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Education Technology Innovation November 8, 2013

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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I saw this posted by someone I follow on Twitter the other day and thought it was an interesting read.  5 Ideas to Facilitate Education and Instructional Technology Innovation by Kelly Walsh.  Kelly had some very good points, as well as ideas.  I am going to add my thoughts and possibly some ideas to his five ideas.  These are just some thoughts that came to me as I was reading his article, and if you are reading my post, make sure you click on the link to his article to read what he has to say.

1.  Create an innovation lab and/or event.  Well how cool is this idea?  And he isn’t just talking about for the teachers.  He mentions bringing in students, teachers, and other staff members.  Collaboration is key, and I love his idea of bringing in the students.  With the right minds together, ideas can start springing forth and the sky is the limit then.  What about taking teachers from different disciplines, add in a staff member or two, then ask a few students to meet with them once or twice a month during the entire school year?  Then they can not only brainstorm ideas, but will be able to collaborate further and expand on those ideas.  If it works out, they could blend groups together and combine ideas, but they should definitely share their ideas.  Maybe have a Wiki, blog, or some other site set up where someone from each group takes the ideas from the meeting and posts them.  It will then give the other groups a chance to add their thoughts and ideas to the original ones.

2.  Look to unexpected sources.  I think this one is as important as the first one, and actually could stem off of it.  You are inviting students to add their ideas to the mix.  He also mentions picking the brains of your own children.  You could also look towards other family members, for example your spouse or maybe the friends of your children.  Subscribe to message boards, attend webinars, (he mentions this but it bears repeating) surf the web.  Post your idea on a social media site and get feedback from your friends or followers.

3.  Remember that innovation often comes a step at a time, from small changes.  Think of it this way:  If someone came into your classroom one day, removed all textbooks, all pencils, all notebooks and gave you a cart of iPads or some other tablet then said that that is what your students and you would be using from that point forward, how would you feel?  Lost, upset, confused, mad, frustrated, ready to quit?  Of course, probably a mix of all of these, especially with no training of your own.  (I know there is at least one of you there going “Please, please let this happen to me!”, well you are the minority.)  We need things to happen a little bit at a time; we need an adjustment period.  Technology is great, innovation is wonderful, but we need time to prepare in order to use it all wisely, efficiently, and the best way for our students and for ourselves.  Fine, give us iPads for every student, but let us work towards the bigger picture.  Each teacher and each student is going to need to go at their own pace, but we all need to agree to move.  We can’t be stuck back in the one-room classroom refusing to move forward.  It isn’t good for the teacher and it is not good for the student – not good for education.  Our students are growing up in a digital world and we need to help them use it.  Being able to take those small steps will eventually get us to our main destination.

4.  Embrace failure.  “If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again.”  Where is the fun if we succeed the first time we do everything?  True, it would save us time, but where is the learning?  I tell my students, and my own children, I expect them to fail.  I actually want it to some degree.  It means they are learning a lesson and won’t make the same mistake again (hopefully).  With each failure, we have actually made some progress.  The first time I designed a website, I was thrilled, but it didn’t work perfectly.  I had to go through lines and lines of HTML code to find out what I had done wrong so that certain images were only appearing as a X on the screen and some lines of text were huge and others really small.  Took forever, but I was reinforcing my learning because I had to read over all that coding and the only way I was going to recognize an error was by knowing the code to know if it was right or wrong.  It’s the same with innovation.  We have to try something and if it doesn’t work, we need to figure out why.  Maybe only part of it didn’t work, so we can adjust it so that we use the part that did and just “reconfigure” the part that didn’t.  Of if the entire technology we are trying to use is a bust, why?  Is it that particular lesson, or that particular class?  Would it work for someone else?  Analyze the reasons something doesn’t work so you know why.

