Friday, April 19, 2013

Tools of the Trade

During my typical day I will be on Twitter for a few hours (I choose to forego sleep).  Some days more than others. For example on Wednesdays I enjoy the #michED chat at 8pm followed by the Standard Based Grading chat at 9pm (#sbgchat).  Other nights I may just briefly get on to respond to a few messages.  I have noticed a very common theme for months.  The theme revolves around devices.  The three most common devices that are discussed are iPads, Laptops and BYOD.  I have looked at several blogs and articles for months.  Each article or comment has advantages and disadvantages.  This week I'm choosing to blog about my thoughts on the device conundrum.  I welcome any and all feedback.

First, I believe we must all remember that technology is a tool.  Albeit a powerful tool, but it is simply a tool.

I really like how @8Amber8 summed it up. We cannot focus on the device, we must focus on the learning.  How can the device or tool be best used to enhance learning?  
I place this at the top because the big issue is simply, "What is BEST for kids?"  Too often I hear adults making decisions on their needs, not what is best for kids and the learning environment.  Before you even begin to go down the technology road, you must always think, What is Best for Kids?

Second, it is absolutely essential to have a vision and plan.  Check out this info -  Project 24
I'll admit it is common to have leaders disagree on vision.  Communication is important. I know what you're thinking, what is your vision?  My vision does not focus on a specific tool or device.  My vision is mobile learning.  I envision education to change dramatically.  I don't believe in rows and students in seats all day.  My vision is mobile learning, learning in the hallway, learning in the library, learning boundaries.  Whatever device helps accomplish this vision I deem best.

Third, the need for a strong infrastructure.  Integrating technology is a change from traditional methods.  During my years in the classroom, students would write notes to each other, and then I would find the notes after 10-20 people had read it.  Nowadays students post on social media or text.  The comments can be witnessed by hundreds or thousands.  This example is ultimately classroom management, but I believe it relates to infrastructure because you need to have firewalls and have a safe, secure network.  This article explains Access and Infrastructure , definitely worth reading before you make impactful decisions.  

Fourth, as you decide which is the best route to take you must factor in Professional Development.  I'm a believer in "Doing" not "Telling".  By giving teachers the device and properly educating them you greatly increase your chances of the device being used to its full advantage.  Professional Development must be ongoing and revisited.  As a classroom teacher I often remember being trained once and then never revisiting again.  I believe this would create frustration, resentment and misuse.  

Fifth, have a plan to reinvest in technology.  We all know technology is ever-changing.  Technology that is "hot" now will be old news in 2-3 years.  As I write this I'm listening to a report about Google Glasses.  $1500!  Is this the future? Maybe.  No one can ever be 100% sure, that is why a plan must be created to reinvest in technology.  

Finally, here is my opinion. I feel as though I have learned a lot about technology in the past year.  One year ago I would have immediately told you that I preferred laptops over iPads and iPads over BYOD.  I would have told you that I was most interested in "leveling" the playing field.  I would have gone on to tell you that laptops have keyboards and there is significantly more memory.  My last point would have been the fact that laptops can play "flash".  I would have been all-in for laptops.  My second choice would have been iPads.  The apps are engaging and allow differentiation in the classroom.  The iPad would also level the playing field and we would start to get rid of the have's and have not's that divide education.  Finally, I would have told you that BYOD is acceptable, but I would have feared that parents either A) could not afford it or B) would be reluctant to send the device to school.  

In one year my views have changed.

I used to focus on the device.  I was wrong.  It isn't about the device, it's about the vision.  What device or tool best helps support the vision?  My personal vision is mobile learning- anytime, anywhere, etc...
If this is my vision then I must now lean towards iPADS or BYOD.  I have a laptop, an iPAD and a desktop.  The device I use the most, almost exclusively is the iPAD.  I'm on the move, I'm rarely in one spot.  If I was stationary I would prefer the laptop or desktop.  I believe students that are stationary would also choose laptops or desktops, but a student that moves and learns any time and any place will choose the device that is mobile.  Don't base decisions on a device, base the decisions on your vision of learning.  Ask the questions, What is Best for Kids?  AND  What is your vision?

(I realize the one piece I did not include is cost.  I get it. I left this off for a reason.  When I think of what is best for kids the last thing I think of is money or cost.  My goal is always,  choose whatever is best for the kids and figure out the finances later.)


Monday, April 22nd:  Earth Day (remember to where green for our "green out")
Monday, April 22nd:  KDG Round-Up after school Parma El.
Tuesday, April 23rd:  Farewell Reception for Jasmine at SAU 
Tuesday, April 23rd:  String Team 4pm
Tuesday, April 23rd:  KDG Round-Up after school Parma El.
Wednesday, April 24th:  Zach K. "Principal for a Day"
Wednesday, April 24th:  Grades 3-5 assembly
Wednesday, April 24th:  KDG Round-Up after school Parma El.
Wednesday, April 24th: Fire Drill
Thursday, April 25th:  Secretaries Day!
Thursday, April 25th:  KDG Round-Up after school Parma El. 
Friday, April 26th:  Happy B-Day Patti Dault
Friday, April 26th:  Happy B-Day Aaron Baum
Friday, April 26th: 7:55 Staff Meeting, guest speakers Tony & Bill
Friday, April 26th:  5th Grade College for a Day at SAU
Saturday, April 27th: Happy B-Day Joleen Hurt

Articles Worth Reading:

Data informed not Data Driven by @Larryferlazzo

Testing is Killing Learning shared by @NMHS_Principal

Getting Started with Twitter  shared by @NMHS_Principal

iPads: problem or solution? by @patrickmlarkin

10 Signs Your Friend is Toxic  by @marcandangel

From the Bench  shared by @PrincipalJ


iPad as...  shared by @NJECC

QR Codes on the Big Screen  shared by @AugmentedAdvert

Videos Worth Watching:

Ellen being Ellen! (2 min)

To this day...  (12 min)

Rick Wormeli explains formative & summative (5 min)

Wouldn't it be great if we could all do this to our negative critics? (1 min)

The Cornhuskers showing a touch of class! (2 min)

1 comment:

  1. Great post Ben!! I don't agree with the BYOD, but that is mostly due to the situation of the families in my district. I understand your feelings on it and in the future, BYOD may make the most sense. I do like the iPad, but that is mostly when I look at Elementary Level. As they get older I like the Power & Flexibility of the MacBook Air (hate to be device focused but they are a little more powerful & flexible than a Chromebook). I think that last paragraph and your disclaimer sum things up nicely though. Great reflective thinking shared here!!