Social Media Isn’t a New ‘Problem’

An AISQ8 student approached us to contribute articles for his teenage handbook. It wasn’t until later that I put 2 & 2 together to realize that he was an MYP 5 student and this handbook was part of his MYP Personal Project. I love it when their projects are unique an relevant.

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Printer

At first I wasn’t sure what to write and waited until the last minute to start writing. His questions helped guide me and I ended up enjoying reflecting and writing.

Please answer the following questions:

  • What are your personal experiences with bullying during your upbringing/coming of age?
  • Do you find technology a “great escape” to relieve yourself from anxiety and stress?
  • How can information technology cause teenage issues?
  • How can information technology alleviate teenage issues?
  • What is the impact of integrating information technology in school subjects?
  • Should technology be used as a source of education despite its harms?

I was in 7th grade when AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) was released. Social media was basically invented during my teenage years. But no one quite understood its power or how it might affect our well-being. It hadn’t been around long enough for teachers or parents to know that it added a new dynamic to our already complicated teenage lives. Creating fake accounts was easy. Bullying a former friend anonymously wasn’t difficult. And, while I think we knew it was wrong, cyber-bullying wasn’t a topic that was discussed yet. I was not always a nice teenager. And sometimes technology gave me an anonymous alter-ego who struggled to be principled and caring.

I’m not sure the scenario has changed much in the last 20 years. Maybe now people are less concerned with being anonymous and their alter-egos have been replaced by their egos. We have to acknowledge that technology has an important role in our lives. And, it’s not going away anytime soon. We are all on a learning journey to harness the power of technology to make principled contributions to our global society. In order to do this, we need to be able to learn and live with technology. Technology has the potential to enhance teaching and learning and inspire open-mindedness and collaboration. However, this must be taught and practiced and re-enforced. Everything can be harmful if you have too much of it, even water. We must be purposefully balanced with technology in order to support our well-being. Parents and educators are the key to supporting children and teenagers in learning how to be balanced, principled and caring. If we don’t talk about and use technology at home or at school, how will the adults of the future (you!) be able to make principled contributions to our global society?

Technology helps us connect to other people around the world, both local and global. Technology does not tell us how to act; it simply gives us the platform to act. We, the users, are the problem. Not technology. Technology causes issues when we choose to use it to inflict harm on others. Technology alleviates issues when we choose to use it to find like-minded people to support us during our life journey. When we choose to use technology to disconnect from our lives and numb our feelings, it can actually increase our anxiety and stress. When we choose to use technology to support our productivity, enhance our learning, communicate and collaborate with others, and stay in touch with family and friends, it can help us experience life deeper.  

Technology is powerful. What type of power it has in our lives is up to us. What choices will you make to positively impact the world? How might your IB education support you when learning and living with technology? What choices will you make to bring others up, instead of taking them down?

 

Learning 2 : Re-Imagine : Shift the Narrative

In October, Jeff and I attended Learning 2 Asia at Saigon South in Vietnam. It was (another) great Learning 2 experience…I was reunited with some awesome people, met lots of new ones (several that I felt like I already knew thanks to the internets), explored a new country with my husband and was pushed outside my comfort zone by Jabiz during the Re-Imagine Strand. Who could ask for anything more?

I didn’t want my Re-Imagine project to end at Learning 2, so I’ve been meaning to record it for awhile. Today I finally made the time to sit down and just do it. It got me excited all over again. I hope you’ll join me in shifting the role of tech coaches and technology instruction.

Join me to shift the narrative and explore technology through guided inquiry.

Slidedeck

Last week’s project – a gradebook screencast for staff

We switched grade reporting programs this year. We’ve moved to an online gradebook that parents & students can access 24/7. Because we decided to stay with our current provider (Rediker) in order to keep all our student data, we have had to adapt TeacherGradebook to function properly for our IB programs. Although we’ve created lots of step-by-step written instructions, teachers still struggle to understand exactly what it is that they’re doing. We decided that giving them a more conceptual understanding of the gradebook might help them going forward.

I’m sharing this because I spent a significant amount of time working on it last week. And because TechSmith is pretty great to use – simple, intuitive, quick with lots of video editing options. My one complaint is that many sites (including WordPress) don’t allow you to embed the SmartPlayer (where all the really cool features are). Our Tech Director uploaded the necessary files to our school website so that I could share the blinged out version with staff (without having to upload to ScreenCast.com). I also uploaded the boring version to our Office 365 InfoSite.

