Technology being integral to curriculum calls for a meticulous technical assistance for it to be seamless. To avoid confusion and frustration while implementing new teaching strategies during classes, teachers are required to be well equipped with the pedagogy and aware of the best-suited tech tools to bring out the best in student learning. The tools do not need to be the latest but the ones that comply well with the class requirement.
Middle School at AES is already piloting 1:1 iPad program and is preparing the students to become members of the so-called 21st Century workforce. The tech department is trying to push a one stop shop for a set of guided tutorials, to benefit the entire AES Community (Students, Teachers and Parents) so they continue to grow in their learning with complete (24X7) tech guidance.
For students to become independent, a learning environment is being created, where students, coordinate, collaborate, think critically, are motivated, are productive and self directed. The classroom practice at AES fulfills the curriculum and the ISTE Nets standards for Students and Teachers to great extent. Such enormous step towards digital citizenship propels the students toward enanced learning and sets them for future, higher learning objectives.
All the student when in Middle School at AES, go through tech sessions fabricated into their regular classes, where they are briefed about all the programs mentioned below, so they can stay connected and receive/share information. Students are required to use the tech resources ethically and treat it as a privilege. They attend a digital citizenship camp to become aware of how to use technology in their favor and have a positive electronic footprint, which could help them in future.
The tutorial for each of the mentioned program below is on the following site. The site is still under construction and the tech team from MS is working on competing the page soon. The page is accessible to faculty and students.
1. Gmail accounts – making students comfortable with the email program so they can use email program features effectively (text and video)
Google offers a complete environment for easy accessibility to data and effective collaboration.
2. Veracross – is an online program that holds the students information including their grades, schedules, attendance, and personal details. Parents also have an access to this program and they can check their ward’s progress in school via this medium.
- Student Attendance
- Student Grades
- Student Assignments
- Student Schedule
3. Blogs – offer a great platform to students and teachers to assimilate, share their thoughts. Their assignments are also posted on the teacher blogs, and in case of any absence from school; the students can check the teacher blog for assignments.
Students have also used blogs as a platform to lead their Parent/Teacher Conferences where students share their work from different subject areas to give their parents a insight into their school life.
The students are taught to do the following in their classes and advisories.
- Make a Post for (Quarterly Reflections)
- Make a Page
- Add links (teacher blog and calendar links,external links)
- Access the widgets
- Insert images on the posts and pages
- Insert videos
- Making hyperlinks
- Update and preview the page
Teacher Calendar links – From here the students can get to their teacher blogs.
4. MS/HS library (Database password-aestigers) (text and video)
Library site has some great databases links for the student research work. The databases can be accessed with a username and password provided to students.
5. AES Learning Portal (go.aes.ac.in)
AES Learning Portal is a one-stop shop to access all the crucial programs used in school.
6. Saving data on the School Server
- Z drive-Personal space with capacity of 8 MB
- MS-Student Shared-accessible to all students and faculty
- Pen drive-Properly formatted
The student’s can use the server space provided by school for storing their class work. Each student has been allocated space on server to save his or her school related data. It proves handy as the server can be accessed from any laptop or computer when in school. The server is accessible only, when in school. No access to it when outside of school.
Students also are made to create drop box accounts so they can transfer their data from home to school and vice versa.
They use their USB also to transfer data.
They send files as attachments via email
They share videos via youtube. The students upload their school videos using the school youtube a/c.
7. Helping students with setting up of their iPads
For the students, to be able to use the school provided iPad, their iPads need to be registered and connected to the MS server. Then students are taken through a tutorial on how to create their own free apple id.
After the successful creation of apple id, they are given the access to Self Service. Self Service gives students access to all the apps that school has purchased on teachers request, so they can implement upon, during classes. This practice strengthens, student learning and comprehension of the subject matter.
8. Installing the Self Service
Getting their ipads connected to the MS server (providing their MAC address to the tech office). Setting up of apple id, for installing the Self Service and availing school purchased, educational apps, for classroom use. How to add Self Service to your iPad
9. Printing from laptops and iPads
The students are made aware of the printers available in middle school. They are educated on how to do economy printing (back to back and gray scale).
