Monday, November 21, 2016

New Literacies

What is literacy? Merriam-Webster defines literacy as the ability to read and write. Being literate, therefore, means to be able to read and write at a level that allows adults to be fully functional members within society. The availability, use, and infusion of emerging technologies in everyday life, globalization, and our economic realities, though, awaken us to the necessity to redefine and broaden our understanding of literacy. This new definition is often referred to as New Literacies or 21st Century LiteracyWhile Generation X and Millennials have matured - more or less successfully - with and into these new literacies, Generation Z, children in our schools today, were born into a technologically rich and ever changing world. This raises two questions for 21st century educators. One, should children's context of the world as they experience it today be the backdrop of the classroom? And two, is it enough to offer a 20th century curriculum? Obviously, the answer to these questions is rhetorical from my perspective. 

So, what exactly do we mean by "New Literacies?" The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) asserts:
Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the 21st century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. 
As such, NCTE argues, successful citizens of the 21st century must be able to:
  • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
  • Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought;
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes;
  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts;
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
  • While other organizations like the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21) have been addressing this pressing redefinition of literacy, its call for 21st century learning found found its largest support from the instructional technology community, but "core" teachers and educators were not quite ready to take their tested pedagogy and strategies under the looking glass and assess the effectiveness of their classrooms behind the backdrop of ever fleeting realities. 
    Language arts and math have long been considered the essential core subjects. With American students falling behind in science and embarrassing accounts of lacking civics education, science and social studies found their way into the core group of essential disciplines. P21's framework for 21st century learning expands this list to include world languages, arts, economics, geography, history, government, and civics. And even further...
  • In addition to these subjects, we believe schools must move beyond a focus on basic competency to promoting understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into curriculum:
  • Beyond the content of these key disciplines and themes, P21 stresses the need to develop
    • Learning and Innovation Skills
    • Information, Media, and Technology Skills and
    • Life and Career Skills.
    At their core, the themes and skills advocated P21 advocates for align perfectly with the call for New Literacies by NCTE.
  • An urgent call for educators in school buildings, district offices, universities and policy makers influencing education in any way ... We are 16 years into the 21st century and a call for 21st century learning seems, let's say, a little too late. Let's push ourselves, our colleagues, our principals and policy makers and teach our children to be successful in a technologically infused world that is full of uncertainties. This much, we owe to them.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Instructional Design and Technology - Trends

Trends in K-12 Education
In this time of rapid change, of technological advances that often force us to move faster than we feel comfortable, calls for changes in the way we ‘do’ school are ever louder and are reaching critical masses. With this said, let me look at some of the contextual changes of education.
  1. Computing devices are ubiquitous in every facet of our lives.
  2. Millennials (Gen X) and Boomlets (Gen Y) have a different frame of reference of our world than we have.
  3. Millennials and Boomlets are used to being connected. Always.
  4. Advances in technology and the globalization of the world require a different set of skills for the workforce: 21st century skills.
  5. Leaders in business and politics are calling for a change in educational content and practice. P21 (Partnership for 21st Century Skills) is a driving force for educational change.
  6. Virtual and blended learning are driving forces in the way education is delivered.
  7. Policy makers, parents, and students expect personalized instruction and differentiation to address individual students’ needs.
  8. Data-driven decision making makes keeping track of testing data ever more important.
  9. As the quality of education is feared to worsen, the call for national standardization and testing echos.
The instructional design process in education occurs at three levels of development, the systems, product, and classroom level. How will the aforementioned changes impact IDT development at these levels? Let us take a look.
Systems level development refers to learning management systems that provide customers with a learning platform that incorporates needs assessment, monitoring of progress, delivery of instruction, communication, record keeping, and analytics. The continued growth of virtual schools and demand for blended learning solutions, will drive this level. In addition, the need for data in decision making and the call for more standardization to allow for an adequate comparison of performance, will greatly impact the development on this level. Learning management systems will become complex entities that will allow for quick academic and learning analytics and that will easily adapt to different levels of student performance. These systems will likely allow for adaptation and personalization based on institutional preferences and incorporate a number of social media websites.
Product level development creates educational software for specific learning topics. This type of software has been around for many years and sometimes provides more glitz than improved learning. However, used to supplement the work of the teacher, software that has adaptive content, assess frequently, and provides immediate feedback can help with differentiation and self-paced learning while freeing up teachers for individual work with students. As teachers start flipping their classrooms, using computers for instruction and skill building, the demand for pedagogically sound software that addresses 21st century learning skills and the CCSS will be on the rise.
Classroom level development is the integration of technology by individual classroom teachers. It is at this level that 21st century learning skills can actively promoted. Through the use of technology integration models like TPACK, SAMR, and the Triple E framework, teachers will extend and redefine their current classroom practices. This is also where educators have an opportunity to respond to the needs of the Boomlets and teach them within their current connected context. Profound change at this level is imminent as more Millenials make their way into the teaching profession and more universities train new teachers in 21st century methodologies. There will also be a rise BYOD programs to reflect the connectivity of the students. And, hand-in-hand with that, teachers will make more and better use of social media
Another classroom level trend, predominantly in secondary schools, is the call for integrated core curricula, including robotics, coding, and maker spaces. Here, schools may opt for individualized approaches that fit their mission and satisfy stakeholders’ demands. IDT development will likely be localized at the school level by a team of visionary teachers/instructional designers.
Additional Resources:
30 Trends In Education Technology For 2015. (2014). Retrieved June 18, 2015, from http://www.teachthought.com/trends/30-trends-education-technology-2015/
Terry Heick put together a thoughtful review of 10 up-trending, 10 lukewarm, and 10 down-trending educational phenomena. I like the up-trending section because it affords a quick list that can be used for further research.
A Look Inside the Classroom of the Future. Retrieved June 18, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/look-inside-classroom-of-future-dana-mortenson
Dana Mortenson looks at educational changes from the classroom perspective and points out some key 21st century learning skills that is not merely technology based. Great read for a holistic view of changes.
2015 Instructional Design Trends Compass: Calling IDs to Action - eLearning Industry. (2015, February). Retrieved June 18, 2015, from http://elearningindustry.com/2015-instructional-design-trends-compass-calling-ids-action
eLearning Industry is a website for ID professionals. This is a great resource to keep abreast of changes in the industry. In this article Shauna LeBlanc Vaughan points out 2015 ID trends.
Edutopia, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, and The Future of K12 Education are blogging sites with frequent updates to educational trends and educational technology news.


