As a part of our ongoing process of self-evaluation and planning for the future of technology here in Seguin ISD, we recently conducted a quick, 4-question survey to determine patterns of students’ internet use outside of the school day. Over 1,700 students in grades 3-12 participated. The results are below.
A few initial observations:
The basically 9:1 ratio of student internet uses to non-users is pretty much what I would have expected. This tells me that we still need to be looking for options for our students without access, as they are certainly limited once they leave our buildings. It also should be something teachers are aware of, and it should inform their decision-making when assigning homework that requires online resources. We have come far, but the divide still exists. How might we creatively close the gap outside of our buildings?
Slower internet speeds and data limits on cellular connections make accessing excessive amounts of video or other media online problematic. This is a potential issue for more than 40% of our students.
Fewer and fewer students are using traditional laptops or desktops as their home internet-access device. Mobile phones and tablets are much more common. Still, schools tend to focus budget dollars on desktops/laptops. That might be a practice we need to rethink. Might our technology dollars be better directed at non-traditional tools?
The “None of these” option under types of devices doesn’t just include kids with no internet at home–many kids use gaming consoles, devices such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, or a variety of other tools.
Other thoughts, reactions, or questions I might be missing? Happy to hear your comments.
Copyright and Fair Use questions can be very complicated and confusing. Curtis Newbold of The Visual Communication Guy blog has come up with a really great flowchart that answers students’ questions about whether or not the images they want to use in their projects are fair game. Click the image below to see the full-sized version, which would be a great tool to share with students this fall.
Below find the chat logs from tonight’s first ever #edwhy and #edwhatif chats. Not a huge response the first time out (Okay, very small.), but that’s not a problem–I believe it will be worthwhile, because we need to question things in our field if anything is ever going to change for the better.
Besides, I’m a longtime blogger–I’m used to talking to myself! 🙂
We are exploring some options for our district’s future student technologies right now. We have a significant need to increase accessibility for our students, but I’m not sure what that means, exactly. Does it involve a 1:1 program? Perhaps buying large numbers of wireless laptop/tablets and carts? Labs? iPads? Chromebooks? Laptops? Oh, my! Lots of questions in my mind right now, but I have come to a few certainties at this point, particularly after looking at quite a bit of the research on 1:1 programs. I’ve also received some great insight from colleagues trying different 1:1 programs around the state. In no particular order, my conclusions thus far:
Students are more than ready.Certainly, not every child is a budding, young Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. However, all students are quite ready to research, create, communicate, etc. using technology (and most are doing it without our assistance or blessing, anyway.)
Why are some 1:1 programs more successful than others?y).
Teachers are, for the most part, not. Currently, most of the teachers I know either lack the technology know-how and experience, or they utilize a teacher-centered style that does not take full advantage of the capabilities of today’s tech tools. This isn’t an indictment–they are doing great things with the tools they have at their disposal. We’re just talking about a whole new set of tools, which leads to the next point…
Professional development is vital, essential, critical, mandatory, and supremely important. Teachers and administrators need to be trained so that they can, for starters:
Recognize opportunities to use technology to transform learning.
Identify available resources.
Understand methods of assessment of technology-rich products and activities.
Teach in a less teacher-centered, more problem- or student-centered manner.
Don’t rush the process. Districts who hastily rollout technologies without sufficient planning and training are committing themselves to struggling mightily for the foreseeable future and not likely to get much out of the resources. A small-scale pilot, heavy on the PD, can help head off problems before they are unmanageable.
Have positive, yet realistic, expectations.Technology offers students many incredible ways to improve their learning. It’s not a panacea, however, and it is not an overnight solution to what ails education. Test scores are unlikely to be directly influenced (Sorry, but read some of the research–it’s hit-and-miss here, at best.), but school climate is likely to improve, and students will have invaluable opportunities to learn and to gain needed technology related skills. The SAMR model is a great thing to keep in mind, too. It will take a few years to see the real impact happen (and only IF the necessary training and expectations have been provided). It takes real commitment to start seeing the maximum potential reached.
