The link above is to my final unit plan. It contains all elements of the project condensed into one document. If you have any questions about this, please let me know!
Across the globe technology has led to tremendous changes in education and we can only expect these changes to accelerate into the future. As a result of that, districts are desperately trying to develop, and rework policies that will allow them to provide for their students the best learning opportunities available today as well as tomorrow. School policies need to provide a mechanism for students to achieve authentic learning. Authentic learning is defined as, “real-world learning where students investigate important questions, construct knowledge and apply their learning outside of the classroom” (Andrews, 2013). The best way for authentic learning to happen at Grace Christian School (GCS) is for the district to acknowledge the power of technology and to create policies that allow for increased technological use. “Education is on the verge of a renaissance, as the digital revolution and technological advances offer the promise of providing each child with the high-quality personalized education they deserve. While the transformation will continue, old policy models can slow down and hinder the progress made across the country” (Hess, 2013). With that in mind there are several policy areas that need to be addressed at my school.
It is quite obvious that technology growth has reshaped education across the world. School districts, such as Alberta, Canada, who recognize this change and implement policies to support the growth are a step ahead. “Technology, in combination with human ingenuity, has fueled tremendous societal and economic shifts across the globe. Technologies are woven into the fabric of today’s society and, as such, must be integrated into the fabric of Alberta’s education system” (Andrews, 2013). It is important that GCS creates a culture of innovation in terms of technology integration. The best way to do this is to ensure that teachers receive training regularly on technological best practices when it comes to education. All teachers need regular training that will help us grow our students’ 21st Century Skills. “Just teaching teachers how to use technology may result in changes in students’ attitudes toward learning, but teaching teachers how to use technology in the context of problem-based learning gets positive results in students’ attitudes and in their content knowledge and classroom behavior” (Andrews, 2013). Technology education also helps teachers connect with other teachers who might be stagnant or working in isolation. This training will not happen unless there are specific policies that reinforce the district’s forward moving intentions. Principals need to evaluate teachers on their use of technology and partner with them in achieving district technology goals. “Policymakers would do well to ensure that teacher evaluation systems do not assume that most teachers will teach in schools that abide by the rhythms of the 19th-Century Horace Mann schoolhouse” (Hess, 2013).
Grace Christian School will provide annual training in technology education for all teachers.
Teachers will be evaluated on their use of technological integration and continued efforts to implement best practices in the classroom.
GCS also needs to move forward with BYOD policies that will allow teachers to provide student-centered learning activities that focus on creativity and critical thinking skills. While there are risks to opening up the network and allowing students to be on their devices, it allows for many more advantages. To mitigate risk, we employ an Internet Use Agreement, but it needs to be bolstered by more widespread student training. Internet Safety, Cyber Bullying, and Digital Citizenship need to be incorporated. “While you want to encourage the use of technology, you also have a responsibility to create a safe learning environment for all students. This raises a host of questions. Should you allow devices from home on your school network? Should certain websites be blocked? What role does social media play? How do you prevent Cyber bullying” (Winske)? These are very big questions that will need to be addressed by the board and stakeholders. Specific student training would provide the missing piece in our school’s desire for a BYOD environment as well as connect with the overall mission of the district. I have already created this training program designed for all 7th grade students at my school. Policies need to be written to require the implementation of this curriculum into the current technology class.
Grace Christian School will require ICT Literacy Skills Training (Internet Safety, Cyber Bullying, Digital Safety) course to all 7th grade students prior to receiving BYOD privileges.
A third policy that will assist in moving GCS forward is a commitment to replacing physical textbooks with digital textbooks and requiring that each student has a tablet, laptop or electronic device that can download this digital information. This policy works in conjunction with students achieving BYOD privileges via the policy above. While digital textbooks are not the most revolutionary method of technological implementation, it will provide a key mechanism that we can use to depart from physical textbook dependency and further implement a culture of technological innovation and creativity.
