Week 11 Reflection #uaemergtech

This week we talked about policy proposals that we would like to see implemented at our school that would help pave the way for emerging technologies.  This was also a relevant topic to my unit proposal and the two kind of go hand in hand.  My unit proposal is for BYOD certification for all junior high students prior to access to the school network.  To achieve that, there would need to be policies created prior to implementation.  A policy requiring student training, a policy requiring teacher training, and a policy requiring students to bring a device were three of the major supports that would need to be set in place.  Our school already has the intent to provide a BYOD environment and has created the infrastructure to support it.  All that we need are the action policies to set everything into motion.

Of course with any new policy there is inevitably concern and potential resistance to change.  So it is important that the parents and community get a chance to express concerns and learn more about the program prior to implementation.  Some of the valuable feedback I got this week from the twitter chat dealt with this concept.  Via discussions and other information sharing, parents will hopefully see how technology implementation will better prepare their students with 21st Century Skills and make them more employable.  There is also going to be a need to get some of the teachers on board with the vision as well.  The best way to do this is also educate the teachers about what the changes will look like, why they are needed, and how it will benefit our students.  Some of the teachers will resist this change as will some parents, but we should not let that hold up the program. If we wait until we have 100% agreement, we will never implement anything.

Ideally we would begin discussions on these policies and the transition to BYOD privileges at GCS this fall.  That would allow a full year of discussion, training, and opportunities for parents to begin saving up for an appropriate device.  The biggest roadblock that I see is asking parents to provide a device and then having that device either used inappropriately, abused, or maybe worse of all… not used at school at all.  This is where a strong vision of technology integration needs to be imparted to all stakeholders and teachers need to be provided the proper training and time to unpack the concept of technology integration.  We don’t need every single person completely on board, but we do need everybody to know what we are doing, why we feel like it will help and that we expect these measures to positively impact student learning.  Hopefully we can begin the road to implementation in 2016 and I look forward to the excitement these discussions will bring.


Week 10 Reflection #uaemergtech

While not initially excited about this week’s blog topic I did arrive at several different realizations during my research and discussions this week.  What I thought might not be a very relevant topic to me, did generate some knowledge gains!

First of all I was impacted by the evolution of crafting and what it means to be creative.  I learned how people have the need to create and that how we express creativity has evolved (to some degree) with the technology.  Arduino projects was one way that technology blends with traditional crafting as the wearer can combine LED lights with fabric to design some really cool things.  While I do not consider myself a “crafter” and I don’t have an abundance of hobbies, I see how some of the social media outlets I am associated with allow me to express my creativity and uniqueness.  I also am excited and interested in how these crafting opportunities will expand and evolve over time.

My second realization is that connecting how students express creativity with their learning is going to be essential for teachers/schools.  This week some of us struggled with how this emerging technology will apply to the education of our students.  It connects because it is important we hit them where they are! (Not literally, of course…) If students are excited about technology, and creating with technology, then we can find ways to incorporate this to their learning.  Now I’m not saying that I have the answer about how I am going to blend Arduino projects into my Social Studies classroom, yet it does help for me to have knowledge about student interests.  Projects in general where I allow students to think creatively and express digital creativity will appeal to them.

Third realization is that technology is advancing so rapidly that it is easy for one generation to fall into disconnect with another.  An older generation my not view digital creative expression as authentic and worry over the future of our world. The teenage girl on her phone may be developing social skills and expressing creativity via her responses/posts on social media.  Younger generations may view an older generation with some disrespect due to their technological dysfunction.  There still is value in traditional crafting activities and younger generations should be open to these forms of expression as well.

Surprisingly, I learned a lot this week!   While I am not inspired to try an Arduino project myself I am more appreciative of these types of activities and their place in the crafting world.  I also was reminded that one of the best ways to connect to my students is by allowing them to express digital creativity.  Finally, I have a couple really great Christmas gift ideas for my own kids, knowing that there are many transfer benefits from digital crafting activities.  Who knows where time invested in these activities will lead?  It may open a door, spark further interest, or even provide them with skills that will make them very employable in a future digital world.




