18 Jul 2016

Educators’ Online Professional Learning Practices and Experiences: An infographic


More than ever, educators in k-12 schools and higher education are using online courses, communities, and resources for professional learning. Online professional learning is convenient in terms of time and place, two factors face-to-face workshops and conferences do not and cannot provide. This results in more ingrained and situated professional learning as educators get the time to experiment in their daily work, reflect on significance, and then re-iterate, amend, or quit an education method, technique, or approach. But, what is the nature of educators’ online professional learning practices and experiences? Why do educators choose online professional learning? What are the common topics they seek to develop? and via what means do they seek their online professional learning? To answer these questions, the Education Technology Industry Network of SIIA conducted a survey of world-wide k-20 educators. The Report summarizes the results from the 2016 Vision K-20 Professional Learning (PL) Survey. The Vision K-20 PL Survey asks K-20 education leaders around the globe to provide information about their online professional learning practices and experience. The results from this survey will help us and our partners better understand how K-20 educators are using online professional learning opportunities and what they hope to gain from them. The report includes an interesting infographic that mainly contrasts how k-12 and higher education educators experience and practice via their online professional learning.



The report shows how education technology vendors might be spending more effort in developing to meet the needs and interests of educators. One questions still stands however, are vendors overselling their products to educators? and are educators in turn, as their schools are, falling into the trap of “wow” factor of technology?

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06 Feb 2016

9 Books Subversive Teachers Must Read


If you are a responsible subversive teacher like me, you know well how hard it is to swim against the torrential current of institutional school systems backed up by business models, oblivious educators, and short-gain parents. Yet, you are not alone, many other educators have had the same ordeals, and they still do because it is a never ending battle of the enlightened minds. Below are 9 books written by, more of less, such responsible subversive educators for educators and parents. The books are not in order or preference, for they are all significant to any educator or parent who would like  a better way to raise their children.

1- Dumbing Us Down (by John Taylor Gatto)

dumbing us down

This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers’ bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City’s public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. Gatto powerfully and rightly takes the stance that institutional schooling is faling the the children. Referring to classrooms as “cell” and that “schools extend childhood” Gatto has reframed how most educators see schooling.  He argues that “learning can’t take place in pieces of time cut out for the convenience of an institution or in lessons set apart from the world in which students live. We don’t learn when life is divided up into sections that have little connection with each other”. He ends his books by claiming that “Teaching must … be decertified as quickly as possible. That certified teaching experts like me are deemed necessary to make learning happen is fraud and a scam. Look around you: the results of teacher-college licensing are int he schools you see”.


2- Weapons of Mass Instruction (by John Taylor Gatto)

weapons of mass instruction

John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction focuses on mechanisms of traditional education which cripple imagination, discourage critical thinking, and create a false view of learning as a byproduct of rote-memorization drills. Gatto’s earlier book, Dumbing Us Down, introduced the now-famous expression of the title into the common vernacular. Weapons of Mass Instruction adds another chilling metaphor to the brief against conventional schooling. Gatto demonstrates that the harm school inflicts is rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy, he argues, is to render the common population manageable. To that end, young people must be conditioned to rely upon experts, to remain divided from natural alliances and to accept disconnections from their own lived experiences. They must at all costs be discouraged from developing self-reliance and independence.Escaping this trap requires a strategy Gatto calls “open source learning” which imposes no artificial divisions between learning and life. Through this alternative approach our children can avoid being indoctrinated-only then can they achieve self-knowledge, good judgment, and courage.


3-  Pedagogy of the Oppressed (by Paulo Freire)

pedagogy of the oppressedFirst published in Portuguese in 1968, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was translated and published in English in 1970. The methodology of the late Paulo Freire has helped to empower countless impoverished and illiterate people throughout the world. Freire’s work has taken on especial urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is increasingly accepted as the norm.

For Freire, the educational process is never neutral. People can be passive recipients of knowledge — whatever the content — or they can engage in a ‘problem-posing’ approach in which they become active participants. As part of this approach, it is essential that people link knowledge to action so that they actively work to change their societies at a local level and beyond.

In the video below, Freire talks about the importance of curiosity, of critical thinking and ultimately of hope. It is a profound reflection on learning.


