Friday, December 31, 2010

Technology for the next year

Springpad. Link to Springpad. An impressive note taking application. Create individual notebooks. Tag notes. Attach tasks and due dates. Email the notes. On the iPhone, iPad, Google Chrome as client applications. This application can be used to update teaching materials, collect, tag and share teaching and learning materials.

Slideshare. Link to Slideshare. Great application to upload and share documents and slides. Tag documents, describe documents. Easy to virtually distribute to small or large groups. Works with both Microsoft documents, Adobe PDF files, and Keynote documents. This application is ideal for presentations where standard technology may not be available.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The year in review, or what technology has allowed me to do

It's hard to think about how technology has influenced this year. It has really made me think differently and use technology differently. For instance, I was the kind of person who would take notes on stickies or any other scrap of paper. I would try to write legibly, but to no avail. I would try and transfer my notes to a text editor, but that didn't happen that often.

I have started using the iPad to do more. I can take notes either with the Notes application or one of the many applications that uses a stylus. I am finding that the iPad is a really useful device.

I am finding that Google Chrome, with extensions and the new Chrome Store, is becoming one of my browsers of choice. But alas, no Google Chrome on my iPad. Mozilla Firefox with add ons and extensions is also a robust browser. Browsers that integrate with other web applications are important.

That's my thoughts, so far. Technology has changed the way we do things, and it will continue to evolve as we find greater uses for technology in our everyday lives.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Interacting and interactions

Understanding the changing dynamics of interaction. Moore (1989) mentioned three key types, (1) student to instructor, (2) student to content, and (3) student to student. There is now a fourth type of interaction, student to common digital device. The common digital device is more than a vehicle for content, it is more than a means to create content, it is the digital learning assistant – this device links students with content, students and the instructor simultaneously. Real-time conversations, desktop sharing and collaboration are now the commonplace instead of the exception. With the changes in interactions, teaching has to radically shift and change as well. Students are likely to interact with and through common digital devices – at all times. No longer can we presume that students will dutifully set in a classroom and take notes – students will be fact-checking course content, finding additional as well as alternative content. We need to engage students WHERE they are, not where WE want them to be.

Interacting with students allows time for feedback, focuses time on learning, and clearly communicates the expectations of the instructor AND for the student (Chickering and Gamson, 1987). Incorporating the common digital device, feedback can be instantaneous, as well as anytime and anyplace. The common digital device promotes and encourages learning EVERYWHERE. No longer is learning limited to a particular space, at a particular time. Learning occurs where the students ARE. The nature of interaction is changing. Learners are more ENGAGED with learning because of these common digital devices.

Interaction now includes (1) portable technology, (2) fluid teaching, and (3) a desire to use the new, common digital device to teach and learn anywhere, anyplace, and anytime.

Chickering, A. W., and Gamson, Z. F. (1987) “Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education.” American Association of Higher Education Bulletin, Volume 39, Number 7. [WWW document] URL http://www.aahea.org/bulletins/articles/sevenprinciples1987.htm (Visited December 21, 2010)

Moore, M. G. (1989) “Three types of interaction.” The American Journal of Distance Education, Volume 3, Number 2. [WWW document] URL http://www.ajde.com/Contents/vol3_2.htm#editorial (Visited December 21, 2010)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The common and uncommon

What would be considered common professional development? Is there such a thing as normal professional development? Trying to push the envelope is important and vital, I believe, for professional development. It is important to push the envelope, to challenge people to do things they would not normally do.

Uncommon professional development is pivotal. It addresses the unique needs of faculty. It may be small group, it may be one on one. It seeks to provide answers to questions. Uncommon should be the rule, rather than the exception. We should try to find the unique, the uncommon, the personalized approach to faculty development.

There are no universal approaches except to individualize opportunities for growth and enrichment. Professional development is personal, and we are each unique.

Be different. Be unique. Be uncommon.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Technology and assessment

Can technology, in and of itself, make a difference in educational reform? Or is it the use of technology that reforms education? Technology is like a textbook, like the chalkboard. By themselves, they are merely objects. But in the hands of teachers and students they are so much more.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 03, 2010

My recently completed readings

My recent readings are loosely associated. Technology WANTS us to communicate, but it doesn't help us CONNECT easily. However, technology can be LIBERATING when we use it for real educational reform. All three are good reading, and could each contribute to the improvement (or REFORMATION) of education.

