Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ITEC 2011: From Mudbogs to Meadows

"Wildflower Meadow on Silver Forest Trail." KW Traveler, 2011
The Iowa Technology Education Connection (ITEC) conference is over; the dust has settled, and once again, there is much to think about. But as opposed to last year, when I compared the collection of information to a mud bog, I feel that this year was a meadow of daisies and wildflowers.

(I realize that this metaphor probably surprises you - and I must admit I'm a bit stunned myself by the overly-sappiness of it as well. Daisies? Wildflowers? Is this really BlamSpot? What's next - puppies, kittens and rainbows?)

Yes, daisies and wildflowers. A bunch of them, all brilliantly colored in the sunlight, swaying deftly in the refreshing breeze, no - and I mean NO - two alike ... and being part of it, if only for a moment, just makes you feel rejuvenated, content, and very happy.  And here lies the theme of this week's posting, because I think we've all been part of conferences that seemed more like drudgery than anything worth while. Here are the BlamSpot highlights from ITEC '11:
Presenter that challenged me most: Punya Mishra presented on the TPACK theory. From his TPACK website: "Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK), builds on Shulman’s idea of PCK, and attempts to capture some of the essential qualities of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching, while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge." While I won't attempt to impart everything that was presented - you'll get a good idea by visiting his TPACK website - it was the rare kind of presentation where you walk in with the attitude of "I don't know anything about this" and emerge with the revelation of "This really makes a lot of sense, and I want to learn more about it." When it comes to theory presentations, that's really saying something. Thank you, Punya, for taking the time to come to Iowa and sharing this with us.
Presenter that had the newest and most exciting information: Once again, Leslie Fisher came in and whirl-winded us through iOS5 apps for Mac products. I caught her act last year, and was wowed by her enthusiasm, her knowledge and her insatiable quest for digital devices and their quirks. This year was no different, especially given the fact that I took the plunge and purchased an iPad 2 right before the conference. Her sense of humor never overshadows the sensibility of the applications or technologies that she is presenting. She vows not to waste any time, and she delivers on that claim. In fact, she had us going to lunch ten minutes late. (I have yet to meet another presenter who can do that without the participants preparing torches and setting the room afire over the fact that they are being kept from sustenance.) My only complaint is that I have a lot of stuff on my iPad that I'm going to have to play with ... damn you, Fisher! (And thanks for coming back to ITEC. See you next year?)

Presenters that made me proud: I'm going to tout the efforts of the UNI Instructional Technology cohort members. These presenters work full-time in education while they pursue their MA, and still had time to prepare for the conference. They were a significant presence at the conference when it came to peer presentations. They included:

Courtesy Lisa Schaa, 2011
Sara Richardson, who had standing room only for her YouTube, internet ethics and educational games sessions. The folks in Fort Dodge, Iowa, are pretty lucky to have this amazing teacher librarian who is not just wicked-smart regarding ed tech, but is generous enough to share her talents and discoveries with those of us who can't be in her school.

Carrie Jacobs, who inspired many in her presentation about instilling cultural awareness in teens (as evidenced by the Tweets that were posted immediately afterward) and is an advocate for those students who are so often forgotten: the alternative high school student. West Des Moines has a real gem with her at the Walnut Creek Campus.

Courtesy Lisa Schaa, 2011
She was also part of the Flat Classroom presentation that included Deb Bruxvoort, Brandi Day, Jami ElliotCathy Olsen, and Lisa Schaa, who we affectionately call "The Beijing Babes" after their trip to China last spring for the Flat Classroom Project conference. Deb and Brandi aren't classroom teachers, but they bring a unique perspective regarding education to those of us who sometimes get too caught up in our own classroom work. Boone HS, West Burlington Elementary, and Stratford Elementary get some amazing energy from Cathy, Jami and Lisa. Thanks for sharing!

