Archives For ties

Beijing High School to Join the Lake Conference? Well, not quite yet.
John Currie, Eagan-Apple Valley-Rosemount Schools

John Currie is superintendent in one of the largest school districts in Minnesota. He attended China recently on an official visit with a number of other education leaders. This talk is about his reflections on the experience.

Eight traits for world class schools from the Superintendents Forum:

  • There are many academic roads, but all are rigorous and all lead to higher education.
  • Educational investment starts early.
  • Learning takes as much time as it takes.
  • Great educators have great support.
  • Data and research affects teaching and learning every day.
  • Funding is predictable and sufficient to produce world class schools.
  • Services for students with special needs emphasize outcomes not processes.
  • Global citizenship is a core academic subject.

Tons of really cool photos and many points related to the traits mentioned above. (Way too many to type on the fly.) It’s clear from Superintendent Currie’s talk that there are many outstanding schools in China, but he points out, too, that there are many millions of kids in China that don’t attend school at all. We can admire the Chinese for their dedication to educating students to be globally competitive, but we have to remember that they have a long way to go to reach the universal access to public education that we’ve achieved here in the U.S.

ties, ties2006, education reform, china, education in china

Personal Computing In the Classroom and Beyond!
Jim Hirsch, Plano, TX

Jim is talking about how to reach every student in the classroom no matter how limited the technology resources might be. He says “the future is here already, it’s just not widely distributed yet.” I think that’s a Tim O’Reilly quote if I recall correctly.

Heroes still exist for our students and affect their outlook on solving problems. What are the heroes of students today? Jim’s point is that today’s heroes are often ensemble casts. That extends to teacher heroes. Collaboration—not just sharing—is the way in which our student expect to find information, solve problem and create new understandings.

The new generation of kids thinks about “personal computing” in a very different way. Maybe cell phones will be the 1-to-1 computing device of the future? Personal computing needs to extend beyond school to the mall, coffee shop, home, etc.

How do we engage students within the classroom? Jim is going to talk about things they’ve tried in Plano.

  • Some kind of large-screen display to engage kids in large group discussions. They use TVs in elementary school, but have LCD projectors in every secondary classroom.
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse that can be passed around to enable students to contribute to an activity that’s being projected.
  • Annotation software (they use Master Pointer) to make it possible to annotate on top of anything being displayed on the screen.
  • A personalized portal for each student and staff member with links to classroom resources and other communication tools. (I think Moodle can do much of what’s shown in the portal that they’re using.)
  • Tiny mobile computing devices including the myPad from M&A Technology. Also the Nintendo DS and software in the style of Brain Age.
  • Cell phones and wireless test administration. This is pretty wild. Check out
  • The Sony mylo is a handheld wi-fi device. It supports Skype and has Opera’s web browser too.
  • Jim showed us how you can use Google Docs and Spreadsheets on the Sony PSP and other Internet-enabled devices.

What a great set of tools Jim showed. Most teachers have no idea that things even exist. Personal computing is going to be getting much more personal very soon.

ties, ties2006, classroom technology

There doesn’t seem to be much blogging, podcasting, and tagging going on at this year’s TIES Conference. Scott McLeod put his lunch time session online in audio form. So far a Technorati search reveals a grand total of three different people who’ve tagged a blog post with the “ties2006” tag.

There are blogging and podcasting sessions throughout the conference schedule and yet no one is using the technology. I’m not sure how to make sense of this. We could have a whole parallel conference going on full of reflections on sessions, reactions to vendors, etc., but no one is showing up for that conference. Maybe next year.

ties, ties2006, blogging, podcasting, web2.0

What Role Do Our Beliefs Play in Using the Internet for Teaching and Learning?
Sara Greenhow, University of Minnesota

I love the title of this session. I’ve observed over and over again that teachers’ beliefs do affect how they use technology. I’ve talked to teachers who hold fundamental beliefs about the place of technology in society, classrooms, and students’ lives. When those beliefs run counter to the beliefs of students in the classroom, you get ineffective use of technology.

Teacher beliefs vs. teacher knowledge. We can know something, but not believe in it. Beliefs involve strong emotion and judgement and are, therefore, quite resistant to change. This is relevant to the adoption and use of technology. Beliefs often don’t find their way into practice. (See research of P. Ertmer, Technological Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration, ETRD)

So if so many teachers know that technology should be used, why hasn’t it made an impact? (Sara also mentioned Larry Cuban’s famous work on this topic.) One researcher found that high-order use of the Internet with students requires access + preparedness + constructivist beliefs. 81% of teachers have moderate-high computer access; 93% have Internet in the classroom (NCES, 2005). 85% feel they are somewhat well-prepared to use technology for classroom instruction (NCES, 2005). These survey results suggest that we’ve made significant progress on access and preparedness. So what about the beliefs? That’s the missing piece. We must understand, provoke, make explicit and help transition teachers’ beliefs about students’ learning, teaching, teacher learning, and technology’s potential.

Sara is talking now about “cyberinfrastructure for education,” the idea that we should have ubiquitous access to mentors, experts, virtual, augmented reality, content creation/distribution tools, and customizable personal platform for lifelong learning. (See more info at

What about the neomillenial learning styles? When given choices of multiple media, the majority of students do not prefer face-to-face communication as their first choice, but some other media. (Dede, et al., Designing and Studying Multiple Interactive Media to Bridge Distance and Time, 2003)

What does this mean for professional development?

