Tag: Pedagogy

Across the globe schools are closing due to Covid-19 and the learning is being moved online. I recently shared in my Daily-Ink post, ‘Novel ideas can spread from a novel virus‘: Discussion about the possibility of remote learning invites questions about blended learning where some of the work, both asynchronous and synchronous, is done remotely. […]

Read More Just shifting online or shifting the learning?

This post is sponsored in partnership with Metaverse.
I’ve been experimenting recently with the Metaverse app, and I think it’s a fantastic learning tool for teachers and students. Metaverse allows users to create augmented reality experiences without having to write any of their own code. The possibilities are literally endless for the types of creative projects you can develop.


So how does it work? The Metaverse Studio provides a drag and drop interface to build your experience. You simply select different components to add to your “storyboard” and then you link them together.

There are all sorts of components to work with. You can even embed your own videos or select videos from YouTube. 





After you create an experience in the studio, it can be shared in a variety of ways. You can use a link or QR code, send them through email, or even embed them in your website or Learning Management System.

To interact with the experience, the user will need the Metaverse App (Android/iOS). Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can tap the link or scan the code to get started. It’s really fun and easy.

Teachers and students are creating all sorts of amazing things with Metaverse. You could make a breakout game, create a trivia/review game, develop a scavenger hunt, interactive story, and much more.



One school even used Metaverse to create a tour of their school for incoming freshmen. And students were the ones who developed the experience for their peers.

Just recently, Metaverse added a new feature to allow teachers to see all of the projects their students are working on, in one place. It’s called Collections. 





While collections is a paid feature (Metaverse is otherwise FREE), this addition makes Metaverse even more powerful as a student creation station. 




So here’s what I love about Metaverse…

1. It develops creative thinking.

Students need more opportunities to use creativity in the classroom. Metaverse provides a platform with endless options for creativity. Students can demonstrate their learning in new and interesting ways. They can make their own game, scavenger hunt, or story to show what they’re learning.

2. It develops reasoning skills.

Metaverse has a “storyboard” format that requires lots of if/then logical thinking. To create an experience, students will be using basic thinking skills used in coding, only without the coding. Everything is drag and drop. My cognitive reasoning skills were getting a good workout as I experimented with the tool.

3. It motivates learners.

Metaverse is a fun way to learn. I showed it to my own kids and they were immediately interested in how it worked and all of the different components that could be linked together. It definitely has a coolness factor that many other education apps lack. Students could work on their project individually or in teams.

4. It helps learners apply what they know.

It’s been often said, “No one cares what you know, they only care what you can do with what you know.” Metaverse is a great way to have students do something with what they know. There will no doubt be deeper learning when students create something that demonstrates their learning.

5. It’s a great alternative to traditional paper/pencil assessment.

Metaverse projects are a great way to assess learning. The teacher could develop a rubric for the essential learning outcomes and how those will be assessed in the Metaverse experience. As students work on the projects, the teacher could provide ongoing feedback. And students could provide feedback to each other too.

Overall, Metaverse is a great way to shift instruction from learning as a delivery system to learning that is a discovery system. The opportunities for engagement and creativity using this tool are unlimited.



Question: Have you tried Metaverse yet with your students? If not, you should give it a try. Right now you can try out Collections for free for one month using the following code: ARforEDU. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Reasons Metaverse is the Perfect Way to Bring AR to Your Classroom





Every teenager is motivated. Every student is motivated. Every teacher. Every parent. Every person is 100% motivated. That’s right. You’re 100% motivated to do exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. 



I’ve been reading The Game Changer: How to Use the Science of Motivation With the Power of Game Design to Shift Behaviour, Shape Culture and Make Clever Happen by Jason Fox. Besides having a spectacularly long title, the book is long on great ideas too. The author makes a strong case for ways game design can be applied to bring motivation to life and work.



The book shows how we are motivated to do what we are currently doing in a given moment. That’s why it’s not helpful to assume someone just isn’t a motivated person. 



Whatever we are doing is what we are motivated to do.



As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to change motivation. It might be possible, but it’s very difficult. We will default to activities that provide the richest sense of progress. Motivation isn’t the problem. The problem is the work itself. We want work that is satisfying.



We meaning WE, all of us. The adults in the school want meaningful work, and so do the students. All of us.



That doesn’t mean that every moment of the work will be satisfying, but overall, we see progress and benefits from the work we are doing. I’m guessing none of us would do anything we are currently doing if we didn’t see it as valuable or necessary to some relevant and beneficial purpose. 



And if we were required to do something out of compliance, that we did not value or find satisfying, over time it would be soul crushing and mind numbing. I wonder if some of our students feel that way?



If all of this is true, does it really make sense to expect students to change their motivation toward learning in your classroom or school? We plead with them to do their homework. We try to convince them why the work we offer them is so important to their future. We fuss at them to do more. We try to get them to buy-in to the game of school.



But why don’t we just change the game? 



Why don’t we reduce the friction? That’s the point I was trying to make in a previous post, 9 Ways to Make Learning Irresistible



I’m not saying we should make things easier, just more meaningful. Gamers fail as much as 80% of the time. Kids are extremely persistent when playing the games they love. They will persist in spite of frustration. They enjoy the challenge. They will stay with the struggle.



If kids aren’t persisting in our lessons, maybe we need to change the game. Every game includes goals, rules, and feedback. Every classroom includes goals, rules, and feedback. 



If we have an effective learning design, students WILL be motivated and you WILL successfully influence their behavior. Instead of expecting students to adjust to your game, why not develop the game with their motivations in mind? 



Why not change the learning to meet the students where they are? To me, that’s true relevance.



The students in your class who are struggling have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. What are you doing to disrupt that pattern? What are you doing to be a game changer?



I’m really curious to know your thoughts on all of this. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More A Surprisingly Beneficial Way to Think About Motivation





Every teenager is motivated. Every student is motivated. Every teacher. Every parent. Every person is 100% motivated. That’s right. You’re 100% motivated to do exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. 



I’ve been reading The Game Changer: How to Use the Science of Motivation With the Power of Game Design to Shift Behaviour, Shape Culture and Make Clever Happen by Jason Fox. Besides having a spectacularly long title, the book is long on great ideas too. The author makes a strong case for ways game design can be applied to bring motivation to life and work.



The book shows how we are motivated to do what we are currently doing in a given moment. That’s why it’s not helpful to assume someone just isn’t a motivated person. 



Whatever we are doing is what we are motivated to do.



As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to change motivation. It might be possible, but it’s very difficult. We will default to activities that provide the richest sense of progress. Motivation isn’t the problem. The problem is the work itself. We want work that is satisfying.



We meaning WE, all of us. The adults in the school want meaningful work, and so do the students. All of us.



