Category Archives: Digital Age Learning Environments

Implementing Global Experiences into the Classroom

While taking Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6104 Digital Learning Environments course, we are asked to investigate the following ISTE Coaching Standard:

3. Digital Age Learning Environments:  Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.

Within ISTE Coaching Standard 3: Digital Age Learning Environments, I focused my research on the following indicator:

3g. Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers and the larger community.

What digital resources and technologies can teachers use when implementing global projects into the classroom?

In the past I have researched how to build diversity into the classroom by using Skype as well as conducted my own global project using Skype Collaboration. Feel free to go read more about my research and experience with using Skype in the Classroom; for this blog post I choose to focus on other platforms and/or technologies that can assist educators in implementing global projects into their classroom.

When beginning my research I found this wonderful article written by Julie Lindsay called, “5 levels for taking your classroom global”. In the article Julie introduces 5 different levels of how educators can implement global opportunities in their classrooms for the students. I decided to go along with the 5 levels and find resources that will help educators implement global learning into their classrooms.

Level 1: Online interactions 

This level applies to asynchronous communication and involves sharing online learning via digital platforms for others to interact with. Examples include class and individual blog posts as well as digital artifacts posted online for others to view and comment on.” (Lindsay, 2016)

Recommended Level 1 Apps

Buncee – “Create and share projects or participate in the global pen pal program.” (Asia Society, 2019)

Padlet- A virtual cork board for sharing projects.” (Asia Society, 2019)

SeeSaw-Platform for digital student portfolios” (Asia Society, 2019)

Level 2: Real encounters 

The goal of this level is to connect in real time using whatever tool is available to those connecting. Synchronous interaction means learning is instant and participants can ask questions, share media and build understanding of each other in a very short time.” (Lindsay, 2016)

Recommended Level 2 Apps

ePals“A community of collaborative classrooms engaged in cross-cultural exchanges, project sharing, and language learning.” (Asia Society, 2019)

Empatico“Is a free online tool that connects students aged 7 – 11 to
classrooms around the world using video conference technology.”
(Asia Society, 2019)

Global Nomads Group“Videoconferencing, virtual reality, and other interactive technologies bring young people together across cultural and national boundaries to examine world issues and to learn from experts in a variety of fields.”(Asia Society, 2019)

Level 3: Online learning 

“The aim of this level is to encourage learning through digital interaction and sharing of artifacts. It applies to the development of online communities to support curriculum objectives and may be localized (between classes and schools in the same geographic region) or be more global. The learning focus is asynchronous interaction, although some serendipitous synchronous communication may take place, such as a chat facility for participants.” (Lindsay, 2016)

Recommended Level 3 Apps

PenPal Schools“A thoughtful, ready-to-go platform that builds global awareness and collaboration skills by facilitating authentic, cross-cultural PBL experiences.” (Common Sense Media, 2019)

Level Up Village- “STEAM curriculum that connects students to partners around the globe.” (Asia Society, 2019)

Level 4: Communities of practice

“This level is designed for specific learning objectives as a global community of learners. Communication can be both synchronous and asynchronous. The community of practice would normally have a shared objective, such as a global collaborative project and probably a set timeline that dictates workflow and communication patterns.” (Lindsay, 2016)

Recommended Level 4 Apps

Global Read Aloud“Pick a book to read aloud to your students during a set 6-week period and during that time try to make as many global connections as possible.” (GRA, 2019)

Hour of Code– “The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.” (Hour of code, 2019)

Level 5: Learning collaboratives

The purpose of this community is a little harder to grasp, but it’s basically about fostering learner autonomy for online global collaboration. Each member of the collaborative (educator, student, community partner) has the confidence and ability to initiate collaborations and co-creations within the collaborative. The learning paradigm is redesigned to encourage students to take leadership roles and, in doing so, co-create solutions to global problems and challenges.” (Lindsay, 2016)

Recommended Level 5 Apps

Global Kids– “Using interactive and experiential methods, the program aims to educate youth about critical international and foreign policy issues. Through its professional development program, GK also provides educators with strategies for integrating a youth development approach and international issues into their classrooms.” (Asia Society, 2019)

Taking It Global- “A global online community that seeks to inspire, inform, connect, and empower youth to take action in to improve communities locally and globally. “ (Asia Society, 2019)

Resources:

Asia Society. Technology Tools for Global Education. Retrieved from https://asiasociety.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/technology-tools-for-global-collaboration-edu.pdf

Common Sense Education. Pen Pal Schools. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/website/penpal-schools

GRA. The Global Read Aloud. Retrieved from https://theglobalreadaloud.com/

Hour of Code. (2019). What will you create? Retrieved from https://hourofcode.com/us?gclid=Cj0KCQjw-b7qBRDPARIsADVbUbXNYZXmUVzHJlKNdHLXPrCTk6KtwuY9Xvsg3OEEnwwlUxf78jaNqa8aAqgrEALw_wcB#

ISTE Standards for Coaches (2019). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Lindsay, Julie. (2016, July 19). 5 levels for taking your classroom global. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/In-the-classroom/5-levels-for-taking-your-classroom-global

Be a Troubleshooter to Transform Your Technology Integration

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Digital age learning environments

Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.

E – Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments

Question: How can coaches best support teacher and student stamina when learning how to incorporate new technology into their classroom?

Throughout the Digital Education Leadership (DEL) program at Seattle Pacific University, I have noticed that my own learned helplessness when using new technology was much more ingrained than I had realized. When our cohort was asked to use Coggle to create a Mindmap from our readings during the first quarter, I became frustrated and told myself multiple times that I am just the type of person who is better at using pencil and paper for this task – more specifically, “that is just who I am”. The rigidity around the idea of “that is just who I am” morphed into a learned helplessness that I could not do it well because it wasn’t suited to what I was already proficient at. I am incredibly thankful that throughout learning the Coggle tool and being a part of the DEL program, I realized that by tapping into a growth mindset, I eventually saw and appreciated the value of expanding my skills and not stopping as soon as I had to put effort into something new, uncomfortable and challenging. Luckily, the DEL program coached me through these challenges by having an atmosphere of support and patience with what it takes to learn these skills. This is exactly what I expect and hope my students will aspire to every day in my classroom.  How unfair not to grow with them and this had led me to expect it of myself, first and foremost.  Coaches and the educational environment we are all part of needs to have this same patience and perseverance in order to gain the stamina to succeed in the always evolving technology rich culture we all live in.  