4- Why Don’t Students Like School? (by Daniel T. Willingham)

why dont students like schoolKids are naturally curious, but when it comes to school it seems like their minds are turned off. Why is it that they can remember the smallest details from their favorite television program, yet miss the most obvious questions on their history test?
Cognitive scientist Dan Willingham has focused his acclaimed research on the biological and cognitive basis of learning and has a deep understanding of the daily challenges faced by classroom teachers. this book will help teachers improve their practice by explaining how they and their students think and learn—revealing the importance of story, emotion, memory, context, and routine in building knowledge and creating lasting learning experiences.
In this breakthrough book, Willingham has distilled his knowledge of cognitive science into a set of nine principles that are easy to understand and have clear applications for the classroom. Some of examples of his surprising findings are:
“Learning styles” don’t exist The processes by which different children think and learn are more similar than different.
Intelligence is malleable Intelligence contributes to school performance and children do differ, but intelligence can be increased through sustained hard work.
You cannot develop “thinking skills” in the absence of facts We encourage students to think critically, not just memorize facts. However thinking skills depend on factual knowledge for their operation.
Why Don’t Students Like School is a basic primer for every teacher who wants to know how their brains and their students’ brains work and how that knowledge can help them hone their teaching skills.


5- Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology

(by Allan Collins, Richard Halverson)

rethink educationAre schools making the most of new technologies? Are they tapping into the learning potential of today’s Firefox/Facebook/cell phone generation? Allan Collins and Richard Halverson argue that the way computers have transformed our workplaces and lives can and should be adapted to transform American schooling. This groundbreaking book offers a vision for the future that goes well beyond the walls of the classroom to include online social networks, distance learning with “anytime, anywhere” access, digital home schooling models, video games, and more.
The digital revolution has hit education, with more and more classrooms plugged into the whole wired world. But are schools making the most of new technologiesAre they tapping into thelearning potential of today’s Firefox/Facebook/cell phone generation? Have schools fallen through the crack of the digital divide? In Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, Allan Collins and Richard Halverson argue that the knowledge revolution has transformed our jobs, our homes, our lives, and therefore must also transform our schools.  Much like after the school-reform movement of the industrial revolution, our society is again poised at the edge of radical change. To keep pace with a globalized technological culture, we must rethink how we educate the next generation or America will be “left behind.” This groundbreaking book offers a vision for the future of American education that goes well beyond the walls of the classroom to include online social networks, distance learning with “anytime, anywhere” access, digital home schooling models, video-game learning environments, and more.


6- The Unschooled Mind (by Howard Gardner)

unschooled mindHoward Gardner’s brilliant concep (Howard Gardner)tion of individual competence has changed the face of education in the twenty-three years since the publication of his classic work, Frames of Mind. Since then thousands of educators, parents, and researchers have explored the practical implications and applications of Multiple Intelligences theory–the powerfulnotion that there are separate human capacities, ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in self-understanding. The first decade of research on MI theory and practice was reported in the 1993 edition of Multiple Intelligences. This new edition covers all developments since then and stands as the most thorough and up-to-date account of MI available anywhere. Completely revised throughout, it features new material on global applications and on MI in the workplace, an assessment of MI practice in the current conservative educational climate, new evidence about brain functioning, and much more.


7- How Children Learn (by John Holt)

how children learnThis enduring classic of educational thought offers teachers and parents deep, original insight into the nature of early learning. John Holt was the first to make clear that, for small children, “learning is as natural as breathing.” In this delightful yet profound book, he looks at how we learn to talk, to read, to count, and to reason, and how we can nurture and encourage these natural abilities in our children.”





8- Overschooled but Undereducated (John Abbott)

overschooledLooking at current educational policy John Abbott explains the need for transformational change in the education system and a drastic reassessment of outdated thinking. No political system is safe in this brilliant analysis of why the education system is failing, and how we can shake education out of its two-centuryís-old inertia.

The basic function of education in all societies and at all times is to prepare the younger generation for the kind of adult life which that society values, and wishes to perpetuate. By misunderstanding teenagersí instinctive need to do things for themselves, isnít society in danger of creating a system of schooling that so goes against the natural grain of the adolescent brain, that formal education ends up trivializing the very young people it claims to be supporting? By failing to keep up with appropriate research in the biological and social sciences, current educational systems continue to treat adolescence as a problem rather than an opportunity. Synthasizing an array of research, gathered from many sources including a series of international conferences, Overschooled but Undereducated examines the increasing need to revolutionize the education system globally. Itís simple: education has to be about preparing children to be good citizens ñ not merely successful pupils ñ and become adults who will thrive at unstructured tasks. In this lies societyís best assurance of a positive future.


9-  Education, Inc.: Turning learning into business (by Alfie Kohen)

education inc.While educators want their students to grow into thoughtful and curious people, the overriding objective of corporations is to maximize their own profits. From that fact alone we can predict what is likely to happen to the nature and purposes of our schools when business becomes involved in the education of our children. This unique and timely anthology chronicles the extent of that involvement, along with the troubling consequences it has already brought.

Author Alfie Kohn and professor of education Patrick Shannon have assembled a provocative collection of articles, including


  • an analysis of the racial implications of voucher programs
  • vivid accounts of how schoolchildren are targeted by advertisers
  • descriptions of how corporate propaganda is insinuated into classroom curriculums
  • an exposé of the political connections enjoyed by giant textbook and test publishers
  • a critical look at the process whereby teachers are turned into grant writers.