The students are not hugely encouraged to print, when in school, they mostly share their data, electronically, with their teachers, and print only when asked by their teachers.
Students can print from iPads also using the wireless Airprinters
10. Uploading videos on YouTube.
Students are required to put their assignments and class learning in form of video, on their blogs. They upload their videos on youtube and plant the link on the blogs post or pages respectively. It good learning resource for later reference and sharing with the peer in distant location. They are expected to use the school youtube account for school work.
11. Email Etiquette
Building a PLN for Faculty at AES
We need to strengthen the tech skills of our educators as they can inculcate a healthy practice of using technology ethically in our students. This entire exercise is done with the intent to provide the teachers with a tech Launchpad so they learn to grow more independent. This platform gives them a window to communicate and collaborate and plan a curriculum that works best for students. Every teacher aspires to teach in way so they could instill higher-level thinking and problem solving skills their students.
Middle School at AES being the first one to go 1:1 is pioneering the role for the other schools. It leaves the entire tech crew and teachers with a huge responsibility. The teachers constantly engage students in class activities, which requires for them to use tech heavily. The students are using tech all the time in math, humanities, science, world language, multimedia and robotics class. The teachers are redefining the teaching strategies so students get better with comprehending the content taught and integrate across the classes.
The teachers are also collaborating, communicating with their counterparts across the world to know more about different means and platforms of teaching. The school has purchased quite a few apps on teacher’s demand, that they regularly at different grade levels. The students now are free to try, test, experiment, take videos and photos and print them out with the same device. The students feel inspired in a tech based learning environment where they are constantly interacting with their peers and the real world. They feel independent and equipped with slick means of technology that is easily available and very good in quick response.
I would also like to share some resources from other educators.
I have shared a few resources, that talk about the measures different schools take, to advocate and improve upon digital literacy. Loved Kim Cofino’s Blog, which has a great deal to offer.
Worth going through, Online Resources
Technology benefits us all manifold, if applied conscientiously and ethically and this can be justified by putting in all the right pieces in form guidelines for students, teachers and parents. It is always a collaborative effort of the three groups that can make a safe and productive environment for learning. It is our duty as educators that we put forth a guided path for our students so they embark on this digital journey with complete confidence and perspective.
An effort towards fulfilling my goal of making easy to use instructions for our students and faculty, the tutorials have been saved on the
The tech tutorials available on the page, are a collective effort of tech professionals from AES(MS and HS). The site is still under construction, and the tutorials are being added constantly.
My aim is to propagate this immense resource to the entire AES community (Students, Teachers and Parents), so they can be empowered and be more independent. I am aiming at the following means for spreading the word around
- Link School website
- Parent newsletter
- AES Portal
- Veracross resouces
- Google Calendar
- A link in student blogs
This process will empower the community to justify their need for effective learning at their own pace. It implies at strengthening our students for a better tomorrow where they find themselves equipped, independent and skilled with digital tools.
I felt that this could a part of tech class and the students are made to read such articles on how to save their identity on web and be mindful of what to post. I have been through some of the practices that other schools are following and some interesting opinions from people across the world
Student Tech Team: Student Leadership in Action – Kim Cofino
Kim’s blog is very inspiring and has a lot to offer for digital literacy and tech integration. It’s worth looking through. I liked to see the flipped role as students being the digital natives take the ownership of teaching and present it to their peers. What a great way of learning and sharing.
Digital Citizenship – Using Technology Appropriately
“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important. “
AES is a multicultural school with students from diverse locations. Being an international school, students join AES at different times of the year and their experience and exposure to technology is varied. The counseling and technology department work hand in hand, for students to have a smooth transition. A well-tailored landing stage for technology is arranged for them. The goal is to have them roll into the class routine as quickly as possible.