That doesn’t mean that every moment of the work will be satisfying, but overall, we see progress and benefits from the work we are doing. I’m guessing none of us would do anything we are currently doing if we didn’t see it as valuable or necessary to some relevant and beneficial purpose. 



And if we were required to do something out of compliance, that we did not value or find satisfying, over time it would be soul crushing and mind numbing. I wonder if some of our students feel that way?



If all of this is true, does it really make sense to expect students to change their motivation toward learning in your classroom or school? We plead with them to do their homework. We try to convince them why the work we offer them is so important to their future. We fuss at them to do more. We try to get them to buy-in to the game of school.



But why don’t we just change the game? 



Why don’t we reduce the friction? That’s the point I was trying to make in a previous post, 9 Ways to Make Learning Irresistible



I’m not saying we should make things easier, just more meaningful. Gamers fail as much as 80% of the time. Kids are extremely persistent when playing the games they love. They will persist in spite of frustration. They enjoy the challenge. They will stay with the struggle.



If kids aren’t persisting in our lessons, maybe we need to change the game. Every game includes goals, rules, and feedback. Every classroom includes goals, rules, and feedback. 



If we have an effective learning design, students WILL be motivated and you WILL successfully influence their behavior. Instead of expecting students to adjust to your game, why not develop the game with their motivations in mind? 



Why not change the learning to meet the students where they are? To me, that’s true relevance.



The students in your class who are struggling have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. What are you doing to disrupt that pattern? What are you doing to be a game changer?



I’m really curious to know your thoughts on all of this. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More A Surprisingly Beneficial Way to Think About Motivation





Every teenager is motivated. Every student is motivated. Every teacher. Every parent. Every person is 100% motivated. That’s right. You’re 100% motivated to do exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. 



I’ve been reading The Game Changer: How to Use the Science of Motivation With the Power of Game Design to Shift Behaviour, Shape Culture and Make Clever Happen by Jason Fox. Besides having a spectacularly long title, the book is long on great ideas too. The author makes a strong case for ways game design can be applied to bring motivation to life and work.



The book shows how we are motivated to do what we are currently doing in a given moment. That’s why it’s not helpful to assume someone just isn’t a motivated person. 



Whatever we are doing is what we are motivated to do.



As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to change motivation. It might be possible, but it’s very difficult. We will default to activities that provide the richest sense of progress. Motivation isn’t the problem. The problem is the work itself. We want work that is satisfying.



We meaning WE, all of us. The adults in the school want meaningful work, and so do the students. All of us.



That doesn’t mean that every moment of the work will be satisfying, but overall, we see progress and benefits from the work we are doing. I’m guessing none of us would do anything we are currently doing if we didn’t see it as valuable or necessary to some relevant and beneficial purpose. 



And if we were required to do something out of compliance, that we did not value or find satisfying, over time it would be soul crushing and mind numbing. I wonder if some of our students feel that way?



If all of this is true, does it really make sense to expect students to change their motivation toward learning in your classroom or school? We plead with them to do their homework. We try to convince them why the work we offer them is so important to their future. We fuss at them to do more. We try to get them to buy-in to the game of school.



But why don’t we just change the game? 



Why don’t we reduce the friction? That’s the point I was trying to make in a previous post, 9 Ways to Make Learning Irresistible



I’m not saying we should make things easier, just more meaningful. Gamers fail as much as 80% of the time. Kids are extremely persistent when playing the games they love. They will persist in spite of frustration. They enjoy the challenge. They will stay with the struggle.



If kids aren’t persisting in our lessons, maybe we need to change the game. Every game includes goals, rules, and feedback. Every classroom includes goals, rules, and feedback. 



If we have an effective learning design, students WILL be motivated and you WILL successfully influence their behavior. Instead of expecting students to adjust to your game, why not develop the game with their motivations in mind? 



Why not change the learning to meet the students where they are? To me, that’s true relevance.



The students in your class who are struggling have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. What are you doing to disrupt that pattern? What are you doing to be a game changer?



I’m really curious to know your thoughts on all of this. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More A Surprisingly Beneficial Way to Think About Motivation





Every teenager is motivated. Every student is motivated. Every teacher. Every parent. Every person is 100% motivated. That’s right. You’re 100% motivated to do exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. 



I’ve been reading The Game Changer: How to Use the Science of Motivation With the Power of Game Design to Shift Behaviour, Shape Culture and Make Clever Happen by Jason Fox. Besides having a spectacularly long title, the book is long on great ideas too. The author makes a strong case for ways game design can be applied to bring motivation to life and work.



The book shows how we are motivated to do what we are currently doing in a given moment. That’s why it’s not helpful to assume someone just isn’t a motivated person. 



Whatever we are doing is what we are motivated to do.



As a result, it doesn’t make sense to try to change motivation. It might be possible, but it’s very difficult. We will default to activities that provide the richest sense of progress. Motivation isn’t the problem. The problem is the work itself. We want work that is satisfying.



We meaning WE, all of us. The adults in the school want meaningful work, and so do the students. All of us.



That doesn’t mean that every moment of the work will be satisfying, but overall, we see progress and benefits from the work we are doing. I’m guessing none of us would do anything we are currently doing if we didn’t see it as valuable or necessary to some relevant and beneficial purpose. 



And if we were required to do something out of compliance, that we did not value or find satisfying, over time it would be soul crushing and mind numbing. I wonder if some of our students feel that way?



If all of this is true, does it really make sense to expect students to change their motivation toward learning in your classroom or school? We plead with them to do their homework. We try to convince them why the work we offer them is so important to their future. We fuss at them to do more. We try to get them to buy-in to the game of school.



But why don’t we just change the game? 



Why don’t we reduce the friction? That’s the point I was trying to make in a previous post, 9 Ways to Make Learning Irresistible



I’m not saying we should make things easier, just more meaningful. Gamers fail as much as 80% of the time. Kids are extremely persistent when playing the games they love. They will persist in spite of frustration. They enjoy the challenge. They will stay with the struggle.



If kids aren’t persisting in our lessons, maybe we need to change the game. Every game includes goals, rules, and feedback. Every classroom includes goals, rules, and feedback. 



If we have an effective learning design, students WILL be motivated and you WILL successfully influence their behavior. Instead of expecting students to adjust to your game, why not develop the game with their motivations in mind? 



Why not change the learning to meet the students where they are? To me, that’s true relevance.



The students in your class who are struggling have probably always struggled in school. That becomes a pattern of frustration and failure. What are you doing to disrupt that pattern? What are you doing to be a game changer?



I’m really curious to know your thoughts on all of this. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More A Surprisingly Beneficial Way to Think About Motivation

Technology is playing a bigger role in classrooms and schools in this country and around the world. Here are a few thoughts to keep technology in perspective. Share them with your team and discuss how to best implement technology in your learning culture. I hope these ideas help guide you to more effective use of digital tools with your students. 

