Monday, July 30, 2012

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?- Social Media in Schools

     How much longer are we going to sit around reflecting on the "potentially exciting learning and teaching tools" social media affords us before we actually check it out and examine what the impact might be in our schools.  While I fully understand the desire, as well as the need to protect kids from the evils of the internet, are we not doing them a disservice by not teaching them how to use social media appropriately and safely.  It's kind of like not talking about sex for fear of encouraging promiscuity.  We all know how well that works. By educating our kids, we may in fact prevent some of the slimy stories we hear in the press.  Kids, even those in elementary schools, are more social media savvy than we may want to give them credit for.  Who is teaching them how to use these "potentially exciting learning and teaching tools?"  Their friends?   Scary! Their parents? Maybe.  What is our role as educators in helping kids manage the digital world that surrounds them?  Are some kids going to make mistakes, push the limits, see what they can get away with?  Absolutely, but why hold back the overwhelming majority who won't.  Shouldn't the folks that sit at home for hours on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pintrist be willing to give their kids the same access?
     It's a complex issue, no doubt, but we are teachers.  We can figure out how to do just about anything we set our minds to.  Our kids are counting on us.  If not us, who?  Their friends?
     Here is some food for thought in an article written by Eamon O'Donovan in District Administrator:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Great Question about the APP Rubric

Hi Harry,  It's me Laurie from Australia, now living in Alexandria VA. 

I have a question about your rubric.  There has been a somewhat heated discussion within my research group around the domain "curriculum connection".   As you know, we are adapting the rubric to make it applicable to choosing apps for students with autism.  

One comment from the group, was that "curriculum connection" was too broad for our purposes because there is no "curriculum" for autism in Australia.

So we discussed changing it to "IEP connection".  Actually that was my suggestion.   I suggested changing skills and content to goals and objectives   I'm coming at this from the angle of a former state administrator and current research professor   Increasingly there is an expectation and indeed a mandate to include measures of accountability in the education of children with disabilities.   I'm also aware of a number of cases in the US where parents are retroactively suing the school district for the denial of FAPE after their child graduates because they are ill prepared for the post secondary world.   Well, the suggestion was not well received by the rest of the group because they felt it was TOO specific.   So, what was your original intent in including the "curriculum connection" domain?  was it to help teachers make a decision about what educational benefit would be derived from the adoption of that app?

Thanks for any insight you can provide. Kind Regards,

Hi Laurie from Australia why did you ever leave and move to Virginia,

      I think you make a great point.  The rubric was originally designed with the general education environment in mind.  As I have collaborated and corresponded with folks around the world, my thinking has certainly been expanded.  I have come to the realization the rubric should be revised/adapted depending on the field or the population.  In your case, depending on the severity of the child’s condition, the IEP may in fact be the “curriculum.”  A number of folks have used my rubric as a skeleton and made revisions based on the clients or students who are sitting in front of them.  That makes a lot of sense to me.  The big idea that spurred my thinking to develop the rubric was the realization that we(within a given field) needed to be using a consistent language and structure to evaluate apps for any given purpose.  There wasn’t a system for doing this prior to 2010 when I first conceived of the rubric.  While it would be nice to have top rated apps for every purpose, that just isn’t going to happen until app developers better understand what we are trying to do.  I believe the most effective use of the rubric is in the comparison of apps for the same purpose with the goal of finding the best within that group.  Thanks so much for your question and for continuing to push for the use of mobile technologies to meet the needs of all kids.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) App Rubric

Dr. Robin Parker, Professor at Nova Southeastern University created an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app rubric.  Dr. Parker is associated with Programs in Speech, Language, and Communication with the Abraham Fischler School of Education and Consulting Director UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. Attached is the draft created by Dr. Parker and a colleague. They are in the process of getting feedback and making revisions to their rubric.  The link to the rubric is below.  I am sure Dr. Parker would appreciate any feedback you might be able to provide.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mission Control: We Have Lift Off!

After months (that seemed like years) in the planning, today I launched my dissertation research project.  I am using a Delphi Process to empirically establish content and construct validity for the Evaluation Rubric for iPod Apps I developed in 2010.  As of today, I have received over 350 requests to use the rubric from practitioners all over the world.  If you are one of those folks, you should have received an email from me this morning inviting you to participate in this study.  After the study is completed, I will provide access to an evaluation tool that has been evaluated by hundreds of experts working in a wide variety of educational settings across the globe.  I will share data from the study as well as the finalized rubric as the research progresses.  Thanks in advance for all of the experts who are providing feedback on this important project.  The new and improved rubric being investigated can be accessed using the link provided below.  Apparently folks were having trouble accessing the Box link.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The iPad Mini Rumors Continue

     Steve Jobs may not been a fan of the idea of a mini iPad, (Too small to be a tablet and to big to be a smartphone) but there is obviously a market for a smaller iPad.  Take a look at the tablet market.  Most successful tablets are in the 7 inch range.  The question seems to be, "Do you want mobility or do you want screen size?"  I used an iPad when they first came out because of the coolness and sexiness factors.  I switched to a MacBook Air because I found if I had to carry a device the size of an iPad, I might as well have a fully functioning computer in hand.  Away from work or home, my iPhone is my computer.  For me, the iPad is just too big for what it can do. 
     Four of my classrooms are equipped with iPod Touches as part of a 1-to-1 initiative.  Cost was a major consideration when the project was initiated.  The iPad was just too expensive for our budget. The only complaint I have about the Touches is the screen size, although it does not seem to be an issue for the kids. I have found these devices work more effectively in our 20th century classrooms (student desks, print media, notebooks, papers, school supplies) than giving each kid an iPad or laptop.  I know, I know, we need to reconfigure our classrooms if we are going to transform education, but the iPad Mini would be a device to help bridge this transition to the 21st century.  I can't wait to take one for a test drive.
     You can read a post written by Tom Kaneshige in below:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

25,000 iPads & iPods - Is Everything Bigger in Texas?

