Saturday, May 31, 2014

iPads in China- Excerpts from the Chinese media (loosely translated)

Working in China exposes the cultural differences AND the similarities of concerns. Despite all the concerns and challenges our project just won first prize in a National competition for Technology Integrated classroom. This is a great boost to our work and I am excited to continue.
I think that in the following excerpt from Chinese media in Chengdu you can see what concerns the Chinese public and how my comments are interpreted.

WCC: With the introduction of technology into traditional teaching, whiteboard, book bag, IPAD all applied to the classroom, how do you see the development proceeding? 
  Dr. Guy Trainin: Today's kids are exposed to smart phones, computers every day. Their parents and teachers are still from the 20th century. Without technology the teacher, the school can not meet the needs of 21st century child's development. So the idea of how we can use technology to help teachers to teach  21st century kids. 
  WCC: Chinese schools require the exam, how will students do on traditional exams? Do you have parental support? 
  Dr. Guy Trainin: In our classroom (with Du Yu as teacher) students have mastered more words, electronic production than other classrooms, their overall quality has improved significantly. Support from parents is not difficult to imagine, as long as parents to see the students really active and growing, parents will be supportive. 
  Today, young parents are more willing to accept new ways of education. If schools do nothing to change the direction, either to promote any new technology or method, students will not be ready to learn and work in the 21st century. Technology integration with our project TechEDGE has been practiced for several years in the United States, transfer to other countries with different national and cultural backgrounds, ideas differences, makes us need to find a new path to our ultimate goal and effect. 
Link to original story.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

iPads in Chengdu China

This spring I have sent Ji Guo to Chengdu to collaborate with the iPad classroom in a first grade.

His report seems to indicate that teachers are in the replacement and augmentation phases of technology integration. They very ably use iPad linked to projectors as agile white board applications for sharing content (through projection) and presenting.

At the same time we are seeing a few creation apps used to create videos that are then shared with peers. This is a huge development for all partners in the project. What we are having a harder time is having student discussions that include critical feedback. That said they are only first graders and they are busy creating video, writing, and sharing.

What is clearly emerging is that beyond the affordances of the specific technology, there is an overarching theme. Technology seems to create a non-trivial opportunity to transform instruction. This transformation is not just about technology integration (although it is also about that), it is about student centered, differentiated practices that focus on engagement, participation and creation. The question that still remains is what impact it will have on more traditional measures of achievement.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Technology, Creativity, and Windows of Opportunity

At another academic year's end I have much to reflect on so this post is the first of a few that will try to help me think through and share what I've been doing. Throughout my research, visits to schools and teaching I have a growing sense that we are truly at a crossroads. Technology is becoming ubiquitous and schools are embracing it. The working assumption of many early technology integration leaders was that technology will help open learning up. It will help teachers individualize instruction and students to learn independently and follow their own learning paths.
This option is still open but at the same time a second option opened. Technology in schools can be used as a top down delivery of curriculum and assessment that would stymie any creativity from teachers and as a result students. As I watch school districts I see both trends happen. Larger districts tend to be top down using technology to deliver content and increase centralized control. Smaller more agile districts tend to be more open to diverse practices. This week I visited Aurora Public Schools and saw some of that agility. Teachers were creating their own assignments, thinking through steps and allowing their students to do the same.
I believe that we have a window of opportunity, the call for 21st century skills may be enough to make sure that the top down approach does not win. For that we have to act, lead and show the options. In teacher education we must make sure that our future teachers are ready to use technology in ways that will promote creativity. We need to make sure that young teachers joining schools that are often called on to lead technology integration are ready.