Today, we’re witnessing a transformative phase in the educational landscape, significantly driven by technology. From creating engaging and immersive learning experiences to empowering educators and students with access to limitless resources, technology plays an indispensable role in modern education.
The progression from traditional chalk-and-board classrooms to interactive digital learning environments is not just a shift in teaching methods. It’s a change that enhances student engagement, collaboration, and personalized learning while opening avenues to global knowledge repositories.
Technological Integration: A Step-By-Step Implementation Guide
For any educational institution planning to embrace technology, it’s crucial to understand the implementation process. This will ensure a smooth transition and maximize the benefits of technology integration.
Step 1: Establish Clear Goals
Begin with a clear vision of what you wish to achieve. Establish the learning outcomes and the ways technology can enhance those. Whether it’s increasing student engagement, encouraging collaboration, or personalizing learning experiences, having clear goals will guide your technological integration.
Step 2: Assess the Infrastructure
Assessing the existing infrastructure is the next critical step. Determine the state of current resources, including hardware, software, and internet connectivity, and identify areas of improvement. This will ensure that the technology integration aligns with the institution’s capabilities.
Equip teachers with the necessary training to navigate the new technology. Professional development programs ensure teachers are comfortable using the tools, making their teaching more effective.
Step 4: Evaluate and Choose the Right Technology
Research and identify the technologies that align with your goals. Whether it’s learning management systems (LMS), interactive whiteboards, or student response systems, evaluate each based on their utility and compatibility with your institution’s needs.
Step 5: Gradual Integration and Constant Evaluation
Integrate technology gradually into the learning environment and constantly evaluate its effectiveness. This will ensure that the technology enhances the learning experience as intended.
The Impact of Technology on Student Engagement and Collaboration
The integration of technology in education can greatly enhance student engagement. Interactive tools and multimedia content cater to various learning styles, making the learning process more engaging and inclusive.
Additionally, technology fosters collaboration among students. Digital platforms enable students to collaborate in real-time, irrespective of their geographical location. This cultivates a sense of community and encourages peer-to-peer learning.
Technology and Personalized Learning
One of the significant benefits of technology in education is the opportunity for personalized learning. Digital platforms provide adaptive learning experiences tailored to individual students’ needs, thereby making learning more effective and enjoyable.
The Way Forward
With the growing influence of technology in education, it’s important for educational institutions to adapt and evolve. While the path to technological integration may seem daunting, it promises a future of enhanced learning experiences, better student engagement, and personalized education.
The future of education is undoubtedly intertwined with technology. It’s time to embrace this change and leverage the endless opportunities that technology presents to enhance learning experiences. With a strategic approach to implementation, we can ensure that technology serves as an effective tool in our mission to educate and inspire the next generation.
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Professor and friend John Nash co-hosts a podcast on all things online learning. In a recent episode, he shared his work on coaching ChatGPT to write more “human” and the results are… interesting…
While generative AI tools are very cool right now, they are a long way from being truly disruptive and overtaking the world.
Here’s what’s interesting. Scaffolding the prompts, defining perplexity and burstiness, and then prompting an explicit increase of those measures made the text “human” to GPTZero. Still, it also made the text ridiculously flowery and inflated. Kind of like when a master’s student thinks they are supposed to “sound academic.” It was so bad that the ChatGPT output was immediately suspect to my human eyes, even though GPTZero said it was likely written entirely by a human.
We’re wrapping up the 2022-2023 school year, and several teachers in my district are continuing their journeys into deeper learning.
Rather than freaking out and focusing on end-of-year testing that means nothing (you know I’m right), I’m working with several 8th-grade classes on worthwhile projects.
One class is designing tourism resources for Bardstown. If you’re not familiar, the tourism industry is HUGE in this area thanks to two things: history and bourbon. Kentucky tourists spent $5.9 billion in 2020, and many of those dollars can be traced to bourbon tourism.
