Student Techs Have Their Heads in the Cloud

From THE Journal: There is a positive environmental impact in bypassing printed materials, but the time savings and increased communication are what really makes the cloud indispensable for educators as well as students, according to Debbie Kovesdy, a media specialist and GenYES advisor at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix.

Kovesdy teaches three technology classes a day using the GenYES curriculum. She uses the cloud to teach and she expects her students to be cloud-savvy users when it comes to doing their work.

“I teach entirely from a website. ‘Handouts’ are accessed on this site,” she said. “I simply put a short link on their assignment calendar (or on the [message] board if the day is on the fly), and kids access the site and do the assignment.”

Purchase Project
Purchase Project

Recently, Kovesdy was looking at buying several dozen new tablets for her campus, but hadn’t decided on which ones. In the end, she decided to pass the task of figuring out the most cost-effective solution on to her students. The lesson, called Purchase Project, was completed digitally and turned in via the shared Google Drive. Students researched devices, computing power, and costs and then filed a report. A filter sent the completed assignments to Kovesdy’s document folder. After she graded them, she sent them back to the students via their private e-mail account, also created and controlled by the school via the Google-based Website.


Great ideas!
Sylvia

Helping Others to Help Oneself

SMHS GenYES Students

This month’s THE Journal has a great story (Helping Others to Help Oneself) on students who provide tech support for their schools. Shadow Mountain High School’s GenYES program is prominently profiled – congrats to the students and teacher Debbie Kovesdy for this well-deserved attention! There are 65 GenYES students at SMHS, helping teachers and students with technology. But that’s not all they do. SMHS GenYES students research the learning potential of cutting-edge technology like tele-presence, gaming, 3D modeling and more so they can bring it to the classroom.

Using motion control for 3D images

What school would not benefit from students who make it their mission to take learning and technology to the next level!

THE Journal is now all digital, so clicking on this link takes you to the online issue. Be sure to check out the interactive feature – if you tweet using the hashtag “studentIT”, your words magically become part of the article!

Sylvia

What Your Kids Are Really Doing Online

“…there exists today an underground, invisible network of children taking turns as teachers and students, sharing with each other the skills, ideas, secrets and technological breakthroughs they cherish. This university without walls or national boundaries is, without exaggeration, unparalleled in human history. Children have always been at the mercy of parents, teachers and school administrators when it comes to the question of how, what and when they learn. Now the game has changed and the power has shifted to kids.”

from: What Your Kids Are Really Doing Online by Michael Levin.

Sylvia

Student Tech Leadership Summer Camp

Granville Students Attend Regional NYSSTL Training

Five students from Granville Central School District in New York attended a week long New York State Student Technology Leader (NYSSTL) Training Camp at WSWHE BOCES in Saratoga, during the last week of July. At the summer camp, students learned how to become New York State Student Technology Leaders in their school. There were approximately 30 students from WSWHE BOCES regional schools, from as far south at Ballston Spa Central School and as far north as North Warren Central School.

At the camp, students discussed and demonstrated their understanding of crucial contemporary Internet technology topics, including Internet safety and ethics, copyright and fair use, citing sources of information, evaluating websites and checking author credibility, netiquette, cyber bullying, and digital footprints.  They also learned to use new technologies and completed two technology projects using these tools to demonstrate their technology literacy.

As the training progressed, students spent time learning to become peer mentors, so that they can help other students with technology projects at school. They practiced this skill at the camp as they completed work on technology projects throughout the week.

Students were also trained to assist teachers with technology. They were provided with accounts and taught how to access and use their school’s NYSSTL Help Desk which is an online tracking system and communication tool. Students learned how to help teachers request a TAP or Technology Assistance Project, and also how to use many of the tools built into the online help desk.

In addition to discussions, role plays, and working with computers and various peripheral devices, students also participated in recreational games such as competition cup stacking, bocce, ladder ball, and ultimate Frisbee. All students who attended the camp received complimentary breakfast, lunch, and desserts, such as make your own sundaes. They also received embroidered NYSSTL T-shirts, TechYES Technology Literacy Student Guides, 4GB flash drives, and messenger bags, which they decorated with fabric markers at camp.

Granville Computer Technology Teacher/NYSSTL Advisor, Leanne Grandjean, along with experienced Student Technology Leaders, freshman, Josh Sumner, and sophomore, Marc Billow, also went to the camp to lead and support students who were training to become Student Technology Leaders.