 Check out this posting from THE Journal about the McAllen Independent School District  which is rolling out a huge 1-to-1 initiative.  The district will be providing mobile devices to every single student, teacher, and administrator in their district.  Combining state, federal and private funds and taking a fresh look at how budgets are prioritized, the district is putting their money where their vision is.

Monday, July 16, 2012

iPads in First Grade

First grade teacher, Kathy Cassidy shares her experiences with a 1-to-1 iPad initiative in her classroom.  Her focus on creation, collaboration and transformation comes through in both her words and images.  Check out the piece on the website Powerful Learning Practice: 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Writing in the 21st Century

Concerned about the way "kids these days" are writing?  Tweeting, text messaging, Facebook posts..... That's not "real writing" right?  Susan Lucille Davis, English Teacher at Chinquapin Preparatory School in Houston Texas, gets it.  We have two choices.  We can throw up our hands and assume kids will never develop into the next Shakespeare or Hemingway or we can look at what Davis calls "contemporary writing activities" and use these authentic contexts to teach kids the power the written word.  We can teach them how to communicate their thoughts and dreams in their writing in a socially connected arena that was not possible when I was in school.  When I wrote in school, two people read my work, my teacher and maybe my Mom.  The written word is changing the world in real time.  Look at what has happened in the Middle East.  Tweets and posts changed a regime, not intellectual or political manifestos.  This is an exciting time to teach written language in schools.  We just need to change our mindset and teach kids where they are, not where we were.  You can read Susan's post below:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The New and Improved Rubric

After receiving feedback from folks all over the world, I have made some several revisions to the widely adopted Evaluation Rubric for iPod/iPad Apps. In the coming weeks I will be launching a formal study as a part of my doctoral dissertation research at Johns Hopkins to empirically validate the rubric.  You can find the revised rubric at the following link:

If you encounter difficulty accessing the rubric, please email me and I will send you a PDF.  I have traditionally used EmbedIt, but apparently they are no longer accepting embeds, so I'm trying a new system called Box.  Thanks and I'll keep everyone posted on my research.

If you are unable to access the rubric via the box link, try this one:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Chicken in Every Pot, A Device on Every Desk

Check out this story from the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago highlighting an iPad/macBook Air initiative in District 93 in Illinois.  Younger students will be receiving iPads, while the older kids will get MacBooks.  The district has decided to lease the devices as the technology is changing so rapidly.  Hats off to Superintendent Bill Shields for his vision recognizing that it just doesn't make sense to make kids sign up or wait in line for their turn to have access to technology in their schools. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Apple iPad: Saving to Satisfy Your Inner Gadget Geek - Guest Post

Apple’s iPad is over two years old now and it’s hard to justify to yourself to buy its latest iteration, despite the delight your inner geek gets from it. However, it just might be worth considering making the purchase after all, as the device could help you find savings in unexpected places.

How the iPad has Changed:
With the new iPad looking very similar to its predecessors, it can be difficult to pin down exactly what has improved. Fortunately, PocketNow gives a rundown of what’s new. The iPad’s processor now runs on a 32-nanometer chip, meaning it has a longer charge than the iPad 2 and can offer a savings in electricity. “AnandTech comes through again with some new data, showing that the latest iPad 2 definitely outperforms its predecessors when it comes to battery life” says PocketNow. They then get more specific, detailing exactly how much longer of a battery life can be expected for normal tasks:
·        Casual web browsing: 15.8%
·        Playing games: almost 30%
·        Watching videos: 20%
Recycling Your Old iPad:
Many consumers struggle convincing themselves to purchase another iPad after having just bought one last year. The New York Times offers tips on how to sell your old iPad in order to minimize the extra money you end up spending. In their article How to Sell Your Old iPad Now, they first recommend visiting Apple’s “Reuse and Recycle” program, where you will receive an estimate of the worth of your current device and free shipping should you decide to trade it in. Additionally, Target, Amazon, Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Walmart all offer credit for trading in old devices. EBay also announced that they would purchase iPad 2s, working (they claim to give up to $475) or otherwise. Before you sell, however, NY Times recommends backing up and resetting your iPad to protect your privacy. Finally, if you want to take advantage of the new model and purchase last year’s iPad 2 at a discount, Apple is dropping the price to $399 for a brand new device.

Airline Savings:
TechCrunch explains an unpredictable area the new iPad helps in savings: airline fuel. Airplane pilots are replacing heavy flight bags containing manuals and logbooks with light iPads containing the same information. TechCrunch does the math to show that an iPad would save only around 45 seconds on fuel each flight, but continues to explain how quickly these numbers add up and concludes with [United Airlines] estimates it will save 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year. That’s in addition to 16 million sheets of paper in those flight bags.”

It’s always a challenge to keep up with Apple’s rapidly changing market of handheld devices. Still, their products are getting leaner and more efficient every year, so it’s only natural to see savings rolling in in even the least expected areas.

This guest posting has been brought to you by a fellow enthusiast at Stumble Upon

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Student Entrepreneurs & App Development

Check out this piece in the current issue of Digital Directions.  Is it about learning computer programming, teaching business and marketing, engaging kids who are checking out in traditional classrooms, inspiring girls to consider STEM careers, or all of the above?  Creativity, ingenuity, and entrepreneurism are the skills that will enable our current students to lead the way through the 21st century.  It's about time more programs such as the ones described in this article are encouraged and allowed to flourish.  Every day I get more and more encouraged about the future of public education.  Teach and inspire and then get out of the way....