Archive for the ‘Current trends’ Category

Programming for Kindergarteners

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Department of Education in the United Kingdom last month announced plans to begin introducing “rigorous computer science” to all children from 5 to 14.

This touches on an interesting argument that has been all but ignored in many ed tech quarters – the dumbing down of technology in schools. Over the years, computer education moved from learning Fortran, Basic, and Pascal to a more ubiquitous ICT – Information Communications Technology. The thinking was that most students did not need to understand the workings of a computer, just how to use one.

Image courtesy of www.bethanyschool.org/

This move to engage students more directly and formally with computer programming dovetails well with movements in North America to include more programming at a very basic level using applications such as Scratch. It may be time to start teaching programming to our pre-service teachers. Not sure? Here is a recent headline from the British press:

‘Harmful’ ICT curriculum set to be dropped to make way for rigorous computer science

You might look at www.nextgenskills.com/ which has been pressing for this in Britain for over a year now.

iPad Schools

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

How are school teachers and administrators dealing with the preponderance of handheld devices used by their students? Since many students would like to use their devices in school, many school systems are developing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies about bringing one’s own device to school to use in the classroom. The BYOD situation presents many issues such as cross-operating system compatibilities, compatibility with software, hardware, security issues, network issues and so forth. Some students simply can’t afford the devices and some can afford better devices than others. Some schools dole out handheld devices such as laptops and tablets on carts for a period or two, with limited ability for the students because there are only so many to go around. One solution for these issues can be found developing in the Netherlands.

Starting in August 2013, 11 schools will open in the Netherlands based on Steve Jobs’ vision of transforming education using the iPad. Approximately 1,000 children from 4to 12 years old will attend the schools, without notebooks, books or backpacks. Each of them, however, will have his or her own iPad. There will be no blackboards, chalk or classrooms, homeroom teachers, formal classes, lesson plans, seating charts, pens, teachers teaching from the front of the room, schedules, parent-teacher meetings, grades, recess bells, fixed school days and school vacations. If a child would rather play on his or her iPad instead of learning, it will be okay. And the children will choose what they wish to learn based on what they happen to be curious about. For proponents of Constructivist education also known as student centered learning, this is just the type of learning program that fits their ideology. Many school systems in the US are embracing and attempting to implement Constructivism as well as designing a technology infused curriculum. Educators in the Netherlands, by way of Steve Jobs’ vision, may have found the solution.

Like the Constructivist model of individualized instruction, students will learn at their own pace by using iPad apps, with teachers serving as coaches to help them reach goals and advance to subsequent levels. Teachers, children, and parents meet to discuss goals for each six-week period, setting up standards to help students gain the knowledge and skills to move on to the next level. The schools will be open from 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s Day, with children free to come and go as they please as long as they are present during the core school day that runs from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM.

This is far from an experiment and can be viewed as an all-out movement, as Dutch researcher Maurice de Hond, the man behind the initiative, believes that the number of schools should grow to at least forty next year, with the schools being publicly funded and open to all children and subsidies available to families unable to afford an iPad. Will this be playing soon in a school system near me? Let’s hope so.

Online instruction, all the time

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

I graduated from Michigan State University with a grade-point average a shade above a 3.0.

I lived on campus my entire time as an MSU student and I really enjoyed living in East Lansing.

But I’m performing much better, grade-point wise, as a graduate student in the Eastern Michigan University Education Media and Technology online program. Sure, I don’t have as heavy a course load as I had as an undergrad, but I feel I am given more time to complete tasks. It also feels to me like I’m retaining more information that I will be able to use in the future.Since I started the EDMT online masters program in August 2011, I’ve often wondered why there hasn’t been a push for more online instruction at the high school level? I don’t think online instruction could be implemented at any lower level, simply because I believe children in grades K-8 are still developing other skills (social, motor, etc.).

But could online instruction work with high school students?

Feel free to leave your comments in the section below.

Stop Penalizing Boys for Not Being Able to Sit Still at School: Instead, help them channel their energy into productive tasks

Friday, June 21st, 2013
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While going through my email I came across a very interesting article in The Atlantic written by JESSICA LAHEY who is an English, Latin, and writing teacher in Lyme, New Hampshire. She writes about education and parenting for The New York Times and on her site, Coming of Age in the Middle. Ms. Lahey’s article is titled Stop Penalizing Boys for not Being Able to Sit Still at School: Instead, help them channel their energy into productive tasks.

As an educator who taught middle and high school and a parent of a high energy boy I found the article to be quite informative and in alignment with my thinking of how we should work with high energy boys in the classroom versus how they are too often dealt with (e.g., suspension, isolation, send them out of the room or just ignoring them).

How do you work with boys who can’t sit still in your classroom?

How receptive are teachers to learning and teaching new technologies?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I graduated high school in 1999.

My high school was far behind others in terms of implementing new technology. My high school didn’t have a computer lab until 1998. We didn’t have Internet access until winter 1999.

Teachers at my high school, Inkster High School — which at the time was one of the poorer districts in the state of Michigan — were not very receptive to teaching new concepts related to technology.

The one computer class offered at Inkster High at the time only taught the basics — where to position hands in front of a keyboard, words typed per minute, etc. That meant the instructors who taught the courses didn’t have to learn any new concepts.

I know professional development days are used now as a way for experts to educate teachers on new technology, such as new hardware and software, but how receptive are teachers to learning new forms of technology?

I’m not yet a teacher, but I would like to think I would enjoy the chance to learn new concepts. There are countless benefits in learning new things, such as maintaining your livelihood and making yourself more marketable.

My question is: how do teachers react to being made to learn new technology concepts? What are some of the motivations teachers have to learn new technology? Is it strictly about livelihood? Do teachers genuinely enjoy teaching and learning new concepts?

Feel free to answer those questions in the comments section.