Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#FlippedClassrooms Webinar from ISTE @bbray

Thanks to Barbara Bray's kindness, I've been invited to participate in an ISTE SIG-ILT webinar, The Flipped Classroom. Here's  a quick overview from the information page:

Not sure about flipping your classroom? Join us in a conversation with teachers and teacher leaders who have flipped and love sharing!!

Join the Webinar here: http://goo.gl/rDReyFebruary 9 at 7pm ET, 6pm CT, 5pm MT, and 4pm PT
flipped.pngThis is the conversation to join where you will learn about how you can flip your classroom, tools teachers use, and some examples. Barbara Bray asked Ramsey Musallam, Jason Kern, and Miguel Guhlin to present some ideas, examples and more. They graciously agreed to share their ideas, tips, and more then we'll invite questions from the audience to share in a great conversation about flipping the classroom. 

The Flipped Classroom Panel includes:
Ramsey Musallam (http://www.flipteaching.com)Ramsey is a high school chemistry teacher at Science Department Chairperson at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in downtown San Francisco, and an adjunct professor of education at the University of San Francisco. Ramsey's doctoral research focused on the cognitive benefits of using sceencasting and tablet technology to help facilitate meaningful learning. 
Jason Kern (http://edtechemu.blogspot.com/2011/01/flipping-economics-classroom.html)Jason is the Director of Technology at The Oakridge School, a K-12 school in Arlington, TX (www.theoakridgeschool.org). He went back in the classroom to co-teach an economics class last spring to try out the flipped model. This is what the economics post and blog are about. The class continues to use the flipped model so the blogs are current with this semester’s new students. They have also had several other teachers use the flipped model for appropriate units including middle and upper school science, math and foreign language. Jason thinks flipping is the best pedagogical tool to gain back valuable class time and allow teachers to spend more time doing hands-on learning. 
Miguel Guhlin (http://www.mguhlin.org/2012/01/3-tips-on-flipping-your-classroom-with.html)As Director of Instructional Technology for a large urban district in Texas, Past President of the state-wide TCEA Technology Education Coordinators group in one of the largest United States technology educator organizations, he continues to model the use of emerging technologies in schools. You can read his published writing, engage him in conversation via his blog at Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org.

Your host is Barbara Bray PD Chair for SigILT (http://barbarabray.net)Moderator is Katie Christo President, SigILT

To be honest, I'm frightened to death of being a part of this conversation as a professional educator because I haven't implemented "flipped classroom" methodology before.

Read the blog entry,
3 Tips on Flipping Your Classroom with #iPads
That fear aside, it wasn't too difficult to imagine how iPads could fit into the Flipped Classroom vision, which is what caught Barbara's attention.

For fun, I've decided to explore The Flipped Classroom from a contrarian perspective, the first blog entry appearing today. I welcome your insights and opinions (including the, "You don't know what you're talking about!!") since it illuminates the various points of view that exist about this.

  1. Corlita's Way - #FlippedClassrooms and Turbulent Homes
  2. Ms. Englehart's Seeks the Path - #FlippedClassrooms in Poverty-Stricken Schools

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Make It Work - Cherry, Whip Cream and Schools #iPad #edchat

The "new" meatball sundae?
Source: Tech & Learning, February, 2012
"Social Media...How to make it work in the classroom." The headline elicited a laugh. I haven't read the article yet and don't know who wrote it (ok, I've clicked it and I see some familiar names, including Texas' favorite librarian, Carolyn "technolibrary" Foote! Kudos!). A question going around in my mind is, how have schools re-aligned themselves so that powerful, easy to use technologies like the iPad and Linux-based netbooks impact the bottom-line of schools?

Should school teachers be mobilizing to spend so much time making technology designed for personal, non-instructional use work in the classroom? It's a question that some school districts may be asking, and it's a great way to introduce technology that has no purpose being mis-appropriated for classroom use with students. In fact, we can have a bit of fun with the idea and invite others to conversation...maybe the T&L article would be a start.