Students are working in groups to create materials for different tourist destinations in Bardstown. They got to choose the location, the format for their materials, and how they will ultimately present them.
Let’s connect this work back to the 4 Shifts and how we’re using it to foster deeper learning in classrooms:
Deeper Thinking and Learning
Students are researching famous local places. Some of them are taking tours after school hours, conducting interviews, and doing independent research
Students are discussing what information needs to be included in their information. What should be in a brochure? What do we need to mention in a video?
Students are using design tools that are used in the real world to create and publish their work: Canva, YouTube, CapCut, etc.
Could these projects be used as part of a tourism promotion? Perhaps. This work will likely be a “first draft” of a potential business or tourism department collaboration.
Student Agency & Personalization
Students chose the format and tools.
Students chose the topic
Any technology usage is secondary to the research and information presented. Technology is merely the tool conveying the message, not the message itself.
I could go on, but I’ll save a further discussion for the project completion. Suffice it to say the kids are very interested in these projects and what they are learning about their hometown.
I came in to assist in the combination of technology with content. Students are creating on different platforms and need to tie the information together. Several have made videos that we’ve uploaded to YouTube. We created QR codes and added them to the brochures. We’ve used royalty-free music for the videos. Some students even used AI (yep) to help write the script before recording voiceovers.
My point for sharing this work is this: diving into deeper learning can be fun for you and your students. Will some resist? Yes. Will some still find ways to disengage and not really accomplish anything? Yes.
But it’s all part of the adventure of learning. For them, and for us.
Thanks for reading. This site is a completely reader-supported publication. The best way to support it is to check out my recommendations or become a paid subscriber.
Two things came to mind as I began compiling this month’s reading list: deeper learning in schools and the power of embracing your authentic self. The first one is, of course, on my mind pretty much every day. Any work that I have done in education has ultimately been centered on creating deeper learning experiences for students.
Second, the idea of embracing your authentic self is important to me since I spent the majority of my life not being my authentic self. Growing up in an environment in which I was expected to do “the right thing”—a pretty subjective idea—and what I wanted to do wasn’t easy. I’m getting there, but there haven’t been many of my 46 years on this planet that have been guided by my own passions and thoughts.
If there was ever a book that arrived at the perfect time in the education world, it’s this one.
In this book, Justin Reich argues against the idea that technology can completely change schools and how students learn. He does this by describing and analyzing different educational technologies in a realistic way. Reich draws on his positions at Harvard and MIT to provide unparalleled insight into the progress of these trends and their limitations in practice.
This book sheds light on the issues with educational technologies, such as the various approaches and tools developed by technologists. It offers valuable insights into what to consider when adopting, utilizing, and implementing technologies in different educational settings, especially during the era of virtual learning and social distancing.
In Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, the author questions the ability of educational technologies to bring transformative changes to education. Despite the promises of affordable, accessible, effective, and engaging education for all students, the author points out the inconsistencies in enrollment and completion of online courses and the limited benefits for students from low socioeconomic statuses. The author also highlights four challenges: the Curse of the familiar, the trap of routine assessments, the EdTech Matthew effect, and the toxic power of data and experiments.
The book’s last chapter, “Conclusion: Preparing for the Next Learning-at-Scale Hype Cycle,” is key. The author urges readers, including educators, administrators, policymakers, and technologists, to carefully evaluate educational technologies and be cautious of tools that claim to be transformative. To do so, he poses the following questions: 1) What’s new? 2) Who guides the learning experience? 3) Is the pedagogy trying to fill pails or kindle flames? 4) What existing technologies does it adopt? He also emphasizes the need to examine how and when technological tools can be incorporated into students’ learning processes and warns against factors that could hinder learners’ abilities to achieve desired results.
Failure to Disrupt offers compelling arguments on educational technology, examining the hype and laying the foundations for a promising future in the field.
Full disclosure on this one: I am lucky to call all three of the authors who collaborated on this project friends. Even if I didn’t have that connection, I’d still recommend this book to you. It’s a fantastic look at innovative schools and what they are doing to create deeper learning experiences for students.
