The Trends and Challenges Shaping Technology Adoption In Schools

[For the past two years I’ve served as the co-chair of the CoSN Emerging Technologies Committee. However, even before I served in this capacity I turned to the Horizon Report each year to better understand the shifting sands of Educational Technology. I used the Horizon Report in my own forecasting as a CTO and in my work as an adjunct professor. In this Mindshift article you’ll find a great summary of the emerging trends, short-term as well as long-term, with the challenges ahead for educators in K-12.]

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Every year for the past 15 years the New Media Consortium and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) have been taking the pulse of where education technology stands among K-12 educators. A panel of 59 experts from 18 countries discussed major trends in education that are driving the adoption of technology, as well as the big challenges to effective implementation. This collaborative effort helps to paint a picture of where things stand now and where they might be going. This year NMC and CoSN have also put together a digital toolkit to help educators and policy leaders start conversations about these trends in their community, with the hope that some of the changes they see happening in pockets around the world will become more broadly accepted.

“It gives lots of way to facilitate activities at a PTA meeting, at a school board meeting or a local chamber of commerce,” said Keith Kruger, CEO of CoSN. “We’re hoping you don’t see the report as something you read once and file away, but that you start using it to really start stimulating conversation.”

nmc-trends

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How Robots in English Class Can Spark Empathy and Improve Writing

[In this Mindshift article students interact with the Sphero robots to develop stories. For the past two years I’ve worked with Birdbrain Technologies, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The Hummingbird, a robotics kit, developed at CMU’s CREATE Lab out of a project originally called “Robot Diaries.” In my early days of programming in the Logo language I had students create “Turtle Stories.” There’s definitely something engaging about robots that allows students to expand their literary skills while developing STEM skills at the same time. After I wrote this introduction, Seymour Papert, one of the creators of Logo died. Without the wisdom of Seymour Papert many educators like myself would never have discovered the power of computational thinking.]

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Mention robots to many English teachers and they’ll immediately point down the hall to the science classroom or to the makerspace, if they have one. At many schools, if there’s a robot at all, it’s located in a science or math classroom or is being built by an after-school robotics club. It’s not usually a fixture in English classrooms. But as teachers continue to work at finding new entry points to old material for their students, robots are proving to be a great interdisciplinary tool that builds collaboration and literacy skills.

“For someone like me who teaches literature by lots of dead white guys, teaching programming adds relevance to my class,” said Jessica Herring, a high school English teacher at Benton High School in Arkansas. Herring first experimented using Sphero, essentially a programmable ball, when her American literature class was studying the writing of early settlers. Herring pushed the desks back and drew a maze on the floor with tape representing the journey from Europe to the New World. Her students used class iPads and an introductory manually guided app to steer their Spheros through the maze.

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Collaborative Learning Spaces: Classrooms That Connect to the World

[I serve as the co-chair for the CoSN Emerging Technologies Committee. One of our future reports will look at Remaking Learning Spaces. Here’s an Edutopia article that outlines innovative ideas and technology to make those spaces more collaborative and global.]

October 16, 2015

Photo credit: Brad Flickinger via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Editor’s note: This post is co-authored by Fran Siracusa, co-founder of and educational technologist for Calliope Global.

As citizens of the world, students in today’s classrooms seek global contexts for learning. Opportunities for networked and international collaborations are bringing both the world to classrooms and classrooms to the world. With a focus on international standards of instruction, globally-minded programs inspire students to be curious through investigation and reflective in analysis of thought. These pathways lead to the development of cultural literacy by allowing students to examine issues of global significance through interconnected sharing of experience and exchange of ideas. Collaborative learning spaces empower students to work with each other and with students in classrooms of the world to assume multiple perspectives, explore alternative solutions, and thoughtfully solve problems.

By examining the landscape of the classroom, educators can design collaborative learning spaces that will support the teaching and learning of skills needed for the interconnected world of today and tomorrow. By seamlessly connecting pedagogy, technology, and space, teachers can create spaces that promote social learning and maximum engagement. These collaborative classrooms are alive with action — teaching, learning, innovating, creating, making, and exploring. Innovative learning spaces can encourage both individual and collective voices, and, through use of emerging technologies, they inspire students to become skillful curators of their digital worlds. Though there cannot be a single universal blueprint for designing a collaborative learning space, teachers can use the goal of global collaboration to inspire classroom design that allows for connected sharing and learning.

While there are many design ideas that could help drive this transformation, we suggest the following three as a starting point.

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