I have long struggled with the existence of lengthy, prohibitive Acceptable Use Policies which serve only to provide the illusion of CYA for schools/teachers while having a chilling effect on teaching and learning with the tools we are putting into teacher and student hands.
In my own work with a 1:1 laptop program I have been able to create a highly simplified set of rule: Three Rules for Laptops. These three simple rules (inspired by Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics) have allowed us to shift the responsibility for how laptops are used from the teacher and a laundry list of forbidden activities to the student and an internalized set of general parameters.
Scott McLead has created a similar set of parameters for general access to and use of school technology resources. Instead of an AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) he posits an EUP (Empowered Use Policy) which is fully described in his blog post below:
As I gear up for a new series of Moodle workshops (Moodle Basics for 2.7 and Moodle Admin) these are great reminders for me. I will be using the completion tracking and conditional release features of Moodle to make the most of Tip 10 (“Monitor learner progress, participation in activities and completion of assessment tasks and follow-up as required.”).
Teaching in the online environment is quite different from teaching in the classroom and as such has a number of unique characteristics and limitations. The following guide (based on my experience as an online facilitator and learner) is designed to help you before, during and after an online teaching event.
Before the Online Course Starts:
Familiarise yourself with the course delivery structure and the site/platform
Develop an online delivery plan/schedule
Check that all resources, activities and links work (i.e. they open in a new window), are current and relevant to the learning experience
Update your contact information
Contact learners, welcome them to the course and provide clear log-in instructions
At the Beginning of the Online Course:
Check that learners can log-in and provide support and troubleshoot as needed
Facilitate introductions and community-building activities at beginning of the course e.g. have everyone introduce themselves in a café style forum
So I read through Google’s Material Design site this summer and was wondering what these guidelines were for. Now we can see the first stages of a re-thinking of the Google Apps suite using several of these ideas. (https://www.google.com/design/)
In their “iPads: Fad or Fixture?”session at ECIS 2013 Joshua Cobb and Marty Twarogowski of Graland Country Day School (Denver, CO, USA) highlighted the importance of centralized management of a 1:1 iPad program. (They also emphasized the importance of extensive PD opportunities in advance of their successful program. I’ll have more to say about that in a future post.)
Apple has just announced the much-awaited solution for schools like mine that are also planning a full, 1:1 iPad deployment: a full, managed deployment program from Apple. Schools like ours create a district account and then setup add devices to the account. The only sticking point: Severely-limited availability outside of the English-speaking world.
Of course, Apple had the same problem with iTunes several years ago and managed to work it out over time. Here’s hoping they sort out the Apple Deployment Program, too!
2014 is going to be an interesting: a new position (or two) in my school, membership on the ECIS IT committee, and lots to learn, too. This terrific article by Shane Haggerty contains a short list ideas that I will strive to keep in mind as I move ahead in 2014.
Fresh Perspective: Be the person who finds and shares new, exciting ideas.
Curiosity Doesn’t Actually Kill Cats: There is no harm in being curious and trying new things.
Collaborate: All of us together are smarter, faster, better, stronger than each of us on our own.
Ask For Help: No one is an island. Look around, find a mentor, ask a question, be a participant!
I have been toying with App Inventor off and on since it was first opened on the Google website and was very excited to hear that the project was being open-sourced and moved to MIT’s Center for Mobile Learning. It is still in limited, beta release there and I am now able access this tool with my newly created Google Apps account.
The new MIT App Inventor site seems to work like the previous Google site. You layout your app, work in the Java-based blocks editor, then package your app for installation.
I started with the Paint Pot tutorial and completed it in half an hour or so, adding a pic of myself as a small customization. Once packaged, I installed it on my phone with no problem, then turned to the table, which was a bit trickier. The app was there, but the installation kept failing. After some research on various help fora I found several recommendations for Astro File Manager, which solved the problem instantly.
With my app now up and running, it was time to show my creation to students. I showed my 5th graders what I had made and, after the initial oo-and-ah, proceeded to pass the tablet around the classroom. Paint Pot is very simple (select a color, then doodle on a picture, erase to start over) yet it held their attention for quite some time. This was not a surprise.
What was very interesting was this instant, constructive critique that they each proceeded to offer me. They suggested functional improvements (“The line is too thin.”), stylistic changes (“The colors are boring.”) and even new features (“There should be an UNDO button…and a picture picker.”)
It would have been easy to take this criticism as discouraging, but what I saw in my students was this: They have realistic expectations of toys and tools based of their own experiences. They didn’t look at this app as an experiment or trial, they examined it thoroughly and weighed it against their own experiences and expectations. They gave me their honest opinions and inspired me to update this app and begin to work on my next project soon.
This is what a creative community does: Takes a great idea and builds on it…and what better way to extend the “please be creative with this thing” message that by encasing it in Lego bricks! The model shown here (including an amazing logo) is a case for a Raspberry Pi. The link below will take you to the Raspberry Pi website, where there are links to several other great projects from users.*
I have three boxes of Lego in the lab at school and I really hope to be able to put them to good use in the Maker course this coming Fall. This is certainly a project I will keep my eye on as we have plans to add at least one Pi to the mix!
* Raspberry Pis are not even available yet, so I guess these are “proto-users” for now.
I love a good rhetorical question (“Why can’t every day be my birthday?” or “Is there no one who can save us from Super Villain X’s evil machinations?”). The whole point of a rhetorical question however is that the question is either unanswerable or the answer is self-evident (“Uh, it’s just not physically possible to have endless birthdays.” or “Obviously Super Hero Y will come and save the day!”).
It really bothers me when rhetorical questions are misused to incorrectly imply that something is unanswerable or self-evident as is the case in this blog post from #DadLife. He proudly details how his child plays an iPad game for ten whole minutes and then ends his post with a rhetorical question: “[D]id she get to do anything like this level of problem solving in her 7 hours at school today?”
The author is implying one of two things here and I am honestly not sure which one to go with:
He has no means of knowing what his daughter might have learned in school today.
It is obvious to everyone that his daughter did not learn anything of value in school today.
I reject both of these implications. Clearly he could have spent those ten whole minutes of iPad time engaging with his child directly to find our what she was learning in her time at school. He could also have spent ten whole minutes speaking with his child’s teacher about his child’s engagement and learning.
Both of these easy solutions make his rhetorical question seem like a lazy cop-out…which leads me to my own rhetorical question: “Does this parent seriously think that ten minutes on an iPad is better than talking to his child about her day at school or engaging in a meaningful way with her teacher?” The answer is, in this case, self-evident: This parent believes that ten whole minutes of iPad time are more insightful to him than engaging his child or her teacher directly.
As I write my new course for next school year (“MakeIT: A workshop for young makers”) I am looking for excellent resources to guide my own thoughts about student creativity and learning. Gary Stager, who was a keynote speaker at the school’s laptop conference, continues to provide me with highly nutritious food-for-thought.
This list of ideas (written by Seymour Papert by also part of Stager’s 2007 dissertation) is just what I need to frame the course and provide answers to the “What are we doing?” questions that this course will generate. My favorite idea for my students is “hard fun”, the idea that we learn more and actually enjoy learning more when it is enjoyable and challenging. This idea is already built into the Scratch projects in my 8th grade class and I like the idea of the young makers in 6th grade learning in a challenging environment, too.
(By the way, my fav idea for teachers is “do unto ourselves what we do unto our students.” These courses wouldn’t work if I wasn’t right in there demonstrating my own skills and continuing to learn new things with the kids each quarter.)