COETAIL, Course 4

A short answer & a long one too

Will education as we know it change because of technology?

Short answer. Yes, ABSOLUTELY. (I really enjoyed the way Rebekah put it.)

Longer answer. It might be slow and it might be painful but education SHOULD change because of technology. The students that are coming to schools now live in a different world than students 20, 30 or 100 years ago. If students are changing but school isn’t, we have a problem.

As I discussed way back in Course 1, my favorite uses of technology are connecting and collaborating. You might have also seen my pleas for collaboration and input that I occasionally post on this blog. Technology allows us to truly make the world flat so that we can learn from anyone, anywhere. My ideal classroom of the future would follow a curriculum in which students learn both content and skills. Instead of being confined to only working with and learning from others in the classroom, students would be able to collaborate with students (and experts) around the world. Truly interdisciplinary units would allow connections and collaboration without thought to time or space. This isn’t to say that teachers should be a thing of the past or that MOOCs should come to K-12 education. I envision an education system where Flat Connections and Web 3.0 are the norm, not something special that costs educators money.

A word about MOOCs. When they are defined like this and are not simply online classes, I think they sound pretty cool. Thousands of free courses to choose from at top universities around the world? Sounds great. A bunch of adults who are intrinsically motivated to learn, who do all the work for the course with no real extrinsic reward at the end? Wow. Like I said, I’m not really into flipping the classroom…for K-12 education. But at the higher-education level where many classes are lecture based anyway, maybe reverse instruction can work. And in MOOCs where adults are choosing to take the class and do all the work associated simply because they want to learn something and connect to others who want to learn the same thing…sounds pretty fantabulous to me. BUT…how do we translate THAT to public education? MOOCs should not be simply be adopted by K-12 institutions. But MOOCs have a few things figured out (like intrinsic motivation). So how do we learn from them in order to make K-12 education better? One idea is the OPEN piece. If we make leadership, educators and school more open…what would happen?

I don’t have all the answers…how do you think we can translate MOOCs to K-12 ed?


Connect to ES #music classes!

Our elementary music teachers have started a blog in order to connect classrooms around the world. I LOVE it! If I haven’t mentioned it before, my favorite use of technology is the connections it allows. I had no hand in the idea for this blog and I’m so proud of our teachers for their initiative and drive. As an IB World school, this is a great opportunity for students to become open-minded, inquirers and communicators.

From their About page:

This blog is an attempt to connect music classrooms all around the world, with the overarching goal of helping students realize that they have something in common with students all over the world. This is a place for questions to be asked and answered, performances shared, and music to be celebrated!

They have had 3 posts from other schools so far and are hoping for many more! If you’re interested in participating (or want more information), email Nick & Stacey. The blog is currently private to protect students’ identities.


COETAIL, Course 2

Social Media Usage: An Analysis

@brockuniversity Social Media

Many connected educators talk and blog about the stages of Twitter and PLN adoption (even I mentioned it). But have you ever taken a second to analyze how and why you use social media both personally and professionally?

If I look at my Twitter account (professional), I tweet out a lot of articles. I’ve tried really hard to start including a short thought so that the tweet isn’t so sterile. I then add the title of the article, the link, a relevant #hashtag (or two) and the SOURCE. If the person is on Twitter, I find & use their handle. If the person isn’t on Twitter (rare), I include their name. Here is a sampling of what I’ve shared lately:

Twitter pt. 2
I also use Twitter when I’m at conferences to share what I’m learning from the workshops and keynotes I attend. In this case, I include the quote, the SOURCE and a #hashtag (or two). Here are a few from #NESA_SEC in April:

If the person doesn’t have Twitter, I still use their name:

My Facebook use is 99% personal. However even there I tend to focus on sharing. Of my last 10 posts: 4 were stories/statements (I tagged someone else in every one), 2 were photos (I tagged friends in both), 3 were links/videos relevant to my friends, and 1 was a request for input for my little brother’s college project on Dubai.

Key Word(s)?
If I look at my overall usage of social media (I could also include Instagram, Linked In, Google+my professional blog, Pinterest and our travel blog), I tend to focus on sharing and connecting. I don’t share things just to share – I share them to connect to other people. Hyperlinks and social media have made this possible. This is not how I began using Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2010) however. My progression to zen with social media has been years in the making. And I still struggle with whether I should keep my accounts private (Facebook, Instagram) or public (the rest).

What does your social media usage look like? How do you decide when you should (or shouldn’t) post something and where you’re going to post it (I wish I could remember where I found that link!)? The demographics of social media use are incredibly intersting. What type of social media user are you??

[Thank you to Chelsea for helping me re-find those last two links! Social media IS all about connections ;)]

Professional Development


I’ll be back to regularly scheduled COETAIL posts this week (promise!), but I wanted to take a post to thank everyone that saw my pleas for collaboration last week and helped out! I love having a quality PLN 🙂

In case you’re interested, I just blogged about our weekend in Dubai at the GAFE Summit. I also included the resources from my presentation.

