04 Aug 2017

Take Our School Administrator’s Technology Leadership Self-Assessment Survey


We have developed the free School Administrator’s Technology Leadership Self-Assessment survey as a unique and impartial survey that reflects the specific goals and standards presented in the National Educational Technology Standards for School Administrators and the National Educational Technology Plan. School administrators should use it to better determine their technology use and preparedness for implementation in their schools and districts.


This is self-scoring survey for the respondents to complete. School administrators who rate themselves and their schools or districts with scores of 5 and 4 are already meeting the standards indicated in those items.

Ratings of 1 or 2 would indicate areas of needed professional growth by either the school/district, or the school leader, or both in order to meet the NETS.A standards or NETP goals.



This instrument is a useful pre-assessment tool for instructors or professional development facilitators. Low ratings would indicate areas where additional attention is needed. For example, if graduate students or workshop participants indicate that either they or their schools do not use electronic portfolios of student work effectively, then they will want to explore additional resources and professional development on that topic. You can fill out the survey individually or you can sit with school administrators and decide on one rating.


There are 6 areas for self-assessment:

  • Technology Planning
  • Leading Instruction with New Technologies
  • Teacher Supervision and Professional Development
  • The Technology Infrastructure
  • Systemic Change with Personnel and Partnerships in Technology
  • Legal and Social Issues in Technology

    There are 6 questions in this survey.


Ready to take the survey? Click here.

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14 Jul 2017

A Science Museum That Makes Learning Overpoweringly Attractive for Kids: Schools, Take Note !

 

“We personalize learning all the time, we just don’t call it that,” says special education teacher Gina Tesoriero who has been teaching middle schoolers for over a decade. “When you give students open-ended challenges or design prompts, they actually personalize it themselves, bringing in their own interests and coming in at the level that is best for them.” Tesoriero has developed this belief over the past 10 years in the classroom—and she attributes much of it to her involvement with the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI).

“We want to know what you find compelling; what problem you think is worth solving; what you want to do or make. And then provide a space where that can happen.”

Douglas Moore

In 2010, Tesoriero and her colleague Amanda Solarsh, a middle school science teacher, stumbled across an opportunity to write curriculum at NYSCI. They were immediately taken with the museum’s learning model and wanted to incorporate elements of it into their classrooms at Simon Baruch Middle School 104. The following year, the duo participated in the Verizon Design Lab Fellowship, an opportunity for teachers to contribute to the creation of Design Lab, an interactive exhibit spanning two floors with activities that invite visitors to exercise problem-solving skills and develop solutions to engineering and design challenges.

 

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Design Lab, Image Credit: NYSCI

The fellowship inspired Tesoriero and Solarsh to start an elective STEM course for seventh graders at their school. The course—developed to build 21st century skills like problem solving and innovative thinking—has scaled to two to three classes per grade level. Over the years, the teachers have participated in curriculum development, design labs and field trips, which have influenced the course and their practice.

The museum’s project-based, experiential, learner-centered approach isn’t revolutionary for K-12 education—in fact, many schools integrate elements of these approaches into their instructional model. But without the stresses of assessment and resource constraints, NYSCI is able to experiment and iterate. Douglas Moore, Vice President of Digital Education Strategy & Business Development at NYSCI says teachers visiting the museum with their students frequently make comments like, I’ve never seen those two work together so well or I’ve never seen her focus so much. “That’s because no one ever failed at a science museum,” he says.

According to Moore, getting someone to stop at your exhibit for even three minutes is a big win in the museum world. At NYSCI, visitors often stop to explore an exhibit for 30-45 minutes. Though this may not be optimal for museum flow, it begs the question: what can schools learn about engagement and personalization from this type of informal learning institution?

 

What can schools and teachers learn from NYSCI?

NYSCI, born at the 1964 World’s Fair in Corona, NY, is on a mission to put its visitors at the center of each hands-on learning experience. Originally exhibiting a collection of galleries sharing the potential of science, technology and space exploration, it is now home to over 450 interactive displays and a number of art and science exhibits rooted in experiential learning and the design, make, play approach.