Students first. Every school’s population is unique, and so it stands to reason that there is no universal solution. It is imperative to resist keeping up with the Joneses’ shiny, new devices and instead looking for what will most benefit the kids we serve, based upon things like prior experiences, curriculum, academic needs, community expectations, etc. As I’ve said before, there is no perfect technology tool. If there was, we’d all have it, obviously.
We’re only beginning to embark upon this effort, so it remains to be seen how this will take shape here. I’m very encouraged at the conversations happening, though, even if they are in the very embryonic stages–at least conversations are happening. As anyone in a school knows, of course, there are many obstacles to an implementation such as this (e.g. infrastructure, money, staffing, money…did I mention money?), but it has to begin as a concept at some point. If it grows to more than that, I’ll do my best to share the process. Meanwhile, what are your thoughts/experiences here? Any other absolutes or experiences you might be able to pass along?
Amazingly, I just finished my 10th year working in educational technology. Time truly passes in a flash when you are engaged in something you enjoy so much. After a decade in this business, I would like to share 10 experienced-based truisms that have come to be the guiding principles for me in this business. It’s tough to prioritize some of them, so, in no particular order…
The learning objective comes first. Put this with an understanding of the abilities, preferences, etc. of the kids, then choose the right technology.
Technology might not be the best tool for the job. There are times when learning succeeds best without technology. Shut it off.
No technology is perfect. What works for one classroom might be unsuccessful, unused, and unwanted next door.
Digital natives? Sort of. Kids are generally very fast tech learners, indeed, but they don’t come to your room knowing as much as some would assert.
Make do. Your budget and resources are not as deep as what that expert speaker is spreading. Use what you and your kids can get your hands on.
You gotta believe. Teachers who routinely use tech believe it is important and beneficial for their students. Those who don’t, won’t.
Leaders have followers. When the principal uses technology, the teachers will. Simple.
Filters are why I’m losing my hair. That and traffic. No clarification needed.
Teaching and learning aren’t the same. The technologies for each are often very different. Keep in mind when setting priorities.
Reconsider that PowerPoint or brochure.Technology can and should let students do things they cannot otherwise do or do as well. Kick up the expectations.
Of course, I’m open to others, so please share your own!
Who says that teaching stops when the bell rings? Josh Grizzelle, a 5th grade science teacher here in Birdville, is using Web 2.0 tools to take advantage of “teachable moments” whenever and wherever they occur. Among the tools Josh is using:
YouTube channel–One of the coolest things about the resources Josh has made available to his students is that most were created by either Josh himself or his students. On his YouTube channel, visitors can see examples where Josh took advantage of opportunities such as a lizard he encountered locally, a trip to Yellowstone, or an expedition to the Big Bend area of south Texas. Rather than letting such events pass by, he used a video camera to create a teaching tool, passing on knowledge to his students as he learned it.
Student videos–Assessment is, of course, an ever-present reality. In our district, focuses on programs such as Continuous Improvement place even greater (excessive might be more accurate) emphasis on assessment. Students can grow numb to the repetitive pre-testing, formative testing, and post-testing. In Mr. Grizzelle’s classroom, students are given the opportunity to forego the paper-and-pencil drill each six weeks period. Rather, they create videos to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts. The videos are hosted on Josh’s YouTube channel and embedded into his class wiki.
Josh’s students are applying and gaining many critical, 21st century skills, including media literacy, creativity, collaboration, communication, initiative/self-direction, etc. They are also very likely to be much more motivated to create and use technology-rich, real-world products, as opposed to the resigned compliance so typical of many students being force-fed traditional curriculums, assignments, and assessments. The level of technical ability required to do the things Josh is doing is relatively small, by the way. The main commitment is the time it takes to do initial setup (of the wiki and YouTube channel), ongoing maintenance (similar to writing lesson plans, creating materials, etc.), and some time to edit/publish video projects. The payoffs include engaged, highly-achieving students and a wealth of resources available 24/7.
I finally was successful at uploading a video of some interviews I conducted this spring with students who published their writing to a class blog this year. In just six months, the students’ blog had over 1,000 visitors from six continents! What an effective way to motivate our students to write! The blog also includes some good insights by the teacher.