As much as I enjoy using social media, are our current curriculum & instruction efforts fundamentally aligned with the use of emerging communication, collaboration and curating technologies? Should we be going down this road? I'm reminded of Seth Godin's Meatball Sundae (a must have book for school PR professionals) message:

Image Source: http://goo.gl/svKpa

A meatball sundae is the unfortunate result of mixing two good ideas. The meatballs are the foundation, the things we need (and sometimes want). These are the commodities that so many businesses are built on. The sundae toppings (hot fudge and the like) are the New Marketing, the social networks, Google, blogs and fancy stuff that make people all excited. (Source: Meatball Sundae)

Seth Godin elaborates with this scenario:
You go to a marketing meeting. There’s a presentation from the new Internet marketing guy. He’s brought a fancy (and expensive) blogging consultant with him. She starts talking about how blogs and the “Web 2.0 social media infrastructure” are just waiting for your company to dive in. “Try this stuff,” she seems to be saying, “and the rest of your competitive/structural/profit issues will disappear.”
Seth goes on to write:

Most of the time, despite all the hype, organizations fail when they try to use this scattershot approach. They fail to get buzz or traffic or noise or sales. Organizations don’t fail because the Web and the New Marketing don’t work. They fail because the Web and the New Marketing work only when applied to the right organization. New Media makes a promise to the consumer. If the organization is unable to keep that promise, then it fails.
New Marketing—whipped cream and a cherry on top—isn’t magical. What’s magical is what happens when an organization uses the New Marketing to become something it didn’t used to be—it’s not just the marketing that’s transformed, but the entire organization...You can become the right organization. You can align your organization from the bottom up to sync with New Marketing, and you can transform your organization into one that thrives on the new rules.

The connections between Seth's message and what school edtech advocates are trying to do with technology lie below the surface. If we unearth them, the message is startling direct: 
If schools want to use new technologies, they have to transform themselves, aligning themselves to learners' revised expectations.
For school technology directors, it won't matter if you bring in the latest, cool technology. If nothing changes, you're slapping a cherry and whip cream--iPads, netbooks, etc.--on foundational ideas of standard curriculum, standardized uses of technology that lock technology down. Students' expectation, parents' and community's expectations of technology like the iPad in schools are...what? And, if you lock those down, are you being entirely honest or just building the meatball sundae? No doubt, tough questions for organizations that don't want to change.

"What's your instructional purpose?" asks a colleague of anyone who wants to deploy a new, exciting technology in a classroom, boardroom, or school. Unfortunately, that is an unpopular question for his district administrators that would rather not spend time thinking about that. Their focus is often giving the impression of innovative change by putting hot technology in the hands of students and teachers.

Over the last few weeks, I've been exploring iPads as a viable alternative for the creativity tool in schools. While the choice may seem obvious when comparing a Windows-based netbook to an iPad+keyboard+AppleTV, I don't believe it is so obvious when comparing a Linux-based netbook to an iPad with peripherals (more on that later). Wait, wait, stop laughing!
A quick comparison by a traveller that concludes the iPad is the better
Of course, the comparison is doomed from the start for a simple reason--iPad is already the "darling" of school administrators looking to score a public relations hit with local community members, etc. 

Consider these news article excerpts:
Since the iPad launched last year, some schools have replaced textbooks with E-books. Programs in two thirds of the 600 districts are new for this year; others started these "one-to-one" programs, in which schools provide one iPad for each student, soon after Apple released the tablet in April, 2010. (Source: USNews)
Jeff Bertrang is the principal of Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop High School, located in south central Minnesota. When the iPad debuted in 2010, his school decided to make the investment and buy one for each student, about 375 iPads in all. Bertrang wanted his students to have the latest technology but beyond that, he didn't want them to have to go to a computer lab to get it.
(Source: Marketplace Tech Report)

“It is a fun, engaging device that makes them want to learn. It’s like a magic learning tool.”
Michelle Lissoos, managing director of Think Ahead, a company which implements technology in schools, said she had seen iPads have a positive impact on pupils.
“We are seeing schools which have never thought about technology, opening up to technology in a way they had never imagined before.
“They are really something that can narrow the digital divide.” (Source: CapeTimes)

From hard-working productivity devices to "magic learning," technology use in schools has evolved. We aren't looking for technology that will make us more productive necessarily in the old-fashioned sense (pre-iPad = old-fashioned), but rather, technology that will help us accomplish what we want to do quickly, be light to tote around (ending the heavy backpack syndrome) and be drop-dead simple to use.  The bewildering array of apps can be handled one at a time, reducing complexity in the interface.
Android-based Transformer Prime tablet,
comparatively priced to iPad
As you read remarks on iPad usage, it's obvious that the iPad--and certain competitively-priced Android cousins--there IS some mass hypnosis going on when it comes to the device. It appears that many see it as an unstoppable force coming into schools. 

