Week 2 Reflection

What do you see as the promise of open learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy?

The question this week generated quite a bit of interesting discussion across the class and caused me to think about the topic of open learning.  After doing some research and posting my blog early this week (because I had a full week of basketball camp coaching) I had the opportunity to sit back and read a variety of different opinions.  I feel like there is a pretty good consensus about the promise of open learning.  Supportive educational environments will foster this growth and the evidence seems convincing that the result will produce more motivated, engaged learners who are developing 21st Century Skills.

In doing some research ahead for next week I found a reading on MOOC’s.  I found this interesting because in Week 1 I was drawn to this concept as a way for me to use open learning in my classroom.  In my initial research on MOOC’s, I learned about a service called Canvas.  Canvas seems like a good format for me to use to delve into a blended learning environment.  I chose “blended” learning over “open” learning because the school I teach at is very traditional and I think it would be an easier transition.  Anyway, Canvas offers students the opportunity to post information onto my class site, upload their own videos/projects, and engage with their classmates in a protected online learning environment.  For my project this summer I want to use Canvas or Moodle to create an ICT Literacy Skills Unit that all junior high students can take to earn the privilege of online access at our school.  I feel it is important that we teach students how to be smart and safe online and also how to act appropriately in online academic environments.  All of these skills can be taught and demonstrated in an open learning unit.

All of this to say, there is great promise in open learning and I want to begin its use in my classroom and ensure its successful adaptation at my school in general.  I know that safety education will be a key component to realizing its commonplace utilization.  Many schools have policies and procedures in place already but I see there being a need in my school I can help fill by educating our students with a safety program.


Week 2 Essential question: What do you see as the promise of Open Learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy? #UAEmergTech

open window

Open learning is described as learning that occurs in a shared and transparent manner in which others can reuse, revise, remix, and/or redistribute the evidence of learning with others (Wiley, 2009). While its implementation in US schools may be a fairly new thing, open learning or open classrooms, have been in use around the world with great success for decades (Cuban, “The Open Classroom – Education Next”, 2006). Over time there has been positive results in this pedagogy in equipping students with a real-world preparation focused on 21st Century Skills. Students are able to synthesize, analyze, collaborate, and discuss ideas and dig deeper into their learning than traditional methods. When it comes to Open Learning the promise of self-directed, self-paced learning is attractive to many because there is nothing holding the motivated learner back. Open Learning allows students to gain access to “experts” in various fields and to collaborate with peers and others to help further their learning. Also, Open learning allows teachers the ability to focus their class time with students who need help and provide valuable one on one instruction to students.


In order to cultivate an open learning environment the learning community needs to provide some crucial support. Proper technology and connectivity are at the heart of an Open Learning facility.  Flexible educational policies and classroom environments are also needed to facilitate open learning. This may be a school day structure with flexibility to it or even a calendar that is not necessarily constrained by specific grading periods. Once you provide students with the required flexible framework for learning to take place, they will have the freedom to become masters of their own learning. Since students have the freedom to own many of the decisions regarding their learning they will be curiosity driven to learn more and more. Students may not start out to study the multiplication of fractions, but throughout the course of their projects they will uncover these challenges and will need to devise solutions to unforeseen problems. Authentic learning takes place when these roadblocks are encountered and students are challenged to overcome them in order to complete the larger task.

What will an Open Learning classroom look like?  Take a look here:

Another promise of an open learning environment is that student will have access to information and experts that they never would have in a traditional classroom. When you have a classroom without walls you are able to open up learning opportunities for students from around the world, providing them with a global learning perspective. As teachers we can bring in experts in various fields into our classroom but we also should recognize that we are creating a classroom full of “experts”. The doors for collaboration, and peer instruction can open as students master various skills at differing paces. Students are eager to share their knowledge with their peers, knowing that the student they are helping may be of assistance down the road.