Trends in Germany

I am a naturalized US citizen, born and raised in Germany. Having read about the state of IDT in Germany in one of my course readings, I wanted to find out more. My research was guided by the following questions:
  • What is the state of instructional technology in Germany?
  • To what extent are teachers trained in instructional design & technology methods?
  • What trends are likely on the horizon?

The state of instructional technology integration in Germany lags behind other developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. Schools cannot afford the technology needed for successful classroom integration, and are, therefore, poorly equipped. But even if students were allowed to bring their own devices to the classroom, unprepared teachers are reluctant to use emergent technology.
Compounding these obstacles, is, due to Germany’s dark history, Germans’ cautiousness and scepticism when it comes to oversight by government agencies or software. Using technology in the classroom requires private accounts, passwords, and, yes, data retention. While digital media are in students’ hands every day, brain researcher Manfred Spitzer warns about “Digital Dementia,” claiming technology is dumbing children down. The discussion stirred up by this claim further makes Germans reluctant to freely allow technology in classrooms.
But, despite these obstacles, some innovators and early adopters are pushing forward, and “...the government’s ministry of education and research (BMBF) has invested €6bn into education and research between 2010-2013 and is currently sponsoring the development, testing and application of new digital media, Web 2.0 and mobile technologies in vocational education with €60m. It is also supporting IT initiatives such as digitalizing and updating libraries and other information centers. In schools and universities the use of tablets and an increased focus on IT in the curriculum has also started to make the rounds” (“Jumpstarting Edtech Innovation in Germany”).
Edtech startups also have contributed the development of learning technologies. And, “it is clear that these edtech startups are beginning to make an impact.”(“Jumpstarting Edtech Innovation in Germany”).
A new interdisciplinary master’s degree program at the Universität des Saarlandes also seems to announce the change of times. And so, I quote edSurge’s article Jumpstarting Edtech Innovation to sum up what may be on the horizon for Germany:
“... Germany’s strong education infrastructure--with free primary schooling and a low-cost higher education system--makes it well-positioned to take advantage of the digital revolution. With the right combination of government support, investor interest and a growing edtech community, the country will maintain its ability to create learners whose ideas and entrepreneurial spirit contribute not just to Germany, but to the world as well.”(“Jumpstarting Edtech Innovation,”n.d.)



For further reading, I suggest the website Intercultural E-Learning which offers scholarly articles on the current state of e-learning in Germany, and the article Instruktionsdesign which was published in Zeitschrift für Lernforschung, a journal for educational research. Sorry, these resources are in German.

