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A Brief History of Turnitin and The Power of Revision Assistant

Turnitin Timeline & Acronyms

 

As students in the US are finishing up their 2017 – 2018 academic school year right now teachers, professors, teachers’ assistants, and advisors are looking over summative projects and assignments.  These can range from essays, reports, stories, explications and standardized tests just to name a few. When these students finish drafting, writing, turnitin-logo-stacked-rgbrevising and editing that last sentence punctuation mark or citation of the school year right before the freedom of Summer but not before grades come out. “They will have to do something their parents never did: run their work through anti-plagiarism software” as NPR Education’s Corey Turner explains it in his 2014 piece for “All Things Considered” where he names Turnitin as a company that has a database it utilizes to screen for potential similarity/originality, and he comments that the database is big. Really, really big.  Computer technology and the Internet now make plagiarism an easier enterprise. As a result, faculty must be more diligent in their efforts to mitigate the practice of academic integrity, and institutions of higher education must provide the leadership and support to ensure the context for it. This study explored the use of a plagiarism detection system to deter digital plagiarism. Findings suggest that when students were aware that their work would be run through a detection system, they were less inclined to plagiarize. These findings suggest that, regardless of class standing, gender, and college major, recognition by the instructor of the nature and extent of the plagiarism problem and acceptance of responsibility for deterring it are pivotal in reducing the problem.  Chris Harrick, Turnitin’s vice president of marketing, describes it this way: “A student submits a paper through Turnitin’s website. The company’s algorithms then compare strings of text against its massive database. And, as Harrick continues, it doesn’t just check the Internet. Most of the papers, once they’ve been run through the system and scrubbed of student names, actually stay in the system. When all the comparing is done, the teacher gets a report that gives the percentage of the paper that matched other sources. The report never says: This is plagiarism. Just: This is similar” (NPR, 2014).  This part of the product is referred to as the “Originality Checker” and is only one small element of what was previously known as iParadigms and is now the Turnitin LLC empire. turnitin-feedback-studio-logo-primary-rgb

Other than the originality checker product there are several other pieces, the oldest grouping of systems is referred to as The Feedback Studio (TFS) which is considered its core.  As Tom Dee, a professor in the graduate school of education at Stanford examines the usefulness of the product he explains that ‘” these tools are like a hammer or a scalpel,” cautions Dee. “Whether using them is helpful or hurtful depends on the care and discretion with which they’re used”’ (NPR, 2014). Now TFS is just one aspect of what Turnitin can do and one one of its products. It has grown extensively in the previous four years and now includes other products like Revision Assistant, Ithenticate, Write Check and bought one of its largest competitors Vericite in early 2018.  A lot has changed since the company started in 1998 but even since 2015, when Ry Marcattilio-McCracken wrote a commentary piece In the Chronicle of Higher Education; My Love-Hate Relationship With Turnitin, where he begins by explaining how much he loves Turnitin as a tool in his classes but despite the obvious time-saving benefits he had a student come to him with a couple questions that he couldn’t necessarily answer. “The student was nontraditional, and this was his first college course in some years. He was concerned first about accidentally plagiarizing, and wondered (naïvely, but completely understandable) if TurnItIn let students run their work through free to make sure this didn’t happen. Second, the student didn’t like the idea of being forced to surrender his work to a company that would make money from it. He was articulate, respectful, and tentative.”  The privacy concerns of who owns what and after a project or paper enters Turnitin’s database does it now belong to the company? As Ry Marcattilio explains that after little searching turned up surprisingly few lawsuits brought against iParadigms, the (former as of 2016) parent company of TurnItIn. But someone had issued a challenge. Six years ago a court weighed in, and the judge ruled in favor of iParadigms on four grounds, as summarized in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology: “1) Commercial use can be fair use, and … use can be transformative ‘in function or purpose without altering or actually adding to the original work.’ TurnItIn transformed the work by using the papers to prevent plagiarism and not for factual knowledge; 2) The website’s use does not diminish or discourage the author’s creativity or supplant the students’ rights to first publication; 3) Using the entirety of the papers did not preclude fair use; and 4) TurnItIn’s use does not affect marketability” (2015).  Teachers, parents, and administrators have the right to be concerned about the privacy rights and how software tools like Turnitin are consuming data from students. Educators from the common core era know that tools, where students feel caught or shown how wrong they are, will not feel empowered to do their work. Turnitin in fortunately has evolved and as it grew it also expanded the capabilities.

In this article by Jinrong Li entitled “Turnitin and peer review in ESL academic writing classrooms”, the authors share their experience of using Turnitin for peer review in an English as a Second Language ESL academic writing course and discuss its advantages, its limitations, and how different features of PeerMark may be used to address some of the challenges identified in previous research on peer review in the L2 writing classroom. Throughout a semester, the students were required to complete three peer review tasks through Turnitin. Based on the instructor’s experience and the students’ reports, we found that Turnitin could help shift students’ attention from local to global issues in writing, scaffold students in their effort to provide more helpful comments and to make connections between specific suggestions and holistic advice for writing, and facilitate classroom management during peer review. In this article, we share our experience of using Turnitin for peer review in an ESL academic writing course and discuss its advantages, its limitations, and how different features of PeerMark may be used to address some of the challenges identified in previous research on peer review in the L2 writing classroom. Throughout a semester, the students were required to complete three peer review tasks through Turnitin. Based on the instructor’s experience and the students’ reports, we found that Turnitin could help shift students’ attention from local to global issues in writing, scaffold students in their effort to provide more helpful comments and to make connections between specific suggestions and holistic advice for writing, and facilitate classroom management during peer review.

Another newer product of Turnitin’s which was introduced 2016 is the Revision Assistant which was acquired from Pittsburgh-based LightSide Labs in a deal that kept the company’s office in Pittsburgh and lead to more hiring, and the placing of co-founder turnitin-revision-assistant-logo-primary-rgbElijah Mayfield as a VP of New Technologies at Turnitin.  LightSide Labs, which was founded in 2013, employs machine learning algorithms developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute to help instructors assess student writing and provide real-time automated formative feedback.  What LightSide brings to the table is greater opportunity to grow the Turnitin brand in the K-12 arena and especially the tough to enter middle schools market and add to the tool’s student-facing interface. Revision Assistant helps students to become better writers by reducing the amount of time spent scoring essays and the number of time students spends waiting for feedback.  From my personal experience as a public school teacher for six years, specifically working with grades 7-11th in the subject of language arts and history I can safely say that immediately after the students finish the last word on their papers they tend to want to turn it in. Getting the students to reread their papers multiple times was like pulling teeth and if and only if I made the task of peer editing and self-editing another assignment in the grade book that I had to grade then the students would be tempted to not do it.  In a study done by Turnitin and presented to me in my new hire orientation, that “57% of students will admit that they receive feedback too late in the writing process and 79% of teachers say feedback is important crucial.” With Revision Assistant (RA) students go through 7.9 drafts per students on average (Turnitin Review). In the revision process, students ask for more signal checks and comments. The more papers, essays, or reports that are collected the better RA is trained, then a team of assessment experts evaluates the initial essays.  The Turnitin curriculum team of veteran teacher crafts actionable comments. And Turnitin’s research team analyzes patterns in sample essays to build a model to evaluate future student work. This all leads to the idea that when students submit new essays, RA provides scoring and feedback.  

