6 Emerging Technologies Supporting Personalized Learning

This a follow up to 4 Iowa Schools Getting Personalized Learning Right.

Dee Lanier, an amazing and inspiring educator, has recently challenged my thinking about how important it is to “vet” the technology I am using. Educators, administrators and technology directors/coordinators should be fastidious about what programs they are purchasing and supporting for use in their institutions. What does this mean? There needs to be serious reflection and many conversations before clicking “purchase.” A superb resource for technology evaluation and reflection is TRUDACOT, a discussion protocol intended to help facilitate educator conversations about deeper learning, student agency, authentic work, and technology integration (credit to the creators, who–full disclosure–are dear friends and previous colleagues Scott McLeod & Julie Graber). When vetting school or classroom technology, there are many key factors (see this great podcast series on designing pilot programs for EdTech and personalized learning). As a starting point, here are three questions you must consider:

  1. Does the technology overshadow, mask, or otherwise draw the focus away from important learning?
  2. Does the technology add value so that students can do their work in better or different ways?
  3. Are digital technologies utilized by students in both appropriate and empowering ways?

If your answers are “no,” “yes,” and “yes,” you’re off to a great start. Below are a few technology platforms that I support wholeheartedly, which tick each box above. My considerations are usually focused around a few questions. I like to ask: How does this tool lower the floor for young, emerging learners? Can the roof be raised easily for our high-flyers? What is the potential for personalization?

6 Tech Tools to Support Personalized Learning

  • Seesaw: A student-driven digital portfolio that documents student learning with built-in creative tools and provides an authentic audience for student work.
  • Soundtrap: A cloud-based recording studio that harnesses critical thinking and communication skills through collaborative, creative audio recording projects and bridges the necessary skills for preparing our 21st century learners for a global, connected world.
  • WeVideo: A cloud-based video editing and digital storytelling platform.
  • ExplainEverything: A cloud collaboration platform built on the learning technology of tomorrow that helps students and teachers tell their unique story.
  • Code.org: Their vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. They provide open-ended programs, tutorials, and full curriculum to support this cause.
  • Minecraft: Empowers unique and creative learning experiences for educators and students by providing an open-world game which promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination.

How do we get there?

In my previous post, I discussed four rural Iowa schools doing personalized learning right. How do schools who may be dozens or even hundreds of miles away from the nearest music store or science center implement technology with such expertise? For one, rural schools and communities are usually strong and tight-knit. There are close relationships that can be tapped into for support. These relationships can help reinforce personalized learning models in their schools. According to A Guidebook for Success: Strategies for Implementing Personalized Learning in Rural Schools, personalized learning is essential for rural schools because it “provides opportunities for students that often are not available in many rural districts. With its focus on individual learning and the use of emerging technologies, personalized learning helps to transcend many of the limitations confronting rural students, such as geography and limited course opportunity and access.”

Yes! Bingo.

Ok, now that we know what successful personalized learning looks like in schools and we understand the urgency of providing these opportunities to our learners, we need to start the engine. Future Ready Schools has a great guidebook designed just for this process which has a 5 step planning process and focuses on these categories (keep in mind this is geared for district-wide adoption):

  1. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment: Teachers customize instruction, content, and assessment on a student-to-student basis to ensure mastery.
  2. Personalized Professional Learning: Through technology and digital learning, educators access professional resources and learning opportunities that can lead to improvements in their students’ academic success.
  3. Budget and Resources: Districts align their budgets with personalized learning priorities including ongoing support for quality technology and infrastructure.
  4. Community Partnerships: Schools and districts partner with local businesses and industries to advance the school’s learning goals.
  5. Data and Privacy: Districts and schools establish policies and procedures for collecting, analyzing, storing, and reporting student data that ensure student privacy and data security.
  6. Robust Infrastructure: Teachers embrace technology and online platforms to access tools, resources, data, and systems necessary to tailor student learning.
  7. Use of Space and Time: Through technology and a new approach to classroom structure, teachers and schools leverage in-school and out-of-school time to meet the needs of individual learners.

These steps are intense but imperative to shift teaching and learning for our students’ global success. Let’s roll up our sleeves and start this important work!

This was originally posted by Getting Smart.

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4 Benefits of Classroom Podcasting and 4 Ideas to Try Today

“In humans, as in songbirds, the sounds produced by the individuals are essential for normal vocal development.” – Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2000

Podcasts…the not-so-latest buzzword going around in education circles. This is an exciting medium for adding to our teaching toolkit but, as educators, we of course benefit from taking a thoughtful approach. There are many rich reasons why we should integrate audio recording, including podcasts, into the classroom. My suggestion? Get some great implementation ideas from your peers and then, by all means, JUMP!

