Category Archives: Ed-Tech Thinks

An Opening Move

I got home from OpenEd16 about 30 hours ago and I’m already behind the times. Why? Well, here’s a huge benefit of being involved in Open Educational Practices: people blog, in the open, about their insights, what they took away from a conference and what they are going to do with that knowledge. Now we can all learn from those thoughts, borrow and riff off of those ideas and plans or even just reassure ourselves that what we took from it rings true.

Adam Croom even had his thoughts up and out there from the plane on the way home. Adam Croom not only is someone I look way way up to even more now than I did before the conference, but also the people he works with are scary good. Keegan Long-Wheeler (@keeganSLW) and John Stewart (@jstew511) ran an amazing session showing how to use a game to build a faculty community of learners to learn gamification itself via fighting Goblins. My kids love the sweet 20 sided dice they got out of that session, bee-tee-dubs. It’s not just that the game is such an engaging way to learn, it’s that they hand everything they have to you openly to use for your own games in your own schools. Adam also brought along some student-colleagues of his (hint: do not compare your past, present or future self to them, it will hurt)

f-bomb badge

to chat about some of the mind blowing projects they are working on that came out of the Indie Ed-Tech summit held at Davidson College in the spring. Check out Andrew Rikard’s (@anrikard) work here.
I’d also like to award Andrew a badge for best delivery of an F-bomb at a conference that I’ve ever seen (“…and Minerva… whatever the f*#k that is”) Here is your badge, Andrew. Well deserved.

Now back to me. I got to meet some heroes and actually tell them that I am a big fan of their work including Alan Levine, Audrey Watters, & Gardner Campbell. It is VERY satisfying, when you get up the nerve to tell someone you admire their work, worried you might just be annoying them, to see them seem genuinely grateful for the praise and interested in who you are. Y’all are nice folks. There are others I wish I did the same for: Robin De Rosa, Martha Burtis, Martin Weller, David Kernohan, Kin Lane, Jesse Stommel, Sean Michael Morris, Amy Collier. The list goes on and on. Too many heroes. It was like a real life Open Ed Avengers or Justice League going on. Gardner Campbell laid down hot fire with his keynote. A seven layered spicy burrito on the power of insight and how some of our common practices (like rubrics) stifle the shit out of just the insights we’d all love to see. I would highly recommend going back in time, signing up for this conference and attending his keynote on November 2nd. It would be well worth it.

I want to keep this post short so that someone may read it to the end, so I’ll start my descent to the finish and get to the most important point of making post conference posts. What am I going to do with what I got at the conference? Well, my whole reason for going was to get some tools, juice and ammunition to help open up the practices at Fleming College. Here’s what I realize more now: Everybody is somewhat open. It’s not binary, open or closed. No one is completely secretive about what they do in the classroom. All faculty search at some point for learning activities and what not for their classes. What I want to do is open some eyes that sharing way more often and way more openly will inspire you, motivate you and give you some sweet, sweet free ideas. As a concrete example of that, Robin De Rosa (@actualham) showcased her work in which she had her students, together, create their own open textbook. That inspired me to want to meet one of our pressing goals in our department at Fleming in a similar way. We need to refresh and revitalize and expand our faculty development. I would love to follow her model to build out the ‘manual’ or whatever it is in the same way, with contributions from faculty and students from all walks of the college. Thanks, Robin!

I’ve now used up my extra daylight savings hour and small children are demanding yogurt so I have to wrap this up, but I want to say I met a lot of people there that I considered friends about 10 seconds after meeting and I appreciate your welcoming nature. I will follow up with proper shout outs and other great experiences like VCconnecting and approximately 148 other amazing takeaways I got from Opened16.

18 Myths Uncovered About Learning

Daily Create 1717: Get a random blog post title and then write it

In light of number 2, in which we find out a myth is not a myth, for clarity’s sake the list below is a list of things that are true as far as I believe.

1. Having a numbered list in your Ed-Tech article is not mandatory. My list will probably not make it to 18. Or it will in a totally bullshit way.