Many of the issues that surround implementing technology in the classroom result from a fixed mindset from educators, administration, district demands around testing, parent fears and students who have been exposed regularly to one ‘right way’.  When connectivity and basic hardware/software issues pop up, it is easy to sweep away what you were attempting to implement in the name of needing to teach a standard. This challenge becomes not worth the time, effort and resources. Sure, time may be spent differently than you anticipated but in the long run, you and your students will learn critical life long skills that our students need to learn for the 21st century and beyond. Our stamina around implementation of new technology, as coaches and educators, is critical to the success of these skills for our students.

When looking at the Life and Career column of these 21st century skills, these are the skills that will help all the other skills take root, grow and maintain footing in all contexts.  Each one of these has been critical in my own growth with implementing digital education and technology and to grow with my students while moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. While researching ways to inspire stamina for other educators as a coach, I came across a great article about common issues that arise when using technology.  This list can help coaches teach educators what to do with common problems while using technology in their classroom. I would also extend this idea into creating a living document (a document that is always changing, being added to and being updated) style list with the classroom community adding to it as issues arise. The classroom community, as a whole, is part of problem solving the issues that are sure to come. There have been many times that a student shows me how to solve an issue occurring in class…what an invaluable opportunity for students to become leaders and mentors and this has the opportunity to create a safe environment for solving problems and collaboration between students and adults. In addition, this can help students and teachers to move past learned helplessness and into an eagerness to solve problems as they arise.  

In the Edutopia article, Avoiding Learned Helplessness, Andrew Miller lists out ways educators can shift students into a growth mindset. Miller states, “We, as educators, are often responsible for learned helplessness, and we have a responsibility to change it. How can we empower our students to be self-directed learners?”

  • Curate and Create Learning Resources (Wakelet if a great resource for this!)
  • Using Questions to Drive Learning
  • Stop Giving Answers
  • Allow for Failure

“We need to take responsibility for empowering our students, and to scaffold the process of self-direction. Self-direction doesn’t happen overnight, especially when many of our students have been trained through specific structures of their schooling to be helpless. Although we can take steps as individual educators to avoid learned helplessness, we need to reexamine the systems of schooling, from curriculum to assessment and instruction, to allow for empowerment rather than always getting the right answer.”

~ Andrew Miller

Miller reminds us that specific structures of schooling trains students to be helpless.  In order to counter these structures, consider the idea of Productive Failure (Maun Kapur) as a way to shift from learned helplessness to seeing challenges as an opportunity for authentic learning and a more engaging learning experience that frees students up to wonder, problem solve and have multiple opportunities to try out ideas.  This applies heavily to how teachers can view troubleshooting technology issues, as well, and showcase this pedagogy to students.

“This pedagogy [Productive Failure] requires students to manage an open-ended process of challenge and exploration, so they may feel less confident in the short term. The approach helps them to become more creative and resilient over time.” “For productive failure, the order is reversed, so students try to solve ill-structured problems first, and then receive direct instruction.”

https://iet.open.ac.uk/file/innovating_pedagogy_2016.pdf
https://sites.msudenver.edu/sips/sip-6-4-productive-failure/
A peek into Manu Kapur speaking about Productive Failure

Throughout researching how to build stamina for teachers and students, I keep coming back to the idea that we as educators need to model a desire to approach challenges.  The more we run from using digital resources and technology because there are bound to be issues, the more we are modeling learned helplessness for our students – exactly what we are trying to steer them away from! At the heart of this ISTE 3 Coaching Standard 3E, is the word troubleshooting. The Marian Webster definition of a troubleshooter is:

a person skilled at solving or anticipating problems or difficulties

Coaches have the opportunity to inspire the stamina it takes to implement new ways of teaching by providing resources that give educators the skills to anticipate problems or difficulties rather than focusing on how to do it ‘right’ the first time. Solving and anticipating problems and difficulties are key aspects to be ready to grow as an educator and meet students in the educational world they are growing up in.

How have you lost or gained stamina when using technology in the classroom? When have you given up? When have you pushed through? Who have you seen rise to technology challenges and who has helped you to push through? Have you seen students push through issues/challenges with perseverance and stamina and what was the sequence they went through? In what ways have you been successful or not successful with teaching growth mindset to students? Have you tried approaching learning from a Productive Failure pedagogy? Learning from each other, connecting with the challenges of stamina, perseverance and growth mindset for students and ourselves and being inspired by each other is how our community can become stronger and more supportive. I would love to hear your perspective!

Resources:

Diplomatic Courier. (2017, Jan. 29). Interview w. Manu Kapur at GTS 2017. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fosOJ_4Fqxk

ISTE Coaching Standards. (2019) Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches 

Kapur, Manu.  Productive Failure.  Retrieved from https://www.manukapur.com/productive-failure/

Metropolitan State University of Denver. (2018, Feb. 07) SIP 6.4 Productive Failure: Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?  Retrieved from https://sites.msudenver.edu/sips/sip-6-4-productive-failure/

Miller, A. (2015). Avoiding Learned Helplessness.  Edutopia blog: Teaching Strategies. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoiding-learned-helplessness-andrew-miller

Murray, Jacqui. (2013) Solve Those Tricky Classroom Tech Problems. Tech Hub. Retrieved from http://www.teachhub.com/how-solve-tricky-classroom-tech-problems

Famularo, Lisa. (2011, April 29). Developing 21st Century Leaders: Creating Paths to Success. National Partnership for Educational Access.  Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/NPEAConference/integrating-21st-century-skills-into-teaching-and-learning-preparing-all-students-for-success-in-college-career-and-life

National Institute of Education: Singapore. (2016) Innovating Pedagogy 2016: Exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment, to guide educators and policy makers. Retrieved from https://iet.open.ac.uk/file/innovating_pedagogy_2016.pdf

Choosing Digital Tools for the Classroom

This quarter as part of Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6104 Digital Learning Environments class, I investigated the question: “What are the best practices for choosing digital tools and content for the classroom?” My goal was to find information on what educators are wanting from digital tools and to learn how to choose digital tools that fit within your classroom/ school environment. Through research, my focus for this investigation was to cover the following ISTE Coaching Standard:

3F. Collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure.

Finding the “Right” Tools

When beginning my research I found an article written by Meg Hamel where she compares how to find the “right” tools to planning a meal for your family.

“To make a great meal for your family, you’ve got to factor in budget, individual schedules, food preferences or sensitivities, flavor, and nutritional value. The same kind of planning should happen when beginning a search for edtech products. Administrators and teachers must build a shared understanding of the specific goals for teaching and learning for their school.”