Week 9 Reflection

This week’s blog probably hit closest to home for me.  My final project is to design a Digital Citizenship/Safety course for students in junior high to take to in order to earn Bring Your Own Device access to our network.  Our school is lacking in BYOD policies outside of a simple Internet Use Agreement, and so the discussions generated this week were very relevant and helpful for me in solidifying my approach.

The big question for me was what happens if a student abuses the technology access?  Should schools take away that technology as it becomes so closely paired with their education?  If you are asking teachers to go digital and depart from traditional paper and pencil assignments, physical textbooks, etc.… can you deny students that access if it is critical for earning a grade?   My realization is that more than likely there will need to be other consequences for inappropriate uses such as detentions and suspensions for initial violations.  I asked this question several times of my peers but we didn’t seem to hit on a consensus agreement on how this would be handled.  I know that is out of the scope of the assignment… but it does seem to be a very real roadblock that schools will have to deal with as BYOD policies become prevalent.  Ultimately, in discussion with Tristan, it seemed to make sense that if a series of abuses occur then students will lose technology privileges and will need to be given paper and pencil alternatives.

My other realization this week was that just because you create an infrastructure and policy that allows for digital devices in the classroom, does not in itself guarantee a greater learning environment.  Teachers will need to develop skills, procedures and rules to help them manage the devices and will need proper training on how to utilize the technology in educationally beneficial ways.  There are many management techniques available out there but teachers and students will need practice in working this out.  Some teachers just aren’t going to embrace BYOD and I think the best thing to do is keep working with them and hopefully they will see the benefits.  I don’t think the way our school system is structured that forcing teachers into compliance is going to open the door for a smooth transition.

BYOD policies are needed in every school.  Even elementary students will have access to digital devices that can get on the Internet.  It is important that we educate students on appropriate uses on digital citizenship, copyrights, and cyber bullying early or they will form bad habits that could have devastating consequences.  Students mostly agree it is wrong to walk into a music store and steal a CD… but downloading illegal music doesn’t appear wrong to as many youth.  We need to engage in digital citizenship discussions early and often.  This is not just a training that a group of students needs to have one time with one teacher and then they are set.  The community, parents, administration, and teachers all need to partner together to ensure that a BYOD rollout leads to quality educational benefits for the students.  Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that these challenges don’t exist and that students will figure out how to handle digital situations when they are grown up is a fairly ignorant approach.  Proactive cyber citizenship education in partnership with a BYOD policy will help our students be prepared for the digital world.

Week 8 Reflection

This week’s topic was a lot of fun for me as I had the opportunity to sit down with my 10-year-old son and explore a topic that makes him very excited – Minecraft.  When he first started playing Minecraft, I was pretty unsure about the educational benefits.  After conducting research and learning more about it, I am excited about how I can employ this educational tool in my classroom. The Twitter chat and discussions on the blogs forced me to really think about the applications of Minecraft in my classroom more than I originally posted.  My experience with Minecraft in education has been limited to one or two students submitting assignments.  I have had students turn in assignments created on Minecraft that replicate World War I battlefields/battles. Students’ video recorded their presentation as they taught us about the dangers and pitfalls of life in trenches during the Great War.  This was great, but the class discussions and twitter chat this week really got me thinking and looking for new ways I could implement Minecraft if every student in my classroom had access to a computer. I would have students create entire medieval villages as shown in the video below.  Students can go further than showing the class their village. Students could create various roles to play in a class activity and they can create the world digitally, and role-play the world as a class activity.

