Participating in a recent Redefining Learning Conference was inspiring and enlightening. It was inspiring to see so many educators fully embracing utilizing technology to increase the connection and collaboration in their classroom. It was enlightening because many of the educators were relatively new to utilizing technology, either they were going to be a 1:1 laptop school in the next few months or had recently just become a 1:1 school. The willingness to embrace technology and seek ideas of how best to utilize it in the classroom is only a third of the battle to successful educational technology use in the classroom. The other two thirds of the pie for successful technology implementation are supportive administration and effective professional development. Technology can be a powerful tool to effective and engaging instruction but it has to be supported as an enhancement to innovative teaching not as a replacement to creative instruction.
- Add your voice to OneNote student work – meaning you can record your own voice as feedback or follow up to student assignments in OneNote. This is something I know will be easy to do but need to implement and make as a part of my practice. The power in adding a voice recording allows you to literally speak to the each student about their specific work rather than writing the ubiquitous “see me” comment.
- Create a Mix to teach the next lesson – this is something that is on my “to-do-next” list. I see the power in being to explain my lesson in my own voice and then ask my students to watch and follow my instructions to complete an assignment. I know there are analytics built into the back-end of the Mix ecosystem. I plan to start small and try it out on a small assignment, testing how best to set up the lesson and then track the analytics. To make this doable I remind myself to to take small baby steps.
- Utilize collaborative coaching to make PBL projects function effectively – collaborative coaching is not specific to technology but rather is one facet of effective instruction. The value is being able to utilize effective teaching strategies into technology assisted learning. This is a topic for a more detailed discussion at a later date.
- Listen to student voice – the key message I heard focuses listening to students who clearly stated that students need freedom with using technology, this freedom is invaluable to making access to technology useful to them. Teachers also need to make (class assignment) problems feel authentic to increase student engagement. Lastly teachers need to let students play games after work is done, this last one was more hopeful ask on the part of the students. The use of technology in the classroom is all about balance.
- Lastly, but not least, my final takeaway is that it’s all about OneNote – throughout the RLC it was repeatedly stated that OneNote is the central to student and teacher classroom use, collaboration, organization and feedback. OneNote, as a digital tool, is not just a “nice to have” but it is an essential learning tool. As one student stated, laptops and OneNote is just “crazy organization” and I couldn’t agree more.