Sunday, April 27, 2014

Are You Leading with Fear? #BYOD

           As the temperature begins to rise, I reminisce back to a warm summer day while sitting on a bench next to the pool watching my five-year-old son climbing the never-ending ladder of the high dive.  As he reached the summit, he casually walked to the edge of the board with a smile on his face. Without a care in the world, he leapt into the water! His confidence and tenacity allowed him to complete this act with faith in his ability.  As he plunged to the surface, several questions formulated in my mind. When does fear creep into our consciousness?  Is it a learned behavior?  Or are we innately born with these trepidations?
           Throughout the world of education, I feel as though many are leading with fear.  There are major concerns regarding social media and the fear of allowing students to use their cell phones for educational purposes.  As an educator and parent, I have come to the realization that, like it or not, social media and mobile learning devices are going to be an integral part of our children’s lives.  Aren’t we supposed to be preparing today’s youth for the real world?  Should we allow our fears and apprehension to hinder the technological education our children need to advance in their field of study?
           Some of the uneasiness in allowing students to bring their own devices to school revolves around cheating, stealing, broken devices, and the inability of some students to bring a device.  In reality, these challenges have always been present within the classroom.  We cannot move forward technologically based upon the “what ifs.”  Instead, we must find solutions to these possible dilemmas and move forward to allow our students the ultimate learning experience.  We must maximize student usage of mobile learning devices to encourage the safe and meaningful use of technology within the classroom setting.  It is up to the school district to set clear and stringent guidelines. Some simple ways to do so includes requiring students to keep the devices flipped over on top of their desks while taking a test.  Also, having a “responsible use policy” in place is a must.  The students and parents should have a clear understanding of what is appropriate use in the classroom.  They should also have a clear understanding of consequences of misuse.  When teachers give students the opportunity to be responsible, the results are inspiring. Teachers modeling proper usage are also beneficial. It is important to understand that “bring your own device” allows the students the opportunity to learn in a way that is most conducive to them.  It allows them to think independently and critically in a manner in which they are most familiar.  We are allowing them to bring the technology they are comfortable with at home into the classroom setting.  It is not a replacement for a 1:1 initiative; instead it provides students with opportunities to enhance their learning while incorporating the necessary technology skills to compete in our rapidly changing world.

Resources to Ease the Fear of BYOD

Cross-post from the Remind101 Blog.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Verizon Mobile Learning Academy

New National Research Indicates Teacher Professional Development Program to Integrate Mobile Technology May Have Positive Impact on Students’ Standardized Math Test Scores

Verizon, the Program’s Creator, and its partner, International Society for Technology in Education, to Launch Verizon Mobile Learning Academy to Train More Teachers Nationwide

NEW CARROLLTON, Md. New national research indicates that training teachers to integrate mobile technology into instruction may have a positive effect on students’ standardized test scores and academic achievement.  The research comes from an evaluation study, conducted by the International Society for Technology in Education, of an innovative and comprehensive teacher professional development program, Verizon Innovative Learning Schools.  A collaboration of the Verizon Foundation and the ISTE, VILS is one of the few training programs of its kind focused on supporting the effective integration of mobile technology in the classroom.

Comprising students and teachers from 24 elementary, middle and high schools across the country, VILS provides individualized, on-site and virtual professional development tailored to address specific areas for improvement at each school as identified by a preliminary needs assessment.
The key findings of the evaluation and research, conducted in January by the ISTE, indicate that, in general, students of VILS teachers showed stronger gains in mathematics than students from comparison schools. While many comparison schools used existing mobile technology, they did not participate in any systematic, schoolwide professional development program focused on using the technology effectively to teach students. Key findings include:
·       Standardized test scores in math of students participating in the program increased by 4.13 percent, while the test scores of students in a control group of schools that are using mobile technology but are not participating in the program (and did not receive teacher training on how to use mobile technology) declined by 4.62 percent. 
·       Teachers in the VILS program reported that 35 percent of their students showed higher scores on classroom assessments; 32 percent showed increased engagement in the classroom; and 62 percent demonstrated increased proficiency with mobile devices.
·       Sixty percent of the teachers also reported that by using their mobile devices, they were providing more one-on-one help to individual students, and 47 percent said they are spending less time on lectures to the entire class.     

