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.

Continue Reading

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

 

Continue Reading