and it's only the beginning.", he reminded me. "What is the change you really want?", he asked.



I looked inward and upward, as I tend to do when I am measuring my words, took a deep, cleansing breath, and said, "First, I want every learner to be connected to every other learner through social networks. Second, every person has a story worth telling. I want every learner to share their thoughts, experiences, and accomplishments in digital portfolio."

"Now! That's a peak where you can stick your flag!", said Keith as he pointed a spicy nacho Doritos chip at my face while he emphasized his point.

Those weren't his exact words, but it was good to hear his validation of my new peak. Providing an iPad for each of our 15,000 students and staff is a tall order complete with falling rock, and slippery slopes. One-to one learning will help close the opportunity gap for many of our students. However, this endeavor represents mere handholds and footholds on the climb to a more noble summit. The magic of 1:1 isn't air play, gorilla glass, or the lightning connector. It's the ability connect, learn, and share with anyone at any time. The iPad is an enabler of learning relationships.

Tablets were inherently designed to be personal learning devices, which is perfect. Despite arguments to the contrary, learning is personal? I close with Steven Anderson's tweet - it expresses my thoughts appropriately.



What, if any, false summits have you encountered? 
What did you do when you discovered the higher peak?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

21st Century Pedagogy; What's Hot and What's Not

Credit Dr. Jackie Gerstein with creating a chart that is getting a lot of attention in social media this week, particularly Twitter. There are some educators whom I follow for their interesting perspective and expression. There are other educators whom I follow because I am consistently learning from them. Jackie is at the top of my list of educators who help advance learning. In an attempt to add more variety to my blog posts, I elaborated on Dr. Gerstein's terrific chart by creating a narrated slideshow.




  • App smashing is the process of using two or more apps to create a final product. This video was created by using the following tools; Google Slides, Explain Everything, YouTube, and finally sharing through Blogger.



Related Reading


Educators Need to be 21st Century Learners Too - Amy Heavin, Fractus Learning


photo credit: the_junes via photopin cc

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Twitter and Digital Substance

Many of my colleagues and students have said, "I don't get this Twitter thing." I have heard Twitter described as a modern day equivalent of chats around the water cooler. The Twitter experience can be unique to each user. For instance, I tend to use Twitter as a search engine, for social bookmarking, for considering global perspective, for establishing voice, for relationship building, and for staying engaged in my personal learning. 



Tom Whitby, one of my favorite bloggers, often says what I am thinking using better phrasing than my limited vocabulary can express. In his most recent post, ISTE14 Impressions, Tom persuasively describes the value of being a connected educator in order to maximize the conference experience. Sarah Hutas commented on this post by highlighting the value of becoming more connected, but she was still looking to gain a better understanding of Twitter as a tool for socially networked learning. "Where is the substance?", she asks.

Tom's insightful reply, "It is difficult to get a great deal of substance into 140 characters. Tweets are great for guiding people to substance. It also creates a great many collegial sources, people who you can call on for answers or direction. Twitter enables you to be aware of that which you do not yet know and offers you places to direct your learning so that you will know."

"Are teachers who are not yet understanding the value of connecting through Twitter the same teachers who have yet to build out digital substance?"



Could it be that some educators feel hesitant or apprehensive about learning with Twitter because they are in the early stages of establishing their digital presence. Is it that those stuck in an analog existence have less to offer on the digitized playground? Is this the time capsule teaching that Tom Whitby describes in his recent post?

During today's class, I asked my socially networked friend and colleague, Jordan Catapano, if my theory held any water. He said, "Teachers need to just jump in with both feet and make a commitment to learning with others online." Relatively speaking, my indoctrination into socially networked learning was more like tip-toe steps into the shallow end of the pool. 



My level of enjoyment, along with my ability to contribute to connected learning has grown with my increased ability to curate, create, and share digital resources. After two unsuccessful attempts, I now recognize, after this most recent three-year commitment to Twitter, a growing substance to my tweets. This increase in substance has run parallel to the growth of my digital footprint, and the expansion of my personal learning network. Maybe it simply boils down to mastery and confidence. We are more likely to toss more chips to the middle of the poker table when we have a few more stacked in our favor.



Who is better able to tell your story than you? Where are the archives and mementos of your learning? As our lives emigrate from the analog world to the digital, what steps are you taking to preserve your legacy of learning? By becoming digital storytellers, aren't we creating the substance that nudges more of us deeper into the waters of socially networked, personal learning?


Related Resources


The Teacher's Guide to Twitter - Edudemic

School-Wide Twitter Chats - Edutopia, Stephen Baker

Twitter For Teachers - Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything



photo credit: quapan via photopin cc