1. Your learning goals should drive your tech goals, and not the other way around.



Just because you have access to iPads, Chromebooks, or some other device in your classroom doesn’t mean they must be the center of learning in your classroom. Not every lesson can be made better with technology. Allow your goals for learning to lead you to the most powerful ways for tech to further support those learning goals. Keep your students at the center of learning, not a device.








2. It’s not enough to think tech is important for students. You must be willing to learn it yourself.



To deny that tech will be important to students’ futures seems unthinkable. But it’s not enough to recognize students will need tech to be successful. Your students also need to see you as a willing learner of technology. They need to see you as a learner period. And it’s a shame if you aren’t leveraging your skills as a teacher because you aren’t willing to learn technology. All of your teacher skills are priceless, but they can be even more relevant and powerful if you know how to effectively use technology for learning, too.



3. Tech can make kids want to learn more, but more importantly, it creates opportunities for more learning.



Lots of kids like to use technology. But using tech because it is engaging isn’t as important as using it because your students are engaged. If your students are curious and motivated learners, they will have questions that need answers. They will want to create and share new knowledge. You know your students. You inspire them as learners and that relationship will ultimately lead to more learning. Technology can then create unlimited opportunities to create, learn, and share.








4. Being an effective learner in the modern world also means you are an effective digital learner.



Readers of my blog know I believe adaptable learners will own the future. The ability to learn, to be creative, to see possibilities, to make something new, will be a huge advantage for future success. But in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, being an effective learner also means you are effective in using digital tools for learning, solving problems, and creating knowledge. 



5. If you change the technology but don’t change your lesson, nothing really changes.



Adding technology to the same old lessons doesn’t automatically make them better lessons. Work to create a better lesson first—one that is meaningful and authentic and causes deeper thinking and greater understandingthen consider how technology can make it even better. Technology won’t improve learning if that worksheet is now in digital format. It won’t inspire learning if students are just looking up answers online instead of in the textbook. Your lesson design is always more important than your digital tool.








6. For students who don’t know how to use social media appropriately and effectively, who knows what opportunities they might miss?



If you want to be successful, do what successful people do. And some of the most successful people in our world are using social media and blogging as a platform to network, share their message, and improve their work. How many kids have the chance to practice these skills in school? As digital footprints replace traditional resumes, will your students have anything to show for their work? Even worse, will their digital record disqualify them to employers?



7. Google doesn’t have answers; it has information.



Learning and inquiry involves more than searching for right answers. Students make meaning of information through good thinking. The most interesting questions don’t have one right answer and require students to think in ways that lead to understanding. Access to a web-connected device is a powerful tool for learning. It creates agency, empowers learning, and puts students in the driver’s seat, but only if we allow it, support it, and facilitate it.








8. Tech should make us more human, not less.



It’s not hard to see ways technology is both a blessing and a burden. So we need to be thoughtful about how we use technology for good and limit the negatives. We’ve heard a lot about how social skills are deteriorating as a result of attachment to mobile tech and addiction to device notifications and so forth. But technology can help us connect, do more good, and be more human, not less. In the classroom, technology should lead to more conversations, not less. Students are going to use technology. We need to help them use it in ways that are healthy and productive.



9. Anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader too.



We are past the days where leaders could just count on the tech department or that one teacher to take the lead on technology. Every person who aspires to lead should expect to be a digital leader too. Leaders don’t have to have better digital skills than anyone else, but they do need to model the use of technology and constantly be willing to learn. Working to stay informed, learning new tools, and being future-driven are critical to digital leadership. And every leader should strive to be a digital leader too.



Question: What essential #EdTech idea would you add to this list? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Essential #EdTech Ideas to Share With Your Team

Technology is playing a bigger role in classrooms and schools in this country and around the world. Here are a few thoughts to keep technology in perspective. Share them with your team and discuss how to best implement technology in your learning culture. I hope these ideas help guide you to more effective use of digital tools with your students. 

1. Your learning goals should drive your tech goals, and not the other way around.



Just because you have access to iPads, Chromebooks, or some other device in your classroom doesn’t mean they must be the center of learning in your classroom. Not every lesson can be made better with technology. Allow your goals for learning to lead you to the most powerful ways for tech to further support those learning goals. Keep your students at the center of learning, not a device.








2. It’s not enough to think tech is important for students. You must be willing to learn it yourself.



To deny that tech will be important to students’ futures seems unthinkable. But it’s not enough to recognize students will need tech to be successful. Your students also need to see you as a willing learner of technology. They need to see you as a learner period. And it’s a shame if you aren’t leveraging your skills as a teacher because you aren’t willing to learn technology. All of your teacher skills are priceless, but they can be even more relevant and powerful if you know how to effectively use technology for learning, too.



3. Tech can make kids want to learn more, but more importantly, it creates opportunities for more learning.



Lots of kids like to use technology. But using tech because it is engaging isn’t as important as using it because your students are engaged. If your students are curious and motivated learners, they will have questions that need answers. They will want to create and share new knowledge. You know your students. You inspire them as learners and that relationship will ultimately lead to more learning. Technology can then create unlimited opportunities to create, learn, and share.








4. Being an effective learner in the modern world also means you are an effective digital learner.



Readers of my blog know I believe adaptable learners will own the future. The ability to learn, to be creative, to see possibilities, to make something new, will be a huge advantage for future success. But in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, being an effective learner also means you are effective in using digital tools for learning, solving problems, and creating knowledge. 



5. If you change the technology but don’t change your lesson, nothing really changes.



Adding technology to the same old lessons doesn’t automatically make them better lessons. Work to create a better lesson first—one that is meaningful and authentic and causes deeper thinking and greater understandingthen consider how technology can make it even better. Technology won’t improve learning if that worksheet is now in digital format. It won’t inspire learning if students are just looking up answers online instead of in the textbook. Your lesson design is always more important than your digital tool.








6. For students who don’t know how to use social media appropriately and effectively, who knows what opportunities they might miss?



If you want to be successful, do what successful people do. And some of the most successful people in our world are using social media and blogging as a platform to network, share their message, and improve their work. How many kids have the chance to practice these skills in school? As digital footprints replace traditional resumes, will your students have anything to show for their work? Even worse, will their digital record disqualify them to employers?



7. Google doesn’t have answers; it has information.



Learning and inquiry involves more than searching for right answers. Students make meaning of information through good thinking. The most interesting questions don’t have one right answer and require students to think in ways that lead to understanding. Access to a web-connected device is a powerful tool for learning. It creates agency, empowers learning, and puts students in the driver’s seat, but only if we allow it, support it, and facilitate it.