Merci bien et à bientot!

Professional Development

Come collaborate with us! #coetail #gafesummit #langchat

I’m in Dubai getting geared up to present at the Middle East GAFE Summit! I’ll be presenting Conjugating Google Apps in a World Language Classroom after the keynote this afternoon. I’d love to do some collaborating during the session with Google Docs. If you’re free between 5:30am & 6:30am EST and you have a minute, please read & comment on this article! Don’t forget to leave your info :)If you aren’t available live, no worries! Leave your info and some comments so we can see the power of global collaboration with GAFE! Merci!

COETAIL, course 1

It’s about time…

I’ve been a little uninspired lately. I’ve been trying to figure out what my Technology Coach position actually looks like (it’s a brand new position this year). We’ve spent most of this year going with the flow of our “1:1” iPad program (it’s quite far from 1:1 and we’ve had several stumbling blocks). Most of the PD we’ve offered at our school has been app specific. Teachers want to know how to incorporate the iPad into their lessons and the questions usually ends up being “What’s the best app for xyz?” or “What can I do with this new app?” This kind of technology integration has never been my style…but I’ve gotten sucked in and am now dealing with the consequences. It seems that much of our staff see integrating technology as “How can I use the iPad?” and view it as an extra, something special. I don’t blame them as (it seems that) this is how the majority of educators worldwide view technology.

Last week I’d had enough and decided we needed to re-focus on how we are integrating technology. I wanted to (finally) introduce SAMR. I had a great brainstorming session with Christina, read some great blog posts (more on that later) and was inspired…ready to get moving, shaking and changing!

The SAMR PD plan (just an idea right now)…

1. Share this article with all staff and ask them to read it prior to coming to PD.
2. Spend 20 minutes introducing SAMR in the elementary and high school divisional meetings and the middle school grade-level meetings. (Idea: In groups ask them to come up with everything they know about SAMR – prior knowledge, info from NASSP article, Google searches, etc. Come together and share out about it. Would love to use Jeff‘s circular SAMR visual. Give them division specific examples of what SAMR looks like in the classroom, making sure they align with the IB philosophy. In closing, ask teachers to brainstorm how they have/could integrate(d) technology at the SUBSTITUTION level for our next meeting.)
3. Spend time in the MS/HS department meetings and the ES grade level meetings (small group). Ask teachers to share how they have integrated technology at the substitution level. Lead a brainstorm/workshop session for how they could start transforming their lessons.
4. Start weekly (bi-weekly?) PD sessions for all staff focusing on technology integration through the lens of SAMR. Example: A workshop on what formative assessment looks like at the 4 SAMR stages. What might that then look like using an iPad? A laptop? Some other session topic ideas: summative assessment, projects, etc. The goal would be to make the curriculum the focus, NOT the technology.

We’ve gotten the okay to introduce SAMR to the middle and elementary schools next week. The rest is still a work in progress. This school year has been a work in progress. I’m excited to move forward and see some transformation of the education at our school.

I would love any ideas for my above plan. Have you introduced SAMR to your staff? Have you ever been in a PD workshop about SAMR? How can I best get my staff to move away from ‘there’s an app for that’ to redefining their lessons?

COETAIL, course 1

Passionate About Collaboration

When my husband convinced me to join Twitter in May of 2010, I didn’t know the opportunities for collaboration that it would provide me. I started as a lurker and was astonished by how many educational resources were being tweeted about on a daily basis. In August of 2011 I decided to become a contributor – I started my blog and was actively looking for a French class to connect with my class. I found @freddav our adventures began! From connecting with teachers on my Twitter account to connecting students using class accounts, the last couple years have been extremely rewarding.

As I’ve transitioned from being in the classroom and in control of my lessons to my role as a technology coach, collaboration has continued to be my favorite form of technology integration. I saw how tweeting with students halfway across the world affected my students and I believe that education would be much more meaningful if all students could have those experiences on a regular basis. Connecting students to each other is just the beginning – Skype Classroom has also been working to connect classrooms to experts around the world. Every time I read about ideas to make collaboration easier, I get excited about the future.

As I was reading World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others by Will Richardson, I almost made my neck sore from all my nodding along. There are an incredible number of challenges when putting technology in the hands of kids and letting them communicate with others in the name of education. However if students are given the right tools and skills, the educational value is infinite. Through collaboration, we can “bring the world” into our classrooms. Student learning is no longer confined to the four walls of their classroom.  Wow! Talk about education reform!

The opportunity to control my own collaboration and classroom exchanges is almost enough to entice me back into the classroom. Instead, I hope to be able to have an effect on many more teachers and students. Like Will Richardson, I believe we’re in the ‘Collaboration Age’ and it’s our job as educators to harness this powerful tool for the good of students worldwide.