Each college will be able to implement badging as well as guided pathways within their courses or programs, particularly for co-curricular activities that typically aren’t represented on transcripts. Examples of such programs include internships, community service and museum activities.
This edWebinar highlights SETDA’s latest research, Navigating the Digital Shift 2018: Broadening Student Learning Opportunities. As states and districts shift to implement digital instructional materials, the report provides information and guidance on state acquisition and procurement policies, selection and curation processes. States are increasingly providing guidance, definitions, and vetting policies and practices for the implementation of digital materials to help ensure that digital materials are available to learners via devices anywhere, anytime.
The SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition) model and TPACK (technological pedagogical content knowledge) model can help schools as they transition to using more digital tools.
In a recent edWebinar, Michelle Luhtala, library department chair at New Canaan High School in Connecticut, reviewed these models and discussed apps that can take teaching, learning and reading to the next level.
The SAMR model determines the level of technology integration of a tool: substitution, which doesn’t add value; augmentation, which adds a few features with only a little improvement; modification, which redesigns some structures; and redefinition, which allows the creation of new tasks and is the ultimate learning goal. Transformation in how educators are teaching and how students are understanding content happens in the modification and redefinition parts of the model.
MackinVIA’s Classroom allows educators to create a collection of digital content for students; build assignment around it; and share the collection, or an individual book, with the classroom. Students can also highlight text, make annotations, and save these to Google Drive.
Emerging Tech for Schools and Libraries is a free professional learning community where school librarians, teachers, and administrators can explore all the ways to integrate technology and 21st century learning into school library programs.
In April, a PLAYlive Nation lounge in Tracy, Calif., hosted its first Fortnite tournament and sold out. Hundreds of players bought tickets to play against one another and win prizes.
Joost van Dreunen, the CEO of Superdata Research, a video game analytics firm, says most shooter games are serious and simulate violence. Fortnite, he says, is more like a friendly game of tag.
His company estimates the game has made about $223 million across all platforms in March alone. In lifetime sales, it had made about $614 million. The game is free to play, but Epic Games, the company that owns Fortnite, makes money through microtransactions. Players can spend real money to make cosmetic changes to their characters in the game. They can buy things like skins, which are like costumes, for their characters or emotes, which are celebratory dance moves their characters can do after winning or killing another player in the game.
Ninja, the gamer name taken by 26-year-old Tyler Blevins, is now a legend in the Fortnite world. He is a master at the game and rocketed into popularity after playing in an online battle with rap artists Drake and Travis Scott on March 14. That battle has been watched more than 9 million times.
Educators Battle ‘Fortnite’ for Students’ Attention
Many educators want to ban the game from their classrooms, but some are taking the opposite approach, attempting to weave students’ interest in Fortnite into class discussions and assignments.
Nick Fisher, a science teacher at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Mo., said his students like to take screenshots of gameplay and send them to friends over Snapchat. Teenagers want to broadcast their victories, and because the game is on their phones, it’s easy to post updates to social media, making Fortnite “the perfect concoction of addiction,” said Fisher.
North High blocks all social media and gaming sites on its WiFi, said Fisher, but students tell him how they circumvent the restriction: They use virtual private networks, or VPNs, to establish independent internet connections. (Dozens of YouTube videos provide step-by-step tutorials for students looking to get around school WiFi controls.)
“Kids can’t multitask,” she said. “Even having a digital device within sight can cognitively distract the student enough that they can’t focus on the academics.”
Schools and teachers should be guiding parents when it comes to appropriate limits around screen time, said Kolb. Most parents will appreciate research-based recommendations, such as turning off all screens a set amount of time before bed, she said.
Games like Fortnite can even have social benefits, said John Velez, an assistant professor of journalism and electronic media at Texas Tech University. Velez, who studies the positive effects of video games, has found that playing violent games cooperatively with helpful teammates promotes pro-social behavior.
Chris Aviles, the coordinator of innovation, technology, and 21st century skills for the Fair Haven Public Schools in New Jersey, wrote “A Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Fortnite,” an exploration of ways the game can be used for instructional purposes. The guide, posted to his blog Teched Up Teacher, suggests how to integrate the game into writing prompts, math lessons on probability, and physics.
