Sunday, May 7, 2017

Connecting with the World: Giving Our Students a Voice.

We were very lucky to have Shannon Miller as a guest speaker for the Ed Tech and Design course.
Shannon is UNI graduate!  She is a former teacher librarian and technology integration specialist at Van Meter Community School District. She is now an international speaker that encourages young people and educators to have a voice while learning, creating, collaborating, and connecting with others globally. She speaks and consults around the country on education, librarianship, technology, social media, and making a difference in education and the lives of others. She is a Future Ready Librarians and Project Connect Spokesperson at Follett Corporation.; Buncee's Teacher Librarian Advisor and Cantata Learning's Teacher Librarian Advocate. She is also the author of the award-winning The Library Voice blog.

You may follow her on Twitter at

Before watching the lecture:

Open and analyze the International Society forTechnology in Education (ISTE) standards for teachers and students. ISTE standards provide a framework for learning, teaching and leading that is amplified by technology.

  • ISTE Standards for Students- emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. 
  • ISTE standards for Teachers - define the new skills and pedagogical insights educators need to teach, work and learn in the digital age.

Bookmark these standards, we will be coming back to them throughout the course.

While watching the following lecture think:
  • Do you have skills and tools to give you and your future students a voice?
  • What can you do to make learning more meaningful and engaging?
  • Do you see an echo of ISTE standards in Shannon's teaching?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Being a Change Agent in Your School

As we are approaching the end of the semester, you are encouraged to look back/reflect on what you have learned from the course and look forward to thinking how to transfer the knowledge, skills and your understanding from this course into your current real life situations and future teaching practices. 

In this course, we have explored various topics and big ideas on educational technology and design. One of the topics and big ideas is related to the framework of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)  that identifies the knowledge base that teachers need to teach pedagogically and effectively with technology. 

Another topic is related to the Framework of 21st Century Learning, which "presents a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning that discretely focusing on 21st century student outcomes". Please visit the website of Partnership for 21st Century Skills to know more about this topic.

Here is the link of Iowa Core: 21st Century Skills. "21st century skills bridge the knowledge, skills and dispositions of students from the core academic areas to real life allocation."  

21st Century Learning requires teachers and students to transform their classroom teaching and learning. Please watch the following video: Technology, the New Pedagogy, and Flipped Teaching, presented by Dr. Michael Fullan, who is an advocate and well-known researcher on the topic of teachers as change agents: 

"What should a 21st century teacher be?" Please read the blog: 15 Characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher and see whether you are ready to be a 21st century teacher. 

In addition to being a 21st century teacher, you need to become a change agent in your school. Please answer the questions: Are You a Change Agent? 10 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself - Please think deeply about these questions on initiating change.

You may wonder: "I only want to become a classroom teacher, why should I bother to become a change agent in my school?" 

In a classic article on Why Teachers Must Become Change AgentsMichael Fullan (1993) argued that there is an increasing recognition that teachers are on the front lines of educational reform, and therefore teachers must become change agents in their classrooms and schools. He outlined four core capacities of a change agent: Personal vision-building, Inquiry, Mastery, and Collaboration. These four capacities can serve as most comprehensive lenses to analyze and measure whether teachers become change agents. 

"How can I become a change agent?" maybe your next question.

Edwards (2007) proposes that teacher preparation programs should encourage and support preservice teachers to share their existing expertise—their strengths— in the interpretations of problem spaces to construct their individual agency. Therefore, preservice teachers’ capacity to work with others and to negotiate meanings should be seen as valuable strength and not a weakness. 

Liesveld, Miller and Robison (2005) defined “a strength as a combination of natural ability, education and training that produced consistent, near-perfect performance in a specific task” (p. 57). In their book, Teaching with your Strengths: How Great Teachers Inspire their students, the authors show teachers how to avoid the pitfalls that lead to mediocrity, and work best with what they have--discover and capitalize on their strengths. 

Your last question may be: "Is it possible for me to become a change agent as a novice teacher?" The answer is "Yes!" The Positive Psychology provides a new insight into discovering and capitalizing on one's strengths. 

