Archive for January, 2010

Why certain teachers do jump out of the technology pot?

January 31, 2010 2 comments

When I wrote about the Boiling Frog EdTech Metaphor post, I felt compelled to ask the following question to my PLN members on Twitter: What are some pitfalls and mistakes EdTech trainers make when evangelizing technology to our wide spectrum of teachers? This post is not intended to tell people what to do because every situation is quite unique. Rather I wanted to make aware of what fellow edtech colleagues think about why it is difficult to reach some of our reluctant teachers. Thanks to all who contributed below. Please leave a comment here or mention @socratech and I will gladly add your thoughts to this growing list.

  • @Oh_the_Places Mistakes – not following up one on one; not knowing the tech level of ur teachers
  • @Oh_the_Places Thinking like a teacher not a techie. How easy will the tech be to learn and use. Specific ex of how to integrate w curriculum
  • @EdTechSandyK Also badmouthing or blaming the technical folks when something doesn’t work, is blocked, etc. Not being team players.
  • @EdTechSandyK Making teachers feel guilty if they aren’t already using tech or new tool. Should show possibilities and benefits instead.
  • @edtechsteve the biggest mistake trainers make is forgetting the realities of classroom teaching.
  • @jgmac1106 Last mistake 4 now:short-term vision. Using outside consultants 4 whole staff instead of 4 building capacity among tchr ldrs
  • @jgmac1106 Another coomon mistake. Not differentiating learning 4 tchrs. some need tool intro, next cool tools, next changing curriculum
  • @jasontbedell Also, start by showing them that it can work with their students without being too difficult, not that it does a neat trick.
  • @jasontbedell Don’t try to sound smart. Teachers get intimidated easily and their eyes glaze over. Go at their pace, even if it means crawling.
  • @jgmac1106 biggest prblm is starting with the tools and not content or change. Its look at this fancy widget instead of learning #edtech
  • @megbg76 assuming basic skills are known to all. ie “opening a new window” does not mean what it sounds like 🙂
  • @MrKeenan Assuming everyone has an interest in adding tech to their practice is a big one.
  • @franze98 good points, i find it difficult to gage audience understanding of concepts. i also find teachers to b bad students when w/ peers
  • @mswanson Nothing other than watching there eyes roll in the back of their head or just the confused look.

Blog Post: Technology – It’s About the Teachers, Not the Tools by Oh_the_Places


“The Boiling Frog” EdTech Metaphor

January 29, 2010 5 comments

Wikipedia describes the boiling frog story based on “the premise that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.”

Lately, I have been on a whirlwind tour preaching about educational technologies. During this chaos, I began to embrace the boiling frog metaphor whenever I evangelize about educational technology and how it can transform education. I certainly fall victim to living in my Twitter PLN bubble, where it is comfortable and easy to talk about how integrating technology can change student learning. However, when I speak, train, and give professional development seminars to my non-Twittering teachers, I sometimes run into the boiling frog syndrome (BFS). I am learning quickly to ease on my preaching, and focus on simple specific objectives that will ease my teachers into embracing technology infusion. One of my common BFS mistakes is when I sometimes catch myself speaking in absolutes. Moreover, I also overload them with information and overwhelm teachers with technologies that is beyond their realm of comfort. Unfortunately, there are those who simply rebuke technologies, and BFS is almost inevitable in those situations.

Evangelizing EdTech is a tricky game with our wide spectrum of teachers. It is fair to say we need to differentiate when we train teachers with technology. Although it can be difficult at times, moving forward, modeling your work and staying persistent will ultimately keep that frog in the edtech pot. No matter how slow the simmer…

What has been your boiling frog moments when talking about educational technologies?

Wall Street Survivor

January 27, 2010 3 comments

I have been teaching about stock market investing as a major unit in my financial literacy course. It has sparked many ideas from my students as they are now looking at the world from a new perspective. My eighth graders are now looking at traffic as an opportunity to see how many cars are Toyota versus Honda. They are looking at what bags people are carrying around the mall. Some are doing research on MySpace to determine what is trending in the youth market. Trying to maintain the enthusiasm and momentum for my students, I wanted to integrate a technology component that will showcase all their research.