Grace Christian School will require all students to bring a digital device to download class textbooks and enhance classroom learning. The GCS technology department will provide loners and temporary devices to students on a limited basis.
These policy proposals will no doubt need some revision prior to implementation. However, they connect the broad Technology Plan Goals to a practical mechanism of implementation. Whether it is these policies that are implemented or others, steps are necessary for GCS to implement technology and provide our students with 21st Century Skills. Beginning the conversation and sharing proposals like this document with administrators at GCS is one way I can help move our district forward.
Andrews, K., Dach, E., & Lemke, C. (2013). Retrieved July 24, 2015, from https://education.alberta.ca/media/7792655/learning-and-technology-policy-framework-web.pdf
Winske, C. (n.d.). Tips for Creating Technology Policies for K-12. Retrieved July 24, 2015, from http://www.k12techdecisions.com/article/creating_an_acceptable_use_policy_for_mobile_learning_initiatives
Hess, F., Hochleitner, T., & Saxberg, B. (2013, October 22). E-Rate, education technology, and school reform. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from https://www.aei.org/publication/e-rate-education-technology-and-school-reform/
Expressing creativity is an important part of many people’s lives. One way many humans express creativity is through crafts. What those crafts look like and how creativity is expressed has evolved over time. For my grandparents creativity was expressed gardening, collecting stamps/coins, knitting, crocheting, etc.. My parent’s version of creative expression might have included photography, scrapbooking, and painting on canvas. My wife and I customize photos on Instagram, share recipes on Pinterest, edit and update profiles on Facebook/Twitter and periodically mix in more traditional hobbies like gardening. All of these activities require a measure of creativity and provide for a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction and are an outlet/relief from stress (Dean, 2014). Electronics have become a viable addition to the crafting world with the increasing number of ways you can design, create and express yourself. It only causes me to wonder what new activities will exist for my children 10 years from now.
With the rapid growth of technology, older generations sometimes struggle to make sense or understand the value of digital activities. Entertainment and education are two areas that have undergone rapid alterations due to technological growth. Some traditional activities a generation ago, like reading a newspaper, have gone by the wayside in my family. My mother-in-law was frustrated when she visited earlier this summer and asked, “how do you get your news?” We seldom watch news shows, or read physical newspapers and her perception is that we are really uninformed. What she doesn’t realize is that I am not on my phone every morning playing games like Boom Beach/Clash of Clans (part of the time, but not all the time)… I read the news every morning (and throughout the day) when I review my Twitter feed and scroll through various news articles that I find interesting. Occasionally I comment on those news articles, and sometimes share them with others in my “social network”. My mother-in-law was also frustrated one evening as I was wildly thumbing away on my smartphone and her loud sigh seemed to indicate her annoyance with my device usage. While I think there is definitely a side conversation that could be had on the appropriate uses of digital devices…(Read: Even in a digital world, manners are important) what she didn’t understand was that I was in the middle of a class Twitter chat and needed to put my focus there (Adams, 2014). If I had a physical textbook out in front of my face she would have (perhaps) revered me as her proud academic son-in-law instead of her digitally detached and delinquent son-in-law.
Technology, education, and industry have all experienced tremendous changes as a result of rapid advances and future generations (digital natives) are going to gravitate towards the growing diverse methods of expressing themselves digitally. One example of this is with wearable e-textiles called Arduino projects. These smart textiles have grown over the last few years and many more advances are sure to happen as microcontrollers grow in power and shrink in size. “The diminutive microprocessor, designed to be incorporated into apparel or other soft goods, has easy connectors that integrate with a range of sensors and actuators with conductive thread. This combination opens a new platform for technology and fashion, allowing for easy projects like embedded LEDS, or more advanced projects like motorized, moving components that react from environmental conditions” (Einarson, 2013). From digital make-up to LED lit dresses, this technology will certainly catch the eye of both those in the industry hoping to market these products and also individuals who are inspired to create their own. Many of these are going to become more practical and certainly some can provide safety to the wearer. A bike turn signal jacket seems like a great development that may become standard in a few years. What was science fiction and utterly fantasy will rapidly be reality and affordable as advancements continue. In the movie Back to the Future II, actor Michael J. Fox got his futuristic clothing wet and they featured automatic dryers. After considering the landscape of Arduino technology one wonders how far away we are from that? Leah Buechley, creator of the LilyPad Arduino sees the applications of Arduino projects to currently be more specialized to specific items and feels we are still a long way from digital everything. “Do we want chips and batteries in every t-shirt? There have been some modest successes (blinky sneakers, heated winter wear, and body-sensing sports apparel), but the most compelling e-textiles work has taken place on smaller scales in the art and design worlds” (Mellis, 2014).