Initially, the product hit some skepticism about whether Elijah Mayfield and LightSide Labs was trying to intentionally replace educators.  But unlike human educators, there ra-student-view-comment-expandedare limitations to the software around advanced writing elements. With the software, writing is restricted to responses to prompts.  Examples of prompts include writing about “a time that laughter featured prominently in their lives” and “the pros and cons of social media,” Since the software is primarily aimed at K-12 students and initial community college courses, several of the prompts are framed as responses to pieces of writing.  As Turnitin works with school districts and community colleges that are interested in turning their curricula into writing prompts, the number of prompts has grown to 84 prompts as of May 2018 and are continually growing with the help of the curriculum team at Turnitin. 

Turnitin’s Revision Assistant the uphill battle continues among writing instructors, many of whom philosophically object to turning writing into an activity that can be evaluated by a machine.  Carl Straumshein explains in his 2016 article from Insider Higher Ed that “the National Council of Teachers of English in 2013 issued a position paper on that topic, members of the NCTE’s assessment task force said ‘the ways in which humans and machines analyze writing continue to serve very different outcomes.’ The task force members are also involved in the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the NCTE’s professional organization for writing instructors. “As is the case in K-12 classrooms, teaching writing at the college level that is successful calls for thoughtful response to student writing,” the members said in the statement, naming face-to-face conferences with instructors and feedback on drafts as two examples of responses. ‘Such human formative assessments are essential building blocks supporting writers’ development’” (2016). 

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 11.49.23 AMTurnitin doesn’t intend for the software to serve the purpose as the educator, instructor, or even teacher’s assistant. Revision Assistant does not come with a traditional grading feature but gives students a score of one to four in each of the four categories. Turnitin calls those scores “signal checks,” since they resemble wireless signal strength logos.  Continuing from the Carl Staumshein piece, “if [students] spend some time with Revision Assistant, they’ll remember that they have to have a hook, that they have to have transitions. Then instructors can start helping them with the things the computer can’t” (Insider Higher Ed, 2016).  Mayfield a linguist and medieval poetry expert at heart admits skepticism about technology in writing instruction a “valid concern,” and said technology has not yet reached a point where it can be used in upper-level courses teaching advanced, open-ended writing. Mayfield goes on to explain “there is room for technology to help that conversation, but it’s not the most crucial place to have technology insert itself right now.” “We don’t think of [Revision Assistant] as something for upper-level electives where students are able to engage with teachers in a strong dialogue. We see it as empowerment of students who don’t have those skills already.” When I think of Revision Assistant, I think of it as the ultimate writing coach that I never had in my classes.  Before allowing my peers and especially my teacher look over my work a faceless computer would Improve my writing skills this behavior would certainly motivate me and hopefully my students to write.  The discussions that my students and I had were tough at times because they felt they were personally picked on for certain elements of their writing or because of their writing style. Discussions and conferences could change because the data would come from a computer system and so the student’s questions could become “signal checks and spot checks on revision assistant said I need to work on x,y, or z” instead of putting the blame and subjectivity on the teacher when pointing out places were a paper could be improved.   The tools can extend teacher’s reach and save time, checks and tracks student progress helps differentiate instruction is a timesaving piece. On top of that, it creates actionable reports for teachers to deliberate over with their plc, department or administration. Within the Turnitin study of the papers submitted through RA, 53% increase in writing scores from first to last round of feedback, on average and in the study 93% of teachers say that RA improves their students’ writing. It really is a win, win because the students can get receive some initial writing coaching in the form of generic feedback and suggestions.  While the teacher gains visibility to identify gaps in their writing and make informed decisions on what they should be teaching and how they are teaching it. Elijah Mayfield goes on to explain that when he began talking to education companies, it was clear that the emphasis was on measuring student learning. What that does is deemphasize the role of collaborative learning. It de-emphasizes the role of essay writing and communication—the stuff that in fact is probably more valuable for the majority of students.

Resources:

Coyne, J. (2014, October 7). CMU startup LightSide Labs acquired by California-based Turnitin. Retrieved May 18, 2018, from https://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/blog/morning-edition/2014/10/cmu-startup-lightside-labs-acquired-by-california.html

Li, J., & Li, M. (2018). Turnitin and peer review in ESL academic writing classrooms. Language Learning & Technology, 22(1), 27–41. https://dx.doi.org/10125/44576

Marcattilio-McCracken, R. (2015, September 08). My Love-Hate Relationship With TurnItIn. Retrieved May 9, 2018, from https://www.chronicle.com/article/My-Love-Hate-Relationship-With/232887

McMahon, W. (2018, March 13). How Writing Can Help Close the Achievement Gap: An Interview with Turnitin’s Elijah Mayfield – EdSurge News. Retrieved May 19, 2018, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-01-23-how-writing-can-help-close-the-achievement-gap-an-interview-with-turnitin-s-elijah-mayfield

Straumsheim, C. (2016, January 21). Turnitin, expanding beyond plagiarism detection, launches Revision Assistant. Retrieved May 18, 2018, from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/01/21/turnitin-expanding-beyond-plagiarism-detection-launches-revision-assistant

Turner, C. (2014, August 25). Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software. Retrieved April 22, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/25/340112848/turnitin-and-the-high-tech-plagiarism-debate

Turnitin Timeline & Acronyms (1)

 

Project Evaluation of Edmodo Certified Trainer Course (ECT) at Edmodo

Project Evaluation of Edmodo Certified Trainer Course (ECT) at Edmodo – 2017-2018

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This project is being conducted by Autumn Ottenad, Community Growth Manager at Edmodo. I am trying to figure out if the new Edmodo Certified Trainer (ECT) program which I recently revamped taking it from six to four weeks is successful because Edmodo wants groundswell, massive growth for the betterment of the community.

Executive Summary

This evaluation is formative in nature, which means that this information I’ve gathered and which I now present is not intended to determine the overall worth of the program.  Instead, this data will allow me to make some recommendations and comment on perceptions surrounding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the Edmodo Certified Trainer program at Edmodo.

Important points that will be reviewed in depth in this report:

  • Educators feel comfortable to “train-the-trainer” and present about Edmodo and know that there are staff and peers who support them there.
  • Educators becoming Edmodo Certified Trainers (ECTs) would like to have colleagues and figures to whom they can turn for conversation and advice in their profession. 
  • Educators have high confidence in their ability to succeed in the classroom with Edmodo.
  • Educators who become ECTs have a high opinion of their influence/participation in their community and professional learning network.
  • The Instructional Facilitators and mentors of the cohort have communicated to the cohort that high achievement it is crucial and they are striving to provide it.
  • When these educators become ECTs, they would like more information about how Edmodo functions as a product and company.