  A New Online, Mobile Technology Training Course for Teachers Nationwide

Due to these promising initial results, the Verizon Foundation and ISTE are launching an online teacher professional development program called the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy to enable teams of teachers across the country to participate in mobile technology training through free, moderated virtual courses that will earn participants Continuing Education Units. The program aims to train 1,000 teachers over the next year, beginning this fall.
          Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon's vice president of global corporate citizenship and president of the Verizon Foundation, said: “Verizon’s corporate social responsibility efforts seek to use our resources to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems in underserved communities. We are encouraged that our VILS schools are demonstrating meaningful benefits from these efforts.
           “Students at these schools are now more adept in using mobile technology to access useful learning resources, and significant portions of students have exhibited an increased ability to solve problems. Our new online initiative will extend the benefit of VILS professional development to educators across the country and help them turn mobile devices into educational tools.”
          The rigorous, multimethod, longitudinal VILS evaluation measured student performance and program impact through teacher and student surveys, classroom observations, and pre- and post- standardized math and science test scores for participating schools and comparison schools. Six of the 24 VILS schools were included in the evaluation study: Assabet Vocational High School (Marlborough, Mass.); Charles Carroll Middle School (New Carrollton, Md.); Hartford Middle School (Canton, Ohio); Lewisville High School (Dallas, Texas); Long Branch Middle School (Long Branch, N.J.); and Niemes Elementary School (Cerritos, Calif.). Six schools, each of them near a school in the VILS program, were in the control group. Soon, ISTE will conduct an analysis of 12 schools in the VILS program and comparison sites, strengthening its ability to make conclusions about the program.
            Dr. Wendy Drexler, ISTE director of innovation, said: “The VILS program demonstrates the important principle that mobile learning initiatives in schools require leadership to be effective. School administrators, tech coaches and teacher leaders have been engaged and supportive of the VILS program, and this has led to the success of the professional development implemented in these schools. The Verizon Mobile Learning Academy will provide support for school and district leaders as they prepare mobile learning initiatives to help ensure that their efforts will be successful.”
More information and pre-registration for the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy can be found at, and more information about the findings of the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools evaluation study are available here

Saturday, April 19, 2014

30+ BYOD and BYOT Resources

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"M" Stands for Memorable #mlearning

Cross-post from Remind101 Blog

            When you think back to your childhood education, what do you remember?  I guarantee that your fondest memory was not the grammar worksheets, writing your spelling words five times each, or what seemed to be the endless paper pencil assignments.  The times that most people remember are the hands-on activities, the field trips, and projects that allowed them to collaborate with their peers and classmates.    
            As an educator, I want my students to have many positive memories.  Seven years ago I introduced PDAs, Personal Digital Assistant, to my students.  Yes, I said PDAs.  Unfortunately, the same year, the company that made them decided to stop manufacturing them.  This is when my school district decided to go in the direction of using smartphones in the classroom.  Something unexpected happened when each one of my students had their own smartphone.   The students that usually said very little in class were now the students who couldn’t wait to be called upon.  It did not stop there.  They were not just raising their hand; they were asking to go up to the front of the room to share with their classmates.   The students began collaborating with each other.  That year we allowed the students to extend their learning outside of the classroom by taking their devices home.  They were actually excited about doing homework, and they were doing more of it.  Many were concerned that allowing the devices to travel back and forth to school with the students would result in broken or lost MLD’s.  In the end, their concerns were put to rest when not one device was misplaced or damaged in any way.  The students took pride in the interactive learning that was taking place as a result of these devices.  They were more than excited to share this learning beyond the school setting.  Students took special care of their devices, and in turn learned not only academic content, but also responsibility and maturity. 
           This brings me to the question, “Why such a change in student performance and interest in learning?”  The reason for this was that the students were given the opportunity to learn in a similar format as they do at home.  I realized that outside of the school setting, many of my students had some type of digital device, if not many, at their fingertips.  The activities that we were doing in school were all hands-on.  I specifically remember an activity that we doing on a Friday afternoon.  We called it “write, pair, share.” The students started by typing a story on their mobile learning device.  Then the students “beamed” their story to their partner who was responsible for completing the remainder of the story.    The students were so engaged in their learning that the bell rang to end the school week, and not one student stood up to leave.  They were so enamored by the lesson that they wanted to continue their learning right then and there. 
            We took our learning beyond the classroom setting and students were encouraged to look at the many educational opportunities that surround them on a daily basis.  Students were able to take their learning to another level during class field trips. They worked collaboratively to take pictures and journal about their experiences.  Through the implementation of these devices, we as educators were reminded of a very important lesson. When learning is memorable, students take ownership of their learning.  Their education now meant more to them because they now had an invested interest in what they were learning and more importantly…how they were learning!