Meg Hamel goes on to recommend building a list of “What you have versus what you need” and to evaluate what has been successful within your classrooms and which areas could need more digital support. In a study by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Bill, 2015) shows that most teachers see the value that using technology can have in the classroom and prefer tools that:

  • Are consistent, inviting, and easy for teachers to use
  • Are intuitive and easy for students to use.
  • Saves teachers time and is simple to integrate into instruction.
  • Allows both teachers and students to continually tailor tasks and instruction based on individual student skills and progress.
Chart from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on What Teachers Want from Technology

The chart above is sorted by grade level as well as by subject that shows the different ways digital technology can be used in the classroom. As you can see the higher the grade, the more digital technology goes from simply a new way of delivery to more of a supportive role in the classroom. (Bill, 2015) Teachers also shared how technology could be tailored for more student-driven or teacher-driven learning in the chart below:

Chart from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In the link below I also provided some recommended apps/resources by Liz Kolb who sorts her digital tools into four categories: Social Use, Higher-Level Thinking, Value-Added, and Authentic Context.

https://www.iste.org/explore/Toolbox/4-tips-for-choosing-the-right-edtech-tools-for-learning

Through my research I also found two edtech databases that help teachers narrow down what they are looking for in an app/resource. These databases are Edsurge and Common Sense Education. After learning more about these databases, I feel they can be helpful in choosing new technologies and assist teachers in finding an appropriate resource without feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of digital choices they have to choose from.

Resources

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (K-12 Education Team). (2015). Teachers Know Best: What Educators Want From Digital Instructional Tools. Retrieved from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/resource/what-educators-want-from-digital-instructional-tools-2-0/

Hamel, Meg. (2017, September 24). The Secret Sauce to Choosing Edtech? Find Tools By Fit, Not Feature. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-09-24-the-secret-sauce-to-choosing-edtech-find-tools-by-fit-not-feature

ISTE Standards for Coaches (2019). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Kolb, Liz. (2016, December 20). 4 tips for choosing the right edtech tools for learning. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/Toolbox/4-tips-for-choosing-the-right-edtech-tools-for-learning

Evaluate and Curate!

ISTE Coaching Standard 3: Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.

B – Maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments

D – Select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning

F – Collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure

With so many digital tools and resources available, it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones are best for all students, integrate well into standards/curriculum and are considered acceptable to use by your district and/or school.  A survey by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation revealed that teachers rely primarily on recommendations from other teachers when deciding on what technologies to incorporate into their classroom. This led me to the question:

What are evaluative practices that I can use to curate digital resources and tools and where can students and teachers access this curated list easily? 

Having a checklist of questions to guide teachers through the evaluation process for digital tools and resources is a great way to start evaluating. This Digital Tool Protocol Overview can be a starting point for how to evaluate the tool or resource you would like to use.  In addition, adding questions that focus on culturally sustaining pedagogy, culturally relevant pedagogy and culturally relevant teaching can be added in as a teacher, school community and/or district can fine tune how they want to evaluate digital tools and resources.  In the article, Building Culturally Responsive Classrooms With Digital Content, Dr. Karen Beerer states,  Cultural responsiveness through “going digital” is about being able to answer yes to these questions throughout all classrooms in your school:

  • Is instruction relevant to students’ lives and the world around them?
  • Is your teaching preparing students to be future ready?
  • Do the instructional resources enhance students’ learning?
  • Do the instructional resources reflect the students in any way?
  • How is what you’re teaching going to impact or change students’ lives?

Beerer also mentions “…seven ways educators can use digital content to implement culturally responsive teaching effectively’:

  1. Integrate digital content into your instruction.
  2. Ensure the digital content is high-quality.
  3. Use digital activities such as high-quality graphics, games, virtual labs and robust math and science challenges to motivate students.
  4. Build students’ vocabularies with a variety of different digital resources such as videos, animations, and images.
  5. Engage students in experiences, such as a virtual field trip to the North Pole, that they wouldn’t ordinarily have, or perhaps may never have, to build understanding of others.
  6. Close the “belief gap”.
  7. Know your students and the communities you serve.

Beerer goes into each of these principles in detail, explaining more in-depth how each principle connects to students and the classroom community.  Teachers can use these questions and principles as best practices to meet all students in their classrooms, including students with disabilities, under-served populations, students of color, ELL students and neurodiverse students.  Including these ideas into tech evaluations is critical to best meet your students where they are at and to make learning accessible to all.

One of the most exciting parts of using digital tools and resources in a classroom is the chance for students to take agency over their own learning. I found this video very inspiring as a reminder of how to tap into the curiosity, creativity, diversity, culture and heart of every student.

Brian Lozenski states, “Diversify the avenues that we offer for students to participate.” I really connected with Lozenski’s idea of ‘reversing the poles’ by focusing on ways of participating versus knowledge acquisition instead of the other way around. It made me reflect on how digital tools and resources could be used to inspire “ways of participating” in education not “just acquiring the knowledge”. A digital tool or resource could help to open a pathway of inquiry, connection to self and environment and in turn, lead to more student driven learning and excitement. 

After teachers evaluate the digital tools and resources they want to use, implementation is next. It is important for teachers to give themselves and students time to become familiar with the tool.  Re-evaluate the tools and resources as time goes on to determine if what is being used is, in fact, best for students. I like the idea of SELFIE, a digital technology feedback tool that has been put out by the European Commission.  Schools can use SELFIE to get feedback from students, teachers and staff about how digital tools and resources are working well or not working.  Also, it is anonymous and free making it available to all and participants can feel safe in knowing that they can give an honest opinion.

Then what? If educators generally look to others in the field of education for resources, tools, ideas and insight, how can we broaden the community educators have to draw from in order to start or improve their digital age learning environment?  Digital education coaches and educators who are using technology regularly could curate a list of resources to share with other educators – locally and globally. A resource that I have found very helpful this year is Wakelet

A bulleted list of digital tools and resources is often overwhelming (and boring!).  Educators are busy and need a place to go to easily find a tool or resource that works for a specific grade or subject matter. With Wakelet, the curated list can include videos, photos, written descriptions and be broken down into categories that then have multiple resources. This makes the experience more inviting and engaging for those interacting with the content curated.  There is also opportunity for students to interact with the tools and resources a teacher has compiled. This opens the possibilities for students to choose what they would like to use which supports student choice and interest. I highly recommend this digital tool because it is easy to use, the opportunity for connecting with others and it is free!

In order to get to the evaluation and curation stage of digital tools and resources, finding the best ones to look more closely at is another task in and of itself.  Here are a few starting points so you can start evaluating and curating!