A final promise from an Open Learning classroom is the opportunity to provide 1 to 1 learning to your students. Flipped Classrooms and other blended learning models allow students to receive individualized attention from their teachers. When using direct instruction a teacher is trying to always dance the delicate balance of challenging the top students and not leaving other students behind. With Open Learning, teachers have the opportunity to assess how they can use their precious contact time to reach and inspire the most students. “One of the big decisions teachers face is to look at what is currently working in your classroom and what would be best offered digital” (“Blended Learning: Resource Roundup”). When challenged to think this way I realize that there is much content in my classroom that I address with the whole class when I could use that time more beneficially with class discussions, simulations, and 1 on 1 conversations.

The question left for many teachers is how to transition from traditional learning environments to Open Learning.  “Both traditional and progressive ways of teaching and learning need to be part of a school’s approach to children. Smart teachers and principals have carefully constructed hybrid classrooms and schools that reflect the diversities of children” (Cuban, “The Open Classroom – Education Next”, 2006).  By moving toward an Open Learning environment I am able to reach out and make the greatest impact to the most students and best equip them with 21st Century Skills.





Blended Learning: Resource Roundup. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blended-learning-resources

Cuban, L. (2006, July 6). The Open Classroom – Education Next. Retrieved May 24, 2015, from http://educationnext.org/theopenclassroom/

Graham, L., LaBonte, R., Roberts, V., & O’Byrne, I. (n.d.). Open Learning in K-12 Online and Blended Learning Environments. Retrieved May 24, 2015, from http://www.academia.edu/10311797/Open_Learning_in_K-12_Online_and_Blended_Learning_Environments

Wiley, D. (2009). Defining “Open”. Retrieved July 5, 2014 from http://opencontent.org/blog/ archives/1123

Week 1 Reflection

After listening to Professor Lee Graham’s YouTube video today I do realize I am nearing “cognitive overload”. I have confronted and processed a hefty amount of information this last week. After reading the entire NMC Horizon Report 2014 I learned many new things about Emerging Technologies and feel that processing that information really did stretch me mentally. There are just many concepts that I have not encountered before but there were also plenty of connections I was able to make to real life experiences. One challenge I believe brought up in the report and echoed in my life is the struggle that “brick and mortar” schools encounter as they strive to put their finger on best practices when it comes to technology implementation. I have been around schools that jump on the latest technology fad and feel like they are “doing technology” by throwing some money at it. Passing out iPads to teachers or even putting laptops in every student’s hands doesn’t necessarily mean we are doing what we should be doing. If not implemented properly, Emerging Technologies will quickly come under attack by concerned parents and budget stretched school boards.

On the Schmitt Soundboard Blog we discussed this and I really enjoyed the discussion following on the appropriateness of technology for younger students. At what point does technology get implemented in the classroom and what that looks like are great areas for discussion. When my Technology Director Keith Zamudio said that he wanted to put laptops in the hands of Kindergarteners I thought he was crazy 8 years ago. Today, I see the wisdom in his approach and just how important this is. “Digital Immigrants” like myself don’t always get that students today grow up using technology as “Digital Natives” and it is up to us to embrace this change and safely set the course for its implementation. Focus what excites them into meaningful learning experiences.

After reading many of the blog postings in class this week I am impressed by the quality of many of writing and am excited to be part of this learning community. Right now my head is spinning but I look forward to growing as we move forward.

What are Emerging Technologies? #UAEmergTech


The Final Frontier?

When we look at such an overwhelming topic as “Emerging Technologies” it’s easy to imagine a cornucopia of sci-fi electronic wonders and other cutting edge gizmos and devices to help our world become a better place.  It pulls many of us into memories of our past when we used to pretend to talk into our watches like we had access to the latest go-go gadget spy tools.  More importantly, the word “Emerging Technologies” cause us to look into the future and wonder what the next big thing will be.  Emerging Technologies open up a vast horizon for us humans to cast our ever growing curiosities into what feels like an untaped and wildly exciting frontier.

What makes it so exciting?