Here is the (edited) version with all the bells & whistles. It has:

  • Clickable table of contents takes you to various sections of the video.
  • Click on the video whenever you see a link to open the website in a new tab. Your mouse pointer will change to a hand whenever the video is clickable.
  • Click the ‘table of contents’ button to search the video.

The boring version is embedded below. Enjoy 🙂

[Full disclosure: I recieved Camtasia & Snagit free because I’m a Google for Education Certified Trainer. But this post has nothing to do with that – I just love working with the products. AND they’re from my home state, Pure Michigan 🙂 ]

#CISDGcamp14 – worth it!

Many months ago Jeff and I got an email from my mom. The Calhoun Intermediate School District (where she works & in my hometown of Battle Creek, MI) was planning a 3-day Google based PD event in July. Since we’d presented at previous Summits and I was a newly minted Google Certified Trainer, she thought we might like to present. She put us in touch with Mike Oswalt and away we went!

Fast forward 3 months. It’s July and I’m in full summer mode, sitting at a cottage on a lake in Northern Michigan with my family. Figuring out my presentations and getting pumped to “work” was not my idea of fun! Camp started on Monday and boy was I exhausted Monday night! After this post I’ll be back in summer (with 6 graduate credits) mode ;). The three days of Camp were pretty awesome. We met lots of new people, had fun presenting about things we love and got some great compliments. I presented 2 different sessions a total of 9 times in 3 days…they kept me busy! But the food was FANTASTIC and it was one of the most organized conferences I’ve been to. Imagine – teachers in the middle of their summers excited about learning! Crazy right?!

I slightly updated Harnessing the Power of Google: Collaboration and now I’m pretty sure it’s a tried and true session – I’ve done it 11 times at 3 different conferences! This works MUCH better as a 4-hour workshop but I really stress to teachers that I’m going to inundate them with info and then give them all my contact info for the future. I really like the style of a little show-and-tell and then having the attendees work and explore.

Hangouts & Chat was a new one for me but we had a lot of fun! My main goal was to have attendees participate in their first Hangout On Air and then experiment with Hangouts so that they would be comfortable to use them with their students. This was the first time that I’ve started a session with a survey to see what the attendees want to accomplish. I had an idea of what I wanted but I could be quite flexible the way I had set up the session. Luckily most people responded that they wanted what I had planned! It was a hands-on session and I provided links to resources they could check out later with ideas for actually using Hangouts in their classroom. I was really dreading this session but by the 3rd time I presented it I was quite happy with it!

Already looking forward to “working” in the summer of 2015 😉

Work smarter, not harder

The bottom line for educators and technology (not tech integration) usually seems to be saving time. If it’s going to make my life more difficult – no thank you! But if I can utilize technology tools to make my life easier – tell me more! This is one of my favorite ways to get educators to buy in to Google Apps.

I recently discovered a script for spreadsheets that has changed how I collect and distribute information when I’m giving PD. It’s called formMule. Just as the name implies it does tons of work for you (saving you tons of time). While there are lots of ways to use it (most I haven’t yet discovered) I’ve been loving it to send out resources from my professional development sessions to the attendees. I’ve now used it 4 times and have had great success.

At the beginning (or end) of a PD session, I have teachers complete a short Google Form. Once they have submitted the form, they instantly receive an email from me.formMule auto email

I have to do a little work up front to set everything up, but it saves me enough time in the long run to make it completely worth it. The short video below is one I made for my Google Apps Certified Trainer application quickly showing how to set up the basic mail merge function.

Have you used formMule’s other functions? I’d love to hear about what else it can do!

Input needed: tips to cultivating a thriving PLN

Jeff and I have a few upcoming presentations we’d love some input on! Please fill out the embedded Google form below…then check it out as the answers populate. Please feel free to use any of the information gathered for yourself!

At PEAK in a couple weeks (…10 days) I’ll be presenting an hour-long workshop on how social media can make educators lives easier.
Session title: Making the Web Work for You
Session description: Come learn how social media and other websites can save you time and energy while also enhancing your lessons. By the end of this session you will be on your way to creating a thriving Personal Learning Network with other educators around the world. It may be helpful to bring your own laptop or tablet.

In January, Jeff will be presenting a 4-hour workshop on getting involved on Twitter and blogging.
Session title: Becoming a Connected Educator
Session description: Thousands of educators all around the world share their thoughts, ideas and lesson plans with each other every day, and you’re only 140 characters away from joining them. In the first half, you’ll learn how to leverage Twitter and other forms of social media as a means of finding new ideas. In the second half, we’ll get you set up with your own blog so you can start sharing with the world.

Check out my Diigo library for some of the resources we’ve previously found.

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?