8. Tech should make us more human, not less.



It’s not hard to see ways technology is both a blessing and a burden. So we need to be thoughtful about how we use technology for good and limit the negatives. We’ve heard a lot about how social skills are deteriorating as a result of attachment to mobile tech and addiction to device notifications and so forth. But technology can help us connect, do more good, and be more human, not less. In the classroom, technology should lead to more conversations, not less. Students are going to use technology. We need to help them use it in ways that are healthy and productive.



9. Anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader too.



We are past the days where leaders could just count on the tech department or that one teacher to take the lead on technology. Every person who aspires to lead should expect to be a digital leader too. Leaders don’t have to have better digital skills than anyone else, but they do need to model the use of technology and constantly be willing to learn. Working to stay informed, learning new tools, and being future-driven are critical to digital leadership. And every leader should strive to be a digital leader too.



Question: What essential #EdTech idea would you add to this list? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Essential #EdTech Ideas to Share With Your Team

am·bi·gu·i·ty noun • uncertainty or inexactness of meaning in language. synonyms: vagueness, obscurity, abstruseness, doubtfulness, uncertainty; • a lack of decisiveness or commitment resulting from a failure to make a choice between alternatives. Ambiguity has potential to be a catalyst to new learning. It can be the spark to kindle lateral thinking and creative solutions to huge problems […]

Read More “Learn to live with ambiguity.”





Developing a shared vision for technology in your school should include lots of conversations. These conversations should occur among teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders. It’s important to think through the pros and cons of technology use and how technology can play an valuable role in learning.


Sometimes I think people hold ideas about technology that only consider one side of the issue. Forward thinking educators and parents want to race ahead with technology implementation without considering some of the drawbacks.


On the other hand, status quo defenders quickly point out the drawbacks of technology use in the classroom without considering how important technology will be to student success in a rapidly changing world. 


To bridge the divide, we need to have more honest conversations and seek to understand the various issues. Whichever way we lean, we need to consider various perspectives and use good thinking to arrive at common ground.


Here are 5 conversations to have about education technology in your classroom or school.


1. Why is technology use important?


Even if you don’t really like the prominent role of technology in our society, it is indisputable that more and more opportunities are tied to the effective use of technology for learning and productivity. In our modern world, digital technology is how stuff gets done. And clearly the internet is not going away. And mobile technology is not just a fad. 


So if we are going to truly prepare students for their future, we must include technology as an essential part of the learning process. Technology needs to be implemented in authentic ways that reflect the way it is used by people across a wide variety of professions. 


We should also invite students to use their imaginations to consider how technology might be used in the future. Opportunities for innovation abound. The ability to adapt and create might allow students to ‘create’ a job for themselves even when the traditional way of ‘finding’ a job might prove more difficult. All the rules are changing.
2. What are things technology won’t do for your classroom or school?


Technology should not be viewed as something that will automatically result in better learning for students. In fact, technology can actually hurt learning if it is not implemented properly. It’s important to start with a strong learning culture and a teacher who inspires and guides learning. Effective technology use requires effective leadership.


So let’s talk openly about the limitations of technology. 
  • Adding technology won’t make a poor lesson suddenly great.
  • It won’t fix a learning culture that is sluggish or disengaged.
  • It won’t necessarily result in higher standardized test scores.
  • Technology isn’t appropriate for every learning task.
  • Technology can be a distraction. 
  • It can also bring new concerns for student wellness and safety.


Adding technology to lessons doesn’t make them great lessons. #edchat #edtech #sunchat pic.twitter.com/iKWUYTfOGr

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 25, 2016



3. How can we overcome challenges that come with technology use?

Too many educators focus on the drawbacks or challenges to technology use and never even consider how these obstacles can be overcome. There are significant challenges when using technology for learning. However, there are plenty of schools that are doing a great job of addressing and overcoming every one of the challenges. But it takes a concerted effort to address these concerns.
  • Educators must model safe and appropriate use of technology.
  • Schools must teach digital citizenship and activate students as digital leaders.
  • Schools must support professional learning for teachers on technology use.
  • Effective pedagogy must be prioritized over using technology for the sake of technology.
  • Schools must develop strong relationships with students, parents, etc. so that there is a cooperative effort to make technology work for learning. 
4. What are the most valuable ways we can use technology for learning?


Not all uses of technology are created equal. Some ways of using technology are more valuable than others. We need to use technology in ways that are high leverage for learning. 


When used effectively, technology can be powerful. In fact, it can transform learning. In an earlier post I listed 7 Ways Technology Transforms Learning. Most importantly, technology can empower learning. It can give learners greater voice, more opportunities, and provide the platform to create new knowledge in a very personal and customized way.


Some ways of using technology are not as effective for learning. They don’t result in greater student agency, deeper thinking, or more opportunities to connect with others.
  • Drill and kill on a device is still low leverage.
  • Activities that are simply “busy work” are still mindless even on a device.
  • Test prep programs are not my idea of authentic technology use.
  • Worksheets are not more engaging just because they are pushed out on a device.
Effective learning with technology should involve students in making decisions about their learning. There should be opportunities for students to make learning choices about time, place, path, or pace. 


5. How are you growing in your use of technology as an educator?


One of the most important parts of successful use of technology in schools is that educators are growing in their use of technology, too. It’s critical for leaders to model learning with digital tools. In fact, anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader, too. It’s not something reserved for the technology department or techie teachers only. Everyone needs to model learning in this area.


I think some teachers still think technology is reserved for students who are going into IT or some other computer related field. But that’s just not the case. Nearly every profession will be impacted by technology advances. Moreover, every person needs skills for how to use technology for learning and creating. It’s not about knowing specific tech tools. It’s about knowing how to be an effective learner in a modern digital world. Using the tools just flows from the needs of being a learner.


Everyone is at a different place on their personal learning journey. Educators should understand and embrace this. Not every teacher has to be at a certain level. But the point is to continuously grow. Keep learning and taking risks with technology. Always.


Question: How are these technology conversations going for you? What other conversations should educators be having related to technology? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Five Critical #EdTech Conversations For Your School





Developing a shared vision for technology in your school should include lots of conversations. These conversations should occur among teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders. It’s important to think through the pros and cons of technology use and how technology can play an valuable role in learning.


Sometimes I think people hold ideas about technology that only consider one side of the issue. Forward thinking educators and parents want to race ahead with technology implementation without considering some of the drawbacks.


On the other hand, status quo defenders quickly point out the drawbacks of technology use in the classroom without considering how important technology will be to student success in a rapidly changing world. 


To bridge the divide, we need to have more honest conversations and seek to understand the various issues. Whichever way we lean, we need to consider various perspectives and use good thinking to arrive at common ground.


Here are 5 conversations to have about education technology in your classroom or school.