4 Student Benefits to Understand

When you understand some of the powerful ways audio recording in the classroom can benefit student learning, it will be easy to make a strong case to your administrators, your peers, and, not least of all, to yourself! There are numerous tools that make podcasting and media-making simple for teacher and student alike, but using technology without understanding the specific student needs in play, and why it effectively addresses them, isn’t strategic. Here are some of the important student benefits that are helpful for each of us to understand, to look out for when evaluating our use of recorded audio in the classroom, and to be able to explain to others:

  1. Clarification and Confidence – As your learners listen closely to their tone, learn to include appropriate pauses, and master their speaking through repetition, they will clarify their personal voice and become more confident speakers.
  2. Reflection and Discussion – Working with recorded audio offers students an alternative place and space to reflect on their thinking and engage in candid discussions about their work. These discussions lead students toward the opportunity to construct new and improved ideas.
  3. Read, Revise, Practice, and Present – When your learners record themselves reading their writing, it gives them a new perspective on the written word and an alternative method for revision. Further, as students read and revise their writing, they are engaging in much-needed practice before making the oral presentation to peers. The combination of writing and presenting is authentic practice for what students will have to master when they enter higher education and the workforce.
  4. Assessment Minus Anxiety – If the task at hand is to assess our learners’ understanding, rather than their writing, we can now lower their blood pressure by giving them an alternative space to explain themselves that doesn’t include worrying about spelling errors or sentence structure.

6 Phases of Incorporating Audio Recording

A while back I came across integration coach Corey Holmer’s presentation “Broadcasting Your Story: Podcasting with Chromebooks” and was immediately a) inspired, b) grateful for the work he had already done, and c) excited to share with my teaching peers. He very simply breaks down the podcasting process into six phases for teachers who are interested in incorporating audio recording in the classroom:

  1. Goal Determination
  2. Scripting
  3. Software Acclimation
  4. Planning & Implementing Recording
  5. Editing
  6. Publishing

In addition to explaining each of the steps in detail, Holmer also provided his audience a Podcasting Project Guide. Although this was originally created for a workshop session of educators, it can be easily adapted for any classroom. Even if you have little or no personal experience with podcast creation in the classroom, no problem – I find Mr. Holmer’s explanation easy to understand and a fantastic place to start!

4 Ideas (And Many More) to Try Now!

Need more inspiration on audio recording ideas? Check out the classroom projects, lesson plans and ideas I have compiled here from various educators across the globe. Here are just some of my favorites:

  1. Use podcasts in conjunction with Google Tour Builder to create virtual field trips with student recorded tour guide voice overs.
  2. Build an original soundtrack that compliments the rising action, climax, and resolution of a novel.
  3. Create a “day in the life” documentary that describes the sights, sounds and activities in an ancient metropolis.
  4. On a field trip, students use a voice recorder, such as the one available through the Soundtrap app, to take notes and a digital camera to take photos.

This was published by ASCD and cross-posted here: http://inservice.ascd.org/4-benefits-of-classroom-podcasting-and-4-ideas-to-try-today/.

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Connecting the Dead & Avoiding Butter Bone….Thank You Technology

Some people (ok, most people) might not know that I have an unusual interest in archaeology. This obsession started when I was a young child while reading a book on ancient Egypt…I felt a connection to the characters in the story more than I had with any other book. This motivated me to read more on the topic and research Egypt. At one time, I even vowed to pursue Egyptology as a possible profession. However, the extent of my formal Egyptology studies was one Level 400 college course on the History of Ancient Egypt (my only non-A grade on my transcript…yeah, I don’t want to talk about that, wink.)

Fast forward a couple of decades, life happens and I now feed my interest once a month when my Archaeology magazine arrives in the mail. Reading those magazines cover-to-cover is a highlight of my month. This past issue I had two reflective moments whilst reading completely different stories in the May/June issue, both of which relate to the role technology played. I have summarized below:

After the Battle of Dunbar: Legacy of a Lost Scottish Army” When researchers concluded that the recently-uncovered mass grave in Durham, England held the remains of the soldiers of The Battle of Dunbar (an amazing story of fighting, death and survival) they were surprised by the increase in online traffic from hits on America’s eastern seaboard.  The influx was coming from Battle of Dunbar survivors! Motivated by this, a number of the aforementioned researchers traveled to New England and thus presented their findings to a packed room of descendants who were VERY interested in finding out more information and meeting others of the same ilk. The researchers connected these people through their information and presentations.  What I found extremely interesting was the decision to present based on heightened online traffic from a particular area! It does leave me asking a lot of questions (which is always good!) and wondering how this technology can/will influence education. Are we teaching our students to use tools to be collaborative and make connections using technology? Are we inspiring our young learners to think big-picture? To critically think through real-world problems and find solutions? At this time, I don’t know.

