Friday, July 10, 2009

Enabling vs Helping

  1. A valid questions was posed by Scott McLeod today - Are our training efforts helping educators or enabling codependence? I often wonder if I’m enabling my staff as their in-house technology trainer. And I, too, wonder at times why they can’t just read a handout. However, these thoughts always come back to me:

    1) Teachers have learning styles just like students do. While most have learned to compensate in most situations, when they’re out of their comfort zone some of them need to “see” or “do” – not just be told how or read a handout.
    2) Just because some people don’t choose to learn what I teach doesn’t mean they’re not a self-learner or life-long learner. There’s a lot of stuff to learn out there…
    3) If I have to choose between my teachers putting their time and energy into students or into a handout/procedure I can easily show them, I want that time going to students – every time.
    4) Teachers’ frustrations are a great teaching tool. Whenever someone gets frustrated trying to read a handout or learn a new procedure I ask them to take a moment and remember this feeling the next time a student doesn’t “get it”.

    So, while I completely agree that there needs to be accountability for professional learning, I ask that we maintain a measure of understanding that those teachers then become learners who might have a variety of needs – just like our students.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Dots...

I love this post from Garr Reynolds' Presentation Zen about Jeffrey Monday's "dot presentations".

Here's a sample:

Here's why he does it:

Here's how he does it:

Here's what intrigues me (aside from the design perspective). We're so often making things concrete while here, Monday makes a point of making things more abstract. Are there times we make things more "concrete" when it might be better explained in the abstract?

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's about your goals...

I love this post from Jeff Utecht, "There's no spork for education!". There's no "one-size-fits-all" tool for students or teachers. As educational techologists, I feel we still battle the tool mentality. When teacher comes to me and says, "I want my students to blog. Can you help me do that?" the first question is invariably "What is the goal you're trying to achieve?" -- maybe we'll blog and maybe we won't.

Your first question should always be, "What am I trying to accomplish?" and THEN "What tools can help me accomplish that best?"

Keep your goals first, always.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On Preconceived Notions...

Another singing sensation made the news lately on Britain's Got Talent -- Susan Boyle has received rave reviews on her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream". What has caused the media frenzy? The fact that Ms. Boyle does not have the outward appearance we expect from someone so talented, much the same as we were all shocked by the operatic talent of Paul Potts not long ago on the same show.

How many people do we overlook because of their outward appearance? How many talents go undiscovered, unrealized? What could we achieve, where could we be if we let go of our preconceived notions and just see people for who they are?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thought of the Day 3/24/09

We want it all...

I often hear these two sentiments in the same conversation from the same person: "Why are we so far behind with technology?" and "Why do they expect me to keep learning new things all the time?" Sorry folks - you can't have one without the other. You can't stay up to date and not learn new information. Not only are we in an Age of Information; we're in the Age of Learning.

We need to start putting those two pieces of the puzzle together!
Image: Microsof Clip Art

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lost Generation

This piece is getting a quite a bit of buzz lately; I saw it on Garr Reynolds' Presentation Zen blog.

I'm learning that more and more I have a split personality when looking at videos like this. First, WOW, I cannot believe how beautiful the sentiment is and how creatively clever the presentation is. Second, I agree with Reynolds' that even this wonderful presentation can be improved by typeface, size, etc.

But, in the end, it's easier to teach people who have the artistry and creativity to create the content how to make it better than to try to teach someone who is all about the fonts how to be creative. This is really beautifully done.

Note: This video came in 2nd place in the AARP U50 video contest.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Intellectual Property: More than the written word

Whenever I give a presentation on how to obtain resources - video, audio, images, etc. - I always try to share some insight on what classroom teachers may and may not use. While I was preparing for my most recent presentation I was also working with a number of students on selecting images for some digital storytelling projects. I am rather taken aback by the reaction I get when I even suggest that they must cite their sources of images and make sure they are using images for which they have permission. "It doesn't matter with pictures", "I'm a student; I can do what I want", etc.

I would venture to say that EVERY student has been taught and understands that they are not to use the written work of another other without giving credit (whether they choose to do so is another story). We have systems such as to prevent that very thing. So why is written text so carefully monitored and images, video and audio are, in many cases, considered free rein?

Now, I'm a photographer, not a writer, so perhaps I'm more sensitive about this. But, I have my theories. Teacher make an assumption that images, audio and video come from another source. Therefore, there is no pretense that it is the student's own work. If a student appropriates written text, however, the student is passing the work of as his or her own. I think that's why teachers care more about the written word than other intellectual property.

In this Information Age, I believe we, as teachers, have sorely neglected the need to both model and directly teach a respect for intellectual property. Yes, we certainly have the right to use a lot of information freely in our classrooms and should continue to use that right. But, as more and more student projects go out into the world and, more importantly, as our students go out into the world, I want them prepared to use all the resources they can AND use them respectfully.