Dare you to move.

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I have been involved in digital innovation in schools for a long time now. There are so many exciting ideas and approaches that have developed in the last 10-15 years. The advances we have made in the area of pedagogy and learning design with technology have helped to transform the way we teach and the way students are approaching their learning. Technology underpins many important emerging visions for modern learning. It is one of the core “deep learning” skills identified in Michael Fullan’s groundbreaking “New Pedagogies for Deep Learning” project.

Image: iPad Curious Learners by Fancy Jantzi, on Flickr
Image: iPad Curious Learners by Fancy Jantzi, on Flickr

Billions of dollars have been spent around the globe in education to improve infrastructure, upgrade technology training and increase access to devices for students in a variety of ways. There are many frameworks which have been developed which focus on marrying good pedagogy and learning design with effective technologies. It is not good enough just to put technology in front of our kids and think that they can do it themselves. Our kids are fearless risk-takers when confronted with new tech – but they often need a lot of guidance and support to use technology to improve their learning – that’s where we are ideally placed to have the most impact!

And yet there are still many teachers and leaders who have a view that technology is an added extra or even a “distraction to real learning”. We talk about our “digital natives” in a way that implies that this revolution is about them and not us. There are many ways that we can enhance the learning of our students by the use of technology – but there are also some exciting ways that we can improve the way that we carry out our roles as teachers.

Technology is still an area where many teachers feel hesitant, under-skilled, disempowered and even fearful – but it doesn’t need to be that way! It is way past time that we lived out our vision for our kids for ourselves. Here are three easy steps to take:

  1. ACCEPT that this is a part of your teaching toolkit that you can longer afford to be light on. It’s here to stay and it is becoming increasingly important for you to have these skills to be able to contribute positively in your teams and not be a burden on others.
  2. BUILD on our existing strengths and knowledge – choose technology use and digital strategies that you know will enhance learning based on research and your understanding of how kids learn. After all that’s what schools and students need to make it successful – teachers who can apply and filter these initiatives through a lens of pedagogical expertise! If you have a growth mindset, apply it and supercharge your tech initiative.
  3. CONNECT with other teachers who can support your skill development and who will benefit from your ideas and input. Working together is part of what we do as a profession and we are seeing many exciting developments in team-based approaches to teaching in modern learning spaces which are fantastic for teachers to be continuously developing and honing their craft alongside their colleagues. A personal learning network is only a few clicks away – social media is a rich source of wisdom, encouragement, innovative new ideas and support for any teacher who needs it. Don’t just sit and wait for the next course to be offered to you – go out and design your own learning by accessing the global network of educators who are more than willing to lend a hand!

Is it time you got your passport out and shifted your mindset? Become a digital immigrant.

I dare you.

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iPads or Chromebooks… which is best in the classroom?

Source http://news.filehippo.com/2013/03/tablet-sales-may-surpass-desktop-sales-this-year/

As schools increase their engagement with Modern Learning Practices and pedagogies which not only leverage, but are founded on technological systems the decisions about which technology to purchase and which is best for learning rages across classrooms, schools, districts, nations and the globe. Costs are definitely falling but undoubtedly one of the biggest factors for many schools is still the economic bottom line.. Which device ( that we can afford ) gives the best performance and impact on student outcomes at the right price point? This conundrum is also confounding parents as they struggle to figure out what will be the best fit for any particular BYOD initiative being rolled out.

In my own professional role as a school leader I use three devices regularly throughout my day – a tablet, smartphone and a laptop. All are mobile and all have advantages which make them the most appropriate device to use in different situations. If economics wasn’t a major factor then this would probably be the way most students might choose to work, too.

The article linked below gives an interesting point of view from school districts in the US that are bucking a major trend – to follow another major trend. It also identifies some of the challenges faced by school and district technology leaders as they struggle to keep up with changing trends and ever-changing models and feature-rich iterations of devices.

 

Fostering deep reading on digital devices

ipad_kidThere’s no doubt that the experience of reading online is different than reading in print, and emerging studies have found student comprehension and retention are lower on digital devices. As teachers we have got some time-proven effective pedagogies under our collective belts to develop students’ reading abilities using traditional print media. As we move further and further into an age saturated with digital media, however, how do we foster the same “deep reading” and comprehension that we have been able to achieve with printed text?

“The same plasticity that allows us to form a reading circuit to begin with, and short-circuit the development of deep reading if we allow it, also allows us to learn how to duplicate deep reading in a new environment. We cannot go backwards. As children move more toward an immersion in digital media, we have to figure out ways to read deeply there.” Maria Konnikova, New Yorker.

The following article discusses many reasons why reading digital materials is different to reading traditional print-based texts. What are the challenges these issues raise for teachers trying to grow young readers holistically?

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Disrupting boundaries: how digital devices became a resource for transformative change in a time of crisis

…the community of Pegasus Bay had experienced ‘great environmental change’, many of the traditional boundaries defining community, school, teaching, and learning had already been disrupted, which provided a context for teachers to think and practice differently; the introduction and use of digital devices intensified this change process.

via Disrupting boundaries: how digital devices became a resource for transformative change in a time of crisis.

Interesting article on how the challenges faced by some schools in Christchurch following the earthquakes resulted in a project that “… not only created new pathways for learning but also new ways to demonstrate care and concern for others.”
Learning communities growing through adversity!

TodaysMeet adds moderation facility

 TodaysMeet adds a couple of new features to its service which look like a great addition for teachers!

Moderation is definitely the most welcome tool for teachers… but the ability to create secure meetings as well as embed QR codes on the webpage for users to grab and print-friendly transcripts are nice touches to a great classroom tool!


Thanks to Richard Byrne @rmbyrne for the heads-up! Follow him on twitter to get a whole pile of useful tech tips for teachers!

Four essential ideas for blended learning

Thinking of innovative ways to use technology to impact student achievement? Blended learning might be something to consider!

“Shifting some work online to complement traditional classrooms creates much needed time and space in the classroom.”

1. Every school needs a vision
2. One size does not fit all
3. Don’t let software dictate learning goals
4. Support teachers and involve them in the decision-making process

Read more about these four principles in this great article from the team at MindShift


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