We need to peel the layers on this phenomenon and ask, "Is this the way we want Joe Plumber, hard-nosed fiscal radical conservatives who already see teachers and administrators as over-paid babysitters who are failing at their job of educating America's children, to see us spending taxpayer dollars?"

Brian Weaver (Texas educator) makes this point in a Google+ conversation that is well-worth considering:
this post started based on so many of us observing the purchasing model known as "OMG WE BOUGHTS 10,000 IPADS! ANYONE HAVE IDEAS ON WHATZ WE CAN DO WITH THEM!?" haha. worst tweet ever was last year when somebody posted their sob story about how their new ipad wouldnt be in in time to "show off at TCEA". seriously? is that what this is about? The OP is in education. Most of us posting on this thread are. As tablets related to teachers, students, staff, can anyone (+Greg Smith included) say that they are the best choice? +Rusty Meyners can tell you that google docs and other things just "arent there YET" on a tablet. If we are being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, tablets probably arent being purchased for anyone for a few more years at least.
Technology for technology's sake has been around for a long time. In fact, K-12 education has a fatal case of the disease that requires us to buy what society perceives as "the best" technology, not realizing that the best isn't necessary. Is that the case in regards to the iPad?

In 1998, Jamie McKenzie (FNO.org) wrote an engaging article on technology for technology's sake perspective:
The educational world is awash with foolhardly, expensive and ill-considered technology ventures that may line the pockets of vendors while doing very little for the capabilities of teachers and students. If these ventures downplay the critically important role of strategic teaching, they may end up short on results and long on expense. These ventures threaten to drain away scarce resources from other programs (libraries, arts, counseling, roof repair and reading) without guaranteeing offsetting gains.
Read the rest of Jamie's 1998 perspective. Then, line it up next to Jamie's 2011 article, Is the iPad a Game-Changer?, created with an iPad:
I have never placed much confidence in the promise of the many tools and gimmicks that have arrived upon the educational scene during the past two decades, arguing that "toolishness is foolishness." I think this case is different. Tablets like the iPad are likely to be game changers for schools and their students.
The days of technology as a tool are over. I hope I never hear the words, "I believe in using technology as a tool" again. Instead, perhaps we should all practice: Tablets like the iPad enable magical learning experiences for our children, enabling creative diversity, information/idea curation, and collaboration" and if you are so inclined you can add this part: "within the "box" that Apple built and controls with an iron-fist." Oops.

After all, if China and India kids can learn to program on a Linux machine, edit video, produce content, is Apple's vision that they too also carry iPads in schools? Will using iPads result in the kind of skills that Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians, British the edge they need to beat back the hordes of cheap labor, low-cost engineering from China, India and other countries? I don't know. Maybe toolishness IS foolishness. The more tools you can use, the better at work, but not necessarily in school?
Read my blog post, Video Editing on Netbooks

Ben Grey's post at EdReach--iPad vs Netbook for a 1:1--really hits the nail on the head when it comes to deployment.

Let's review some of Ben's expectations for what kids do in schools:
  • Word processing with a keyboard - on a netbook running Linux, you have access to no-cost, full featured word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation tools like LibreOffice, as well as the lighter AbiWord word processor, Gnumeric spreadsheet. All free and offering more features than the iPad equivalent.
  • Built-in video projection plug
  • Audio editing - Audacity is a simple, powerful, easy to use audio editing tool.
  • Video editing - OpenShot is a powerful, easy to use video editor that leaves Moviemaker in the dust.
  • Cloud computing and storage - If you don't want to use laptop based apps, you can always take advantage of Aviary's Audio/Video/Image Editing tools, Pixlr.com image editor, GoogleDocs, etc. No limits on a netbook.

Ben points out the following:
I believe the netbook can provide the educational opportunities with technology that we want our students engaging in...at a fraction of the cost with an open platform that affords students more opportunities than an iPad does. 
I don't disagree with Ben. The iPad may be a game-changer, the question remains, do we really want to spend precious funds on iPads, keyboards, the requisite Apple TV  and all for what? What IS the instructional purpose we're trying to achieve?

Or, put another way, how have schools re-aligned themselves so that powerful, easy to use technologies like the iPad and Linux-based netbooks impact the bottom-line of schools?