Recommended Next Steps

Thinking ahead to future cohorts the decision at hand becomes how do we strike a balance between quality and quantity of the ECTs who graduate from the course? We saw the same drop off after week two of the previous cohort with a number of the participants as we did in the in this current cohort.  Kate B., the instructional facilitator, began to speculate a few different options for the future cohorts. Suggested Option A. Keep the same design of four weeks, producing high caliber, but few ECTs. Suggested Option B. Redesign the course again and trim it down to two or three weeks to create more, but potentially not as high caliber ECTs. Trimming to three weeks is doable, but trimming down to two weeks total may be problematic.  “Other than having to encourage Bobby, one of the mentors, to keep up with the scoring (again, I’m so disappointed in his lack of engagement), this cohort went very smoothly, and I think that the participants enjoyed it. Lidia, the other mentor from Argentina, was wonderfully engaging and the more active the mentors were in the group, the more the participants engaged with us. It would be interesting to reach out to those who did not complete the cohort and ask them to complete a survey about their reasons for lack of completion. I’d be curious to read their responses.  I was very thoughtful in the design of this course, but I also recognize that folks need to be motivated and stay motivated to complete the work.” I did reach out to those who did not finish the course or dropped out early on. My responses from those who dropped out first were mostly that they did not have the time to invest in the class at this moment or that they do not hold the product knowledge at this time to complete the ECT program at the level that they would need to find the course fruitful. For those who it was a wrong time I will reach out again for the next cohort to see if that one is better, and I wonder if the Summer would be better because they will have more free time.  For the few who stated they did not have the right amount of product knowledge I sent them the link to join the Certified Learner course which is our base level of the community and it is a self-paced 12 module course. I think if they went through this course on their own time they would become sufficiently knowledgeable about the product to then become an ECT.

Overall the changes that were made to the ECT program were positive, proactive modifications in my perception but we have to be able to scale the number of graduates without compromising the content and quality of the program.  I come with the educator background, so my guidance is always swayed by the fact that we are asking these educators to represent the company in the world without much supervision after this process and Edmodo needs to trust that the ECTs will serve the product well to any audience.  But I can also see the need for groundswell and the incorporation of a large ground army for the product so that Edmodo can have as many people trained sufficiently on the product as possible.

Bringing Computational Thinking to Educators Professional Learning

As I begin to wrap up my studies in EDTC 6106 Educational Technology Leadership for the DEL program our last inquiry asked us to explore; what does the ideal technology-rich professional learning program look like? From there I began to contemplate Computational Thinking again which is a common thread throughout my studies in SPU’s DEL program.  As Google for Education defines it computational thinking (ct) is “is a problem-solving process that includes a number of characteristics, such as logically ordering and analyzing data and creating solutions using a series of ordered steps (or algorithms), and dispositions, such as the ability to confidently deal with complexity and open-ended problems. CT is essential to the development of computer applications, but it can also be used to support problem-solving across all disciplines, including math, science, and the humanities. Students who learn CT across the curriculum can begin to see a relationship between subjects as well as between school and life outside of the classroom.” Applying CT to professional learning is an easy leap to make, and therefore my question became; how do we challenge K-12 stakeholders to take on the role of problem solvers in designing solutions for the next generation? I want the responsibility of integrating technology into the educational curriculum to be a shared job between everyone who comes into contact with the students.  It cannot only fall on the shoulders of those who are tech coaches or district tech leads because they are spread so thin.  All stakeholders must take a problem-solving approach to the issue of tech integration. 

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Furthermore, in Jennifer Groff’s OECD report Technology-Rich Innovative Learning Environments she explains under the heading of opportunity that, “once thought of as just a part of resources‘, we‘ve come to see how technology can be so much more than that. It can play a key role and at times a leading role, in all elements of the teaching and learning environment. Technology can shape, and reshape, who is the learner and who is the teacher. It can open up knowledge and content that otherwise would be less accessible, through access to open educational resources for example. It obviously is part of resources‘, but it is clearly integral to the 3 organization‘ component insofar as it offers a critical mediating medium for those relationships of pedagogy and assessment inherent in an organization” (2013, pg. 3). Therefore, we establish the crucial element of technology into the classroom and Groff goes as far to say that it should play a key or leading role because of its transformative nature.  If it takes a village to raise a child why is the goal of tech integration into curriculum put on just a few shoulders?  Digital Promise says As we bridge the digital divide in schools and homes across the country, we also should build educator capacity to ask students to take part in new and transformational learning experiences with technology. This will require more than sharing tips in the faculty lounge or after-school professional development for educators.” I think stakeholders who should get into the solution game are teachers, district admin, students, parents, interested companies, and government think tanks. 

Demonstrating the Scale:

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) illustrates how teachers can use technology to enhance learning for K-12 students. The TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, and goal-directed (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003). The TIM is an interactive rubric that shows the scale of integration from Entry level to the Transformation of a school to fully tech-integrated. The entry-level states that it is when “The teacher uses technology to deliver curriculum content to students.” Contrasting the transformation stage is when “The teacher cultivates a rich learning environment, where blending choice of technology tools with student-initiated investigations, discussions, compositions, or projects, across any content area, is promoted.”  If we know the problem and we have a rubric to compare our schools and districts against why then can’t we work towards a solution?

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The matrix is designed to assist schools and districts in evaluating the level of technology integration in classrooms and to provide teachers with models of how technology can be integrated throughout instruction in meaningful ways. While tech companies around the world are getting into the game of helping schools and districts out with tech integration. The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools directed by Digital Promise initiative for example “provides teachers and students in U.S. middle schools with always-available access to technology and empowers them to be content creators, adept problem-solvers, and responsible consumers of digital media and learning resources. We fully document the process so others can learn from the experiences of these schools.” 

Professional Learning Goals for Faculty now

  • Teachers should know how to leverage the device to increase student engagement, increase STEAM engagement/opportunities, increase tech proficiency (student/teacher)
  • Implement PBL model
  • Implement school-wide literacy strategies
  • Implement AVID strategies

Eventually, educators should know and be able to…

  • To utilize and demonstrate/model the use of schoolwide tech applications.
  • Identify additional tech applications that will enhance our practice and student learning.
  • Champion the integration of technology into student learning tasks.
  • Synthesize the school-wide initiatives into a comprehensive program.
  • Collaborate with other team members to develop schoolwide plans for improvement and accomplishment of goals.

So students feel empowered and be able to:

  • Create products and applications to demonstrate learning.
  • Lead learning around the use of technology.
  • Solve real-world challenges while demonstrating knowledge of content and skills that are required at each grade level.
  • Identify and explore careers that are applicable to STEAM topics/activities.

What are the next steps for developments of tech integration?

