Daily Archives: February 4, 2010

eTech Ohio 2010: Tuesday Morning Panel

Some notes from the Tuesday morning panel, featuring John Merrow, Gail Matthews-DeNatale, Dennis Harper, and Lalitha Vasudevan. The speakers had some interesting comments about education in general. I may add some of my own thoughts later….

Lecture halls are becoming data-driven environments that are changing students before our very eyes… Is this true?

 Matthews: we are inundated with data. Classrooms aren’t changing as fast as the world around us. All of us are creating lots of data? Are we taking enough time to step back and look at what we are producing?

 Harper: data should not be driving education, students should. If a teacher says a student learned something, why do we need to give him/her a test, made by somebody who doesn’t know that student.

Vasudevan: there are also daily data, teacher observations. So the question is: what do we consider to be data?

Matthews: what do we consider to be data? And who is looking at the evidence? The teacher? The student? What evidence are we asking students to provide? Who gets to look at it and decide?

Harper: Every change in history has been brought by youth: Civil Rights movement, Women’s Rights. Youth have to be the agents of change. Schools make up 93% = youth. We need to utilize that (i.e. use their expertise). You don’t put kids entirely in charge; teacher like a coach.

Matthews: Adult role: mentor. We need to teach kids technology/media literacy just like we teach them how to read and write.

Harper: We complain that students do trite stuff on the web. But we don’t teach them how to use the web well (read and write), because it’s not on the test…

Vasudevan: We need to change the way we look at adolescents and their behaviors. Maybe we don’t trust them enough. What we consider to be off-task may not be (example of PSP use as extra hard drive for video editing project).

Matthews: We need to express more of an interest in what kids do with technology, which may not be the same as what adults do with it. So how do teachers get to this kind of trust? Relationships.

Vasudevan: Curriculum often stifles relationships (it’s too scripted).

Harper: Today, technology is doing things to kids: keeping them off the web, testing, drill and practice. Students should be doing things with technology if we want to foster creativity and innovation.

Empower communities by empowering youth (health, nutrition, even before they get to school). Does that mean adults have to give up power?

Matthews: Students already have it, adults need to know when to get out of the way. Example of teachers letting students use mobile phones to video record science experiments.

Vasudevan: Most of the spaces that students can use though are outside of school. Pedagogy of collegiality, where kids have a say in the decision-making process.

So can schools change enough to give up control? What has to change?

Matthews: Importance of communities. Building relationships between schools and communities.

Issue of testing: we test kids to rate schools, property values….. we test too much, with bad tests. Companies spend more money on tests for products than education is spending on testing kids.

What do we create in schools to make things better? Meaningful, relevant curriculum, teacher/student assessment (no one else). No more high stakes tests.

Image Credit: eTech Ohio: http://www.etech.ohio.gov/images/conference/2010/2010_ohio_etc_logo

eTech Ohio 2010: Mobile Technology Sessions


I attended a variety of mobile learning sessions during the two days I spent at eTech Ohio, including: 

What you Should be Uusing: A Look at Innovative, Collaborative, and Interactive web 2.0 Tools
Date/Time: Monday, February 01, 2010 > 10:45 AM – 11:30 AM

Presenters:  McCorkle, Sarah – Ohio Dominican University
  Weaver, Mark – Ohio Dominican University

See also the WYSBU site

Using Mobile Computing Devices and Cellphones in Education
Date/Time: Monday, February 01, 2010 > 03:45 PM – 04:30 PM

Presenters:  Collins, Ryan – Kenton City SD (Hardin)
  Dean, John – Kenton City Schools
  Abbott, Rick – Kenton City Schools

(see also this website)

Got IPod?
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 02, 2010 > 08:00 AM – 08:45 AM

Presenters:  Collopy, Renea – Liberty Union High School (Liberty Union-Thurston Local S)

Stepping into the Future With Mobile Learning Devices
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 02, 2010 > 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM

Presenters:  Menchhofer, Kyle – St Marys City SD (Auglaize)


Instead of providing details for each, I’d like to offer some general impressions here (the last session listed here was basically a repeat of the one on Monday, which I blogged about in detail. While most of these sessions looked quite interesting on the surface, I was somewhat disappointed in what I saw. Most sessions were of the here-are-ten-cool-mobile-tools variety. While it is important that educators are exposed to mobile technologies, what we really need much more of is demonstrating the power of these tools within an educational context, i.e. demonstrating how with good curriculum and learning activities, wireless mobile devices can be very powerful learning tools. As much as I support the use of technology for learning, it should never become the focus of it. Unfortunately, audience questions for the most part followed the session content, i.e. most of the questions I heard were about logistics such as charging devices and blocking inappropriate content, not about how they can be effectively utilized for purposes of learning.

I came to this realization during our own presentation on the use of mobile phones and QR codes, when somebody asked us how the use of these mobile tools at the NECC SIGML Forum in Washington DC (bottom of page) went above and beyond just using traditional media (see also this video, and this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education).

The importance of a focus on curriculum and learning as opposed to the digital tools used becomes even more important when considering the two opposing views related to the use of mobile phones in schools, as described in the MSNBC story Some Schools Rethink Bans on Cell Phones, or THE Journal’s Mobile Devices: Facing Challenges and Opportunities for Learning. We will never be able to implement the use of mobile phones for learning if we don’t focus on creating a curriculum (including assessment) and environment for learning that makes appropriate use of wireless mobile devices relevant, meaningful, ethical, and safe.

Image Credit: eTech Ohio: http://www.etech.ohio.gov/images/conference/2010/2010_ohio_etc_logo