Aviles doesn’t advocate playing the game at school. There isn’t any educational value in letting students engage in virtual combat during a lesson, he said. Instead, teachers can build a lesson around one aspect of the game, such as having students calculate the best angle of approach as they jump from the “Battle Bus,” the floating bus that drops players onto the map at the beginning of each match.
Instagram, Snapchat, Fortnite: The distractions are endless. Here’s how to help kids cope.
In January, two of Apple’s shareholder groups asked the company to look at the addictive effects of iPhones on children. Google’s recent developer conference highlighted tools to help users better control smartphone usage.
A 2015 survey of more than 1,800 teachers and 400 principals in Alberta, B.C., found that nearly three-fourths of teachers frequently or very frequently observed students multitasking with technology, and 67 percent of teachers believed that the number of students negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom was growing.
The best approach is to use empathy, compassion and collaboration to help the young people in your life find ways to manage their digital workflow.
Encourage visualization for inspiration and motivation. The first step is getting students to buy in and to want to make behavioral changes.
Focus on compartmentalization. A 2009 study from Stanford researchers found that people who juggled several streams of electronic information were not able to pay attention, remember key information or switch tasks as effectively as those who completed one task at a time.
Using the Pomodoro technique of spending 25 minutes focused on one task followed by a five-minute break can be an easy way to have students begin to shift from a multitasking to a monotasking mind-set.
Make focus fun. There are now numerous ways to use technology to help us be more productive with technology, and it doesn’t have to be arduous. Students in my office use apps such as Forest or Flipd to motivate them to stay off their phones during class or when doing homework. Forest has a simple interface that will build a digital tree for users who stay off their phones. Flipd allows users to hide certain apps, allot time off their phone based on their schedule and, for a premium, track their progress over time.
Provide structured support as needed. A middle school student with whom I worked recently was relieved when his mother used the Mac OS app SelfControl to block YouTube and ESPN while he was doing his homework (Cold Turkey is a similar PC-based app).
Allow opportunities for regrouping. Even the best plans can go awry (for adults and kids alike). It’s important to focus on progress rather than perfection. Create time daily or weekly for students to think about what went well in terms of managing distractions and improving productivity, and what they would like to do better. Ask open-ended questions without judgment or expectation
Over the past 10 years, new learning management systems (LMSs) have sprung on the scene to rival the Blackboards and Moodles of old. On the EdSurge Product Index alone, 56 products self-identify and fall into the LMS category. And with certain established companies like Pearson pulling out of the LMS ranks, where do you start?
As University of Central Florida’s Associate Vice President of Distributed Learning, Tom Cavanagh, wrote in an article for EDUCAUSE, “every institute has a unique set of instructional and infrastructure circumstances to consider when deciding on an LMS,” but at the same time, “all institutions face certain common requirements”—whether a small charter school, a private university or a large public school district.
The LMS Checklist
#1: Is the platform straightforward and user-friendly?
#2: Who do we want to have access to this platform, and can we adjust what they can see?
#3: Can the instructor and student(s) talk to and communicate with each other easily?
“Students and faculty live a significant portion of their daily lives online in social media spaces,” writes University of Central Florida’s Tom Cavanagh in his article on the LMS selection process. “Are your students and faculty interested in these sorts of interplatform connections?”
#5: Does this platform plug in with all of the other platforms we have?
“Given the pace of change and the plethora of options with educational technology, it’s very difficult for any LMS vendor to keep up with stand-alone tools that will always outperform built-in tools,” explains Michael Truong, executive director of innovative teaching and technology at Azusa Pacific University. According to Truong, “no LMS will be able to compete directly with tools like Piazza (discussion forum), Socrative (quizzing), EdPuzzle (video annotation), etc.”
As a result, Truong says, “The best way to ‘prepare’ for future technological changes is to go with an LMS that plays well with external tools.”
the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education – CASTLE
If a school’s reputation and pride are built on decades or centuries of “this is how we’ve always done things here,” resistance from staff, parents, and alumni to significant changes may be fierce. In such institutions, heads of school may have to steer carefully between deeply ingrained habits and the need to modernize the information tools with which students and faculty work
Too often, when navigating faculty or parental resistance, school leaders and technology staff make reassurances that things will not have to change much in the classroom or that slow baby steps are OK. Unfortunately, this results in a different problem, which is that schools have now invested significant money, time, and energy into digital technologies but are using them sparingly and seeing little impact. In such schools, replicative uses of technology are quite common, but transformative uses that leverage the unique affordances of technology are quite rare.
many schools fail to proceed further because they don’t have a collective vision of what more transformative uses of technology might look like, nor do they have a shared understanding of and commitment to what it will take to get to such a place. As a result, faculty instruction and the learning experiences of students change little or not at all.
