Making Change Happen: 21st Century Skills and Meaningful Integration into the Classroom

Tme-at-eeobechnology keeps advancing, students keep changing, and the world we live in is vastly different than the one in which most of us seasoned educators completed our student teaching experiences. Yet in many ways, teacher preparation hasn’t reflected these changes. However, there are myriad excellent examples of students, teachers, and teacher educators engaging in truly 21st century teaching and learning. The challenge we face as a community of educators is being able to bring these innovative practices to all students, teachers, and teacher educators. It isn’t enough to simply tweet about technology-enhanced education to other educational technology converts.   How do we engage in a broad, open, inclusive, and effective push for cutting edge yet sustainable teaching and learning at both the k-12 and the postsecondary level?

21st century teaching and learning isn’t solely defined by technology, but certainly one cannot consider the art and science of teaching and learning in 2017 and beyond without considering the role that technology plays. In my own work as a teacher educator and an online professor, I have been advocating for intentional and frequent integration of technology into teacher education programs and k-12 classrooms. I’ve flipped my classroom, tried all sorts of technologies (and both succeeded and failed), and I’ve shared that work with my peers. As a result of this work, in the summer of 2016 I had the great privilege of being invited to attend an Innovators’ Summit focused on advancing the use of educational technology in teacher preparation, along with the Dean of the Rossier School of Education, Dr. Karen Symms Gallagher. I wrote up my reflections on this summit on my blog, and integrated this work into my work as a teaching professor.

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Innovators’ Summit Attendees on the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building inside the White House Complex.

I was thrilled when I then received an invitation to attend a second Innovators’ Summit at the White House in December of 2016. During this summit, I spent two days working with around 50 other teacher educators, professors, deans, k-12 educators, and policy makers from around the nation on the shared vision that was articulated in a U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology policy brief as follows:

Our students deserve to have teachers, including novice teachers, who are fully prepared to meet their needs. In today’s technology rich world, that means educators need to be prepared to meaningfully incorporate technology into their practice immediately upon entering the classroom. Our nation’s motivated and committed pre-service teachers deserve to be trained by faculty using technology in transformative ways that thoughtfully support and measure learning gains.

Faculty at schools of education across the country should operate with a common language and set of expectations for effective and active use of technology in Prekindergarten-grade 12 (P-12) and at postsecondary education levels. Further, schools of education should work with P-12 schools and school districts to provide meaningful opportunities for pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, school and district leadership, and faculty to co-learn and collaborate to better understand and use technology as a tool to transform teaching and learning experiences for learners of all ages. Given the rapid pace at which technology evolves, faculty need regular opportunities to both refresh their capacity and share innovative tools and strategies with other professors in the field to ensure their technology use is contributing to learning and achievement.

The U.S. Department of Education believes it is important that all programs responsible for pre-service teacher training prepare all graduates to effectively select, evaluate, and use appropriate technologies and resources to create experiences that advance student engagement and learning. We call upon leaders of teacher preparation programs to engage in concerted, programmatic shifts in their approach to pre-service teacher preparation.

This policy brief was based partially on our work at the Innovators’ Summit in June 2016, along with numerous other cutting edge educators from around the nation, and was made real by the incredible work of the Office of Educational Technology.

On page 13, the policy brief highlights the work of the faculty of the Rossier School of Education’s Master of Arts in Teaching program.  The course being discussed in the second paragraph is the EDUC 518: The Application of Theories of Learning to Classroom Practice course that I have led for the past several years; we have made significant changes to the course in that time.

To improve their own online instruction, full-time and adjunct faculty at the University of Southern California (USC) collaborated on a data-informed process of course redesign to better meet the needs of their students. USC realized that student feedback via surveys and exit interviews were paramount in enhancing the program with the latest technology and pedagogy. Using student responses, faculty members continue to develop an internal community of practice to give each other feedback on how to improve virtual classroom practices and learn about new techniques and technological tools. For example, faculty members developed a video-based onboarding process where new faculty can engage with multimedia, resources, and lesson plans. Looking ahead, faculty are working toward creating an inventive video-based professional development model for flipped learning as part of a new version of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program.

