Apr 172013
 

I apologize but the original post has been removed for circumstances beyond my control.

If you want to participate in an excellent discussion on the topic, go to Linked In and search in the

Technology Integration in Education Digital technology into the classroom

Mar 042013
 

teacher farmerQuestion: What do farmers and teachers have in common?

Answer: They are both outstanding in their field… but they also have a few other commonalities.

  • Both farming and teaching have been around forever.
  • Both farming and teaching are nurturing professions.
  • Both farming and teaching have historically been respected professions.
  • Both farming and teaching have a very important foundational role in society.
  • Both farming and teaching have changed immensely in the past 30 years.

And now you are asking yourself… “Where is he going with this?”

Well this post started when I was marking some end of term assignments in which the kids looked at “Super Foods” and why they are better for you than the corn syrup saturated, genetically modified Franken-Food you can find in your local grocery isle.

This past term we spent a significant amount of time looking at the modern food industry and how it has changed our food supply so significantly, that there is very little food available these days that hasn’t been touched in some way by mechanization and science.

We talk about how big multinational companies, control virtually everything that gets produced on most modern farms. I talk about how the food industry in the United States, has successfully lobbied government to put into place the Veggie Libel laws, which effectively muzzle any kind of dissent or criticism about how food is produced. We talk about how only those with enough income can afford to make healthy food choices and that in some States there are even laws put in place that prevent farmers from selling healthy organic food products, to people who want it. Finally, as if the planets had aligned on queue… Just as we were wrapping up the unit, the Horse Meat scandal hit the news and illustrated that, food producers don’t have to tell you what is really in your food.

The kids were obviously relieved to hear that things are not quite so wacky up here in Canada but I caution them that we are on a similar road as the good old US of A. The question I then put to them is, how did this happen? How did “the people” lose control of their food system?

By the end of the unit, I usually have the kids looking at the food they eat with a much more critical eye and parents asking me “what in gods name did you tell them?”…  Which brings me to how I came up with me Teacher – Farmer comparison.

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 7.51.32 PM

gawker.com/

Between marking sessions I was perusing my twitter feeds and saw one tweet, which led me to the headline you see to the left.

Upon reading the short article, all I could think was that I am really happy that I teach in Canada. Unfortunately , I had to remind myself that same sort of teacher bashing is happening here too. It would seem that all over North America, the teaching profession is under attack and public education is on life support.

It was then that I made the huge cognitive jump required to connect farmers and food, with teachers and school. I started listing off the following comparisons on the back of a students assignment (Thank goodness for erasers! ) and it all seemed to fit together like a shiny red apple on the teacher’s desk.

Laws are being put in place to silence teachers and their supporters, just as the Veggie Libel laws silence anyone who questions the food system.

Many jurisdictions in the USA already live with the reality that only the wealthy can afford to send their children to good quality schools, just as they are the only ones who can afford to purchase good quality food.

If public school systems are dismantled and handed over to private interests, it is conceivable that a single corporation will own the curriculum that teachers deliver, just like Monsanto owns the seed that farmers plant?

If big business is handed the keys to public schools, it is not unimaginable that they will administer them much like large stock yards or chicken houses.

The final comparison is one I came up with as I was writing this very post and it is a bit disconcerting to me but none the less carries some weight. The massive changes we experienced in our food production over the past thirty years, came on the back of technological advances. Those advances and the people who were offering them, promised a gastronomic utopia, where everyone would be fed and the world would be happy but at some point things went sideways. In many respects, these changes we are seeing coming down the pike in our education system, are fueled by a similar promise of a technological driven utopia in education.

As someone who is one of the purveyors of the technology that is being sold as education’s salvation, this is a bit problematic. I can rationalize my position by saying that I am one of the few who encourages thoughtful adoption of technology in the classroom but is that enough?

Even after my little (if not bizarre) revelation, I still feel there is a place for technology in the classroom. Technology is not the problem. The problem is allowing private interests to control that which is intended for the common good. Just like our food supply, our education system will become toxic if private interests get control of it.