Mote here!

Students co-author the learning experience

It’s so great to have a string of stories about the positive impact of student technology teams in schools.

It’s tech time at Capital High – Generation Tech lets students become ‘co-authors of learning experience’

The Olympia School District was where Generation YES founder Dr. Dennis Harper settled in about 1990 after working around the world to bring computers to schools in countries from Africa to Afghanistan. He became the technology director and found a school district that wanted to be first class in technology, but had little to start with. He dug in and got started by involving students in every aspect of the district technology – from planning, to getting out the vote for a technology bond, to putting up a district website when no one even knew what that was.

One of the teachers he immediately started to work with was Scott LeDuc at Capital High School. Today Scott is still at Capital, still working with students to make “student-centered learning” a reality. This article profiles Scott and his students who work every day to make education better.

Today’s young people have grown up in a society that revolves around technology.

Want to talk? Send them a text message on their cell phone.

Want to see who their friends are? Visit Facebook.

Want to remove photos from your digital camera and fix that annoying printer error on your computer? Give them about five minutes, and they’ll probably be able to figure out and explain everything to you.

Their teen years are so much different from those of their parents and grandparents, and that’s why students in Capital High School’s Generation Tech class are exploring ways to change their learning experiences, too.

For example, several of the students have begun serving as “technology mentors” at the school, helping teachers and other staff members become more tech-savvy, according to Career and Technical Education instructor Scott Le Duc.

“Education is not going to change fast enough for anyone,” he said. “The only way it’s going to change is if students become the co-authors of the learning experience.”

Read this article – it’s not about technology, it’s about life-long learning…

Although students have access to some of the newest high-tech bells and whistles in their classroom laboratory, much of their growth is taking place outside the class, where students are serving as information resources for others, helping to locate computer support and projects for their teachers and peers, Le Duc said.

“They blow my mind; this group of young people is just awesome,” he said. “They want to see school change, and they’re making it happen.”

Scott authored the GenYES curriculum units on student tech support based on his experiences at Capital High School and years of teaching students how to “learn how to learn” by fixing real problems. Students don’t learn by being talked at – they learn by tackling challenging problems and issues that are meaningful and DOING something about them. And of course, teachers amplify the learning when they guide students through these types of experiences with expertise.

As one of the commenters on the article said – WAY TO GO, COUGARS!

Sylvia

Learning @ School – Keynote

I’m excited to be heading off to New Zealand next month to keynote the Learning@School 2011 conference in Rotorua (Feb 23-25). It looks like a wonderful conference, with some really interesting themes and strands.

I’ll be talking about student leadership and empowerment – and the way we can structure learning environments to offer those opportunities. Putting students into positions of responsibility for what and how other people learn teaches them that what they do matters, and gives them new insight into how they (and others learn.)

People always say, “you learn so much by teaching” – so why not have students learn AND teach. Combining this with technology, for which students today have a natural instinct and interest,  just makes sense. Students can teach other students, teach teachers, support technology professional development, help with technical set up and support, and much more. It creates natural collaboration opportunities, provides challenges at many levels, and is really useful. Giving students this kind of responsibility creates a win-win situation where students are valued for their expertise and hard work – real, needed work!

I’ll also do a follow up session to talk about the “how tos” of student technology leadership programs, and then another one about games in education.

I also hope to get some time visiting the famous geysers, boiling mud pools and thermal springs of Rotorua!

Sylvia

Students teach teachers how to create a podcast

This video from Brett Moller (Blog: 21st Century Educator) shows a student produced tutorial about how to create a podcast using Garageband.

YouTube – Dylan Teaching the Teachers How to create a basic podcast.

If you have teachers who need help, why not let students create tutorials for them? Students have an authentic project, and teachers get help with the exact hardware or software, not some generic tutorial. This is a win-win for everyone involved.

And think about this – if you are teaching a technology applications class, or asking students to pass technology literacy standards, why not have the projects the students do actually do some good? Why not have student projects that have an authentic purpose – helping teachers (or peers, or the community, for that matter).

One of the most important parts of project-based learning is having a sense of who your audience is – and the audience for student work does not have to be one harried technology teacher.