This book examines how leaders have introduced, maintained, and advanced innovative, deeper learning opportunities in their schools.
Schools are changing to be more action-oriented, focused on performance, digitally relevant, and democratic. This book highlights innovative practices across seven categories: vision, agency in learning, trust in teachers, openness to new ideas, over-communicating change, equity-mindedness, and courage to live outside norms.
Leadership for Deeper Learning explores how school leaders can create new learning environments for students and teachers, with practical strategies and stories to inspire change and innovation.
While this book has been around for a bit, the message is no less relevant today than it was in 2015, perhaps more so in the wake of COVID-19
Most Likely to Succeed looks at the problems with the US education system and suggests ways to better prepare future generations for the age of innovation, such as changing the way we teach and what we teach.
According to Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith, schools are not equipping students with the skills they need to succeed as ethical citizens and productive employees, and they are also forcing them to learn useless information superficially. Wagner and Dintersmith say that this makes it harder for students to follow their passions and get real-world experience. They also say that it makes teachers unhappy and keeps society divided along class lines.
The key message of Most Likely to Succeed is this: although society is advancing at an astonishing speed, our education system is stuck in the nineteenth century. Consequently, we’re educating our children to succeed in a bygone era. To give our kids the opportunity to succeed, we must creatively reimagine education for the innovation era.
In What Schools Could Be, Ted Dintersmith shares solutions he discovered while traveling to 50 states, 200 schools, over a hundred community forums, and a thousand meetings. The book talks about innovation in K–12 education, online learning, colleges and universities, and short-term immersive experiences. It’s a great way to learn about the American educational innovation landscape.
In Dintersmith’s model, a great school has four parts (PEAK):
Purpose: Where students do actual important work.
Essentials: There’s a backbone to what they’re learning that they’ll need in the future.
Agency: Students are in charge of their learning and are intrinsically motivated.
Knowledge: Everything learned is deep and retained, they are creators and teach others what they know
I miss Anthony Bourdain almost as much as I miss Tom Petty, which is a lot. I’m sure as you reach this section you’re asking yourself, “What the hell is a book about line cooks doing amongst books about education?”
Allow me to try and explain…
The book takes the form of a biography chronicling Bourdain’s time in the culinary industry. Interspersed with cooking advice, it covers the love between a chef and sous-chef, as well as the chef’s relationship with delusional owners. The biography takes you through Bourdain’s childhood and his realization, while in France, of the importance of food. It then follows his journey from his start in the culinary industry, through culinary college, and up the ranks of various chef positions until he eventually runs his own kitchen with, as he puts it, “brigades of pirates, degenerates, and thieves.” Filled with wild anecdotes of kitchen misbehavior, drugs, sex, rock and roll, more drugs, and truffle oil, the book illustrates the hardships of the industry, including long hours, injuries, and sexual harassment, and how people still choose to do it. One particularly powerful chapter towards the end of the book goes blow-by-blow through an average day in the life of a chef.
While the life of an educator doesn’t have nearly the entertainment value of the life of a chef, there are certain parts of the job that are difficult, frustrating, and perhaps even maddening. The relationships between teachers and students, the demands on teachers’ time, meaningless mandates from far-away misguided legislators, and the never-ending grind of the school year can have many teachers feel like they are on the line. And maybe they are.
But in the relentless pursuit of making something great, there are always obstacles. There are always trying times. There will always be something to improve, whether that is a 7th-grade math lesson or an exclusive dish at a Michelin-star restaurant.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I thoroughly enjoyed this inside look at a madcap world that so many of us will never experience or understand. It’s all fun stuff. The anecdotes, characters, and asides are crazy enough that Bourdain wouldn’t need to be a great writer to make them work. But he is a good writer with a unique voice and a dry sense of humor that makes his TV shows stand out. Together, these elements make the book not only an interesting read but also a real pleasure. I laughed out loud numerous times throughout.