I also found the following website to be pretty exciting as far as opening my eyes to the many possibilities of applying Minecraft to Social Studies. http://amylandisman.com/2013/10/minecraft-history-project-ideas-and-lesson-plan/ The long and short of it is that I was not fully sold that Minecraft could be a viable learning unit for my Social Studies classroom at the beginning of the week.  I know it could be used, but the applications seemed to fit other subject areas better (Math, Language Arts).  I ran across a 7 Wonders of the World Social Studies Unit and I think that could also be a fantastic opportunity for students to learn more about locations such as the Coliseum, Parthenon, and the Taj Mahal.  Students could explain to the class what the structure was made of, what it was used for, and its significance to the history of the different cultures. Recreating a Tlingit village was yet another Social Studies Unit I was excited to learn more about along with the same theme as the Medieval village assignment. It has been a good week as I have learned a lot about a fun yet creative emerging technology.  Like many video games (outside of Mario Brothers) I find myself on the outside looking in.  I have a healthy skepticism about what video games are actually beneficial to learning and what games are just fun.  After researching the educational uses of Minecraft, I am convinced that there are many great ways I can incorporate this technology into my classroom and students will have fun learning.

Week 7 Reflection

What a great week we had discovering a technology that appears to have the ability to impact almost all areas of our lives.  Education, Industry, and Medicine are just some of the fields that will be radically transformed.  Of course with any such drastic changes, there will be concerns regarding them.  What are the moral/ethical, social, and political challenges that will sweep across America as this technology booms?  Also looms the question about how rapidly the major breakthroughs will take to manifest themselves?  The more rapid the advances occur, the stronger the push back will be from traditionalists or those fearing this change.  At present, 3D printers are a very useful piece of educational equipment that every technology program should have.  3D printers additionally have a variety of positive uses in every subject area and at every grade level.

I struggled with how my blog appeared to waiver off course toward the wider implications of 3D printing.  As I read about how 3D printers could reshape the nature of industry and medicine, I felt utterly blown away by the future ramifications.  I do feel it is relevant information, especially if one is as ignorant as I was going into this topic.  3D printers seem like a great way to enhance a classroom experience at the surface level… a nice tool among many others that we have researched this semester. But if you project the future of 3D printing to be what many others do… it becomes a critical piece of technology that all students will need to use daily in their homes and offices.  It becomes urgent that students develop the critical thinking skills to be able to design, modify, and share digital blueprints.

Discussion on the blogs this week yielded rather bland exchanges on a whole. I feel that most of us are in agreement that the educational impacts of 3D printing are great.  I learned that Leapfrog already has produced many lesson plans that utilize 3D printing.  That will be a great way for teachers to get started.  There also was some discussion on the pros and cons of eating 3D printed food… What are the long-term benefits/drawbacks of that?  As this technology progresses I brace for an onslaught of debate over the moral and ethical uses of 3D printing in medicine.  Will stem cells be used for these printers?  Will insurance even cover these procedures?  Of course, with the uncertainty of our health care system today, who knows if we can even begin to answer those questions?  In industry, many jobs will be lost as 3D printers take their place.  Also, as mentioned in my blog there are many national security issues and concerns as blueprints for weapons of all sorts will be shared across the digital world.  How will our government and other governments handle and regulate this industry?

Regardless of how 3D printers will change our world in the future, they have great potential educational benefits for us today.  Visual learners and those who prefer hands-on learning will love what 3D printers can bring to their classroom.  It is an exciting time to be an educator and have the chance to be at the forefront of incorporating this technology and sharing it with our students.

Week 6 Reflection

I had a fairly nice time this week trying to be a bit contrary and take on the predictable perspective that Coding should be taught in schools.  I had a few enjoyable exchanges with students in the class on our differing viewpoints.  Even a computer programmer who was invited to comment on our blogs offered some great perspectives from someone in the industry.  Of course, I do think we should offer coding in schools and I DO see the value of coding.  However, the more we discussed the issue the less convinced I am that coding will find a regular home in our schools.

