Tag Archives: collaboration

What the World Should Know About________? Project

I teach a high school Social Studies class that emphasizes in developing English language development. We have started this project on creating info graphics that inform. Below is the nature of the unit and the general outline of the assignment.

 

The Technocratic Revolution: Science/Technology/Communications.

With the exception of communications-often coupled with transportation-this category of issues receives little attention in the earlier sources examined.  However, virtually all historical sources emphasize the role that science, technology, and communications have played in the lives of all humans.  The study of science and technology provides an ideal vehicle for social studies, as well as math and science learning.  Students will discuss both the pluses and minuses of the impact of science and technology on peoples’ lives (now and in the past) worldwide.

The communication cluster includes innovations, networking, freedom of use, the information revolution (access to, balanced flow, and censorship) and increasing speed coupled with decreasing costs.

While this unit is specifically directed at how science and technology are shaping the world, the significant study of past historical ideas and innovations can show us how change occurs in the past.


Background:

The history of human development is closely tied to ideas, technology, and the search for truth. This unit is an depth focus on the nature of those ideas and innovations that have contributed to transforming the global landscape as well as redefining human relationships. With technology and science as major agents of change, students will be asked to reflect on specific periods of scientific development in order to establish a broad perspective across regions and time.

Objectives

· Students will identify key contributions to scientific thought

· Students will explain human achievements to science & technology.

· Students will differentiate between what is positive and/or negative about science & technology

· Students will analyze a period of scientific growth in depth by forming an essential question and building a document based product that supports the question.

 Task 2:  Infographic on Innovation - 

  • Choose one of the following:  glass, textiles, paper/money, energy, communication and construct an infographic with a target audience that is global. The title of the infographic is “What the world should know about___________________” (or a better title if your the creative type).
  • Read Five Things To Know About Technology and consider how changes and developments over time have been agents of change. (energy for example, with steam powering the Industrial Revolution, demographics changes accelerated.)
  • Consider how visuals may be integrated to form new ideas.
  • Use the Coffee infographic as an exemplar.
  • Weave history, statistics, and anecdotal research into the infographic; pique interest of the audience
  • Consider the power of continuity and color contrast/combinations when designing the infographic.

See examples of infographics; Tools for making infographics; Consider organization (timeline, subject, theme)

Rubric

Copyright © 2012 Matthew Inman. Please don't steal.

Technology is not Additive; it’s Ecological

I have recently been hired as the K-12 Technology Coordinator at Ruamrudee International School in Thailand. I prepared a vision for technology in education that has seen it’s fair share of revisions and reflections. I share it now, for the first time. I use technology because history has showed me that the brightest minds in the world have embraced technology for it’s practical application. I’m sure the late Neil Postman would agree that people should know a few things about technology.

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Education in the 21st century

Education in the 21st century is transforming at an unprecedented rate of change because the needs of learners have shifted toward skills that embody innovation and human experience. I see technology as a historical common phenomena that has peripherally (and continually) shaped the way people view themselves and the world around them. Science, travel, and commerce have evolved (while pushing boundaries) due to the simple implementation of a better, more sophisticated tool which has in turn accommodated progress and collective understanding. We are in a unique time in education and 2012 will most likely be a tipping year as tighter budgets and greater accountability force teachers into adopting new and better tools of instruction.

There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and it is a delusion to believe that the technological changes of our era have rendered irrelevant the wisdom of the ages and the sages.

As a student of history, I have always shaped my understanding of human experience around three essential relationships: people’s relationship to their environment, to other humans, and to powerful ideas that have resonance and meaning. Human experience underlies all that we do as educators in preparing students for active participation in a global society. My vision for technology stems from my thinking about what I do as an educator in meeting the needs of my students. But I am not really supporting any real change if I am attempting to change the broken system called formal learning.

I believe:

1. The most up to date information is only accessible in real time. People are at a disadvantage when their information in outdated. This disadvantage can have a range of repercussions; more importantly, the formal learner must be equipped with the understanding of how to navigate the information available, appropriately use the information, and share their use with others.

2. The role of the teacher has shifted  to that of the learner, facilitator, and approximately nineteen other roles. Embracing the 21 roles of the teacher is an initial step toward identifying the value of new tools and ways of thinking in traditional classrooms.

3. Changing roles means changing personal/group habits, temporal/spatial structures, and (wait for it…..) philosophies.  If a teacher has not changed/modified their own philosophy, then everything else would be meaning less and lack motivation. Decision making demands input from all stakeholders regarding schedules, space, collaborative planning time, and data-driven instruction.