Resources:

Beerer, Karen. (2017, Feb. 20) Building Culturally Responsive Classrooms with Digital Content. Retrieved from https://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/02/culturally-responsive-classrooms-digital-content/

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2015). Teachers Know Best. What Educators Want From Digital Education Tools. Retrieved from http://edtech-production.herokuapp.com/reports

Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

Dynamic Learning Project. Retrieved from https://dynamiclearningproject.com/strategymenu

European Commission. SELFIE. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/education/schools-go-digital_en

Feedspot. (2019, July 5). Top 75 Educational Technology Blogs and Websites for Educators. Retrieved from https://blog.feedspot.com/educational_technology_blogs/

Lozenski, Brian. (2012). Bringing Cultural Context and Self-Identity into Education: Brian Lozenski. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX9vgD7iTqw

Johnson, Karen. (2016, March 15). Resources to Help You Choose the Digital Tools Your Classroom Needs. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-15-resources-to-help-you-choose-the-digital-tools-your-classroom-needs

Wakelet. Retrieved from Waklet – https://learn.wakelet.com/

Coaching the Community – becoming comfortable and courageous with digital education

ISTE Coaching Standard:

3a – Model effective classroom management and collaborative learning strategies to maximize teacher and student use of digital tools and resources and access to technology-rich learning environments.

3c – Coach teachers in and model use of online and blended learning, digital content, and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning as well as expand opportunities and choices for online professional development for teachers and administrators.

Before digital tools and resources can be implemented into a classroom, trust around the use of these tools and resources needs to be established. Technology Coaches have a complex role because there are many stakeholders in the school community which results in many perspectives on technology use in the classroom. Fellow teachers, administration, district leaders, parents and caregivers within the school community are all in the same position in regards to the rapid advancement of digital tools and resources, it is fairly new to us all and there are varying levels of comfort and understanding.  It can feel overwhelming as we evaluate and create new best practices within our education system and if we are actually using digital education in the best way possible – to benefit student development, learning, collaboration and ingenuity. Since the digital education revolution began, it is natural that this new style of delivering education results in uncertainty. It is important for Technology Coaches to invite and involve all stakeholders into the conversation in order for our educational communities to grow and thrive together.  This leads me to my question surrounding the ISTE Coaching Standard 3a and 3c:  

How can I model (for other teachers) and explain (to the parent/caregivers community) how we use digital tools and resources in the classrooms at our school and lead them toward seeing the difference between passive consumption of digital tools/resources versus active learning, collaboration and real world application that students come away with after engaging with their learning in this way?

Pushback around screen time in the classroom is a common trepidation that parents and teachers experience around using digital tools and resources in school. This is a rational feeling and one that should not be dismissed but instead openly discussed and respected.  What do people mean when they say ‘screen time’? What are they visualizing? How much time are they thinking students will be looking at a screen? Does it matter if the time is broken up into small chunks and/or while collaborating with other students? Would this change how they feel? Is all screen time equal no matter what the end goal – learning from a video, passing the time watching a TV show, reading a digital book, being a penpal online to learn about another culture, doing math problems, video conferencing, researching a question one wonders about, exploring google maps, time playing Minecraft, and the list goes on.  In the article, The Problem is Wasted Time, Not Screen Time, Tom Vander Ark speaks to the importance of how a screen is used, the agency students can develop with their learning, and the important role educators have in making smart decisions when using technology in the classroom.    

“Are today’s students spending too much time in front of computer screens? The more important question is: are students engaged in powerful learning experiences and, whenever possible, given voice and choice in what, how, and when they learn? Digital technology can powerfully facilitate this process, if thoughtful adults deploy it wisely. Otherwise, it can be mind-numbing, or worse.  The emerging generation of educational technology has the power to accelerate learning productivity in ways we can scarcely imagine. If we can ensure that students are connected to it through the help of teachers, a natural balance between online and offline experiences will develop.” – Tom Vander Ark

The important role educators play in deploying digital education for students students may be why it feels unnerving for many educators to start incorporating digital education within their classroom. There is a traditional way of teaching that educators are used to – how they were taught growing up, how they learned to be teachers and how they have developed as teachers over the years.  Yet, our students backgrounds are quite different from the previous generations because of the technology revolution and this change is here to stay…and here to revolutionize teaching, if educators embrace it. With this change, there needs to be new ways for teachers to learn about and gain access to digital education professional development in order to feel comfortable and courageous. This same push toward educator understanding would also be beneficial for the parent/caregiver community to help all stakeholders understand the difference between passive consumption and active learning with the support of screen time, tools and online resources. 

Anthony Rebora wrote about a K-12 teacher survey in the article, Teachers Still Struggling to Use Tech to Transform Instruction, Survey Finds, and the survey results show that there is a struggle to find the right use, balance and purposeful application.

Lack of training and using technology regularly for drills, reviews and practice exercises shows why there is a mistrust of digital education use – it can be so much more purposeful! This hits upon the heart of what ISTE Coaching Standards 3a and 3c mean to me which is the importance of modeling how and why using digital education supports our students, educators and families, if done thoughtfully. Focusing on how to shift towards regularly using technology for collaboration, research and group projects instead of skills and drills practice. Focusing on how to move from passive to active use of tools, platforms and resources. In order to get there, trust must be established first and foremost with the school community as a whole.

Below are ideas connected to this ISTE coaching standard to help begin positive dialogue about digital education learning opportunities for all the stakeholders in the school community. 