 

I continued reading through the issue and found another awe-inspiring article. This one was entitled “The Ghosts of Kangeq: The Race to Save Greenland’s Arctic Coastal Heritage From a Shifting Climate.” Kangeq, a settlement in southwestern Greenland, hosts a layered index of human occupation that covers at least two millennia. Fluctuating weather patterns are melting the permafrost and accelerating natural decomposition. This means a plethora of amazing items found in these midden sites (preserved wood, bones, feathers, baleen, antlers, leather, fur, human hair) will soon turn to mush, or as archaeologists refer to it: “butter bone.” Greenland’s current capacity for managing archaeological sites is limited as the coastline alone stretches over 27,000 miles.  Although archaeological teams will tend to the sites that are identified the most vulnerable, they will still need help to cover ground and acquire pertinent information. The plan is to tap into local expertise and crowdsource the information. “Modern Greenlanders are frequently very familiar with changes to their hunting and fishing grounds from year to year, and we want to figure out a way to capitalize on this local knowledge,” states Bo Albrechtsen, Deputy Director of the Greenland National Museum. This will most likely take the form of a mobile app to document and record important information on threats to coastal archaeological sites. The sum is greater than its parts. I love it. And in regards to school and education (as I like to put that lens on just about everything I do and read)….the teacher doesn’t hold the knowledge, the students do.

Image credits:
www.flickr.com/photos/thenationalmuseumofdenmark/11815294835
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cromwell_at_Dunbar_Andrew_Carrick_Gow.jpg

 

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In Sync With Soundtrap

How is it possible that I haven’t blogged about Soundtrap yet?! Anyone that personally knows me will understand the ridiculousness of this fact.  I’m here to remedy this absolute travesty. 🙂


Soundtrap was first created by musicians for musicians in Stockholm, Sweden circa 2012. Increased classroom practices using this DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) has now transcended to all content areas, abilities and locations….what is this and why would we be using it in schools?!  Soundtrap is an easy-to-use, online recording studio that can be used across any device to create audio without the necessity of being in the same physical space as your collaborator(s). No more anechoic rooms, mixing consoles, orientation
sessions or booking appointments.

That’s all fine and good for musicians and music producers, but what about this “across-content” classroom business I spoke of earlier that is influencing our schools at exponential rates in 2017?  Now that Soundtrap has put these once-complicated, hard-to-obtain tools in the hands of babes, babes can now benefit for the first time – from their phones, Chromebooks, computers or tablets.  And those same babes can create in minutes (it’s that easy!) and invite other babes (from other schools, states, countries!) to collaborate on their project – in real, friggin’ time. I know, it’s incredible.

Basically this is a Google Doc for audio recording.  It has never been done and is now being done beautifully by Soundtrap.

What does this mean for our schools?

  • School districts can now connect and create with other school districts. Think about how impactful this could be to our rural districts.
  • Students can keep creating outside of the 45-minute class period – on their own phone or at home…as long as they have an internet connection. Heck, they could even work on their project from their dentist’s computer if it was online (and said dentist was ok with their computer being hijacked:-)
  • Budding musicians and music producers now have access to a very robust platform, bridging the gap between secondary and post-secondary school programs which will continue to cultivate their passions through school.
  • Speech Language Pathologists have an easy-to-use tool to capture and archive student progress, as well as have an opportunity to invite parents and teachers to access their audio growth portfolio.
  • Foreign language teachers have a slick way of recording their voice (or student’s voice) and inviting collaborators to add comments and/or edit in real time or asynchronously.
  • Countless uses in music classrooms…rehearsal recordings to evaluate and reflect on, practice tool using accompaniments, audition recordings, composition projects, playing assessments, etc.
  • Interviews, podcasts, commercials….the list just keeps going on.


Soundtrap is about all about creating and connecting.  It is simple yet monumental, and this is the time to take hold and experience.  The most recent
NMC/CoSN Report: 2016 K-12 Edition, which examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in schools, understands the importance.  This report charts the horizon for emerging technologies in school communities across the globe by an organization that has the world’s longest-running exploration of technology trends in education.  One major mid-term trend from this report that focuses on driving EdTech adoption in the next 3-5 years…..yep, you called it: Collaborative Learning.  This social construct places the learner at the center, encourages interaction, group work and develops solutions to actual, real-world problems.

When applied in the spirit of deeper collaboration, technology can unite students around big ideas and projects, while integrating web-based resources that will expand their learning. Digital tools are fundamental ingredients in the facilitation of collaborative learning approaches, offering platforms for communication and activities in synchronous as well as asynchronous environments. Cloud computing has been particularly lauded for its role in bolstering collaboration as it instills unlimited potential for teacher, student, and parent communication.  People can easily access and share learning materials with each other, making updates in real time….[encouraging] increased student achievement, discussion, confidence, and active learning. (NMC/CoSN Horizon Report, 2016, p. 12)

There it is.

And that, my dear friends, is why I shout Soundtrap from the rooftops.  


This post was republished by EdCircuit on 1.12.17

NMC/CoSN Horizon Report. (2016). 2016 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from https://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-cosn-horizon-report-2016-k-12-edition/

 

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