Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Are We There Yet? Integrating Tech & Learning #SXSWedu

Notes from panel discussion/concurrent session at SXSWedu 2012

Geoff Wurzel, TechNet
Wurzel was one of the influencers on Senate Bill 6 and the creation of the Instructional Materials Allotment in Texas.

Tom Greaves, The Greaves Group

Project Red - large scale research project funded by Pearson and Intel; Collected data from over 1000 schools around the country and looked at 136 variables.

Study focused on 1. Does technology improve academic performance? and 2. Financial implications

Financial side - What does it mean if kids get smarter and don't drop out because of technology? 1:1 schools outperform 2:1, 2:1 outperforms 3:1, etc. all the way down.

1:1 schools that use proper implementation factors outperform 1:1 schools that did not use proper implementation measures. Only 1% of all schools surveyed used all of the proper implementation factors. Moorseville School District in North Carolina is an exemplar district.

Rob Lippincott, PBS

PBS is working toward making more content digital (after spending over 40 years making TV educational). PBS feels their role is helping create content to support teachers. Examples of their initiatives include PBS TeacherLine, PBS LearningMedia, CPB Ready to Learn (PBS Kids), PBS Kids Lab (learning games).

PBS LearningMedia is the focus today. They can offer economy of scale due to the thoursands of of kids and students download content from PBS every month. PBS LearningMedia is part of ProjectShare in Texas. It brings a library of over 18,000 purpose-built, digital learning objects to teachers, learners, and parents. PBS LearningMedia is aimed at teaching and learning. Short, high impact video clips.

Paige Johnson, Intel

K-12 Blue Print:

In a global  innovation economy, we never will "be there". Innovation is an incrementally increasing thing. Even when our students do better, other students to better as well.

Technology helps with innovation, but technology alone will not help. You can't just throw a device at teachers or students and expect it to change anything.

K-12 Blue Print features exemplars of tech integration. Also provides free professional development for teachers. Example: Learning modules. Also a free downloadable eBook on best practices for learning, featuring Karen Fuller of Klein ISD.

Johnny Vaselka, Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA)

Public Education Visioning Institute: Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas - A group of 35 superintendents in Texas produced this document in 2006.

  • Six Articles that may be used to frame needed conversations as a "lens" to examine/change education across the state
  • I. The New Digital Learning Environment
  • II. New Learning Standards
  • III. Assessments for Learning
  • IV. Accountability for Learning
  • V. Organizational Transformation
  • VI. A More Balanced and Reinvigorated State/Local Partnership
Influenced SB 1557: Texas High Performance Schools Consortium - Establishes a consortium of up to 20 districts and open-enrollment charter schools to become leaders in transforming education in Texas.

Questions From Audience:

1. We are fighting a huge PR battle in moving toward digital learning. Why haven't we heard of the Project Red report? Is there a marketing plan? 

Answers: The report has been highly publicized. There is a plan to come out with a paperback version. The dumbing down of the discourse to "teacher vs. technology" is holding us back. This is not happening in other countries. We need to create messages that are short and to the point to catch the ear of the general public. We put out 18 page documents and wonder why the public doesn't get it. We need the "grandmother" document; if you can make your grandmother understand it, you have a winner. Practical examples are needed; show what it looks like in a classroom. Make it accessible to the general citizen and to those who are making investments.

Choose bumper sticker slogans: It's About Kids and It's About Time. Our kids are getting left behind. 

Everyone wants a simple solution: Add this hardware or program and kids will get smarter. The industry needs to fight against this. We need to make changes at scale.

It is also important to have grass roots involvement and grass roots leadership. Veselka feels the conversations going on across Texas in communities and districts are encouraging.

What is the best user friendly tech that a teacher can use today that will enhance a teacher's ability to teach? What is the game changer?

Answers: There is not a single piece of technology that is a game changer. (Someone from audience gave an example and I didn't hear it)

90% of teachers surveyed say the single piece of technology they want is an interactive whiteboard. But even that is not a stand-alone piece of technology - you need access to quality content.

We need things that give real-time, minute by minute feedback. 

We also need to focus on deep engagement.

Quote of the session so far: "We are building the plane as we are flying it."

Have any international comparisons been made?

Answer: Project RED was US only. There are not very many international studies available. OECD just published a study last year on the PISA studies. Correlation to high outcomes if students are using technology. However, most of this technology was used outside of school.

Patterns in any structures that promote the use of technology?

If you move toward personalization, you get better results. Virtual and digital online learning lead to personalization.

Teacher professional development and change management are very important.

There is a huge divide between what we're hearing at this conference and what we see in the classroom. How do those of us on the ground help?

Veselka - Trying to provide leadership from the state level. Involving leadership of all ESCs in Texas to work out strategies to facilitate training and leadership across the state.

Johnson - PD is moving into a different space. It is shifting to professional learning communities that take advantage of anytime/anywhere learning to make teachers more reflective on their practice.

Lippincott - PD in your pjs and job embedded PD. Put teachers through in cohorts so they have support. Does not take the teachers out of school. Studies show teachers have improved self-efficacy after participating in these experiences.

Wurzel - We need to look at colleges of education and how we are training teachers. 

In Texas, we are nervous that teachers will just keep buying textbooks with the IMA. What are we doing about that?

It is a transition that districts will have to work through for several years. Hopefully reduction in cost over time will free up monies to buy more digital content.

It was anticipated that initially districts would still focus on textbooks. Now that a market has been created, publishers will step up to provide materials.

How can we change the archaic culture we see among our teachers? What do we do about PD that is out of context? Teachers go back to their classroom and feel unable to use it?

If content is just seen as a transliteration of a textbook, it will not lead to transformation. Forming peer networks and professional learning communities is key to changing the environment. An Intel Teach study showed that if 60% or more of the teachers in a community went through the training, it led to a culture change at the school and 90% of the teachers using the new approaches.

It is hard for librarians, technologists, business leaders, to make changes if there is not leadership at the superintendent level or from the parents/community level.

Keep beating the drum!

What's being done to transition teachers from the role of instructors to the role of tutors?

In a well implemented 1:1, this is part of the culture change.

Flipped model is an example of this. So is project work and coached collaborative work.

We need smart learning objects - teacher does not have to find the content, but the content finds the learner. Teacher facilitates.

What can we do to help populations that start behind (second language, etc.)?

Intel is working with FCC and Comcast to make a refurbished computer available for $150 to families on free and reduced lunch. Also families will be eligible for $9.99 per month Internet as long as their child is enrolled and attending school.