1. Why is technology use important?


Even if you don’t really like the prominent role of technology in our society, it is indisputable that more and more opportunities are tied to the effective use of technology for learning and productivity. In our modern world, digital technology is how stuff gets done. And clearly the internet is not going away. And mobile technology is not just a fad. 


So if we are going to truly prepare students for their future, we must include technology as an essential part of the learning process. Technology needs to be implemented in authentic ways that reflect the way it is used by people across a wide variety of professions. 


We should also invite students to use their imaginations to consider how technology might be used in the future. Opportunities for innovation abound. The ability to adapt and create might allow students to ‘create’ a job for themselves even when the traditional way of ‘finding’ a job might prove more difficult. All the rules are changing.
2. What are things technology won’t do for your classroom or school?


Technology should not be viewed as something that will automatically result in better learning for students. In fact, technology can actually hurt learning if it is not implemented properly. It’s important to start with a strong learning culture and a teacher who inspires and guides learning. Effective technology use requires effective leadership.


So let’s talk openly about the limitations of technology. 
  • Adding technology won’t make a poor lesson suddenly great.
  • It won’t fix a learning culture that is sluggish or disengaged.
  • It won’t necessarily result in higher standardized test scores.
  • Technology isn’t appropriate for every learning task.
  • Technology can be a distraction. 
  • It can also bring new concerns for student wellness and safety.


Adding technology to lessons doesn’t make them great lessons. #edchat #edtech #sunchat pic.twitter.com/iKWUYTfOGr

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) September 25, 2016



3. How can we overcome challenges that come with technology use?

Too many educators focus on the drawbacks or challenges to technology use and never even consider how these obstacles can be overcome. There are significant challenges when using technology for learning. However, there are plenty of schools that are doing a great job of addressing and overcoming every one of the challenges. But it takes a concerted effort to address these concerns.
  • Educators must model safe and appropriate use of technology.
  • Schools must teach digital citizenship and activate students as digital leaders.
  • Schools must support professional learning for teachers on technology use.
  • Effective pedagogy must be prioritized over using technology for the sake of technology.
  • Schools must develop strong relationships with students, parents, etc. so that there is a cooperative effort to make technology work for learning. 
4. What are the most valuable ways we can use technology for learning?


Not all uses of technology are created equal. Some ways of using technology are more valuable than others. We need to use technology in ways that are high leverage for learning. 


When used effectively, technology can be powerful. In fact, it can transform learning. In an earlier post I listed 7 Ways Technology Transforms Learning. Most importantly, technology can empower learning. It can give learners greater voice, more opportunities, and provide the platform to create new knowledge in a very personal and customized way.


Some ways of using technology are not as effective for learning. They don’t result in greater student agency, deeper thinking, or more opportunities to connect with others.
  • Drill and kill on a device is still low leverage.
  • Activities that are simply “busy work” are still mindless even on a device.
  • Test prep programs are not my idea of authentic technology use.
  • Worksheets are not more engaging just because they are pushed out on a device.
Effective learning with technology should involve students in making decisions about their learning. There should be opportunities for students to make learning choices about time, place, path, or pace. 


5. How are you growing in your use of technology as an educator?


One of the most important parts of successful use of technology in schools is that educators are growing in their use of technology, too. It’s critical for leaders to model learning with digital tools. In fact, anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader, too. It’s not something reserved for the technology department or techie teachers only. Everyone needs to model learning in this area.


I think some teachers still think technology is reserved for students who are going into IT or some other computer related field. But that’s just not the case. Nearly every profession will be impacted by technology advances. Moreover, every person needs skills for how to use technology for learning and creating. It’s not about knowing specific tech tools. It’s about knowing how to be an effective learner in a modern digital world. Using the tools just flows from the needs of being a learner.


Everyone is at a different place on their personal learning journey. Educators should understand and embrace this. Not every teacher has to be at a certain level. But the point is to continuously grow. Keep learning and taking risks with technology. Always.


Question: How are these technology conversations going for you? What other conversations should educators be having related to technology? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Five Critical #EdTech Conversations For Your School



As the new school year is just around the corner, it’s a great chance to commit to making learning more effective and meaningful in your classroom or school. Here are five challenges to make it the best year ever. 



1. Greet Your Students at the Door



Everyone can make it a point to greet students at the door each day. But it’s also easy to get busy with other things and neglect the doorway greeting. It’s easy to get pulled away by paperwork or visiting with colleagues or other things. That’s why I decided to include this as a challenge. It’s a challenge for me too. I always try to greet students in the morning, either at one of our entries or by mingling in the hallways. But sometimes I let other things get in the way. I want to commit to make this a top priority all year long.



Greeting students is helpful for several reasons: 

  • It shows students you care and want to interact with them. 
  • It allows you to read students’ body language and see how they’re doing, if they’re ready to learn.
  • It earns buy-in from your students and motivates them to engage in your classroom. You might be surprised how much difference it makes when you make greeting students a top priority.






2. Teach Your Best Lesson on the First Day



I think it’s fair to say there is too much teacher talk overall in K-12 classrooms. Learning would be better served if students were more actively processing content and skills instead of so passive receiving. And that’s and every day concern. But is there any school day with more teacher talk than the first day of school? 



Teachers talk about the rules, the procedures, grades, the seating chart. We talk about the syllabus, about the class objectives, and more. I remember a teacher who even discussed at length the organization of the textbook. Really?



Why would we want the first day of school to be the most boring day of the school year? Shouldn’t we want students to actually be excited about returning to school for the second day? I think the first day should create enough excitement and intrigue that students are more excited about learning tomorrow than they are today.



I recently read that we tend to make first impressions of people we meet within the first 7 seconds and then spend the rest of the conversation trying to convince ourselves why our impressions are true. I’m betting that’s true in the classroom, too. Your students will make assumptions from the first day that may be hard to change later.



So I’m suggesting you try to teach your best lesson on the first day. Make it so great that students will be rushing to your class for day two. Don’t talk about all the boring rules and procedures on day one. You can communicate all that stuff a little at a time the first few weeks of school. Some of it you can address as teachable moments arise. I understand the importance of rules or procedures, but don’t start the year with that stuff.



Instead of the boring pitfalls of the first day, here are some alternatives. Challenge students with a problem. Have them work in groups to create something. Use a team builder to get students active. Here is an Epic List of Team Building Activities. Use Brain Teasers to get your students thinking immediately. Here’s another set of Brain Teasers that might be a little less challenging. You might even be able to use the brain teaser to illustrate something about your rules or procedures, if you are determined to squeeze some of that in on day one. 



Another possibility would be to jump right into your content. Have students read something interesting and even mind-blowing from your subject. Have a discussion about it. Get everyone talking and sharing as much as possible right from the start. Set the stage for high levels of engagement on the first day.