  • Professional Development (PD) for teachers AND Community Development (CD) for families
    • Leading hands-on CD workshops for families at school – focus on having students and adults work together to learn the tools, introduce new platforms and have multiple hands-on experiences with the formats. Make a short video to send to families that cannot come to school for the workshop. Here is a resource to use to start planning these CD experiences – Technology in the Classroom: Running a Parent Class.  
    • Have students make a how-to video to share with parents about the digital technology they are using, what they enjoy about it, what they are learning from it, the collaborations and partnership work with their peers, etc.
    • As a coach, develop PD for teachers (and parent allies, PTA members, etc.) that uses suggestions from these two Cult of Pedagogy articles – Tech for Teacher Trainings and OMG, Becky PD is Getting So Much Better. 
    • Share about equity and mindfulness around digital resources and tools – it is important to remind families that their child may have screen time at home but other students may not have access in the same way. Yet, most importantly, the screen time in school is often very different than screen time in school. Focus on how students use technology to learn and explore, not as passive entertainment. 
  • Mentor not Monitor
    • Introduce the idea of the adult community being mentors for students on balancing digital use instead of monitoring use as if students can not learn to have self-control, mindfulness and balance. This is an area that adults and students need support with because with the rapid increase of technology use, the fear and monitoring can trick people into feeling that we lose control when using technology and cannot actively learn to be aware of when our use is purposeful vs passive consumption. (Here is an interesting Mentorship Manifesto to look over from a parent perspective) Older students could then become mentors to younger students as time goes on.  The younger students are when they learn this balance, the more equipped they will be when they have more unrestricted access to technology as they grow up.  
    • Educate the school community about the importance of teaching students how to be aware of their tech use – the why, when and how digital tools and resources are used and how technology can aid in peer collaboration within the classroom and in a global context.
    • Digital Etiquette – talk about what this is, how can we extend it from online etiquette to etiquette toward the world around us while we are engaging in digital education.  I have been thinking a lot about how some of the uneasiness around technology use is based on the way people tune out to the world around them…Should this be addressed as simply as how we teach basic manners to children?  How to pause your technology use when someone is talking to you, putting your device down and focusing on eye-contact, clear expectations around how to clearly disengage and reengage appropriately and with thoughtfulness in group settings.  
  • Evaluative frameworks
    • Share with stakeholders how  SAMR, TPACK or Triple E can guide teachers in the process of decision making when it comes to deciding what digital resources deepen student learning, engagement and interest. These same framework ideas can be applied to how families decide what their students engages with at home, also. Click on the links to dive into more about each framework!
  • Allies in your community
    • Find your parent community allies and work alongside them as a partnership so that many perspectives are represented and not just the teacher perspective.  Parents are looking to each other for what seems appropriate and collaborating with the PTA, room parents and any other supporters in the school can help level the playing field without it seeming like the teacher is trying to have it their way.  Most likely, an educators perspective is different from the perspective of the parents yet having many different vantage points can help ease the minds of those who feel they are totally against technology use in the classroom. 
    • Find educators in your school or district to partner with and build learning communities around digital education. Reach out and offer opportunities of observation for educators who may be hesitant to use digital tools and resources. Show them what you have learned – not just what you ‘know’ – and invite their ideas about your own use before moving into conversation around their own use. Model first, and then second and then third and on and on until they show interest in wanting to try it out themselves. Be patient, be kind and listen to what their needs are, don’t just wait to tell them what you think would be best for them to start doing with digital education.
  • Guiding Principles for Use of Technology with Early Learners
    • Incredible resource from the Office of Educational Technology to help Technologist Coaches facilitate discussion with the school community on guiding principles when looking at educational technology.  This is a key resource for understanding the balance of digital use and how to have success and purpose for all stakeholders. Highlights are:
      • Guiding Principle #1: Technology—when used appropriately—can be a tool for learning.
      • Guiding Principle #2: Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.
      • Guiding Principle #3: Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators, and young children.
      • Guiding Principle #4: Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children.
    • Introduce the Three C’s to your professional and school community 
      • Content—How does this help children learn, engage, express, imagine, or explore?
      • Context—What kinds of social interactions (such as conversations with parents or peers) are happening before, during, and after the use of the technology? Does it complement, and not interrupt, children’s learning experiences and natural play patterns?
      • The individual child—What does this child need right now to enhance his or her growth and development? Is this technology an appropriate match with this child’s needs, abilities, interests, and development stage?

This is not an exhaustive list of how to begin implementing ISTE Coaching Standards 3a and 3c but through my research on this topic, I feel more equipped to begin the conversation. To begin putting together a basic workshop, to begin reaching out and asking questions and helping to find answers that may put all stakeholders more at ease with our changing educational setting. Overall, I feel ready to continue the conversations, build community around this topic and be courageous enough to learn alongside my colleagues, my parent/caregiver community and my students – much like our technology revolution, more will come and there is much more for us all to learn and share. 


Resources:

Gonzalez, J. (2016, March 20). How to Plan Outstanding Tech Training for Your Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/tech-training-for-teachers/

Gonzalez, J. (2018, March 4). OMG, Becky, PD Just Got So Much Better. Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/pd/

Hamilton, Erica R, Rosenberg, Joshua M., Akcaoglu, Mete. (2016, May 28) he Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) Model: a Critical Review and Suggestions for its Use. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11528-016-0091-y

Heitner, Devorah, PhD. Riasing Digital Natives. The Mentorship Manifesto. Retrieved from https://www.raisingdigitalnatives.com/mentorship-manifesto/

ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Murray, Jacqui. Tech Hub. Technology in the Classroom: Running a Parent Class. Retrieved from: http://www.teachhub.com/technology-classroom-running-parent-class

Office of Education Technology. Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/earlylearning/principles/

Rebora, Anthony. (2016, June 6) Education Week. “Teachers Still Struggling to Use Tech to Transform Instruction, Survey Finds”. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/06/09/teachers-still-struggling-to-use-tech-to.html?tkn=SUNF3xA1W22FFtjNlbjUg5JOX4Y8vP7i4W5T&intc=es#charts

TPACK. Retrieved from http://tpack.org/

Triple E Framework. Retrieved from https://www.tripleeframework.com/


Creating Videos with Adaptive and Assistive Technologies to Support Student Learning.

To fully understand ISTE coaching standard 3D), “Select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning,” I created a website which hosts three videos, (ISTE, 2017). Each video describes the steps in the “Backwards Design” model as a means to incorporate edtech into existing lesson plans.  It was important to incorporate captions as part of assistive technology to support all students. The videos below were created with screen-capturing software, TechSmith Relay, and later uploaded and captioned using YouTube’s captioning functionality.

Note: Please click on “closed captioning” icon on bottom of video to view captions.

 

Backward Design Three-Step Video

Stage One Application: Modify the basic lesson provided from the Colorado Extended Food and Nutrition Program to meet specific criteria that you develop using the backward design.

Stage Two Application: Determine the type of understanding you want your audience to achieve and build your action-oriented task. Consider the active learning elements and digital tools you wish to include. How do they enhance engagement and performance?

Stage Three Application: Develop your lesson plan. Double check that your activities meet your main objective(s).

Full website is available here.

Reflection

Through this process, I finally understood the importance of assistive technology.  Great effort was put into each video to ensure that all students can use and learn according to their abilities. After this experience, I now always take the extra steps to add captions or use alternative text to all graphics I upload into my digital environments.

References

ISTE, 2017. ISTE standards for coaching. Available from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches.