Kelly, K. (2010). What technology wants. New York, NY: Viking.

Maxwell, J. (2010). Everyone communicates few connect: What the most effective people do differently. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Moe, T., & Chubb, J. (2009). Liberating learning: Technology, politics, and the future of American education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The times and the talk aren't changing, much

More talk about changing the school calendar for public schools. The premise is if students are in school longer, they will score higher on the state standardized test AND not loose what they learned in the regular school year. Add to this the renewed discussions about teacher quality, teacher preparation, and the "need" for real reform, it is no wonder people perceive discord in the hallowed halls of education.

We need to remember that the act of learning hasn't changed much. Granted, technology has given us access to a wider array of tools. These tools may deepen and enrich learning. They may provide access to a wide variety of sources and resources that were previously unavailable or were limited in their availability. But the technology has not "changed" learning, it has expanded opportunities to learn. Technology has shifted the physical place of learning from a classroom to a bench, to a park.

There are so many voices clamoring for change it can be difficult to listen. We may need to change, we may need reform. But we may really need to understand that learners, or students, will always and forever be asking questions. It is our job, our duty, our mission to help them as they search for an answer.

Change is a part of life. The act of learning may not change, it evolves, it is always adapting to other changes around. The WHAT of learning changes. The HOW of learning changes as technology changes.

But, the WHY of learning is so intimately personal that we cannot change that. We respond, we react, we engage, we enrich, we empower ... we learn, and we teach.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 15, 2010

New and old technologies

I am not worried about scraps of paper. I am really trying to use more technology. Figure that the technology can improve my productivity. I started using Simplenote. It is a web app, platform and browser independent. In the case of notes, any technological advantage can help. I am bombarded with information each day, and keeping the avalanche organized either requires a handful of notes, that must be transcribed and added to a calendar, contact list, or document.

I can create a note with Simplenote, sync it to my iPhone, iPad, or any computer. I can tag notes, search by tag or other term, publish a note as a web page, or email it. And I can delete them when they are no longer needed.

No more scraps of paper for me.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I Am Thankful For

I am thankful for my friends and colleagues.

I am thankful to be able to work with people who are genuinely involved in improving teaching and learning.

I am thankful to find ways to integrate technology and impact learning as well as teaching.

I am thankful that, even though I may not know the answers to their questions, we can ask questions and eventually find an answer.

I am thankful that I can smile and laugh, and struggle.

I am thankful that I learn each day, and every day.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

What I've learned

I've really learned a lot, from others, and by myself. Mostly, from others. It's always easier to listen to others and learn from them. Learning how to ask questions, really good questions. Watching all of the nonverbal communication cues.

And, I still keep learning.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Assessment, reform, and transformation

Given that professional development, good professional development, can improve teaching, introduce technology, and build community, transformation is possible. Assessing professional development requires time. Change takes time. Professional development takes time. Change is not only involvement and participation, but reflection.

Reform is measured by movement. Transformation is measured by enhancements in teaching, engaging learners, providing opportunities for sharing with others.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The flow of technology

As technology goes, I am becoming more and more impressed with the iPad. It is so fluid and flexible, I can focus on content creation, and not on technological issues. I think, I type, and I update my blog. If the technology is truly transparent, pervasive, and powerfully portable shouldn't it be used more?


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

My Google Chrome Extensions

Currently Used Extensions for Google Chrome (From Left-to-Right)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Strategic thoughts about technology

Technology requires a shift or change in the culture. The notion of a common digital device takes on even more significance. The common device, the personal device, is multitouch, allowing users to quickly, seamlessly, and effortlessly move through content. The device, the pen based input device provides users the ability to take notes, annotate content and create graphical content.

Technology enhances the learning environment, and should not disrupt the learning environment. A small, powerful, portable and pen based device becomes the device that naturally compliments learning. This device is a natural fit for learning, and is seen as a natural extension. It is intuitive and does not disrupt.

Technology requires a change or shift in teaching. As the common digital devices become more transparent, they are used in all classes. As the devices become more powerful, teaching needs to push the boundaries to meet the power the devices offer. A pen based device provides a greater force for change. This new digital device combines traditional and contemporary elements of teaching and learning.