And another possibility, I would always do this when I was teaching high school English. I would tell my students on the first day that I was going to learn everyone’s name, today. I had six classes with nearly 30 students per class. So this was always a big risk. It’s tough to learn 180 names. And I always failed. But I would try. And I would learn most of the names on the first day. 



Think of the lessons that flowed from this. The kids were interacting with me. There was suspense. They couldn’t wait to see if I would remember their name on the next cycle through the class. It was a great chance to talk about taking risks and failing forward. We would laugh together at my mistakes. I also did this to emphasize the importance of relationships. I try to learn your names because I want to get to know you.



Whatever you do, make your first day memorable. Try to teach your very best lesson!








3. Make Questions More Important than Right Answers



I’m guessing many students have come to believe that success in school is closely tied to delivering right answers. And if you deliver enough right answers you get a good grade. But this type of learning doesn’t necessarily stick. Students will deliver right answers on the quiz or test that is right in front of them, but what about months down the road. Do they still retain much of that information? I’m guessing no.



But focusing more on questions can lead to deeper understanding. And when students have deeper understanding, the learning tends to stick. It helps with applying information, seeing the big picture, and transferring learning to new contexts. Questions are the foundation of all inquiry. Physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman said, “There is NO learning without having to pose a question.”



But not all questions are created equal. Many questions are asked in the classroom that do not generate deeper thinking. These questions are the ones that seek a single right answer with very little explanation of thought. But my challenge is to make a shift. Try to make your classroom more about questions than answers.







A couple of years ago, we asked our students to select schoolwide essential questions to guide inquiry across all subjects. Our students actually voted on the questions. We had one question each quarter of the school year. You could do the same thing in your classroom or school. Here’s a Giant List of Really Good Essential Questions.




4. Put Students in the Driver’s Seat



If our goal is to create independent, lifelong learners it’s important to create classrooms where students are taking greater ownership of their learning. We know that a student-centered classroom is more effective than a teacher-centered classroom. So how can you put your students in the driver’s seat this year? 



Our school went 1:1 last year with Chromebooks for every student. Many in our community probably thought this was about keeping up with technology. But the greatest benefit to every student having a device is student agency, the ability for each student to make some of the decisions about the direction of their learning. Access to a device and consequently access to the sum of human knowledge via the internet creates opportunities for empowerment.



But we can’t keep teaching the same way and expect empowerment to increase. Just giving a student a device will not lead to empowerment. We have to give up some of our control and help guide and facilitate learning instead of making every decision ourselves.



Here are some questions for you to consider about agency and empowerment in your classroom?

  • How often do students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?

In classrooms where student ownership has flourished, I’ve noticed that it’s usually because teachers really listen and spend a considerable amount of time understanding their students’ perspective, what’s important to them, what their experiences with learning have been in the past. There is a feeling that the students and the teacher are co-creating the classroom together, instead of the teacher delivering lessons.



5. Eliminate the Trash Can Finish



Where does most student work ultimately end up? Unfortunately, most of it is destined for the trash can. It will never be shared with anyone beyond the classroom. The teacher will review it and assess it, and finally it comes to rest in a landfill. Sometimes, the work will be shared with other students in the classroom. But why aren’t we seeking more authentic audiences for student work?



When students know their work will be shared with a real audience, it changes the mindset. Instead of just producing work that is good-enough to get the grade, they will want to produce work that represents their best efforts. The sense of audience is an opportunity to practice empathy and try to see the project through the end-users’ eyes. It’s what professionals do in their work all the time. Our students need to be practicing the skills that all people use when they are completing a project or developing a product that will no doubt be presented to a real audience.






And there are more ways than ever to share student work. With social media and other digital platforms, student work can be shared across the world. Students can create blogs, produce podcasts, or compile digital portfolios. Twitter is a great way to share out links or images of student work. The #Comments4Kids hashtag is one great way to connect with audiences and get feedback too. 



According to a Forbes magazine article, your online presence will soon replace the traditional resume. But most students haven’t done anything intentional to establish digital presence or personal brand. Your classroom could help change that. You can find ways to share student work so that their great ideas and best efforts can be accessed in the present and the future.



Besides digital sharing of work, there are other ways to make learning visible and include real audiences. Elementary schools are great at displaying student work throughout the school. Why don’t more secondary schools do this? One idea a teacher developed in our school invites professionals in our community to examine student projects. It’s kind of like Shark Tank, with students pitching their ideas to a panel of “sharks.” Schools can also have maker faires or other showcase events where student work is on display for parents and community.



Avoiding the trashcan finish can be as simple as a Tweet or as complex as a schoolwide fair. Everything students do can’t be shared out, but we need to start sharing more. It brings relevance to learning and allows kids to contribute ideas and products to the world right now. Students shouldn’t have to wait until they are out of school to make valuable contributions.



Question: Which of these challenges will you try this year? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 5 Challenges to Your Best School Year Ever



As the new school year is just around the corner, it’s a great chance to commit to making learning more effective and meaningful in your classroom or school. Here are five challenges to make it the best year ever. 



1. Greet Your Students at the Door



Everyone can make it a point to greet students at the door each day. But it’s also easy to get busy with other things and neglect the doorway greeting. It’s easy to get pulled away by paperwork or visiting with colleagues or other things. That’s why I decided to include this as a challenge. It’s a challenge for me too. I always try to greet students in the morning, either at one of our entries or by mingling in the hallways. But sometimes I let other things get in the way. I want to commit to make this a top priority all year long.



Greeting students is helpful for several reasons: 

  • It shows students you care and want to interact with them. 
  • It allows you to read students’ body language and see how they’re doing, if they’re ready to learn.
  • It earns buy-in from your students and motivates them to engage in your classroom. You might be surprised how much difference it makes when you make greeting students a top priority.






2. Teach Your Best Lesson on the First Day



I think it’s fair to say there is too much teacher talk overall in K-12 classrooms. Learning would be better served if students were more actively processing content and skills instead of so passive receiving. And that’s and every day concern. But is there any school day with more teacher talk than the first day of school? 



Teachers talk about the rules, the procedures, grades, the seating chart. We talk about the syllabus, about the class objectives, and more. I remember a teacher who even discussed at length the organization of the textbook. Really?



Why would we want the first day of school to be the most boring day of the school year? Shouldn’t we want students to actually be excited about returning to school for the second day? I think the first day should create enough excitement and intrigue that students are more excited about learning tomorrow than they are today.



I recently read that we tend to make first impressions of people we meet within the first 7 seconds and then spend the rest of the conversation trying to convince ourselves why our impressions are true. I’m betting that’s true in the classroom, too. Your students will make assumptions from the first day that may be hard to change later.