This all is achieved with the easy to understand tutorials arranged for the students and their parents on one to one basis. They are made aware of process and tech procedures that are followed at AES. The tutorials cover the following
- Creation of personal ids for the server use, email access, calendar syncing for quick homework access, blog access for sharing the reflections and Veracross for checking the grades and schedule
- Facilitating the access to educational apps for school use. AES is piloting 1:1 iPad program in Middle School. The students get to keep their iPads for the entire school year and use them in all their classes based on the class criteria, hence helping students to create their own apple id so they can avail the school purchased apps
- Educating students about the digital citizenship and fair use of technology. It covers the following
- Internet Safety
- Privacy & Security
- Relationships & Communication
- Digital Footprint & Reputation
- Self-image & Identity
- Information Literacy
- Creative Credit & Copyright
- Educating students about the printer locations in Middle School
- Making students aware of the library databases for research
- To stay tuned with their ward’s progress at school
- Communication with their ward’s teachers and administrative staff
- Getting information of day to day and upcoming events
The students are educated about the technology norm that our school follows via tech session arranged by the Technology department at school level. It is mandatory for the students and parents to attend all the tech sessions. The students are taken through the tutorials in parts so they don’t feel overwhelmed with too much to begin with.
The Middle School also plans on putting the videos of these key tutorials on the school website, so the students can take advantage whenever they feel stumped. These tutorials are a one stop shop and can be accessed from school and home likewise. The tutorials will provide timely help to the students and also help them enhance their troubleshooting skills.
It’s hard to predict what future has in store for us but looking at the upward swing of technology, tech will never cease to exist but will get more sophisticated. There is no way to avoid but be part of the digital revolution and imbibe it in our daily lives like necessity. Classroom teaching will still stay integral to the education system. Online mediums of learning will continue to blossom and offer opportunities of learning to everyone. I see a great change in education from the time I went to school and did my college. I have seen the environment change tremendously from “the sage on the stage” to the one with total engagement and active participation from students.
Students will always be exposed to technology in their journey of learning. But they will always need a direction to know of ways to use it effectively and ethically. Immense tech resources can confuse the students in making fair choices for themselves so they need to be taught of all the measures of being a law abiding netizen. Digital citizenship needs to be propagated with fervor so the students understand their responsibility around technology.
Teachers are facilitators of education and their role is to inspire and motivate students to be imaginative, critical thinkers who can think differently and make connections to their daily life. I am a total fan of the TPACK strategy which professes that one does not need to have high end technology in classrooms but make use of all the available resources and using it for one’s benefit. I also believe in the teacher knowing their content fully well and fabricate technology around it to keep the essence of class.
Classroom teaching I feel will still be prevalent as teachers will always remain important in student’s life. They inspire students, motivate and introduce them to new ways of learning` and a one to one connection with teacher will always be needed. It is very important to maintain student interest in class and a teacher plays a very crucial role by juggling through various teaching strategies to achieve the same.
Students today, are tech savvy and have a natural inclination towards technology. They welcome a leap into new ways of teaching that involve tech integration. Teachers are constantly learning ways to integrate technology in classes so the content is conveyed by interesting methods which in return sustains the essence of class
“In order to integrate games into the existing school environment, they must address
several common concerns of teachers:
• Their need to cover mandated content areas;
• A healthy skepticism of new technologies (combined with a lack of infrastructure for these technologies);
• An unfamiliarity with games, and no easy route to game competence.” Moving Learning Games Forward
Students have a natural bend towards gamification as visuals tend to have more impact on human mind. The students relate more to spatial learning. The concepts stay with them for long as they are able to make references to their learning from other subjects. The students learn to strategize and learn ways of solving problems. Angry bird’s app is an excellent example of learning hyperbola – a math concept. I also agree with the opinion thrown in Role of play where a child gets to sense or feel
1. freedom to fail;
2. freedom to experiment;
3. freedom to fashion identities;
4. freedom of effort;
5. freedom of interpretation
Dr. Pink’s video is also quite true when it talks about the various measures of motivation. Teaching is one profession which is gratifying when students are responding well to encouragement, innovation, and inspiration. A positive behavior from students is an indication. Teachers engage students in activities that are interesting, stimulating, and are good learning source for the students. Such activities are fulfilling and contribute towards learning.