Technology can reshape, reform, and transform the individual aspects of learning and teaching. As technology continues to evolve it is more important to view the uses of technology rather than the specific technologies. This is mobile, portable, powerful and personal technology.

Remembering that technology is a device, a tool, a mechanism, a personalized and personal part in the learning process. The device should be powerful enough to accomplish any instructional task. The device should support the display, creation and sharing of multimedia.

Technology will never improve learning, but provide access to divergent ways of thinking due in part to the multimedia or different media that may be used.

The growth of technology should not be seen as a limiter in the educational process, but an opportunity to grow, to engage, to reflect, to think, to problem solve and to heighten and refine collaborative and communicative skills.

Technology strategically deployed can continually reform and transform education. The availability of a common device, a common pen based device, can radically change the landscape for learners and teachers alike.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The "Common" Digital Device

Is it time to change our definition of the COMMON digital device? It's more than a simple laptop. It's more than a netbook. It's more than a tablet. It's these and so much more. The new device is small but powerful. The NEW common device is portable, powerful, pervasive, ubiquitous, and transparent. The device is pen-based, and supports multi-touch. It is intuitive. It is so uncommon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reform

If true educational reform is "the" goal, shouldn't we reform our uses of technology? Really. Do we need to use the same technology the same way? Reform and innovation can be synonymous terms.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Google Chrome

Google Chrome extensions that I've been using:
  • Chrome Notepad - notepad, synchronized across other Google Chrome browsers.
  • Clip to Evernote - the more I use Evernote, the more I use this feature. 
  • goo.gl URL shortener - simple URL shortener.
  • Posterous for Chrome - snip and publish to Posterous.
  • Shareaholic for Google Chrome - share web pages on many applications, like Facebook, Twitter, GMail and others.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Use and Role of Social Networking Sites (SNS) in Higher Education

With the explosive growth of social networking sites (like Facebook and Twitter), higher education has been faced with an interesting, albeit expected, decision. We know that students are using some of the SNS to connect with one another, with friends and with family. These sites allow and encourage the development of networks. Connecting people with shared interests, common activities, for example, the SNS have blossomed and continue to find use with people who simply have a desire or need to connect with others. The ease and comfort they exhibit in using these sites has come with their continued and intense use. They share information and pictures with others, and eventually with the world. While the consequences of their actions or disregard of privacy issues may cause us and them some discomfort, their use of these sites outside of the realm of education may not impact us, much.

We are now faced with an interesting choice. The use and prevalence of the sites has now shifted to the classroom. There is a perception that if the students use these sites, higher education should as well. Students use these sites outside of the classroom, but the use of the sites as a part of the classroom is not commonplace. Granted, there are multiple course management systems with a wide range of features available. This discussion does not focus on the use or role of commercially or locally produced course management systems. This discussion focuses on the role of social networking sites in higher education.

Should we use the common sites to deliver instruction? How do these sites provide learning opportunities? It can be safely assumed that many of the current SNS are used to share “information” in the form of posts and responses, similar to a threaded discussion board.

These sites can be used to feed, or push and pull information to mobile devices like many of the contemporary smart phones. The immediacy of information exchange can provide some well desired benefits. Additionally, since many of the students are already familiar with the mainstream SNS, the learning curve is significantly reduced. They are using this medium to communicate and connect, and as such, should be able to connect to their classes with the same medium.

However, this is where some of the traditional lines begin to blur. There exists within the “traditional” classroom well defined roles. Teachers and students know and understand the roles and expectations of each role. Whether teacher-centered or learner-centered, the roles are defined. SNS begin to blur these roles. The traditional roles become blurred, at times obscured by the very medium itself. Is it acceptable to develop a closer role, almost a friend or acquaintance, in the classroom? It would be safe to presume that this role would not be tolerated, for the most part. And yet, the very casual nature and environment of the SNS allow and encourage us to become more than a teacher or student, we are encouraged to become friends. This very blurring or obscuring of the roles may impact and potentially damage the teacher-student relationship.

A quick search of “social media policies” and “social networking policies” on the internet will provide guidance on branding, use of images or logos, and a listing of supported SNS applications. And yet, the educational or instructional uses of SNS are not as prominent. There may be several discussions on the obvious uses and protections or safeguards in K-12. There is not much discussion on the role of SNS in higher education.