Future Classroom Models

With the goal of promoting 21st century skills, the university is looking for ways to better serve the students and faculty by providing them with enriching technology experiences. Collaborating with the educational technology department, I embarked on a three-phase project with the scope of gathering information, and brainstorming solutions to improve the technology usage experience in the classroom.

This project aligns with the ISTE coaching standard 3F- “Collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure,” (ISTE, 2017).  The project depended on several collaborations from gathering feedback from faculty, requesting data from technology departments, to continued collaborations among these departments to support proposed classroom technology changes.

A summary of the project outcomes is provided below.

Phase One: Edit, distribute, analyze, and report on the Classroom Technology Survey.

Pilot Survey Summary. A few months ago, I participated in the development of a pilot study with the scope of investigating faculty use of current classroom technology.  Though the results could not be generalized to the greater faculty body, we learned that the faculty sub-group was not adverse to technology nor did they consider themselves expert users.  We also found some correlations between faculty comfort with technology and the types of technology that are used in the classroom. This result mirrored what types of technology students were exposed to.  Similar correlations were found between faculty comfort and where technology was incorporated into teaching and learning. However, from voluntary feedback provided by our pilot subjects, we learned that not all subjects understood the term “classroom technology” clearly nor understood the context with which we were addressing “active learning.” With these and other suggestions, we improved the survey for clarity and brevity. The outcomes of that pilot project can be reviewed in greater detail here.

Survey Outcomes and Implications. After implementing the changes described above, the edited survey was presented to the faculty body by a contributing stakeholder and responses were collected for two weeks. A total of 108 completed surveys was collected representing twenty-four departments and roughly one-third of the total faculty population.

The majority of the participants considered themselves “average-technology adopters” which indicates that faculty are not adverse to incorporating technology into their teaching and student learning but will not do so unprompted or without substantial assistance and resources. These results were congruent with the pilot study.  Understanding faculty adoption rate is an important consideration as any proposed classroom model change may be better received by this faculty body alongside a comprehensive training plan.

Additionally, all faculty used technology in teaching and student learning though there wasn’t a correlation between self-identified technology adoption rate and total areas of technology incorporation. The faculty are currently using technology to support lecture or the physical classroom, and disseminate course resources to students. All faculty currently felt proficient with most classroom technologies expect for mobile devices. Faculty might be unfamiliar with how mobile devices can be used as a classroom technology. However, faculty also indicated a desire for more training on mobile devices. Interestingly, when asked if faculty had access to mobile device and the frequently which with they use the device, about half of the participants wished to learn more or were already using mobile devices in the classroom and the other half did not have access and would not use it. This unusual finding may be an implication of the characteristics of average technology users who may not be inclined to try new technology without comprehensive training and modelling.

One final implication of the survey outcomes indicates that students are more likely to engage in passive participation with technology in online environments based on the characteristics of faculty familiarity. Given that most faculty engage with the online classroom as a way to present course resources or view lecture videos, students may not gain full exposure to 21st century skills or digital citizenship.

Figure 1.1 provides more details into the survey’s findings.

Figure 1.1. Classroom Technology Survey Results and Implications Presentation.

Phase Two- Brainstorm Classroom Models.

After the survey results were released, stakeholders including digital librarians, professional development department members, and computer information department members, met to discuss current classroom models and began brainstorming possible models that will meet future needs of faculty. The meeting started with a review of the survey described above, followed by a review of input data pulled from the classroom podium central tower. The data helped understand how often each classroom device was accessed throughout the academic year. The inputs data helped reinforce the survey data by identifying the podium pc as one of the most used classroom technologies and the VCR among the least utilized.

After the usage background information was presented, the discussion on future classroom models ensued.  By observing the concerns expressed by each stakeholder department, it became apparent that the issue is deeper than I originally thought.  I believed that the most difficult component of developing a new classroom model was faculty support. However, in addition to faculty support, budget, limitations of physical space, inventory logistics, and training demands, were among the concerns addressed. Despite these concerns, all were optimistic about future directions proposed by the collaboration leader.

Figure 1.2 below summarizes these models.

Infographic describing 9 classroom models
Figure 1.2 Future Classroom Models.

No final decision about future directions was decided. However, the meeting concluded on a positive note. All departments left with assignments to gather more information by the end of summer.  The committee would reconvene at that time to further support establishing a decision.

Phase Three: Curate activity examples for the classroom models.

The final phase of this project looked at examples of how some classroom models could be used to support active learning. One classroom model used at the university is an high-tech active classroom.  These classrooms consist of flexible furniture whose arrangement promote collaboration. The circular nature of the desks allow student focus on each other rather than the lecturer. Additionally, the room features an advanced podium system where each flex furniture center contains connections to it own monitor mounted on the wall.  The lecturer can control which monitor is displayed and can share input from one computer to all of the others.

High-Tech Classroom Demonstration Picture
Active Classroom Demonstration

Coupled with a request by my department to conduct a high-tech classroom demonstration for an accreditation visit, I created a demonstration with two possible uses of that space after meeting with the Food and Nutrition Program Director, the Digital Librarian, and the DEL Program Director.  The showcase featured examples of low-tech classroom activities and high-tech activities featuring that classroom space.

figure representing the low tech example
Figure 1.3 Low-Tech Active Learning Example

The low-tech example features uses of the flex furniture/space. This example highlights how the classroom can be setup as skill development stations.  Each station could be set up to focus on a specific counseling or clinical skill. Students would have the opportunity to practice the skill at the station before demonstrating it to an assessor.  Once mastery was achieved, the student would rotate to the next station.

graphic depicting high tech active learning example
Figure 1.4 High-Tech Active Learning Example

The high-tech example utilizes the capabilities of presenting the input from each group onto its individual monitor. In this scenario, students are given a component of a larger problem to work on in their group. Each group would present their work on their corresponding monitor. Because the podium can project each group’s work onto their individual monitor, the educator could then ask students to take a step back and review all of the components together, reflecting on the big picture idea behind the project.

Conclusion and Reflection

The work I’ve conducted on the future classroom models left me feeling very optimistic about the future of educational technology.  I was pleased that common misconceptions of faculty resistance to technology was not a barrier to classroom technology change at the university.  The opposite was found to be true as results of the classroom technology survey revealed. The conclusion of the stakeholder meeting introduced interesting ideas where educators will no longer be limited by the static technology that is made available in physical space.  Educators may very soon be able to connect to their own devices and allow students to connect and interact with classroom technology more actively. Even examining current classroom models, active learning does not need advanced technology as it can take place with low tech activities. This was also expressed in the survey as faculty indicated high proficiency and desire for more whiteboards in the classroom. With the option of both high-tech and low-tech possibilities for active learning, students are able to gain appreciation of digital literacy, creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving.  As a higher education institution,we can’t say that technology hasn’t taken hold over our teaching and student learning. Active learning and student engagement are held to high esteem as our attitudes and ideals shift from traditional classrooms to classrooms that support the development of 21st century skills.