It is quite likely that traditional crafting will never go away. What I expect to see is the blending of traditional activities enhanced in some way by digital technology. Arduino projects are just one of the first larger scale examples of this. While some people don’t recognize the validity of digital crafting, its positive impacts are very real for the crafter. Digital crafts provide an enhancement to many people’s creative outlets of expression and are growing in popularity. One can only wonder what balance crafts and technology will strike as we look into the future.
Adams, J. (2014, August 10). Even in the digital world, manners are important. Retrieved July 21, 2015, from http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/opinion/guest-columnists/2014/08/09/even-digital-world-manners-important/13824917/
Buechley, L. (2012, November 15). Leah Buechley: How to “sketch” with electronics. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTBp0Z5GPeI
Dean, J. (2014, April 28). The Positive Effect of Creative Hobbies on Performance at Work – PsyBlog. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
Einarson, E. (2013, January 2). Go Bionic With These Wearable Arduino Projects. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2013/01/wearable-arduinos/
Mellis, D. (2014, February 4). Arduino Blog » Blog Archive » Sew electric with Leah Buechley – Interview. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from https://blog.arduino.cc/2014/02/04/sew-electric-with-leah-buechley-interview/
Naumann, J. (n.d.). Digital Scrapbooking vs. Traditional Scrapbooking. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://freecraftfair.com/digital-scrapbooking-vs-traditional-scrapbooking/
Its 11:30 am on a typical spring Wednesday in Mr. Boerger’s senior level Government classroom. The students shuffle towards the desks with varying urgency. One group of boys from the soccer team stands in front of class boisterously recalling last night’s game. When I interrupt their dissection of the game, they immediately try to bait me into the conversation to get class off-track. I say, “we will talk about that later, your Bell Work is on the board – get going”! I look over at Josh who was having an animated conversation with Anna and implore them to find their assigned seats and get their Bell Work started. In the back right corner of the classroom, I find a quiet group of wonderful students, in their desks and intently focused on completing their Bell Work assignment. Upon further inspection, I realized that it wasn’t my wonderfully worded Bell Work topic that held their attention, but small miniature computers some people refer to as phones. “Lucy!” I exclaim, “I’m sure glad you got your Bell Work done, please share your answer with the class”! Lucy, gives me a half smile-half eye roll as she knows she was busted committing a fairly high offense – cell phone use in school. The students all around the back corner of the classroom discretely slide their phones away, except Brooke who still had her phone out. “Brooke! What is the answer to the Bell Work… How many District Courts exist in the US, and where is the closest one to us”? Brooke smiled and looked up from her phone and said, “There are 94 federal courts in the United States… and there is a District Court in Anchorage.” Other students who were flipping through their textbooks for the answer immediately stopped and wrote the answer in their Bell Work. “Good,” I said, “make sure you also write that answer down in your Bell Work.”
Grace Christian School is a fairly traditional school, although not really that different than many public schools that I have worked at. Most of the schools I have been with struggled to find meaningful cell phone and or BYOD policies that fit the times. Grace Christian, like almost every school out there is a BYOD school whether there is an official policy to deal with it or not. It used to be that cell phones could just make phone calls, thus were easy to regulate. Then they could make phone calls and send text messages. I still remember students cheating in my class a decade ago by texting each other answers. I didn’t notice… I was oblivious. Now practically every student has a smartphone with Internet capability and there are some realities that schools need to consider as they deal with cell phones and devices in schools. I was at one school where they let students have laptops and tablets but not phones. With messenger/Skype and so many applications out there… what is the difference between a cell phone and a laptop? Laptops of course can allow students to create more conveniently… but if a student is intent on being off task… they can get off task with either device.