This book builds a convincing case against those who see children as “customers” or “workers”– and those who would turn learning into a business. As Kohn notes, “[Corporations] are not shy about trying to make over the schools in their own image. It’s up to the rest of us to firmly tell them to mind their own businesses.”


Do you have any other books for subversive teachers you would like to add? Share your books in the comments below so that I add them at the end of this post.

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16 Oct 2013

11 Reasons Every Educator Needs a Video Strategy

This blog post was already published on OnlineUniversities


Any company, organization, or individual hoping to take advantage of digital video to educate or entertain the populace or promote a product should have a video strategy in place before springing for the time and equipment involved. Educators, of course, are not exempt from the core tenets of solidifying a viable video strategy — especially when it comes to how exactly they plan to take advantage of everything the medium offers.

  1. Online and open source:Because both the online and the open source movements within education have been enjoying steady growth, it behooves any adherents to fire up their cameras and film a few lectures or other helpful videos. Educators who upload for public consumption on a personal site, iTunes U, YouTube Education, or other hosting resource reach a range of students beyond their rosters. For plugged-in teachers hoping to extend their influence and bring knowledge to the world, or an exclusively digital classroom at the very least, videos add a more human element.
  2. Accessibility:Incorporating videos into lessons offers a viable method for students with special needs, such as ADD/ADHD or conditions requiring home-bound stints, to retain and remember information. The medium makes for one more way to ensure all learners enjoy access to educational materials that meet their specific requirements. Just make sure to remember subtitles or transcripts for hearing-impaired students.
  3. Archiving:Teachers who require their students to shoot videos might want to keep a digital archive of their work to show off to future classes. Or, of course, tracking their own creations for online, open source, or hybrid classrooms. For the older crowd needing to convert their educational VHS and DVD presentations to digital media, a video strategy ensures these materials make the transition from generation after generation of learners.
  4. Visual learners:Some students just learn better when viewing animated diagrams, step-by-step how-tos, and other video lessons. A well-balanced classroom spreads things out across different styles, and creating short movies and lectures reaches out to those with a more visual outlook. Cobbling together a video strategy addresses the inherently diverse nature of students’ methods for soaking up information.
  5. Greater classroom connectivity:Video conferencing with Skype and other VOIP services entices educators who want their students to tackle collaborative projects with counterparts from around the world. In fact, Skype itself provides its own social media site for teachers wanting to connect and set up everything from foreign language exchanges to group poems. It’s an engaging strategy opening up some amazing and unique opportunities that weren’t available a decade ago.
  6. Low-cost field trips:Thanks to the recession, schools must watch on helplessly as their funding dissolves, which means their field trip budgets come up scant. But infusing video into the classroom transports students to notable sites around the world, with some museums even offering free virtual tours. All the benefits of exploring and experiencing sans the transportation and admissions fees! The principal will love you.
  7. Video games:Video games are not the scourge society seems to enjoy painting them as — in fact, they actually possess some incredible educational benefits when wielded correctly. Immersive environments particularly engage digital natives, but even the FBI takes advantage of the technology for training its agents. Not every video strategy necessarily needs to think about the whys of Wiis, of course. But instructors might want to research the positives behind serious gaming and strongly think about introducing it into the syllabus.
  8. Addressing absences:No matter who has to stay at home — teacher or student — pre-recording lectures, instructions, or assignments helps close up any gaps in lessons that result from absences. All video strategies, even the most rudimentary, should keep this not-so-little perk in mind. Learners experiencing prolonged illnesses or other situations requiring homebound education will especially appreciate not being left behind. Alternately, streaming video with Skype, Google Talk, or another VOIP provider works as a stellar alternative.
  9. Supplementary materials:Snag Films, Hulu, and Documentary Heaven all stream free documentaries. And, of course, the Internet overflows with open source lectures from some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, like MIT, Stanford, and Yale. Take advantage of this rich bounty of educational delights to drive home points made in classroom lectures, or add to students’ overall knowledge of the subject at hand.
  10. Nurture creativity:Long before digital video became a thing that existed, students shot videos as classroom assignments. There’s no reason now why this can’t continue! Rather than forcing paper after quiz after exam after worksheet, challenge them to share what they’ve learned creatively, through film they’ve shot and edited themselves. And with technology being what it is and everything, whipping up something awesome proves easier and faster than ever.
  11. Digital literacy:Both students and educators alike benefit from building their digital literacy skills, regardless of whether or not they hope to share their videos online. With a working knowledge of computers, the Internet, and peripherals — not to mention how to operate and navigate them all safely and responsibly — such a desirable suite of abilities in countless industries today, getting learners familiar with the core tenets as early as possible proves a fruitful endeavor. Even the older set looking to score new jobs or simply keep their mind occupied can pick up a few things through video and other digital resources.
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