Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Half an Hour, Feb 03, 2015

 Educational Technology Strategies Conference - Toronto


Ashley Ward (foreground) introduces Rhonda McEwen (seated) at the Education Technology Strategies conference at the beautiful Old Mill hotel in Toronto. Good first day of the conference, engaging and interesting.

Jonathan Tepper
Executive Director of Information Technology
Greenwood College School

BYOD - being able to take your personalized device from homee, and use it at work or school

Greenwood - small independent school in Toronto - 425 students
    Mission: embrace a student-focused education
    Started with a 1:1 laptop program
        - worked well in the classroom, but not outside the classroom
        - was one of those "education-focused" laptops
        - it wasn't being used at home - they were using other devices
        - network was designed for a secure closed 1:1 program - couldn't adapt to other devices
        - significant overhead in imagining, management, overhead

Review - three themes:
    - personalize - devices we were using should be personal
    - accessible - we need to think that whatever they use at home should be used in classroom, and vice versa
    - user experience - will the device be the same as the one they use in the workplace?

    - 2012-2014 - already indicators
        - web-based email increasing vs in-house email (38% - 56%)
        - cloud-based productivity software increasing 27-46%

SWOT (Helpful / Harmful, Internal / External)
    S - removed fixed cost of laptops and servicing, gave parents a choice to purchase better device
    W - how to help teachers deal with these disruptive devices (eg. lessons scripted around 1:1 laptop); IT issues
        - we were a Windows network, with everything on our own domain - we needed to open eg printing etc
    O - consumer technology far more accessible in 2012 esp. the Macbook, Android
        - web-based applications, eg. Google Apps, Adobe Cloud - so we didn't need to install software
    T - many devices, how to support interoperability
        - some families not ready for BYOD
        - security

Scan: shift from laptop to handhelds and tablets
    16% of schools 2/ 1:1 (60% using laptops), 12% (of that 16%) of schools with BYOD
    12Mbit to 100MBit (Bell)
    Wireless - high density design (Aruba)
    Security - segment network with policies, MDM security
        Aruba Airwarve, iBoss, Fortinet

The new paradign
    - Google APPs became organizational-wide
    - Read & Write Gold (accessibility)
    - created reasonable parameters
        teachers - required laptop (couldn't go tablet), Windows or OSX only
        students - all students go through boot camp with their device
            - kept a school-selected laptop for families that need it
            - provided a self-help website to help families walk through

Q - agreement they had to use?
A - under 'Appropriate Use Guidelines'

Dr. Daniel Branan
NANSLO Lab Director
Colorado Community College System, Denver, (CO)

- North American Network of Science Labs online
North Island College (Vancouver island), Colorado, Great Falls, WICHE

- Revolution in science education
    - 1850s - von Liebig, Edward Frankland - science education at the time: read books, listen to lectures
        - the big idea: put science students in a lab - to address need for more practically educated scientists
        - took about 20 years t catch on, just in England
        - slow is good, and good is fast
    - Remote science - we've been doing this a long time
        - Hubble, Little Hercules, Curiosity Rover
        - but we haven't changed how we teach science in the lab in the college
    - Remote Lab Access
        - (Engineers have been doing this since the 1990s)
        - give students access to real lab equipment
        - lets them collect accurate data (eg. really sensitive ultra-microscope - you can't be in the same room as it)
        - lets them engage in authentic instrumental experimentation
        - allows students to collaborate with classmates (even around the world)
        - prepares students for the future of science
        - But: does not prepare them for *all* learning objectives in a lab, eg, the actual working with samples, equipment
    - How do remote systems work?
        - three stages: observation, manipulation, data

What's available (in NANSLO)
    - 7 major pieces of apparatus (titration, photosynthesis, gas chromatograph, helholtz coil, airtrack, absorbance spectrometer, microscope)
    - 30 lab activities
    - Guided-inquiry based procedures
    Q: any linkages to eg. CERN ?
    A: not really, but we're working with OU in the UK
    Q: do you have students visit the labs?
    A: no, we've had instructors visit, but not the students
    Q: what problems does this solve for you?
Are remote labs effective?
    - cost effective - wan't our goal, our goal was access
    - 2005 - Lindsay & Good - simulations just as good or worse than traditional labs
        - remote labs were just as good or better than traditional
    - 2007 - Corter et. al.
        - remote labs as good or better - students were less passive when remote
    - 2013 - Sauter et al - having live video strongly impacted their persepection of the validity of what they were doing
        - optimal for learning - remote lab with live video feed
    - CCCS (Colorado) student response
        - 88% respondents - "was a valuable lab experience"
    - Are they cost-effective? It depends
        - hard to say, we're only running at 15% capacity, building out commercial model
        - we have 5 lab stations, can serve 25 studnets in groups of 5 simultaneously
        - costs: scheduling sysyem - one time cost $300K (free and open source)
            - building: $40K + 10K/year
            - IT - $100K + $30K / year
            - Equipment $400K + 50/yera
            - Personnel - $300K / years
            - Total startup: $1M + $390/year
            - cost per student-hour (@ 80% capacity): $8
        - traditional labs: $1M startiup costs for a small building/lab, potentially cost-effective at high capacity