 

NYSCI instructor Reid Bingham works with a class in the Maker Space,
Image Credit: David Handschuh/NYSCI

 

The NYSCI team is constantly asking itself: what is our role in education as an informal learning institution? “Our goal is to offer a very low barrier to learning—like a playful invitation,” says Moore. “We want to know what you find compelling; what problem you think is worth solving; what you want to do or make. And then provide a space where that can happen.”

Educators are part of NYSCI’s intended audience and there are a number of ways they can access the museum. Teachers can bring their classes to visit for open-ended field trips or scaffolded sessions designed around a particular challenge that needs to be solved, and can participate in professional development opportunities.

 

Field trips offer educators an opportunity to experience human-centered learning first-hand. Tesoriero reflects that some of the most engaged students during field trips were those who struggled the most in class. She notes that the greatest challenge with museum visits is finding a balance of holding students accountable for learning, while giving them space to explore what they are interested in, at their own pace.

 

For Tesoriero, a key part of that balance are NYSCI’s teenage “explainers,” a community of high school students participating in a youth development program with NYSCI called the Science Career Ladder. Explainers are not only experts on a particular exhibit or display, but are also skillful at supporting visitors to take control of their own learning and discover things on their own. These explainers are peppered throughout the museum and are often found with hands behind their backs asking open-ended probing questions to museum-goers. “They’re well trained and know a lot. I’ve learned a lot about how to help students discover things without telling them anything,” Tesoriero says.

 

Teenage Explainers, Image Credit: NYSCI

 

So what does it look like when a teacher adapts pieces of a museum’s learning model into the classroom? It can take shape in a number of ways. A museum might provide inspiration for resources and materials, inform lesson and unit design or influence philosophies of teaching and learning.

  1. Replicate an Activity: During a field trip, Solarsh’s students took part in a challenge to design and build a structure using wooden dowels that could provide shelter to 10 people after a natural disaster. Solarsh later purchased smaller dowels and replicated the activity in her classroom but with mini models, aligning it to her current civil engineering unit called “Scaling Structures.”
  2. Real-World Problems: Inspired by the challenge-based activities at NYSCI, Tesoriero developed a lesson back in her classroom that asked students to think about things that bothered them about eating and cooking and to design a utensil that could solve it. Students built prototypes of thermometer-spoons and cups that change color as the temperature of a liquid rises and falls.
  3. Empower Students to Make Meaningful Change: During a “Shark Tank” unit, Solarsh asked students to consider real-world issues they wanted to solve and design and present a solution for feedback. While she encouraged her students to follow their hearts and tackle large-scale problems like global warming, she also worked with students to make sure problems were focused so that students could get a sense of how individuals can affect change. One student designed and pitched an idea for lung-cancer detection and later found out that it aligned with what professionals are researching in the field.

The museum loves when classes come to visit, but Moore cautions against teachers trying to make their classrooms just like a science museum. “It’s not realistic,” he says. “There are resource constraints.” That’s why NYSCI takes PD so seriously, and is working hard to develop resources that teachers and learners can use outside the museum.

Moore explains that NYSCI’s biggest luxury is the ability to ask the question, “How do you make a topic irresistible so kids can’t turn away first, and then figure out all of the other stuff later?”


Expanding reach beyond museum visitors

Getting outside of the classroom can offer the opportunity to explore non-traditional methods of teaching and learning—but not everyone can get to NYSCI. Moore’s team spends a lot of time considering how to support educators, students and families that can’t make the trip to the museum.

“We want to scale access to these learning experiences to reach the folks we assume will never come—the kid in Jakarta, the teacher in Texas,” Moore explains. A major priority is building tools that make it possible for people to participate in some of these learning experiences digitally. “Because we don’t have to be adopted by every teacher, we’re able to make aspirational products that show what is possible—and to work with teachers to make them implementable in a variety of settings.”

