ITSC ’11 Mid-Day Two

Day Two at ITSC ’11 began for me in Jeff Utecht’s session “Building Student Centered Blended Learning Environments”. For a summary, I can’t do any better than Ron Neufeld does above.

Jeff’s done this presentation before, and it shows – he’s a master presenter. I’ve been fortunate to present on the same topic a few times and my future presentations will be better from joining Jeff’s workshop today.

The session was absolutely crammed full of great ideas. Here are just a few ideas I’m chewing on through lunch:

1. “In-class Backchanneling means students never leave class with a misconception.” Providing a chat room during class allows students to ask questions and work through ideas quietly but publicly during classtime. The teacher can use the last minutes of class to answer the questions and lead important discussions that obliterate misconceptions before they are embedded in students’ minds. It’s too long to wait until the next class meeting.

In Jeff’s session, we used a free chat room, but this can also be done using Twitter with a hashtag (#) or with a chatroom alongside a Google Doc. Many other options for this as well.

2. “Forget about Digital Natives, kids in school today are either Web Natives or Mobile Natives, many of whom will never own a mouse or a desktop computer.” How different is the experience of the world for our students than it was for us at their age (or it is for us now)? The kids that enter our rooms have never known a time when they couldn’t access information they want. Why are we standing in the way of letting them? Why not leverage their online skills to have them learn meaningful content?

3. “We need to be comfortable being perpetual beginners: learning now occurs within shifting network environments not entirely under the control of the individual.” The rate of change today is faster than we can imagine and it’s impossible to keep up – as soon as educators are good at one thing, the environment for learning has changed. Learners today are networked full-time, but the technology and social nature of networks means their environments are changing all the time. We need to learn to adapt. As the Zen Master said hundreds of years ago, keeping a “Beginner’s Mind” is essential.

4. “Where’s your school in the continuum of technology integration?”

  • Substitution: the computer substitutes for another technological tool, without a significant change in the tool’s function.
  • Augmentation: the computer replaces another technological tool, with significant functionality increase.
  • Modification: the computer allows for the redesign of significant portions of a task to be executed.
  • Redefinition: the computer allows for the creation of new tasks, inconceivable without the computer.

How many of us can say our technology is really redefining our schools?

As you can see, Jeff gave us plenty to think about. I hope you’ll share your ideas by commenting. Thanks for reading.

The notes from Jeff’s Blended Learning session are in a Google Doc here.

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