Future plans
    - increase activities that are available
    - add Lego mindstorms, Arduino
    - expand to astronomy - equipment is already remote-controlled
    - "we'd love to bet into environmental sensor work"
Q: do you use students as technicians
A: we hire college students
Q: do you have the 'digital lab on tour'?
A: we've done it for institutions - it's really a roll-out resource
Q: are you using robots with existing science equipment? Or specialized equipment?
A: standard equipment isn't built that way, we build out systems (eg. BellMacs screw-out robots)
Q: when does this kind of service end?
A: I don't think there's a cap on it, as you increase grade level you are working remotely with really high-end equipment

Rick Overeem
Director of Learning Innovation
Lambton College

Implementing mobile learning

Class+ experience goal statement - active learning and teaching environment, quality curriculum, current & emerging tech, that engages students

A new spin on student engagement:
- introduction of iPads into the classroom
- enriched academic experience that expands beyond the classroom
    - institutional mentors, relationship with Apple
    - iPad 101 sessions are essential
- annual professional development onboarding
    - weekly mobile workshops
    - faculty given time to embed into their programs
- standardized on iPad, 'uniform program device'
    (product testimonial here for Apple)
- the iPad is altering the structure of the institution
- Game-enhanced learning
    - developing a math app with Go Robots
    - launch of entrepreneurship app
- Open Educational Resources
    - looking at these - better access, reducing costs
    - deep curriculum
- Flipped classroom

Harry R. Lewis
Gordan MacKay Professor of Computer Science
Harvard University (MA)

The hydraulic model of education

- There is all kinds of human knowledge, and there are brains, and the process of education is to dump the contents of the books into the brains
- Universities are a kind of vessel you can use to tansfer the knowledge into the brains. The vessel of course is people like me, or you. The classic instance is the lecture.
- dates to classical Greece

How does technology change this?
- we don't need universities or schools as media for delivering conteent
- shows university learning should be something more
    - we've known all along that this method isn't complete - Plutarch complained about the lecture
        (the mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled)
- but - "lectures are efficient" - large number of students, fewer hours of preparation, just build a bigger room
    - but but - it's not efficient, engagement is low, assessment is limited
    - lecturing is about the experience of the teacher, not the participant

Two Harvard CS courses
    - CS 50 (intro course) - 800 students
    - CS 20 (distrete math for CS))
    - offered through EdX - we're working on ways to make the college course and the EdX work together
        - can take for free, option to pay for testing, option to pay more for certification
        - but that's all kind of a sidecar to the Harvard College course
        - so is CS50x a course or a textbook?
    - David Mailin - lecturer - 'high theatrics'
        - high quality videos, some with David
    - CS50 'office hours' - take over a dining hall, with teaching assistants and wifi (it's a very social experience)
        - hackathon at the end, we serve them Chinese food, fair at the end - we have balloons, we have candy
            (even with t-shirts - integrated into the 'college culture')
    - CS20 - active learning course - slides 'delivered' to empty room - recorded, viewed online
        - want to create more social environment (ideal to model Athens, where people talk to each other while trying to solve problems)
        - bright low-tech classrooms, rolling tables with power, projectors, whiteboards
            - 40-60 students in class - assistants and profs coach students
        - topic structure:
            - before class: do reading, watch mini-lecture, multiple-choice questions (to motivate them to come to class)
            - in class - one warm-up problem, return graded problem sets, in-class problems (no tech in class)
                - eg. team problem-solving - coaching from staff, random presentations (so everybody understands)
                - heavy use of undergraduate course assistants, especially in math & CS students
            - after class - homework problems
        - distance ed version of course
            - not a classroom broadcast
            - the process is virtualized - we use collaboration software - virtual whiteboards
            - TFs 'wander' from room to room

Matt Rogers
Computing Lead Educator; Education Manager
Southwark Local Authority, London (UK); DigitalMe -