In 2015, NYSCI’s first foray into this field was developing Noticing Tools, a set of five apps based on Design Lab that help students tackle math through selfies, video and building 3D models. The apps were prototyped in Tesoriero and Solarsh’s classes. The museum is currently in conceptual stages of its second initiative: a mobile game based on the Connected Worlds exhibit, an immersive ecosystem simulation for learners of all ages located in the Great Hall at the museum. The exhibit puts each learner at the center of a massive environment where even the museum’s youngest visitors can explore complex topics like sustainability, systems thinking and how actions have both short and long-term consequences.

Straddling magic and science, it challenges learners to manage a limited water supply and balance the needs of all living beings in six, interconnected digital biomes: wetlands, reservoir, jungle, grasslands, river valley and desert. Visitors can raise and lower their hands to plant seeds and move a set of physical logs to divert water from a 38-foot-high digital waterfall to an environment that needs it. Every decision made and every action taken impacts the environment.

The game will not try to replicate the exhibit. The goal is to design an open, online simulation game where players can build code and algorithms that have an impact on the ecosystem. With official launch over a year away, there are a lot of decisions to be made, but a core element of the game will definitely be to build upon intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic through gamification.

“‘I want to go deeper but the bell just rang.’ That’s what we want,” Moore says. Users won’t need to take a test to prove they are learning because the evidence will lie in what they have built. This may not fit the traditional instructional model but NYSCI isn’t building a game to fit into schools, they’re building a game to develop motivation through engagement.


The role of informal learning institutions in K-12 education

Society often turns to school leaders, educators, curriculum experts or the world of academia to propose innovative learning models when current practices fall short. But school leaders and educators face systemic pressures and budget challenges that can make it challenging to question the status quo and experiment with new ways to teach and learn. Perhaps informal learning experiences that take place outside of the classroom deserve more attention.

Without the stress of assessment, promotional criteria and the need to constantly provide evidence of progress, informal learning institutions like museums might just be able to make learning even the most complex ideas irresistible.

This blog post was first published on Edsurge

 

 

 

 

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04 Jul 2017

The New Google Earth Voyager for Exploratory Learning

Exploratory learning can be defined as an approach to teaching and learning that encourages learners to examine and investigate new material with the purpose of discovering relationships between existing background knowledge and unfamiliar content and concepts. Many studies show that exploratory learning environments improve student achievement, most often indirectly by tapping into the students’ intrinsic motivation to explore and discover, something that you spot instantly when you observe kids exploring (without prompting) in outdoor activities. However, outdoor exploration is not an option for millions of students around the world, and when exploration is in foreign countries and remote places, it is impossible for students to explore them.

In this capacity, Google is really pushing forward to help students explore the world right where they are, in the classroom and at home.

Last week, Google introduced voyager for education— a “showcase of interactive tours” meant to enhance the latest version of Google Earth. Voyager works on Google Earth mobile App, Google Earth PC and Google Earth Browser.

Google Earth’s new Voyager feature brings visualization and geospatial storytelling to the fore in the redesigned application. Fly through landmarks and cities like London, Tokyo and Rome in stunning 3D, then dive in to experience them first hand with Street View. See the world from a new point of view with Voyager, which brings you one-of-a-kind stories and associated classroom activities from partners like National Geographic, PBS, and more.

 

Voyager scrn1

 

Voyager includes storytelling expirations. Many stories were added by PBS, National Geographic, BBC etc., and topics range from stories of explores to pristine seas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyager scrn2-07-04-17-53-48

 

 

 

 

Start exploring stories with a click of a button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyager scrn3

 

 

In addition to the geospatial aspect, videos on particular areas are displayed as you move from one place to another. You can easily hide and reveal videos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyager scrn4

 

You can access voyager and other utilities right from Google Earth screen (this screenshot shows the GE Android app).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyager Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities

voyager lesson plans

 

To help teachers plan effective Voyage geospatial storytelling lessons, Google has included well designed lesson plans and activities that can be incorporated in existing lesson plans. You can access all lesson plans, activities, and any additional resources from Google Earth Education website.

 

Have you ever used Google Earth in its old version in the classroom? Have you got the chance to use Voyager or at least plan a lesson using Voyager? Share with us your experience in the comments below.