Just say no to Education Inc. There is too much at steak. Tongue Out

The Smoking Apple

K-12 Database Jazzes Tech Start Ups, Spooks Parents

When private interests dictate public policy

Knowledge and Public Education in Crisis. “Accelerated Privatization of Global Education

Why Are Walmart Billionaires Bankrolling Phony School “Reform” In LA?

Feb 152013
 

I am elated to introduce the single best tablet ever designed for the classroom. Finally we have something that works the way a Classroom Tablet should… I give you the EDUTAB

kpad

Features


case

 

Construction

  • Encased in carbon fiber
  • Godzilla Glass! Like Gorilla Glass but 10 x stronger
  • Water resistant
  • Field study ready
Entire Network Network Capable

  • Each tablet networked the way you want
  • Microsoft & Novell Network Compatible
  • Multi User profile logins from 2 to ∞
  • H Drive accessible
Groups2 Complete File Freedom

  • Up or download files
  • Share files from device to device
  • Move files from device to networked drive
  • Move files from device to cloud
  • Share files between applications
Print (1) Wireless Printing anywhere anytime

  • Print to any shared printer over a Wi-Fi network
wireless WiFi Enabled

  • WiFi Syncing capable with network or desktop
  • Non Proprietary WiFi Projection
Bluetooth Bluetooth

  • Connect keyboard
  • Tether your data enabled phone
  • Connect to other bluetooth enabled devices
google_desktop Google Tools Friendly

  • Google Drive
  • Google +
  • Google Apps for Education
apps Full complement of productivity Apps

  • Document creation
  • Presentation creation
  • Math tools
  • Science tools
  • Reference materials
flash Flash Support

  • Need I say more
Browser Fully Functioning Browser

  • Reduce the need for apps
  • Freedom to roam the web
Video Multi Media Capable

  • Video editing
  • Audio editing
  • Podcast ready
  • YouTube Friendly
preferences_desktop_keyboard Physical Keyboard

  • External keyboard capable
  • Physical attachment
  • Bluetooth connection
1360883378_Library_Black E Reader Ready

  • Multi format capable
  • Annotation capable
  • Read access from Network Drive (required less storage space)

Player Volume
Audio

  • Dolby 5.1 output
  • Universal mic input (built in condenser)
camera_video Camera

  • Still & Video ready
  • 8 Mega Pixel
  • Front and back
usbflashcardwithcardreader2 USB & Memory ports

  • Expandable SD memory slot
  • Easy connect micro USB
  • Compatible with all operating systems
  • Transfer files by drag and drop
  • Great for pushing out network images
1360998829_battery_two_thirds Battery Life

  • 10+ hour battery life
1361003386_money_bag Cost

  • 16G $250
  • 32G $350
  • Institutional lease options
  • Bulk purchase discounts

Cool Eh! And then I woke up.

Device makers have yet to come to grips with what educators need out of a digital device.

I am quite certain that an educator, has never been involved in the design of any tablet on the market today. The utility of the tablet as a classroom device, continues to be more of a function of marketing than design.

The classroom is a flexible, ever-changing and frequently unpredictable place and as such, digital devices need to be able to keep up and roll with the needs of the student and teacher as they arise. The confines of a device’s limitations or lack there of, is the true measure of its value as a learning tool.

A multinational’s vision of what a classroom should look like, matters not. We need to remember, they are selling devices not education. What I have listed above is what I need as a teacher in a dynamic digitally driven classroom. I don’t care about proprietary posturing and protection of trade secrets. Give me something that does what I want it to do, when I want it done. No restrictions, no workarounds, just pure unadulterated classroom utility.

Happy Weekend.

Reader Additions To The Ultimate Tablet

people Multi User Profiles

  • User profiles that are not tied to network
  • Provide different access and rights to groups or individuals
  • Student – Teacher – Parent

Shared by @_valeriei & @KEgilsson

Radix_SmartClass_Teacher_students_laptops_control_management_small

image credit Radix Management

Classroom Management Tools

  • Control and manage a class set of devices
  • Push out content to class simultaneously
  • interact and evaluate with students on the fly

Shared by Michael from Radix classroom management system

 

 

Dec 232011
 

I was kinda feeling left out this past week. I did my Christmas Reflection post and was going to leave it at that until the new year but then everyone started to release their Top 10 of 2011 lists or Ed Trends for 2012. I figured that since I am not doing anything anyhow, I should join the club.

