Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is your Blended Learning Model built on a House of Cards?

With so many folks jumping on the blending learning wagon, there is a tendency to put the cart before the horse, focusing on selecting digital content and determining the BL model before ensuring a solid infrastructure is in place.  Francisco Castillo-Fierro, Director of Blended Learning at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School in California gets it.  Check out his piece, "How to Build a Rock-Solid Blended Learning Infrastructure - Avoid the biggest disasters of new blended schools by getting these 3 things right.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Looking for Digital Content? KISS (Keep It Synthesized Stupid)

     Are you in the market for digital content to support your instructional programs?  Well, KISS (Keep It Synthesized Stupid). By synthesized, I am referring to the dictionary definition, “combining (a number of things) into a coherent whole.” Digital content should not be an add-on or an afterthought to the teacher’s plans for an individual student or group of students.  The teacher’s goals must always be “driving the bus” when considering the use of digital content.  That content needs to complement, extend, or enhance the teacher’s instruction. Otherwise, why bother? You might as well be pushing worksheets (or as I prefer to call them – shut-up sheets) at kids.
     John Rice, Manager of Blended Learning for the DC Public School System, gets it.  His recent post in EdSurge News outlines a thoughtful four-step process for selecting digital content (Determine goals; Which features are important; See it in action; and Make sure users approve).  I might add a fifth – Make sure it works!  At the risk of sounding a little pretentious, I think John’s second step would be enhanced with the use of an objective, validated tool to evaluate the quality of the digital content, like maybe the Evaluation Rubric for Mobile Applications? (see earlier posts).
     You can read John’s piece at this link:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Iteration Is Not A Four Letter Word (It’s Nine)

     Recently, I was sitting at the EdSurge conference in Baltimore on a Saturday morning, listening to Jim Shelton, Acting Deputy Secretary of Education, speak about innovation.  In his comments he mentioned a word that used to drive me crazy in my brief stint in the private sector, iteration!  Iteration in my previous life meant we were always working on the new and improved whatever – product, process, etc.   
     Didn’t we ever get something right the first time?  Well, no. Did we really have to revisit everything we created to find a way to make it better, faster, more effective? Ah, yes. Did I have to change my “check it off the list” framework to approaching the work?  Kinda.  In hindsight, was iteration in fact a good thing?  You bet!
     I am in the process of reading Tony Wagner’s latest book, Creating Innovators.  Tony always makes me challenge my status quo – one of the keys to innovative thinking.  If you haven’t picked this up yet, it’s a must read.  While I’m reading the print version (no surprise right?) he is using a new twist, embedding codes in the book linking you to videos that support the text.  Pretty cool.
     In order to create the kinds of innovative citizens we will need to fix all of the things we have managed to mess up, we need to take a look at our current practices, those practices responsible for churning out the folks (that would be us) who have created this current mess.  We’ve been talking about transforming education for years, yet very little has changed.  While I support radical changes in our system of education our children, at this point, I’d settle for any innovative change in what we are doing.   
     Let’s create some change.  If not us, then who?  Even if we start small, and then iterate, and iterate, and iterate some more.  It’s a good thing.  The status quo?  Not so much.   Just look around you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Looking for Tablet Wars?

Here is a direct link to the infographic referenced in my last post:

Thanks Amelia!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Tablet Wars - What's Your Tablet of Choice?

Amelia Bush, one of my readers, just sent me a cool infographic about tablets.  Amelia is associated with the website, Best Choice Reviews.  The graphic presents data that shows the iPad's dominance is slipping.  Is this a trend that will continue as more and more sub-100 dollar tablets flood the market.  Let's face it, as much as we have fallen in love with Apple, their products are expensive.  So, is iOS and the App Store worth the extra money?  Is the "cool factor" worth shelling out more than a few extra bucks?  How important is reliability and a company that stands behind it's products?  Without Steve Jobs, how will Apple hang on to the i-loyalists and motivate us to spend the extra dollars on Apple products?  Hmmmmm....

You can check out "The Tablet Race:  I iPad vs. the Rest"