As we all know by now technology changes at a rapid pace. It is my idea is that if everyone involved takes a problem-solving approach to the issue and understands that they all share responsibility then the process can be a living process.  Continually updated lesson plans and videos added months and years from now will look completely different than they do at this moment. Districts and schools will be encouraged to use tech integration in professional learning and in the context of goal development and associated professional development planning. As we engage learners, technology needs to be woven throughout the curriculum so it becomes an integral part of the daily learning. Through regular classroom observation and targeted professional development activities, it is our hope that over time teachers will be able to effectively monitor their progress through a continuum of technology integration levels.

Resources:

Groff, J. (2013, February). TECHNOLOGY-RICH INNOVATIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. Retrieved March 14, 2018, from http://www.oecd.org/education/ceri/Technology-Rich%20Innovative%20Learning%20Environments%20by%20Jennifer%20Groff.pdf

Office of Educational Technology, Conclusion. (n.d.). Retrieved March 06, 2018, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/conclusion/
Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved March 06, 2018, from http://digitalpromise.org/initiative/verizon-innovative-learning-schools/

Changing the Mindset of School Leaders Through the Empowerment of Instructional Coaches

I have recently explored ISTE Coaching Standarto try to understand how professional learning impacts explicitly the use of education technology. This week specifically I looked at the influence of school leadership or administration and how they influence the professional learning and educational technology adoption process of the staff.

Taking advantage of technology in the classroom makes the support of a proScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 10.34.37 PMactive school administrator who should help facilitate, and organize along with the district instructional technology task force. Within chapter three of the Project Evaluation Report Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State entitled Professional Learning Requires Attention to School and District Culture Attending it states that “the “culture” of a school or district organization requires careful attention to a variety of indicators. Desimone (2009) articulates that professional development is not one-size-fits-all that can universally be applied across contexts.  As school leadership is examining how they approach professional learning they need to keep in mind that adults learn need to have the opportunity to approach the content in a variety of contexts.  Moreover, as administrators must take on several roles in the building they can’t always be focused on these different approaches to learning.  Therefore, how can district instructional coaches (or whatever you call them in your district) be seen by administrators to hold more of a leadershiprole. Renewed+Vision+for+Leadership_+Leadership+for+Learning

When I was perusing my latest installment of English Leadership Quarterly that is a part of my NCTE membership I found an article entitled “Toward Online Participation as Teacher Leadership” by Luke Rodesiler, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne.  This piece had a few gems in it regarding the thought process of leadership.  I know it mainly pertains to English teachers, but I think it can be applied to all educators Pre K thru Higher Education. Here is a quote “ I recognize leadership not as the product of a formal appointment in a top-down, authority-driven model but, like Lambert and colleagues (2002), as a reciprocal process embraced by those who see the need or the opportunity. This vision of leadership is not about rigid and unchanging hierarchies; instead, it promotes the boundaries of leadership as porous and flexible, allowing teachers to carry out acts of leadership as they see fit and as they are able. Additionally, for the purposes of this article, I recognize English teachers’ online participation as the creation of new content on the Web in an exploration of issues at the center of an English teacher’s work: teaching, learning, and literacy” (Rodesiler, 2018, p. 3).

Admins – Let Instructional Coaches Be your Marketing Team

Leaders who believe they can delegate the articulation of a vision for how technology can support their organization’s learning goals are those who will be the most successful in this reciprocal process. As district officials and school administrators do not have press relations managers nor do they employee marketing directors, they still need to communicate the districts message and brand.  It is important that those looking to move to the neighborhood understand who the school’s leaders are and how they will help their children. Rodesiler goes on to explain that when leadership is delegated one can “draw(n) from a content analysis of collected artifacts to document three acts of leadership embedded in the routine online participation of [English] teachers in the study: (a) making teaching practices public; (b) speaking out on topical issues in education; and (c) creating platforms for others” (2018, p. 4).  I think these three acts of leadership can lead to better job satisfaction for the administration, better community advocacy and involvement, and in the end teacher retention. 

Making teaching practices public

Before I started the DEL program at SPU, I was in need of finding people who were public about the teaching practice.  As an educator, it became crucial for me to communicate with people who were like-minded and I could find mentorship for my future.  This task required me to go online and seek these people out myself.  As I got more and more involved with Twitter and other public practices I witnessed how teachers “participated online, teachers in the study spoke out about topics tied closely to their work as educators, including curriculum decision-making, professional development, and the de-professionalization of teaching. In doing so, they took on the responsibility of adding their voices to conversations that all too often seem to be dominated by those outside the field of education” (Rodesiler, 2018, p. 3). As documented, the Web offers teachers multiple and varied avenues for exercising their influence and inviting others to do the same.  This evidence of influence can only help administrators and district officials make a case for the power of their school and their vision. 

Speaking out on topical issues in education

Although leadership in technology is needed across all levels of the education system, the need in PK–12 public schools is acute. Getting technology in schools is a multi-layer systematic change that takes budges and board members approval.  But it needs to begin to move quicker because as of 2017, twenty percent of school-aged children media consumption comes from mobile devices. Children’s use of electronic media is increasing, resulting in significant part from tech transformations, easy access to mobile devices, especially cell phones. Which meansThe majority of students may not be able to stop by the classroom after school but could interact with school while using some sort of technology. This can allow for real-time access to resources, due dates, and feedback.  On top of that  Did you also know…Only 58% of parents of school-aged children carried smartphones in 2010. Now 94% of parents of are smartphone users.  This means that the topical issues and the information being shared are happening online and on mobile devices. 

Creating platforms for others

Whichever tools the administrators condones for the educators to spread the great news of the district in school be it Twitter, Edmodo School Pages,  Facebook, Linkedin, or perhaps something like WordPress or another blog system like Medium. Demonstrating how administrators have used some of these platforms for positive career development should help persuade reluctant educators of their importance.  I believe that instructional coaches could take on the role of also demonstrating how educators can become their own advocates, self-promoters, and networking gurus if they are only willing to make their practice a bit more public.

Student Communication Tools

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA. http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Rodesiler, L. (2018). Toward Online Participation as Teacher Leadership. English Leadership Quarterly, 40(3), feb, 3-6. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/ELQ/0403-feb2018/ELQ0403Toward.pdf

Educators Digital Citizenship through Global Collaboration and Competency

At the center of my current studies with the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University is ISTE Coaching Standard 4, which focuses on how professional learning can best support teacher practice and, ultimately, student learning.  And as the country recently suffered another tragedy in a public school shooting rampage.  I think that this post is poignant as it will talk about teaching digital citizenship and global competencies for educators is essential for the future of our students.  Both of these expectations help to create empathy and global awareness for our students and teachers which with this recent tragedy is relevant.

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In my early exploration, I derived that a big part of “digital age” best practices comes from digital citizenship.  Moreover, I recently was given the opportunity to speak at the TCEA Global Education Day alongside Dr. Ariel Tichnor-Wagner who is the Senior Fellow of Global Competence at ASCD. From her presentation, I learned how heavily ASCD has invested in creating a vast amount of materials that could influence educators to take on global collaboration. On top of that, when I think about the phrase “digital age” it makes me think of digital citizenship and netiquette which we all talk about in the classroom, but sometimes students feel freer when on a website to cyberbully a classmate or troll them.  So, therefore how can I make digital citizenship an important aspect of professional development with adult learners?

