Summer of Learning (2018) #2 reclaiming edtech
When google classroom announced its latest upgrade was an easier way to create quizzes, I groaned…..and it came off another’s concern about the death of edtech. Because I gafawed it until I thought about it. I started to wonder and worry that maybe edtech is doing a better novof solidifying prior strategies than it is being a disruptor…
It saddens me when the greatest differentiation tool gets used to maintain a “one size fits all” approach to learning:
- Grade books (especially those focused on task completion)
- Typing final drafts (when they can be an important part of the start & edit process as well as allowing for differentiation in types of writings – not simply 5 paragraph essays)
- Lock-step assignments where the final result is already known (creativity matters!)
- Locking things down
I know that I benefitted from a computer – from completing writing assignments (that had been becoming shorter and shorter because of the focus on quality of my font rather than the quality of my content)
I loved doing my “menu assignment” using my Apple IIe with clip art to make “Computer Hut” a success (still liked calling appetizers ‘bits & bytes’). It allowed me to be creative in a way that my hands and pencils can’t do as effectively on their own….
If I could’ve used keynote/PowerPoint as an organizer for my presentations, I believe my “grades” would’ve been significantly higher (they were good…but not at my daughters level) because I do like blending images with words….but those aren’t always embraced in essay-cultures. I’ve probably lost out on job opportunities because I’ll push a bit on “tell us about….” writing prompts by using infographic approaches rather than a straight monologue (yes….my blog is hypocritical at times 🙄)
Sigh. My Edtech fight has regularly been about choice – and biasedly promoting my Apple-ness in monolithic MS environments. Often being chastised for getting iPads with the threat that “there will not be support from the tech dept” – and me still wondering what support I would need? As a tech helping teacher I ran a school with about 60 iBooks, Mac desktops and a few PC desktops…..care to guess which ones I needed to do the most work (and work orders for…?). I got locked out once because I had “too many devices” on the network – but with limited support for mobile devices (and good mobile devices as small MS laptops crashed and burned in ways that the iBooks never experienced – even in kindergarten classrooms – not labs!!) I had my old devices all hooked up to the wifi, so maybe 10 devices or so may be a “lot” to some people, but not so much for tech promoters. Okay. Maybe it was 15….
Edtech needs to be nimble and enable schooling & learning to be done in ways not done before:
- Efolios organized by learning outcomes (or big questions in B.C. curriculum.gov.bc.ca) not based on tasks
- Differentiated so that students are “practicing” at an independent level (reading is about 98% accuracy math is whatever is “easy” – for now while we better break out how to differentiate this subject that is too closely connected to “textbook purchases”)
- Finding ways to show learning that may be different from others (with some guided gradual release of responsibility such as: showing a life cycle without any words; coding challenges; video prep work; audio sharing; MP3 books – old favourite of mine was a Lion Witch and Wardrobe “whole class novel study” with my struggling and over achieving readers listening, a group using the regular novel, some using an adapted novel and the test using a pre-set variety of picture books –> led to great discussions and grade level synthesis and thinking but all the “reading” was at an “independent” level – levelled book clubs with larger group discussions and questions – wouldn’t’ve been possible without some iPad touches (version 1) to help create an MP3 library and a way for them to ask Qs using a burner email address and Notes to keep their thinking organized
In the past I’ve teased: iLandy Or how I learned to stop worrying and love single platform https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/day-67-of-183-ilandy-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-single-platform/
But even when asked what my thoughts would be towards single platform….Apple only (even by a Supe who I think was goading me to being able to use some of my words against me – I had said at every conference I had been at for “forward thinking educators” it was about 10:1 ratio of Apple to windows – and some of the windows users admitted they didn’t like what they had, but it was what they had) I still prompt diversity. I know that one platform doesn’t fit all, and there are aspects I like about google and android (I know my daughter uses google for her cooperative projects and mocks O365 strugglers) – adults still default to the Microsoft experience they (mostly) grew up with (I distanced myself after the dissolution of Publisher and the debacle that was the 2000 suite – not being able to export ppt to a movie???) but “kids today” use google and trust the cloud. I like how the Apple-verse lets me put one device down and start up on another, so I’m admittedly a curmudgeon….but for things that work. Not for things that “can work if……” (always hate that anti-Apple argument by MS devotees who claimed that anything I could do on my Mac could be done on a Lenovo/dell/etc. We never saw anyone prove it, but in theory……)
So….while others may be looking around at edtech and are seeing the death of the innovation we were hoping for….I am calling for a rethink of a rethink of edtech and calling out when it is being used for – revitalizing the call: viva l’edrevolution libre!
It is time to put away our preferred OSs and instead focus on what we do with them. How can our iPads, surfaces and other mobile devices help transform our education system? Not prop up old systems (gradebooks) and instead promote personalized learning opportunities (focus on the learning outcomes and performance standard indicators rather than one-size for all tasks).
As the staff sergeant said in Hill Street Blues, “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us!”