5.  Look at problems in a different way – change the problem you are trying to solve.  I like this one because I tend to be one of those people who see a problem and run straight to my computer to search for answers.  I forget that sometimes the answer might have been right in front of me all along if I had just stopped to think it over first.  We have come by so many different ways of teaching a particular lesson because we have taken the time to look at a student who might be struggling.  Why is he or she struggling with this one lesson?  What makes this lesson difficult or different that he or she isn’t understanding the material?  So we start with looking at what we are teaching.  Did everyone else understand it or were there others having problems?  Would a demonstration have been better?  A video?  A guest speaker?  A project for the students to gather information on their own?  While doing all that analyzing, you might come up with another lesson or a way for students to work together to come up with answers to bigger question for the lesson.  Who knows what you are going to find when you start working on the various problems you face when trying to add technology to your lessons, to your classroom, or maybe to your day-to-day life.  Who knew that a telephone and a computer would one day collide to become our lifeline to the world through mobile devices.  I know mine goes everywhere with me (it’s even my pedometer when I am out walking).  Someone was definitely looking at some problems in different ways that day.

Now, I got way off topic on some of these, but didn’t it make you want to jump to Walsh’s article to find out what he was talking about???  Good, then maybe you can understand a little more about my ramblings as well.

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The Right and Wrong Way to Use Technology for Learning July 9, 2013

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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This was posted on Facebook and I have to agree with the article, The Right and Wrong Way to Use Technology for Learning on TeachThought.

Now, it isn’t wrong to use those “Wrong Ideas” to foster learning but technology should be used to empower learning.  I want my students to use technology to embrace their own learning.  Yes, they can ask me and I can give them answers, but are they going to learn from that?  No.  This has always been my philosophy – “I will explain.  I will show.  Then you will do.”  I can’t expect my students to just know how to do something and I can’t hit all learning styles by either just explaining something or just by showing how to do something.  So I do both and then I want to reinforce that by having the students show me they can do it.

Now when you combine those Wrong Ideas and those Right Ideas together, BOOM!  What a combination and learning experience you have to work with.  So, let’s empower our students to take action and create their own learning with the education we are providing them and the technology that is out there for all to use.

Virtual Learning vs. Traditional December 27, 2011

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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I found an article today as I was sifting through e-mails.  Virtual Schools Booming as States Mull Warnings discusses how more and more students are switching to virtual learning as opposed to the traditional brick and mortar classroom for a variety of reasons, such as to avoid long commutes to school, add courses they wouldn’t otherwise be able to take, and save their school districts money. 

As I read this I see a lot of the reasons I hear my own students’ families say they switched to online learning.  Then I also began to wonder why are the teachers switching from the traditional classroom to the online classroom and I started making a list of my own reasons.

I switched to online teaching in January 2010.  When considering that avenue it was because of a few reasons, but my two main reasons were the commute as I was driving over 70 miles one way each day to teach and my own safety.  After having a student threaten me in my own classroom, I no longer felt comfortable or safe in that school and I didn’t want to be there.  That’s not fair to me, the district, and especially not the student.

Now almost two years later, I am still teaching online and I love it.  My reasons for doing it haven’t changed, but I have added to them.  I like the comfort of being at home and available to my family when they need me.  I am available to students outside the normal 8 am – 3 pm school day through e-mail, Skype, text messaging, phone, and other communication outlets.  I can grade more easily and readily because it is right in front of me.  If I am sick, I can still teach!  I don’t need a substitute teacher.  And the best and most important for me now, is that I can still do my work as I travel. 

I still want to share the article even though I focused on the teacher instead of the student and their quality/quantity of learning because I felt that it held valuable information for anyone who was considering or questioning that alternative.

Shutterfly Saves the Day December 9, 2011

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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Normally, I create my own Christmas cards having my children dress up in whatever gear from the sports they play. Well, my son has switched to running track and cross country. Not much equipment there. So I was having a hard time coming up with some ideas.

Well I was going through my Shutterfly album and came across a picture of my children from Homecoming and thought, “What a great way to send a current pic of the kids and wish everyone a Merry Christmas at the same time!!!”

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

So, here is to you and your family, wishing you the safest and merriest of holidays!

YouTube Viewing Options for Your Classroom July 20, 2011

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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I love showing YouTube videos to my students, but sometimes the advertisements, comments, or even parts of the videos are not suitable for my students eyes (or ears).  Here are two resources that were discussed in 5 Useful Webtools You Don’t Know Exist.