Watch Shawn Achor's TED speech: "Happy Secrets for Better Life." The message that you can get from this video is that we need to have the right mindset to look for positive things in our environment to alter the constant stream of negative self-talk and fear based appraisals in such a way that we can become successful in our life by building on our strengths.  

You can tap on your tech-savvy strength and become a change agent in your school. The research shows that beginning teachers can develop teacher leadership potential from their strength-based practice. (You only need to read the abstract of the paper): 
 This study suggests that beginning teachers can learn to teach with information technology and lead in technology integration at the beginning stage of teacher development."

You can get a systematic support from Teacher Leadership and Compensation System (Iowa Department of Education). One of its goals is to "attract able and promising new teachers by offering competitive starting salaries and offering short-term and long-term professional development and leadership opportunities." 

We are very sure that you will become a change agent for technology integration in your school placements first at UNI and then in your future school. We are looking forward to hearing from you about your successful stories. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Universal Design for Learning / Assistive Technologies

The world isn't equally accessible to all people. There are many challenges that we have to be able to function and succeed in our worldly activities.  In the past, people have tended to emphasize the deficits in others' ability to function in the world. This has led to people being labeled as handicapped and disabled. This can cause a great divide between groups and cast negative stereotypes on challenged individuals. 

Having Special Needs
Consider, if you will, that all humans have special needs. It is just a matter of degree. People may need glasses for reading. Some may need an auditory reader because they have serious vision problems. Individuals may require an alternate means for communicating because they have Lou Gehrig's disease or cerebral palsy.  As we get older, we might review articles on our computer screens at 150% so that they are easier to read.  It's all a matter of degree.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a combination of pedagogy and techniques that acknowledge the different levels of needs. UDL uses brain-based research to identify the need for addressing multiple methods of representation, expression, and engagement of learners with information and knowledge. It involves instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments. 

The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) is a leading organization in the field of UDL. Here is a 5-minute introductory video on UDL.


NOTE: This video has been enhanced using EDpuzzle. It includes explanatory voice-overs, multiple-choice quiz questions, an open-ended question and a link to a website.  This EDpuzzle enhancement has been included to demonstrate how you might enhance a video as part of the Interactive Learning Tool that you are creating for your final project. 

This is NOT your final quiz for this module.  You will still have to complete the module quiz as you have been doing all semester.  

An essential part of UDL is to use Multiple Means of Representation. This means that if you learn things better by reading than watching information, you may not have learned much from the video you just watched.  You might do better if you visited this website and read about UDL.  The National Center on Universal Design for Learning has a wealth of information about UDL as well

Differentiated Learning
Recognizing that students have varying backgrounds, levels of readiness, preferences in learning, and interests is important if you are going to be able to address their needs. You have learned about Differentiated Learning in your other classes. Often you must  differentiate your teaching style to address your individual students' learning needs. You try to meet students where they are educationally. UDL is a strategy that is based upon differentiated learning and teaching.  Read this article, What is Differentiated Instruction?, to see how these strategies work together.  

Assistive Technology
While UDL involves strategies to benefit all learners, Assistive Technologies (AT) are devices (some electronic and some not) that increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. UDL is a teaching practice while AT is something that you can touch. UDL will often involve technology but it is not reliant on technology. Visit this website about UDL and Technology. The text is short, but use the links in the text to gain a deeper understanding of technology's role in UDL.

There are many Types of Assistive Technologies.  Not all AT are electronic, but this list includes a variety of ways that people can interact with technology to function in the world. They may involve input devices that control computers using a variety of methods. They may be output devices that allow computers to communicate with people through Braille, voice, visual representation or even physical activity. 

iPad Helps Special Education Student to Learn
This video shows how an iPad has helped a special needs students read, write and communicate.

Aimee Mullins: Running on High-Tech Legs (10-minute video)
In this TED archive video from 1998, paralympic sprinter Aimee Mullins talks about her record-setting career as a runner, and about the amazing carbon-fiber prosthetic legs (then a prototype) that helped her cross the finish line. (This a video of a presentation from TED Talks. We STRONGLY suggest that you visit to hear some of the greatest minds on the planet present their ideas and visions.)

