Techconnects

Celebrating Connections – Ed Tech In Schools

January 27, 2010
by ncara
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Schools Connect – Catholic Schools

At our schools we encourage the use of innovative practices with technology.  We seek to foster a 21st Century environment where our students can learn and grow in support of our Catholic Schools mission.  We have 200 schools and at each one this is practiced in different ways.

One of the most powerful things that technology does for us today is connect us quickly and easily to people around the world. Whether through email, skype or the millions of text messages that are sent every minute, people are connecting, sharing and bridging distances both physical and metaphorical.

When we see results of studies such as this one from the Kaiser Family Foundation, we know that these connections will continue to expand. The challenge we face in education is to use these tools to make a meaningful and positive difference in the classroom – enhancing learning.

Believe it or not, Skype  gave away 12.9 billion dollars in free International Calls</a>. Why not use this excellent resource it’s best benefit in education?

I enjoy reading Clarence Fisher’s blog and one thing he seems to do so effortlessly is to make  global connections

Skype is a powerful way to connect. There are many excellent Skype projects such as the Skype in Schools and Around the World projects that have inspired schools to connect online. These are amazing projects that have connected so many.
With Catholic Schools week approaching, it would be nice to have some of our schools connect with each other online via skype. There are many commonalities and differences among our schools. Let us connect and learn from each other. I created a wiki for this purpose. On this page we will continue to add resources. Please enter your schools information into this wiki and connect!

January 5, 2010
by ncara
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Technology That Makes a Difference

Today on a visit to St. Hubert’s School in Philadelphia, I observed a teacher and his Physics class in a very engaging lesson. As the teacher explained the concepts, students were following along, contributing and collaborating.  The teacher and the students were using an interactive whiteboard to create, and to conceptualize their learning. Along the way, they were discussing the whiteboard technology and trying out some features.

The teacher, Wayne Flood said “This is technology that makes a difference”. With this, the teacher has the tools he or she needs. The students can interact well with the content and ‘it all comes together.”

Wayne had recently requested a interactive whiteboard for his classroom because he feels empowered by the environment that can result when this particular technology is used well. What I was quite surprised to find out was that this was the first day that he had a wall mounted smartboard in his classroom.  It had just been installed the day before. Prior to that, he had to wheel one in our just project onto a plain whiteboard. He quickly used it in the best way to his student’s advantage.

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Here they had created, analyzed, collaborated and even saved work for future use. Clearly, these students and the teacher were connecting to the learning in powerful ways.
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Another favorite tool this teacher highly recommended was the Smartview Emulator TI-84  software for demonstrating use of the calculator. This visual display has made all the difference in the way his students use and learn the calculator.

Interactive Teaching What was easy to see though is that it wasn’t the interactive whiteboard itself that made this lesson so successful, it was the inspired way the teacher and students were using it. It was the dedication of the teacher and the school to creating a 21st century classroom environment.

We know that just having a technology equipment is not what makes technology work. In many recent discussions found here and in the twitter edchat and in this report educators are discussing and sometimes disputing the value of interactive whiteboards mainly because meaningful use doesn’t happen magically just because the equipment is purchased. It takes much more than that.

Effective and meaningful of the interactive whiteboard (and in fact any technology) requires:

  • Quality Professional Development
  • School Commitment to Ongoing Upgrades and Tech Support
  • Ongoing Teacher Commitment to Learning and Innovation
  • Meaningful Student applications and assessment
  • For more detailed indicators, visit the NETS Standards

I feel that the results are well worth the effort!

In summary, the Interactive whiteboard can make the classroom an engaging and empowered place when coupled with dedicated educators.

Resources

There are many excellent resources for learning Interactive Whiteboard lessons and tutorials.

  1. There is even an active ning called Smartboard Revolution for discussing best uses. Find a mentor or peer who is using the smartboard well either online or in your own school.
  2. Many lessons and tutorials are found on my saved Smartboard links on Delicious are found here.
  3. There are online tutorials for all brands. Video tutorials for the SMART model are found here and here.

Do you have interactive whiteboards? What do you think the most successful ingredient is in using technology well?

As all educators work to bring the best to our students everyday, I wish to celebrate and offer kudos to this school for bringing a relevant 21st century environment into it’s classrooms.