Monday, April 29, 2019

Becoming a Change Agent in Your School

Think of a time that you liked a change in your life. What or who made the change? What was the result of that change?
Image from Flicker:

Look around yourself. Is there anything that could be done more efficiently? If you always think about how you can do something more effectively, or advocate and encourage your friends/colleagues and yourself to make changes, you are a change agent. Change comes with challenges. As a teacher, when you change the content or the way you teach the content, often you have to come up with a new test, new statements that describe your students learning outcomes and how you are meeting those, new assessment tools and techniques. If you are not up for all of that work, you would do anything to avoid the change (until you are forced to make the change because your content or teaching pedagogy is out of date!). A change (whether big or small) comes with an expense, so you have to be able to justify and communicate the time and money that is spent and its benefits for all the stakeholders.

Todd Rose, author of The End of Average, describes the historical reasons and influence of using average (an average student, average successful person, average time for a test, average age for marriage...) and how it has influenced many decisions that we make as an educator, without realizing the thought-provoking idea that the average is a myth. In the TED Talk below, he describes how average-based designed airplane cockpits in 1952 were the reason that many good pilots failed. When the air force realized that the issue was the design, and requested personalized cockpit designs, they faced a pushback from the companies, however, when they resisted buying more planes, the airplane companies came up with the idea of adjustable seats (that we use in our cars today!). Rose then shares how we are in an age that our education system is failing, and the need for better designs that sound as impossible as making personalized cockpits, but as possible as the invention of adjustable seats!

As a teacher in the information age, you have access to an endless amount of information, technology, and tools that can make life better or worse. Your decisions regarding how you will use everything that is available to you leads to good or bad changes. Alan AtKisson, in the TEDx Talk video below, uses some great examples/songs to explain how you can be an effective agent of change. He discusses the importance of different roles that you can play in your organization to advocate for a good idea, whether it is yours or your colleagues’ idea, which could lead to a change. He also shares the personalities who try to shut down the change for different reasons. Knowing about these different reactions, and personalities, you can choose which one you would like to be, and how to manage working with those different roles and still advocate for change. 

Ps. In our Becoming Change Agent lecture, we have asked our Professional Learning Network, to share their idea of change agents, the challenges that they have faced as change agents, and the reasons that they hire change agents. Listen what they had to say.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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? What are we doing that helps our kids to become successful for the job market? This short article may give you a new perspective on that!

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

Last semester we had an event, here in Schindler Education Center, where a few Middle Schoolers from Hoover did a technology presentation for us. From students' reflections, many didn't know about these technologies and the fact that they are being used in K-12 schools. And that's OK! That's the nature of technology and by the time you graduate, there may be other new things in trend. By the way, their school's media staff created this video. Enjoy watching it!

Resources referenced in the lecture video:

What is STEM:

Drones in Education 

Article: Drones take off in education

7 things you should know about Maker spaces

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 the following videos to learn more about some technologies that you might find at your future 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, April 11, 2019

Mobile and 1 to 1 Learning: Now What?

So for the April 15 lecture we have a treat for you! We're inviting the Cedar Falls Schools District technology integration staff to come and present about their Instructional Technology Kits. In order to prepare, you MUST watch the Mobile 1:1 Now What? lecture BEFORE you attend. (Use the UNI eLearning login and your Cat ID to get in.) Be ready to ask questions about their kits as you will be broken up into smaller groups during the lecture.

ONLINE STUDENTS: Please try to attend one of the face-to-face lecture times on Monday, April 15 if you can. The times of the lecture are at 10am and 2pm in SEC 220. Even if you cannot stay the whole time, you would benefit in seeing some of the demonstrations.

If you end up teaching in Iowa, there's a pretty good chance that you'll be in a school district that already has a 1:1 initiative. During the lecture we explore what the Cedar Falls school district is doing with their 1:1 program. To prepare for 1:1 CF schools had to update their network infrastructure. Please read here about what they did, even before they completely made the decision to go 1:1.

With going 1:1, school districts need to measure how well they're integrating technology in the classroom. One of the methods that Cedar Falls schools uses is the SAMR model. To learn more about this model, visit this web page and watch a few videos at the bottom of the page to make sure you understand how it works. Make sure you spend some time on this page (quiz, cough, cough)! Here's one of the videos to get you started.

Now let's make it better! Check out this article on 8 Examples of Transforming Lessons Through the SAMR Cycle.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Interactive Learning

Listening to lectures and reading books is one way to learn but few people will say that it is their preferred way to learn. It may be their favorite way to go to school, but is it the most effective way for them to actually learn and master a topic?