DOWNLOAD FREE UDL SOFTWARE - One of the most sophisticated programs for helping learners read and write is called Read Write Gold.  The best part about this is that you can download it for FREE at UNI.
  • For Google Documents - Add Read Write Gold to Google Chrome. Go to the Apps Web Store and add it to your Chrome browser.
  • For Computer-Based Tools - Go to UNI ITS website and download it. Read Write Gold - Home (bottom of the page.)  Use it. UNI has purchased a license that allows students and faculty to download it for free to use for themselves or with students.
We are all different and we all learn through a variety of methods and approaches.  UDL and Assistive Technologies provide strategies and tools that are designed to differentiate learning in a way that will benefit the greatest number of learners.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Technology Trends and Education

Iowa Department of Education - Educational Technology Plan 2009-2013
word cloud created via

Are you ready to write your lesson plan for the next 10 years? I hope this blog post changes your mind if you said yes!

What are the technologies that are affecting K-12 education? This infographic by Corey Murray,  from Envisioning Tech shows that many grade school kids will have jobs that have not been created yet. It also shows 40 ways that education and technology are moving towards in the next 30 years.

How will you intertwine your Content knowledge, Pedagogical knowledge, and Technological knowledge, to best engage the students with what they are learning?


What is STEM:

Drones in Education 

Examples of Drone Usage in Education: The Washington Times (

7 things you should know about Makerspaces

Transformative Learning Approach

Additional Resources:

This blog introduces 50 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know. Those tools includes social learning, learning tools, lesson planing, and some other useful tools. This blog post is 2 years old now and there are additional tools that you can add to each category. How many of those tools are you familiar with, and how many of them sound educational to you?
3D Printing:
3D Printing at the Rod Library!


Watch some of the following to know more about some technologies that you might find at your school.

Augmented Reality

Magic Books (Augmented Reality)

There are more videos available in the EmergingEdTech  about the new technologies and their application in education.

How do you think these technologies will impact your future classroom?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Making Learning Meaningful for New Gens
New Gens
This week we will be exploring who are the New Gens (Gen Y and Gen Z) and how they are changing the world. Most of you are members of the millennial generation (Gen Y) and you will be teaching Gen Z students. We will explore these students who you will find in your classroom. We can't teach today's students with 20th-century strategies.  We must first understand our 21st-century students so that we can provide learning challenges that address their needs.

Here are some resources that you should review before watching the lecture:

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants
Let's explore how digital technologies have changed the world, the people and how we interact with one another. The work comparing the Millennial Generation (born 1984 - 2001) with the older generations (Gen X, Baby Boomers) was begun by Marc Prensky.  He defined your generation as Digital Natives because you have always grown up with digital tools and toys. He defined the older generations as Digital Immigrants because we have had to learn about using digital tools and it just doesn't come as natural to us. 

Begin by reading Dr. Prensky's article, Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.This is the classic article about generation differences. Reflect how this applies to your life and your associates.

To be an effective educator, you need to appreciate your students' characteristics. You will be teaching Gen Y and Alpha Gen  (born 2010 to present) students. That means that they are entering first grade now. Most of you are at the older end of the Millennials but that doesn't mean that you can necessarily identify the important characteristics so that you can address them in your class. Watch/Read the following resources carefully so that you will be more aware of these issues.

Here is a different perspective by watching this 20-minute TED Talk by Scott Hess telling us Millennials: Who They Are and Why We Hate Them.   No, this isn't a hate speech. It is a Generation X-er (Millennial) comparing and contrasting them with Millennials. This video builds a good basis for our discussion of Millennials.

How Millennial are you?  Complete this quick survey to see how millennial you are.  Keep track of your results, we will discuss them in the lecture.
How Millennial Are You Survey.

Generation Z and What Does It Mean In Your Classroom (article) 
You will be teaching Gen Z students. You are part of another generation (Gen Y or wiser) and you need to consider how you will need to frame your work in a way that will be more relevant and meaningful to your students.  

What do YOU see as unique characteristics of the NewGens?