Oh oh. I’ve been to another conference….

 From the EdTech Summit, Toronto, March 4/5 2014

BYOD, MOOC, MDM, DRMS.  Greek to me, or geek to me?  My two days at the EdTech Summit in Toronto were interesting, enlightening, engaging and useful.  Here is an overview of the sessions that resonated with me from a pedagogical stand point.  I have tried to capture the application to our environment as well some key links to resources.

Session:  ‘Teaching Naked’ – Moving Technology out of your Classroom to Deliver Campus Value and to Change Minds.  (a blended learning approach)

Jose Bowen, Dean of Arts at South Methodist University and author of Teaching Naked, spoke about teaching ‘naked’, face to face, as the greatest value to students and to student learning.  Technology can be used to enhance the time teachers have with students face to face.  Bowen advocates for teachers to embrace new technologies and methods to enhance learning and to spark dialogues.  His presentation featured strategies he uses for motivating teachers and students.  Learning is about change.  Technology is a tool, not a strategy.  He argues that if the teacher is a content provider, your value goes down; whereas, if you are a motivator teaching kids to think, your value goes up.

The ‘Teaching Naked’ Cycle:  Start by connecting with students online – email students (GroupMe) for first exposure to material (entry point);  Post content online for first exposure (reading/video/assignment);  Give an exam to focus (low stakes);  Writing to reflect;  use class time to challenge learning(http://reacting.barnard.edu/) and to maximize f2f time;  eCommunication to reinforce;  cognitive wrapper to self-regulate (www.Socrative.com)

He referenced his use of the Khan Academy and the use of YouTube (Charlemagne – Call me “Blondie’, A Capella Science – Bohemian Gravity and EdX for the purpose of challenging students to be critical of what they see online. He reaches out to students using podcasts and an app called GroupMe.

One interesting resource he referenced is Merlot, a multi-media education resource for learning and teaching online.  He emphasized the power of games (not gaming).  He uses games to encourage risk and failure in the form of low-stakes assessment.  Socrative is a good example.

Session:  How to Position Technology as a Powerful Enabler for 21st Century Education.  Peel District School Board.  (Secondary Flipped Pilot Study)

Peel is the second largest district in Canada.  It has rolled out a comprehensive technology platform for 155,000 students in 230 schools and 15,000 staff.  Mark Keating, Chief Information Officer, said that the plan anticipated the demand for bandwidth in a ubiquitous wireless environment to support 165,000 users including a BYOD umbrella.  They provided sufficient bandwidth to handle this by projecting 5 years out.  They have had no bandwidth issues.

In secondary schools, they undertook a pilot program with Flipped Classrooms by inviting schools to participate in the pilot designed to promote innovation and creativity.  Five schools took up the challenge under the guidance of Jan Courtin, Superintendent of Education.  They went to Clintondale High School in Troy, Michigan to learn from Greg Green in his flipped school.  50 teachers received training and support.  They became the local experts.  They did a ‘speed dating’ Pro D with other teachers upon return.

Session:  Measuring Efficacy.  Efficacy Framework – A practical approach to improving outcomes for learners.  Dr. Tania Sterling, Pearson Canada.

Efficacy is the measureable impact on improving someone’s life through learning.  In education we roll   out projects with little understanding of how our combined efforts have changed practices at the classroom level.  Educators know what we want to do and where we want to go, yet we don’t have a way to measure our progress towards getting there.  Pearson has developed an efficacy framework to predict if efforts will achieve the desired outcomes.  http://efficacy.pearson.com

Session:  Critical Thinking by Design – how teachers measure progress in students thoughts and reasoning. 

This pilot project is created in Montreal to engage at-risk grade 9 students to change the learning experiences for kids.  With a focus on communication, critical thinking, creative thinking and collaboration, students helped design and create a flexible learning space where they worked on their authentic learning projects.  Flexible structures include T-walls for collaborative workspaces and flip top table.  The students designed and built the furniture.   Assessment for all work is based on critical thinking questions.

A key question raised at the centre of the project: Is empathy at the centre of my design??  Chris Davis’ ‘Powerful Learning Practices’ turns Bloom’s taxonomy on its head.

Session:  Making Sense of MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses exist in abundance from many prominent institutions.  The completion of these courses is notoriously low:  http://mfeldstein.com/the-most-thorough-summary-to-date-of-mooc-completion-rates/.  A good look at MOOCs is found at TEDx MOOCs: http://www.ted.com/talks/anant_agarwal_why_massively_open_online_courses_still_matter.html

Session:  The Learning Intelligence Fabric.  Big Data.  (Koroluk, Saskatoon)

This session presented a thoughtful examination of the move from traditional indicators of student achievement to new measures or key indicatorsTraditional data modeling is about date for informing instruction and intervention to support traditional learning environments. (standardized assessments, grades, attendance, outcomes-based assessment)  In the era of competency and skills-based learning we are experiencing a shift to Learning Analytics.  Rich data now consists of:

  • New taxonomies for big data:
  • Intelligence engines – algorithms
  • Enhanced interfaces – data aggregation
  • Robust – dynamic data centre

Key resources:  Knewton Adaptive Learning Infrastructure.  http://www.knewton.com.

Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conferences http://lak14indy.wordpress.com.

Session:  Intuit Education Program  (FREE STUFF)

Intuit Education is offering complimentary software accounting and tax software to schools and districts.  This is a response to the demand for practical financial literacy.  Intuit will provide Quickbooks online and Profile Premier Suite for tax prep and personal financial management.

Educator Registration application:  www.intuit.ca/education featuring the fundamentals of accounting with real world applications.

The End:  Well that was fun.  I came away knowing much more about blended learning, MOOCs, BYODs and the like – and that was my goal.  I’m ready.  PS.  I never met a geek I didn’t like.

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