Now I never would expect it to be appropriate for students to field phone calls while in the classroom, yet we do need to look at policies that will allow for students to utilize their device as an educational tool. In the Grace Christian School Technology Plan, there is a hope of moving towards a BYOD environment and a 1 to 1 device plan, should the budget allow. In fact, there are devices that 90-95% of my students already have in possession every day, a cell phone. While a smartphone can’t do everything a laptop can do, in the scenario above, Brooke was able to find the answer quicker and more efficiently than her page-flipping friends. As a teacher, teaching in a classroom where students are connected to the Internet opens up the depth and breadth of research topics and discussions. It also easily allows me to turn paper and pencil assignments into digital posts, blogs where students can contribute to each other’s learning. “BYOD can increase student and teacher collaboration, extend learning beyond the traditional classroom walls and cut costs for many school districts” (Martini, 2013). BYOD allows for blended learning and transfer traditional learning into Blackboard or Moodle formats that will broaden learning outside of classroom walls. The Bell Work assignment discussed above can now be housed in a closed class website where others can discuss/collaborate and respond to each other’s posts.
Every school should have a BYOD Policy in place and students should be very familiar with it. If a school does not yet have a BYOD policy, one of the first steps a school should take is to get community engagement. There are some potential perils and pitfalls that come with BYOD in schools, and all stakeholders need to be a part of the conversation. There will be abuses, distractions and other unwanted side effects (i.e. stolen devices) that will need to be considered. “The biggest unanswered question surrounding the BYOD trend is the concern that laptops, tablets or smartphones are more of a distraction than a viable learning tool in the classroom” (Holeywell, 2013). To a certain extent, they already are a distraction at many schools. Teachers will learn to find ways to keep students more actively engaged with use of the devices. Certainly students will have these devices with them at College, at their jobs… part of what we need to be doing is equipping students with responsible means of utilizing technology in their lives.
Second, there needs to be appropriate physical infrastructure. “99% of school districts identify a need for additional bandwidth and connectivity to support the explosion of devices on the network. Given most users carry more than one Internet connected device (i.e. smart phone and tablet), bandwidth consumption can easily quadruple overnight with a BYOD rollout” (Martini, 2013). There also needs to be a system set into place to help students problem solve issues with their devices. In addition to extra needed bandwidth, there will be a increase in issues with devices that the IT department may need to assist with.
Third, schools need to develop an Acceptable Use Policy. Students also need to use the school’s network so that their browsing can be monitored/protected (Walsh, “Awesome Free Ed Tech Resources eBook!”). There are many Acceptable Use Policies out there and any policy needs to have a programed student training highlighting appropriate and inappropriate device behavior. Consequences for violating the Acceptable Use Policy also need to be clear. This policy is a great starting point: http://ohlsd.org/portfolio/byod-developing-an-acceptable-use-policy/
Finally, schools need to partner with teachers to effectively train them in best practices to engage connected students and to provide dedicated oversight to the program and enforcement of the BYOD policies. Teachers need to be part of the Digital Citizenship education program at any school that implements a BYOD policy. It also needs to be reinforced that teachers are still in charge of their classroom and device usage still needs to occur within the granted parameters of the teacher in the classroom.
Every school needs a BYOD policy to protect itself as well as to take full advantage of student interests and assets. Our world is rapidly changing and schools need to embrace that change. Trying to cling to old practices for tradition’s sake is denying students the full opportunities that are out there and fail to prepare them for their future. BYOD does NOT make technology required in every classroom and it may not fit every teacher right away. But having an effective policy does allow schools to advance technology goals in a safe and controlled environment.