These schools have taken the time to involve all stakeholders—including students—in substantive conversations about what digital tools will allow them to do differently compared with previous analog practices. Their visions promote the potential of computing devices to facilitate all of those elements we now think of as essential 21st-century capacities: confidence, curiosity, enthusiasm, passion, critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-direction. Technology doesn’t simply support traditional teaching—it transforms it for deeper thinking and gives students more agency over their own learning.
Another prevalent issue preventing technology change in schools is fear—fear of change, of the unknown, of letting go of what we know best, of being learners again. But it’s also a fear of letting kids have wide access to the Internet with the possibility of cyberbullying, access to inappropriate material, and exposure to online predators or even excessive advertising. Fears, of course, need to be surfaced and addressed.
The fear drives some schools to ban cellphones, disallow students and faculty from using Facebook, and lock down Internet filters so tightly that useful websites are inaccessible. They prohibit the use of Twitter and YouTube, and they block blogs. Some educators see these types of responses as principled stands against the shortcomings and hassles of digital technologies. Others see them as rejections of the dehumanization of the education process by soulless machines. Often, however, it’s just schools clinging to the past and elevating what is comfortable or familiar over the potential of technology to help them better deliver on their school missions.
Heads of school don’t have to be skilled users themselves to be effective technology leaders, but they do have to exercise appropriate oversight and convey the message—repeatedly—that frequent, meaningful technology use in school is both important and expected. Nostalgia aside, there is no foreseeable future in which the primacy of printed text is not superseded by electronic text and multimedia. When nearly all information is digital or online, multi-modal and multimedia, accessed by mobile devices that fit in our pockets, the question should not be whether schools prepare students for a digital learning landscape, but rather how.
Many educators aren’t necessarily afraid of technology, but they are so accustomed to heavily teacher-directed classrooms that they are leery about giving up control—and can’t see the value in doing so.
Although most of us recognize that mobile computers connected to the Internet may be the most powerful learning devices yet invented—and that youth are learning in powerful ways at home with these technologies—allowing students to have greater autonomy and ownership of the learning process can still seem daunting and questionable.
The “beyond” is particularly important. When we give students some voice in and choice about what and how they learn, we honor basic human needs for autonomy, we enhance students’ interest and engagement, and we truly actualize our missions of preparing lifelong learners.
The goal of instructional transformation is to empower students, not to disempower teachers. While instructor unfamiliarity with digital technologies, inquiry- or problem-based teaching techniques, or deeper learning strategies may result in some initial discomfort, these challenges can be overcome with robust support.
A few workshops here and there rarely result in large-scale changes in implementation.
teacher-driven “unconferences” or “edcamps,” at which educators propose and facilitate discussion topics, can be powerful mechanisms for fostering professional dialogue and learning. Similarly, some schools offer voluntary “Tech Tuesdays” or “appy hours” to foster digital learning among interested faculty.
In addition to existing IT support, technology integration staff, or librarians/media specialists, some schools have student technology teams that are on call for assistance when needed.
A few middle schools and high schools go even further and assign teachers their own individual student technology mentors. These student-teacher pairings last all school year and comprise the first line of support for educators’ technology questions.
As teachers, heads of school, counselors, coaches, and librarians, we all now have the ability to participate in ongoing, virtual, global communities of practice.
Whether formal or informal, the focus of technology-related professional learning should be on student learning, not on the tools or devices. Independent school educators should always ask, “Technology for the purpose of what?” when considering the inclusion of digital technologies into learning activities. Technology never should be implemented just for technology’s sake.
his switch flipped when he learned more about why students like to play games. Games, he said, provide an environment where we get to try without penalty because failure is part of the journey. Everyone can be a hero, and games are goal-oriented and provide, in some ways, a representation of the world students want to be a part of. They’re social and provide positive stress.