So I’m suggesting you try to teach your best lesson on the first day. Make it so great that students will be rushing to your class for day two. Don’t talk about all the boring rules and procedures on day one. You can communicate all that stuff a little at a time the first few weeks of school. Some of it you can address as teachable moments arise. I understand the importance of rules or procedures, but don’t start the year with that stuff.



Instead of the boring pitfalls of the first day, here are some alternatives. Challenge students with a problem. Have them work in groups to create something. Use a team builder to get students active. Here is an Epic List of Team Building Activities. Use Brain Teasers to get your students thinking immediately. Here’s another set of Brain Teasers that might be a little less challenging. You might even be able to use the brain teaser to illustrate something about your rules or procedures, if you are determined to squeeze some of that in on day one. 



Another possibility would be to jump right into your content. Have students read something interesting and even mind-blowing from your subject. Have a discussion about it. Get everyone talking and sharing as much as possible right from the start. Set the stage for high levels of engagement on the first day.



And another possibility, I would always do this when I was teaching high school English. I would tell my students on the first day that I was going to learn everyone’s name, today. I had six classes with nearly 30 students per class. So this was always a big risk. It’s tough to learn 180 names. And I always failed. But I would try. And I would learn most of the names on the first day. 



Think of the lessons that flowed from this. The kids were interacting with me. There was suspense. They couldn’t wait to see if I would remember their name on the next cycle through the class. It was a great chance to talk about taking risks and failing forward. We would laugh together at my mistakes. I also did this to emphasize the importance of relationships. I try to learn your names because I want to get to know you.



Whatever you do, make your first day memorable. Try to teach your very best lesson!








3. Make Questions More Important than Right Answers



I’m guessing many students have come to believe that success in school is closely tied to delivering right answers. And if you deliver enough right answers you get a good grade. But this type of learning doesn’t necessarily stick. Students will deliver right answers on the quiz or test that is right in front of them, but what about months down the road. Do they still retain much of that information? I’m guessing no.



But focusing more on questions can lead to deeper understanding. And when students have deeper understanding, the learning tends to stick. It helps with applying information, seeing the big picture, and transferring learning to new contexts. Questions are the foundation of all inquiry. Physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman said, “There is NO learning without having to pose a question.”



But not all questions are created equal. Many questions are asked in the classroom that do not generate deeper thinking. These questions are the ones that seek a single right answer with very little explanation of thought. But my challenge is to make a shift. Try to make your classroom more about questions than answers.







A couple of years ago, we asked our students to select schoolwide essential questions to guide inquiry across all subjects. Our students actually voted on the questions. We had one question each quarter of the school year. You could do the same thing in your classroom or school. Here’s a Giant List of Really Good Essential Questions.




4. Put Students in the Driver’s Seat



If our goal is to create independent, lifelong learners it’s important to create classrooms where students are taking greater ownership of their learning. We know that a student-centered classroom is more effective than a teacher-centered classroom. So how can you put your students in the driver’s seat this year? 



Our school went 1:1 last year with Chromebooks for every student. Many in our community probably thought this was about keeping up with technology. But the greatest benefit to every student having a device is student agency, the ability for each student to make some of the decisions about the direction of their learning. Access to a device and consequently access to the sum of human knowledge via the internet creates opportunities for empowerment.



But we can’t keep teaching the same way and expect empowerment to increase. Just giving a student a device will not lead to empowerment. We have to give up some of our control and help guide and facilitate learning instead of making every decision ourselves.



Here are some questions for you to consider about agency and empowerment in your classroom?

  • How often do students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?

In classrooms where student ownership has flourished, I’ve noticed that it’s usually because teachers really listen and spend a considerable amount of time understanding their students’ perspective, what’s important to them, what their experiences with learning have been in the past. There is a feeling that the students and the teacher are co-creating the classroom together, instead of the teacher delivering lessons.



5. Eliminate the Trash Can Finish



Where does most student work ultimately end up? Unfortunately, most of it is destined for the trash can. It will never be shared with anyone beyond the classroom. The teacher will review it and assess it, and finally it comes to rest in a landfill. Sometimes, the work will be shared with other students in the classroom. But why aren’t we seeking more authentic audiences for student work?



When students know their work will be shared with a real audience, it changes the mindset. Instead of just producing work that is good-enough to get the grade, they will want to produce work that represents their best efforts. The sense of audience is an opportunity to practice empathy and try to see the project through the end-users’ eyes. It’s what professionals do in their work all the time. Our students need to be practicing the skills that all people use when they are completing a project or developing a product that will no doubt be presented to a real audience.






And there are more ways than ever to share student work. With social media and other digital platforms, student work can be shared across the world. Students can create blogs, produce podcasts, or compile digital portfolios. Twitter is a great way to share out links or images of student work. The #Comments4Kids hashtag is one great way to connect with audiences and get feedback too. 



According to a Forbes magazine article, your online presence will soon replace the traditional resume. But most students haven’t done anything intentional to establish digital presence or personal brand. Your classroom could help change that. You can find ways to share student work so that their great ideas and best efforts can be accessed in the present and the future.



Besides digital sharing of work, there are other ways to make learning visible and include real audiences. Elementary schools are great at displaying student work throughout the school. Why don’t more secondary schools do this? One idea a teacher developed in our school invites professionals in our community to examine student projects. It’s kind of like Shark Tank, with students pitching their ideas to a panel of “sharks.” Schools can also have maker faires or other showcase events where student work is on display for parents and community.



Avoiding the trashcan finish can be as simple as a Tweet or as complex as a schoolwide fair. Everything students do can’t be shared out, but we need to start sharing more. It brings relevance to learning and allows kids to contribute ideas and products to the world right now. Students shouldn’t have to wait until they are out of school to make valuable contributions.



Question: Which of these challenges will you try this year? Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 5 Challenges to Your Best School Year Ever



What is your school’s mindset surrounding technology use in the classroom? If you’re like a lot of educators, you are probably working to integrate technology into instruction. You might even be discussing the merits of blended learning. But what does it mean to integrate technology? And what is blended learning?



I think those terms are used similarly and seem to indicate a desire for technology to be used more effectively in schools. A fairly common definition of blended learning is an education method in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place path, or pace. The increased student agency is the most important part of the entire definition to me. 



And yet, I think many schools claim to have blended learning while maintaining a teacher-directed approach. The part about giving some element of student control gets lost in the shuffle as teachers use a variety of ‘cool’ tools in an effort to add pizzazz to the same old lessons they taught before.


Most teachers feel like they need to use technology in their classroom. They are aware of the “technology push” in schools. Everyone seems to be calling for more technology in schools. In fact, spending on K-12 education technology is nearly $10 billion a year. That’s a significant push! But to what aim?