BYOD Teacher Management Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.be.wednet.edu/cms/lib2/WA01001601/Centricity/domain/23/tech policy docs/educational tech supports/BYOD Teacher Management Tips.pdf
Holeywell, R. (2013, September 3). BYOD Policies, Growing More Popular, Create Challenges for Schools. Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/gov-byod-policies-create-school-challenges.html
Martini, P. (2013, December 22). 4 Challenges That Can Cripple Your School’s BYOD Program. Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/4-challenges-can-cripple-schools-byod-program/
Walsh, K. (n.d.). Awesome Free Ed Tech Resources eBook! Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2012/12/making-byod-work-in-schools/
Several years ago a group of students at my high school in conjunction with the Technology Director at Cordova High School began looking into the educational benefits of Minecraft. At that point I had no idea what Minecraft was and I was skeptical that it could be used for any real benefit. That group of students went on to develop many great ideas and applications for MineCraft in education and presented them during an ASTE conference in 2013 (CSD Board Minutes). That same year some of the students submitted a project in my World History class on trenches in the Great War and I was very impressed with the evidence of learning, creativity, and critical thinking skills needed by applying Minecraft to education.
Like most things regarding technology in education, if you are having a hard time applying uses for the technology it is likely because you are not thinking big enough. As I have learned more about Minecraft and its educational benefits the last few years and I have become much more enthusiastic about the many cross curricular benefits. Coding, Mathematics, Writing, Music, social networking are just some of the areas where Minecraft can benefit students (Minecraft in Education). Primarily what makes me excited is that students are quickly engaged when using technology, Minecraft in particular. Applying the Constructivist Learning Theory to Minecraft in education is an easy fit. “This theory states that learning is an active process of creating meaning from different experiences… This has led many educators to believe that the best way to learn is by having students construct their own knowledge instead of having someone construct it for them” (Constructivist Learning Theory). Or in reality, it is not so much about what Minecraft game I could create for my students but what my students could create for me that reflects their learning, creativity, and critical thinking skills.
I live with a Minecraft enthusiast and his mother and I have long tormented over the costs/benefits of video games and screen time in particular. In the video below, you can see his perspective on Minecraft. While he does take a minute to warm up, you can see that he is enthusiastic about Minecraft and the freedom and creativity it allows him to express. While there are certainly some video games that we would not allow him to play (for lack of educational benefits) we feel that he has grown academically from Minecraft and would continue to benefit from Minecraft applied in a more organized educational setting.
Prior to researching 3D printing’s impacts on education, my knowledge was pretty limited on the subject. I was aware of small objects (gears, gismos, etc.) that were printed in liquid plastics and used for fairly mundane tasks. I assumed I would learn about simple educational manipulatives, useful in a few specialized subject areas like robotics. What I was not prepared for was the mind-blowing implications of 3D printing in health care, industry, and education. Its impacts have the potential to revolutionize almost all aspects of our lives and our students need to be prepared to contribute to this industry.
My initial lack of excitement about 3D printing simply stemmed from a limited vision. “If you’re not excited by 3-D printing it’s because you’re not thinking big enough” (Federico-O’Murchu, 2014). Forget simple plastic gears and miniature toy soldiers and start thinking about artificial human tissue and replacement organs and all of the sudden 3D printing takes on a whole new light. A new method of 3D printing is being proposed that could help treat diseases like osteoarthritis. Dr. Tuan, a leader in this field who is trying to help million of Americans says, “We hope that the methods we’re developing will really make a difference, both in the study of the disease and, ultimately, in treatments for people with cartilage degeneration or joint injuries” (Sher, 2014). Not only will 3D printers improve our physical quality of life, they also have the potential to increase human life expectancy dramatically. “Realistically, we’re going to be living to 100 …110. With bio-printed organs, living to 110 won’t be anything like living to that age today” (Federico-O’Murchu, 2014). While we are a long way from advanced 3D printed organs, the future applications of 3D printing is thrilling.
