Here’s a batch of pictures taken by my students yesterday. Cameras may seem ‘old school’ but there’s always an interest in the basics of aperture, lighting, and perspective. In my Ed-Tech class, 5th and 6th graders can’t seem to have enough of this, as the results show.
An accidental homage to Silicon Valley?
Two very different perspectives of a robotic arm
There are much more! Who knows what ideas they will come back with after Spring Break?
Who says Microsoft Word is just for typing?
Here’s how my 4th graders have been discovering their inner artist, using the hidden drawing tools. (The illustration on left was by a 3rd grader.)
They start off assuming they cannot draw. But once they have mastered the tool, ideas start to flow, as you will see below in the video.
Buzzwords and the next big thing are hard to escape. They sidle up to us when we are not watching. I get my share of these, especially in education. (Truth be told, I could not escape it even in marketing, or advertising).
So I get asked sometimes what I see as the next big thing to hit us in teaching. It’s easy to rattle off some tools, because they are touted as some form of ‘student engagement.’ I have this feeling that Ed-Tech is going to be as passe as Social Media. Meaning we should stop talking about it as if it was some self-contained phenomenon or enigma that needs to be deciphered.
I’m not alone in having this sentiment. I’m sure many teachers are thinking the same. Andrew Marcinek has written a sensible piece about this in Medium. He goes so far as to say (“The End of Ed-Tech”) that
It is no longer necessary to say whether you consider yourself “tech savvy” or not. Essentially, “tech savviness” should be an inherent part of an educator’s educational philosophy because it will be an essential part of every student’s future. This is to say, educators should understand how active use of technology hardware and software should be led by the learning objectives and outcomes as opposed to being front and center in any classroom.
Like it or not almost anything we don’t yet consider ‘technology’ or a ‘tool’ will become so embedded in what we do that we won’t need to have a class on how to use it. I don’t think there was ever a PD session on how to use the electric pencil sharpener, or the two-button mouse.
So the next big thing in Ed-Tech will be ‘Nothing Much.’ To look out for it, is to look ponder about the wrong question.
Just a few weeks away from the ISTE 2016 conference in Denver, and it could be daunting keeping up with the information onslaught of sessions, speakers, and trends. The trick is to balance the learning sessions with hands-on activities. Here are two things you shouldn’t miss if you’re attending:
DIGITAL PLAYGROUNDS. ISTE has something called Digital Playgrounds, an area which I plan to frequent a lot, considering how much I was able to take back and implement from the last ITSE conference I attended.There’s a Maker Playground, and a Google For Education session I’m planning to go to, and
POSTER SESSIONS. Sure it’s great to meet one’s peers, and fellow techies. But if you are attending ISTE for the first time don’t miss the poster sessions, where students from many countries will be presenting. In 2014, I learned a lot about robotics from a team in Mexico.
Of course there’s more. Stay tuned via
Sometimes the cheapest camera does the trick.
This evening’s Blood Moon, and the lunar eclipse, was a spectacular show in our southern skies.
Not as stunning as these, however, but it could be a great lesson in photography, about how to frame a slow-moving event, and compensate for lighting. The camera was a Nikon Coolpix, which was less expensive than the lens of an older SLR. (It’s become my ‘better’ camera, especially on my recent trip to Sri Lanka, where I shot close-ups of rural life, and in the wilds. Easier to pack to the beach and on mountains hikes.)
Which brings me to the point about technology. How often does the technology get in the way of what you are experiencing or working on in the moment? Just as how we often get trapped in the software just to make a great presentation, a microphone or camera can become a distraction.
In Ed-Tech, which is what I teach, I like the focus to be more on the ‘Ed’ and less on the ‘Tech.’
It might be shocking that while state education budgets shrink, Education Technology or Ed-Tech is on the upswing. Many of them are free, though the full-blown versions are quite affordable. Here are my favorites:
Padlet – a collaboration and aggregation tool that feels like a website. What’s even clever isit lets you export that page as an image file, PDF, csv file; you could email it as well. I’ve written about it before here, since I use it as an events page for STEM, robotics, and even to submit a project for a class at a community college.
LinoIT – a canvas, with sticky notes that is a bit like Padlet, but acts like a bulletin board, rather than a website. Perfect for students! For added convenience, you could add a sticky note to your Lino page by emailing it to the page!
Voki – a way to create an avatar that could speak on your behalf, or tell a story! You could set up a classroom that uses it, or use it to make an announcement! So many uses for this, especially if you want to open up a discussion about animation.
Story Jumper – a simple way to teach students what e-books are like, and more importantly what publishing involves.
PollEverywhere – I love the way it lets you create pop quizzes, to get class responses on the fly. Few schools allow mobile devices in class (mine too) but that’s easily overcome by pushing a link to all computers and have students click on answer choices.
Suddenly Ed-Tech beginning to look like the 2010 all over again, when ‘social’ was the flavor du jour.
(A bit of good news: The global Ed Tech and Smart Classrooms market is expected to grow from $43.27 Billion in 2015 to USD 93.76 Billion in 2020 –an annual growth rate of 16.7% from 2015 to 2020.)
Your child probably goes to school with a device in her backpack with more processing power than the rocket that took men to the moon, and this child wants to be… an astronaut?
You’ve forgotten how to log into your son’s school website to download his missed homework, but… he’s found a way to ‘jailbreak’ your cell phone?
Yes, teaching and learning is changing!
My July technology column was about tech in the classroom, which somewhat coincided with my talking to teachers in Sri Lanka about technology and STEM. Indeed, there are still those who want limited screens – parents of hi-tech execs, of all people. And those who think otherwise. Which side are you on?