Monday, August 14, 2017

Accelerating Changes Needed in Education


Technology is changing faster than humans can adapt to it. According to Thomas Friedman, humans need to accelerate in our abilities to learn and govern in order to catch up with technology's exponential growth, and I agree. As the graph pictured above from Eric Teller (CEO of Google's X Research and Development Lab) in Friedman's book, Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations illustrates, "the rate of technological change is now accelerating so fast that it has risen above the average rate at which most people can absorb all these changes. Many of us cannot keep pace anymore." 

For example, Friedman explains that companies like Uber disrupted the market for traditional taxis and public transportation, "but before the world can figure out how to regulate ride-sharing, self-driving cars will have made those regulations obsolete." Friedman explains what used to take generations for societal or technology changes to happen now happen in about ten to 15 years. However, technology is changing at a rate faster than that, right around five to seven years. Since slowing down technology is not an option, one solution is for humans to "enhance our ability to adapt even slightly" which would make a significant difference.  


So where do schools fit into this? Friedman explains that we need to be lifelong learners, not just K-12 or K-college learners. We need to be agile, "willing to experiment and learn from mistakes", quickly innovating and reevaluating to keep up with the speed of change today. We need to help our students learn this important mindset. It will only hurt us if today's students see their education as ending upon graduation. It is also imperative for today's students to learn to adapt and change faster than ever before in order to keep up with the technological changes happening both now and in their future. It seems like the easiest way to start making these mindset shifts occur is for today's educators to not only be aware of them, but begin addressing them in their instruction. Start including this in conversations, discussing it, and modeling it. Be a lifelong learner, flexible and adaptive, and instill the importance of this on today's students!

Image Source: Radiolab
Another great example from headlines and current events besides ride sharing is CRISPR. CRISPR is a DNA editing tool--learn more from one of my favorite podcasts, Radiolab. It's actually a couple years old, but changing things faster than humans are ready to handle. Many people still even haven't heard of it. Last week I wrote about The Need for Computer Ethics to be taught in schools and cited many other great examples for powerful classroom discussions on the topic. With the rapid pace at which things are being invented, evolving, and adopted, it is more important than ever that we not only teach and discuss the ethics of these changes and inventions with students, but also help them learn to deal with all of it at an ever accelerating pace.

Related posts:

Monday, August 7, 2017

Beyond Coding and Computer Science in Schools: The Need for Computer Ethics

MIT's Moral Machine
For the past three years in Minnetonka, we have been teaching computer coding in our schools starting in kindergarten. Last year we changed the curriculum from simply coding instruction to include computer science principles in our lessons for students. This year we are adding and integrating maker spaces with our coding (more on this in a future post). 

Recent rapid advances in technology and stories in the news have got me thinking about what will be next in our coding program and needed in the future of computer science in schools. I believe that computer ethics will need to be added to and integrated in our teaching. Computer ethics is defined as a part of practical philosophy concerned with how computing professionals should make decisions regarding professional and social conduct. We need to start presenting our students with the complex issues and dilemmas that they will face in their future (if not already) to get them thinking about these problems and the bigger picture beyond lines of code. From advances in medical technology to robotics, today's students will be faced will all sorts of new problems that will require them to think about and figure out innovative solutions in entirely new ways we haven't dealt with previously.

A great example to illustrate this instructional need for is the self-driving car programming dilemma pictured above: in an unavoidable accident, who should the car be programmed to allow to die? A morbid yet necessary decision. The nuances of this question and all the possible scenarios would make for great classroom discussions and debate. (Does the age and number of people involved change the program? What about the social status of the individuals involved? What if the pedestrian involved is jay walking? etc...) MIT has a great "Moral Machine" scenario website for this. Having students do their own research on this will yield more resources, such as this recent article, Here's How Tesla Solves A Self-Driving Crash Dilemma.
"It is *because* some ethical choices are difficult, or difficult to understand as ethical choices, that they need to be taught to students." (Source)
We need to have these discussions with students and get them thinking about these complex issues. They need to be become aware of these ethical dilemmas so that they can face (and solve) even more complex issues that they will come across in the future. One nice resource for this is the University of Notre Dame’s John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values. For the past four years, they have published an annual "list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology." Besides autonomous cars, issues include "robotics, neuroscience, education and medical management." (Source) Again, having students research and find these issues will result in countless options, such as The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics and this discussion board on Ethical dilemmas faced by software engineers. As they leave our schools to head out to the next stages in their lives and careers, we need our students--our future leaders--to understand and consider the ethics involved in their actions, decisions, and inventions. 