References

ISTE, 2017. ISTE standards for coaching. Available from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches.

Global Collaboration Project using Skype Collaborations

This quarter as part of Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6103 Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 2 course, I investigated the question: “How can we use Skype Collaborations to connect us with others both locally and globally to solve real-world problems?” My goal was to find information on Skype Collaborations as well as answer questions I had about creating a Global Collaborative Project. Through research, my focus for this investigation was to cover the following ISTE Educator Standard:

4c: Use collaborative tools to expand students’ authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally.

What are the benefits of Global Collaboration?

Renewed Sense of Purpose:

“Students see the real effects that their creation can have on others” (Ripp, 2016)

Renewed Sense of Community

“Students yearn to see where they fit into the world” (Ripp, 2016)

Renewed Understanding of the Digital Footprint: “Engaging Students in global collaborative projects means that they see the footprint creation as well as the effect their online interactions can have on other people” (Ripp, 2016)

Before Creating a Global Collaborative Project

Questions to Think About

In Pernille Ripp’s book, “Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration: Create Globally Literate K 12 Classrooms”, he recommends thinking about the following questions before creating your Global Collaborative Project:

  • Which subject areas will this project influence?
  • How much time can you devote to this project?
  • What are your preferred digital or analog tools?
  • Do students have a say in what you share?
  • What are you hoping to accomplish from participating in this global project?

Tips to be Successful

Ripp also give the 10 following tips to a successful Global Collaborative Project:

  1. Be simple
  2. Make sure the idea is easily translatable
  3. Don’t make too many rules
  4. Invite others to contribute ideas
  5. Don’t get stuck in a rut
  6. Use technology tools for the right reason
  7. Create a community
  8. Be accessible
  9. Trust other people
  10. Make it fun!

Using Skype Collaborations as a Collaborative Tool

One tool I found while researching Global Collaboration Projects was Skype Collaborations. I found many projects that were available that I could join that varied on subject area and grade (age). It was enlightening to see other projects and get a grasp of what a real Global Collaborative Project should look like. Here is an example of one:

With the video above and the available global projects available with Skype Collaborations, I was able to see some examples of successful Global Collaborative Projects, The next question that came in mind is if this type of tool would be suitable for the younger ages (Pre-K and Kindergarten). I was pleasantly surprised on the amount of projects that were suitable for little learners! Karina Bailey, who is a Kindergarten teacher from Georgia, even shares some of her favorite collaborations she does with her class:

One document I found in my research on Skype Collaborations was a guide to help answer some questions you may be having about using Skype Collaborations in the classroom. Here are a few that helped me:

“How can I find the right Skype Collaboration for my classroom?”

Browse through or use the filter to view available Skype Collaborations by:

  • Age group
  • Subject
  • Location
  • Dates and times available

“How long does a Skype Collaboration session last?”

“As Skype Collaborations are run by teachers, it can vary, and depends on the nature of the Collaboration- whether it’s a one-off call or a longer-term project you’ll be working on together. Usually Skype sessions are between 30 minutes to an hour to fit in with the school lesson timings.”

“How do we get connected on Skype?”

“The host will normally send you a contact request via Skype before the session. If the host has provided you with their Skype ID, please go ahead and add them as a contact on Skype and wait for them to accept the request. If this is your first call, we recommend having a test call- either with the host, or if they are not available with another contact (even a teacher in another room!)”

“What age range are Skype Collaborations suitable for?”

“We have options for all age ranges- use the filter to find those available for your students ages. You can also include some information in your message to the host as to your students needs and what they hope to gain from the session. Generally as you’ll be working with another class, the students on both sides are usually around the same age.”

Resources

[Skype]. (2015, August 11). Kansas Students Solve Water Crisis for School in Kenya over Skype. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weXOfQNX1X8

[Skype Classroom]. (2017, February 23). Kindergarden. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy42GzMs8PQ

[Skype]. (2019). Skype Collaborations. [Web]. Retrieved from https://education.microsoft.com/skype-in-the-classroom/skype-collaborations

[Sway.Office.com]. (Viewed 2019). Guide to: Skype Collaborations. [Web]. Retrieved from https://sway.office.com/E1NIYIVGTsN8L5Ad?ref=Link&loc=play

[ISTE]. (2019). ISTE Standards for Educators. [Web]. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

Ripp, Pernille. (2017). Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration. [Web]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781945349294/cfi/0!/4/4@0.00:14.2

Community Engagement Project: Understanding by Design Model

This quarter as part of Seattle Pacific University’s MEd in Digital Education Leadership, our cohort practiced using the Understanding by Design Model of teaching. We were asked to create a lesson plan that consists of student standards, digital citizenship elements, and the use of technology however when planning the lesson we were also asked to use the backwards design process.

This blog post will showcase a Kindergarten lesson I designed for my students using the Understanding by Design Model as well as my reflection on using the backwards design process.

Background

The activity I will be using for this project is a collaborative project in which my students and I will be building a digital classroom E book. We have recently been learning about 3D shapes and I wanted them to begin seeing these shapes in the environments around them. For this project students will take digital photographs of 3D shapes around our school and I will upload them into our classroom computer. Next, the students and I will look at the photographs we took of the 3D shapes and use positional words to make sentences for our book. For example, one page of the book might be a picture of a ball at recess. We would look at the photo and using positional words come up with a sentence like, “The ball is on the grass.”

Kindergarten Concepts
-3D shapes
-Positional words

Technology Concepts
-Digital photo taking
-Creating classroom Ebook

Digital Citizenship Opportunity
-Go over copyright. We took these images of our school and explain how it would be unfair for someone to use our images without our permission or consent. Remember that when we use images online that other people have taken that we must give credit to them.