My biggest problem was trying to figure out a title. First I came up with Keith’s Sexy Six of 2012 but there is nothing about me that is remotely sexy so then I thought how about Keith’s weighty wonders of 2012 but that didn’t work either, apropos or not.

After a several seconds of thinkin reel hard, I came up with Digital Learning in 2012 – My Predictions. None of them are all that sexy, weighty or even earth shattering but hey it got me out of bed this morning. I hope you enjoy them.

Proliferation of Personal Digital Devices

When I say proliferation of digital devices, I mean laptop, net book or tablet in K – 12 institutions. I was actually predicting this last year but it didn’t really come to fruition. Although I have a couple more kids packing their own device to class, there isn’t anywhere near the number I was predicting.

The reason I am still predicting this, isn’t because K – 12 learning environments require them, it is simply that the drop in the price of laptops and net books, makes it possible for more kids to own one. In fact, I would venture to say the clothing many kids wear on any given day, cost more than an entry-level laptop. Really, why wouldn’t a kid have one?

Edruminate Blog Post on Personal Devices in School

Use of Twitter as a classroom tool

Over the past year, Twitter has evolved rapidly as a tool for use in the classroom. It gives unprecedented real-time access to the outside world for research and information gathering. I used it for the first time last year, when I set my class loose on a group of unsuspecting superintendents and principals (back channelling using twitter) during their annual convention. It was a ton of fun and generated some great conversations between the Educational bigwigs and a motley group of grade 10’s.

Although we are far from any sort of tipping point, I think we turned the corner in 2011. More teachers are becoming curious about how they might use it in their classes and are willing to give it a go.

2012 will be the year when discussions around the staff room will transition from “why in god’s name would I use twitter” to “You should see what I got the kids to do on twitter today”

Mashable article on Twitter in the Classroom

On-line Universities – 60 Ways to use Twitter

Flipping the Classroom… Light

Flipping the classroom is a great idea and there have been some outstanding reports of how well this new classroom dynamic works but not every teacher has the skills, time or desire to create digital lessons for preview from home. What almost every teacher CAN do, is use some of the fantastic resources already out there for flipping the odd lesson or two.

In 2012, I think we will see more teachers looking at the flipped classroom model and they will see some value there. As a result, more kids will be going home to prepare for assignments as homework, instead of completing assignments for homework.

 Aaron Sams’ Flipped Classroom Video (Inspiring)

Salman Kahn – Ted Talk on Flipping the Classroom

Edmodo Will Become # 1 Distributed Learning Platform

The rapid rise of Edmodo as the go to content management system for education will continue. The reasons for this are simple. It is Free, Easy to use and has multiple language support. It is also scalable so it is as useful and easy to use for an individual teacher as it is for big school district or institution.

Backed by Union Square Ventures, the people who funded web giants such as Twitter, Foursquare, Zanga, Boxee and dozens more, Edmodo is positioned to take over digital learning environments the world over in 2012.

Good little Post on ITBabble.com

News item on Edmodo’s 15 million dollar influx of cash

Concerns about wi-fi in schools will grow

In order for digital assisted learning to take off in our classrooms, we need access to all the good stuff web has to offer and if we are all using personal digital devices to access this information, we need WiFi. As a result schools have been installing WiFi in schools all over the country. This year however, the concerns about the health risks associated with WiFi in schools started to gain some traction and parents began to push back against WiFi in schools.

In 2012 we will see the movement to ban WiFi in schools gain momentum. As a result, more schools and school districts will outright ban WiFi in favour of wired web access only.

National Post Article on Ridding Classrooms of WiFi

Round One Google Vs Apple

Yes you heard it here first folks. Google will go toe to toe with Apple in 2012. It won’t be a knock down drag em out fight to the death or anything but the first round of many to come will happen this year but first one proviso.

