How To Teach EdTech to Future Teachers

» 19 October 2016 » In Ed Tech, Teachers » 5 Comments

ccc-typing-classI've been asked to pilot a new edtech class this spring for undergraduate ed majors in University of Portland's School of Education. I'm still in the brainstorm phase and I thought I'd like to share some of my initial thinking. 

First off  - a few things that I don't want to do:

  • Oversell edtech. Too often educators try to force the latest edtech tool into the classroom because they think it's cooler. Faster. Shinier. 
  • Focus on teaching apps. Oh how I hated being forced to sit in a computer lab and suffer though PowerPoint professional development as a teacher. When I need students to use a specific app, I typically create a YouTube channel of short screencast how-tos. Or students can use the University's Lynda account for more.
  • Take sides in the platform / device religious wars. These students will end up teaching in different settings, each with it's own unique edtech landscape. They'll need to be able to use what ever they find in their placements.

Instead I'd like to first "teach" adaptability - the mindset that's helped me navigate the ever-changing edtech environment since I began my career in the early '70s - an era of filmstrip projectors, 16mm movies and ditto machines. I've always thought first about my instructional goals, then tried to leverage whatever resources I could find to reach them. That calls for flexibility and a willingness to figure things out on your own. I couldn't wait around for some school-sponsored PD. 

A second, equally important goal would be to teach critical evaluation of the intersection of good instruction and technologies. A good teacher is skeptical, always re-assessing what's working and what's not. That's especially important in the dynamic edtech world.

I envision a problem-based approach where I layout a series instructional challenges (opportunities?) and invite student teams to come back with a plan for achieving the goal using as much or as little technology as they saw fit. They would be expected to find a way to share their work in or out of class (why not flip that as well?) We would then go though a group evaluation, reflecting on what worked and what didn't. Was the juice worth the squeeze? Move on to the next instuctional challenge. Reflect, rinse, repeat.

Here's how I thought I might open my first class:  "Good instructional often begins with a pre-assessment. This is an edtech class, so as a starting point we need to get sense of where everyone resides on edtech landscape."

  • What would be useful to know? 
  • How should we gather that info? 
  • How do we store and share (represent) what we find out? 
  • Would any digital technologies be useful in this task? If so, which ones? 
  • How do we set that up so that your peers can be successful participants?

Brainstorm over: Any thoughts on this approach? Anyone else out there teaching an edtech course and care to share?

Image Credit: Civilian Conservation Corps, Third Corps Area, typing class with W.P.A. instructor ca. 1933
National Archives and Records Administration Identifier: 197144

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Teaching: The Opposite of Magic?

» 26 August 2015 » In Commentary, Teachers » No Comments


Magicians rely on secrecy and redirecting the audiences’ attention. Here’s how teachers do the opposite – draw attention to how thing are done and make thinking made visible.

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PD Should Model What You Want To See in the Classroom

» 05 August 2015 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, PD, Projects, Publishing, Teachers » 1 Comment


Here’s how a Library of Congress-funded PD session incorporated flipped/ blended learning, PBL, collaborative Google tools. Free iBook and PDF for download with all course content and showcase iBook “The Student As Historian ~ Teaching with Primary Sources from the Library of Congress”

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Flip PD with Versal and Create More Collaboration Time

» 01 July 2015 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Teachers, Web 2.0 » No Comments


Here’s how I used Versal (a free LMS) to flip a portion of my Library of Congress-funded summer teachers’ workshop.

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Student as Historian: Library of Congress Summer Workshop

» 04 May 2015 » In Events, History / DBQ's, Teachers » No Comments


I’m excited to offer a workshop this summer for 20 Oregon teachers and librarians (grades 4-12). It’s jointly sponsored by the Library of Congress, the TPS Regional Program & NWRESD. Participating teachers will receive $500 stipend at conclusion of the program.

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Students at the Center of the Learning

» 08 September 2014 » In Commentary, Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Strategies, Students, Teachers » No Comments


I learned to be an instructional designer – an architect of learning environments. I designed lesson “spaces” where the thinking was being done by my students. By “flipping” a few instructional components and providing a student-driven evaluation, my students will be at the heart of the lesson. I’ll be floating at the periphery. Here’s how.

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#edcampPDX Back2School Edition: Twitter Archive

» 16 August 2014 » In Events, PD, Social Web, Teachers » No Comments


We just completed our 10th edcampPDX – a chance to get pumped up for the new school year, network and share new ideas with our colleagues. Here’s our Twitter Storify archive. Check back for updates as attendees have time to reflect and tweet on the awesomeness we shared. We have lots of great resources.

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Calling PNW educators: edcampPDX Aug 16 – Portland Ore

» 20 July 2014 » In Events, PD, Teachers » No Comments


Calling all educators from the Pacific NW. Join us in Portland on August 16th for edcampPDX – free, democratic, participant-driven professional development. It’s an unconference built on collaboration and dialogue, not keynotes. As one participant from last August’s edcamp tweeted “#EdcampPDX what an incredible day! I’m ready for September.”

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Learning to Think Like a Historian

» 03 June 2014 » In Commentary, History / DBQ's, Strategies, Students, Teachers » No Comments


I’m joined by other educators who comment on “Teaching History By Encouraging Curiosity.” Ideas on how to create a more engaging history classroom that teaches students the foundations of historical thinking. With links to more resources and a podcast.

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Reflection and the Student Centered Classroom

» 27 April 2014 » In Presentations, Reflection, Students, Teachers » 2 Comments


The key to fostering reflection is scaffolding more choices for students to make about key elements of the lesson. Then students have more to think about and compare with their peers.
Content – what knowledge and skills will be studied?
Process – what materials, procedures, etc will be used?
Product – what will students produce to demonstrate their learning?
Evaluation – how will the learning be assessed?

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