Network Intelligence – Building an Elastic Network

(Long background diatribe about his own experienced and the history of the UK computing curriculum)

Computing curriculum - 3 strands
- digital literacy
- information technology
- computer science (learning how to write code)

Passionate people - links with (eg) Code Club, Technology Will Scave Us, Kuato Studios, Mind Candy

Textual vs visual programming language
    - use a range of different technologies and approaches
        - using a visual programming language doesn't mean very much unless you describe the tech that goes on behind it
    - 2simple - 2code (looks a lot like Scratch) - flips between visual and textual coding language

Jamie Hari
Senior Product Manager

Design and the Architect for Change

- from 'common driver is IT' to 'IT is the product'
- opportunities for network technologies - new techs (like badges) add complexity to the network environment
    - eg., there are more than 15mM applications deployed on virtualized infrastructures
- demands are not being net - nearly 2/3 or organizations fall behind schedule when deploying new IT capabilities
    - some things we've done behind the scenes has help - virtualizing, for example
    - but of course these things need their own support - that's where Bluecat comes in
- what is missing today? That's where we get the idea of the 'elastic network'
    - if you need applications or you need servers, you don't go out and add new hardware

- Today: IT is defined and geographically distributed, pre-determined sizing, homogeneous architecture
    - targeted - API targeted to network engineers, confined reporting
    - planned - managed changes, hardened to known threats, focused on alerting
- Tomorrow: flexible - optimized DNS and DHCP, auto-provisioning across heterogeneous infrastructure
    - open - RESTfil API, data services for analytics, visualization
    - adaptive - self-healing, self-optimizing, simulation of change, anomaly detection

- interactive monitoring and alerting

- security - now dynamic
    - DNS to secure the enterprise?
        - especially important wrt mobile devices
        - malicious software on mobile device needs DNS to 'call home' - intercept outgoing messages
        - better than depending on antivirus and firewall
    - IPAM as a pervasive service (IPAM = IP address management (had to look that up - SD))
        - API to core services - private cloud, public cloud

- Cases

    - Purdue University - 100K devices under management
    - large public IP address space - 600 subnets, 150 DNS zones
    - IT distributed as a service across campus

    - NC State University
    - 35K students - 200K host records under management
    - 500 distributed administrators

Q: what about risk of using DNS control to filter content?
A: well, why wouldn't you? Eg. use it to block Facebook in a classroom
Q: what about people who set their own DNS
A: Access polities - you can't be on the network unless you use our DNS

Dr. Garfield Gini Newman
Senior Lecturer,
OISE/University of Toronto
Speaking on behalf of Microsoft Canada

Re-imagining the possible
The Critical Thinking Consortium

The goal of education should not be the teaching of content. Content is a necessary tool, to get them to solve problems.
(In Vermillion: they tended to agree - but their standardized assessments are focused on content)
- do we have a powerful pedagogy that allows us to capitalize on the potential of technology
   (refers to 'Shift Happens' presentation)
- there is wide-spread interest in some common core competencies: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, global thinking, multiple literacies (interestingly, most of those could be attached to Thomas Edison - good thinking hasn't changed much over the years)
So: yes, it's an uncertain world, but there are core competencies we want to think about

Crossroads: we will create thoughtless communicators of information, or thoughtful contributors to knowledge construction
    (example: people believing that goldfish have 3 second memories)(example: Paul Henderson of the Montreal Canadiens...)

Most classrooms still dominated by teachers teaching answers and students remembering them
We can change the technology but if we haven't changed the goal we really haven't accomplished anything.

Bloom's revised taxonomy: remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating, creating  (look at Ontarion's achievement chart) (and 'Bloom's digital taxonomy) vs. ...
"I'm going to propose that we should move away from Bloom's taxonomy." (Gamers - 'play the game')
"If school were a video game nobody would play"

Example: bringing in guest speakers (but they are still a talking head at the front of a class)
Question: how do I use an expert to push students thinking and imagining?
Texts: are just being digitized - why can't we examine what roles texts should play.