Granted, we may need to establish some guidelines for the use. Perhaps the guidelines should focus on:
• Using SNS to post information
• Supplementing classroom information
• Providing resources
• Aggregating resources into a single web based site
• Using the current and emerging smart phones to update, push and pull information

Due in part to the new role many of the SNS are assuming, we should exercise caution and not blur acceptable roles for teachers and students. Becoming too familiar with a student, or teacher, may disrupt the teaching and learning endeavors.

We should find ways to use and integrate SNS into our technological approaches. We should be more acceptable to uses of newer technologies. We should be constantly reviewing the uses of technology for different uses. SNS may provide us with an opportunity to connect with students in ways that we never before imagined. We should connect as TEACHERS to STUDENTS. That is how the newer technologies can extend, enhance and engage the learning process.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Thoughts of an educational reformer

I really believe that one person can make a difference. One teacher can make the difference in the classroom. One teacher can teach one student. Provide the support, when needed, to the teacher. Provide the technology for both the teacher and the student, and learning will be deeper and richer.

Teaching is reformed each and every class period. Teachers are the reformers.

Ask a question and promote reform. Reform education one class at a time, one lesson at a time, one teacher at a time. We are the reformers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

So, what is a good education? (The questions)

What is a GOOD education? Do good students get a good education? Do good teachers provide a good education? Can a GOOD education be better?

Is a GREAT education a RIGHT? a privilege? or simply an expectation?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reflections

Professional development is, perhaps, an ideal time for critical reflection. This is an opportunity to STOP, THINK and DISCUSS with others. Some would call this "active learning." It's active when there is opportunity to reflect. Sometimes, the opportunity can present itself with a question. Sometimes, it is the "a ha" moment. Reflection is a start to and for improvement. Professional development should promote reflection. Reflection leads to improvement.

After all, isn't improvement (whether in teaching or learning) one measure of the impact of professional development?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Channel surfing

I'll admit that I channel surf while watching television. Some nights, I surf more than others. But I do occasionally find something that has a lesson in it, a teachable moment. Find some time and watch "Community" on NBC, Thursday nights. There just may be some life moments in the show for all of us.

And, for some more lessons, you might read http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2010/07/12/top-10-college-lessons-from-community/.

It's OK to watch television. Really, it is. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

List of Professional Development Topics for Fall 2010

Using http://www.mywebspiration.com/ to develop and share ideas for professional development.




Friday, June 04, 2010

First Day Tips Listing - Connect

Been reading and thinking about the first day of teaching. I've collected some URL's on first-day tips (see them at http://delicious.com/dpeter19/first-day). Starting to think about how these tips could be used by all faculty - regardless of new, part-time, adjunct status.
  • Greet students. Connect with them, and find commonality to share. Connecting with students can set them at ease and can set you at ease as well.
  • Share with them the relevance of the course. Let students know what they are learning, and how it will impact their lives.
  • Let your students know how you will teach, how you will expect them to participate - shared expectations are easier to achieve.
Just a thought, for now.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Improvement

Improvement. Improving teaching. Improving learning. That's a goal for professional development. Professional development should improve  teaching. Integrating technology into teaching and learning is improved. Provide opportunities for reflection, and teaching is improved. Provide a community of support, and collaboration is improved. Share best practices, and education is improved.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thoughts on John Maxwell's "Everyone communicates: few connect"

Started reading John Maxwell's latest book. Between the pages I've found ideas that could be used - ALMOST EVERYWHERE. We are all, to some extent, social creatures. We talk - to ourselves, to others - but do we truly connect? We are bombarded with WORDS. 

Taking it another way ... we TEACH, but do we TOUCH the lives of our students? We LEARN, but do we LIVE the message for all to see? I think I'm a good communicator, but am I a good connector? How do I connect BETTER?

Stay tuned ...

Maxwell, J. (2010). Everyone communicates, few connect: What the most effective people do differently. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer Reading

Gallo, C. (2010). The presentation secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be insanely great in front of any audience. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Godin, S. (2010). Linchpin: Are you indispensable? New York, NY: Penguin.

Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010). Switch: How to change things when change is hard. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

Li. C. (2010). Open leadership: How social technology can transform the way you lead. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Maxwell, J. (2010). Everyone communicates, few connect: What the most effective people do differently. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.




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