Thursday, August 19, 2010

Millenials: They Have Different Learning Needs                   
In the UNI workshop on our Liberal Arts Core, I mentioned the need for educators to consider our students' needs and address them - not the other way around. 
 At UNI the average undergraduate student is 21 years old. This places this audience right in the middle of the Millennial Generation. 
Don Tapscott completed $4 million worth of research into the millennial generation and shared his results in his book, Grown Up Digital.   Many of the attendees of this workshop asked me for the citation so I am placing it on here on my blog.  This is a quick and easy post and I will write more in-depth  at a later date, but here are some links to his books and YouTube videos.

I will be adding additional resources in the near future.

What is your opinion about the needs of millennials?  Is it a valid issue or should we ignore it and make our students learn how to adapt to our teaching styles?

Can you add additional resources in your comment?  Click Comments link below.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teacher Education: USING technology is Not Enough, MODEL it.

How do teacher educators use technology?

Many of faculty use the BlackBoard content management system for posting grades, emailing their students, providing copies of their PowerPoint presentations and provide assignment pages for students to better understand what is expected in class.

They are USING technology but how are they updating their students' (future teachers) ideas about what learning opportunities can be made possible using technology? How will these future teachers teach differently than they would have because of this technology application? 

The Apple Classroom of Tomorrow research yielded the 5 Stages of Teaching with Technology. These 5 stages include:
  1. Entry - Teachers learn to use a new technology.
  2. Adoption - Teachers use technology to support traditional instruction.
  3. Adaptation - Teachers integrate new technology into traditional classroom practice.
  4. Appropriation - Teachers focus on cooperative, project-based and interdisciplinary work - incorporating technology as needed and one of many tools.
  5. Invention - Teachers discover new uses for technology tools and allow student to select between the tools.
The applications listed above fit into the Adoption mode of these 5 stages. This does not foster change. We MUST look beyond adopting technology into our curricula. We need to MODEL using technology to provide participatory learning activities in our classes. This requires at working at least at the Adaptation level.

I recently shared a social media video, Social Media Revolution 2, with my colleagues. That email was the inspiration of this posting. (I will specifically address this video in a later posting.) It shares the dramatic changes that social media is creating in our world and underlines how we need to integrate social media into our educational curriculum. 

One of my colleagues suggested that CMS programs like Blackboard will allow us to "mimic some social media but have the advantage of a controlled environment." This is true. Blackboard provides chatrooms, areas for discussion and places to post podcasts or other links to the web. But are they being used in ways that foster student-centered learning? Will their teacher candidates use these learning experiences as a model for creating stimulating activities for the future students?

One of my colleagues pointed out that some people JUST MODEL technology and never integrate the technology into the teaching/learning process.

The most important aspect of using technology in teacher education is modeling new methods for learning that will mold the teacher candidates' perspective on teaching.
What do you think?



Monday, August 09, 2010

Is Teacher Education Addressing the Needs of Future Teachers?

How do we effect change in our schools if our Teacher Education programs just keep doing more of the same? We talk about changing the learning environments of our schools, but where is the paradigm changing in our Teacher Education institutions?  A new set of standards (INTASC) are being released to guide teacher education programs, but will it make difference?
Teachers tend to teach the way they were taught. Learning experiences will have a greater effect on a teacher's teaching style than all the textbooks in the world. We can't fully appreciate a different learning experience unless we personally experience that experience. New teachers won't teach differently in their classrooms unless they have learned in a different manner and found it to be a positive experience. In short, we won't see change in our schools until we change how we prepare new teachers.
Last week I attended the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) conference in Des Moines as a representative of our Iowa Technology and Education Connection (ITEC) organization.  I spoke with scores of administrators who told me that they are in the process of exploring and/or implementing a  1-to-1 computer learning environment. When I asked them how they were going to change their curriculum and pedagogical strategies so that the technology-enriched environment would actually make a change in how their students learned, most of them chuckled and said "We're still trying to figure that out."
Technology doesn't make the difference.  It provides the opportunities for education to be different. It is truly the teaching/learning strategies that make the difference.  But if we haven't defined the teachers' knowledge, skills and attitudes that are needed to successfully support a different technology-enriched learning environment, how can we provide a preservice teaching program to address these needs?
A Teacher Education program needs to identify what skills and tools need to be mastered to effectively work in a 1-to-1 learning environment and then they need to teach/use those methods in the classes they teach.  It's as simple as that.
I made a drastic change in the way I taught my Emerging Instructional Technology course this summer.  I have spoken on it at ISTE '10, but haven't blogged on it yet. It changed the way I plan to teach all of my courses and such an insight into how learning can be different is something that all teacher education professors should acquire.
This posting is part of the ongoing self-inquiry I am going through to become a better teacher. You might remember my first posting, How Do I Move to an Inquiry-Based Form of Teaching/Learning?
What are your ideas about this?  Do you know a source for finding/identifying the necessary knowledge/skills/attitudes/tools for optimizing a technology-rich learning environment?
What do you think?


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Backchanneling in 1st Grade?

Backchanneling is a process where students converse in an online chatroom, usually while listening to a lecture or watching a multimedia presentation of some sort. We have been using backchanneling with our university students at the University of Northern Iowa. Rob Galloway talks about this on his blog. We have been using CoverItLive to allow our students to discuss what is happening in a 200-person lecture.  It has been quite effective.
Imagine my surprise when I saw Cyndi Danner-Kuhn's discussion of back channeling It appears that she hasn't actually done it yet, but referred to a couple of teachers who have used backchanneling in their elementary classrooms.
The first one is by "A First Grade Teacher" (I will refer to "her" as AFGT since I can't find his/her name anywhere) who tells of using TodaysMeet as a backchannel for his/her 1st graders. The initial experience was almost accidental. She used the chat room as a brainstorming exercise and it was a huge success. Later, she had her students chat while watching an online presentation about teaching with technology. The adults involved in the process were backchanneling too, and AFGT compared the structure of the chat logs of the two age groups.  The fascinating part was the similarity that she found between the structure of the discussions of the two groups. "Both groups started out with greetings, shared many of the same concerns, and even interjected with some light-hearted exchanges between on-task discussions. "
I would like to see the chat logs of AFGT's students.  It would be interesting to review their lines of thought and how they expressed it.  I have asked AFGT to share them, but haven't heard back yet.  (on 8/19/10, Aviva (AFGT's real name) sent me a link to the chat log.  Quite interesting. You should check out her comment below.)
The other example was from Sylvia Tolisano and how she used back channeling with a 5th grade class. I am a big fan of Sylvia's. She is an extremely innovative educator. The difference between her posting and AFGT's is that Sylvia is quite descriptive about the steps she took and the results she observed. The teacher she was helping wanted her students to use the backchannel as a way to review questions for a social science test. This is a completely different circumstance than AFGT. The teacher asked a question and all of the students could answer at the same time. Interestingly enough, the students did quite well on their tests.  Here is a comment from Mrs. Z (no relation) "I am totally amazed.  The kids took their Social Studies test on Friday and I have never seen such good papers!  I am convinced the back channeling was a major factor."
I have never used TodaysMeet but it looks like the kind of tool I would want to use in the classroom. It is easy to set up. The discussion room can exist from 2 hours to 1 year.  It can even integrate Tweets using a specified #hashtag. It isn't as functional as CoverItLive, but sometimes we don't need all of that.
What do you use?  Is 1st grade too young to backchannel?  If you aren't using backchanneling now, how do you think that you could integrate it into your class?