Saturday, February 23, 2013

iPad Momentum

On friday Laurie and I presented at the Nebraska State Reading Association annual meeting in Kearney Nebraska. We were (as we find out) the bookends for a full line-up of iPad sessions. Presenting right after us were our colleagues at UNKearney have been experimenting with a campus-wide iPad implementation. They have reported that the campus has suggested dropping the program because implementation for many departments has been weak at best.

This is a lesson we seem to learn time and again. When we scale up from a small dedicated group of volunteer implementors to mandated large group we have to remember that motivation and support are key. This is the danger for all tablet (mainly iPad) implementation momentum. The iPad can serve as a catalyst for instructional change and enable students to do much more than they ever did. But for that there must be a change in the way we teach. If teaching stays the same, then the new devices like any other educational innovation will fall flat. The bottom line is that Tablets of all kinds are just tools (excellent ones at that), it is up to the user to use them well or not at all.

In many ways this is why I am continuing my video work on iPads in the Classroom. At the same time we are taking the "show" on the road to conferences and are working on a new book. Most importantly, we are continuing our research on iPads so we can evidence to back up what is possible using mobile technology in all classrooms. There is no iPad revolution instead iPads can fuel the next shift in teaching if we use them to change the nature of instruction.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Creativity in Teaching, Alchemy, and Technology?

One of my new colleagues Lauren Gatti has recently summarized her research interest as "The ways teachers are alchemizing a crappy curriculum". It is such an apt metaphor of what we do in teacher education- that I had to share. In alchemy early scientists tried to make gold out of lower metals, and we try to teach our teachers to make something out of top down often ridiculous mandates about content, delivery, and assessment.

The driving force in alchemizing I would argue is creativity. My reading and thinking about creativity has led me to think about creativity as a process and not a product. Bob Woody a colleague who has great insights about creativity has recently twitted this review of a working paper on creativity. At the heart of the argument is that creative minds are inquisitive, persistent, imaginative, collaborative, and disciplined. It occurred to me that while teaching creativity is an oblique idea, teaching these qualities is not just possible but in many ways is already happening. If we focus on process and not product we can help our peers, colleagues and students develop creative processes- the kind that can help them alchemize crappy curricula and directives into meaningful learning.

So what does technology has to do with this? Well, technology is not necessary for the process.You can alchemize without high-tech tools. Technology, however, provides a space and time to be creative and open horizons that are usually closed. I find that many of the more creative teachers I work with gravitate to technology because it provides them new, multi modal ways of being, thinking and alchemizing.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

You Tube for Professional Development: or what I Learned Making iPads in the Classroom

Friday I had a conversation with Dave Brooks a colleague and a friend. He is also the person who seems to be two steps ahead of me in his thinking. Well, a few steps ahead of most of us. My favorite example is MOOCs, that he has been running for 15+ years on his servers.

During our conversation he mentioned that he watched one of my iPads in the Classroom shows recently. I smiled, he said "how are planning you monetize it?" I looked back somewhat quizzically. He continued: "This is a new area you should write it up. Writing is how we academics monetize". I whole heartedly agreed.

So what have we learned making iPads in the Classroom?
Just do it- don't wait until you know what you're doing. The medium is new and the only way to move forward and create something meaningful is to try. Everything about the show has changed. It is shorter, snappier, easier to make.
Keep changing- listen to your audience and team and make changes that allow you to deliver a better PD product.
Learn from others. We are constantly looking at other outlets trying to see what may work for us. Our original model was "iPad Today". More recently we've been looking at "AppleBytes"
PD is unlike other media. Content and quality rule. This limits how much you can learn from other video outlets.
Persistence- perhaps the hardest thing is to keep producing. But viewership and feedback come only if you keep at it.

Simple I know but as more PD goes online it is important that we learn from each other!