Using technology to find more (vs. better) information
Using technology to have students share (but not collaborate in problem solving)

What if we made thinking the foundation rather than the pinnacle of learning?
    - putting the power of the digital toolkit and the intellectual toolkit together
    - think to learn, learn to think

Critical Thinking Consortium:
    - create a thinking environment
    - provide opportunities for deep thinking
    - build capacity for thinking
    - provide guidance for thinking

(Criticism of harry Potter - everybody waits around while Hermione comes up with the answer)

Sustained Inquiry approach
(Games: Angry Birds, (4 pictures and a) Word, Candy Crush, Plants vs Zombies)

Sustained attention (summary of talk by Judy Willis):
    - dopamine is the source of intrinsic satisfaction
    - dopamine booster: success at achieving challenges
    - dopamine booster: students need to achieve success at least 20% of the time
They're very smart at how they design a game because they want to draw me in - each level actually starts easier       

So: what if learning flowed from engagement with authentic challenges?

Rather that "proof of learning" we make the task "invitation to learn" and the teacher choreographs the learning experiences
- imagine if that inquiry was sustained over time

Cascading curriculum - begins with question ("how can we best use our understanding of animals to help them live healthy lives")
- enclosure for animal example
(use of 'thoughtbook' to develop how to solve the problem over the course of several lessons)
(let's see the evolution of the child's thinking as they learn more content)
(stephen spielberg's thoughtbook, Rowling's thoughtbook)
Imagine the power to support a thoughtbook for assessment as learning, assessment for learning, triangulation of assessment evidence

(Microsoft advertisement - Bing, Azurem etc)
- act as a curiosity amplifier
- cultivate global mindedness
- provide access to multiple perspectives
- support innovative thinking
- increase student learning through authentic learning

Role of technology in three areas:
- inputs - sources used to engage with the challenge
- organizing / processing
- outputs

- build background knowledge - you can't think in a vacuum
- develop and apply criteria for judgement
- understand critical thinking vocabulary
- use thinking strategies
- develop habits of effective thinkers

Think about a tool like OneNote as a digital thoughtbook
Criteria for aligning the use of technologies for 21st century competencies
    - enhances collaboration
    - rigorous engagement with curriculum
    - increases opportunities for authentic learning
    - supports differentiated learning through various modalities
    - creates greater efficiency in the delivery of the lesson
    - increase oppo. for self-regulation
    - promotes and supports generative thinking
    - allows for a wider range of perspectives to be represented (and back to collabroation again)

Q: are they teaching this in univesrities?
A: not really, a lot of focus still on Bloom; also, what are other uni
Q: content = mcguffin
A: myth that content thinking has to be purely transmissive - thinking & content together
eg. "There are 8 features of Athenian democracy - you get to keep 6. Which 6?"
core curriculum? the problem drives what is core
The basics and critical thinking don't have to be antithetical (we just did a paper on that)

Student panel (Daniel, Kylie, Simon and Karla) from various schools
Introduced by Nathan Siebenga

Hamilton District Christian High School

How are you prepared at your level to use technology?
Daniel - gr 9 - taught mostly the basics of the programs, later getting into more specifics, learning more advanced skills (technology is not just computers, eg. we did a thing on quality of the creek that ran through the school grounds)
Kylie - elementry ("everything was done on paper, we used textbooks"
 - limited to no tech - transition to gr 6 was tremendous - a big step up -  but most students were in the same sitiation
 - we did digital citizenship, how to keep info private, etc.
    - we have a computer lab, but being in the program we have enough tech in the classroom, so we don;t need it
Simon - high school - basics of tech - eg. Business gr 9 - learn spreadsheets etc
    - almost every classroom has a Smart Board, very helpful - you can take classes with more specific tech things
    - we use Edsp (Edspeed?)
Karla - OISE student ready to get a job
    - there wasn't really any prep - we were lucky to go to the computer lab (we went maybe once a month)
    - maybe we'd use computers after class - MSN or maybe presentation
    - it was strongly discouraged in school (went to a rural school)

What resources were taught to you to collaborate in your learning?
Daniel - teachers encourage collaboration, many classes use cloud websites to collaborate on docs
    - EdSpee? communicate with teachers
Kylie - collaboration is becoming really important - work together to come up with the best possible answer or option
    - taught to establish goals, know the difference between groupwork (divide roles) and collaboration (work together)
    - taught to help each other by sharing our opinions, including online discussion during class eg. EdMoDo
    - we are in control of our own learning - sometimes collaboration is the only way to find the right answer
Simon - one of the main things I was taught was using Google Docs - you can see what the rest of the people are doing
    (moderator asked, what others are used: Kylie - EdModo and office 365 - but Google Docs is the main one, it's easy to use)
Karla - elementary school was paper & pencil - online collaboration was not existent at all
    - university - we used Blackboard - OISE uses Cupboard - KooDoo (anon game?),
    - Knowledge (app) (because my professor prefers it - mind map online)
    - we used iPaper for the soccer team - the coach uses Teamer (website)
    (moderator: it sounds like you're using 7 or 8 logins (response: I use the same one))
    (moderator: this is potentially why Simon only uses Google Docs)