These can be useful additions to any school’s suite of tech support tools, plus, create a climate of student ownership. Brett says, “They did a series of five this year – they’re now training next year’s group to continue! Teachers love them.”

Sylvia

Catch-A-Teacher Day

This example of creative thinking about professional development comes from Tomaz Lasic (aka Human) in Freemantle, Western Australia — Catch-A-Teacher Day. I rarely do this, but I’m copying almost his entire post here because I think his description showcases some of the most important details of student involvement in professional development. More on that after Tomaz…

“It’s over! Our four day school Web 2.0 Expo extravaganza over the last few days of school year was largely (and I don’t use the word lightly) adjudged as ‘a success’, ‘eye opening’, ‘interesting’, ‘informative’, ‘fun’, ‘enjoyable’, ‘a bit crazy’, ‘unusual’ by a range of people around the school (eclectic and funky as our cover clip 🙂 )

For four days, three teachers and about a dozen student-helpers (13 to 15 years old), put on a ‘23 things’ of a kind for our school community to inform, teach and stir about ‘Web 2.0′ and its culture-changing potential that is starting to be realised in our societies yet (still) largely outside school walls.

To ‘walk the talk’, we not only set up stations, but also created the event’s wiki (largely student work!), even a Ning (well, sort of … 🙂 ), got a bunch of students to start up their blogs, Twitter, set up RSS readers, fooled around with Skype, Etherpad, Twiddla, Moodle etc.. We had a number of educators from around the world dropping in virtually via Etherpad, we had encouraging tweets from around the world … all in all, we were ‘doing’ Web 2.0.

But out of the four days of messing up, playing, teaching, learning, succeeding, working together, guessing and generally having a ball, the last day will remain seared in my mind forever.

Until the last day, we had very few staff that came to the expo. They would bring groups of students down but then (most of them) didn’t quite engage with the expo in any way. “That’s for the kids, not for us…” was the general sentiment, with few notable exceptions. With the whole thing PRIMARILY for staff, we weren’t making the dent. The matter was raised at our regular morning ‘war briefing’. We made the decision that the last day was going to be ‘catch-a-teacher’ day.

Catch-a-teacher ... live

It was pretty simple really. Student-helpers were encouraged to approach a teacher, invite them to the expo, try to work out and ask what the teacher might be interested in to learn…then demonstrate, teach and help them learn (about) a particular Web 2.0 tool and how it could be useful to them (the teacher). Wealso asked our student-helpers to note down on the central ‘tally’ board what teachers they taught what.

Students took up the challenge very seriously and we had them literally chasing teachers down the halls to invite, talk to, teach the teachers. With most teachers agreeing to come (even if out of courtesy if not curiosity) it was an incredible sight.

Yes, I repeat: teachers are far less likely to say no to a student than a ‘tech integrator’ with a reasonable (tech) proposition for teacher’s problem/idea in class. It just works!

ACatch-a-teacher ... come innother highlight of the day was the technically so damn easy yet so profoundly different (to ‘regular school’) Skype conference of our ‘helpers’ with a good friend Ira Socol. I saw Ira tweeting, hooked up over Skype and within seconds the whole class said ‘Hello” to Ira and his dog (“with a weird name Sir…”) in Michigan. We soon shared a screen with Google Earth on it where Ira literally showed us around his neighbourhood, place he works, we zoomed out to see and learn a bit about the Great Lakes (some of the kids watching have not been further than a few blocks from their place in their life!), cracked a joke or two and after a few minutes thanked Ira for his time.

After the event Ira tweeted:

Damn right!

I read the tweet aloud to claps, cheers and hollers of approval at our post-expo ice cream ‘debrief’ (yes, we did treat the awesome crew :-)

The sense of community, appreciation, working together, problem solving, the JOY of learning, particularly on the last day of our Expo was palpable. Many of our student-helpers ‘got off’ on it, dare say far, far more than many a lesson in the year just finished. There it was, a working rhizome of education I dream of, where roles/status/label/credit did not matter, only what we can learn, share, help, improve. Sure, it was quite an intense day, but one where the students saw the potential of what many of us have been banging on about for … years now.

Before we took our parting group photo, I asked the student-helpers is they would like to attend a school organised and run a bit like our expo – passionate, hard-working, following people’s interests, funny, a bit messy and unexpected, unclear at times but always valuing learning of all kinds: “Yes, sure, we’d love to…” I replied with just a line: “Demand it for your own kids.”

via Catch-A-Teacher Day « Human.