  1. ViewPure.com – Make sure when you show a video to your class, that’s all you’re showing them! Get rid of the advertisements and comments on a YouTube video – all you need is the link to the video.  You can even add this tool to your browser for easier use next time you see a video you want to purify!
  2. TubeChop.com – Only want to show a few seconds of a video or a couple of minutes of a longer video?  Put the YouTube URL of a video inside TubeChop, and select the part that you want.  When you’re finished, you are given a link and embed code for the cropped version of the video. (Yeah, I am using a Bud Light Commercial as an example.)
  3. Chopped Video

I ♥ EdTech by SimpleK12 is a wonderful source of information for the tools available out there.  Some I have known about for awhile, some I use on a regular basis, but there are times I come across new ones that I didn’t know existed.  I am so thankful to SimpleK12 and to those that create these wonderful tools!

2010’s Top 10 Countdown January 29, 2011

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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The following were the most popular EdTech topics that were blogged about in 2010.  Some of these I remember reading about and others were before I took the time to read the EdTech blog, so I was thankful that someone at EdTech took the time to compile this list.

#10:  How to Use QR Codes in Student Projects:  With the technology we have today, we are able to simply scan a barcode and pull up information on a product just by using our cell phones.  I love my barcode scanner on my Droid Pro 2.    So, how about using that in the classroom to provide more information on student projects or newsletters to parents or assignments to help students find the information.  The author of the post uses bit.ly to create the barcodes.  I signed up for an account with bit.ly and created a short link for this Blog.  Very NICE!

My Blog Barcode

My Blog Barcode

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Webinar Opportunity through EdTech UNconference January 13, 2011

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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Another Webinar opportunity through EdTech UNconference…and if you you attend, you get something free.  Don’t we all love free stuff?  I do, especially when it is something I might have a use for.

EdTech UNconference

This Webinar is titled “Hidden Webtools for 2011 PLUS What’s New in the EdTech UNconference”.  This event will be held on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 2:30 – 3:30 PM EST.  To register, go to https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/707437611

The SimpleK12 team is sharing their favorite FREE webtools for 2011 and then highlighting what to expect from their EdTech UNconference this year.

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Teacher Challenge through EduBlog January 13, 2011

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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I was checking my Full Sail e-mail tonight (I remember to do this maybe once a month) and saw an e-mail from EduBlogs.  They are hosting a Teacher Challenge.  This challenge will be 30 days of free professional development through and using blogs!  They are using the Student Blogging Challenge as a framework for this Teacher Challenge.  Here is what they have to say about the Teacher Challenge on their blog:  http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org

So the idea of the Teacher Challenge evolved from the concept that:

  1. We could be doing even more to support teachers.
  2. A structure supported program that involved teachers practising their skills would lead to improved outcomes with students.

I have started going through the content and it definitely sounds interesting.  You can sign up or not, or you can be a mentor, or not.  You can just follow along and do whichever challenges you want to do on your own.  This challenge began on Monday, January 10, 2011.  So it seems I am a few days behind already, but I can pick and choose what to do.  So I am going to read through what I have missed and go from there.

We all have such hectic lives, why add more stress.  I like the do as you want at your own pace method.

Five Ways to Get Rid of Bad Teachers January 3, 2011

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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SimpleK12 posted this one Twitter.  Read the entire post by visiting Spencer’s Scratch Pad.

Could it be that simple to get rid of bad teachers?  And who is it that is deciding that someone who fits in these categories are the bad teachers?  I know several teachers who could survive these five ways, but are still bad teachers.  Why?  Because they don’t care or they don’t want to be there.

Let’s look at these five ways.

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21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020 January 1, 2011

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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21 things that will become obsolete in education by 2020 was posted on Twitter today.  It was originally posted on the Daily Riff on December 19, 2010.

I am going to go through just a few of the ones that I agree with, and hope do become obsolete by 2020, if not sooner.  You can read the entire article for yourself to determine if you agree with any, all, or none of them.

Desks!  Oh, definitely.  I hated sitting at desks when I was in school and I hated having desks in my own classroom when I was teaching in the Brick and Mortar school.  I preferred tables scattered around the room so that students could easily maneuver and work together.  It also made it so much easier for me to get to  a student to help him or her if needed.

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