Most teachers (but not all) have come around to the idea that it’s important to use technology in the classroom. However, far too many think using a PowerPoint and a projector equates to being a forward thinking teacher. If you ask teachers why technology is important, you will hear a variety of responses. But one common response I hear is that kids are interested in technology, so using technology will help make kids more interested in learning.


There is an element of truth to this. Some kids do seem to prefer learning that involves digital opportunities. Technology can support student engagement. But it can also support student empowerment. And there’s a distinct different. A student who is engaged wants to learn something because it’s exciting or interesting to them. But a student who is empowered wants to learn something because they find inherent value in the learning for themselves and others. They are choosing to learn because they find meaning in what they are doing. It is more than a fun activity, it’s an important pursuit.


If we are using technology to shift agency to the learner it can truly be transformation. By the year 2020 there will be nearly 6 billion smartphones in the world. We all know smartphones continue to get more powerful each year. A connected device gives its owner access to the sum of human knowledge at his or her fingertips. If your students aren’t empowered learners, how will they use this access to reach higher in a world that is rapidly changing?



Technology should not be an add-on to learning in the classroom. It shouldn’t even be an extension of learning. It’s just how we learn in a modern world. One way. Not the only way. But one very important way. I recently heard George Couros speak and he remarked that “if I told you the library in your school is just an extra, and I am going to remove it from your school, you would be outraged. Your community would be outraged. You would never allow that. Technology is just as essential to learning as your school library.



I enjoy gardening. This year I’m trying to raise my game and make my garden the best its ever been. So I worked extra hard to prepare my soil, select my plants, and find out what great gardeners do differently. I think that might be a great title for Todd Whitaker’s next book! I talked to friends who are good gardeners, and I regularly conducted research online to answer questions that arose. 



And check this out, I am cutting-edge here…I am integrating a shovel, a hoe, and a water hose into my gardening. I went to a garden conference, learned about some cool tools, and have now decided to integrate these tools into my garden plans. What the heck, you say?!? You would never say that you’re going to integrate essential tools like a shovel, a hoe, or a water hose into gardening. They’re essential. You just use them.



As I used technology to research my garden, I watched YouTube videos and read various blogs and articles to learn more. And it’s funny, never once did I think “I’m now going to integrate some technology into my garden project.” I viewed the technology as a helpful tool, a very powerful tool, a potentially transformational tool, to help me be a better gardener. In the same way that my shovel, hoe, and water hose are essential tools to gardening, technology is an essential tool to almost every kind of learning.



At the typical edtech conference, there seem to be a lot of sessions on the what and how of using tech tools in the classroom. Someone will also be sharing the latest version of a cool app, game, or platform. But I contend that we must always start with why. I learned that from Simon Sinek. We must understand why we are using technology in the class and have a clear vision of empowering students as as adaptable learners. They will need these skills in a world where there will soon be 6 billion smartphone users.



Question: Are you integrating technology as an add-on, or is it just an essential part of learning in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.























      

Read More Is It Time To Move Past Tech Integration?



What is your school’s mindset surrounding technology use in the classroom? If you’re like a lot of educators, you are probably working to integrate technology into instruction. You might even be discussing the merits of blended learning. But what does it mean to integrate technology? And what is blended learning?



I think those terms are used similarly and seem to indicate a desire for technology to be used more effectively in schools. A fairly common definition of blended learning is an education method in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place path, or pace. The increased student agency is the most important part of the entire definition to me. 



And yet, I think many schools claim to have blended learning while maintaining a teacher-directed approach. The part about giving some element of student control gets lost in the shuffle as teachers use a variety of ‘cool’ tools in an effort to add pizzazz to the same old lessons they taught before.


Most teachers feel like they need to use technology in their classroom. They are aware of the “technology push” in schools. Everyone seems to be calling for more technology in schools. In fact, spending on K-12 education technology is nearly $10 billion a year. That’s a significant push! But to what aim?


Most teachers (but not all) have come around to the idea that it’s important to use technology in the classroom. However, far too many think using a PowerPoint and a projector equates to being a forward thinking teacher. If you ask teachers why technology is important, you will hear a variety of responses. But one common response I hear is that kids are interested in technology, so using technology will help make kids more interested in learning.


There is an element of truth to this. Some kids do seem to prefer learning that involves digital opportunities. Technology can support student engagement. But it can also support student empowerment. And there’s a distinct different. A student who is engaged wants to learn something because it’s exciting or interesting to them. But a student who is empowered wants to learn something because they find inherent value in the learning for themselves and others. They are choosing to learn because they find meaning in what they are doing. It is more than a fun activity, it’s an important pursuit.


If we are using technology to shift agency to the learner it can truly be transformation. By the year 2020 there will be nearly 6 billion smartphones in the world. We all know smartphones continue to get more powerful each year. A connected device gives its owner access to the sum of human knowledge at his or her fingertips. If your students aren’t empowered learners, how will they use this access to reach higher in a world that is rapidly changing?



Technology should not be an add-on to learning in the classroom. It shouldn’t even be an extension of learning. It’s just how we learn in a modern world. One way. Not the only way. But one very important way. I recently heard George Couros speak and he remarked that “if I told you the library in your school is just an extra, and I am going to remove it from your school, you would be outraged. Your community would be outraged. You would never allow that. Technology is just as essential to learning as your school library.



I enjoy gardening. This year I’m trying to raise my game and make my garden the best its ever been. So I worked extra hard to prepare my soil, select my plants, and find out what great gardeners do differently. I think that might be a great title for Todd Whitaker’s next book! I talked to friends who are good gardeners, and I regularly conducted research online to answer questions that arose. 



And check this out, I am cutting-edge here…I am integrating a shovel, a hoe, and a water hose into my gardening. I went to a garden conference, learned about some cool tools, and have now decided to integrate these tools into my garden plans. What the heck, you say?!? You would never say that you’re going to integrate essential tools like a shovel, a hoe, or a water hose into gardening. They’re essential. You just use them.



As I used technology to research my garden, I watched YouTube videos and read various blogs and articles to learn more. And it’s funny, never once did I think “I’m now going to integrate some technology into my garden project.” I viewed the technology as a helpful tool, a very powerful tool, a potentially transformational tool, to help me be a better gardener. In the same way that my shovel, hoe, and water hose are essential tools to gardening, technology is an essential tool to almost every kind of learning.



At the typical edtech conference, there seem to be a lot of sessions on the what and how of using tech tools in the classroom. Someone will also be sharing the latest version of a cool app, game, or platform. But I contend that we must always start with why. I learned that from Simon Sinek. We must understand why we are using technology in the class and have a clear vision of empowering students as as adaptable learners. They will need these skills in a world where there will soon be 6 billion smartphone users.



Question: Are you integrating technology as an add-on, or is it just an essential part of learning in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.























      

Read More Is It Time To Move Past Tech Integration?