06 March 2012

If I Could've Known Before... iPad Pilot Hindsight No. 1

About ONE MONTH in...

There are some HATERS in my building!

It takes a LONG TIME to set even one class set up. I had read this on other blogs of district 1:1 initiatives, but I guess in arrogance, I figured they were exaggerating... or something.

A lot of what you can do on your iPads on the internet is less limited by flash at this point and more limited by your bandwidth and access point. My kids frequently have wait time sitting waiting for a simple google word doc to load. Inaccessibility to flash has not been an issue to me because enough websites, corporations, and individuals have been producing HTML5 content for iOS devices for 2 years that there is often a more than worthy alternative to x flash-based tool.

I LOVE Dropbox. I haven't photocopied anything for weeks.

As I found in clicker research this past summer, the "novelty" effect for technology very easily wears off or is non-existant. Students in a study at the University of Minnesota also gave feedback suggesting the tech sometimes got in the way of their actual learning style. Kids seem to sense more importance about math class for ~2 weeks, but its largely (lack of) business as usual for the average disengaged student after a month. Some students (although they were previously self-distracting with their OWN electronic devices) have said to me that they are less on task now that before the iPads.

The best thing to ME of Google Docs is collaboratively and simultaneously editing spreadsheets or word docs. This is VERY cumbersome on the iPads. I think part of it is the hardware, and some of it because my students do not yet have Google Apps accounts, so they are all editing as the "same" user according to Google.

Socrative is a RICH app and AMAZING clicker replacement. Bonus points for working as an app OR web-based equally well.

There is a pervasive fear/anxiety/stress all during my day that one of the iPads is going to walk out of the room. This is NOT good for my teaching. However, it has forced me to more conclusively wrap up class and I'm doing less "oh, and one other thing!" as kids are walking out.

It wouldn't have surprised me if instances of having their OWN devices out would have dropped now that the students had iPads to doddle on, but the cellphone/mp3 kid now just tries to have TWO devices on their desk/lap. (Which, admittedly, is what I do at meetings, too. I always feel wrong demanding of my students differently than what any normal adult does in a meeting at work.)

The calculator I like the least is the one most kids use. Weird.

It's a good feeling for a kid to ask a question (not already in our textbook) and me to be able to say, I don't know, look it up. The student then has a lightbulb "oh-I-can-do-more-than-youtube-facebook-and-angrybirds" moment and discovers the answer for themselves.

I tried my first webquest using them today. It was actually my first math webquest EVER. I had them evaluating several resource pages about permutations for clarity and ease of use. There were some good conversations, because the students were able to have the website on the iPad in front of them, but still able to look their peers in the eye. Have you ever tried having a discussion, even among a just a few people, in a computer lab? Impossible.

01 March 2012

Broken Professional Development

I'm sure Amy Mayer @friedtechnology is a highly qualified individual, and I have no doubt I'd learn a lot from her as a Google Apps Certified Trainer, but this attitude is an element of what makes many teachers hate what they understand to be "professional development".

@FriedTechnology: Planning vacation toward end of July. Anybody need staff dev out of state? Could be interesting way to choose destination! #edtech

I can only imagine a multi-purpose room/cafeteria/gym filled with a couple hundred staff assembled by a well-meaning administrator. "We're launching Google Apps this year. I'll be able to train my entire staff all at the same time and we'll be done with it!" Without much (or any) prior knowledge of the school culture, technology in the classroom, or adoption attitudes toward technology, the highly-compensated trainer will go through a presentation of all the great Google Apps bells and whistles. Because a lot of the PD budget has been sent to bring in the trainer, there will not be money/time available for further discussion small group training among individual staff members. The teachers who are motivated and able will be energized and will initiate their own research and begin to plan. Others will hope they pick it up along the way, and some will walk away with nothing, disillusioned by another PD they hope will go away soon.

This money would be much better spent by (with prior planning) developing a cadre of your own Google Apps "experts" in the building/district who will be able to go and deliver more situationally and developmentally appropriate training on Google Apps. This team (who were the ones that would have wound up teaching themselves anyway) are now empowered as leaders in their building that feel the support of their administration as they are commissioned to train their peers. Instead of using extra time to teach themselves and develop their own resources, they now have time to train others and develop/co-teach new lessons with other teachers.

It's really a difference in leadership philosophy. Is your organization looking to build leadership capacity in its members by empowering and nurturing them, or is the goal to lead from the top and assimilate the willing?

Extra note: I have no past, current, or future affiliation with a training session led by Amy Mayer. The tone of her tweet only highlighted thoughts I'd already been mulling over.