So what happened here?

  • A simple idea – have students ask teachers to participate in technology professional development
  • Teachers “can’t say no” to students
  • Teachers learn something they didn’t expect to
  • Student helpers have a powerful learning experience, “… sense of community, appreciation, working together, problem solving, the JOY of learning…”
  • Students helpers learn they can be knowledgeable advocates if they are prepared and assertive

The structure of professional development often reverts to the worst kind of “sit and get” classroom experience that everyone knows doesn’t work, but seems to be the only way to reach out to lots of teachers. It’s a bit like the old joke about the cop asking a man who is looking for something in the street what he is doing, and the man says, “I lost my glasses in that dark alley over there, but I’m looking here because the light is so much better.”

But with Catch-A-Teacher Day, the professional development was “…passionate, hard-working, following people’s interests, funny, a bit messy and unexpected, unclear at times but always valuing learning of all kinds…”

It DOES work to work one-on-one with teachers, but it’s supposedly more “cost effective” to try to reach all teachers at once. It’s strange that the logic of doing something that doesn’t work because it’s “cost effective” always seems to go unnoticed. But imagine if the efforts of one tech specialist were multiplied by a group of student helpers who can make the most of opportunities to spark teacher interest, answer their quick questions, or fix a problem for them that is holding them back.

And folks, this was ONE DAY – really, these things don’t have to be that complicated. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

What are you doing to leverage your own technology professional development to “catch” your teachers? Maybe Catch-A-Teacher Day can be another tool in the tool belt!

Sylvia

Update on Maine Learning Technology Initiative

The post Students raising funds and technology awareness in Maine got a lot of comments and interest on this blog. Here’s an update from one of the participants:

First of all, our students are committed to this project! All of our students in Wells, Maine, had to get out of bed and to the school bus by 5:15 AM for the 3 hour bus ride to Orono. They all had planned their presentations with their teachers and then practiced for 2 weeks. Once at the University, they all attended the opening session, then walked quickly across campus to a variety of classrooms and within 10 minutes they were on stage, confident and presenting to students and teachers from around the state.

read more at: Tech Learning TL Advisor Blog and Ed Tech Ticker Blogs from TL Blog Staff – TechLearning.com.

Hope we see more from these motivated students!

Sylvia

Eisenhower School Internet Safety Project

The Eisenhower School Internet Safety Project began with Tech Team teachers, Angelo Bonavitacola, Marc DeBlock and Harold Olejarz, joining forces to develop a sixth-grade Internet course to address these issues and to encourage students to be active learners by using the latest technology to learn about the latest technologies. To produce the videos, the students view online videos, visit web sites and discuss Internet safety topics. The students begin by developing a storyboard in ComicLife, a MAC OS program designed to create comics. Students then use digital cameras to capture images that are added to their comics. When the comics are completed the pages are exported to iMovie. In iMovie the students add voice-overs, sound effects, titles and transitions to complete the Internet Safety project.

Many of the student videos have been or will be shown on ETV, Eisenhower’s morning TV show. ETV is broadcast to the entire school and the town of Wyckoff, NJ. In addition, the videos are posted on a resource web page that includes links to sites with information and other videos on Internet safety. This Internet Safety web site was also used in a presentation to seventh-grade parents. During the presentation it was suggested that parents watch the videos with their students and use the experience to begin a dialog on the issues raised in the videos. (via LearniT-TeachiT)

This is a great example of the “technology ecology” that I’ve been talking about. Sure the students could have learned to make cartoons in Comic Life or how to use iMovie. They could have gotten lessons on Internet Safety. Parents could have been invited in to hear a lecture from an expert on cybersafety.

But instead, all these came together in a way that is greater than sum of the individual parts. They used an authentic problem to build internal capacity and learn how to learn.

In this school, students learned about Internet Safety AND how to communicate it to others, reinforcing the lessons and making them more relevant. They learned to use a technology tool for an authentic purpose – to teach others and engage the whole community in the complex issues of Internet safety. They learned that they have the power to learn new things and transform their community. They learned that their voice is important and that their parents and community will listen to them if they know their stuff.

Way to go Eisenhower!

Sylvia