2. Myth doesn’t even mean myth like you think it does

Folklorists often balk at the common usage of the word “myth” to mean “lie.” A myth, by their disciplinary definition, is quite the opposite. A myth is a culture’s sacred story. It involves supernatural or supreme beings — gods. It explains origins and destinies. A myth is the Truth.

3. The more open and shary you are with your learning, the more you will learn. Also, everyone else will learn, be happy, be more confident and live longer.

4. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself by saying you have a learning style, think of them more as preferences. You ain’t going to learn bird calls very well if you’re only a ‘visual’ learner now are ya?

5. Education buzzwords are great because they fizzle out and then we get to make fun of them. Let’s start a new one right now! Listify your learning! Everything should be in a list of at least 18 in order to learn anything! In the end, however, we’re just trying to get learners involved in our learning… is that so much to ask?

6. Seven, eight, nine

10. No one really wants to do group work, but some of the best learning happens in groups, teams,  communities however they form. So take that for what it’s worth.

11. Twelve, thirteen

14. Knowing what cognitive load means is pretty helpful, when you’re teaching.

15. If learning is tied to positive emotions of feeling part of something, it ain’t forgot none time soon. So, like, leverage that, eh.

16. Seventeen

18. We are finally there, number eighteen! Here is the final myth about learning, which means truth: Everything is a learning experience so just dig in and giver shit.

Bye bye.




This post was originally published here, but I am cross-posting it here for maximum blowhardiness.

I am currently reading, as a little bit of professional learning, The Monsters of Educational Technology, by Audrey Watters. I’m convinced you couldn’t find a better person to have a critical eye on your field than her.

Her analysis of the history, present and future of Ed-Tech in this book and on her blog  reveals cycles of excitement and abandonment of ideas for using technology in education. Over and over. History repeating itself. Over and over. It’s very easy to get excited about new technology. It’s harder to figure out how to use it to the best of its potential for helping us teach and learn.

What’s better? Someone using PowerPoint 2007 to create a beautiful visual complement of slides for a passionate talk, or using brand new Virtual Reality goggles to ‘explore’ a scene that you could reasonably go and actually explore in real life? I’m not saying VR does not have exciting potential, but it should be used for what it could be best for: immersion into scenarios in which you could not actually be immersed IRL. Like say the past, or the inside of a circulatory system, or floating above a city. Not some environment to which you can actually go. Just like PowerPoint should be used what it is best for: creating slides that are a visualcomplement to an exciting talk, not as the whole lecture itself. Cutting-edge is not better than trailing-edge unless you are using it meaningfully.

Does anybody remember trying to move the little turtle around the screen in elementary school? This was the The LOGO programming language for children

Image Source

Forty years ago, researchers developed a programming language that would become a brilliant educational tool.

Maybe it was a brilliant educational tool. I wouldn’t know because the way it was used in my school, as far as I can recall, was a few times over a couple of months. I got mildly excited when I first made the turtle create a square. But really I didn’t know why we needed to make it make a square. It just disappeared from our computer activities when the shine wore off. Perhaps if they stuck to it a little longer, I could have experienced the real brilliance of it. They were excited to get us coding… for a little while and then it went away. Ultimately it’s my own fault to not yet have the skills I wish I had. I just wish now that they went a little further with it.

I’m guessing you can recall hearing reports or seeing articles in your recent past about the need to teach our children coding and programming. Ads for coding bootcamps for kids maybe? History Image result for symbol for repeat. I do think it’s a great idea. I hope we can stick to it a little longer this time.

I don’t want to say that I think it would have been better if they never gave us the LOGO opportunity at all. I think of that little turtle fondly. I just wish I had the chance to get to know it better. What I’m trying to say is this: take the time to think about how you can meaningfully use the new technology that you are excited about before you begin working with it. And if you decide to use it, keep pushing through a little more once the excitement fades. Revise and re-implement and only abandon when you truly have found something else that works better, not just another new shiny thing.