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26 Jun 2017

A New, Open Online Course for Educators Trying to Effectively Integrate Technology

 

 

got tpack

Using TPACK Framework for Effective Technology Integration in Teaching

 

In our new open online, self-access course, on ilearn.today,  you will learn how to use the TPACK Framework to effectively integrate educational technology in your teaching.
It assists you  to develop competencies that will enable you to plan systemically for the selection, utilization and evaluation of technology tools and resources in a pedagogically appropriate manner.
This  open course is designed to be different from most other faculty professional development courses on technology.  While others tend to focus on simply learning the technology tools, leaving it up to the participants to make the connection to pedagogy and content knowledge, this course is based on TPACK which provides for an integrated approach to combining technology, pedagogy and content knowledge.

A digital badge and a certificate of completion will also be provided.

Mode of participation: Online, preferred to sign up in teams for discussions and reflections.

Objectives

This course is designed so that you will leave with:

  • A broader awareness and understanding of the technologies that can be used by teachers to positively impact teaching and learning
  • An introduction to emerging teaching and learning technologies
  • An awareness and familiarity of the resources available to educators for technology integration
  • Familiarity and experience with TPACK and tools to assess
  • Insights on how your own course syllabus/ lesson plans might change based on what you have learned in the course
  • The ability to assist colleagues (and students) in applying technology to their own teaching and learning activities

Topic Areas:

  • The changing nature of education, students and the modern workplace
  • The TPACK Framework
  • Evaluation tools to assess TPACK
  • Technology utilized will vary

Assessment:

  • Discussion forums
  • E-tivities
  • Final Assessment : Performance assessment (mini-lesson demonstration with technology using the TPACK) (assessed by peers)

Activity Overview

  • Introduction to TPACK and unPACKing TPACK 
  • TPACK Scenario
  • Case studies
  • Activity Types, assessments, and templates
  • (re)design a lesson to integrate technology

 

 

Sign up now and take your teaching to the next level.

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30 Jun 2016

Google Forms Quiz: A much needed feature for teachers

Finally, Google has added the Google Forms Quiz feature to its Google Forms. Now, instead of correcting students’ responses manually or use a script like Flubaroo, the Google Forms Quiz is now built in the Google Forms itself, and has so many great features that will make all teachers happy.

Here’s How to Create the Quiz

  1. Go to forms.google.com . Or go to your Google Drive then click New and then choose Forms
  2. From Google Forms Setting icon, click on Quizzes

settings

3. Change the Form template to a quiz. Then select the options that you prefer. You can have the results directly displayed to students or you can postpone the results after you do a manual review. You can also choose what results students can see (Missed Questions, correct questions, or/and point values). IT is also important to note that you if you need students to have only one response they need to be logged in their google Apps account or Gmail account. You need to select this option from “General Settings”. Also, if you want to shuffle questions, you need to select it under the “Presentation” option.

quiz template

choose preference

4. Add your question and choices. Please note that Google Quiz only works with Multiple choice, checkbox, and list questions.

 

choose question

5. Choose the correct answers and set the point value by clicking on the “Answer Key”. Select the correct answers.

nswer key

 

select ansers

6. Select the Feedback for Correct and Incorrect Answers. You can add links to additional resources to help students modify their thinking.

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Then click “Save”. Do not forget to click “add” once you add a link.

 

7. Click on the Eye icon to check how the form looks like for your students.

 

One thing google needs to add is the personalized answers to the incorrect choices, a feature found in Moodle that I highly appreciate. I think it is not too long before Google gradually turns Google Apps for Education full of LMSs features.

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27 Jun 2016

Moodle Has Outdone Itself in Moodle 3.1 Release

Gold fish with shark flipWith Moodle 3.1 release in May, Moodle has really improved in it updates. We all know the myriad of updates Moodle has been with in the past couple of years due to coping with the exponential explosion of new web features and LMSs vendors. The Moodle 3.1 release includes many new features and improvements of earlier features. See below a video list of Moodle 31. overview and video explanation of new as well as improved features.