To bring it all together, I am going to approach digital citizenship through the lens of global competence.  I want to take into consideration the respect piece and know that professional educators are adults who understand at a logical level what should and should not go on the internet.  But perhaps they do not feel like teaching these aspects should be a part of their teaching practice.  Global competence is a way to connect my two ideas if teachers are influenced to push their teaching onto a worldwide platform by helping their students they will need to in-turn learn some newer components of digital citizenship.

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html
http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html

Because the competencies are multi-faceted and can get a bit overwhelming, I want to focus in on one under Knowledge: Understanding of the ways that the world is interconnected.  The fundamental connection piece in my mind is the word “interconnectedness” because the only way we will achieve this element is through our modern technology bringing us together. As field trips and vacations are becoming events of the past teachers must reach beyond their four walls.  Keep in mind that as Vivien Stewart, in ASCD’s Becoming Citizens of the World says, “To compete successfully in the global marketplace, both U.S.-based multinational corporations, as well as small businesses, increasingly need employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures to market products to customers around the globe and to work effectively with foreign employees and partners in other countries.”

Here are the two Digital Citizenship standard sets, the first for Students and the second for Educators. I think it is important to point out the “living, learning, and working in an ‘interconnected’ digital world, and they [students] act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical” (ISTE).  While in the Educators standard 3a teachers should actively “create experiences for learners to make positive, socially, responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community” (ISTE).  Therefore it is necessary for educators to know how to navigate social actions online with positive interactions.  Educators must also know how to demonstrate this social action to their students, connecting back to what Vivien Stewart states in her article that global competence “skills are necessary, of course, but to be successful global citizens, workers, and leaders, students will need to be knowledgeable about the world, be able to communicate in languages other than English and be informed and active citizens.”

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ISTE Educator Standards
ISTE Educator Standards

What can teachers do?

They can show global competence through action, demonstrations, and global collaboration projects.  It is crucial to mention that administrators must back-up teachers who are willing to connect with classrooms around the world and who have the technological wherewithal to reach outside their comfort zone to find these collaborative educators.  The undertaking is not easy but with the support of administration, it can become easier and certainly worthwhile for the educators and students.  It will help to have a large plan of what you want to achieve, but start slowly, one course or grade level at a time. “Involve parents as well as business and community leaders in planning and supporting international education and world languages. Focus on professional development for teachers, including partnerships with local colleges, so teachers can broaden and deepen their international knowledge.” Use international exchanges, both real and virtual, to enable students to gain firsthand knowledge of the culture they are studying. If it is unfeasible for students to travel, try technology-based alternatives, such as classroom-to-classroom linkages, global science projects, and videoconferences (Sachar, 2004).  In the Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State Report, researchers found that the “development and implementation of professional development at the school level impacts student learning” (Lumpe, 2016). These findings help build the body of evidence about the impact of professional learning and potentially adding in global competence to what educators should be taught so they can then go into the classrooms and teach their students.

 

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

A., & Stewart, V. (2007, April). Becoming Citizens of the World. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr07/vol64/num07/Becoming-Citizens-of-the-World.aspx April 2007 | Volume 64 | Number 7 The Prepared Graduate Pages 8-14

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/contents.html

https://www.youtube.com/embed/52by-pLW4lo

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html

Personalization of Adult Learning in Technology Training

ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

How do you get adults to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their online instruction?

My interest in this question stems from the fact that I want adults to take more interest in the process of their learning.  Specifically speaking getting in on personalized professional learning, and in that taking part in the planning and evaluation.  This is what educators are taught how to do so why not test it within their own learning.  From personal experience from starting the pro-cert process, the assessments and hoop jumping felt insulting when you are in a room full of professional educators.

Uncovering ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation b. Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Malcolm Knowles, a leading educator studying adult learning, made five assumptions of adult learners (Knowles 1984:12).

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In Chapter 1 of Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report – Professional Learning Requires Engaged Leadership it supports the ideas expressed by Knowles in 1984; the results of the study support the principles of adult learning, indicating that adults value course designs containing options, personalization, self‐direction, variety, and a learning community. Findings also identify some differences in learning emphasis by gender, preferred learning strategies, and previous experience with technology and self‐directed learning” (Pg. 16).  

When looking at personalization for our students I found this article by Katrina Stevens Deputy Director in the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education is really a compilation of what several organizations have put together on the topic of personalized learning. Basically, Personalizing the Learning Experience: Insights from Future Ready Schools specifically how “each learner’s performance is measured. The type of learning experience determines the types of data that can be collected. For example, as learners participate in a small-group activity, the teacher might ask them targeted, open-ended, probing questions that will help in upcoming tailoring components of the lesson. When technology is used, performance can be measured continuously in real time.”

Why Personalize?

What can sometimes get lost in the focus on a consistent definition and process is the potential power and benefits of personalized learning, which are many:

  • When the pace of learning is adjusted for each learner, all learners have the time needed to demonstrate mastery.
  • When learning is optimized and tailored for each learner, and driven by learner interests, it can be more meaningful and relevant, which can lead to greater engagement and achievement.
  • When learners are given more choice, they tend to take more ownership of their learning and develop the academic mindsets, learning strategies, and self-regulated learning behaviors that are necessary for meeting immediate goals and for lifelong learning.
  • When learning is supported by technology, learners can receive more frequent and immediate feedback through formative assessments, quizzes, and checks for understanding with results provided to teachers and learners in real time.
  • With the right tools, learning gaps that impede progress can be identified more quickly, allowing learners to close those gaps.
  • The use of technology to provide teachers with the ability to tailor instruction to individuals allows teachers more time to provide targeted attention to learners who are struggling or who are progressing more rapidly than their peers, rather than being forced to “teach to the middle.”
  • When teachers can use technology to identify or modify existing resources more easily, teachers can then build stronger and deeper relationships with each learner and provide more resources for dealing with specific challenges. This can promote a greater sense of belonging among students by demonstrating that there are adults who care that they thrive.

Similarly, ThinkCerca’s blog writer Kelli Marshall wrote recently on Personalized learning and specifically  Why is Personalized Learning Important – “in which instructional environments are tailored to the individual needs, skills, and interests of each student – somewhat inverts the traditional teacher/student hierarchy. It gives students choices about how to learn based on their interests, abilities, and teacher recommendations” (2018).   I think when teachers/educators are given the opportunity to “tailor” their learning to what they like and know.

Finally, “When applied correctly, personalized learning can move mountains for students. It means that assignments and instruction are tailored to individual students’ interests, needs, and skills. It allows the teacher to bring in more robust, useful, and varied material into the classroom. It opens up probabilities for strategic groupings to allow students to learn better from one another” (ThinkCerca, 2018).

