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Poster power on Twitter

I've noticed an increasing number of Tweeters are getting around the 140 character limit by using links to graphics. I worry that this may raise Twitter's level of discourse above its usual bumpersticker simplicity, requiring that nuanced views actually be considered. I'm not sure today's political or educational climate will allow this.

So far the posters have as little depth as text posts, thank goodness. But they do look more profound.

Have a good week...




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BFTP: A better question

A weekend Blue Skunk "feature" will be a revision of an old post. I'm calling this BFTP: Blast from the Past. Original post, March 2, 2009. (Be sure to read the comments from the original post.) As the tech department works ever more closely with our curriculum, teaching and learning, and professional development departments, this post makes an increasing amount of sense...

…technology is an accelerator of greatness already in place, never the principal cause of greatness or decline. – Newsweek, April 29, 2002

At a conference last week, Mark Weston from Dell computing stated that asking the question, "Does technology improve student learning?" is the wrong question.

The question should be, "Does technology support the practices that improve student learning?"

Is this a semantic trifle or is it actually profound? What are the implications for technology deployment and evaluation? What drives your tech planning? Should it be initiatives like these?

The direct link between information technologies and learning does not exist anymore than the direct link between a good stove and a good meal; a good automobile and a good vacation; a good word processor and a good book; or a good camera and good art.

This view, of course, has been expressed many times, in many ways. My own Tech Upgrade is one way; my advocacy for looking at best practices in the content areas, another. But I rather liked the simplicty of of Weston's alternate question.

Now if educators could only agree on what actual practices contribute to student learning, it would make the tech director's job a good deal easier.

And shouldn't all educators' efforts be bent toward that sole purpose?


Desktop & iPad vs Laptop: the results

Last spring, our district decided that the standard teacher equipment set up would be a desktop computer and an iPad tablet. Only special teaching circumstances would dictate that a teacher needed a laptop.

This was met with a, let's say, cool reception. So we promised to evaluate the impact of the switch. Here are the results from 87 teachers who received a desktop computer and tablet instead of a laptop.:

Having a desktop computer and an iPad Mini...

  • Has made more productive as a teacher - 44%
  • Has had no effect on my productivity - 34%
  • Has made me less productive as a teacher - 22%

Having a desktop computer and an iPad Mini has made my work...

  • More mobile - 45%
  • No effect -  23%
  • Less mobile - 32%
Given the benefits to the district of this move (lower TOC, less maintenance, less scrambling for computers for subs, encouragement to use GoogleDrive, more familiarity with tablet computing by teachers, etc.), I see this as win when only 22% of teachers have felt negatively impacted by not having a personal laptop (laptops can still be checked out on an as needed basis) and less than a third of teachers said they were less mobile.

The biggest complaint in the survey was about the functionality of the iPad Mini. Teachers simply expected it to be able to do everything a laptop could do, but found that doing grades, creating GoogleDocs, etc. was far more problematic. My sense is that the "right tool for the right job" sensibility will kick in eventually once teachers get more experience with tablet computing.

I have to say that a primary reason this transition went well was that my staff did an excellent job training teachers on the pedagogical uses of iPads - and their own enthusiasm was contagious. Having a firm foundation in using cloud-based productivity tools (GoogleDrive) changed the paradigm of what having access to one's work looks like. And we just plain have a great teaching staff who approached this plan with a mind open to new possibilities.

Thank you all.

So here's what I've been thinking about. What if we gave teachers an equipment stipend and has them buy their own computers, tablets, and other devices? Hmmmmmmm.


A short history of this idea...