4. Former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch wrote, “If the rate of change outside an institution is faster than inside an institution, that institution is in peril.”  Here is the call for adoption of more progressive blueprints of instruction. Curricula are the most important factor in the success of learner. Good curricula makes a bad teacher effective, bad curriculum makes a good teacher ineffective. The call is for internal and external collaboration to streamline, implement, and celebrate mastery learning which is supported by innovative vehicles of social media and rapid communication

5. The commitment must be made institutionally and then recruit personnel that share the same values and vision. School leaders need to ask the right questions of their prospective hires and support a program of mutual sharing, collegiality, and celebration. I believe that traditional mindsets and external pressures weaken commitment to meeting students needs of the 21st century. I asked a Superintendent of a top school in NY if there were plans in his school to initiate a laptop/1:1 program and he cringed communicating the a general fear that students would misuse the computers. I believe that on many occasions we are only limited by our own thinking in what can be accomplished. It is criminal to pass this mindset onto the next generation.

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Technology in Education

Technology in Education should be explored and implemented to its innovative ends! Implementation of a one to one program requires appropriately support for effective use of the tool. While technology opens so many opportunities, I also believe that it is too often viewed as an end in itself rather than a means to an end—or both! Should technology simply replace all aspects of education for the sake of innovation? Who could propose such a preposterous measure? While teaching requires current instruments and connectivity to students, not all current instruments and student connectivity is enhanced by technology.  Like all good things in life, technology is yet another element to examine with an eye for balance. There is great educational and developmental value in students flexing such a critical eye on technology resources, determining effective and ineffective uses of technology in education and in life. There are a number of ethical issues just surfacing regarding technological innovations—issues of ethics that are far less supported by decades of moral and human values. These issues offer an opportunity for students to truly construct parameters for real-life ethical issues regarding how people use technology in the world, ultimately enhancing social awareness through the critical eyes of multiple students. My vision is that technology supports all three aspects of the human experience believing that teachers must evaluate the quality of their instruction through reflection and augmentation of the following:

  • Environment
  • Human interaction
  • Ideas

1. The focus is not technology integration, but transformation of the system based upon  connectivity, collaboration, communication, collegiality, community, and celebration. All words that start with the letter “C.”  The thinking that I support is one of personalized learning that  enables each student to take a customized path toward meeting high level standards. Flexible uses of time and space allow differentiated approaches to content, assessment, pacing, and learning style. This level of personalization, when combined with world-class standards, performance-based assessment, anytime/anywhere learning, deep student engagement and agency, and a comprehensive system of supports, is referred to as next generation learning (NGL); I whole-heartedly endorse choice in learning. This is how people refine their ability to dialogue, crowd source authentic problems, and innovate.

2. My vision supports an increasing emphasis upon practical and philosophical use of social media through pedagogy and project-based tasks that support a wide-range of 21st century literacies.  Everyone blogs in school and the blogs become a digital portfolio that allow for practicing of curation, construction, and written reflection. All important literacies can be supported and student writing will flourish through appropriate feedback. Institutionally, we shall support the Creative Commons mentality of sharing with proper attribution, while simultaneously contributing to specific learning communities. All teachers will develop a personal learning network for on-going professional development that continuously shares new resources and approaches while challenging existing thinking.

3. An emphasis on fast connectivity along with digital and technical support that minimizes breakdowns in classroom instruction and communication. Let’s double the bandwidth every year! Lets have a tech team within sections that have members representing each department. Super fast connectivity is vital for the uploading of media and information. I would like to see a schools become think tanks and centers of inquiry, where the intellectual challenges are practical and put the learner inside the dilemmas. New types of courses will emerge that will not only pique interest, but will require guest speakers, large amounts of data collection and storage, and creativity. Mental associations are the stuff of creativity and people must be given opportunities to be cognitively challenged.

4. Broadcasting & Vertical Initiatives will be much more pervasive in the future. Skill sets will become much more specialized and so a tiered system of service will most likely emerge. The best skill sets will earn premium wages for services. However, the services will stille be in great demand with the opportunities left available for those below the most sought after quite substantial. In addition, broadcasting will be far more reaching with specialization in a diverse and varied number of subjects. People will come to accept information from specific broadcast sources (youtube channels come to mind here), while the natural synthesis of ideas, interests, and subjects will create enormous opportunities for new areas of thought, exploration, and design. School wide programming where a common theme is shared and used to drive creative productivity and collaboration can happen with much more frequency in a connected learning environment where the school values are emphasized, supported, and aligned.