 

 

Resources: 

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

ISTE Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards

Marshall, K. (2018, January 18). Why Personalized Learning Is Important. Retrieved February 04, 2018, from http://blog.thinkcerca.com/the-importance-of-personalized-learning

Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The Adult learning theory – andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles

Stevens, K. (2017, January 18). What is Personalized Learning? – Personalizing the Learning Experience: Insights from Future Ready Schools – Medium (Office of Ed Tech, Ed.). Retrieved January 30, 2018, from https://medium.com/personalizing-the-learning-experience-insights/what-is-personalized-learning-bc874799b6f

Educational Technology or Tech Instructional Coach within a specific subject area? EDTC 6106

For the past couple weeks, I have explored ISTE Coaching Standard 4b – Design, develop, and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. To try to understand how professional learning specifically impacts the use of education technology.

Our learning objective for this module expected us to “explore best practices in educational technology professional development.” I directed my learning towards the question of why should professional learning surround educational technology and not interweave EdTech with instructional development? 

I have recently heard from several districts around the US through our ECT program that they are moving away from whole stand-alone EdTech departments and going towards having one person dedicated to EdTech in each major subject at the district level.  I think it demonstrates the changing times for technology as it has become so crucial within education that separating education and technology is simply doing a disservice to the students.   In a recent article by EdSurge News “Why Every School’s EdTech Department Should Make Themselves Obsolete,” Nate Green states this exact hypothesis basically there might still be a need for a whole team to be dedicated to just technology integration but soon the whole department should make itself obsolete because the other instructional leadership teams should be self-sufficient when it comes to technology integration. As Green states “The biggest problem with the Technology Integration Specialist (TIS) is that as soon as a school hires one, it sends a message to another faculty that they no longer have to strive to be proficient in this area since it’s someone else’s job. Teachers may miss opportunities for sharing and collaboration with colleagues around using technology in the classroom—that to do so would be to encroach upon or duplicate the TIS’s work” (2017).  It is important to create a group of teacher tech ambassadors, professional learning for teachers by teachers, change EdTech Leaders and TIS to instructional coaches. 

Then to corroborate these findings Bishop also explains in the “Evaluation Report”, “the very definition of leadership is changing to include a broader array of people whose title may not associate them with leadership responsibilities, even though they express the language and action of leaders engaged in the work of improving learning” it may not mean that they will be in the traditional educational leadership roles like Principals, Deans, and Assistant Principals.  These new instructional or subject area facilitators should be coaches amongst the staff who know district approved software or hardware in-depth and can serve as a new level of leadership.  With the help of the Gates Foundation and several other contributors, the “Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State Project Evaluation Report” logically and empirically suggests ideas that teachers have thought all along in Washington state.  Anecdotally as I was reading this report it became abundantly clear that several of the findings were just so logical if you have lived in the US public school sphere.  When those professionals who are not in public school education want to approach a district-wide problem and they suggest the easiest possible solution it is sometimes difficult to explain why implementing the easiest solution will be difficult. The purpose of the report was logical as an example of these easily proposed plans that at the beginning they would “engage leaders in the work of developing effective processes and support structure to create a culture of collaboration that would positively impact educator knowledge and skills to improve student learning” (8). But in the end not so easy to implement changes like these instantaneously. 

As Bishop and colleagues found while putting together the “Evaluation Report”. The necessary multi-layered process and protocol that would simultaneously need to change to create a new system were not so easy to execute in real-life or real-time. These inner district interconnected systems would be assisted if the new “teacher leaders” status the state would put into place they should also adopt specific universal standards for professional learning for educators.  Even though The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided 2.4 million dollars to fund a three-year project to support professional learning there were several limitations that even this amazing organization was not ready for in terms of Limitations 

1. Student achievement data at the K-3 levels is limited. 
2. Fidelity of the professional learning initiatives is outside the control of the evaluators. 
3. The ability to generalize findings outside of the selected districts is limited. 
4. The disaggregation of SAI2 data by evaluators is limited to the school building level. 
5. The SAI2 and other relevant teacher data can be connected to individual teachers for statistical analyses (with anonymity maintained). (15) 

Despite the limitations the purpose and outcome are worthwhile because “When carefully designed and thoughtfully applied, technology can accelerate, amplify, and expand the impact of effective teaching practices. However, to be transformative, educators need to have the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of technology-rich learning environments. In addition, As the US Department of Education states in their Office of Educational Technology Introduction, the roles of PK–12 classroom teachers and post-secondary instructors, librarians, families, and learners all will need to shift as technology enables new types of learning experiences.”

And although there still lies some resistance to change in terms of educational technology I think most are coming to the conclusion that students’ lives are better off in the long run if their education includes technology.  But “to inform these adjustments at every level within the system, educators needed a deeper understanding of how data could be used to inform decisions as well as the individual practices of educators” (11). Even though the idea of a singular educational technology department may be going to the wayside I think this is a sign of advancement because it means that each subject might be begrudgingly accepting that they use technology and might benefit from someone who is on their team but also is an expert in tech.  But “for these systemic changes in learning and teaching to occur, education leaders need to create a shared vision for how technology best can meet the needs of all learners and to develop a plan that translates the vision into action” (2017). 

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

Green, N. (2017, December 11). Why Every School’s Edtech Department Should Make Themselves Obsolete – EdSurge News. Retrieved January 08, 2018, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-12-11-why-every-school-s-edtech-department-should-make-themselves-obsolete 

US Department of Education (Ed.). (2017). Introduction of Office of Educational Technology. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/introduction/

A More Effective Online Peer Coach

As part of my studies with the Digital Education Leadership program at SPU, I recently engaged in and completed an exercise in peer coaching with a teacher.  I took into consideration that I now work at a startup, and the professional learning I would be working with her on would be all online and for a particular product. I gradually transitioned from the point of power and requests to a more to a collaborative partner, capable of leading and guiding inquiry. I practiced communication skills, including active listening and questioning strategies as my collaborating partner and I worked to rebuild our ECT program at Edmodo. Much of my work in this course centered around the study of Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Communication by Les Foltos

Beyond what we already learned and addressed how can I create a broader and more personal relationship when conducting online peer coaching?

As part of my reflection, I am considering how I can engage in peer coaching practices without ever having a traditional classroom to step into.  All the coaching is done online through Edmodo classroom and groups. On top of that, how do I evaluate and create metrics of success on the online coaching model? As I work in a business where I must demonstrate all efforts as value to the company.  So I must put forth a plan to revitalize the ECT program.

What is essential to the program to create trainers who we can trust? What support does my facilitator need from me to be more successful in the next cohort? 

Research by Shauna and Baker (2005) explains that One of the challenges resulting from the growing popularity of online education is how to efficiently evaluate online instruction.  Within their paper “Peer Coaching for Online Instruction: An Emerging Model for Faculty Development” where the central question isn’t whether this new approach to education is effective — the plethora of “no significant difference” studies mainly render that question moot — but what steps can be taken to not only ensure that individual courses are useful but provide the necessary guidance to promote faculty growth and development as they teach online.

