Monthly Archives: February 2012

Course 4

In the year…

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What will education look like in 15 years and how will technology have played a role in the shaping of it? I wish I had a crystal ball, but since I don’t I’ve turned to my sons Magic 8 Ball for answers (mind you unlike technology the Magic 8 Ball has not changed since I was a small boy).  So without further ado…will technology play a major role in the reshaping of education? Shake…waiting for inky purple bubbles to clear…answer revealed…”Without A Doubt”! Unfortunately that is the extent of the Magic 8 Balls powers. It does not reveal how technology will change the face of education in 15 more years so I’ll have to take a swing.

Throughout the entire CoeTaIL program one common theme continue to resurface for me. It is the idea of networking. The future of education will depend upon social networking. Kids are already learning about things without our help. Our role will continue to grow as a facilitator. Upon completing our latest readings, watching vodcast and then setting out on my own in search of where the future of education lies I found that this idea of networking continued to resonate throughout. MOOCs or learning philosophies such as rhizomatic learning all require individuals to seek out and create networks.

Massive Open Online Course or MOOC’s have grown exponentially since it’s first course in 2008. The idea that education can not only be free, but also caters to the individuals interests and connects them with others who in turn share similar interests. It all revolves around creating a learning network through collaboration, participation, sharing and differs from a traditional educational format in the sense that the participant can determine where the learning takes place, what they learn and whom they learn with.

Education is already changing because of technology and will continue to do so at a staggering pace. However the disparity between “good” schools and “bad” schools will continue to grow. And by “good” schools I mean schools that can continue to grow and move forward with technology. Schools that have the leadership, vision and of course financial means to do so. Schools that cannot keep pace will suffer as will the level of education that it can offer to better prepare our students for a future immersed in technology. Teaching overseas in this sense most certainly has its advantages. Many international schools are on cutting edge with technology or have the desire and means to do so. As long as this is the case I expect to continue teaching in and growing alongside with them. These are the schools that I will seek out one it comes time to actively recruit. I’ll continue to lean on my established social networks in order to stay active and to stay current. Refining them as times and needs change. Doing what I can to see that as long as technology is relevant, which in 5, 10, even 15 years it will most certainly be, that my students are aware of its significance and necessity in the real world.

Course 4

Flipping Out!

The concept behind a flipped classrooms or reverse instruction is brand new to me and I’m not sure I have fully grasped the idea yet. I’m in the processing stages. Perhaps by the end of this post I’ll have done enough thinking out loud to come to a clear decision. Right now I am trying to figure out what big ideas really separates a flipped classroom today from a classroom 20, 30 years ago or more in which an ordinary instructional video or filmstrip was used by a teacher and viewed by students to introduce key educational concepts. A flipped classroom is an old idea done in new ways. New tools and technology has made it much more accessible than in the past and no longer is class time taken up watching the instructional video. Now every student has access to the video or vodcast at any time. The learning tasks can be done at home with a flipped classroom enabling students to apply what they’ve learned during “real” class time and as teachers we get to cut to the chase so to speak. Creating activities that challenge and extend the learning through individualized instruction and differentiation utilizing actual instructional time. Our role as a facilitator for students grows in this kind of classroom environment and can flourish because hypothetically we now have the time to do so better.

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Okay, so a flipped classroom is already looking better to me. Now how as an art teacher can I successfully implement a flipped classroom or reverse instruction. The website The Flipped Classroom Network has an abundance of resources available to teachers and covers many subjects. However, what it does not have a lot of ideas for is flipping the visual arts classroom.  An Internet search led me to very little additional information.  In one article I came across in School Construction News former art university art instructor, Marvin Bartel says that flipping the classroom in art programs throughout the United States may actually teach art more effectively and at a time where arts programs are suffering due to economic restraints be a way to lesson the monetary strain.

So what will reverse instruction look like in my classroom then? Most certainly I can see it assisting me in being able to develop students artistic skills outside of the classroom. Through vodcast at home students could really sit down and work through techniques until they felt comfortable and accomplished prior to returning to the art room. Being able to work without the stigma of “your artwork looks so much better than mine” would be huge for student entering upper elementary and middle school where students are beginning to search for personal identities through the arts, sports, and school in general. Working in this manner may also instill a passion and life long appreciation for the arts. Having the classroom time to then really just sit down and work individually with students, helping create a lesson that best works for them and that they can feel successful with would be extremely rewarding for me as a teacher. It looks like I’ll just have to take a stab at it and hope this is what it’s all about.

Course 4

Casting a Net over the NETs: Meeting the Standards

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The way in which technology integration manifests itself in the classroom is always changing. New tools arrive at a staggering pace and are constantly redefining the way in which we do things in the classroom. However the way in which technology integration itself works remains constant. Boni Hamilton describes integration in her 2007 book “IT’s Elementary!: Integrating Technology in the Primary Grades” as when “teachers use technology to introduce, reinforce, extend, enrich, assess, and remediate student mastery of curricular targets.” The key point that Hamilton makes is that in order to actually integrate technology we need to go way beyond simply using the tools that our schools provide but to actually use them in constructive ways while embedding them into the schools curriculum.

All of this cannot be done on a whim. It requires teachers and administration buy in. Inserting the NETs standards into curriculum mapping is a common start to “ensuring” that teachers are at the very least thinking about integrating them into the classroom. It doesn’t however mean that they are meeting them. In order to ensure that they are being taught teachers need to plan for their use. They need to take advantage of the vast resources already available to them in their schools and/or online in order to extend the learning that is already meant to be taking place in the classroom all the while actively engaging all students involved. Collaboration amongst colleagues across the curriculum and/or their network of experts on the Internet is also essential to guarantee a rich and far reaching experience that ensures that students are in constant contact with the technology standards regardless of subject area. In planning for the inclusion of NETs teachers are able to see how they align with their own subject standards or that of their collaborators. This would make assessment of the NETs simply part of a teachers regular assessment tools. Common assessments across the curriculum could also be established and used a certain number of times throughout the year. The school would then be able to self assess their level of success through the collection of data on a regular annual cycle. Appropriate adjustments could then be made to help solidify the successful integration of technology standards throughout the school.

Course 4

It’s Time to Grow Up and Taking Responsibility

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The expectation that a classroom teacher is solely going to be responsible for and able to successfully meet each NETs standard is highly unreasonable. The obligations already imposed upon classroom teachers or specialists are difficult enough to accomplish by school years end and the onus put upon them just continues to grow. On top of all that we also forget that not all teachers have jumped on the tech train yet, even at schools where technology is being embraced. Many are intimidated by technology or again feel inundated with other obligations to want to even bother spending the extra time to integrate technology into their planning.

So whose job is it to teach the NETs in our schools? In my mind it is still the teacher’s responsibility along with the support technology coordinator. It does take a real commitment of time, effort and perhaps most imperative a willingness to learn about these standards. Teachers need to take an active role in seeking out professional development opportunities that will assist in their quest for understanding the NETs. Rely upon others with more knowledge in the area such as the tech coordinator at school or even by participating in online social networks that share a similar desire to learn about integrating the NETs. ISTE has a great support group called Community Ning for teachers who are there to share and support ideas for integrating technology and all the while incorporating the NETs.

Having a better understanding of the NETs along with taking an active role in integrating the technology into the classroom through collaborative planning will help ensure that these standards are being taught. The administration must also support the processes. Requiring all teachers to link NETs into curriculum maps can effectively reinforce and further extended what is already being taught in the technology classrooms into their own classrooms and beyond!