First of all, to offer coding in schools means that you need people qualified to teach coding.  I don’t see our schools being able to provide this at any advanced level considering the industry-wide shortage of coders.  Second, schools are so hampered by standardized tests that administrators are under considerable pressure to perform.  While the benefits to coding are apparent to me, and many other researchers (Pea, “On The Cognitive Effects Of Learning Computer Programming”), it will take a bold gamble that time spent coding and not working on other subject areas will improve test scores.  If you liberate schools from high-stakes tests and the pressure that ensues, I think you would find a huge improvement by using coding, maker spaces, etc. Finally, I think the time spent coding is valuable but I feel it is too specific of a skill to focus on.  I’m more interested in broad technology-based integrations that focus on creativity, critical thinking skills and collaboration.  This last point was debated thoroughly by my peers.  I’m not sure I convinced anybody to my point of view.  I understand coding is at the foundation of technology and that creativity and critical thinking skills are utilized through coding.  I just think that every public school student doesn’t need to learn to code.

I would be excited to see coding offered in every high school as an elective. I would be excited about funding after-school coding clubs in elementary schools as well.   I definitely agree that coding should be a part of any school’s computer science program.  I was excited about the discussion involving universities substituting coding for foreign language credit. This allows schools to provide a very necessary skill for students who are driven to learn in.  In the end, this was a very good week of learning for me.  I have learned about the educational applications of coding and am excited to see more coding emerge in schools throughout the United States.

Pea, R., & Kurland, D. (1984). ON THE COGNITIVE EFFECTS OF LEARNING COMPUTER PROGRAMMING. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://www.tcnj.edu/~ijims/previous/Readings/Week1/Cog_Effects_Prog.pdf

Week 5 Reflection

Without a doubt this week’s prompt was the toughest one we have had so far.  The other questions required me to research and explore a topic I have (often) not heard of before.  Not only have I never heard of the Internet of Things before, this week I was asked to design an IoT object to benefit my classroom.   As it turns out I use objects that are a part of the Internet of Things all the time.  Realizing that the key component to the IoT is data collection and data utilization, I began to see some immediate applications to my classroom.  I put considerable time into working through different devices that would help me collect useable data, and I feel fairly sure I have found it in the iStudent Smart Watch.

I’m not going to come right out and say that I am brilliant.  I did go through at least three “sure big hits” like the Smart Desk before realizing that it had already been invented.  But with my iStudent Smart Watch I feel that I am on the cusp of riches.  If I suddenly stop blogging next week, it is likely that I am touring the country in my personal jet.  I’ve read most of the other student’s blogs this week and there are some nice ideas… but none with the game changing capabilities of my invention. 🙂  I have to admit; I was a little disappointed that my blog was not retweeted across the World this week.  Obviously it has not been immediately recognized as a tool all teachers need.  Last weeks blog actually was shared and passed along by several educational organizations and retweeted more than anything I have ever posted.  This one… crickets so far… Even my classmates haven’t had much to say about it.

I did get some good feedback about invasion of privacy issues that my watch would pose.  Especially when it comes to the biofeedback information I desired to collect.  Although I usually can recognize the comatose looks on my student’s faces without a “pulse rate” it might be useful data.  The discussion on the invasion of privacy issues did cause me to question if this feature had crossed the line… I thought that was a valid point.  How much of a student’s personal information should be allowed to be shared with teachers (pulse, etc.).  There was a consensus that having student’s presence logged into a computer by walking through the door would be a really handy invention (and useful for us secondary teachers). I also think that as technology grows more sophisticated students will all be on IEP’s at a workstation (SmartDesk, Tablet…).   The value of that individualized instruction will be great as long as they can still get individual assistance and incorporate group activities with their peers.

I enjoyed reading about Scott’s various inventions and thought his Smart Desk was a good idea… although I think already well under development. Jane’s holographic device also seemed like a very useful tool. It reminded me somewhat of MineCraft and we talked about how some schools were using MineCraft today. John’s card that recorded student progress on every digital device used, also seemed like it has great possibilities. Overall I felt mentally stretched by this week’s topic and am impressed by the creativity of the class.