Ensuring Quality of Online Instruction – Peer Coaching Cycle – “A team of experienced online instructors is currently adapting this peer coaching model for the online environment and has performed preliminary online peer coaching during this past academic year.”

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Within the protocol, the coach logs into Blackboard course site multiple times during a week. “We encourage the online peer coach to take particular notice of the virtual classroom environment and interpersonal communication dynamics.  Such facets include the design and layout of the blackboard web pages, the tone of the announcements and course materials, the level of learner-instructor engagement and learner-learner engagement in class discussions, the types of media used for presenting materials, the ease of navigation, the clarity of course instructions, and the instructor’s mastery of the course content and effectiveness at presenting it to the class.” As I look towards the future of our program, at Edmodo I see how important it is to figure out a way to evaluate the course as it is happening.  The program facilitator is an experienced teacher but teaching online with a cohort from 19 different countries is a whole different beast.  The kids that come to school every day are pushed from so many different sides to attend her class while these grown adults must see value and excitement every single time they log into the system.  It was tough to witness the attrition (the loss of customers or clients over time) because the end results are ECTs and these advocates are so valuable to the company.  As it sits thought it is just too long to keep hard-working teachers engaged, six weeks is a long time to stay concentrated on anything in this day and age especially when there isn’t any promise of compensation at the end.

How do I want to proceed with rebuilding the program?

Recently, I attended Advocamp an Advocate Marketing Strategy conference in San Francisco because that is a significant aspect of my job.  It was put on by a company called Influitive which is in the business of creating online hubs for other businesses to host advocate marketing campaigns and challenges.  It really allows you to gamify the system and reward your advocates with rewards and points.  The most valuable session I attended was by Deena Zenyk, from Influitive her session was titledUncover the hidden value of your advocacy program by learning to use the power of campaign-based planning.” She recently wrote a book about the Six Habits of Highly Effective Advocate Marketers and “Consider your last big purchase: What influenced your decision? A paid advertisement? A polished press release? A celebrity Twitter endorsement? A marketing email? A product webpage? Probably not. More than likely, you listened to someone you know and trust. An authentic voice with relevant experience is the most convincing proponent when we’re considering a new product or company. That is the power of an advocate.”  I think that this message although hard for some teachers to believe but sometimes we are a hard audience to sell to and we really only like to listen to people who have gone through what we have.  Sometimes I talk about my first couple years of teaching at an alternative high school like some people talk about serving in the military.  Now I know it is not comparable to what our military does for our country, but I genuinely do not feel like people at my work know what it is like for a teacher unless they have themselves have taught a couple of years.  That is just one reason why our ECT program brings so much value to our company because teachers only like to hear from other teachers when talking about a product.  But how do we create a course that is the right balance between getting enough experience with the product and short enough to keep everyone’s excitement and engagement?    So Deena Zenyk mentioned a system that CISCO put together years ago called VSEM, Vision, Strategy, Execution and Metric.  Moreover, I am going to put my program through this organization and see what comes out.  Here is what it looks like when diagramed.

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Is collaboration worth the investment? As you plot the next steps in your collaboration journey, it helps to understand the returns that are possible

The improved collaboration represents the best opportunity for business leaders to tap the full range of talents of their people, move with higher speed and flexibility, and compete to win over the next decade. But building a collaborative organization requires a transformative approach to culture, processes, and technology – along with an unwavering commitment from top to bottom. Leaders who encourage change on all three fronts will be rewarded with an energized organization that can adapt quickly to changing markets and deliver results.

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Resources:

Cisco Inc (Ed.). (2012). The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential – CISCO. Retrieved December 09, 2017, from https://www.cisco.com/en/US/services/ps2961/ps2664/collaborative_imperative.pdf

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.

Foltos, L. (2015). Principals boost coaching’s impact: school leaders’ support is critical to collaboration. Journal Of Staff Development36(1), 48-51,.

Shauna, T., Ph.D., & Baker, J. D., Ph.D. (2005). Peer Coaching for Online Instruction: An Emerging Model for Faculty Development. Retrieved December 1, 2017, from Http://warehouse.olc.edu/~cdelong/dl401/peercoaching.pdf,

Institute for Higher Education Policy. (2000). Quality on the line: Benchmarks for success in Internet-based distance education. Retrieved from http://www.ihep.org/sites/default/files/uploads/docs/pubs/qualityontheline.pd

 


Supporting Online Learning Environments to Optimize Collaboration

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As part of my recent exploration of peer coaching, I have recently examined what it means to peer coach reluctant learners and what the 21st-century feedback loop looks like when peer coaching.  Now we are turning our attention to something more specific and how we can use what we learned thus far to improve lessons.  And as the program and activities I am working with are all online and being taught to educated professional adults I am going to research and examine; How can an instructor or coach design an online learning environment to support group collaboration?  I am interested in looking at how to create the most creative and engaging learning environment online. Basically, if the most convenient PD will happen online and we don’t want to distribute training but coach teachers to keep learning how can we do that online without losing engagement and excitement.  

Andrew Marcinek, Director of Technology and EducatorU.org Co-founder, states in a recent Edutopia blog post “if your edtech professional development resembles a TED talk, you might want to reconsider the method of delivery. This is not to say that lecture is an ineffective means of delivering content, but edtech professional development (PD) should include time to explore. It should be hands-on, and groups or teams should have time to share their learning.” Furthermore, as I stated to my cohort members recently it was always difficult for me to mentally reconcile the contrasting approach to collaboration and delivery when it came to PD for teachers. I have countless memories of PD being delivered to my colleagues and me about something they wanted us to implement (i.e., blended learning, flipped classrooms, or PBL) but the PD itself was delivered in a traditional sit and get style lecture. This system felt like the Admins wanted the teachers to continually be creative and think on their feet when teaching students but when it came to the PD given to the teachers, they could not think of a better way of giving us the information.  When teachers have a chance to collaborate and tinker they can “walk away from this kind of PD ready to integrate what they’ve learned in the classroom. Also, administrators should model personal learning networks and leverage a wide range of social media for on-demand learning opportunities” (Edutopia, 2014).  I also think there is a certain protocol of PD that I will outline for optimization.  I took a deeper look at the way Information and Communication Technology (ICT) of Singapore explains meaningful learning design in five different dimensions.  These dimensions represent the ways I also believe that instructional technologist can up the ante when it comes to professional development for teachers in their districts or companies.  Keep in mind the following when creating and implementing PD. 

Learning by Doing

Doing and knowing are reciprocal and participation inevitably involves doing. In well-designed lessons, learning by doing should lead to knowledge creation in which students uncover the subject matter through their performances.

Engage Students’ Prior Knowledge

The more prior knowledge the students have on one topic, the easier it would be for students to relate the new knowledge of theory to their own experiences and learn better. There is a positive prior correlation between prior knowledge comprehensive ability. Students find it easier to retain knowledge when prior knowledge is built upon; building on their prior makes learning personal for the students.