I can’t talk about being your authentic self and driving for what you really want in life without mentioning The War of Art, the modern classic on overcoming Resistance and becoming the creative genius you were meant to become. And if you’re wanting to dive deeper into discovering your authentic self, you should add Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown to your list, along with Victor Frankl’s classic Man’s Search for Meaning. I’d also recommend Flow as a way to get the most out of your creativity and reach your fullest potential.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s reading list! Remember, reading is a great way to expand your knowledge and understanding of the world. Whether you’re interested in education, leadership, or just looking for a good memoir, there’s something on this list for everyone. So, grab a book and start reading!
One of the most fulfilling tasks I do on a regular basis is updating my commonplace book. What’s a commonplace book? Simple: it’s a place to store all those quotes, lyrics, poems, passages, etc. that mean something to you.
It’s a way to store all the things you read, regardless of their format, in one place so that you can access it any time you want. The concept isn’t new by any means; people across history have kept some form of a commonplace book. Marcus Aurelius had one that would later be published. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, and Virginia Woolfe all had one.
Modern authors like Austin Kleon and Ryan Holiday keep one. The formats change based on the person but they all serve the same purpose: a way to keep track of things that mean something to you.
Ryan Holiday has famously used his note card system as the basis for writing his books, something he picked up while working for Robert Greene.
If you want to dive deeper into this system of note-taking, writing, and organizing, read up on the Zettelkasten Method.
Personally, I keep a daily journal and I’ve been using my own version of the notecard system for the past couple of years. However, as I’m heading into my doctoral work this fall as I write, I’m attempting to update my commonplace system.
While I agree there is tremendous benefit in writing things down on paper – I write in my journal by hand in cursive daily – the real power of keeping a record of all the things in your commonplace book is when you can make connections between different entries.
I’ve tried making those connections with my note cards, but it hasn’t worked for me. So I needed to come up with something better. Something digital.
I’ve come up with a two-pronged approach. One of those prongs is this blog you are reading now.
For too many years, I tried to take blogging far too seriously. Always trying to write something meaningful and important while sharing things that I found or learned with the world.
My anxiety (which turns out to be pretty crippling and only in the last year have I really begun to get a handle on it) wouldn’t let me craft those perfect blog posts.
But, I can create short posts that I can share quickly with the world and store on this blog while organizing it pretty quickly into different topics.
The inspiration for this shift comes from Cory Doctorow. He refers to it as “The Memex Method” and many writers use it to create a commonplace book that doubles as a public database.
Enter the Memex
Vannevar Bush famously described the memex as “an enlarged intimate supplement to one’s memory.”
Longstanding tech columnist John Naughton has one here. And I’m sure there are many others out there you could look through.
This blog that has been in existence in one form or another for 16 years is now becoming my public memex, my online database of things I learn, like, and use regularly.
Using WordPress tags, I can quickly filter posts into multiple topics and save them for later reference. And so can any of my readers. Of course, building this will take time and input data on a daily basis.
The second prong of this memex is my personal database, powered by Evernote. I’ve had an Evernote account since March of 2008 while it was still in beta, I think. But I’ve never used it very well.
Now, I have one notebook in my Evernote account. But a bajillion tags. I’m still working through all my existing notes and adding tags which will take some time but I’m feeling good about that progress and excited for the results.
I’m also taking all my existing note cards and scanning them into Evernote for tagging. The tags will sort and connect the ideas from various notes, giving me lots of sources for new articles and possibly even books.
As Robert Greene has said, “Everything is material.”
I just had to find a way to keep my material organized. I’ll keep you updated here on my progress.
Why is this important for educators?
I don’t know. Maybe it isn’t. If you’re a researcher, I can’t help but think it would be useful to have a very organized and connected system for your research.
But for the classroom teacher or administrator, how helpful would it be to connect the threads of all your work over the years? Likely, very helpful. And think of what you could share with your colleagues or future students.