Yes, it's two weeks since I returned from San Antonio. It's been crazy busy here and I felt a little guilty taking time to blog. However, today is the day I make my triumphant return. That was completely anti-climactic. But seriously, the reason I wanted to be sure to finish up about NECC was that I needed to reflect on my favorite session ...
A Disruption in Absolutely Coming: Computers Disguised as Cellphones Elliot Soloway and Cathleen Norris
Summary of Problem: 1 to 1 laptop programs are proving ineffective for 3 primary reasons:
Education software - not utilized, not available on student machines
Professional Development - programs not developed well, teachers don't know what to do
Sustainability - initial purchase is great but when they're obsolete, who will buy more?
Solution: Use smart phone technologies as the classroom computers
Education software - being developed by U of Mich (hey that's Elliot the presenter's school), uses push technologies to burst applications and files of assignments to the student units. Can also differentiate instruction easily for various learners and styles.
Professional Development - we need to apply educational research to professional development. TREAT THE TEACHERS AS STUDENTS in those sessions. Scaffold content and skills to maximize understanding.
Sustainability - teacher recently polled classes and found 91% of student already had a phone. They're becoming ubiqitous to the point that we CAN require them for school.
I loved this session. It represented a shift in thinking about the current classroom. We are arriving at a point in education (that doesn't mean we're there yet) when we can require cell phones as a part of "school supplies." Almost every kid already has one. But can they do the work? Let's see... every phone, even the most basic, currently has:
communication tool - audio, text, images (some even video)
camera - still and some video
We want students to collaborate, they can text. We want them to record information - do you want audio, images or video? The price point is also much more feasible - even the high end smart phones are going for less than $200. The cheapest laptop you can find is around $400 for something like the solid-state (Flash-based) HP, Classmate, or Acer.
We are hampered currently by school policies. The most lax, at best, allows you to have it in your pocket but not out in class. These, say the presenters are going to be the new tool for school and if we can require pencil and paper today, we can require cell phones soon.
The technology that they are developing is pretty fascinating - especially the push tech. That's key to the teacher. They need a way to get teh info between users not just from teacher to student but also back to the teacher and between students. We've know for a long time that collaborative, project-based learning works.
Fun workshop, great to go to on the last day when I was already exhausted.
The last session, I was too pooped to really care that much. I left early to try to win projectors from Epson and inFocus and a students response system from Turning Technologies. What I did get:
The ISTE Classroom Observation Tool
Check it out here. Useful tool for anyone who need to observe or evaluate tech use in the classroom.
Thanks for reading (if there are any of you out there...)!