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the great organization and execution of another fabulous event by the ITEC board. Let's not try to imagine the number of hours it took to bring all of this together - we'll just agree that it was probably in the neighborhood of a gazillion. The record attendance of the event reflects the quality of the conference, and I'm plenty happy to extol their efforts. A tip of the hat to them.

Did you attend ITEC? If so, who were the presenters that made a difference? Challenged your status quo? Crammed your head full of neat stuff? Made you proud to be a teacher in Iowa? Please, share your thoughts!

And so, for 2011, it's daisies and wildflowers this year instead of mud. Perhaps I'm just that more in tune with instructional technology this year, or maybe I was better prepared to ingest the information - but either way, I'm better off today than I was last week. Thanks again to all who were a part of it.

Module 4: Integrating Digital Technology

How do you integrate technology?

It's a deceptive question. We may think it's easy to answer, but in reality, there are many different levels to "I use [insert technology here] in my classroom." And while we all want to think that we are technology superstars and are integrating technology at the highest level, you may be surprised to know that "the highest level" may be a very simple integration for some tools.

If you're interested in know where you stand on Planet Integrating Digital Technology, check here the Technology Integration Matrixes: one if from the Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida, and the other is from the Arizona K-12 Center.

For this week's Selection And Integration of Instructional Technologies assignment, I have selected five technologies that we have either used in the past or will be integrating new this year. Here is the link to the original Google document for the five technologies that I use in my courses, using the FSU TIM tool. Below is the one example that I use the most, and for which I have the best understanding:

Google SketchUp. I use this application in my Stage Technology courses to both demonstrate 3-D drawings of stock set pieces in our scene shop, and for students to create digital models set pieces, props, and entire sets for their projects - and our productions.

Age Group: students in the 9th-12 grade in both a classroom setting and in the extracurricular venues

Description: Stage Craft/Stage Technology is a course that is dual purposed: a) to teach students the basics of technical theater - safety, set construction, light rigging, sound design, costume and makeup considerations, and all of the planning that goes behind these aspects - and b) to give them the practical hands-on experience of creating what is planned. Usually one set for a play is the big activity. Part of that planning will require some technology - SketchUp is a great entry-level 3-D modeling tool that gives students practical experience with design. Using the 3-D warehouse where models of basic scenic elements can be found, students will design set pieces, props and other scenery for a play of their choosing.

  • Students will perform the basic design operations in the SketchUp program
  • Students will collaborate with other students and designers by contributing to the 3-D Warehouse
  • Students will design and edit a drawing of a set piece, a prop or a set desgin for a play that they choose
  • Students will articulate and defend their choices for their design, and be able to idtentify which element they collaborated with other students/designers
  • Students will cite outside designers/resources used to complet their design.

TIM Cell: “Active - Adaptation”

Explanation: At first, I thought that it would be better suited for the Active Adoption, but as I review how I use the technology in the projects, it’s clear that there are opportunities for collaboration. While SketchUp is not set up for collaboration, it does allow for sharing files and projects to its 3-D Warehouse. Students can give and take as they need. 

Fitting into teaching: While there are few programs that allow for 3-D modeling at what I would consider entry level, SketchUp is about the only one that is available to students for no cost and allows for give and take in terms of completed models. For it to be truly collaborative, an additional tool is need for information exchange/communication (such as Google Chat, Twitter/TweetDeck, etc.). The program allows for student to create sets from scratch, borrow stock set piece drawings, download drawing of objects that can be used as props, and tap into a collective of SketchUp users to answer questions that will assist students when they come to a more complicated task or run into problems.

BAM! (Taking it to the next step): Taking this to “Active - Infusion” would provide for the lack of direct communication that is outlined above. Rather than wait for a more interactive version of SketchUp, taking this to the infusion level would be making available to students access to communication tools that they would select as they see appropriate.

How do you integrate technology? Take a look at the TIM links, and consider how you integrate various technologies. Then, using the language of the TIM, share with the world.