Related posts:

Monday, July 31, 2017

7 Years & 7 Lessons for Success with Schoology

Last week at the Schoology NEXT Conference in Chicago, I co-presented with Steve Urbanski, our Director of Curriculum. Our presentation was on 7 Years & 7 Lessons for Success with Schoology. In Minnetonka, we use Schoology as our learning management system. Schoology supports and extends learning both in and outside of our classrooms for over 10,400 students in K-12 plus hundreds more online. You can view the full presentation farther below or directly with links in the speaker notes here. Our seven lessons for success with Schoology, and for that matter, any learning management system, are:
  1. Minnetonka has set clear expectations for all K-12 teachers to use Schoology. These expectations outline clearly defined guidelines for using Schoology as a hub of learning. They guide deep implementation and ongoing professional development to ensure success.
  2. As with any technology, continual professional development beyond the initial implementation is critical. After teachers become comfortable with the basics of a LMS, they are ready to learn and begin using more advanced tools within the platform. Ongoing support for teachers with Schoology has resulted in deeper, more meaningful use of its features.
     
  3. Schoology's role is critical in important initiatives such as a 1:1 program. Having a central hub for learning that makes management and workflows of paperless classrooms easy increases efficiencies and time for even more learning to occur. I can't imagine a 1:1 program being successful without a LMS. Schoology's iPad app is wonderful.
  4. Schoology supports our differentiated instruction through online classes for students and staff. We use Schoology with over 400 students taking classes in Tonka Online. Staff also can take courses online over the summer for professional development.
  5. We use Schoology for staff collaboration which strengthens and expands our already successful academic program. From department chairs to committees to building staff, a wide number of groups utilize Schoology for communication, networking, and sharing resources.
  6. Our curriculum and resources are designed and shared through Schoology. Our teachers working on curriculum both during the school year and in the summer use Schoology to connect, dialog with one another, build out and share their curriculum and resources.
     
  7. Schoology supports our Framework for Teaching and Learning. Teachers and students have access to content and activities that support all areas of this Framework. A LMS is essential to successfully teaching students these skills.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Just 3 Taps to See Your Total Time of Phone App Use per Day/Week

Ever wonder how much time you spend on your phone? Or perhaps believe you don't spend much time at all but want to confirm it? Here's an easy, super fast way to see your personal phone use. In just three taps, you can view how many minutes/hours you have spent in every app in either the past 24 hours or the past week:
 
  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap Battery
  3. Tap the clock as circled in the image.

This will display which apps you have used the most and for exactly how long. As I've written in the past, having personal data is an eye opening reality check. Data helps us see the difference between our intentions and reality. It can help us get motivated to change our practices. When you do this with students or your own children, spouse, or friends, it can lead to great discussions. Take, for example, the two phone screenshots pictured. I'm pretty sure you can quickly determine which one is 
from my phone and which one is from my high school daughter's phone. This personal data makes for a good discussion starter about the beliefs and values we have around the role of technology in our lives and how we choose to spend our time.

There are apps like Moment which use this battery use/time data to track and graph these totals for you, and even help you set goals and alerts to remind you to not use your device as much if you so choose. Moment now works for entire families, too, helping you share and set goals and hold one another accountable, too. Parents may wish to check out Curbi, too, to remotely access this report for your child's phone and set up rules, filters, and time limits. I'm currently testing out XooLoo, which works like Curbi but makes the data available to the kids, too, so they can self-monitor. 

Even if you don't use a special app for this, try reviewing your battery usage totals for a few weeks. Create a reoccurring calendar appointment to take a weekly screenshot of your phone use and compare your totals. Reflect on where and how long you are spending your time. Set goals as necessary. Ask yourself whether the amount of time you are spending in apps reflects your values and beliefs about how you want to spend your time (and who you want to be). Take a careful look how you are keeping busy and therefore what you aren't doing. Personally, I just finished another Facebook fast, this time for six months. If I wasn't paying attention to my personal data and app usage, I'm sure I wouldn't even realize how much time I spend on my phone. Set a goal for more JOMO!

Related posts: 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Immersive Technology Accelerates Learning in Science


Minnetonka science teachers use a variety of technology tools to enhance understanding, feedback, collaboration, and make learning engaging for students. Starting 15 years ago when interactive whiteboards were first used in our classrooms, our science teachers have been using all types of technology tools, software, websites, simulations, and more to accelerate learning. Now with 1:1 iPads for all of our grade 5-12 students, students each have continual access to these great tools and resources every day.  

