Educational Technology: “From”, “About”, and/or “With”

I just started reading an “older” (1996) educational technology book called “Computers in the Classroom: Mindtools for Critical Thinking” by David H. Jonassen. Initially, Jonasson organizes the educational technology world in three parts.  Technologies that we learn “from” (drill and kill, automated tutors, etc.).  Technologies we learn “about” (the parts of a computer, how to use Photoshop, etc).  And, technologies we learn “with” (software tools that force a user to think deeply using higher order thinking skills).  The majority of the examples focus on the “with” category.

I think Jonassen’s model for organizing technologies in education is smart and will allow for easier sharing and classification of new technologies as educators explore new and innvoative solutions for students.

As I picked this book up and started reading it, I also made a connection with a discussion I was having at ACES with our Tech Council.  It was brought up that the new NAEP 2012 Tech Assessment will assess three areas.  They are:

  1. science, technology, and society
  2. technology education
  3. information and communications technology (ICT)

The concern raised in the article (and during our discussion) was that many school districts are focusing on number 3, the ICT approach, and when schools are assessed they will fail on numbers one and two.  I could argue how educational technology should be defined or what exactly should be assessed.  However, even though these topics are important, I will leave them for another day.

My concern is that even when all three of these areas are included in the public school district curriculum, the mix of instructional  types (from, about, and with) are not evenly or appropriately used.  It has been my experience that too many leaders mistake learning “from” technology as adequate “integration” or “use” of technology.  Others focus on the “about” technologies approach (which I see as valid) but often at the expense of the use of technology.  Ultimately, to be successful in all three areas, it is my belief that we must work “with” the technology to allow students to construct deeper understanding through activities that force critical thought.  “With” as opposed to activities in the “from” and “about” approaches that promote important but typically more superficial types of learning.


How Dangerous Is the Internet for Children?

Great article from David Pogue today!

Nice to have evidence concerning what many of us have assumed all along (Internet dangers have been and continue to be over-hyped).  That being said, my other take away is that we really should continue to be having more discussions around cyber-bullying and empowering students with strategies to deal with this phenomenon.

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Asus Eee PC…second impressions….

I have now been using the Eee for  3-4 days now and contineu to be very impressed.  I am impressed espically from the view point that we can and should be putting this machine in the hands of students.  I do have some first generation gripes:

  • Software installation:  I can only install what Asus allows me to install.  The point of running a FOSS system is to have open access to many, many apps.  The only way around this is to install extensions/add-ons in FireFox (which works very well).
  • Wireless networking:  I can connect fine each time, but that is the problem.  Each time I restart or sleep/wake the computer I must manually re-connect to my open wireless network.
  • Flaky BIOS: I tried to install the latest BIOS upgrade.  Once restarted I couldn;t use the built in scratchpad.  Another restart seemed to remove the BIOS update and return scratcpad control to me
  • Trackpad button:  It is great that it is one button with two sides(right and left click), however, the button is way to stiff.
  • Easy GUi only….I want full control of the Linux environment or at least the choice of one or the other.

And some praise:

  • I am writing this connected to a Samsung Syncmaster monitor and a usb keyboard and mouse.  This a a wonderful way to use the laptop as a full-fledged workstation.  Only problem is that I have to keep the lid open on the laptop.  if not the machine sleeps.
  • Just tested a basic headset with mic…worked great connected via 1/8 male for both.  USB adpater didn’t work at all.  Easier/cheaper to find the working 1/8 male!

Overall…when this thing gets to $300, I will recommend it to EVERY parent!

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Educational Technology “Certifications”

It would appear to me that it is only a matter of time before my current job (Director of Technology for a public school district in Connecticut) becomes a certified position.  Not necessarily in the traditional sense of certification such as teaching and administrative certifications, but as in school districts wanting directors of technology that are certified in education and in technology.

We have been waiting for the state department of education in Connecticut to create a certified Director of Technology position/program.  My hunch is that we will continue to wait for sometime.  However, public school districts in Connecticut (and I am sure in other states as well) are not waiting.  Many of them are posting job openings that require certifications in technology and education.  Often it is not specific as to what the exact certifications must be but they must be an educational certification and a separate technology certification.

Gone are the days of a teacher with a proclivity to use technology in his/her classroom sufficient preparation to take on the growing demands and importance of educational technology leadership in a school district.  Who will guide the ship towards 21st century skills and knowledge?  We must have formal training programs (and eventually a state sponsored certification) that help produce the educational technology leaders our students need and must have to be productive citizens of a “flat” world. 

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The “Cell Phone” Projector

Engadget recently had a post on the new Texas Instruments cell phone projector. It is only a prototype but they hope to have a working model out by next ??? (The version that will actually work in a real cell phone handset is still in the lab).

The reason I blogged this is becuase I believe this will be a major jump forward for cell phones and their use in education and particularly in educational institutions. Imagine the possibilities as cell phone networks get faster, more and more data/content moves online, the ability to access it anywhere anytime improves, and the ability to share it visually with the masses comes online. I think this is the next logical step. Imagine students discussing a topic, researching solutions, and taking turns showing ideas, all in a small group armed with cell phones and a white wall. (Yes, we can get close to this scenario now but don’t forget your laptop, power cord, high-speed cellular data plan, and a portal multimedia projector.)

The scenario above will be possible with zero oversight from schools and school officials. Students will have their own cell phones, connected to their own network, with their own cell phone plans. What happens when you completely remove us (the educators) as gatekeepers between the students and the information/data/content/ideas/etc? This has started already but this new technology certainly helps to complete the loop. Students have access now but still deal with filters, outdated-hardware, network restrictions, etc.

If we don’t act like designers and facilitators with this technology, and we try to stay the center of the classroom as the knowledge “gatekeeper” where will we be as educatros and what use will students have for us?

You ask and you shall receive! – Glubble

Not even a day after I wrote my last post I read on TechCrunch about a new Web 2.0 site named Glubble.  Glubble is attempting to solve the problem parents have regarding their young would be web surfers.  Glubble is a Firefox extension that allows parents to build/manage/customize a web white list for their children.  The service will eventually include the ability for parents to access other parent created white lists and/or pool approved lists.  My one complaint is that the default white list is small and there is no option fo filtering based on category.  That being said, I think this site has a lot of potential…stay tuned!

Content filtering Web 2.0 style…please

This is a request to all of the Web 2.0 developers out there.  As a parent with a 6 year old who is becoming more and more interested in the Internet by the day, I am looking for a hosted content filtering service that I can point my son’s browser thru.  The service should be free (or low cost for advanced features).  I want as many proxies as I can manage each with customizable settings (if I want one for my four year old daughter and one for my six year old son).   I want to be able to choose to filter by content type and/or a white/black list.  I want full reporting of what traffic is requested and passes thru the proxy.  I want to be alerted via my choice of messaging service when a site is blocked.  I would even like the service to summarize in general terms the types of content and types of topics that are going thru the proxy.  This service could be advertised thru schools.  This service could also be pre-configured in freely distributable customized copies of your favorite Linux distro.  When the right developer reads this, let me know and we can get started!!!