Real World Examples of Technologies that Empower Learning: ERB 2011

I had a great time presenting at the ERB2011 conference this afternoon. Please post questions/comments in the comments area below.  Here is my Prezi:

Real World Examples of Technologies That Empower Learning on Prezi


iPad Roll Out Scenario

We’re writing a iPad roll out simulation right now and as we go, we’re coming upon lots of interesting questions.

Here’s the scenario:

* Rolling out 50 iPads in the Fall of 2011 with the goal:  To use the iPad for as many textbooks and for note taking while exploring educational apps

I’m posted our questions and the answers that I just ran through in the document below.  Please add/edit as you wish.  Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

iPad Roll Out Scenario



If You Started a School, What Would the Theme Be?

As I’ve been exploring the theme of Disruptive Innovation and its implications new-school for schools in the next 10-15 years, I have imagined that there will be opportunities for new schools to replace some of the schools that have not changed.  Over the weekend, I was thinking about what the theme of a school that I would like to work at would be.  I found this exercise surprisingly difficult so, in order to generate some brainstorming energy, I asked my twitter network.  Here are the replies:

  • gardenglen @alexragone My theme for a school “Digital environment promoting student inquiry and collaboration.”
  • ernestkoe @alexragone what a great question…the love of learning, as cheesy as that sounds
  • andrewjkatz @alexragone flexibility.
  • momcginn The theme would be Belonging.
  • agrill @alexragone collaborative spaces, good citizens and inquiry.
  • pgow @alexragone (1) Think it should be sustainability, although the word is getting a bit shop-worn. Maybe “dignity, equity, and continuity.”
  • pgow @alexragone (2) Lots of place-based teaching: thematic, interdisciplinary, skill-focused units; civic and social engagement as  possible.

As I was thinking about this topic, I thought about science, innovation, and invention.  I was not happy with any of those.  This is a difficult task, especially when thinking about changing a system that has been around for so long.  I  found myself thinking about the skills that students should have upon graduation, but those skills could fit into many of these themes.

So I ask you, if you could create a school, what would it’s theme be?

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Personalized Learning

Recently, Dean Shareski commented on my last post:

I’m just over halfway through the book. It’s amazing how tightly many of the concepts align with discussions and initiatives I’m currently involved with. In many ways, he articulates some key ideas that have been roaming around my brain for a while.

Dean is right on.  In Disrupting Class, Christensen, Horne and Johnson clarify the vocabulary of change.   They predict that education will move to online and be personalized for the learner.  To get to this ideal of a personalized education they say that there must be disruptive change in our education system.  Disruptive change happens outside traditional institutions.  It will begin in non-competitive sectors of education like home schooling, charter schools, and online schools.

What is critical about this personalized learning is the ability to assess student strengths and learning styles.  We can see this happening in schools now with the differentiated instruction movement. But to realize true personalized education, we need tutors or technology.

I feel that I have a better vision of where education is going.  I have a model of institutional change that works.  There are powerful ideas in Disrupting Class. 

So where is this happening?  Who is doing this? 

SLA, with Principal Chris Lehmann is a huge step in the right direction.   The MET seems to be doing the right thing.  And there’s High Tech High.   All of these are outside the traditional education mold. 

So where do you see these schools?  Who are their leaders? 

I’m reading the book Tribes right now, and they say that it’s you (or me) who have to lead.  Hmmm. 


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Defining 21st Century Education

In my last post I discussed the curriculum design on 21st Century Schools. Recently, Patrick Bassett, President of NAIS has pre-published a paper entitled, “So What’s it Gonna be, Huh?” that defines 21st Century education as:

In my work with schools in the US and around the world, I frequently address groups of leaders, not only educators but their boards of trustees, primarily comprised of CEOs, social sector leaders, professionals, and, internationally, the diplomatic corps. When I ask the kind of “generative” question these school leaders should be asking themselves, “What are the skills and values that will be rewarded in the 21st. C.?,” I always, every time everywhere and anywhere in the world, get the same list:

* integrity and character
* teaming and leadership
* communication skills
* empathy, social and global consciousness
* expertise/competence in some field
* innovativeness and creativity.