After researching several websites, Wall Street Survivor was the choice to use for my class. Wall Street Survivor allows you to create a private group for your class. I wanted to use the program to setup a fantasy stock trading group for our students to authentically explore investing. The website allows you to buy and sell stocks in real time and actually ranks your portfolio to everyone else in the group. It is a fun and engaging tool that keeps my students motivated learning more about stocks. I even added some of our staff members to join the game. The tool enhanced my lessons and provided my students real world experiences in investing. They even claim to pay teachers who use it, but yet heard back from them about that.

“Why Tweet at a conference I am attending in person?”

January 21, 2010 6 comments

Yesterday, I gave a professional development session on how to tweet at conferences? I spent most of the session focusing on the “how” and did a poor job on explaining the “why” behind Tweeting. As a reflective teacher, I wanted to follow up my session by providing a list of reasons why a teacher would want to tweet at conferences. To illustrate my point about Twitter, I asked the question this morning on my feed and I was fortunate to receive feedback from many PLN members. Here is a compilation of their posts. Thank you to all who contributed to the “reason” list.

  • @jasontbedell A Twitter backchannel can help influence the way that a conference progresses, for better or worse.
  • @slopez1 To help keep notes, ideas or online resources all in one place #edtech #edchat that is why I tweet at conferences
  • @CoachB0066 to share ideas/thoughts w others attndng, also some presenters will use a hashtag to receive immediate feedback #edchat
  • @megbg76 discuss and share ideas with others present as well as those not present. It broadens the experience, leads to deeper synthesis
  • @SimpleK12 Off top of head: 1.) share w/ peers 2.) continue to build PLN 3.) connecting w/ more ppl once u see who else is tweeting
  • @SimpleK12 also when teaching students we ask them to do things over and in different ways. Repeating info in a tweet is a learning tool 🙂
  • @SimpleK12 we just did that fron a conference…think you will get inspiration from our blog regarding the conference:
  • @Oh_The_Places A chance for real time reflection and discussion w attendees that is not possible during conference presentation #edtech #edchat
  • @rstoup To teach others.
  • @bjnichols Tweeting at a conf. allows you 2 connect, share thoughts, ask questions in real time. 21st cent. learning is anytime, anywhere.
  • @teachntech00 to get the word out! it allows you to share the ideas with a wide audience! #edchat #edtech
  • @mom2preteens Yesterday I wanted 2 tweet @ a wrkshop bcuz my PLN knew more than presnter & I had ?s.#edtech
  • @mom2preteens I tweeted 1 ques from my phone & had answer in less than minute. #edtech
  • @novemberMonster Because it’s less rude than shouting across the room. Also, one way info is so 1990s.
  • @cpoole27 by tweeting during a conference allows you to get input from people globally as opossed to confines of the conf. alone
  • @jgmac1106 It provides a channel for those fellow staff unable to attend. Acts as a metacognitive tool during presentations #edtech
  • @kunami10 tweeting during your conference gives you an online place to store your notes. No clunky notebooks or lost papers!
  • @cnansen Why should people Tweet when they are at a conference? Here’s why –
  • @msmithpds to share with me what you are learning!
  • @Russauntry so I can follow in England! #edchat

To supplement what everyone else wrote above, here are my reasons to Tweet at a conference.

  • Differentiate learning
  • Archive all your thoughts for future use
  • Connect with teachers you probably would never talk to at the conference. (maybe you will after connecting through Twitter)
  • Reflect on your sessions immediately after it is over rather than waiting to discuss at a later date.
  • Connect with others in the world that share your thoughts and reflections.
  • Our students are learning through social networking.
  • Share valuable resources in real time
  • Everyone has a voice. Imagine if everyone asked questions during a session, the session would never end. Why end the session at the time allotted. It allows continuation of the session for as long as needed.
  • Everyone has a voice part 2. Not everyone will talk during sessions. Lets give them another avenue to communicate their thoughts.
  • There are many 3rd party apps that allow surveys, graphs, and polls for more feedback.
  • You can start the pre-conference chatter.
  • In my opinion, you will see majority of professional development move to this environment in the next 5 years.