References:
"Educational Technology."Saarland University | Master |  Educational Technology. n.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2015.
"Jumpstarting Edtech Innovation in Germany." Jumpstarting Edtech Innovation in Germany | EdSurge News.EdSurge News n.d. Web. 18 June 2015.
"Microsoft Showcase: Paperless Classroom - Schloss Neubeuern (Germany)." Microsoft Showcase: Paperless Classroom - Schloss Neubeuern (Germany).Microsoft Showcase: Paperless Classroom n.d. Web. 18 June 2015.
Deutsche Welle. "German schools reluctant to go 'digital'." German schools reluctant to go ′digital′ | Technology | DW.DE | 03.05.2013.© 2015 Deutsche Welle | Privacy Policy | Legal notice | Contact n.d. Web. 18 June 2015.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Current Trends in Instructional Systems Technology

According to the 2014 K-12 edition of the NMC Horizon Report, fast and mid-range trends that will accelerate educational technology adoption in schools consist of
  • a rethinking of the roles of teachers,
  • a shift to deeper learning approaches,
  • an increasing focus on open educational resources, and
  • an increasing use of hybrid learning designs.
Some of these trends are increasingly reflected in the way technology is used in innovators’, early adopters’ and early majority classrooms today.

The Flipped Classroom
Definition
In traditional classrooms, content is delivered to the learner by the teacher during class time. Applying the content and skill building are then assigned as homework. The Flipped Classroom reverses this traditional model by delivering content via online resources often assigned for homework while using class time for skill building, application, and problem solving. “Why switch?” you might ask. When the content is delivered in a digital format, the teacher is freed up to work with students individually, to observe students, to assist them, to probe for deeper understand, and to coach. Content delivery can originate from different sources: A teacher-made video, an open educational resource, or a paid subscription/resource. Many teachers choose to make there own videos. The proliferation of apps that support easy content creation support this trend.
Future Impact 
The Flipped Classroom speaks to several key trends of the Horizon Report.
  • By reversing the traditional classroom model, the role of the teacher in the classroom is redefined. The teacher no longer serves as the lecturing vessel of knowledge, but as a facilitator and coach in a truly student-centered classroom.
  • Digital content can be reviewed as often as necessary. It can be stopped, restarted, rewound, and fast forwarded. Students experience deeper learning when they have an opportunity to learn at their own pace and apply well-prepared content under the tutelage of a classroom teacher.
  • One of the newer models of education is Hybrid or Blended Learning. While there are many different approaches to this model, they all have one thing in common, and that is the dual use of online and face-to-face instruction. The Flipped Classroom model also is a form of Hybrid Learning.
  • The Horizon Report predicts an increased focus on open educational resources. Teacher-made content for the Flipped Classroom adds to the OER availability, and teachers using OER offerings to flip their classrooms, lower the cost of education for their school/district.
Keeping Up
In order to keep up with this trend, it will be beneficial to follow trends in Hybrid and Blended Learning.
Resources
  • Jon Bergman and Aaron Sam’s (the original ‘flippers’) video on overcoming common hurdles is a great resource for teachers contemplating the switch to the Flipped Classroom.
  • Edutopia has a wonderful selection of Flipped Classroom resources. I love the cross-reference to other educational innovations, like Blended Learning.
  • Edudemic’s Teacher’s Guide to Flipped Classrooms is a practical tool for all that have made the decision to flip. Great infographic!
Classroom Example
Do you remember grammar lessons in your foreign language class? Yes, I knew it. You just rolled your eyes. Here is a new idea! The teacher makes her own instructional videos with animation, color, examples, and practice exercises. Students go through the video at home. The next day, the teacher has an authentic application activity in which students get opportunities to apply the concept.