It is very important to maintain student interest in class and a teacher plays a very crucial role by juggling through various teaching strategies to achieve the same. Students today, are tech savvy and have a natural inclination towards technology. They welcome a leap into new ways of teaching that involve tech integration. Teachers are constantly learning ways to integrate technology in classes so the content is conveyed by interesting methods which in return sustains the essence of class.
I would love to highlight some interesting examples of student curiosity and achievement. They all followed their passion with perseverance.
A group of four girls from Rochester, New York have developed an ingenious, low-tech method for pasteurizing milk to make sure it’s safe for human consumption. The group, calling themselves the Hippie Pandas, heard about the plight of women being sickened by unsafe milk in Nicaragua from a relative in the Peace Corps and decided to create an easy way for people in rural areas to pasteurize their milk. http://www.care2.com/causes/teen-girls-saving-lives-with-award-winning-invention-video.html#ixzz27rDZYS2s
The students use the project based learning in this class as they collaborate and work together on any given challenge. They use their strengths to evolve a good functional design. The students are required to use their imagination to come up with a program to meet the challenge. The students go through a complete integration cycle where they make decisions to choose the best workable solutions. (First the students need to understand the requirement of sensors they need to use for the task. Upon deciding that they test and try the potential of sensors so they can be effectively utilized. In this challenge the students have to make some connections with science and math. They make use of sensors to detect the difference of Light and dark surface. They sense the hurdles on way and try means to go around the obstructions).
The students follow a design cycle in which they work in stages
- identifying or clarifying a need or opportunity -The students identify the problem . They students understand the problem before offering the solution. Eg. The sensors required for meeting the challenge, the bot design effective for task.
- analysing, researching and specifying requirements – They look for the criteria that fits the strategy. They discuss the constraints that would be key in mould the ideas like the availability of key components for building the bot
- generating ideas and solutions – They brainstorm for possible solutions. It is divergent thinking with no ideas termed as wrong or bad. The students generate ideas and come up with more than one workable solutions. Explore various possibilities and then combine their findings and choose the most effective workable solution.
- developing the chosen solution – The students work on team management and share the tasks among their groups. They after building a model or prototype the students test it for working.
- realising the chosen solution – They continuously refine the design and make changes to make it better and more effective. The test is conducted against a variety of criteria’s so the design is successful
- testing and evaluating the chosen solution – Finally the design is ready for trials.
The Robotics challenge that students take – challenge
The nature of my class demands a collaborative environment where students work together on robotics challenges. They work in teams, brainstorm through a variety of ideas and engage in critical thinking. Their goal is to devise the best strategy to come to a solution. Their troubleshooting skills get strong with every successive class. They get to learn about the various robotics parts like motors, sensors, gears and their significance in the making and maneuvering of a robot. They are able to make connections to the automated mechanisms like touch technology (phone, automated video games, and much more, they use in their daily routine. Technology adds flair to content by letting the students share their experiences and with other students and vice versa.
The activities planned are project based and the students are given simple tips on how to approach the challenge by breaking it into small parts and dividing the task to every team member. Everybody gets to do their fair share of work. In Robotics, the students are required to put together a simple taskbot for starter. They use an instruction manual for building their first bot. They are introduced to the programming editor where they put programming blocks together to maneuver their bot. The students are also given extra credit for being supportive and helpful to their peers outside of their group. They are constantly applauded for the efforts they put in.
After these baby steps, they are taken from mild challenges to some difficult ones. They also compete against each other on various challenges. After a couple robotics tasks they feel equipped and confident and are able to experiment with the design of their robot and programming. The students capture videos of their accomplished challenges and post them on youtube to share with their classmates and family via their blogs. They use ipads to record video conveniently and post them various digital mediums with ease. In the robotics club some students at times use android phones to maneuver their bots like remotes.
They also devise their own challenges and practice them. Since it’s a hand on class they truly enjoy this class and stay engrossed through and through. They learn to be independent, interactive, innovative and inspiring individuals. They enjoy this stress free environment. It is a step towards a cohesive classroom.
This branch of technology can get a lift if more robotics resources and other school’s engagement with robotics can be shared on the web. One such great site is NXT Programs.com It shares the simple and complicated Robotics designs with their building instructions and programs attached. It’s a great resource for the creative students who get inspiration for creativity from this site.