Prior to these changes, online course deliverables consisted of five papers and asynchronous discussion boards. Today, students are working collaboratively on online-based documents, recording sample video lessons for constructive peer critique, providing and receiving virtual feedback from colleagues and professors, building dynamic concept maps via web presentation platforms, and learning through flipped instruction models. As more K-12 schools shift to variants of flipped instruction, USC faculty models this work for pre-service teachers and colleagues who increasingly recognize how these pre-recorded videos and prompts can maximize in-class instructional time at the K-12 level and in higher education.

As we engaged in the continuation of this work at the December Summit, what struck me the most was how much every single moment of each of these Summits was focused on making change happen. In academia, we often talk about the theoretical, or about the research, and debate the philosophy of Approach A versus Approach B. There certainly is value in those conversations. However, there is also the danger that the conversation never becomes action, that we only talk to those who agree with us, or that we wait for everything to become well defined and backed by big data before we make a move. The problem with that is that while academia and administration tend to move at a belabored pace, technological advances are happening now. While we are busy completing lit reviews and gaining IRB approval, students are out there in a 21st century world, with all of the opportunities and pitfalls that exist.

At this Innovator’s Summit, we were pushed hard to develop plans of action. We all brought considerable knowledge and expertise to the table. Our philosophical, theoretical, and research discussions always were crystallized into things to do. This itself is a transformative practice. Director of the Office of Educational Technology Joseph South told us, back in June, that President Obama likes to say to the experts he calls upon that “there is no other room.” Meaning, the experts who will make the change happen are right here, right now, in this room; that’s why we were asked to be there. There is no other room out there where other, better people are going to solve the problem for us. The onus is on us to make sure that positive change happens, and that the brilliant work being done all over the country by forward thinking educators is shared and expanded upon to the benefit of all students.

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Me with Dr. Joseph South, the Director of the Office of Educational Technology.

So, we spent lots of time writing on sticky notes and chart paper (yes, yes, old school, I know), and snapping photos of innovative thoughts (there’s the technology for you). We got into groups and brainstormed, and then formed those brainstorms into concrete action plans. We focused our work around the following four principles established by the Office of Educational Technology:

  • Focus on the active use of technology to enable learning and teaching through creation, production, and problem-solving.
  • Build sustainable, program wide systems of professional learning for higher education instructors to strengthen and continually refresh their capacity to use technological tools to enable transformative learning and teaching.
  • Ensure pre-service teachers’ experiences with educational technology are program-deep and program-wide, rather than one-off courses separate from their methods courses.
  • Align efforts with research-based standards, frameworks, and credentials recognized across the field.
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Me speaking to Summit attendees as the co-chair of the Active Use of Technology Workgroup about our action plan for moving forward with this work.

I was able to walk away from this two day experience with a set of concrete recommendations for my Dean, who was unfortunately unable to attend the December Summit, as well as a plan for reviewing the work our Master of Arts in Teaching Program faculty have been doing in revising our program.

 

On a larger scale, those of us who attended the Innovators’ Summit at the White House were also asked to commit ourselves to one of four workgroups organized around the four principles shared above. I am co-chairing the Active Use of Technology Workgroup, and I am excited to see what we are able to do with a motivated, focusewest-wing-selfie-2d group of experts on educational technology.

And of course, here’s the obligatory West Wing selfie:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest for Educators

pinterest-feature-imagePublished today on the Getting Smart! website, my new article:

How To Effectively Integrate Pinterest Into Your Classroom

Check it out for useful information on how to actively use educational technology in your classroom!  In it, I give some tips for using Pinterest in your classroom, as well as a link to the USC Rossier School of Education’s fantastic Pinterest Guide!

Innovation in EdTech: Getting it Done!

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I recently had the privilege of spending a day just outside of DC, working with incredible educators from around the country, ASCD, and the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. Professors, teachers, administrators, deans, organizations, and policymakers came together for a summit on innovation in teacher preparation, with a focus on preparing preservice teachers to effectively use technology in their classrooms.

Heading into the day, I wasn’t sure what to expect; I feared a day of arguing about ideology, or coming up with pie in the sky ideas with no follow through.

Wow, was I wrong!

