Posts Tagged "ipads in education"
“Discovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum, which is why doing things, however imperfectly at first, opens us up creatively.” – Peter Sims, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries
In the book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, author Peter Sims proposes that by making several “little bets” within our respective careers, we will eventually discover and develop ideas that are both achievable and affordable to implement in our workplace. Rather than outright rejecting typical organizational models of hierarchy, linear systems, and extreme efficiency, we can spend a little time to take small ideas and experiment with them to make big discoveries and change that are fitting.
In most classrooms, there’s a strong emphasis on teaching facts and minimizing errors. Problem solving is approached from the perspective of getting the right answer; after all, assessment scores determine teacher effectiveness and we have to play the game. The problem with this approach is that these elaborate and predetermined procedures stifle opportunities to experiment and generate new ideas to enhance and reform teaching and learning.
New teaching tools will come and go, but effective models of learning are as timeless as our ancestry. Learning doesn’t happen at predetermined times. Learning doesn’t happen at fixed locations; in fact, studies reveal that most learning happens in informal education environments. While we have an argument for reform, we still struggle with innovation. We’re afraid of “messing up.” Quite simply, we don’t have a lot of time to mess things up.
But, it’s better to fix problems than prevent errors. Over time, innovative practices are iterated and refined where they then become valuable assets to the classroom. For example, in my third year of teaching, I piloted a web-based RTI program in my class that I developed. It linked results from student assessment data to resources (videos, practice problems, notes, etc.) relevant to the standards attached to each problem. Students would then individually work on their specific areas of need; it was dynamic, accessible, and highly targeted.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened: students who were going to already do well did that much better, but there was no difference in the scores for students whose scores were already low. I didn’t adequately address the lack of the motivation from these students. With the next iteration, I tweaked the software and addressed classroom management factors to increase motivation. Assessment scores for this population improved the following year.
Here’s another example: at one point in time, the ballpoint pen was an unwelcomed tool in the classroom. Students had used pencils for so long; why use a pen? For one, they’d forget how to sharpen pencils; secondly, what would they do when they ran out of ink? It took people willing to make “little bets” for pens to become acceptable artifacts in the classroom.
How can you make these “little bets” to welcome innovation? Here are six fundamentals that the author proposes:
- Experiment: Make trial and error a regular part of your classroom practice.
- Play: When new ideas are emerging, you may too quickly judge it to be ineffective. Play quiets this inhibition and keeps good ideas flowing.
- Immerse: Look beyond the textbooks for ideas on new things. What’s going on in industry that you could bring to the classroom? Gather ideas from sources outside education.
- Define: Throughout the implementation process, use new insights that define problems and needs before solving them. You may figure out a solution to a problem that you weren’t initially trying to solve.
- Reorient: Be flexible and make necessary changes.
- Iterate: Repeat, refine, and keep testing
Follow this path of discovery before believing your ideas have no place in the classroom. Like the ballpoint pen, we need pioneers and advocates for new tools and models of learning.
For further reflection, check out the video below that captivates the essence of making “little bets.”Read More
“Exploring the adjacent possible can be as simple as opening a door. But sometimes you need to move a wall.” – Steven Johnson
In Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, author Steven Johnson explores the art, process, and history of innovation. One idea explored in this book is the “adjacent possible,” which describes how the world is always capable of extraordinary change, but only certain changes at certain times. Ideas evolve and continually build on previous ideas; they are built on a collection of parts that already exist across multiple disciplines. As ideas and innovations expand and evolve, new combinations of ideas are possible that weren’t possible or likely to succeed with the previous iteration. Johnson likens the adjacent possible to a house that magically expands with each door opened. For example, you start in a room with four doors; upon opening one door, you find another series of four doors. However, to get to the brand-new series of doors, you initially must travel through the first. At times, we may have to remove a wall to even find the door.
While the door leading to School Renewal exists, it remains as just a theory for many. While some have gained access, many are left knocking.
Innovating instruction in public education can be challenging. The “walls” that exist may block doors leading to innovation and a renewed framework for how we teach our children. Fortunately, I think we’re reaching a tipping point in education where we are exploring unparalleled “adjacent possibilities,” which will lead to exponential change years from now. The evolution of technology has provided us with new tools like Kinect and mobile devices which will be catalysts that open up brand-new doors for education reform. One outcome of inviting these innovative, accessible, and transformational technologies into our schools will be the removal of some of those hindrances that are blocking prized paths. If we can facilitate meaningful active learning experiences that demonstrate academic gain, this may lead to restructuring the framework, both physically and philosophically, of our schools.
For the right doors to open, we must continually reflect on the path we’re following.Read More
As a teacher, I enjoy looking for new ways to engage students. Some methods employed may be novel; I know their effectiveness will wear off over time. Other methods are structured around solid principles of learning and have lasting value. Striking a balance amongst both novel and lasting methods helps establish an evolving, engaging and enriched classroom experience.
Below are 5 iPad apps that capture this experience and enhance the teaching and learning experience across all content areas.
1. Garage BandRead More
Hands down, Doceri Remote is the most excited I’ve been over an iPad app (special thanks to Krista Scott @ TX Region 17 for introducing me to it). Ironically, while the app is every bit of amazing, it’s not the app itself that makes me most excited. This app justifies the expenditure for advanced mobile hardware that can also serve as a portable tablet writing device – which next to calculators, I believe is the most common edtech hardware currently integrated in classrooms – but that can also do so much more.
This is not a review of the app. The intent of this post is to put into perspective what this app potentially means for the field of educational technology. Viewing the video below will give you a basic idea of the capabilities of the Doceri Remote app. Additionally, here’s a brief description of Doceri Remote, taken from Doceri’s website:Read More