I am thinking of students making videos of their challenges and also recording a voice over to share the challenges they faced while accomplishing a task and the strategies they used to overcome the problems. Their experiences can help other students across the globe and can be a good authentic resource for all beginners.
The Playable Classroom is an interesting article that throws light on surge of technology that has been around and changing the traditional classroom into a complete digital classroom. This changes forces teachers to shoulder more responsibility. The teachers need to constantly upgrade their skills so they can stay ahead of their students by creating interesting and engaging lesson plans. The teachers also need to know their content, pedagogy and then use technology in balance so it remains a meaningful lesson for students. I recently went to attend a class in High School where a science teacher was using NearPod, an app on ipad with his students. He used this app to share a powerpoint with his class that had illustrated slides on it. All the students got to see the same slides as their teacher. He taught the topic, quizzed them for answers and also asked them questions throughout to check their understanding. It was a complete interactive and tech integrated class which had all students tuned in. The students had no control over their ipad display. The teacher was in complete control of his class.
I also liked reading 5 Strategies For 1 to 1 Classroom Management which talks about 24/7 access to resources for nonstop learning. The web based learning environment like cloud computing, google docs, blogs and many others are some of the refined tools that facilitate learning. True the students should also be aware and should be made to practice the Acceptable User Policy for digital use. The grading system should be such which is inclusive of giving credits for any external resources used.
“This stuff is new to me and I don’t know it all. But I am excited to learn it and I know that it empowers you as learners. Therefore, I am willing to embrace technology because I know it will make your education more valuable.” The line underlined is very inspiring as I have seen technology bring about some positive changes in the educational system at AES. AES is a great example of tech integration as the teachers are involved in learning new strategies for a collaborative environment.
They are also required to teach students the ethical use technology via file sharing and being respectful to other people online and every other possible way. I also agree with Rich Kiker’s viewpoint of introducing the important tech sessions to students so they stay abreast of the latest tech trends and be skilled, capable and responsible users of technology.
The NMC report talks about the substantial shift in education which is more activity and challenge based. It’s more collaborative than ever before. It’s easier to access educational resources, share resources, problem solve with discussions, access the experts in far flung destinations. The modern age tech tools have given access and freedom of expression and knowledge to one and all. “The NMC Horizon Report is not a predictive tool. It is meant, rather, to highlight emerging technologies with considerable potential for our focus areas of education and interpretation.” http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2012-horizon-report-HE.pdf
Online courses, testing, immediate score retrieval, getting accreditions was never so easy before. The traditional education trends are changing gradually to give more freedom to the the learners so they are in sync with the changing tech platform.
Credits – Thanks to Mr. Hoover for letting me be a part of his science class while he was using NearPod with his class.
“Project-based learning is an instructional method that provides students with complex tasks based on challenging questions or problems that involve the students’ problem solving, decision making, investigative skills, and reflection that includes teacher facilitation, but not direction.”
“The core idea of project-based learning is that real-world problems capture students’ interest and provoke serious thinking as the students acquire and apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context. The teacher plays the role of facilitator, working with students to frame worthwhile questions, structuring meaningful tasks, coaching both knowledge development and social skills, and carefully assessing what students have learned from the experience. Advocates assert that project-based learning helps prepare students for the thinking and collaboration skills required in the workplace.”
Down below is a table showing the key points of the Project Based Learning Theory and its use in my robotics class that helps with tech integration.
