Posts Tagged “dsjakes”

You may have seen this go through your Twitter feed recently…

A Twitter Rubric…

And as you might expect, it was retweeted by quite a few people. 

I’m wondering about the need for a Twitter rubric.

To me, this represents an attempt to force fit the use of a dynamic social media tool into a familar, comfortable, and safe structure, the rubric.  Fit, jam, prod and force the tool into something that is articifical and constraining.

Why must a teacher define what represents exemplary use of Twitter for a student?

Exemplary use is using tinyurls to effectively stay within the 140 character limit. 

Seriously?  What if I don’t want to use a URL shortener?  So what if the tweet gets too long.  What about a second tweet?  The last time I checked, tweets were free.

Why do teachers have to own the tool?

If I’m a student, I now have a choice, but the wrong one.  Use the tool as I see fit for my needs, or succumb to the wishes of the teacher who wants me to use it as they have defined it, all in the name of giving the use a grade…

We all know what they’ll do.

But why not give them a real choice?  Maybe they’ll use Twitter, maybe they’ll use Facebook, maybe they’ll use index cards.  Why limit choices?  Why limit how they use a particular tool?  Why be so prescriptive?

I’d rather think that educators would give students a palette to choose from.  You select how you want to represent your ideas, and you describe for me how well they worked, or didn’t work.  Describe for me your growth throughout the learning experience, and the role that the particular tool or tools of your choosing had in that experience. There’s your assessment.

If you haven’t see the work of Dave Cormier, George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Rita Kop in their PLENK2010 course, I highly recommend it.  It’s a refreshing and innovative approach that emphasizes student choice and empowerment in how they choose to learn, and how they choose to represent their understanding.

If connective technologies and networking experiences have taught us anything, they should have taught us about the freedom to connect, engage, and project our ideas, in our own ways.  They should have taught us about how important individual choice can be in learning.

Why don’t we offer the same to our kids?

 

Posted via email from djakes’ posterous

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If you have been on the Moon for the past two days, you might have missed this.  Google is offering a Google Teachers Academy for Administrators in San Antonio.  After looking at the announcement, I couldn’t help thinking that its basically the same program offered for teachers.  Even the title of the program might suggest that…

Personally, I think programs like this are generally beneficial, but not as beneficial as everyone thinks.  I’ve written about his before, especially in regards to my distaste for the badges that participants display on their blog.  I think most do not consider the implicit support for a commercial entity that results from the use of the badge, especially within the context of being a public employee (in most cases).

I also think that this represents a great opportunity for Google and a great opportunity for administrators.  But, if it’s just the GTA re-purposed, I think it might miss its mark.  Why do a teacher academy for administrators?  I guess it could imply that everyone is a teacher, or it could simply mean the organizers did a bad job of crafting a title.

It’s a different audience with a different need.  And if they don’t know the tools by now, which is a reality, they shouldn’t apply.  That’s directed at administrators, not at Google.

The time has come for a different kind of experience, moving beyond tools.  Tools could certainly be included in the context of the day, but it needs to be more.

Before I give you my perspectives, here are my biases from which I operate:

  • I’m a 12 month administrator and have been for 10 years.  I taught for 15.
  • I work in a school.  I face the challenges that that brings on a daily basis.
  • I’m a Google Certified Teacher by default-I presented at the Chicago conference.  I have not engaged in the Google online community-I do enough of that already, and my engagement online with others must be larger than just Google-focused.
  • I believe that the Google Academy is a good thing for most teachers, although it could stand a heavy dose of pedagogy.
  • My school district has signed up for Google Apps for education, and it is a component of a much larger vision of how learning can occur in digital environments.  Google tools, and what they bring, are incredibly important to us.
  • I think that in 2009, Google represents the true spirit of innovation.  I’m amazed at what they produce.

_________

So, if I were designing an administrator academy, these would be my underlying questions that I would hope the day would answer for attending professionals.  Embedded in this is the understanding that some tools would be explained, and that the experience from the day could be expanded through online community participation.

Here they are:

  1. Will the academy help administrators understand why teachers in their schools could benefit from being part of the GTA program?
  2. Will the academy help administrators understand why they should adopt Google Apps for Education in their schools?  Will the academy demonstrate to administrators, clearly, the affordances that the use of such a system brings, and demonstrate how they know?
  3. Will the academy help administrators understand the necessary policies that need to be developed to effectively scaffold the use of Google tools in schools?
  4. Will the academy help administrators understand how they can meet mandated legal requirements (such as email archiving) when using various Google tools?
  5. Will the academy address strategies for the systemic application of Google technology to support increased student achievement?
  6. Will the academy address initiatives such as Response to Intervention and how Google technology can be used to address the student support required by such programs?
  7. Will the academy address the negotiation of the uses of learning environments featuring Google tools and how that can be balanced against high stakes testing regimes and NCLB?
  8. Given the focus on the role of Google tools, and that they should be used by teachers to help students learn, will the academy address, or offer suggestions and strategies, on how schools might address the technology gaps that exist in under-served populations in schools (defined here as those without home technology) so that access is equitable?
  9. Is the academy taught by fellow administrators or is it taught by the same teachers that instruct at GTA?  If teachers, do they have the requisite systemic experience to understand the larger context of schools that administrators operate within?
  10. Do the presenters, if administrators, have school-based examples to share, in the context of what Google offers, of what works, and can they explain how they know it works?