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Technology Mgmt - Free Training and/or Certification

A colleague recently shared the following free training opportunities:
And, from the CoSN group, Certified Education Technology Leader assessment is available! Exam info below:
If you are looking for a way to boost your skills and add a line to your resume, then you should apply to take the new Certified Education Technology Leader exam. This is a nationally normed exam that is based on the Framework of Essential Skills for the K-12 CTO. Read the attached flyer and register soon. The deadline is February 3 for the upcoming administration.

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Corlita's Way - #FlippedClassrooms and Turbulent Homes

A Flipped Scenario:
Source: http://goo.gl/EZYe7
When Corlita left Seguin Elementary school, in her backpack she had something that was worth more than everything she had in her home, including the clothes on her back--an Apple iPad 3. Her teacher had put it in her hands, shown her how she could access the teacher videos on tomorrow's lessons. Corlita couldn't wait to get home, a corner of the Children's Shelter set aside for children to do their homework. After dinner, she planned to snuggle up and watch the videos. As a 5th grader without access to television, watching her teacher talk would be just wonderful.
After dinner, though, her Mom showed up to pick her up.
"Sweetie," she started, the moisture of tears damp upon her cheeks, "we're going home to Grandma's!"
"What about my homework, Mamí?"
"No te preocupes, amor. We'll move Tuesday through Friday, and you get a vacation! We can drop your books off to Ms. Englehart at the door and she can walk them over to your old school tomorrow morning!"
In urban centers, children not only face poverty, but also high mobility between campuses in a school district, or school districts within their "home" city. Worse, turbulent home environments make learning at home an unstable proposition. Flipped classroom boast great results, but what about the poor, the homeless, who fight for a bite to eat in the night, trying to survive the chaos of parents unable to keep themselves, much less their children, in a stable environment conducive to learning?

As wonderful as the flipped classroom appears to be, it relies on several key ideas:
  1. lectures can be seen at home, while homework activities are done in class
  2. more face to face time is spent by teachers with students applying knowledge
  3. students can login to some online learning system to watch videos and chat with each other.
  4. more student interaction in the classroom
As a parent of two children who have access to technology, I'm not sure I'm prepare to have them come up to be "introduced" to hard-hitting, advanced placement content absent a teacher. Even though we've seen students moving online to access content, everyone knows the interaction is where learning happens. But absent a teacher, how is interaction in some online learning system enabling grade 3-12 students to learn?

How do students build the discipline to learn on their own in turbulent home environments?

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Exploring #! Crunchbang Linux

As a result of some Google+ conversations, listening to the sometimes slightly bawdy EverydayLinux, I decided to give a lightweight Linux distribution a try--Crunchbang.org Linux which is represented with a #!
Crunchbang is described in this way on their web site:
CrunchBang is a Debian GNU/Linux based distribution offering a great blend of speed, style and substance. Using the nimble Openbox window manager, it is highly customisable and provides a modern, full-featured GNU/Linux system without sacrificing performance.
You can download it here - http://crunchbanglinux.org/downloads/
The first thing that threw me off was the keyboard setting...it wasn't set for US. This manifested itself when I couldn't type an email address at a login page...the @ symbol wouldn't appear but quotes " did. It seemed an insurmountable problem for me since I had never encountered it before, but then noticed a button in the top right hand corner of the screen (if you look at the screenshot above, it's in the same place as US). I clicked it and the keyboard switched to US...enabling me to type @ and other symbols normally.

The second thing that is throwing me off is the mouse. On Lubuntu (LXDE), the mouse movements are smooth. On Crunchbang, my old Logitech mouse seems to want to think about its next move after I move it, resulting in slightly jerky motion across the screen. It's not TOO bad, but disconcerting when you've grown accustomed to a smooth moving mouse.

Aside from those two concerns, minor to say the least, everything is working smooth. Installing additional apps is a cinch if you're familiar with Debian/Ubuntu variants (sudo apt-get install shutter which I use for screenshots). I couldn't help but notice that the install simply FLEW.

A colleague on Plurk is always pointing out that his Linux distribution of choice isn't working with Java. Although Crunchbang comes with Adobe Flash, MP3 player support--not to mention VLC Media Player--I was surprised to see built-in Java support. (sudo apt-get install java-common j2re*)

Also, I had to reset my time settings (sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata)

Aside from that, Crunchbang does seem to work as advertised...

