Sunday, July 18, 2010

#ETLC10 Take Aways: Ride the Wave!

The keynote for this conference was Jamie Casap an Education Evangelist at Google. I was looking forward to hearing him speak as the company Google interests me; I wonder how I could work for Google? That seems like a future career move for me one day; I am going to look into that soon! Some points that I took away from his speech were how new technology has impacted the different generations. It is hard to believe that children today do not know a world without cell phones and instant communication. Mobile learning devices (MLDs) are the largest growing technology in underdeveloped nations as they are affordable and easily obtained. As schools continue to ban these “pocket computers,” educational leaders have to educate themselves as well as our children to learn the benefits of these devices and practice the safe use of them inside and outside of the school. Jaime shared that he spends a great deal of time educating his children on the safe use of the internet, social media, and various interactive technology. He is confident they practice good digital citizenship, so much so he does not check their status of Facebook or the history of the sites they may have visited.
Jaime predicted that the laptop will be dead by the year 2013. This statement alone reinforces just how slow education changes, especially when we are talking about embracing technology. Currently, every child does not have access to laptops in every school even with a goal of a 1:1 setting. Are we already saying laptops will be outdated in three years…? How can we get technology into the hands of every student?
The mobile learning device is the next wave to ride when it comes to increasing student achievement!

IPads in Education was the next workshop that I attended. Joanna Montgomery works for Apple and was/is an educator. Tons of apps were discussed in this session, many of which I was already familiar. One that sticks out in my mind is the sign language app Sign 4 Me that is also available for the iPhone. This app shows the various angles that people view sign language, such as viewing upward if you were a small child and down if you were a tall adult. Another very cool app is the book of the periodic table The
Elements: A Visual Exploration which is only available on the iPad. This app gave 3D views of each element on the periodic table an awesome way to show kids in a chemistry class where an element came from up close and personal. The last app that was highlighted that was new to me is the iBook app that is also available for the iPhone. This app enables your iPad to be an e-reader. When will textbooks no longer exist? Will there ever be a day that libraries will no longer exist? In my lifetime?

A panel discussion took place during lunch. The topic of the discussion was virtual desktops. I remember hearing about this when I went on a school visit to Holly High School in Michigan. No longer, did each student space require a hardrive. The monitors were at each student space, but the information was held on a virtual server for the school district. As I still do not have a full understanding of this topic, it does seem like another wave of the future. As cloud computing increases and people feel more comfortable with the security of this technology, I expect this feature to explode in public schools. When data can be housed and accessible to students and staff whenever, wherever, and however. What a breakthrough! I am ready to ready to ride that wave!

ITunes U is the next session I attended with Judy Paxton from MACUL. This session was informative as I have not explored this component of iTunes. I think this might be a hidden gem for educators. Michigan educators have linked lessons to the standards. Not only does this provide a wealth of teaching resources, but also provides an opportunity for students to upload videocasts of lessons as well as earn a stipend for quality uploads. I need to explore more of this resource and share with my staff. There was a lesson on an Algebra activity for middle schoolers that was addressed; I still need to check this one out!

The next hot topic revolves around disruptive innovation. Fred Sharpsteen describes disruptive innovation and how it relates to education. His research specifically relates to how students need a customized learning environment that compliments their individual needs. Technology is the rogue wave that needs to disrupt the educational systems of today. Teaching methods must not just integrate technology but must imbed it into the teaching and learning process. Therein lines our dilemma, with continued cutbacks and loss of funding how do we do that if we don't have the technology?

Finally, my last learning experience is one that will help me reach my goal for next year, I want to produce podcasts or, more appropriately coined, videocasts. I explored the Camtasia and Snagit software produced by TechSmith a Michigan company, gotta love the homegrown folks! I was able to create a brief podcast, as no video was available on the computers in the lab. We created a brief podcast to show others how to change the size of the cursor, very cool and very easy! I want to create my own very soon! The main take-away from this session, other than how to use the software was to create a script prior to recording, this was very helpful to have as it was your safety net!

So, what is your definition of an educational leader? How do they use technology? How do they build capacity in their staff to embrace technology in their classrooms? How do we keep up with our kids? How do we afford the technology and the support that comes along with it? Why do I have so many questions? How do I ride the wave of technology to increase student achievement?


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