Food for thought Friday: Why most K-12 schools aren’t ready for the iPad Revolution

Via venturebeat

I read this article while I am in the midst of surveying the teachers of our school in order to take the pulse of the attitudes toward this new technology. It is asking some big questions, some that have been on my mind for a while:

As of February 2013, 4.5 million iPads had been purchased for use in the U.S. K-12 academic environment. One million of these purchases happened in Q2 of 2012 alone, which represented more than the total number of K-12 iPads purchased up to that point. The growth rate is staggering, and doesn’t show signs of slowing anytime soon. But are our schools ready for the iSwarm? Read more

Reimer brings up the issue of teacher planning as well as the prickly issue of the iPad being more of a consumption device as opposed to a creation device. Although I am currently preoccupied with the former challenge (how do you support the integration and implementation into the workflow of already over-worked teachers?) it is the latter that disturbs me the most:

There is essentially universal agreement that we need to invest heavily in STEM education, particularly from a human resource standpoint. Well, guess what: Handing a student an iPad won’t inspire them to build it or program it. You’d be better off giving them a graphing calculator or a cheap computer and teaching them to code.

I just recently introduced my eleven year-old daughter to Scratch a coding program meant for kids (ok- I introduced it to her last night). I got her started and then went for a run. By the time I got back, she had her cat dancing to a rhythm of her own making, changing colours and growing bigger, all with the code that she created. It is just a start, but I am interested to see how far she will take it.
There are certain things I don’t agree with- like the statement that most students would be only using their device for facebook and twitter. Don’t get me wrong, they will for sure be using all of those things quite a lot. But how are they using it? My elder daughter’s class have set up their own facebook grouptfor homework. If someone isn’t understanding, she logs in to the group and asks her question. Or facetime- yes, she uses facetime to talk to her friends but more often than not she is using it to connect to a project partner.
Yes they play games. Yes they spend a lot of time texting and chatting with their friends. But they also take notes on it, use it as their agenda, study with their teacher-created ibooks. A lot of them read and create their own writing on sites like wattpad.
I see the playing and socializing as a necessary colonization of a space they need explore in order to discover how it can be useful for them.
What do you think?



Infographic Thursday: Adapting to Online Learning

Via Edudemic


So let me get this straight:

The students who do better in online courses are those who are:

  1. richer,
  2. academically strong to being with,
  3. older,
  4. women.

These kind of studies make me want to utter a statement that begins with No and ends with Sherlock. But it is interesting to remember when we are talking about things like the flipped classroom or blended learning. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time- that the students who will benefit from reading the texts or watching the videos before class so that when they get to class they can do their work will be only a small portion of students.

It is also good to remember that learning online is not for everyone. Though it is a wonderful  option for those motivated, academically strong learners, many students still benefit from the presence of a teacher and the structure of a classroom.

Which I am sure is a statement that could also be answered with the statement that ends with Sherlock…

What do you think?

Survey Apps



Be warned oh teachers at my school! I am in the midst of creating an iPad in the Classroom survey in order to gage our progress with this new fangled device. As I want to ask the questions in person in order to get a better feel for where people are, I am not going to publish it online until I have the results, but I thought the search for an app that can do what I needed was interesting enough to post.

Okay, the word interesting might be stretching it a little…

I ended up using polldaddy, which is the poll tool attached to wordpress ( same company, same account). Although the app allows you to take the survey with a nice clean interface, it does not allow you to create a poll.

Still I came across a couple of good survey making tools, one for teachers but not necessarily exclusive to the iPad:

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 12.03.39 PM
Read more

And this wiki that lists a bunch of apps for data collecting, survey taking and other statistics related activity:

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 12.07.34 PM

Read more

I used poll daddy because A: there is a free version B: I wanted to be able to add long answers C: I wanted to be mobile with the survey and collect the answers on my iPad D: because it allowed me to take my survey offline ( I didn’t need to be connected to the internet in order to access it, but I will be able to sync the answers when I am readdy to view the results!)

Are We Doing Enough to Support the Parents?

I was perusing my iPad resources today and came across this post from my Fave iPad lady Lisa Johnson. She was talking about the implementation of a 1:1 iPad program in an independent school district and how it has been successful because they have taken a “360” approach:

I will say it would not be effective or successful if it weren’t for the 360 model of supporting all angles of the initiative… from district and admin decisions to student and teacher training and even parent meetings ranging from disseminating information to providing tips and tricks to manage the devices at home.Lisa Johnson

As this first year of our first 1:1 class comes to the end I realize we have given some teacher training (though by all accounts we could do more) and have talked to the students about social media and iPad management (though those lessons are hard and require much repetition) but we have not done anything for the parents. The post above gives links to the live streamed info sessions they gave at their parent sessions as well as a list of the resources they mentioned.

I think next year it would be a good thing to do the same thing, if only to let the parents know what our philosophy is at the school. I would also like to emphasize to the parents that managing technology is not something that is going to come overnight to the kids (it is a book, a theatre, a music library and an arcade all wrapped into one) just as time management and organization is not an innate skill. A combined vigilance at school and at home is required in order to develop in the student good study habits.

What do you think?

What if the World Were a 100 People

I just came across this video and had to share. I found it very…moving/chilling/horrifying. It takes stats about the world and reduces them to a set of a 100 people. The exercise is interesting because it makes the stats real, as my reaction demonstrates. I consider myself a pretty informed person, sensitive to world issues and global problems but why is it that it took condensing the world’s problems to 100 people for me to actually feel it?

The brain works in mysterious ways… Check it out and let me know if you had the same reaction as I did:

Why I like my RSS feed

I promise this will be my last post about Google Reader and RSS. But the fact that google decided to kill their reader made me wonder why they did it. It made me wonder if the way people access their information online was changing and if it was, how were people accessing, storing and managing all the sites they check out on a regular basis?  Thus I was happy to come across this article over the weekend as it clarified why Google thought they should kill Reader. But it also expressed why I find RSS feeds so useful:

RSS stands for “rich site summary” or “really simple syndication,” and it’s a web format that allows publishers to create a “feed” of media information such as articles, pictures, sound files, or whatever else you might like. RSS readers like Reader can subscribe to these feeds, and place them all in one, easy-to-access place where you can read or listen to all of them without zooming around on the web and visiting every website you enjoy. The “killer app” part of RSS feeds is that they automatically syndicate content to your reader — so every time you open your reader, it syncs up and receives the latest news.

But most people on the web aren’t using RSS readers anymore. Reader was by far the most popular feed reader out there, and its user base had been in a steep decline for two years before Google decided to shut it down. So why did most people stop caring about RSS?

I think it’s probably a generational thing, but not necessarily based on age. 

This is what I like about it- I can group all the sites I look at, say for this blog, in one place. I don’t have to go opening new tabs to each feed. It gives me a nice list of new articles for more efficient browsing.

But apparently people are getting their information in things like Tumblr which Newetz describes as “silos of infomation”. That is, you can subscribe to different Tumblr sites, but ultimately all you get is content on Tumblr instead of from anywhere on the net:

We are also moving toward a reading style that requires you to visit a specific site in order to read, instead of pulling all the articles you want into one piece of software. You go out into Tumblr and Facebook. You don’t aggregate all your favorite Tumblrs and magazine articles into, one, unified reader. Everything is separate and out there, in the cloud.

Why? Why give up on the RSS feed? It seems like the best, most comprehensive bucket to manage all of the sites you visit. I for one, am sticking with RSS.