I knew I was in for something great as soon as I saw the objectives for the day:

Gather information from innovative teacher preparation programs on what ED can do to help the field move toward four goals for edtech in teacher prep:

  • Focusing on the active use of technology to enable learning and teaching through creation, production, and problem solving.
  • Building sustainable, program wide systems of professional learning for higher education instructors to strengthen and continually refresh their capacity to use technological tools to enable transformative learning and teaching.
  • Ensuring pre-service teachers’ experiences with educational technology are program deep and program wide rather than one off courses separate from their methods courses.
  • Aligning the above efforts with research based standards, frameworks, and credentials recognized across the field.
  • Secure plans and commitments from attendees outlining what they will do to move their institutions and the field at large toward better preparing teachers in the effective use of technology to transform teaching and learning.

This summit was the best of what we can do when our most progressive minds come together; when theory meets practice, and when teachers and researchers work alongside each other. We worked in small, collaborative groups, we made strong connections, and we heard case studies of ed tech success. We did come up with pie in the sky ideas, but we also put actionable plans down on paper. We shared those ideas directly with a Senior White House Policy Advisor on education.

I’m proud to say that in the MAT@USC, we are already doing many of these things; as a matter of fact, that is a big reason we were one of the schools selected to attend this summit. Our program is revolutionary in having made hybrid, webcam-enabled teacher preparation a success; a huge risk for such a prestigious institution that has clearly paid off for our school and for our students. We also have a significant amount of active technology use built into our courses; over the next couple of weeks, I will be releasing a series of blog posts that highlight how we have transformed one of our foundational courses, The Application of Theories of Learning to Classroom Practice, from a more traditional, predominantly pencil-and-paper assessment course, to a flipped-learning, collaborative and formative assessment based course that thrives through the use of third-party, freely available Web 2.0 technologies.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still innovations to be made. As we move forward with the continual improvement of our teacher preparation program, I am excited to tackle the task of more thoroughly integrating active, standards-based technological preparation in all of our coursework.

One of the ways that all teacher preparation programs can begin to make improvements like this, to move intentionally toward meeting the objectives above, is to read and integrate the National Education Technology Plan into their curriculum. This plan is brilliant, multilayered, and comprehensive. If you are in any way involved with education, then this is something with which you need to become familiar. As stated within the Plan:

Technology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. It can help affirm and advance relationships between educators and students, reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.

Our schools, community colleges, and universities should be incubators of exploration and invention. Educators should be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills alongside their students. Education leaders should set a vision for creating learning experiences that provide the right tools and supports for all learners to thrive.

However, to realize fully the benefits of technology in our education system and provide authentic learning experiences, educators need to use technology effectively in their practice. Furthermore, education stakeholders should commit to working together to use technology to improve American education. These stakeholders include leaders; teachers, faculty, and other educators; researchers; policymakers; funders; technology developers; community members and organizations; and learners and their families.

We don’t know what kind of world, what kind of economy, what kind of social situations, and what kind of lives we are preparing our k-12 students to inhabit. We don’t know what the technology they will be using will look like. Short of an apocalypse, though, there will be MORE technology, though, not less. Students and teachers will need MORE ability to effectively navigate a technological world, and it is the role of teacher educators to ensure that we produce teachers with the necessary skills.

In what ways have you incorporated technology into your own teaching or into your teacher preparation program? Share them below, and/or tweet them at me at @DrCorinneHyde, and tag @OfficeofEdTech – let’s keep the conversation going!

photo credit: P1000641 via photopin (license)

3 Ways to Support Student-Parents Online

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I teach in a Master of Arts in Teaching program, using an online platform (a Moodle-based LMS developed for us by the fabulous 2U, and Adobe Connect).  In this program, many of my students are also parents.  Since they’re also attending live classes over a webcam from home, this means that often their children are in the house with them.  Many professors in this setting take the approach of banning children, or in fact any potential distractions at all, from the classroom.  My approach is a bit different.  See, I’m a parent myself, and I believe that one of the big problems in our society is the disconnect between work life and family life; the idea that once you get to work you’re supposed to stop being a parent, but when you’re home with your family you should still be answering work email.  I think this is a damaging and stressful thing for parents, whether they’re at work or in an academic program, or as often happens, both.  So, instead, I choose to support my student parents in ways that not only improve their educational experience, but improve learning for other students and improve my experience as the instructor.  It’s my small act of rebellion against the societal encroachment of work and academia on family life.