Round one will only happen IF Google’s new Tablet comes out and starts to take away enough business from Apple. This is a real possibility, if Google makes its new device integrate flawlessly with Google docs, Google + network and allows easy access to the files saved on the device. Assuming Google’s new tablet will also have all the functionality of the iPad, I think one can safely say that the Google’s tablet will be a far superior device for education.

We know that Apple is more than happy to go to court to protect its intellectual property as it has with Samsung so there is no reason to believe it won’t happen with Google as well. I for one look forward to seeing these two digital titans clash. Apple might be forced to start to produce products that work in the real world not just in the Apple world.

Samsung Vs Apple

Google Intellectual Property Acquisitions 

So there are my predictions. Like I said, none of them are sexy, weighty, earth shattering or even unpredictable but that is the best I can do. We shall see how it all shakes down in the coming months.

 

Nov 102011
 

It has been a few weeks since I last did an update about the state of the iPad experiment so I figured I had better peel something off before I lost readership. Not that 3 or 4 followers are what I could call much of a “readership” but I mustn’t dissapoint.

You might have noticed that I have been a tad preoccupied lately, with figuring out my little screen casting project but unfortunately is has come to a grinding halt so I decided to take a break and work on something else for a bit. As a result I am back to trying to figure out the best way to move documents from the iPad to a place where they can be stored and evaluated.

Now at this point I need to explain that I am one of those teachers who doesn’t usually play nice with the powers that be. In particular I am a bit of a pain in the butt with regard to the technology they would like us to use. About 4 or 5 years ago, we migrated from Novell to SharePoint in order to create a learning platform which teachers and students could use for the business of learning. I, being the techno snob that I am, decided that SharePoint was trash and launched my own learning platform using Moodle. I ran the Moodle site quite happily for 3 years but abandoned it this year because of the cost. Still being a non conformist, I continued to resist assimilation into the SharePoint continuum and opened up shop using Edmodo.

It is with Edmodo that the meat of this blog post begins. For those who haven’t read my previous posts, Edmodo is a skookum little content management system for education. What is even more amazing is that it is FREE but there is one small problem as it pertains to the iPad. Actually it isn’t a problem with Edmodo, it is a defect in the genius that is Apple. Since users cannot get access to the file system on the iPad, they can’t upload assignments. If a student who uses an iPad wants to upload a file to Edmodo. They have to sync the ipad to their computer; do the convoluted file transfer process through iTunes; open up a computer version of Edmodo; find the file they transferred and upload it to Edmodo. What should take all of 10 seconds directly from the iPad turns into a royal pain in the backside. As much as I like Edmodo, if I am going to do the iPad class again next year, we won’t be using Edmodo.

Out of desperation (insert long sigh of defeat here) I began looking at SharePoint again and to my jaw slacking surprise, it seems that SharePoint 2010 might actually be a useful product. Coincidentally, our district is migrating over to SharePoint 2010 this very school year and what is more! There is an APP for that. When I discovered this little interdigital relationship, I thought to myself… Self, could it be there is a light at the end of the fiber optic cable? Could it be possible that in this twisted cross platform relationship, that Apple would let Microsoft get into its file system? Well I would like to report that it appears that it is possible using one of two Apps on the market, SharePlus or Filamente.

SharePoint 2010, is a cloud computing platform, which allows users to interact with documents and resources wherever and whenever they want, At school, at home or at Starbucks. If a kid wants to work on an assignment at home but doesn’t have an internet connection for whatever reason, all they do is pull down the assignment from the server before they leave school; do the homework at home and as soon as they walk in the door the next day, the iPad syncs with the SharePoint network and the assignment is automatically handed in.

If set up correctly, this could be absolute magic! Imagine if all the work a kid does on a SharePoint distributed assignment, is uploaded automatically to the server. No more conveniently lost files or the ever classic “I have it on my computer at home”. As a teacher you could evaluate work at any time. The end of the day, week or just on the due date, it is all there all the time.

As much as I hate to say it, SharePoint might just be something I can use, or worse, endorse. Yikes! This is not good. My carefully groomed reputation as being a fecal agitator might just be in danger. Resistance might very well be futile.