Self-Directed Learning

Learning through participation drawing on acquired knowledge and creating new understanding happens all the time when one is involved in learning guided by self-direction.  I personally believe that self-directed learning like through MOOCs or course by correspondence is difficult.  The program that I am auditing through Edmodo is guided in parts but also self-directed as the professionals taking the course must delegate their time between their full-time jobs and their PD course we created for them.

Real World Connections

In order for learning to be meaningful learners need to be provided with opportunities to call upon what they know as a point of reference, use it as a basis for new knowledge to grow.  This will help students to see the relevance of learning. Real-world connections provide these opportunities.

Collaborative Learning

As Wang stated in ICT for Self-directed and Meaningful Learning 2010, “Technology is not a panacea. However, it has great potential to address some of the above challenges” (784).

Within ICT for Self-directed and Meaningful Learning, “Some design strategies must be applied to promote collaboration. A number of strategies work well in face-to-face classroom settings such as think-pair-share, jigsaw, or ro

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 6.18.02 PM.pngle play. But they do not work at all in an online learning environment as they often need people to meet physically. Also, collaborative learning has a number of challenges,” (783) So we know some strategies that work for in-person dynamic group collaboration but when it comes to online grouping there are different strategies to get the members engaged and active.  I know that because our SPU Digital Educational Leadership cohort meets every week and we have assignments we are expected to have ready it makes me more professional accountable.  If our cohort did not meet in a routine calendared manner I am not sure I would get my work down and continue to push myself independently of the program.

The overall general design principle summarized from this study is: If teachers want to design online learning environments for the purpose of coordinating and monitoring the collaborative learning process they are advised to implement the dimensions of meaningful learning and collaboration.

Resources:

Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., & Gardner, M. (2017, January 05). Effective Teacher Professional Development. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/effective-teacher-professional-development-report

Marcinek, A. (2014, May 20). Tech Integration and School Culture. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/tech-integration-and-school-culture-andrew-marcinek

Tan, A. (2010). Wikis. In Chai, C.S., & Wang, Q. (Eds.), ICT for Self-directed and Meaningful Learning (pp. 783 – 795). Singapore: Pearson. http://international.slo.nl/bestanden/Ch37.pdf/

 


The 21st-Century Skill & Art Form – The Feedback Loop

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This week in my studies with the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, I am continuing to explore ISTE Coaching Standards 1 and 2 by investigating what effective student learning looks like. Just as norms are an essential part of a peer coaching relationship, so too is a shared vision for what effective 21st-century education looks like. This shared vision creates a starting place for any collaborative work.

As Les states, “Communication and collaboration skills are vital to helping coaches build a relationship with peers, based on respect and trust, and assist peers to develop answers to the issues they face as they work to improve teaching and learning for their students.  Effective coaches use these sets of skills and trust as a springboard to encourage their learning partners to take risks and adopt innovative teaching and learning practices. ” 

As we begin thinking about the 21st-Century skills that teachers must interweave into their curriculum, I believe that one of the most important is communication.  This communication piece led me to my question for this post.  Precisely, how can we communicate to educators that quality professional development can come from your professional learning network?  When I imagined this conversation with a potential person I am coaching I wondered if they might not appreciate a line like this.  Perhaps this educator would not like that I used a “buzz” phrase like PLN or that I asked them to break out of their comfort zone.  As it states in Designing Classroom Environments“Teachers must be enabled and encouraged to establish a community of learners among themselves (Lave and Wegner, 1991). These communities can build a sense of comfort with questioning rather than knowing the answer and can develop a model of creating new ideas that build on the contributions of individual members. They can engender a sense of the excitement of learning that is then transferred to the classroom, conferring a sense of ownership of new ideas as they apply to theory and practice.”  This is why I decided to take a deep dive into Stone & Heen’s book Thanks for the Feedback: the Science and art of Receiving Feedback Well

Within the book the authors explain how giving and receiving feedback is a skill and even goes as far as to say it is an art form.  I will admit that at times in my life when I have received critical feedback without any positive elements it was tough to recover and become motivated to work afterward. I had a couple of particularly harsh interactions with an AP Literature teacher in high school and with one of my bosses when I first became a teacher.  It is just happenstance that these were both women whom I admired and obviously wanted positive reinforcement but instead received some feedback that led me down unproductive paths.  As the authors wisely explain “we swim in an ocean of feedback. Each year in the United States alone, every schoolchild will be handed back as many 300 assignments, papers, and tests.  Millions of kids will be assessed as they try out for a team or audition to be cast in a school play.  Almost 2 million teenagers will receive SAT scores and face college verdicts think and thin” (pg 2).  And as the end goal within this process is to always keep those teens or students in mind I want to look at specific element within the “Learning Design Matrix” (Learning Design Matrix.doc) “receive real-world feedback on their work from an audience or subject-matter expert from outside the school.”  Then to take that feedback and “Reflect on, revise and improve their work while engaged in learning”.  These two elements of receiving feedback, taking it, processing it, and then making productive changes is indeed a learned skill.

Applying this feedback loop to Adult learners who can then pass it along to our students of the future. 

Stone and Heen go one to say, “it doesn’t matter how much authority or power a feedback giver has; the receivers are in control of what they do and don’t let in, how they make sense of what they’re hearing, and whether they choose to change” (pg. 4).   Now that I have changed careers and moved into the EdTech sphere and received a new title that probably did not exist in the same capacity twenty years ago I can say the review process is essential.  Keeping an open two-way communication between a whole team is a constant necessity, from morning stand-ups, sprint meetings, project managing, and weekly check-ins.  It is important to give constructive feedback to peers on their work and receive feedback in the same manner.  It must push the project forward, and if something you are excited about gets push to next quarter or next year, you have to think about the company as a whole.  I say all this because as an educator I felt much more self-propelled.  My day-to-day was consumed by what and how I wanted to proceed through the material.  I was able to read the room, and I knew my students the best to gauge where to go next.  Teachers are all very skilled project and program managers, and I wish they were perceived more so in the professional world.  Needlesstosay I mean to explain this because when I entered my new world of EdTech the number of stakeholders in “my” projects grew.  The ownership of plans and projects is shared and constantly refined as more minds are consulted.  Therefore, I would state that for peer coaching, teaching, learning, and 21st-century skills this feedback loop is instrumental to teach.  And as Stone and Heen wrap up their argument of the necessity for feedback they explain “Indeed, research on happiness identifies ongoing learning and growth as a core ingredient of satisfaction in life” (pg. 4).  Meaning that humans crave the continual learning process, but the only way to get better at something is through practice.  If we are trying to motivate students and teachers, we must make it clear that we are not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or put anyone down.  As peer coaches and teachers we see this all as practice to help encourage the user to gain experience and eventually become proficient at a particular skill.

 

Resources:

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.

National Research Council. 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/9853.

Stone, D., & Heen, S. (2015). Thanks for the feedback: the science and art of receiving feedback well. London: Portfolio Penguin. doi:https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=bWw2AAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PT21