25 comments
  1. I cringed when our latest computer re-image locked all the settings. It's not right to say "nobody can change their settings from these, because this is how I use my computer."

    Tech Departments should strive to leave the options open, and let us live with and learn from the consequences.

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    1. Failing to trust people will nearly always stagnate innovation.

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  2. Wow. Just wow. Not only do you seem to misunderstand instructional design, but you also have a really low understanding of how technology works. Using it the wrong way is why technology people have to fix things so often. This is really bad advice.

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    1. I'm not suggesting we pull a MacGeyver and rip the machines apart, duct tape them back together and then use them to detonate a bomb. I'm thinking we let kids do vocabulary on Tumblr. That's pretty different.

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    2. Anonymous! You have got it horribly wrong!

      John's not suggesting using the application in a poor way - he's talking about subverting the function of the application! What this does is liberate new ways of looking at things, new ways of understanding things. That's learning! I use spreadsheets to do school time-tables, for example. My students often use PowerPoint to make movies, because you can save the slides as jpegs so it allows you to put text and images and speech bubbles into the movie without fancy editing software!

      I totally agree. Let students use any package they choose for a task. As long as they can justify it.

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    3. Anon sounds like one of those central-office tech department flunkies who is more concerned with show-boating some gimmick (like wi-fi equipped activity busses) to County Commissioners and Communities In Schools reps than he/she is in helping teachers facilitate new and inventive ways of using technology to help student learning.

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  3. Fantastic advice - Love this line, "Students need to see that the learning drives the task and the task drives the selection of technology." Too often I see teachers pick the tech first and fill in the rest. Design the task and allowing students to pick the tech.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I think it begins with a solid understanding of teaching followed by a strong understanding of the functions of tech. Both matter, but educational practice is still the most critical element.

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  4. I'm unclear as to how a little bricolage will cause the tech people at Tumblr, Google Docs, Google Forms or one of the wiki sites to put in hours of overtime. Those are the examples being discussed.

    I too would be concerned if the advice included projecting flames on the smart board while using the heat from the projector lamp to melt marshmallows to make S'mores. Tech guys might get overtime then.

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    1. I love that response! I laughed aloud to that. Thanks for taking on the anonymous comment!

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  5. I love this idea. I don't see why tech departments woudl be against it, either. You won't break anything. Besides, students learning how to use tools in different ways will actually lead to a better understanding of the tools they use.

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    1. Good point. Anything that builds a deeper understanding should be viewed in a positive light.

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  6. Wow. Just wow. Not only do you seem to understand instructional design, but you also have a really great understanding of how technology works. Using it the right way is what technology people with no classroom experience want you to do so they don't lose control. This is really great advice.

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    1. glad you addressed the anonymous comment so well. however, i still disagree on one point: technology people who really understand technology know it's a tool and keenly observe how it's used inappropriately for insight on how it can be improved....or highlight a need.

      I came across the idea of desire paths via @timbuckteeth's (Steve Wheeler) post on Learning Pathways. I find that those who use technology in unexpected ways have devised such paths. It makes sense to listen to these people (like me thinking now whether or not spreadsheets as calendar may be the way to go ... maybe). Where before I used to insist on a better tool or more efficient way, I now listen a little and see if I can learn something new or appreciate that it's not always about efficiency and productivity.

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    2. Paul: You rock. I love that response.

      Malyn: Thanks for the link. I think you're right about being mindful of when it's not being used right. I love the pathways concept.

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  7. This is wonderful for getting students to think about the purpose behind using the technology. You may even end up with a few students who go on to create the next big educational app after discovering the golden uses from a variety of sources.

    Three years ago, my students used Google Maps to re-create a transmedia storytelling of "War of the Worlds". They used Bitstrip comics and Photoshop for creating still photos, Google sketch-up models of the tripods, embedded sounds from the movie, created video news reports, and wrote parts of the story in the placemarkers. They learned some coding language while developing tons of different media skills and exploring various audiences while experimenting with narrative. Along the way they learned how to re-purpose tech-a valuable 21st century skill!

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    1. I love the example that you mention. Just curious - did you run into any push back from administrators or fellow teachers?

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  8. Interesting. I'm in a master class with John Hunter this week so I'm focusing on the idea of creativity. It seems to me this might be a good exercise to do with students to get them thinking creatively. What if we asked them questions like, "How many ways might you use Prezi other than as a presentation tool?" Then, we let them brainstorm the possibilities. You've got me thinking this morning, John.

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    1. I love the example you mention, because it forces them to think outside the box rather than giving them the permission. Maybe they need to be pushed.

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  9. Scott Ziegler's comment about choosing the learning task and matching the tech is what I hold on to as I imagine the creativity that drives most students. While some of our students are very tech savvy, too many are knowledgeable with a narrow set of tools. Here is the chance to group students with their tech peer to explore how they will present or represent their learning.

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    1. I think you're onto something there. Far too many of them have a narrow set of tools despite being the so-called "digital native" group.

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  10. Nice article. I agree with every you've written except using a Spreadsheet as a Calendar. Do you mean using a Spreadsheet instead of a paper calendar? I use Google Calendar and it is fantastic, easy-to-use, syncs with my Android phone, etc. I can't imagine using a spreadsheet to find out what I have to do Today...especially if there are recurring events.

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    1. I know what you mean, but I tried Google Calendar for a solid year and there were things I hated. First, it took way too long to enter events. Second, I didn't like how it look when I had multiple events going at the same time. Third, I didn't like the fact that I could not sort through events and see it like a to-do list or the fact that I could not make recurring tasks. I also don't like the way it looks when the time breaks in odd moments (which happens with my schedule).

      So, I have the following:

      1. For events that are more task-related (projects, larger events) I have a spreadsheet like the one I describe above. It works really well for me, because I can sort it all out if necessary and there is no distinction between project deadlines and events.
      2. I have a day-to-day template with everything scheduled out. I keep this on a Google Doc.

      Once a week, I do a date-sort of everything I have to do that week on the spreadsheet and then I modify it on my Google Doc. So, I end up avoiding the traditional calendar altogether. Like I said, it works really well for me. I'm not suggesting it would work well for everyone, but it works well for me.

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  11. Fantastic advice, I would like to add PowerPoint as an image editor. Remove background, add text, layer, fix blemishes--it's a poor man's photo shop and my kids have become experts! Love you posts. Love to have your thoughts on mine sometime http://experimenting-in-education.blogspot.com/

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Please leave a comment. I enjoy the conversation.