Nov 272010
 

I was thinking this week, about all these twitter feeds I am following and I could not get over just how…. Over the top, pro technology in the classroom they are. Twitter this, blog that. Gotta connect with kids on their turf, gotta be in touch with the pulse of web but there never seems to be any thought put to the other side of the equation. Perhaps if I followed #downwithtech or #twitteristhedevilswork I might get another viewpoint but I can’t help but wonder how my collegues who are less “wired” feel about this push to make their classrooms part of the digital landscape.

I know for a fact that there are a number of teachers who are not ready and perhaps will never be ready to drink the digital koolaid. They are great teachers, doing a great job in a classroom, just teaching it old school. They don’t need twitter, blogs, wikis and all the other digital tools at their disposal to get kids to learn. They are master teachers without the digital paraphernalia but they feel that the likes of me, are trying to dismantle and devalue that which they have spent an entire career creating and perfecting.

There are a number of other issues that lurk in the minds of the unconverted which we should be sensitive to well beyond the general notion that we Tech Geeks are out to get them and they are concerns that need to be heeded.

  • Availability of the Technology. This is a shortcoming for most schools. There simply isn’t enough technology to go around, for the kids or the teachers. We just haven’t hit a point of saturation yet where these digital tools are as ubiquitous as pencil and paper. Make it accessible without costing teachers anything and perhaps they will use it.
  • Some People Don’t Want To Use It! Plain and simple, some teachers see no need, nor do they want to use technology to teach. Does this make them bad teachers? NO! We the tech geeks need to respect that.
  • Management Issues. Even I, as someone who uses technology EVERY class, has issues around the appropriate use of the technology in the classroom. Some I ignore, some I stomp on but it is an additional piece of management which some people do not wish to have to deal with. Teachers have a dozen things going on at any given time in a classroom, why add more to their plate?
  • Foundational Skills. In the digital world it is EXTREMELY difficult to determine how much of a students work is cut and paste or simply written by someone else. Much of kids work is a conglomeration of different information sources and nary a word of their own. What’s more, in the digital world, most information is written in point form, written sound bytes. Twitter is an excellent example of how thoughts have been reduced to 140 characters of information, hardly what you would call a body of text which needs to be read and then dissected for meaning. I am in complete agreement with my luddite colleagues who firmly believe that, foundational skills are best taught and solidified through good old fashioned book lernin.
  • Just Don’t Got The Time or The Desire. Most teachers have lives outside of school and the 200+ kids they are responsible for in school. They are not all digital dependent like me, who spends more time with my laptop than I do with my family. We tech geeks love this stuff! We live it, we breath it and we have integrated it into our lives so that it is part of us. This is why using digital technology in the classroom is easy for us but some people DON’T want to make it part of their lives at home or at work.
  • Top Down Push. In my 15 years of teaching, I have learned more from other teachers than I have ever learned from an administrator but this is where the push to use technology in the classroom, seems to be coming from. All of us tech geeks have been playing with digital teaching tools for years but now that admin have caught onto the possibilities of digital learning tools, they seem to want all teachers to using them BUT if we are to expect other teachers to buy into the use of technology, it has to be a grassroots growth rather than by administrative decree.
  • The Digital Backlash This one is relatively new and has nothing to do with teachers. It is the digital backlash and the occurrence of parents who are not allowing their kids to have access to digital media. For me, this started last year with one kid and this year I have 6 kids of 160, who’s parents WILL NOT allow their children to have access to any type of social media. To tell you the truth, I am doing the same with my own kids. They will not have ANY social media account before their 16th birthday. I believe this is a growing movement and something that we as educators who LOVE this sort of thing will be faced with more, in the coming years.

Whether we like it or not, the digital revolution might just have to be a digital evolution when it comes to teaching. The reality is that there are good teachers doing GREAT things with kids without using the latest and greatest web tools. We the “tech geeks”, have no business going about, trying to (Star Trek Reference Warning) assimilate all teaching lifeforms into a digital collective. Yes there are some great things you can do, yes you can engage learners with digital resources, yes we have been sold BUT technology is not the end all and be all of learning. An excellent learning environment is about a teacher and the connection they have with the students and it. does not have to be a digital connection.