Interactive Learning 

Interactive learning is driven by the learner.  The learner engages in the lesson and receives immediate feedback about how well she has done.  Based upon the learner's success, the learner will then encounter learning opportunities that are at the appropriate level of difficulty. Unlike lecture classes where the teacher is teaching to what s/he considers the average student, Interactive Learning provides a learning environment that is tailored to each learner's needs. 

Does Interactive Learning require technology?  No. Before the personal computer, teachers were able to provide interactive learning environments using carefully selected worksheets and textbooks. Students would be pretested to identify their skill levels and then they would work on activities that fit their needs. Upon completing an assignment, it would be corrected and if enough answers were correct the student would move to the next level. 

Does technology make Interactive Learning easier?  Yes. Instead of worksheets and correcting keys, computerized systems can quickly assess a student's skill level and then provide the appropriate learning activities. Technology increases the speed and accuracy of the Interactive Learning experience which can enable the learner to master the content more quickly.

Let's Try this Out!

Visit one of these Interactive Learning systems:   ALEKS or Khan

Each of these systems uses Artificial Intelligence to present instruction that fits your needs. Each system will spend some time getting to know you by asking you questions.  First, they will ask you about what you want to learn and then they will ask you specific questions about the topic you selected. The questions will begin with the basics and then expand your horizons based upon your answers.  Once they get to know you well enough, they begin to instruct you in your selected subject matter. 

ALEKS began as a mathematics tutorial system. Using artificial intelligence, ALEKS identifies what you know. 

Go on the Journey Yourself.  Get a free trial subscription and spend 20 minutes experiencing the artificial intelligence pathway to knowledge.   Here are some hints for your journey through ALEKS.
  • Click on Free Trial
  • Select Independent Users
  • Explore the Student Module
  • Sign Up for the free trial account.
  • Enter your information and then select Independent User Type: College or K12 Student.
  • Choose your market as K-12
  • Select a level and then Select a course.
  • Enter ALEKS.  You will encounter some tutorials at the beginning and then you will get your artificial intelligence-driven pretest.
Want to try a Video Tour of ALEKS?  

Khan Academy is another system that uses AI (and some selections by you) to identify where to begin and uses interactive learning to take you down Knowledge Lane. KHAN began with mathematics but now it teaches everything from Math to Science to Humanities to Economics to SAT Prep.

Begin Your Khan Academy tour. Use the Learners, start here button. 
  • Select a Subject Area and Sign Up.
  • Continue with your UNI Google account
  • Enter Khan Academy and explore the Interactive Learning environment.

Flipped Learning/Classroom

Flipped Learning is another form of Interactive Learning. It involves watching lectures at home and then engaging in activities using your newly-found knowledge in the classroom.  This form of interactive learning is available because technology empowers you to watch a lecture on your own and then come to class to engage in activities using what you learned at home. 
What is the Flipped Classroom? - provides a basic understanding of the flipped classroom structure. 

Building a Flipped Lesson Plan - introduces you to a method for creating the actual lesson activity that will help you flip a lesson in your class.  Notice that they are using the format similar to the debriefing that the Face-to-Face Ed Tech and Design classes use on Wednesday to discuss the week's lecture.

Virtual Reality in the Classroom

The foundation of Interactive Learning places the learner in the center of the learning event.  We have discussed situations where content is presented at levels appropriate for the learner's learning. Flipped Learning emphasized engaging the learner in activities that facilitate understanding.  Virtual Reality takes book learning and places it in the experiential realm of our learners. Our students can experience a 360-degree view of the 1969 moon landing. Hearts can be held or dissected using a 3D Virtual Reality system (Z-Space). Virtual reality can provide ways to immerse learners into places they have never before experienced.  This is truly Interactive Learning.

Read and visit the article, Will Virtual Reality Drive Deeper Learning?  It is filled with links to websites that demonstrate the capabilities of VR.  Spend some time enjoying the article and clicking on the links to see examples of Virtual Reality in Education.

Interactive Learning Tool

Interactive Learning provides learners with opportunities to become engaged in their learning content.  Another way for learners to engage in learning is to create tools that can produce products that fit their needs.  This is a Learner-Centered Way to Learning.

Your final assignment in Ed Tech and Design will be to create an Interactive Learning Tool.  This challenge will involve you identifying an activity to address one or more of your thematic unit's learning objectives and then use multiple mobile apps and/or online tools to create an instructional learning experience for your students. We call this App Smashing!!  It is the "process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project."

Prepare to smash some apps/tools while producing a learning tool for your students.


Additional Resources for Exploring and Creating Apps for Your Tool.