Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Favorite Finds from TCEA

Guest post by Randy Stuart, Executive Director of Technology

Favorite Ideas:
I think there is always a struggle to either do things the way that they have always been done or to move toward a new, lesser known path. One of the presenters, Kristen Swanson (@kristenswanson), shared with campus leaders three points that I think are essential in moving education forward toward continuous improvement. (More info)
  1. Education is fundamentally different in a networked world. If you have spent much time in education you know that it can be a trendy group, and changes fly in and out regularly. Sometimes we are prone to just say “this too shall pass.” However, technology in education is not a passing fad, and it will affect all of what we do. With the availability of apps that solve math equations and show the answer, we must focus more on the learning than on the answer. With the ease of accessing information, we must shift from teachers being the source of all knowledge, to teachers being the facilitator, helping students wrestle and learn from the abundance of information that is available and to do so safely.
  2. Effective professional development in a networked world is about relationships. Learning in the classroom is more about relationships than information, and this is even more important in working with adult learners. Adult learners are busy and need to have learning more tailored to their practice for it to be most effective. Those who are stepping out into the tech unknown need to share their experiences with others. Improving our instructional technology practices will happen best as the cloud of relationships we have works together to learn and grow.
  3. Learning is messy, but it has a pattern. Gone are the days of silent students in rows reading, and a teacher with a ruler at the ready waiting to strike the student that makes a peep. Learning is best when we are engaged and excited about the material. The framework Mrs. Swanson presented was:
    1. Curation - Where we group and organize information.
    2. Contribution - Where we share and collaborate our learning.
    3. Reflection - Where we synthesize and make connections with prior learning. 
Click here to englarge.
Favorite Tool
Learning Management Systems (LMS) – The vendor area was full of LMS, and many of the sessions at TCEA this year were dealing with LMS. While LMS have been around for a long time, it seems like this latest generation has finally gotten its act together and is ready for the mainstream classroom. Today’s LMS makes it so easy for students to collaborate, receive assignments, and turn in projects from any device. It also makes it super easy for teachers to grade materials and to provide video or audio comments about the student’s work. This is going to make a huge impact on education.

Favorite Tech Gadgetry 
Microprocessors - Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, Arduino…Though these have crazy names, the opportunity for learning with these powerful little devices is amazing. Combine the influx of microprocessors along with a mixture of great programming environments like M.I.T.’s Scratch (simple enough for even early elementary programmers), and you get awesome STEM learning in real world ways. Robotics was also a big part of this year’s conference, with Lego’s latest Microprocessor, the EV3, which gives students the ability to program and test their program on real life animated robots (which can also be programmed by Scratch!). Not to mention the interworking of MakerBot’s 3D printing of Minecraft objects, my mind is exploding with creative ideas!

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