First, I begin the term by encouraging new moms to feel free to breastfeed their children while in class.  Breastfeeding is normal and natural, and shouldn’t be treated any differently than bottle feeding a child.  Additionally, most states protect breastfeeding moms’ right to nurse in public or private places.  Now, my virtual classroom is neither a public nor a private space, but I’m choosing, as benevolent dictator of my virtual classroom, to make nursing accepted. It is basically not noticeable on camera anyway (we generally only see from the shoulders up), and it can make the new mom more relaxed and able to focus on the content.  Plus, we get to see those gorgeous squishy babies, and it builds our bond as a class.

Second, I tell parents that their children are welcome to join us in the class session.  They can sit in laps and observe, they can ask questions, and they can talk to us.  The vast majority of the time, this stops them from banging on the door and distracting their parent, and then the child either sits quietly and watches, gets bored and leaves, or engages in conversation with us.  Being an education program, this gives my other students a chance to talk to a young person about these ideas we’re learning about in class.  It enhances the conversation and does not distract from our learning.

Third, I allow people’s children to come first.  There is no situation when a class session should come before taking a child to the doctor, and yet I’ve had many students arrive in class and apologize because they might have to step away and clean up their vomiting child.  My response is always the same.  “Go take care of your child.  They need you, and the content will still be here later.”  All of our class sessions are recorded, so the parent/student can watch the class session later, and then meet with me during office hours to make sure they are confident in their mastery of the content of the missed session.  Yes, they miss a class session, but if I made them stay, they’d be behaviorally engaged at best.  Most likely, they’d be looking at the camera, but thinking about their child and listening and watching intently for the signs of worsening illness.  The student will get more from the class session if they can watch the recording and meet with me one on one later, than trying to struggle through the live session with a sick child.

I’ve found that each of these not only allows for a better educational experience for my student-parents, but it makes the teaching experience better for me.  Our online classes develop a stronger bond when we meet each other’s children and share these parts of our lives.  My students are more engaged when I let them deal with the issues that inevitably arise for parents, and work with their role as a parent instead of against it.

Teaching Tech to Preservice Teachers

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I recently ran across this brilliant blog posting as I was browsing Reddit, and I knew I needed to share it.  The author shares a mock test as a way of illustrating the major gaps in how we teach preservice teachers about technology.  The sins he describes are not at all exclusive to McGill University; all too often, education schools resist change, or misplace their focus when it comes to teaching about technology.  He offers a set of recommendations for universities that I couldn’t agree with more, that includes things like teaching about net neutrality, basic hardware usage (I am REALLY tired of seeing professors at conferences who can’t hook up a projector), closed vs. open source software, and the cloud. The only thing I would add to this list is that while all of these things are critically important, we also have to teach new media literacy.  Both teachers and students need the new media literacy skills named by Jenkins:

Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details. Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

Education schools aren’t exactly known for being cutting edge, which is a very sad thing.  We’re supposed to be the leaders in learning, and yet we often have to be bashed over the head with something before we change.  ALL schools of education should be teaching these skills to ALL of their students, not as an elective, but as a required course.

photo credit: Pablo Maroñas via photopin cc

Web 2.0 Tool Review: PowToon

I love to use little video clips or images to supplement my online class sessions; today’s class was on social constructivism and connectivism.  I had no problem finding a video summarizing connectivism, but one that focused solely on social constructivism was, surprisingly, more difficult to find.  Thankfully, the one I found on connectivism was really cool.

The creator, Mike Penella (@MikePenella), had used something called PowToon, which I, of course, had to investigate (LOVE the bee analogy, by the way, Mike!). Thankfully, I was able to get started using it for free, and I created the below video in about 10 minutes; it filled the gap in my class session nicely.

I’m planning now on going back and putting some more time and effort into creating all kinds of supplemental videos for my students.  There were a couple of spots where the interface wasn’t totally user-friendly, but on the whole it was a really simple yet powerful tool to use.  I can imagine the types of interesting things a class full of k-12 students could come up with if they were given access to this.