 

 

New and Updated Feature Include:

For Teachers

 

For Administrators

 

For All Users

 

One particular new feature that Moodle 3.1 has included is the Competency Based Education (CBE) Module. This is a great move from Moodle Headquarters as the current trend of education is for competency based. In addition to  linking courses to Competencies that students need to meet, CBE module includes an educational plan, a great feature the helps personalizing the experiential factor of learning and supporting the learners’ metacognition. In a later post, I will discuss how CBE feature potential can be maximized.

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16 Jan 2016

Here’s What the School Accreditation Agencies Are Getting Wrong about Technology Integration

From Jeff Peterson on the Commons

“The Rise of Private International Schools” has been the hype phrase in the education “Galaxy” in recent years. Certainly, parents and their kids are opting more for international schools, with the hope that they receive a world class education (if they can afford the tuition fees anyway). However, to ensure these international schools offer what they claim, they are periodically reviewed by accreditation agencies. Typically, a school has to undergo the accreditation process starting with a self study and ending with the official accreditation evaluation team. Eventually, the team submits an exit report after their visit (which typically lasts few days) whether the school is accredited of not.

But there’s on more add-on to the accreditation process that has gradually been in place for the past decade. The school accreditation agencies now, more than ever, focus on technology integration in schools, as they believe that students should use technology to research, solve problems, communicate, and create authentic materials. The future is technology, and the future is here. I do agree that student technology use is instrumental if they wish to live and compete in the workplace. Our lives now revolve more than ever around technology. However, the school accreditation agencies have regrettably focused on the wrong facet of technology integration. This in turn, generally, contributes in the schools’ heedless purchase of tech tools and gadgets to impress and lure.

I’ve worked with some school accreditation agencies, and all of them (in their review of a traditional brick and mortar school) focus on technology in the classroom, and to a less extent on technology in school, and even much overlooked is out of school technology integration . Some have even developed a standard (with indicators) for technology integration. Below is one criterion of a classroom observation form that all accreditation review team members have to fill out.

Click to enlarge.

The problem with this view is that the classroom setting is considered as the sole place to use technology, and so they constructed their classroom evaluations on it. In this particular accreditation agency, the average rating of classroom technology integration among 34,000 classrooms visited around the world is 1.21 out of 4, which is extremely low. But should we base the evaluation on tech integration on only classroom, or even school use? In fact, a bulk body of research now confirms that classroom technology has  a negative impact on student learning. The OECD report (the first large scale comparative study) on students, schools, and computers shows that students in tech rich schools perform the worst in reading and mathematics as compared to students in tech-average schools.

 

Students who use computers moderately at school tend to be somewhat more skilled in online reading than students who rarely use computers. But students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in reading, even after accounting for students’ background.

 

On average, in the past 10 years there has been no appreciable improvement in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that have invested heavily in information and communication technologies for education.

 

Three significant interpretations of the findings

The reason is perhaps two-fold : technology setting and technology use.

1- Tech use (in the classroom) minimizes human touch, which improves deep learning. It is really common sense. Why would one be with his peers and his teacher in one room if there is no frequent face-to-face interaction. Communicative tasks and assignments should be done in class.

2- Use of 20th century teaching with technology is obtrusive. This is the perpetual problem in all schools. From teachers to admin, you can only find a couple of teachers in any given school that really uses 21st century teaching practices with technology.

3- Pedagogies for using technology properly for student achievement are fledgling.

 

On the other hand, the US Ministry of Education found out that student use of technology outside of the classroom or school (online and blended learning modes) have resulted in great student improvements.

 

So, next time the external review team tries to assess your tech integration solely on school or classroom technology, make sure they know that technology integration is not only confined within the classroom walls. In fact, it shouldn’t be ,for one of the key features that technology brings is student personalized learning, which unconfined by time and space. And, next time your school tries to purchase those Interactive Whiteboards, caution them on the reality of tech in schools in terms of student achievement, or at least suggest that they need to be data-informed and know whether there is a real return of investment.

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