1. Ask Why?
There are millions of connected educators around the world who would be delighted to answer that question for you. You must answer it for your own education context. Best not to try doing so alone. Which leads to… 2. Engage a Diverse Array of Stakeholders from the Beginning.
Moving teachers and students to a digital workflow, and considering all of the associated infrastructure and cultural changes that come along with this switch, is a big deal. Bring in student and parent voices. And lift the voices of the classroom educators as facilitators whenever possible. 3. Identify and Communicate a Collectively Determined Set of Goals.
No goals = no go. There are hundreds of reasons to go Google and move everyone to a digital workflow. Long before devices arrive en masse, a community engagement process should be underway. Stop anyone in the hallway and they should be able to offer two or three reasons for making the move. 4. Research Models of Best Practice.
Why re-create the wheel? Get connected, if you are not already (Google Plus is a great place to start), and find a few schools or districts that share some of your demographics. Visit them or at least arrange some Google Hangouts to learn about their successes and challenges.
It’s not about the hardware. No laptop, tablet, lapdock, or webtop is going to change education by virtue of its screen resolution, haptic capabilities or processor speed. However, a proliferation of free, cloud-based, high quality, curated curricular materials (videos in particular) just might.
Sal Khan is not the harbinger of a revolution in education because he is a great lecturer. Khan is a revolutionary because he has boldly stood up in the cloud to tell us that there is nothing holding us back from making educational materials free and ubiquitous. Dozens of others have risen to Khan’s challenge; many of whom are making high quality video that can replace traditional classroom lectures.
For a moment I considered leaving my years of service in education behind in favor of a new career in music mixing. I can play a little guitar. I’ve picked up some piano since my son Cody, age 7, began taking lessons a year ago. But, I have no raw talent and have never been disciplined enough to have the confidence to perform for others.
No matter. When Cody and I visited the San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation today, my self doubt was dwarfed by an overwhelming compulsion to mix music from different cultures into a fusion that in my mind’s eye could be the 21st century equivalent of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
Earlier this year Corning released a viral video, A Day Made of Glass 2, showing the potential of multi-touch surface technology applications for home and educational use. Most of us thought it novel, but dismissed the portrait as blissfully optimistic. Today, I discovered that future is already here.
I ran an electronic survey today in two of the blended classes; sixty two responses in all. I asked students to compare the various types of learning that we do in class in this new blended method against our prior unit that I taught in a traditional fashion. Here are some of my takeaways. Continue reading
Schools are doing the calculus. With the growing prevalence and lower cost of digital textbooks and the myriad options for tablet displays, it almost makes financial sense to go digital. Almost, but not yet.
In middle and high school the tablet has cachet, but it’s just not quite a laptop. Tweens and teens need to write, and writing on a tablet is awkward at best. The Chromebook is gaining traction because, as it is marketed, it solves many problems. You can read the digital texts on the Chromebook, it is small, but performs better than the first miserable wave of netbooks, and it can be purchased with a 3G wireless access plan for educational settings where wireless is not yet achievable.
As if getting to the One to One tipping point weren’t exciting enough, Google is now adding fuel to the silicon and PCB fire with rumors of a forthcoming heads up display (HUD). No, that’s not a scantily clad teacher dancing in front of the room. An HUD is the Kurzweilian display that utilizes fancy optics to project images that are visually accessible straight from your glasses.
I know nothing about what the price point might be on such a device, but suspend disbelief with me for a moment and imagine what the education world might look like two years from now if cheap HUD’s became a reality. Students sit in their desks or cubicles or tables or whatever, wearing HUD’s that are connected to smartphones or iPod Touches in their pockets. The smartphone serves as CPU so that all the glasses need to do is be the virtual screen for the learner.
Add to this scenario a wireless keyboard that communicates with the phone like this logitech with track pad for $31, and you have a one to one solution for the cost of the HUD (say $100 for my fantasy here), the keyboard, and the few iPod Touches that must be loaned to students who do not have a smartphone plan (much like we do with graphing calculators already). My back of the envelope calculation for a typical US school with 26% of the student body below the poverty line needing CPU loaners still gets us to One to One for under $200 per kid – and that’s if everything in that equation only lasts one year!
Let’s hope that Google elects not to make these HUD’s with tinted lenses. Can you imagine the parodies of Corey Heart lyrics?!
Qualcomm, a global leader in mobile device technologies, recently acquired Halo IP, an intellectual property acquisition firm. The press covered the story as a move by Qualcomm to develop their electric car battery charging business in anticipation of this growing market.
This purchase was not unlike Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola. Google purchased Motorola for their mobile device patents, signaling a deeper commitment to the mobile side of their business. Halo IP possesses IP rights to wireless induction charging technologies. Qualcomm’s purchased of Halo IP signals a move to expand the wireless charging side of their business. It would certainly be convenient if you simply pulled your car over an electromagnet that could charge your car’s battery with the flip of a switch.
It would also be convenient if your students could charge their mobile devices simply by placing them on the designated hotspot on their desks.Continue reading
One out of every five times I boot up my clicker software — a process that takes nearly 120 seconds on my MacBook — the program crashes. Re-booting requires a full-system re-start. I desperately want to make the move to personal digital device dependence in my classes.
Not only would a cloud-based solution be more dependable, but it could also be multi-dimensional. In addition to collecting real-time data from multiple-choice question responses, I could examine student text entry to free-response questions. Word clouds could help me quickly identify conceptual trends. Students could share, rank, and respond to questions they generate themselves about the material we are studying.
If the students had their own web-enabled devices, I could experiment with a classroom backchannel during demonstrations and labs. Group problem-solving work could focus more on scenarios that bring out critical thinking. I could teach them to use tools like Wolfram Alpha’s course assistant apps to access basic concepts when they need them. I might even make the plunge to flip my classroom toward that same end.
BYOD would be all gravy for my teaching. Why then, do I still confiscate cell phones whenever I see them?