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TechHub Blog

By Dan Bird on 1/24/2012 8:09 AM
For years I've watched for the telltale signs of trends in the use of technology in education. I've also tried to keep a half-open eye on what is happening outside of Omaha, and even the United States. Now it seems that the blending of the two is more common. With the advent of fast, cheap telecommunications over the entire globe, more information is available to us about virtually everything and anything. Now. And this leads to a couple of ideas I've been examining.

The first is the Flipped Classroom. A number of online articles are available, including this from USA Today: "Flipped" Classrooms Take Advantage of Technology. The idea is to move away from the classroom lecture format popular for the last 150 years, in which the sage on the stage pontificates on various topics while students soak in the knowledge, maybe ask a question or two and take some notes thus insuring that they have the concepts down. Follow up would include homework possibly, and tests. This may be an outdated and ineffective teaching style the Flippers say. They suggest that recording their lessons using a tablet, computer, or interactive white board and offering them online--to be watched the night before at home--is the way to go. Students then attend school and immediately are assigned tasks based on the video lesson from the night before. They work in groups or pairs and make sure they understand the concept. The teacher moves around the room answering questions, helping define difficult concepts, and becomes a co-learner. It is claimed the stress is much reduces and students understand the content much better. Good reading and interesting concept. Have to keep an eye on this one.

The second concept is Mobilism or "The Age of Mobilism." Though there are a number of definitions, I'll go with Cathleen Norris and Elliot Soloway's suggestion that the future is less about laptops and desktops, and more about smartphones. The number of smartphones being sold will pass the number of feature phones in a few months. Smartphones being defined as electronic devices that are connected not only to phones, but also include data plans that allow for 24/7 access to the Internet. Norris and Soloway examine what will happen in our classrooms when schools begin to take advantage of the BYOD (Bring your own device) concept and schools stop buying expensive laptops for student use. The cost is prohibitive to provide laptops to all of our children, it just isn't possible. However, they predict that by 2015 every U.S. student, from 1st through 12th grades will have some kind of Internet-connected, smartphone sized mobile computing device. Then we will truly have one to one computing.
Teachers will need to move from "I teach" to "We learn" when everyone has content in their hands. It will be difficult for teachers to move away from their comfort zone, but it will happen. The question becomes: Use the mobile devices or ban them? "South Korea has announced that by 2015 each and every student in their classrooms will be using a mobile learning device." This is the onset of The Age of Mobilism.

Norris, C., & Soloway, E. "Learning and Schooling in the Age of Mobilism." Educational Technology, Nov-Dec 2011, Volume 51, Number 6: Pgs. 3-10.
By Dan Bird on 1/9/2012 1:47 PM
You know, as a tech trainer who often writes my own manuals and training agendas I've also had to sit on the other side as a trainee. I appreciate it when the materials (on paper or online) are concise, clear, and in a common language. I might say to anyone training or teaching: please don't try to impress me with how up-to-date you are on the jargon of the moment. Keep in mind your "audience" and work with them. I try to do this in all my workshops. And to teachers in the classroom - don't use confusing jargon the students won't understand, they won't be impressed and will tune you out. Use vocabulary they understand, or if introducing new vocabulary, give them a background or basis or connection to help them make sense of it.

So, back to the training materials. Often when I write new manuals I use vendor-created materials to introduce myself to the program/hardware/whatever and as I make sense of it I translate for educators so it is in context and the scope of what we do in the public schools. As a teacher myself, this just makes more sense for me and hopefully for those who attend my training sessions.

I am working on a FirstClass Social Applications agenda or manual today, which is why I am writing in this blog. The words and thoughts are my own opinions, thank you.
By Dan Bird on 1/4/2011 1:16 PM

In the new Harvard Business Review a study on workers and how "guilt" affects them makes for interesting reading. Professor Francis Flynn of Stanford studied workers who had a tendency to feel guilt. What he found is probably the opposite of what you and I would expect. He found that the more guilt-ridden workers had better:

  • Work ethics
  • Job performance
  • Leadership ability
  • Willingness to help others
  • Commitment to their employer
  • Ability to see the big picture

In a follow-up study he found that the more guilt, the more commitment! This doesn't seem to make sense, yet there it is. And as I thought about this I realized that the word "guilt" may be too negative, and maybe the word "responsible" would be better. If a worker feels responsible the work, etc. may improve. If he/she takes ownership of the job, and feels that responsibility, yes, the points listed above do make sense. In future studies the author plans to study how guilt interacts with staying late at work, putting in more time on projects, and home life. Do you teach from a sense of guilt? Hope not. But do you teach with a sense of responsibility, and know it is on your shoulders? Bet you do. guilty....and responsible. Makes you the best.

The study is not available online, but can be found in the “Guilt-Ridden People Make Great Leaders” – An Interview with Francis Flynn in Harvard Business Review, January/February 2011 (Vol. 89, #1-2, p. 30-31), no e-link available

Dr. Dan

By Dan Bird on 10/13/2010 7:25 AM

I often wonder why some teachers and administrators hesitate to adopt technology. When you think about human nature, though, it makes sense. With the emphasis on test scores not just locally, but nationally, if not globally, technology can feel like an additional burden.  "These computers have been delivered, but what do I do with them? How can they help me with my students' test scores? And, besides, I don’t know HOW to use this stuff.” Happens in almost every school.

By Deb Wilson on 6/24/2010 7:57 AM

Help your student build reading and writing skills by creating stories! 

By Deb Wilson on 5/14/2010 12:08 PM

Create 3D and Augmented Realty Books Now!

By Deb Wilson on 4/21/2010 12:15 PM

April is national poetry month, the Poetry Idea Machine is sure to help you infuse your classroom with some inspired poetry writing.  Students learn about different kinds of poetry by selecting from Haiku, Limerick, Cinquain, or Free Verse.

By Deb Wilson on 4/14/2010 10:46 AM

I get this question once in awhile from teachers, "Why have a website?"


By Deb Wilson on 3/3/2010 9:19 AM

Kelly Hiatt from Fontenelle shared her Learning Links page with me, check it out. Nice job Kelly!

By Deb Wilson on 2/26/2010 7:46 AM

Lexington School District has created a wonderful resource for Elementary, if you are looking for Instructional PowerPoints.