I haven't decided if I'll keep it on, or just switch back to LubuntuLinux...I do like the minimalist theme.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Taking Flight - Mobile Devices Blur Boundaries

Source: http://goo.gl/rOLxk

Facilitated by mobile devices, blurred boundaries of work/school and home bring opportunities for conversation with our children, don't they?

My 18 year old, when I ask what she's doing texting as we head out to dinner, quickly points out as she hands her phone over--voluntarily--that she's collaborating on her homework. Good thing, too, since her homework is often over my head. That kind of response took one colleague by surprise, when she asked her son why he was doing this at the table at a restaurant. "Sorry, Mom," he replied, "we're working on our big chemistry project and I needed to answer a few questions." Children are nimble learners amidst schedules that adults impose on them for their own good.

While it's clear that mobile devices can be employed for social activities, often at inappropriate moments, in my home, education activities take precedence. If you have work to do--writing, reading, calculus--then it's a priority over social gatherings during the "work/school" week. My Dad taught me that lesson. "I'll wash dishes, son, if you have homework." What an incentive to focus on learning, what a powerful lesson to send about my role in my children's lives.

And, I'm starting to see more of this collaborative texting, learning in sync, showing that thinking and learning ARE 24/7 types of activities...you don't just shut down or flip off the switch. Of course, having written all that, modeling how to "shut down" and tune out the incessant hum of content, lay aside the role of curator, creator and collaborator...that's essential.

Of course, I did remove the phone from a teen's hands last night, like I once removed a hard plastic toy from my child's hands, as she slept curled up, guarded by a fierce teacup poodle. Oh oh...I may get maudlin.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

#Google Edu resources launched


You know, it's amazing how many neat web sites are launched per day. Here's 3 more to add to your social bookmarks, courtesy of Tia Lendo at Google (she shared it via the Google-Certified Teacher list I get to lurk on, thank you so very much):

Check out 3 new resources we launched today for educators and education-enthusiasts. Thank you to the MANY people on this list who contributed stories, feedback, and support:
(1) WEBSITE- A newly-improved website, google.com/edu, which is a one-stop-shop for Google in Education. 
(2) +PAGE- A Google in Education Google+ page, which has news, tips,and discussions (goo.gl/G42c3). 
(3) BOOKLET- A booklet, "Google in Education: A New and Open World for Learning,” which describes how people are using Google’s education resources (google.com/edu/about.html).

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Thanks Joe Smith @ TexasISD.com!

Technology - http://www.texasisd.com/cat_index_37.shtml
When I stopped being a columnist for Education World and TCEA TechEdge, I gave some serious thought to seeking publication sources elsewhere. And, though, I've published in several print magazines, written a chapter--or collaborated in two cases--in a book, had my articles featured in books, etc., I have to admit that the greatest satisfaction in writing thus far has come from this blog, Around the Corner! I don't receive any pay for blogging and find it difficult to imagine my blog festooned with advertising, which I tried once and cringed at the sight.

It's hard to believe that when I started blogging 6 years ago or so--about the same time Wes Fryer did, as a matter of fact--for fun, for learning, that I would find myself still doing it long after my initial burst of curiosity. That Around the Corner readers continue to visit, read, comment, and share flashes of reflection and learning day after day boggles the mind.

As exciting as it is to get published in print, I find myself addicted to blogging. It provides a "high" that comes from being in "the zone" and being creative. And, I also am grateful for the work of other hard-working authors and curators of information that are out there, like Joe at TexasISD.com. Though we've never met, it's easy to see how hard he works to keep Texas educators informed about what's going on.

As you can see from the screenshot at the top of this post, Joe was kind enough to feature TWO of my blog entries. He's done this enough times in a year that I "publish" as much to a wide audience of Texas folks as I once did through other publications. Wow!

This means my blog is read by superintendents, central office and campus administrators, and many others throughout the State of Texas. There are days I wonder if that's a good thing or not...but it must be because it allows sharing of a critical message that sometimes I don't think is getting through to them, insulated as they sometimes are by folks afraid or unwilling to have crucial conversations/confrontations with them.

Thanks to all Around the Corner readers, to Joe Smith at TexasISD for including content from ATC, and I hope that you will continue to find what is shared here worth reading.

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