Learning Analytics
Definition
Learning Analytics aim at improving the educational experience and success of students by gathering and analyzing student data from multiple sources, including social media. In addition to progress, Learning Analytics also track behaviors and attitudes. Taking into account how long a student spent on an assignment and simultaneously analyzing frustrated language on social media may be cause for intervention. Thus, Learning Analytics have two main beneficiaries, the teacher and the learner. They allow the teacher to closely monitor a student and intervene early if necessary, and they provide a truly personalized learning experience for the students. Learning Analytics should not be confused with Academic Analytics which are used on institutional, regional, national and international levels to determine the educational value of systems.
Future Impact
Learning Analytics will become increasingly important with the rise of more hybrid and online learning environments. Teachers in these types of environments have many more students than in a brick-and-mortar environment. Learning Analytics will help them to keep up with students’ success, allowing for early intervention, and personalizing the learning experience overall. The NMC Horizon Report projects Learning Analytics to be an important development in technology for schools within two to three years.
Keeping Up 
The Journal of Learning Analytics provides peer-reviewed and open-access research in the field.
Resources
  • The UNESCO Policy Brief is very thorough and details the impact of Learning Analytics at different levels.
  • Educause provides a nice website with links to different articles of interest regarding Learning Analytics.
  • Erik Duval’s provides a visionary view of what is on the horizon for Learning Analytics in his TedX talk.
Real-Life Application
Having worked for an employer that used Learning Analytics, I know first-hand how the behind-the-scene data can be used to help students. In daily morning reports, I could see how my students were performing and how much time they spent on each activity. While this is a very limited use of Learning Analytics, it did allow me to focus on those students that the system marked as ‘underperforming’.



Mobile Learning
Definition
Mobile Learning refers to the use of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) in educational settings. The ubiquitous use of mobile devices by today’s learners has lead to the conversation on how to leverage these devices in the classroom. Not only do they provide to be a valuable resource in BYOD programs for fiscally challenged schools, they are also great tools for learning taking place anywhere at any time. Most mobile devices have a front and back camera, allowing students to take pictures and use virtual reality apps. An important consideration for educators using mobile learning is the use of apps that can be accessed across many different devices (Apple, Android, Google, Windows).
Future Impact
The NMC Horizon report predicts the adoption of BYOD to be one year or less. Mobile Learning will likely play a big part in this adoption.
Keeping Up
The International Conference on Mobile Learning has been taking place since 2005.
Resources
Classroom Example 
Biographies coming to life! Students research historical persons of a chosen topic. They write reports about the person using the first person singular and video tape each other in historically authentic clothing introducing themselves as the historical person. Students print out a 8 x 11 picture of the person. The picture is taped to the classroom wall. Then students attach their video as an overlay to the picture using Aurasma. Ready for a blast in the past: Students walk around with their mobile devices and listen to the video recordings while taking notes on key points on a piece of paper.


3D Printing
Definition
3D printing in education provides an opportunity to incorporate and to raise awareness and interest in STEAM subjects. Learning to design a 3D model requires skills in math, design, engineering, and architecture. Concepts within these subjects may be abstract, difficult to understand, "boring." These obstacles are easier to overcome when students are motivated to design a 3D model for a printer.
3D printers are also useful for the production of manipulatives and replicas of real life objects (pyramids, Eiffel Tower, famous sculptures...).
Future Impact
The future of 3D Printing in Education is filled with opportunities. For now, it is likely to be a tool used to raise interest in STEAM subjects. However, within four to five years, the NMC Horizon report predicts the adoption of the internet of things and wearable technology in schools, which will likely lead to an increased use of 3D printing.
Keeping Up
3D Printing Industry has an education section to help keep abreast of the newest developments.
Resources
  • The MakerBot website shows great examples of what 3D printers can do.
  • Nice visionary example of 3D printing and coding at TechCrunch.
  • Great demonstration of how teaching 3D printing to primary students.
Classroom Example
As part of a geography project, students collaboratively create a map of their school’s neighborhood. In pairs, they design and 3D print the houses in their maps.


Games in Education
Definition
The value of using games in education is not a novel notion. Teachers have been using games to spark interest, motivate, and sustain attention all along. With the dawn of digital games, new opportunities for the classroom arose. While there still exists some controversy over the educational value and the often violent nature of video games, the positive impact of digital gaming on the intent to spark interest, motivate, and sustain attention cannot be denied. An increased interest from the education community calls for games that are created for educational purposes with sound pedagogy and methodology. While games can be quite simple and help with memorization tasks, the larger benefit of gaming comes from more complex games that empower learners, sharpen higher-order thinking skills, and develop design thinking.
 Future Impact
The NMC Horizon report predicts the adoption of games and gaming in education within the next two to three years.
Keeping Up
This early adopter website is a great resource to stay on top of gaming.
Resources
  • The pros and cons of games in education are addressed in this article in The Journal. Great read if you are still a little on the fence.
  • The Games in Education wiki is a curation of games organized by subject, purpose, and device. It provides a good starting point for teachers investigating the kinds of games available to them and their students.
  • A new not-for-profit aims at teachers and students interested in gaming. If you are an innovator or early adopter, you might find your PLN here.
  • Arne Duncan on games in education. Love it when policy makers get it!

Classroom Example
While not very sophisticated, Quizlet and Quia are great ways to take the boredom out of skill building.