Creating the Lesson

The Six Facets of Understanding

For my lesson shown above I showed evidence of the six facets of understanding through the following:

  • Students would be able to explain the steps and process of making a classroom E-book and understand why making an E-Book can help others in our school/community.
  • Students needed to interpret what a 3D shape is and properties of each shape to successfully find shapes around the school.
  • Students would apply their knowledge of 3D shapes and Positional Words to create a Digital Page for our Classroom E-book.
  • Students would use their perspective to chose pictures they find best represents 3D shapes as well as a picture they would be able to write a sentence using a positional word with.
  • When reflecting upon making the 3D shape E-Book, students would learn about how our E-Book could be shared with others. They would also learn how to empathize with other classrooms who do not have access to such technologies to create their own.
  • Students would also learn the importance of Copyright and how to empathize when others use their photos without giving them credit for taking them.
  • Students would provide self-knowledge about 3D shapes at the beginning of the lesson when asked to identify shapes they see around their community.

Digital Citizenship

ISTE Student Standard 2C:
Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

In my lesson I incorporated digital citizenship using the experience of photo-taking to discuss basic copyright rules with my young learners. Most of my learners are new to technology and I wanted to find a way to relate a digital citizenship element to something they did during the lesson. I felt teaching them to give credit to photos and documents we read/use online would be a great lesson to pair with their performance task. I felt that discussing respect and rules of sharing online resources while students were feeling proud and invested in the photos they had taken would be more meaningful to the students and hopefully have a bigger impact in teaching them to be responsible digital citizens.

Project Reflection

I felt this project taught me the importance of keeping the end in mind when planning lessons. Many times it can be easy to come up with ideas and projects for students, but you can struggle to find standards or objectives that are relevant to what they should be learning. Using the backwards design ensures that the standards are being met, I am collecting appropriate assessment data, and that my lesson is relevant to what the students should be learning.

One area I would like to continue to improve on is finding age appropriate apps and programs I can use in lessons that allow my young learners to begin exploring technology and learning how to be responsible digital citizens. Luckily for me I am in a program with many voices to provide guidance and suggestions.

Resources

Common Core State Standards. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/K/G/

ISTE Standards for Students (2016). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by Design. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson

Global Collaboration: Building Diversity in the Classroom Using Skype

As part of the Teaching, Learning, and Assessment class in Seattle Pacific University’s Digital Education Leadership Program, we are learning about ISTE student standard 7- Global Collaborator. For this standard I wanted to investigate what ways I can build diversity in my classroom by introducing my students to global communication and collaboration. My goal was to find programs, activities, and ideas I can use in my classroom to allow my students to connect with others from around the world as well as around their community. Through research, my focus for this investigation was to cover the following standard indicators:

7a: Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.

7b: Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

Skype in the Classroom

Soon after beginning my research, I found that many articles and educators referred back to the communication tool known as Skype. I have heard of this application before and have even used it to make personal calls to home when on vacation, but why was this tool getting so much hype in educational blogs and research articles? I decided to change direction a bit with my research and look more into the ways Skype is being used in the classroom, and I am glad I did! Skype is a Microsoft communication application that has recently created a live opportunity of learning that they call “Skype in the Classroom” for creating global experiences for students including: “Virtual Field Trips, talks from Guest Speakers, classroom to classroom connections, and live collaboration projects. ” In this blog post I will be exploring three of the ways Skype in the Classroom can bring global communication and collaboration into your classroom.

https://solutionscenter.nethope.org/webinars/view/skype-in-the-classroom-a-global-community-of-educators-and-learners

Virtual Field Trips

A Digital Alternative to Traditional Field Trips

Every teacher knows the hassle of putting together a field trip, (making sure permission slips are signed, finding chaperones, funding transportation and so on) but what if allowing students to explore their community or even the world wasn’t so difficult? These days technology has allowed us to see the world in a completely new point of view. We are able to see structures in real time and speak to experts from around the world. Companies like Skype are now encouraging an alternative to the traditional field trip design called Virtual Field Trips. Skype describes Virtual Field Trips as “live experiences that allow educators to let their students experience the world.” Skype also provides benefits to such experiences as being:

  • “Another level of connecting students to the real world.”
  • “A way to deepen students understanding and learning as they can be tied to each classroom’s curriculum. “
  • “Customized by the host so as to meet your students’ needs and your teaching goals.”
  • “The ability to travel around the world without a passport, experience different cultures, and have fun at the same time. “
https://anaheimelementary.org/blog/2017/04/06/skype-from-space/

Skype provides educators with a variety of resources that allow them to plan their own Virtual Field Trip and consider what it is that they want out of a Virtual Field Trip (what objectives are being met). Also on their website (https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses/virtual-field-trips-with-skype-in-the-classroom) they help organize your thinking by providing an outline of what you can accomplish before, during, and after the virtual field trip.

Guest Speakers

Connecting With Experts From Around the World

http://elearning.blog.monroe.edu/2015/07/08/keeping-connected-with-skype/

Imagine doing a book study on an author, your students have questions about why the author made a certain character act the way he/she did or even what inspired the author to write the story, but these are questions that you may not have the answer to. Skype in the classroom has connected with guest speakers around the world including authors that allows your students to meet and ask questions they may have directly to the source. This experience allows students to recognize how what they are learning in the classroom connects to the world around them. Imagine the possibilities, students could meet:

  • Authors
  • Scientists
  • Game Creators
  • Programmers
  • Astronauts

Access to these types of connections can inspire students for what they want to do with their futures and being able to ask the questions they are curious about will help them gain the information they need in order to get there.

Mystery Skype

A Fun Interactive Way to Explore Different Cultures

“Mystery Skype is an educational game (invented by teachers) played by two classrooms on Skype. The aim of the game is to build cultural awareness, critical thinking skills, and geography skills by guessing the location of the other classroom through a series of yes/no questions. It is suitable for all age groups, from kindergarten through university students, and can be adapted for any subject area. ” Mystery Skype also teaches other 21st century skills such as:

  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Digital Literacy

To learn more about how to find another classroom and set up your first Mystery Skype you can check out Mystery Skype’s OneNote curriculum: https://education.microsoft.com/mysteryskypeonenote

Connection to ISTE Standards

What Technology Skills Are Students Demonstrating When Using Skype in the Classroom?

In an article written by Matt Bower he explains the importance of collaborating in web-conferencing environments. He goes on to relate the learning students gain from these types of experiences to ISTE standard skills such as:

● “Use technology effectively and productively”
● “Communicate and collaborate”
● “Conduct research and use information”
● “Think critically, solve problems, and make decisions”
● “Demonstrate creativity and innovation”
● “Be ethical digital citizens”

References

Bower, M. (2011). Synchronous collaboration competencies in web‐conferencing environments – their impact on the learning process. Distance Education, 32(1), 63–83.

ISTE Standards for Students (2016). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

Skype in the Classroom. Retrieved from https://education.microsoft.com/skype-in-the-classroom/overview