So, those are my questions.  And while I understand that a lot of administrators aren’t there yet in their understanding of…tools…well, I might suggest that there is a different place where that can occur.  In my opinion, the day should be learning more than tools, and realizing that we can connect to each other digitally.

Administrators have different needs than teachers.  They just do.  That’s not bad, it just is.  Technologies that are offered by companies like Google, and that are used by teachers, require some rethinking of how we operate.  That’s good.  Google could help admins understand that, with a day dedicated to just that.

I’d be glad to offer my assistance in planning or helping to adjust the program, or explaining this in more detail to Google planners.

Please let me know what you think.

Respectfully,

David

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It’s easy to bash presentations.  It’s also easy to bash presentation styles.

Included in this process is always the obligatory derogatory comments directed at PowerPoint.  Standard stuff.

Of course, much of this consternation towards presentations originates with having to sit through some really bad presentations where the presenters are just awful and have no clue how to communicate and engage an audience.  We’ve all been there.

It’s also easy to bash the lecture because everything now needs to be collaborative, on a wiki, shared in a Google Doc, or done together in a backchannel.  But I’ve attended some phenomenal lectures, where the lecturer/presenter just had tremendous ideas.  Mimi Ito and Connie Yowell come to mind, where for an hour I sat and wrote and wrote and wrote, trying to capture every profound thought.  My engagement was with the ideas, and singular.  Me.  Processing.  No one else.  Just a stream of ideas, balanced against my beliefs, with individual processing and plenty of time for collaborative discussion later.  But for an hour-me, the presenter, and ideas…

Most might look at the room and what was taking place with a presenter talking and people listening and characterize that as a passive learning experience for the participants.  But passive?  Only if you wanted it to be.  It certainly wasn’t that for me-it was very active.

And the presenters used slides.  With text.

So I was intrigued by this blog post by John Pederson, who quotes (I think it’s a quote) Heather Gold who proposes something called tummeling.

Basically, a tummler is hired to entertain and make sure everyone had a good time.  Sounds really good..you can watch her explain it here.  Be sure to also examine her comparison between presentation and conversation, which is interesting, if not outright wrong.

It’s easy to dismiss bullet points.  I don’t think they work especially well and a presentation filled with slides of endless bullet points can be absolutely disastrous for a presenter, not to mention the audience.

But let’s not dismiss text.  Text and bullet points are two different things.

And we certainly shouldn’t dismiss slides, because slides can carry a very critical element of a presentation.

Emotion.

In any presentation, you are selling ideas. As Seth Godin says: “Communication is the transfer of emotion.”

And that emotion is communicated through two channels:  the presenter and through the visual content of the slides, and processed by the 3.5 pound (1.58 kg) processor inside your head, all in an effort to make meaning.

The choice not to use slides, and not to use the capacity of those slides to carry images that communicate visually, represents a shallow understanding of human communication.  As the speaker in the video indicated, effective communication is supported by an “emotional substrate.”  Yes, that can mean face to face emotion crafted by the presenter..  However, it should also mean carefully selected visuals that enhance the emotion channel of the presentation.  Ignoring visuals, or failing to include visuals, means you just ignored or failed to include a very powerful communicative element-an element that might just make all the difference.

To extend your thinking a bit, if you haven’t seen Richard Mayer’s Multimedia Learning, you should.  His book is based on “seven researched based principles for the design of multimedia messages” that we should all learn and apply to presentation design.  Here are four that I think are most relevant to this post:

1.  Multimedia Principle:  Students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.

2.  Spatial Contiguity Principle: Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen.

3. Temporal Contiguity Principle:  Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.

4.  Individual Differences Principle:  Design effects are stronger for low-knowledge learners than for high-knowledge learners and for high-spatial learners rather than for low-spatial learners.

Basically, images and text are critical to learning, and especially more so for low-ability learners when the media design is appropriate.

Let’s not forget that presenting is communication.  Let’s not forget that presenting has its place.

And there are numerous ways to present ideas, ranging from Twitter to blogging to sitting on a stool, telling a story.  You can even…ah…tummel.  However, presenting to a small or large audience alike requires, skill, effort, and knowledge as well as an understanding of human communication.  It’s in vogue to consider new ways to communicate, new ways to engage an audience, its vogue to present using a test-based wiki for example.

But having an audience walk away with being energized, being challenged to think, being moved by a message communicated through appropriate media, and with the ability to process additional insights that can lead to actionable next steps that they didn’t have an hour ago is also pretty damn good…

Mayer, Richard. Multimedia Learning. 9th ed. New York, New York.  Cambridge University Presss, 2007. 184. Print.

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The more I hear the word textbook, the more I shudder.  Its accurately named, isn’t it?  A book filled with text.  And I think about all the tools available to use to help kids learn, and it just seems somewhat primitive. Not that books are bad, of course, its that we just have more content options available to us.  Yet we rely on the textbook, along with the teacher, as the only two respected information resources in our schools.

The more I hear the word classroom, the more I shudder.  Close your eyes and visualize a classroom.  We all have the same image.  For me, the use of the word classroom is highly restrictive and resigns learning to a four walled space, designated within a typical time frame.  I now talk about learning spaces, which I believe to be expansive and potentially inclusive of multiple learning locations, both physical and digital, and available at times beyond 8-3:30.

And this is much more than semantics.  In his NYSCATE keynote, Chris Lehmann said (and I paraphrase) “Words matter.  It’s what we have to explain things.”

These terms are so ingrained in our vocabulary we don’t even think conscientiously about using them.

It’s time to get some new vocabulary.

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