This is the last of 5 blog posts where 5 education technology leaders share their thoughts on 5 questions. This time, all 5 are from TVDSB.
Meet Sue, Marion, Aretta, Lisa and Danika:
Sue Bruyns @sbruyns
Currently a Learning Supervisor with the Thames Valley District School Board. My portfolio includes Literacy K-12, ESL/ELD/ Native Studies, Core French and French Immersion as well as supporting a team of 38 Instructional Coaches. Passionate about leadership, learning and life.
Marion Moynihan @MarionMoynihan
A Superintendent of Student Achievement who has recently been given the opportunity to lead the Information Technology portfolio within TVDSB.
Learning Technologies and Library Coordinator. Lead technology coordinator for social media, critical media literacy and Internet safety. Lead for Google Apps For Education (GAFE) for TVDSB.
Lisa Morris @LisaLMorris
Grade 6 TVDSB teacher with 1:1 iPad program focusing on enhancing student engagement and reflection.
Danika Barker @danikabarker
A TVDSB high school English and media teacher who is passionate about the ways in which technology, instruction, assessment and evaluation, and student learning intersect.
Q1: In your opinion, what is the most exciting thing happening right now in digital learning?
Sue A1: Astute teachers are using technology to allow students to create extensive/impressive products, collaborate beyond their own classroom walls and extend their critical thinking abilities.
Marion A1: The most exciting thing in digital learning is the opportunity for students and staff to learn with and from each other on a global perspective. Each participant in digital learning has an expanded opportunity for inquiry learning, seeking answers from global sources, and discovering creative solutions together as learners.
Aretta A1: Seriously? *Most* implies you want only one answer?! There are so many exciting things, but having to choose only one response, I think for me it is that we are connecting our students to their world. Not just with respect to the familiarity of using their technologies, but also in the sense that our students truly can connect with learners around the world.
Lisa A1: The most exciting thing happening in digital learning at the moment is the fact that more educators are using technology to enhance learning and change the way we learn. Much our technology to this point has been used only to add glamour to the pen and paper style of learning.
Danika A1: In a general sense, I would say blended learning is the most exciting thing happening right now. Teachers and students are finding ways to construct “classrooms” that extend beyond the four walls of the school through the creative use of BYOD (bring your own device) policies, learning management systems, apps, and open software. This dramatically increases the number of tools at the teacher’s and student’s disposal, creating more opportunities for differentiation.
Q2: Technology versus textbooks: will there ever be a winner?
Sue A2: Technology gives us the ability to provide students with the most up to date information and therefore is definitely a “pro” when it comes to this debate. Some content textbooks are out of date before they reach the hands of our students. What is the intent of using a textbook? Is it for research? Then technology is the winner.
Marion A2: While both are valuable for different reasons, the ability of technology to more readily access a greater quantity of information may lead to its ultimate tool of choice for gaining knowledge.
Aretta A2: I do not believe that this is a required or permanent decision. To me, it is about the right tool for each learner/for each task. Like anything else in life, and as these are both valued resources, to me it is a matter of balance.
Lisa A2: To me there is a clear winner in the technology. The textbook hold facts and pictures as does the technology; however, the technology also offers interaction, multimedia and often even the ability to have it read aloud (kursweil) and diction of the current thinking after the experience (dragon). Clearly the technology serves more needs.
Danika A2: I think that it’s inevitable that textbooks will eventually be completely digital. From a financial standpoint, it just makes sense. As tablets become more affordable, it will eventually be much cheaper to equip students with tablets and download textbooks that can be updated, correct, and linked to rich multi-media content. It probably already is. Publishers need to get on board and many are already supplementing their textbooks with online content.
Q3: What is going to be the next big thing in ed tech?
Sue A3: For some of us, it’s already here, but I believe that once we embrace BYOD and ways to support students and staff, we’ll begin to see more teachers appreciate a need for them to enhance their own learning and understanding of how technology can support student learning.
Marion A3: I hope the next big thing in Ed Tech will be greater networking amongst educators for the purpose of augmenting instructional practices to meet the educational needs of students. Many educators are proficient in networking for this purpose. We need to find ways to increase the number and size of our PLNs.
Aretta A3: GAFE.
Lisa A3: My hope is that we can begin to differentiate instruction using the technology to provide exactly what each student needs. Currently we dabble with differentiation, but often have too many constraints with software, set up, hardware, etc. that prevent real differentiation.
Danika A3: Lots of people are talking about wearable technology, but I think the next big thing will be the replacement of physical textbooks with digital content and devices.
Q4: If you could give one piece of advice to teachers about how to integrate technology in their classroom this fall, what would it be?
Sue A4: Don’t let technology replace thoughtful, purposeful, student-centered instruction. Well chosen technology supplements what a good teacher does, it can never replace it.
Marion A4: Start with the students! The task of an educator is to assess each student’s strengths and collaboratively choose the best technological tool(s) to augment student knowledge acquisition and enable student demonstrations of knowledge while working towards each student’s attainment of curricular expectations. The goal is not to integrate technology for its own sake but rather to use it as a tool, as needed.
Aretta A4: One piece of advice? I have three!
*Teachers do not need to be the expert in the room in order to integrate technology, the students will run with it!
*Never stop seeking out PD with respect to integrating technology in the classroom.
*Embrace it, it is here to stay!!”
Lisa A4: Jump in with both feet! There are bumps, disappointments, flopped lessons, frustrations and more, but every minute will be worth it. Technology enhanced learning can only occur when you are willing to immerse yourself in the environment and learn alongside your students.
Danika A4: Don’t integrate technology because you think the students will be motivated to learn by the novelty or “fun” aspect alone. That wears off quickly and isn’t even a selling point for many students. Think about how the tool helps you achieve a learning goal that you couldn’t achieve before. Explain that to your students.
Q5: What’s your best kept ed tech secret?
Sue A5: My one and only secret (and not so secret) is that I continually learn from those of my colleagues who are in the field, working side by side with students. Co-Learning with those who have a passion for technology inspires me to learn as much as I can.
Marion A5: My best kept Ed Tech secret is how much I appreciate the technological wisdom shared by online colleagues. Many thanks for supporting my learning in this area!!
Aretta A5: I loved accessing the iLEARN projects and collaborating with other teachers and classes from around the world!
Lisa A5: I haven’t one, as I don’t do well with secrets. If I know something, chances are I’ve shared it. If I don’t know something, there’s a better chance I’ve asked someone else about it.
Danika A5: I don’t really have any tech “secrets,” but I use Evernote for everything. I’d be lost without it.