  • The handshake-approach: Change practice first, back it up with data to show effect, gauge confidence. This approach is not for the most resistant folks, but rather for people who are open to change. Collect data from students about how they liked the different approach.
  • “Intuitive screens” approach: Simple tech uses + current goals (vs. new goals) = happy outcomes. Give them easy successes. This might work for the most resistant teachers.
  • Dialogue early and often: Target making preexisting beliefs explicit (public conversation) (about learning, teaching, technology, capacity for learning/change) For example… Do you think students can learn this way? How do you think students learned differently in that activity?
  • Challenge the adequacy of the existing beliefs. (Data and questioning)
  • Give extended opportunities to examine, elaborate, integrate new information.
    1. Vicarious experiences with supervising/mentor teacher (modeling)
    2. Provide multiple models to develop more nuanced ideas.
    3. Opportunity to try to emulate and get constructive critique (low-stakes simulations)
  • Make sure it is social, extended, and recognized over years!

This is one of the best sessions I’ve attended in a long time. The professional development approaches that Sara mentioned were really thought-provoking. I don’t want to sound too harsh, but how much longer do you think we need to keep trying to convince teachers to utilize the Internet (and technology more broadly)? When you take a serious look at how students use technology and the ways that technology has permeated the work world (and will only increase), doesn’t the debate really have to end at some point? Shouldn’t we be focusing on best practices instead of trying to convince to give technology a try?

Increasingly, I think the “prove to me that technology helps kids learn more” argument has outlived its usefulness. We live in a technological world, and I don’t think we should have to convince anyone anymore that we should learn in technological schools.

ties, ties2006, professional development

Here are links to all of the sites I’ll be mentioning in my talk at TIES on Tuesday.


Google Maps mashups

Technorati searching



ties, ties2006, web2.0

Mary Klauck, Amy Kretsch, Darrell Olson
Osseo Area Schools

Osseo has started an innovative program called the TICT Initiative (Technology Integration Collaborative Teachers). The presenters are using some really cool technology in their presentation. They’re using a Smartboard and Google Earth to take us on an aerial view of their district. They’re drawing on top of the Google Earth map with the Smartboard.

The TICT mission: Empowering a cadre of teachers who seamlessly integrate technology with District 270 curriculum to create a more interactive, student-centered, and visually engaging classroom to ensure learner success. The TICT initiative includes coaching and collaboration between the TICT teachers and the teachers who comprise the cadre, professional development, and technology hardware including an LCD projector, cart, and wireless keyboard/mouse. Math teachers also get a document camera.

The program is designed with a one-computer classroom model. The teacher’s computer becomes an instructional tool instead of merely and data entry terminal. The wireless keyboard and mouse can be passed around the room to promote interactivity. The presenters say that this approach promotes cooperative learning, focuses on existing curriculum, and engages multiple intelligences. I’m not familiar with the “one-computer classroom model.” I’ll have to see what that’s about. Doesn’t it seem like that’s a step back from 1-to-1? It’s about 30× cheaper of course.

About 180 teachers have participated in TICT cadres so far. Ninety more teachers will be added next year in Cadre III. Each cadre member has to fulfill certain requirements. There is a ton more information at the TICT webpage.

Some of the software tools the TICT program provides are Inspiration, InspireData, Atomic Learning, and United Streaming.

What’s the key technology at work here? It’s the LCD projectors. Almost none of what the Osseo team is doing would be possible without the projector that each TICT cadre member has available. This is consistent with what I’ve heard from other teachers in other districts. Having a projector available all day, every day enables all kinds of innovative instruction. I need to figure out how to make that happen in my district.

Milt Dougherty, The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

A solution only makes sense once you understand the problem.

Milt is a consultant at Milt Dougherty and Associates (and fellow ADE) who also works as a Superintendent in a small Kansas district.

The purpose of his talk is to convince us that the world has changed. That shouldn’t be too hard at a technology conference. Here’s a good example of a flattened world: the largest private employer in Afghanistan is a discount online retailer in Utah.

He points to the static nature of our school curriculum. In 1892 a group called the Committee of 10 at Harvard saw the need to establish a uniform curriculum in order to ensure that future Harvard students would be well prepared. We’ve still working with the same basic curriculum today.

In 1950, 80% of workers were classified as unskilled. In 2000, 85% of workers were classified as skilled. Is the grocery store checker who’s teaching customers to use the self-checkout aisle working herself out a job? Milt says that you can’t just take that checkout clerk and have him or her begin designing and building automatic checkout machines. Different jobs require different preparation.

What skills are required to work effectively in the 21st century? Thornburg says technological fluency, verbal proficiency, collaboration, solve complex problems, creativity, analytical and thinking skills, and gumption.

The curriculum of the past is an information curriculum. The curriculum of the future is a personal development curriculum. Leadership is the key ingredient to successful use of technology in school (Milt is referring to some research from CoSN).

ties, ties2006

The presenter for this session at the TIES Conference is James McLellan from Oak Park High School in Winnipeg. I attended a session that James presented a couple years ago and thought I would come to this one to see what’s new. Plus, with our 1-to-1 initiative I’m getting a lot more interest from teachers who want to get their students making short films.

James’s recommendations for teaching video content:

  • Classes should be balanced with theory and practice
  • Discovery learning should not be the major vehicle for receiving new information
  • Avoid shooting during school hours if possible. Class time is for teaching or editing.
  • Give lead time for students to shoot outside of class. Make sure students are planning for due dates and build in adequate time.
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