What’s interesting is that this “wisdom of the crowd” is actually confirmed by a whole host of researchers, observers, and commissions who have “weighed in” on the topic within the last year or so.

He goes on to list a number of examples of programs that embody these characteristics and challenges schools to implement one of these programs during part of your school day/week.

He’s looking for feedback, and the place where I’m very interested in seeing what is out there is in the examples section. Here is his list.

What are the programs that you think of in Bassett’s definition of a 21st Century School?

Educational Research and Re-Envisioning Schools

I recently received Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time by Jane Pollock (My ASCD Book of the month). Last year at this time I received Classroom Instruction that Works as my Spring ASCD book. Both of these books have helped me become a better teacher by giving me data to support research based instructional practices. This new book goes even farther, by providing a framework for designing curriculum called, “The Teaching Schema for Master Learners.”

Pollock argues that a good curriculum is defined by having clear expectations (Goals), setting up good instructional models, assessing work, and providing feedback. I see this work as a management style for adults, or a classroom environment for students. I see this pattern: goals, instruction (conversation), assessment, feedback, in Management books such as Good to Great or Now Here are My Strenghts. It’s amazingly flexible and seems to be a process that is running through many different realms of my life.

So why am I writing? Because this data conflicts with a survey on David Warlick’s blog where he asks, “Thinking of those great teachers that you had who truly influenced who you are today. What percentage of what those teachers did do you think might be effectively measured by scientific research, and what percent do you think is not measurable?” and out of 169 respondents he has received the following results:

100% measurable – 0% not measurable:(4%)
75% measurable – 25% not measurable:(12%)
50% measurable – 50% not measurable:(27%)
25% measurable – 75% not measurable:(45%)
0% measurable – 100% not measurable:(13%)

I answered 75% measurable and 25% not measurable. I find survey results like the one above concerning, because 58% of the respondents say that less than 25% teaching skills of great teachers can be measured by scientific research. I just find this hard to believe when reading books like Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time and Classroom Instruction that Works. I believe that there is a type of person that will be a good teacher, but I also believe that these natural teachers can get much better when using current research.

I believe it when Warlick asys that we need to re-define literacy, and learn to use the immense resources on the Internet as part of our schooling. I believe it when Richardson says that we need to Re-Envision Schools due to the new Flat World.

But there are clear processes and techniques that are research based that seem to me to benefit learners in our classrooms. I believe that the best teachers will be looking to use these procedures of curriculum design as found in Improving Student Learning One Teacher to create wonderful learning environments for their students. The declarative knowledge (content) can varied from the most progressive to the most traditional.

I believe that goal of School 2.0 can be the same as President John Adams, “There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, And the other how to live.” I believe we can get there in many different ways. I believe that you can use Pollock’s system to define varied schools.

So what do you think?

How does this apply to learning communities such that don’t have clear leadership such as open source projects?

What do you think, Will, David, Nancy, Fred, Laurie, Arvind and June?

So Much To Write About… 21st Century School Leaderhip

Boy has it been an intense few weeks. I have so much to write about and will soon. In the mean time, I have a thought.

Last week I had a conversation with a colleague about his head of school. My colleague said the following in reference to technology, education and our changing landscape, “Yeah, my head is young and great, but he doesn’t even get it.”

So Saturday morning, I got up and thought, what about a leadership academy for school heads, principles, and any other school leader that would help them see this new world, these new literacies, and the new frontier that we must adjust our educational system to work with, instead of against.

I Googled for sites that would cover 21st Century School Leadership issues and found some, but most of the links went back to Chris Lehmann at Science Leadership Academy.

Warlick, Richardson, Lehmann and others write about School 2.0, but to get there, I believe we need to have leaders who “get it.” So how do we get our leaders to “get it?” We train them, right? (I know it’s not quite that simple, but…)

Maybe this is the type of project that will help fund. What do you think, Dave? Or some national organization or international organization.

What do you think? Do you know of any leadership academy that does this type of work?