The future: what are your visions for the classrooms of the future
Karla - seamless integration of technology - a teacher of mine actually implemented the virtual classroom
    - how many papers kids lose is just ridiculous (experience as a student teacher)
    - when you have one computer in the classroom and you're trying to teach (a tech tool)
        - it will be nice when everybody has their own device
Simon - more tech-based, but not only tech-based -- you still need paper for some things
    - everybody should have their own laptop - but - money issues - but - math, its hard to do without paper
    - want to see more online - teachers can post notes and worksheets online - but this maybe not enough - short video?
    - online texts would be helpful - I have 10 year old textbooks in media class - they're pretty much useless
Kylie - 1:1 technology, we have that in my class already as it is, but that's not the case for everybody
    - internationally talking worldwide and working collaboratively
    - maybe more cloud computing devices that allow access to document and papers through any device
    - people lose paper, but you could login from a different device to get it online
    - common place for notes, instead of multiple binders
    - more hands-on learning, instead of writing notes all the time
     - short video or broadcast to make up for missed class

What do you need from teachers, principles, developers, etc?
Daniel - overall our school does a good job of keeping up - maintenance
    - listen to students' reasonable requests for tech
    - a way to catch up if you lose days - learning it by yourself rather bthan just writing down the notes
Kylie - over all they're there to support us, help us take risks, guide us
    - they need to let students have freedom in the classroom to think a different way (eg different ways of communicating answers)
    - they need to have the will to learn new thinsg along with the kids
Simon - for them to adapt with us
    - change is happening a lot faster now - take suggestions from us
Karla - implementation of LanguageLab - even in an immersion environment they still have language lab
    - but they don't have it in elementary, were they take core French
    - creation of a program like DuoLingo (or Prodigy, or Accelerated Reader)
    - culturally relevant and responsive technology
    - use technology meaningfully, not just because it's there - that requires a teacher to be knowledgable

Moderator summary -  notice the difference between Kylie and Karla - Daniel and Simon are in the middle
    - transition from paper to technology - you see this in front of you
    - students are asking us to be ahead of that change, and to be there with them
    - hear theeir needs and then support them
    - there is the potential that we'll need face-to-face labs in 5 years instead of computer labs
    - Google's going to be the ivory tower

Q&A - moderator - "we used to have to access 'thereness' though a person - now it's just there"

Question - what drives you crazy about how teachers use technology?
Daniel - sometimes you learn the basics in grade school, but the teachers don't use them
Kylie - when we use it too much it's overwhelming in a way - it's crowded in the classroom
Karla - in French lasses, it was strongly discouraged to have laptops, because they want you to use the language - but in psych and biology - everybody had laptops, it was just expected
Simon -

Question: example that stands out as of a teacher that used tech really really well
Kylie - giving us the freedom to use it for mostly every assignment & have the choice
Daniel - chem teacher, he used Google classrooms, so we had access to the assignment everywhere, instead of just at school
Simon - they all do a good job - it would be nice to use it a bit more
Karla - had an OISE teacher - older teacher - forget the stereotypes - she's so quick with email
Moderator: the theme I hear is, it's about the student first, it's about the relationship - it's about control

Question: we hear a lot about tech in the sciences - but is there a difference in the way humanities use it?
Kylie - we don't "have rotary" as much - same room for all subjects - and it's a tech program
- but we go to a different classroom for French - and there we have very little tech (it's a teacher-dependent thing)
Simon - tech used more for researching in humanities - it's still used but it's used differently
Daniel - about the same - we still use tech in humanities but maybe not as much
Karla - like I said before, big difference between French and others - that's why I'd like to see language labs
    - as a second-language speaker I always make mistakes - I don't want my students to learn my mistakes
(moderator: if you're going to have a product to deliver, you need tech - that's where humanities have to engage)
(teachers are sinking - question is - how can I create something in humanities the way you're doing in math?)

Question - Kylie, are you frustrated when you go to the one class with no tech?
Kylie - sometimes, but sometimes because it's a whole different subject you learn it differently

Question - do you have fellow students that struggle with technology?
Daniel - you always have to try your best to get them involved
Kylie - it doesn't really happen in my class, but in some of the other parts of the school they're less exposed to it
Karla - tech may not be a strength for somebody; also need to be aware of students with disabilities

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 5:03 p.m.