The graph above shows a variety of industries that are soon expected to rapidly utilize 3D printers. But the truth is, nearly every industry will be impacted. Imagine a world where instead of running to an auto-parts store, you purchase the specific part from the Internet and print it off right at home. This advancement would save significant money in transportation costs and potentially a reduction in pollution. “A 3D printer such as the open-source RepRap may not only pay for itself but actually save money by making just 20 household items — such as shower-curtain rings and safety razors — per year” (Hsu, 2013). Another major advantage of a 3D printing is that you can make modifications on projects to fit your specific needs. Imagine a world where 3D printing occurs at home or in local stores and replaces large-scale manufactured goods. “In such a world, only raw materials and digital designs would cross national borders” (Hsu, 2013). As 3D printing develops, new industries will rush to create and sell digital designs and new laws and protections will need to be put into place. Our government has already scrambled to protect the public from potential terrorists downloading and sharing bombs, grenades, and machine guns – all capable of being printed in 3D (Winter, 2013). More alarming, these weapons will be printed free of any serial number or other common ways of being traced. “Proposed legislation to ban 3D printing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent their production, even if the practice is prohibited by new legislation, online distribution of these digital files will be as difficult to control as any other illegally traded music, movie or software files” (Winter, 2013). Currently objects printed cannot compete in quality or final polish of a manufactured good, but given time there are many products that consumers will increasingly want to print for themselves. Security, safety, copyright questions will need to be answered as this newly emerging industry sorts itself out and schools are just the place to begin discussing these issues.
All of this is relevant information as we look at 3D printers and their applications in schools today. It is obvious that students will be working with 3D printers in their professional and personal lives in increasing numbers. In the graphic below, there is a list of educational uses for 3D printers. This is certainly not a comprehensive list of uses. Most of these examples enhance tactile hands-on learning. The benefits of 3D printing easily range from K-college and in all subject areas. “As far as how this can be used in education, it’s a matter of bringing objects out of the computer screen and into the hands of students for inspection, analysis, and other processes that can benefit from physical manipulation. In that way, 3D printers may eventually be able to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital–use a screen to find what you need, then print it into existence” (“10 Ways 3D Printing Can Be Used In Education [Infographic]”). There are many critical thinking opportunities 3D printing opens up to our students. Government students will need to debate the ethics of open source vs. private property rights as it applies to 3D designs. As well as the government’s ability/right to regulate this industry (Freedom vs. Safety). 3D printing in schools isn’t just about plugging a printer in and pushing “print”. This emerging technology opens the door for educators to equip students with the ability to design, create, modify, and engineer new products to fit specific learning objectives. Students will be able to collaborate and share design ideas and improve upon those ideas and apply them to a variety of different situations. These critical thinking and problem solving abilities are enhanced through 3D printing and will be in high demand in the future.
3D printing has amazing ramifications in medicine, industry, and education. The more I learn about what they can do, the more my mind starts to spin with the possibilities. The video below addresses how 3D printers have changed education in one school. As this technology advances and becomes more affordable, I expect 3D printers to find a regular place in the classroom as well as our homes and offices.
Federico-O’Murchu, L. (2014, May 11). How 3-D printing will radically change the world. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://www.cnbc.com/id/101638702
Hsu, J. (2013, August 12). How 3D Printing Will Save You Money. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://www.tomsguide.com/us/how-3d-prinitng-save-money,news-17332.html
On a mission to help schools uncover the benefits of 3D printing for teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://www.lpfrg.com/education
Sher, D. (2014, April 29). New 3D Bioprinting Method Using Visible Light – 3D Printing Industry. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://3dprintingindustry.com/2014/04/29/researchers-demonstrate-new-3d-bioprinting-method-using-visible-light-cartilage-production/
Winter, J. (2013, May 23). Homeland Security bulletin warns 3D-printed guns may be ‘impossible’ to stop. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/23/govt-memo-warns-3d-printed-guns-may-be-impossible-to-stop/
3-D Printer Powers High School Projects. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpYp2qCbWLs