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Nightmare Scenario – Google Apps Education

January 21, 2010 7 comments

We are now six months into our Google Apps Education migration and it has been quite successful in providing our staff communication and collaborative tools to work more effectively. I have seen teachers collaborate on Google Docs, and I have seen Google Calendar used to reserve rooms at our school. Google Sites has probably been the most productive tool as staff members use it to share resources with the rest of the staff. The wiki has grown to almost a hundred pages worth of information. The amount of data put in the Google Apps Education cloud has been exciting to experience since we first integrated it at our site.

This is when the nightmare situation hit me…

What if Google Apps decided to change their policy and start charging for their services? I know it is probably highly unlikely that Google would do such a thing, but what if Google decided they need to start charging schools. It would be the perfect example of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” scenario. Google bates you in with free services and schools create a massive knowledge database in their cloud. The data uploaded to Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Sites becomes so large that it would be nearly impossible to backup the information to another service or internal server. Google then turns around and says, “sorry folks, but due to financial crisis, we need to start charging to use our tools.” I could just see IT Directors fainting in agony. What a nightmare scenario for schools?

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Engineering Design Tools for K12

January 17, 2010 6 comments

I just wrapped up my semester for 8th grade engineering, and I would have to say it has been my most successful project-based learning class thus far. Thanks to huge donations from Qualcomm and Motorola, I was able to integrate hands-on science projects using electricity, K’NEX modeling, and bridge building kits. The students were engaged in cooperative design projects that included many technology tools on the web. I wanted to share the different tools we used in all my engineering and technology classes.

Phun – The Phun physics program lets students design objects in 2D and lets gravity act upon the objects when an action button is clicked. The students designed a simple machines track on the program and it was quite the challenge for many of my students. They worked relentlessly redesigning and improving their drawings. My eighth graders learned quickly that sometimes drawings cannot account for the many issues of real gravity applications. Without a doubt, my students learned Newton’s Laws of Motion authentically. Who needs books?

PhET Interactive Simulations – The University of Colorado at Boulder developed interactive electricity simulators that enabled my students to design their own circuits. We primarily used the circuit construction kit which allows you to design any circuits using resistors, batteries, and capacitors. It even has built in ammeters and voltmeters to verify Ohm’s Law. This simple and practical simulator is perfect way to demonstrate electricity before actually building real circuits.

Scratch – This open source object-oriented program language is a perfect introduction to teach mathematical applications of video game design. My students used this software to learn how to program using visual scripts. The community allows you to download scripts from other projects which allowed my students to tinker with code. It was a great example of learning from each other. We also used the following website for “how to” examples:

Google Sketchup – AutoCad 3D design capabilities for free using Google Sketchup. Mystudents used it for their research design project for engineering. They were required to draw the original invention and redesign it using Sketchup. My favorite had to be the drawing of the future train station depot.

FloorPlanner – The students learned how to use an architects ruler for my engineering class. The students learned how to scale using the ruler. For example, a 3/4 inch scale can equal 100 feet using the ruler. Their first project was to use the ruler to design a house floor plan with specific dimensions. The students used design floor planning website Floorplanner to professionally design their own house. Try it out, it is the real deal.

Creately – This online diagramming and design tool is a powerful engineering tool. It takes the power of Microsoft Visio and made it free and collaborative. My high school interns are currently using it to design a network diagram for the new PC Lab they are building. It has all the icons for network design such as routers, servers, and wires. It takes me back to my old days of network design when I worked for Extreme Networks. There are other collaborative tools similar to Creately such as Dabbleboard, Thinkature, and Twiddla.

Other websites that provided interactive simulations that were used to teach engineering concepts:


January 10, 2010 5 comments

To keep the productive EdTech and IT discussion going, I decided to create a Twitter hashtag devoted to technologists who work in the Information Technology Department at educational institutions. As brilliant as the #edchat discussion are, I thought a separate hashtag would serve beneficial to those focused on topics and questions related to school technology infrastructures. There is a growing need for clear communication between EdTech and IT, and I hope we can bridge the two departments with the #EduIT hashtag.

Thank you to @EdTechSandyK, @bedellj, @techdirector214, @Oh_The_Places, @doug_holton, & @punyamishra for the inspiration. Shout out to @jscognam for spreading the word quickly.

Sample Topics for #EduIT

  • Sharing technology plans
  • Resources regarding CIPA
  • Cloud computing
  • Next generation school technology infrastructures
  • Technical questions
  • E-Rate
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