Saturday, April 10, 2010

Views on the iPad

First let me say that I share custody of my iPad with my wife so it doesn't travel everywhere with me although that is becoming more of a difficult decision as I use it more. Still not sure I can rationalize spending more of my money on a second one in one household.

As far as a consumption device, I think I would trade in my computer today. The battery life is amazing actually and the graphics and videos are simply "sick" as a student explained when seeing it. If all I needed to do was surf the web, check email, run my calendar, watch videos, blog and listen to music, it would be my only device. However, the things that I have to do for the rest of my job, it is not designed to do which is totally understandable I guess.

Now as far as a classroom tool, I think it will begin the development of a very good 1:1 solution that will become available in 2 years whether it is from Apple or another company. These ease of use, size, weight and clarity are all there. I could see them being a great solution for @christianlong's TedxProject since it is centered around watching Ted videos (amazing on the iPad), researching information from the Internet (very slick and fast on the iPad) and blogging (doing now easily on the iPad). However, it still does not have the capability of operating a lot of the web 2.0 tools yet (or maybe it does and I just haven't figured out how to do it). For example, I cannot edit a google doc although I can view it. I cannot figure out how to edit a wiki even though it seems like it wants to let me. If you could even just solve those two issues, I may push to get them in the hands of my students. Then I would use the computer labs for the video editing and other more substantial tools that students need to be utilizing.

I'm still more fascinated in how this device will change how we teach. I'm convinced it will change the publishing industry and thus how the majority of people distributed their writing to the world. It will make multimedia and hyperlink writing even more important and in my opinion push the 'tipping point'.

Well those are one man's opinion of the iPad in education to toss into the sea of those much more intelligent than I so take it for what it's worth.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Progress Slowly Happening

I thought I would share the successes happening at school and how I think as minor as they may appear on the surface that they are hopefully a sign of a more substantial change.

There seems to be a lot of discussion going on about ways to extend the classroom. A third grade classroom is going to do their upcoming biomes project as a wiki. I sat and watched 4th graders do PowerPoint presentations and even though it was the definitive death by.. I came away impressed with their presence and excited to talk to the teacher about how we can make the presentations better. They had the choice to do it digitally or old school poster style and 90% were going digital. Now just to teach them how to do it well. I definitely need to spend more time in Lower School classrooms.

Our Middle School is getting in the act as well. An English teacher was going to make photocopies of their poetry unit and send it home as a book but she came to me and asked how we could do it digitally. Now she will be using StoryJumper to create an online compilation and simply send the link home. Our head has been playing with podcasting via iPadio and will hopefully be creating weekly preview/reviews in the future.

In Upper School we have a collaborative Ning all in Spanish with Lovett in Atlanta, the TedxProject as well a new teacher trying blogging in Economics. Our choir teacher is posting podcasts from their trip to sing at Carnegie Hall.

With the new wireless going in and the website revamp on pace for a June release, the potential is steadily increasing. The best part is the conversations that are organically taking place around school about better and more innovative teaching. While none of the things are necessarily huge by themselves the collective feeling is moving towards a different feeling which seems very positive. Hopefully the upcoming SummerSpark will only enhance and ignite more conversation.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

GTAdmin Video

So I thought I would post my Google Teacher application video. I still really like the idea of the video but the execution was not what I would have liked. However, in the spirit of sharing, here it is. Hopefully, I will eventually go back when I have more time and do a better version.


I am still reeling from the incredible four days I got to spend in Philadelphia at Educon 2.2. The administration, teachers and students at SLA are a wonderful example of how transparency and collaboration can create a vibrant school culture. They say Educon is not a technology conference and that was certainly evidenced the entire weekend. The conversations were deep, thoughtful and empowering but what caught me the most was that technology was always present but never the point. The point was how to be better educators and while technology is integral it always remained in the background. If we want to make our students ready for the world ahead of them they have to be comfortable leveraging all the collaborative tools to communicate but most importantly we have to teach them to be self directed, inquisitive, mindful citizens.

The other big thing I took away from my weekend was that there are a ton of great things happening in classrooms across the country and they need to be shared. The more success stories that are demonstrated the more people will be able to see the practical applications of good learning. So I hope to continue to encourage my teachers to find innovative way to learn with our students and then share them here. I am convinced that the more we are transparent in our learning the better education can become.

In that spirit, we presented The Alice Project at Educon. We took two students who did the majority of the presentation. It was great to see them speak confidently and honestly about their learning experience. If you get a chance please check out the project as it now contains everything from initial setup through reflection.

Here are a couple articles that mention Educon and the project as well.


Shared Smarts: The Wisdom of EduCon

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Aggregate, Filter and Connect

I was reading Networks and the Information Glut and this quote really hit me.

"The fundamentals of innovative thought haven’t changed since the 18th Century – it’s always been aggregate, filter and connect."

I thought back to how I learned in school. I aggregated information by listening to my teachers, reading the textbook and taking notes in my notebook. I filtered information by making or answering review sheets from my notes or by re-reading my textbook. I then connected with my friends to study at somebody's house or asking my teacher questions if I had them while I was in class. I would then answer the questions on tests or projects that I would never look at again.

Research was very similar. I would go to the library and find some books. Write the information down on some notecards and then maybe talk to my friends or teacher about what to write. Finally I would write or type a paper that only my teacher would ever see.

That was late 80s early 90s (I graduated high school in 1991). How much has the world changed since then? How do I aggregate, filter and connect now? Yet as I look in the classroom, many of the same ways I did things are still being done.

It's still aggregate, filter and connect. We just need to update what it means to do those things.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What does the Tablet mean TO education not IN education

As I was reading David Jakes' Tablet Schmablet Redux post, I realized that there are a ton of people talking about how Tablets can be used in the classroom to make education better. While I won't deny I would love to have sets of those to put into classrooms, I don't think that is the most important part of this new evolution.

As David notes the Tablet technology is coming, there is no denying that. "There appears to be new technologies emerging from Apple, OLPC, Dell, NotionInk , and yes, even Google. There’s even the Mag+, which seems to be more reader than anything else." And yes it has the potential to eventually change textbooks as well as book reading as it pertains to the classroom, but I think we can agree that as with everything else it will take a while for it to penetrate education.

What I think is harder to argue with is the fact that it will change reading, especially newspapers and magazines. And there is a good chance that it will change it dramatically within two to three years. Look at how the iPhone has changed the mobile phone market, I expect a similar change from the Tablet. When it does, hyperlinked writing, photo slideshows and video journalism will become what we expect.

So even if we don't use them in the classroom as quickly as people are predicting, normal consumers will be using them. It will change how we deliver news and how we write professionally.

So when today's ninth graders graduate, news decimation and writing will look significantly different.

Doesn't that mean we should be taking a hard look at how we are teaching these students to write?

Or do we continue to teach them to write the current way because that's how they will write in college because as we know education will be the last to change?

The Tablet (or whatever you want to call it) will be a game-changer but maybe not IN education. Should it be one TO education?