Tag Archive for ning

Glad we skipped Ning

Ning’s Bubble Bursts: No More Free Networks, Cuts 40% Of Staff
(via TechCrunch)

Never mind the toys

Oh, how many toys exist to consider.

Kindle! Nook! Reader!
iPhone! Droid! Nexus!
Ning! Twitter! Facebook!
Netbook! Apple tablet! XO tablet!
Smart Board! Active Board! Wiimote!
Google Apps! Chrome!

Education technology blogs appear obsessed with tracking the latest gadgets. Certainly, new product announcements provide a rich source of content for writers. It is easier to reflect on the latest company news and speculate on its effect on education than to consider the core question of education. How does one design rich learning opportunities that will make the greatest difference for students?

Face it: most of the devices above won’t make a bit of difference to teaching and learning. Let’s stop talking about the devices and start talking about students, teachers, and learning environments. I think Warlick has got it right. So does Larry Cuban. Tom Frizelle, too.

Some of our teachers have also got it right. Suspicious about education technology, they tend to shy away from trainings and conversations about computers in the classroom. It’s too bad, because ed tech professionals deserve our reputation for relentless optimism about new technologies. It’s up to us to sing a new tune: all about teaching and learning, all the time.

Let’s promote with our teachers only the technologies that show real promise and stick with them for at least a period of years. Focus on how a technology integrates with an existing, well-designed learning unit or activity. A little skepticism about new technologies may also help demonstrate our ability to think critically.

Forget the new toys. Let’s think deeply about our students, curriculum, and pedagogy.

Presenting to Principals

Today, I presented a talk on social networks to a group of principals and other school leaders taking a course on technology at Lewis and Clark College. I organized my preparation around the facets of social network sites that I thought principals would find most relevant: impact on teaching and learning, teacher professional development, and internet safety. The group had lots of questions that demonstrated a strong grasp of the challenges facing schools and how social network sites might fit into that.

It’s important to fully appreciate the challenge facing anyone who wants to change a school, never mind fully integrate technology. Wanting to fundamentally change the model for schooling is a prerequisite to mastering an entirely set of new technology competencies. As long as one is not willing to reduce the amount of content coverage, as long as technology activities are relegated to the category of optional enrichment, as long as a teacher has to run the classroom, then the effort is not worth it.

The class students are learning about online professional development practices first-hand, each maintaining a blog for the class. In addition, I directed them to Classroom 2.0, the Global Education Collaborative, and the Synapse as a starting point. I hope they’ll keep blogging after the class has finished, so I may follow their work. I demonstrated how to begin to build a personal learning network and related anecdotes of the value of our peers’ online posts to building one’s own knowledge.

To learn what students are doing online, I directed the principals to the MacArthur Foundation series of reports on kids’ online lives, stressing the importance of consuming many reports to gain a multifaceted perspective. Talking to teachers and students about what they do online and what value it has for them is also essential for school administrators.