What to do about ISTE 2012?

#iste12 #edtech


As I sit here in the San Diego airport waiting for my flight to leave for home I can't help but reflect upon my five days here at ISTE 2012. Each year, as it turns out, ISTE is a little bit different than the previous years. In part, I believe, because I change and also because the world of edtech is such a moving target. Although every year has a theme, and this year's was "Expanding Horizons," there seems to be a few sub-themes that aren't published, it is something that just happens. Here are some of the sub-themes that I saw...

This was the year about mobile computing or BYOD. Although we talked a lot about mobile computing and BYOD(in theory) last year, this year we seemed to now know what to do about it. There we're tons of sessions dedicated to this topic, with many success stories to be shared and duplicated.

There was also a lot of informal discussions about edupreneurs (educators who are entrepreneurs). I never knew this crowd even existed until this year. And when I say informal discussions, I mean what people are talking about at lunch and in the hallways between sessions.

This was one of the most positive years as far as the vibe among edtech educators. I don't thing we feel as beat up as in years past - I think we are finally coming into our own. And we are a force to be reckoned with. Most of us are turning into our own advocates for change - I think we feel not so alone after attending this ISTE.

I just checked my idea list from this year and there are 42 items on it, and over the coming weeks I will narrow it down to about 4 or 5 things I will try in my school with my students, but it is these ideas that are going to change things, these are the big things.

Thank you ISTE for another great year - well done and I can't wait until next year. Watch out Texas, here we come!

- Brad Flickinger, tech teacher, Bethke Elementary


Is the keyboard dead?

#edtech #edchat #mlearning

Has the physical keyboard gone the way of the Dodo bird?

This week I went to the FETC in Orlando, so I got to see thousands of techie teachers in one place over a few days. With such wide view of so many people I started to wonder about the future of some of the technology that we use, or don't use.

As I looked around I noticed that most of the teachers were either using Smartphones or tablets to take their notes of the sessions they attended. Only a small percentage had laptop computers and an even smaller percentage had actual paper notebooks with real pens! Now granted, this was a tech convention, so I know that this group does not actually represent the real population, but I do think that they are a bit of a crystal ball of what is to come.

The kids of today are getting so used to either onscreen or micro keyboards that they almost wouldn't know what to do with a real one if the had one in front of them. It is us adults that are having a hard time with the transition.

I still see many adults with a mouse connected to the laptop -- like they are still trying to hold on to a little bit of the past. They balance the mouse on their knee or on the corner of their laptop. Their refusal of using their trackpad makes them look silly to the younger generation, "Check out the guy with his mouse," they chuckle at each other as they point. "It's called a trackpad, use it."

My wife gave me a wireless keyboard recently. Don't tell my wife but it is still in the wrapper. I don't want it. I hate when I see people trying to turn their tablets into laptops by adding keyboards. This looks as silly as the mouse balancers.

The biggest problem with this is that the people who are in charge of technology for schools are sometimes stuck in these old paradigms. “We can't get tablets for the students, they don't have keyboards, how could they do a report?” I have news for you, the kids don't want them. Like me they have adjusted to the onscreen keyboard.

If we are truly living in the "post PC era," as recent reports suggest, then while are we still trying to put our schools and students back into it?

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School

Blended Learning is the Best of Both Worlds

#edtech #edchat #elemchat This past week I started to facilitate another blended learning course about integrating 21st Century Skills into the classroom. Blended learning, if you don’t already know, is a little online instruction mixed with a little offline (or traditional) instruction.

Let me explain a little bit about how the course I am facilitating works…

Participants, which in this case are teachers from a district in Washington State, sign up for the course which has a specific start date. They get a welcome email and a “kick-off” conference call to let everyone know that the course has begun. Then the participants are on their own for the first part to gain the background knowledge for the course.

In this case, they are learning about 21st Century Skills. There is some reading, some video to watch on YouTube and some tutorials to watch on Atomic Learning. During each part of the course the participants use a cycle of Learn – Do – Share.

Learn – they learn a new concept like what a Personal Learning Network is.

Do – they set up a Twitter account and find 10 people to follow.

Share – they then share things that they have learned in the course forum so that other participant can learn from what they have done.

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Two weeks after the course begins, I come to the school in person to meet with the participants face to face. We talk about the things that they have learned and then put them into practice. This is more like a traditional workshop except for one big advantage – all of us are on the same page because of the work that has been done in the previous two weeks.

The course concludes with a little homework where they get to apply in their classroom what they have learned in the course.

To me and my students (teachers) blended learning truly is the best of both worlds.

