The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Post at techLEARNING

I've put up a new post on the techLEARNING blog, called Student Absences. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wiki Presentation Resources

I'll be in Syracuse this week to do a keynote and several workshops for the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES. Specifically, I'll be doing Making IT Stick as the keynote, and then doing a short 3 hour intro into Web 2.o, entitled Igniting Student Achievement with Web 2.0. I finish with an all-day workshop on digital storytelling, including a component that focuses on Digital Storytelling 2.0 (you can never have enough 2.0's). Resources for each presentation, including resources from, are found on each wiki. Feel free to use anything you find interesting.

Making IT Stick

Igniting Student Achievement with Web 2.0

Digital Storytelling 2.0

Monday, October 15, 2007

To Integrate or to be Integral?

There was a small discussion today about redefining the titles of educational technologists on Twitter. Ultimately, the discussion evolved to include integration. I entered into the discussion, but sometimes 140 characters are just not enough.

I'm not a big fan of using the word integration. Do we really want teachers to integrate technology? Or should technology just be an integral part of what teaching is, what classrooms are, and what learning can and should be?

There are no cooperative learning integration specialists, no textbook integration specialists, no assessment integration specialists. Why technology integration specialists? What's different? Why do we hold technology to that standard?

To imply that technology needs to be integrated strongly suggests that it is outside of what the standard skill set is for educators. It's not. The use of technology in a lesson is no different than the use of a lecture, of structuring the lesson so that students learn collaboratively, or preparing an assessment to gauge understanding. Whether or not to use technology tools in the learning process is a curriculum design question, pure and simple.

I've heard teachers say "And now they want us to integrate technology on top of everything we already do." Hold on-the use of technology is not an "extra." It's part of what you should be doing. It's not an addition, but that's the climate that is created when the focus is on technology "integration."

Perhaps you may think this is a matter of semantics. I don't. I think the difference between integration and being integral is absolutely critical.

So, how do you know when technology should be used in a lesson? How do you make that decision during the curriculum design process to ensure that technology is not just bolted on to something that a teacher already does? How do you ensure that technology takes its rightful place along all the other tools and strategies that teachers have to help kids learn? How can you help to develop that climate? Have teachers ask these questions, during lesson preparation.

Ask yourself these three questions:
  1. Does the use of the technology support a fundamental literacy that the school believes in? This can range from a holistic literacy like writing to content specific objectives for a particular course. For example, digital storytelling first and foremost seeks to improve the ability of students to write.
  2. Does the use of technology add value to the lesson? Does the technology extend the lesson to a place that could not be achieved unless the technology was included? For example, using the process of digital storytelling also helps students learn visual literacy skills, project management skills, network skills, and how to use media in an ethical way. If the products are shared, then the student can potentially write for a world-wide audience, and that's a much different experience than writing for a teacher.
  3. How will I structure the lesson so that the technology fulfills the first two criteria? For example, the time-tested methodology of preparing a narrative, developing a script, storyboarding, locating imagery and other media, and then building and sharing the story is a truly effective methodology or framework for effective digital storytelling.
OK, so where does the educational technologist come in to the process? I believe that the person that supports technology (I'm not going to use the i word), learners, and teachers helps teachers understand the three questions.

Do that and you'll take steps towards make technology an integral part of teaching and learning.