5. Ambitious Exploration and Experimentation should be encouraged and supported when ever possible. Teachers should feel free to try new methods and approaches to instruction if the methods emphasize challenging but engaging tasks. There are those that feel that some cultures do not embrace risk-taking, however that is a very subjective term. Anything novel requires some risk, other wise it would not be a challenge. There is a implied responsibility to address the needs of the whole student and experimentation and exploration are specific habits of mind that are generally valued by groups. I have blogged on this idea before but I am entirely certain that there must be opportunities throughout formal education for students to not only choose what they want to learn, but also plan how they will learn it. That is a pretty ambitious experiment for any teacher. The next generation of teacher should be able to integrate content, pedagogy, and technology CREATIVELY.

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It doesn’t matter if it is five, ten, or one hundred years, the developing mind will require a structure of learning that has leverage, is relevant, and is enduring. I will wager 50 bajillion Schrute Bucks that will include technology because technology has leverage, is always relevant, and seems to always pop up in the historical record as a major agent of change. Technology is not additive-it is ecological.

In short, we must prepare learners to critically embrace their futures, not our pasts!

Tutorials to the Rescue

Due to Thailand’s flooding situation, we lost an extensive amount of face to face time with students. The situation called for the implementation of e-learning in the virtual environment through various containers and communication devices. The results were at most mixed but it became clear that many students were uprooted or disconnected leaving them with little or no prospect for learning.

A still image from Tagwatchai Saengthamchai's "Blue Whales" cartoon.

Upon returning it became abundantly clear that this situation necessitated some thoughtful reflection and I was happy to see that I wasn’t alone in in my assessment of the effectiveness of e-learning. By and large the positives are far reaching in showing the critical nature of self-directed learning. As a school, too much emphasis is placed on the face to face time as being teacher driven. I would assume that the students who benefited most from e-learning were those who have already adopted and been exposed to 21st century learning. If anything this experience should support that 21st century learning principles are essential to any program committed to developing a generation able to navigate resources, achieve independently, and seek advocacy. The negatives are that not all teachers/parents believe in these principles, ignore the realities of modern education’s role in developing learners, and avoid the responsibility altogether.

As the HOD, I emphasized to the social studies dept. the need to transform assignments into more meaningful tasks that can be extended and modified to fit individual situations. Readings and content may be easily digested but the gradeable activities should have a more metacognitive focus. I myself used blog entries as the medium for turning in tasks. Our reliance on video and external web resources should facilitate narrowing the gap between those engaged over the hiatus and those disengaged. There are a number of realities to consider here as some parents will use this experience to make excuses for student achievement (or lack of) and more likely or not students will do the same. I am inclined to believe that many teachers will turn around in the next 8 weeks and do nothing but lecture in order to “catch up.” This would be the exact opposite of what we should be doing in the classroom. The face to face time is now more crucial than ever and now students can effectively peer review, dialogue on the learning process, and problem solve. There is an opportunity here that must be acknowledged. Instead of a catch up mind-set, embrace a management concept that meets the requirements of the curriculum and the needs of the individual student.

I see this is an opportunity for us as school to decide what is the single most important thing we do as a institution of learning and focus on that singularity. My specific thoughts are that the quantity should not be the question addressed but the quality of the time we have face to face. I would be most critical of two important indicators: teacher communication with students throughout the ordeal and what methods teachers utilize to bring them back into the fold.

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We are addressing the situation in the IB Psychology Course by constructing tutorials using screencasts. All students have been assigned a specific outcome from the syllabus and have been asked to design, execute, and share a 8-10 minute screencast on their specific outcome. The steps I’ve outlined are as followed:

Step 1. Research
Step 2. Organize & Curate their data
Step 3. Sketch an approach/storyboard
Step 4. Filter enhancements
Step 5. Do a one minute practice screen cast on a subject in psychology of their choice.
Step 6. Share their one minute screen cast with 1-2 others for feedback. Share their ideas as well
Step 7. Produce the screencast
Step 8. Share

These finer points were found at The School Library Journal:

Fast Tips

  1. Keep it short & concise.
  2. Credit licensed media as you go.
  3. Choose a generic file format. (Not all hosts accept Flash)
  4. Offer iPod versions.
  5. Consider using captioning to offer subtitles or translations.
  6. Add your brand/logo to title slides.
  7. Remember the 100 MB limit of most hosts.
  8. Reduce file size by only recording an area of your desktop.
  9. Post your screencasts on Facebook & other social sites.
  10. Have fun!