As you will see in the video, high school science teacher Jenica Dummer uses ClassKick to interact with her students and provide them with immediate feedback. She can see and check their work in real time. Even the quietest students can ask the teacher a question electronically. In addition to ClassKick, Minnetonka teachers use other formative assessment technology tools such as PearDeck, Kahoot and Quizlet Live.
Also highlighted in the video is chemistry teacher Sean Holmes. Sean uses technology with iPads to help his students understand concepts and learn more thoroughly. As shown, students use Schoology, our learning management system, to frequently take quizzes and as a learning hub for accessing files and turning in assignments. High school science students use Vernier probe ware to capture data on their iPads. Students use the iPad's camera to take time lapse video and use Notability to annotate their lab notes with digital ink. They also use Google Docs and Sheets regularly for their work to communicate and collaborate with one another.

Back when I was a middle school science teacher almost 20 years ago, I was fortunate to have four student laptops and some probe ware. Digital cameras required a floppy disk and our school had a couple available for check out. During my final year in the classroom, I had an interactive white board and projector. There was certainly a lot more time spent and work involved to access and share files back then. Today's tools have made things so much more seamless and efficient, which result in increased opportunities for learning and understanding!
You can learn more about our 1:1 program, iPads, and use of technology for learning in the related posts below:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Paperless Hall Passes in School: There's a (Student Made) App For That


Visit mPass Website
Last year, one of our middle school teachers had an idea for a paperless hall pass. Since all of her students had iPads in our 1:1 program, she figured it would easier to use an app instead of paper. There are a lot of problems with paper passes, including the ability to easily track and manage how often students are using passes in each of their classes throughout a day (and for some, even attempting to take advantage of the system). Students used to have a page in their paper assignment planners for hall passes, but since that was eliminated and had gone digital, a new solution was needed. 

Seventh-grader Omar, center, developed the mPass iPad app.
Also pictured (l-r) Pete Dymit, MME Principal; Minnetonka Director of IT,
Mike Dronen; and Dave Eisenmann, Director of Instructional Technology
Another teacher, Michelle Brunik, heard about this idea and shared it with a former student, Omar, who was inspired to create it. He had used MIT's App Inventor back in sixth grade in her STEM class where he learned the program's easy to use drag and drop interface and made Android apps. Omar was part of a Coding Club after school and worked with an older student, Jacob, who helped him transfer the idea from an Android prototype to an iOS app using Swift and XCode. The students used the online lessons in Treehouse to learn Swift.

After the initial prototype, Omar found that the original code was not suitable enough for what was needed. So he started from scratch using Swift, Xcode and then integrated Firebase (which he learned on his own) to the mix to develop the app as it is today. He worked with members of our Technology Department to use XCode and publish the hall pass app to JAMF, the Mobile Device Management system for our iPads. 

Omar then presented the hall pass, called mPass, to all the teachers at his school at a staff meeting. Teachers tried it out for a week before rolling it out to all students. They figured out the number of passes that would be issued per quarter, the length of time allotted per pass, whether or not students using the pass would take or leave their iPad on their desk (showing the pass being used and time left to be gone), as well as decided on their rules for what happens if a student stays too long (the teacher can pull another pass). It was used successfully by 1,100 students this past spring and will be used again this coming school year.

Now with digital hall passes, teachers have data on how often kids are leaving class and can see this total by individual. It helps better track students, time limits, and eliminates the confusion of the unknown. Later this past spring, Omar surveyed teachers and students to get feedback and suggestions for features to add. Although students like the idea of a digital hall pass created by one of their own classmates, not all students like the accountability; they preferred the old method that made it easier to sneak out of class!


You can learn more about this project in the video above (starting at 59 seconds) or on Omar's website. mPass will soon be in the Apple App Store for commercial use for other schools for the upcoming school year. Check it out!

To learn more about Minnetonka coding program, Tonka Codes, please see these related articles below:

Monday, July 3, 2017

Immersive Technology Accelerates Learning in World Language Classes


Technology is used to enhance and accelerate learning in Minnetonka classrooms. Our world language classrooms are just one of the many places where this is evident daily. Whether you are in our Chinese or Spanish immersion classrooms beginning in kindergarten or in our middle or high school elective world language classes, technology is used to help students better learn languages. 1:1 iPads for all of our grade 5-12 students help make this happen.

As you will see in the video about Immersive Technology in Minnetonka World Language Classes, students use their iPads for all sorts of learning activities. Students record oral exams which frees up days of class time, increasing time and opportunities for students to learn even more. Teachers have also found that their students rehearse their speaking exercises more ahead of time, too. Students collaborate and communicate with one another using tools like Google Docs. They write and annotate scripts using Notability. Students act and film projects using video and tools like iMovie, Adobe Spark and DoInk Green Screen. These are all skills that are part of the Minnetonka Framework for Teaching and Learning to deepen learning, making it more meaningful and engaging. I sure wish I had been able to use these tools back in my German world language textbook based classes! Es wäre so viel besser gewesen!
You can learn more about our 1:1 program, iPads, and use of technology for learning in the related posts below: