school change

4 Questions & Answers about Technology Integration (from a journalist to me)

A journalist, Emily S., is writing a piece about 1:1 technology initiatives for the Highland Lakes Newspapers (The Highlander, Burnet Bulletin, Llano County Journal, Lake Country Life) and requested to ask me some questions. I share the questions and my answers here.

Q: What are some ways technology has changed the typical classroom? What do you think is the biggest change (for teachers, for students)?

Technology does not inherently change classrooms. But some uses of technology can change the approach to instruction shifting it from teacher-centric, teacher-controlled to instruction and learning that is more student-centered. This is more likely to occur when the technology is put in the hands of the students, as opposed to technologies that are teacher-centric, such as projectors, teacher computers, grading and attendance software. Putting technology in the hands of the students can give the learners more agency in their learning, in which they might be able to choose the best way to engage in a task. Or student might even design an inquiry learning task.

Given that, though, 1:1 implementations do not always create such a student-centered learning environment. My research and others in the field also show school classroom environments in which students who all have computing devices simply take notes of teacher lectures or creating presentations that summarize textbook chapters. In these settings, the technology is having no impact toward changing pedagogy or learning.

The biggest change is vastness of information on the Internet and available apps. Schools think that they’ll eliminate textbooks in order to buy laptops or tablets. But this shifts the curricular development onto the shoulders of teachers who are not only trying to learn a new technology but now also have to curate an entire year’s curriculum using open educational resources (educational resources that are available on the internet for free) that are seemingly endless. While the idea of having teachers create their own curriculum and choose resources is amazing, this responsibility cannot just be dropped onto teachers’ shoulders with no notice, support, or resources for development.

Q: How can teachers avoid side-effects of technology, such as decreases in attention spans, being easily distracted?

The best way to avoid students from being distracted (daydreaming, shopping on the internet, ordering take-out for lunch, playing off-task games) is to create vibrant, interesting, motivating lessons that involve students in interactive ways that lead students to developing new knowledge (that solve real problems – even better if the problems are community-based!).

Q: Do you think students are apt to give up more quickly when the answers don’t come easily? (Students might get used to instant answers, in other words…)

Motivational theory puts forth that learners maintain motivation when given series of short, attainable goals that have importance. Designing instructional activities, then, would lead a teacher not to create assessments that have short, instant answers, but instead are complex problems that require inquiry. The answers are unique and are not necessarily known already by the teacher or the students. Through the inquiry, the teacher would work with students in developing small goals that, as each are completed, help the students move farther towards solving the larger problem.

Overall, students are not motivated by worksheets that ask for one answer, which reflects information easily found in textbooks or on the Internet.

Q: Do you think using technology in the classroom makes students less sociable? How can teachers avoid this pitfall?

For the most part, I do not think that technology in the classroom makes students less sociable. But it all depends on how the teacher organizes the use of technology.

If the teacher implements a “personalized” tutoring software in which students put on earphones and listen to problems on a computer screen and answer multiple choice questions individually, then YES this approach to the use of technology makes students less sociable.
If the teacher implements an inquiry-based lesson in which students (in groups) are using tablets to collect data about our social world, pull the data into data analysis software (such as spreadsheet or visualization tools) and find answers to the inquiry, then NO, technology IS supporting social learning, which is optimal for learning to occur.

Most contemporary technologies are social and interactive technologies. Educational apps that do not have features that allow collaboration, sharing, and publication are not supportive of optimal pedagogy and learning.
The general public can simply reflect on what technologies motivate them to engage? They will most likely realize the technologies they are excited to be involved in involve small doable challenges (video games with levels), social interaction with other people (Facebook, twitter), interest-based social groups (the biking club, the knitting club), creating or sharing (e.g., a writers group, photography site).

New Book Chapter: iTeach and iLearn with iPads in Secondary English language arts

A book chapter I wrote with Gregory Russell (@mrgsrussell), “iTeach and iLearn with iPads in secondary English language arts,” is now out in print in the amazing book, The New Landscape of Mobile Learning: Redesigning Education, edited by Charles Miller and Aeron Doering. This research stems from my larger research study of a suburban high school in their first year of implementing iPads across their high school population. Following is a description of our chapter (note: since we wrote this chapter almost two years ago, there has been empirical research published on the topic.)

Photo of the book cover

Book Cover

“iTeach and iLearn with iPads in secondary English language arts” Chapter Abstract

Tablet computers like the iPad seem to be well-suited for educational purposes, but no empirical research yet exists that examines its potential. This chapter shares the stories of Brett and Julie, two veteran high school English teachers who are integrating iPads into their classrooms for the first time as a part of a 1:1 iPad initiative at Hilly High School. We share an analysis of their practices, developed over the past year via weekly classroom observations, formal interviews and numerous informal discussions. From these risk-taking practitioners, we identify and discuss issues related to pedagogy, assessment, new media literacies, efficiencies, student behavior, engagement, distractibility, and academic integrity. Results indicate that the iPad improves the efficiencies of learning activities but also introduces new classroom management issues. Many teaching and learning activities with the iPad can be both engaging or distracting. Our findings may prove useful to districts, schools, and practitioners who venture to establish similar ubiquitous tablet-supported educational innovations.

The book is available here:

http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415539241/

http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Landscape-Mobile-Learning/dp/0415539242

As always, if you would like to read my chapter and are unable to get a copy, please email me at joanh @ austin . utexas . edu

SXSWedu proposal: Mythbusters: Year 1 in iPad classrooms

We have proposed a panel presentation for the SXSWedu conference, to be held in Austin, Texas in March 2013. Please go to our proposal page and vote to support our presentation to be included in the 2013 conference. Presentations are selected, in part, by crowd-sourced votes and comments, so please join in!

Mythbusters: Year 1 in iPad classrooms

Description

There are some wild claims about the impact iPads can have on PK-12 education, and more and more schools are moving toward 1:1 iPad initiatives…but what can schools realistically expect during the first year of a large scale iPad implementation (and beyond)?

In this panel, we will examine and debunk some of the myths related to the use of iPads in education. By doing so, we hope to help schools set reasonable expectations for the early stages of iPad integration. All phases of iPad implementation will be discussed from the moment the idea sparks into someone’s head to the implementation of iPads into school curricula and student learning.

Busted myths include:

  • Access to iPads is all you need.
  • Everybody wants an iPad.
  • There are over 100,000 quality apps for learning!
  • iPads will revolutionize teaching and learning!
  • If you let students use iPads in class, they’ll always be off-task.
  • iPads will save teachers time.

Questions Answered

  1. How to prepare? From day one of an iPad initiative, the technology must work. Adjustments to technology infrastructure are absolutely necessary, but beyond technical needs, there are a number of other preparatory tasks to achieve, including: completing administrative tasks (e.g. developing acceptable use policies), communicating with concerned parties (e.g. parents, board members), providing professional development (e.g. for teachers and technology specialists), and developing school norms.
  2. What happens to teaching and learning? Are iPads a panacea for revolutionizing education? In the first year, teaching pedagogies change little with the influx of the technology. Yet, opportunities for innovation are immense. Communication amongst students and teachers improves. New media literacies are prevalent, and the amount of time spent on administrative classroom practices decrease. With continued development and support, teaching and learning are apt to shift.
  3. How will iTeach and iLearn in the future? The key to transformations in teaching and learning is content-specific, teacher professional development. Identifying apps that specifically target content areas, student needs, and problems-of-practice (e.g. Celtx) is necessary to untap the full potential of the iPad technology cluster. iPad technology integrationists, teachers, curriculum specialists, and media specialists must collaboratively learn and innovate together. School leaders must model.

Tags

educational intervention, ipad, mobile, technology and pedagogy

Meta

Event: EDU

Format: Panel Discussion

Category: Best Practices and Pedagogy

Level: Beginner

Speakers

  • Gregory Russell, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Audrey De Zeeuw, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Minwook Ok, The University of Texas at Austin

Organizer

Joan Hughes The University of Texas at Austin

Additional Supporting Materials

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jn459qq5hhir4bk/mythbusters_graphic_SXSWedu.jpg

 

iTeach & iLearn with iPads

I have begun a collaborative school-university research project examining: What happens to the culture of teaching and learning in a high school when iPad tablet technology becomes ubiquitous? Our project is called “iTeach and iLearn with iPads.”

In our digital society, schools are purchasing new technologies, like the iPad tablet, for teaching and learning. However, no research currently exists that examines how iPads and their software apps assist in students’ learning and teachers’ instruction in school subjects. Our ethnographic research examines one high school’s culture (knowledge, beliefs, and practices of students, teachers, school leaders, parents, and community) as they use iPads to participate in content learning and develop media literacy.  

In DC to inspire transformative technology integration & change

I am in DC this morning giving a presentation at the SETDA (State Educational Technology Directors Association) Leadership Summit and Education Forum to speak and participate as a Resource Specialist for the working group “Helping Educators Transform Their Classroom Practice.” I will provide insight on transformative technology use in schools, what meaningful change looks like, and ideas on helping create cultures of transformative change. I will also be working with a group of 35 or so state educational technology directors/representatives, Title 1 directors, corporate representatives, and textbook companies to develop a SETDA working statement as to how to how to help educators transform their classroom practice with technology.