The unknown always holds an element of excitement, and where Emerging Technologies are concerned there is a mysterious feel to these developments.  I remember a teacher of mine in high school talking about a day when every student would have a computer in front of them in class, and I never thought that was possible.  Today schools embrace the concept of 1 to 1 laptop programs, or bring your own devices (BYOD) in ever-increasing numbers.  Perhaps it is the rapid pace of technological growth, or the ever newly discovered applications of this technological growth that is most exciting.  Regardless, our society is hungrily clamoring for newer, faster, smaller, and wireless.  Conversely, how we communicate, learn, work, shop, play, and recreate are all being impacted.  What makes emerging technologies most exciting is the adaptions we need to make as a society to properly, safely, and effectively integrate them into our lives.

What are emerging technologies?

Emerging technologies are advances or innovations in a wide variety of fields with a multitude of uses.  Their impact ranges across many industries and their effects are still being measured and discovered.  Many of these technologies were originally developed for one purpose or aspect and then later repurposed to fit an entirely different niche.  What was once a social media website, might provide an inspiration or platform for professionals to share ideas.  Bringing people together of common interests and putting people into contact with those who might have answers to problems.  As this body of collective knowledge grows it helps us become more efficient, connected, and empowered.  In education, some of these new technologies are causing many to consider the benefits and challenges our digital world presents.

Spoon fed or hunger led?

With the emergence of technology in the education world we see a shift in the approach many of us need to take.  The traditional formate of teacher being the “sage on the stage” to a “guide on the side” is evident in many classrooms.  Technology allows students to transition to student-centered learning as they have the ability to research, analyze, solve and create at a level never seen before.  As the world of work is being impacted by technology, so to do we need to prepare students to achieve success in this digital world.  Challenge-based learning, is one way that we see the opportunity to develop a level of complex problem solving needed by 21st Century workers.  This and other “soft skills” can be developed as students collaborate on projects in real-time with their peers on Google Docs, Moodle discussion boards, and blogs.  Blended learning institutions are rapidly becoming popular as students develop these technology skills along with face to face collaboration and team building activities.

Who said challenges?

There are of course some growing pains associated with emerging technologies.  The first being what exactly do we need students to “know” and/or what do we expect our students to be able to “find out”.  Students have powerful personal hand-held devices in their possession almost around the clock.  The educator has to be prepared to answer the question “why do we have to know this?”.  When students can have access to virtually unlimited information in a matter of seconds,  it does cause one to pause and consider what information should be retained for the sake of retention and what information isn’t necessary. The second concern deals with policies and procedures that do not always align with reality of technology.  We educators have to find a way to safely and securely provide learning opportunities for students to take advantage of the technology world and also provide for them some safety nets and protections.  We need to secure their personal information, and we also need to secure them from cyber bullies and other threats out there.  Probably the best way to do this is through early education on best practices, cyber citizenship, modeling of acceptable behaviors.  If a framework is not established early about how to responsibly use technology in an educational environment, then schools will always be backpedaling in an attempt to put out fires.  And of course we won’t be preparing students to be effective digital citizens in the workforce either.  The final challenge of emerging technology is how brick and mortar schools can compete with so many online learning environments and what the future of education will look like.  Like many of the challenges posed by emerging technologies, we may not know exactly what this will look like.  Schools are wise to move to blended learning environments, flipped classrooms, and open educational resources (OER).  Brick and mortar schools are not going away any time soon for the simple reason that parents want their kids supervised, nurtured, and socialized while they are away at work.

Does it end?

Emerging technologies have shaped and will continue to change many facets of our lives.  Schools are striving to keep up with an ever-evolving industry and forever trying to employ the best practices when it comes to education.  Preparing our students for careers that may not even currently exist using technologies that are not even invented sounds like an impossible task.  Schools who invest in the professional development of their teachers to embrace these changes and create policies friendly to technology integration are on the right path.  These schools are placing students in a position to achieve 21st Century skills which will provide students with the ability to meet whatever challenges the future holds.



Key Trends Accelerating Educational Technology Adoption in Schools. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition, 2014, 50-50. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org

6 Emerging Technologies in Education. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015, from http://www.learndash.com/6-emerging-technologies-in-education/

A definition of emerging technologies for education | George Veletsianos. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2015, from http://www.veletsianos.com/2008/11/18/a-definition-of-emerging-technologies-for-education/