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Tech Integration Workshop - Step 8: Gather Lesson Ideas

Note: Do not do this lesson until you have watched the Watch First video.

Lesson + Action Guide Video:

Once you have watched the video please complete this step in the Workshop Checklist.

Return to the Table of Contents for the Technology Integration Workshop.


Updates to these videos:

Transcription of Videos:

Lesson & Action Guide

Hello everyone, and welcome finally to Step 8 which is “Gather Lesson Ideas” of the Tech Integration Workshop here at SchoolTechnology.Org.  My name is Brad Flickinger - and let’s get right into it!

But before I do, this is kind of a bit of a hybrid type lesson because I am going to put together the lesson part and the assignment part all into one mix-up right here. And you will see why - because I will talk a little bit about what I do, and then I’ll talk a little about what you should do.  And it only kind of works for this Step.  You’ll get an idea what we’re doing here!

Alright!  First part I want to REALLY get clear here is PLEASE do not work in isolation when it comes to you and the technology for your building and integration, and 21st Century Skills.  It will drive you crazy, okay?  Don’t try to be a little “island of technology in the sea of your school!”  You want to DEFINITELY work with your teachers!

So what I do is I put aside some time, to be able to come into their classrooms, help them out a little bit, work with their students, work with them, talk to them about what they are covering and how they like to teach things.  It gives you that connection so that in Step 9 when you go to embed these 21st Century Skills into  the lessons you will get their style, you will get their kids.

And that only happens by going in and interacting with the teacher AND the students to see what is going on.  And you will be surprised - because you will be like, “Oh, I really kind of see this different style here. That would be really good for my projects I want to do with presentation software,” or “Oh, I see these kids are really like this - and that would be great when I want to incorporate spreadsheets into it.”  Maybe you are covering the Math department and you want to go in and see the things there, and you can go see and, “Oh, we can do graphs, we can do charts…” - all those great things.

So, interact with your teachers and observe what is going on in their classrooms.  And make sure - well actually probably don’t call it an “observation” because that sounds very “Administrator-ish!” - just tell them you want to come by and see what is going on.

And what I like to see is how the students actually interact back with the teachers, and get a feel for what they are capable of. Because sometimes, if you just see them in the computer lab, they are only doing one type of thing and you don’t really see what they are capable of. And you can say, “You know what? I can really push these little Third Graders to do bigger and better things because I have seen what they have done in their classroom.”  Those types of things you will learn.

And once you have done those observations, then it is time, like I do, I sit down with my teachers one-on-one to kind of discuss what I want to do, as the Tech person, and what they have.  And usually at the time they bring out their curriculum map for the whole year; they lay it out and say, “Well is this is what I cover in August, and September and October…” - so you get an idea.

And you can point to something and say, “Okay, here I see that you teach about Russia, right here.  Well that is about the time I want to be able to teach the students how to use podcasting AND Google Earth - so how about I take some of that from you and I do like the Geography section, and then they can do some of the History of Russia, those types of things. We will make it into a podcast, and I can get that back to you and you can grade that and maybe we can replace this little Quiz area right here?”

And then you’re working together!  That’s perfect! That is how you can take some workload from them and at the same time you get that classroom connection that you so desperately need because, I mean, if you just teach them podcasting without the classroom connection, there is not really any BANG behind it, and there is certainly not even the grading and those type of things - where THIS finally the kids get it because it is coming at them from all these different angles and it has purpose behind it.  And teaching without purpose behind it is USELESS.  So put some purpose behind it.

And then I also like to work with the whole Department.  So I might meet with the Third Grade team or the English Department or Math Department in the older Grades, so that you get an idea and can say, “Oh, you’re covering Math. Okay, I can work into my spreadsheets these types of things during this month here…”

And then you get that nice little mingling.  Because you are going to need this type of information for Step 9.

So watch your teachers; meet with your teachers - and then what you are going to be surprised is how great it all comes together when you have done all these Steps because, you know, here are some students with their teacher going, “Hey look!  We’re studying the Renaissance.  We’ll check out our Renaissance Blog that we did in Computer class that matches what you’re doing in here!  And here’s some Artwork here, and here’s our comments on the Renaissance Art.  And here’s our comments on Leonardo da Vinci; and here’s a blog about him...”  All those things.

Everybody gets connected - and THAT’S what you are looking for.

So do those things for Step 8, like I said:  Watch your teachers, meet with your teachers.  And then in Step 9  we will be able to put all those ideas together.  And try to get any bits and pieces of information you can, like their curriculum maps and those types of things so that for Step 9 you are well ready to go on.

Thank you very much!