3 things edtech can’t do

We’re swimming in a world of technologies that have huge implications for the future of schooling. Computers live in teachers and students’ pockets, the Internet makes information and media ubiquitous commodities, apps offer to aid with all our daily routines, and artificial intelligence unlocks new possibilities for differentiated instruction.

Yet even with these technologies flooding into schools and classrooms, computers won’t be replacing teachers any time soon, and that’s why now, more than ever, teachers should be given the critical support they’re asking for in the classroom. To illustrate this point, consider these three things educational technology can’t do.

1. Technology can’t … provide higher-order feedback

Software is great for generating immediate, automated feedback on students’ mastery of basic knowledge and skills. But higher-order feedback falls outside its purview.…Read More

Transform your staff lounge to support teacher wellbeing

[Editor’s Note: This article was first published on the Move This World blog.]

According to a study done by the University of Missouri, 93% of teachers are experiencing high levels of work-related stress. Mindfulness has already been proven to boost the emotional climate of the classroom by supporting teacher wellbeing; however, many schools still struggle with incorporating mindful practices for staff into school culture. What can schools do to begin prioritizing mindfulness as a daily routine for staff? Peace corners could be a place to start.

Related: 8 ways I practiced mindfulness this year…Read More

5 things you don’t know about K-12 virtual learning

Online learning has come a long way since its early champions saw it as a supplement to classroom learning. Skeptics initially questioned the viability of the new model, wondering if it would provide the right levels of support, curriculum, and engagement needed to ensure student success. And while online learning has more than proven itself to be both an alternative to and complementary offering for traditional classroom instruction, some misconceptions still persist.

For example, because virtual instructors aren’t physically present in a classroom, their qualifications and expertise can come into question. The subject matter itself—often thought of as “boring” or “unengaging”—is another area where myths persist. And finally, online skeptics are still talking about issues like lack of teacher support and low student success rates.

Dispelling the myths about virtual learning

To help dispel these myths and provide some insider knowledge on how online education really works, here’s a five-point list of things that you may not have known about virtual learning.…Read More

How to cut your bus disciplinary referrals by 67 percent

Several years ago, my school adopted a Positive Behavior Support Program (PBSIS) program. Solutions to persistent problems pointed school climate in the right direction, reduced disciplinary referrals, and tackled bullying incidents (suspensions decreased by four times, and bullying incidents by three times).

PBSIS and programs like it are replicable, if school communities and their leaders are patient and sustained in adoption. Resources are available for free. Part of implementing such a program includes a schoolwide identification of problem areas in the school. This should be done through data analysis (run a report of how frequently incidents happen in various locations) and from voting by staff and students. (We use Google Forms to determine school community perceptions.)

Survey says…
When we surveyed our school community and compared this to our own data, four problem areas emerged:…Read More

Tech directors: Here’s how to truly support multi-screen classrooms

Today, education is far more flexible and collaborative than a generation ago, and technology is key in enabling teachers to quickly adapt lesson plans to suit the moment’s activity. Having multiple screens that a teacher or student can wirelessly project to, along with the ability to switch between sources in seconds, means that teachers aren’t tied to the front of the classroom any more. They are free to roam around to small groups, to see what students are working on simultaneously, and to call attention to particularly high-quality work or ideas that challenge and stimulate.

But all that technology does students little good if it can’t function properly because your school’s IT infrastructure isn’t up to the job. At Central Coast Grammar School in Australia, when Director of Teaching and Learning Damon Cooper pushed for more flexible and collaborative classrooms, we knew we would have to redefine our infrastructure.

Prototyping a vision with spare parts
For more than a year, Cooper piloted his vision of multi-screen classrooms by piecing together whatever spare parts we had on hand. If I retired a screen from another part of the school or had a spare from a bulk purchase, he wanted it. Over that period, Cooper worked closely with me to prototype his vision. That work functioned as a proof of concept and fit nicely with our strategic plan, which called for an increased focus on digital literacy, greater collaboration, and developing students who can produce and publish digital work.…Read More

Teacher training does wonders for students’ emotional regulation

When teachers participated in a training program focused on pro-social classroom behavior, their students became more socially competent and better able to regulate their emotions than students in classrooms without trained teachers, according to new research from the University of Missouri (MU).

Past research shows that students who are able to regulate their emotions are more likely to be academically successful.

Wendy Reinke and Keith Herman, professors in MU’s College of Education, studied more than 100 teachers and 1,817 students from kindergarten to third grade to see if teachers could support students’ emotional and behavioral growth through the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Program.…Read More

6 tools to support school safety efforts

As teachers and students return to school across the country, thoughts range from nervous excitement to worries about how to keep school buildings–and the people in them–secure.

Last year’s school shooting in Parkland, FL sparked a massive movement, including student lie-ins and protests, focused on gun control and the irrefutable point that students should not have to worry about injuries or death when walking in school hallways or sitting in classrooms.

As students at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School pointed out, they aren’t the site of the first school shooting, and unfortunately, they didn’t expect to be the last. In fact, shortly after the Parkland shooting, another school shooting occurred in St. Mary’s County, MD. And earlier this month, a male high school student in Oklahoma stabbed a female classmate, allegedly because she declined to go out on a date with him despite his repeated efforts.…Read More

Mapping the Universe of Edtech That Connects

I’m excited to share a tool that my colleagues and I have been working on for the past few years: a market map of what we’re calling Edtech that Connects. We’ve captured a wide range of edtech tools that are bringing new relationships within reach for students. The tool lives—and will be regularly updated—at whoyouknow.org.

When I first joined the Christensen Institute over five years ago we were knee-deep in studying the fast-growing market of tools designed to support blended learning environments. Many consisted of adaptive learning content tools that could support students at different levels in a manner that traditional textbook and lecture-style teaching struggles to do. At the same time, cloud-based productivity tools to help schools organize their staff and streamline their data collection processes were becoming more and more mainstream.

But I had a lurking suspicion that something was missing from that booming edtech market. Beyond our education systems, communications technologies have advanced in ways that radically improved our ability to connect across time and space. Why weren’t there more edtech tools designed to connect students—to new people, supports, and opportunities?…Read More

How wearables, AR, and VR help students to develop SEL skills (part 2)

In my previous post, “How wearables, AR, and VR help students develop SEL skills (part 1),” I explored the ways in which wearables, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) show promise in helping to cultivate social-emotional skills. All three technologies have been greeted with excitement by both the consumer market and many education stakeholders. While these technologies have great potential to support learning in new and novel ways, it is not a given that they will live up to the anticipation surrounding them. As expectations continue to build, educators can begin thinking through the various ways that they might be employed most effectively for learning.

KnowledgeWorks’ strategic foresight publication, Leveraging Digital Depth for Responsive Learning Environments: Future Prospects for Wearables, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality, explores how wearables, AR, and VR might be used to create responsive learning environments that can help with the cultivation of social-emotional skills. The publication proposes that educators think about possible uses of wearables, AR, and VR by first considering the types of environments these technologies can create and how they might support student learning. To help educators think about possibilities for these technologies in learning the paper presents a framework called the digital depth spectrum which consists of three kinds of spaces:

  • Enhanced physical spaces alter the physical world by applying a thin layer digital information capture, sharing, and feedback.
  • Hybrid spaces use multiple digital layers and more extensive computer-generated content, connectivity, and experiences to enable experiences that have a higher degree of digital immersion but which are still anchored in physical space.
  • Fully digital spaces provide full immersion in digitally created environments with little reference to physical space.
…Read More