|Key elements of Project Based Learning||My Classroom Practice for Robotics|
|It is organized around an open-ended Driving Question or Challenge. These focus students’ work and deepen their learning by centering on significant issues, debates, questions and/or problems.||Introduction to Robotics. Their comfort level with this particular branch of technology. Well-built tutorials with demonstrations to assemble the Robot and and programming techniques. Starting with basics, adapting to the comfort of using the program and gradually moving on to challenging problems.|
|It creates a need to know essential content and skills. Typical projects (and most instruction) begin by presenting students with knowledge and concepts and then, once learned, give them the opportunity to apply them. PBL begins with the vision of an end product or presentation which requires learning specific knowledge and concepts, thus creating a context and reason to learn and understand the information and concepts.||Students get to practice and build their lego building and programming skills. Based on their understanding the students are given time bound and open end challenges. Students work in teams collaboratively. They discuss, practice and devise means to make best decisions to accomplish the challenges.|
|It requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new. Not all learning has to be based on inquiry, but some should. And this inquiry should lead students to construct something new – an idea, an interpretation, a new way of displaying what they have learned.||All the students are required to attempt the assembling and programming of Robots. Starting with basic and then moving on to complex ones. They work together to come out various solutions to achieve their goal.|
|It requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication. Students need to do much more than remember information—they need to use higher-order thinking skills. They also have to learn to work as a team and contribute to a group effort||As the students advance through the course, completing the challenges at times can be overwhelming. They at times visit the tutorials, take help from peers and teacher. They learn to troubleshoot and tirelessly make an attempt to complete the challenges set for them. They publish their finished work on youtube to share with the world. Mediums for capturing (Flips and ipads). One of my students video sharing his work from class.|
|It allows some degree of student voice and choice. Students learn to work independently and take responsibility when they are asked to make choices. The opportunity to make choices, and to express their learning in their own voice, also helps to increase students’ educational engagement.||The students are free to make and devise strategy for problem solving. Students learn to take responsibility of their work by completing it on time. They behave responsibly towards each other and help each by solving problems and also keep their assigned Robotics kit in good shape.|
|It incorporates feedback and revision. Students use peer critique to improve their work to create higher quality products.||Students share their completed work with other students, parents and friends using blogs and videos and images. They make constructive comments on each other’s work.|
|It results in a publicly presented product or performance. What you know is demonstrated by what you do, and what you do must be open to public scrutiny and critique.||Students present their work in class to each other to improvise upon their work. The challenges are built with an intent so they get to practice everything they have learnt in class.|
As technology is driving force in education, we cannot deny technology to students. We as teachers need to teach the content with a whole new perspective so students can retain the knowledge stay motivated and make connections to their daily lives. It should have meaning and a better implication for them. Knowledge attained should inspire them to become thorough individuals, so they are ready to take challenges, be critical thinkers, with great troubleshooting and problem solving ability. Such learning can motivate students to collaborate with peers and cooperate and shares the findings.
Teachers in a conventional setting did not have adequate tech resources to inspire students to break free from monotonous educational pattern and would follow the same old practice for years. It used to be a one way dialogue (teacher to student) mostly where teachers ended up doing everything for students, like making essentials questions for them, providing them with answers. It was totally teacher dependent environment. The scenario has reversed to great extent as most teachers around the globe now have access to fine web 2.0 tools (some very popular ones like blogging, email, voice thread, wikis) that can be used to improvise the quality of education. Students not present in class don’t have much to loose, as the homework requirement can be fulfilled by digital mediums, the classroom activities can be viewed on the net.
Various strategies can be planned to engage students and stimulate their interest in content with the help of newer and modern tech tools. Students feel encouraged and empowered to participate in classroom activities with free access to such tech tools.
Teacher’s willingness to stay in as active tech advisor to students requires them to pursue their professional development programs so they are constantly devising and searching for newer ways of imparting lesson for effective learning.
There is not specific technology made for education but the teachers need to repurpose the technology by using it to their benefit. Creative and innovative use of technology is the need of today and teachers are facilitators of such a change. The teachers need to know the content and teach that content in a interesting way so students find it stimulating and show eagerness to learn more. They can create opportunities for students to try out variety of digital means to learn, understand, express and share the content.
I totally agree with the video on Punya Mishra’s Web where it stresses on the educators to figure out variety of ways to teach content in class in an interesting way. The video advocates the concept called TPACK (which is the combination of Knowing the content, knowing your pedagogy and amalgamating it with technology. It talks about how we don’t need to have hifi technology at our disposal but using whatever means we have to enhance student learning. Its the creative innovation towards learning that benefits the students. They respond to technology naturally and use it for optimization of learning like never before.