Thursday, August 30, 2012

Research Results Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

As many of you are aware, I am in the process of establishing content and construct validity for the evaluation rubric for mobile applications (apps) that hundreds of folks all over the world are currently using to make decisons about apps. Ninety-four subject matter experts from a number of different disciplines are participating in a Delphi Process as part of my doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University.  The first round of data is in and has been analyzed.  The results are very positive.  I am in the process of constructing the second round survey in order to further refine and improve the rubric, strengthening its validity.  The data from the first round of surveys will be posted on my blog sometime next week.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Writing in the Digital Age - Part 2

Lat month's post on digital writing was well read and generated interesting conversation about the ways "kids these days" are writing.  Rather than lament about the good old days of diagramming sentences and constructing well structured paragraphs, let's try to embrace the fact that kids are communicating in writing more than they ever have, just in ways that we are not comfortable with.  One of the cool things I have learned about kids over the past 30+ years in education is that they are capable of learning different behaviors to be used in different contexts.  Be it spoken language or written language, kids shift gears all of the time based on their location and audience. As linguistics expert Susana Sotillo, associate professor at Montclair University notes, "No one is destroying the English language; the English language just keeps changing.  It's not a good idea to present change as a negative aspect."  You can read her comments as well as the thinking of other supporters of digital writing in the mindshift post below.    :) riting, LOL!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A New Book Worth Checking Out

......and not just because the evaluation rubric is in it.... (page 227). You will want to check out this new book by Brian Puerling, Director of Education Technology at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.  The book is entitled, Teaching in the Digital Age, Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3. (ISBN 978-60554-118-1). Brian is a visionary educator who helps make sense of technology and ways to enhance its use for classroom teachers.  Brain gets it - it's always about the learning and the kids first and the technology second, as a tool to enhance the quality of instruction.  Thanks for your insights Brian.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cheating in the Digital Age?

     In this day of instant information access, what exactly constitutes cheating in school?  It's no longer a black or white issue. With plagiarism being the exception, do we need to look at "cheating" through a different lens?
     Plagiarism has been an issue since early man copied his neighbor's cave paintings. The protection of intellectual property in the digital age is as essential now as it was back in the day of card catalogs.  The biggest difference with the digtal age is cutting and pasting beats the heck out of having to retype someone else's work.  I've been a victim of theft myself by a professor who  lectures on intellectual property rights in the digital age.  Really!  Maybe she was trying to model just how easy it is to do? 
     The kind of cheating I think we need discuss is the "cheating" referenced in, "Teachers Put to the Test by Digital Cheats" in a recent posting on  The article includes quotes such as, "it's not easy to catch them" and "The kids can really get away with it."  Maybe these same teachers who are battling with their students need to step back and take a look at their assessments.  I don't see a lot of value in an assessment of student learning measured by multiple choice tests with content specific items that can be easily accessed with a couple of keystrokes on my smart phone.  We spend a lot of time talking about 21st century skills and learners but we are still subjecting them to 20th century assessments.  Is it cheating or simply using the resources that they have grown up with, important skills they use in their everyday lives outside of school?      
     Biology teacher Jason Crean states, "They need to think and solve problems...and the technology is taking away from that."  Really Jason?  Technology doesn't think or solve problems, people do.  Let's take a closer look at how we are assessing children and make sure we are asking them to think and solve problems, not simply locate information on the Internet.  If kids are passing our classes by looking up things online, or getting answers to an exam from their friends, then we are failing.
     You can read the piece form the Chicago Tribune below:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Got Favorite Apps?

Got Favorite Apps?  I have been asked by a number of people to put together a list of highly rated apps for use across all age ranges.  I am reaching out to you all for some help with this task.  If you would like your favorites included in a future blog posting, send me your favorites as soon as you are able. Please indicate why the app is rated highly by you (e.g., score on the Evaluation Rubric for Apps or some other quality measure).  Also I would like to cite you and your school/agency in the blog, so please indicate if that meets with your approval.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Internet Safety - Who is Responsible?

The Internet, while an amazing resource, is also a place that can be quite dangerous, especially for children.  Who has the responsibility for ensuring children's safety while online.  Parents?  Teachers? The kids?  How about all of the above?  As educators, we have to assume responsibility for our students' safety while they are with us.  While we would like to think all parents are on top of their children's online behaviors, we cannot assume parents are as mindful as we would like them to be.  We need to help parents develop the skills needed to be tech-savvy Internet monitors, as well as participants.  While filtering everything that might be harmful through school servers certainly limits the legal ramifications, is it the best way to help our children become responsible digital citizens?  Once they leave school, most kids operate in an unfiltered world. It's 3:00, do you know where your children are surfing?

Lynette Owens writes a thoughtful piece about partnerships that need to develop between home and school to increase the likelihood c ourhildren become responsible digital citizens.  You can read the Washington Post piece below:  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Essential Questions

The essential question has become the latest buzz word as we ever so slowly transition to the Common Core.  While essential questions generally refer to the big ideas within a content area, some of the biggest essential questions we have to ask ourselves are related to why and how we are using technology in our classrooms.  We need to get past the "coolness" factor, as well as beyond the "well that's the way kids learn today", and ask ourselves how is technology impacting kids' learning?  One essential question is, “What are our expectations for student technology proficiency?"  Neven Jurkovic poses this, as well as three other essential questions in his post on that challenges schools and school systems to develop a comprehensive plan for how kids will use technology before adding yet another device, program, or initiative.  You can read his piece below: