Friday, January 30, 2009

Trend Watch 2009

The annual Horizon Report (pdf version or online version) is a collaborative effort between the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). Each year, the report identifies and describes six areas of emerging technology likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression in higher education within three adoption horizons: a year or less, two to three years, and four to five years.
The areas of emerging technology cited for 2009 are:
• Mobiles (i.e., mobile devices)
• Cloud computing
• Geo-everything (i.e., geo-tagging)
• The personal web
• Semantic-aware applications
• Smart objects

Gary Natriello in his paper, Imagining, Seeking, Inventing: the Future of Learning
and the Emerging Discovery Networks, identifies ten important education trends:

  1. learning is becoming more diverse
  2. learning is becoming more contextual
  3. learning is becoming less discipline bound
  4. learning is moving outside of institutional settings
  5. learning is coming to span professional and institutional sectors
  6. learning is moving beyond and between nation states
  7. learning is moving online
  8. learning is moving beyond humans to machines
  9. learning is moving to machine/human blends
  10. learning is becoming less solitary and more interactive

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Design is Important

Can't understand why younger kids love Facebook? Check out the video below about the potential collaboration between the current leaders of the right- and left-hand side of the brain. Paola Antonelli is New York MOMA's curator and she talks about how scientists and designers will work more together.

My background is firmly planted in the math and science world (left brain). My right brain awoke last year when my school attended the NAIS conference in New York City and Daniel Pink was the keynote speaker. Gary Natriello's Learning Opportunity design course at Teachers College has strengthened my belief that design is important. A recent article (link) hammers home the point in monetary terms.

What is Design?
Design has traditionally been a pedagogy in the arts, but many of its characteristics have relevancy in other subject areas. Design involves solving ill-formed problems, where there is not one ultimate answer. Rather, there are different possible solutions based on problem constraints. Design is iterative and "wrong" designs are not penalized. Designers are optimist. They want to take feedback and quickly create another iteration of their solution. It is not unusual for designers to work on a problem that changes - sounds authentic and similar to the world we live in. In designing for interaction by Dan Saffer, notes that interaction design is about behavior and facilitating interactions between people and products and services. Further, he points out the important attributes as: Motion, Space, Time, Appearance, Texture, and Sound. Saffer further defines interaction design as:

Why is Design Difficult?
Design is difficult because it is more art than science. Designers must iterate their work dozens and maybe hundreds of times. Revisions sometimes foster additional changes in the original project goals. In addition, larger projectscan undergo changes in constraints, such as budget, time, and social behavior. Some products and services are poorly designed and don't have don't have sustainability because they serve a purpose for a particular time and/or context. Moreover, technology frequently changes and sustainability can be achieved by not aligning with any medium in particular.

Why is Design Important?
The world is shrinking thanks to rapid improvements in computers and communications. Web2.0 tools are springing up daily and computer applications are migrating to cell phones and blackberries. Globalization increases market potential (consumers) and labor pools (workers). More and more manufacturing and business activities are being standardized and commoditized. More and more activities become candidates for automation or outsourcing. This means that the product intangibles will likely become more important in the success or failure of a product or service. Design is all about these intangibles related to customer experience. Design involves finding a solution, but not necessarily THE solution. It is well-suited for ill-formed problems, complex problems and problems that change while you are solving them. Design also involves collaboration and rapid iterations or prototypes. In short, design is an important 21st century literacy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Education in a Web2.0 World

There is growing commentary about the potential of social networking tools in education. The promise is to elevate students' current focus on cryptic text messages and pictures to something more intellectual and productive. I believe that online collaboration and extended professional networks will be an important employment skill. The key is to use social networking as a meaningful part of the curriculum where non-academic chatter seems dull by comparison. The main challenge is that students have a five-year headstart on teachers.

Brad Ovenell-Carter's blog (A stick in the Sand) has several interesting ideas about Networked Schools posed in early January.

The National School Board Association did a survey of 1000 parents and 1000 students about their online habits. It had several interesting data points underscoring the importance of teaching with en eye towards collaboration and networking skills:

"Nine- to 17-year olds report spending as much time using social networking services and Web services as they spend watching television."
"Almost 60 percent of students who use social networking talk about education topics online and, surprisingly, more than 50 percent talk specifically about schoolwork."
"Nonconformists - students who step outside of online safety and behavior rules - are significantly heavier users of social networking sites than other students."

"Most of the problems students and parents report are similar to the types of problems typically associated with any other media (television or popular music)."

Will Richardson's article in the November 2008 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine makes several interesting points:
"Web2.0 may be the large technological shift in history that's being driven by children."
"As author John Seely Brown (Brown & Adler, 2008) points out, these shifts demand that we move our concept of learning from a supply-push model of building up an inventory of knowledge in the students' heads to a demand-pull approach that requires students to own their learning processes and pursue learning, based on their needs of the moment."
"Sharing is the fundamental building block for building connections and networks; it may take the form of ruminations on life in a blog; photos of the latest family picnic on Flickr, or discussion notes students post to a classroom wiki for others to read and contribute to."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Thoughts

I had a very relaxing and productive school break. I managed to stay away from the computer for a few days at a time. When I did venture online, I quickly discovered many new and exciting ideas thanks to my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Here are a few recommendations for other teachers for the New Year:
  1. I am going to continue to build and prune my PLN. It is a powerful resource and the most efficient way to find new ideas for your classes. My productivity comes from using social media for interactions instead of e-mail and Google searches.
  2. I need to review ideas for using the web for teaching. Find out which are acceptable to my school and profile them for other teachers.
  3. Review my Blogroll and other important sources of ideas. For example, here is a list of 100 class ideas "if you are willing to put down the textbook for a day"
  4. Investigate Diigo and how it may replace or compliment Delicious and learn about Yahoo Pipes.