Here’s a great quote about the distraction factor (Source: “Five Myths of Mobile Learning by Abhijit Kadle in the Upside Learning blog):

However, if learners are distracted I’d rather blame the learning activities and content and not the technology or device itself.

BYOD Discussed

Another interesting discussion on the ISTE Ning about students using their own devices in school.

There is good, healthy debate about this topic as I’ve been watching education reform and educational technology discussions over the last year. The “no way” arguments focus on the fact that not every has the tool, that there is no way to control distraction. When I bring up the topic with some schools (teachers, administrators, parents and yes, even students)  who do not encourage/allow device use, they all bring up these arguments. There is certain validity to these concerns.

However, whenever I’ve talked to a school who has moved in the direction of allowing/encouraging mobile devices or laptops, whether it is school provided or BYOD, I hear only good things and positive results. Sure, there are issues, but no issues that can’t be resolved, or that are new.

I don’t think I’ve run across reports of schools/districts who have discontinued allowing mobile devices or laptops because they found them too distracting or not serving the educational goals. One district I know of discontinued a laptop program for budget reasons, and the teachers and students were all very upset.

This school year will be telling, as it seems many many schools are moving to iPads. I will be watching closely for reports of schools/districts who back out of the 1:1 set-up and their reasons why.



Make Learning Real

I found a new book I need to read:  Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn by Cathy Davidson, a professor at Duke University.

The book is discussed in a MindShift post that is truly overwhelming with ideas and challenges. “We’re 15 years into something so paradigm-changing that we have not yet adjusted our institutions of learning, work, social life, and economic life to account for the massive change,” says Davidson.

She has five solid ideas of things that need to happen in order for the education system to move into the 21st century. Personally, I would love to see these happen in the schools my kids attend!

I give an edited version here:

  1. End standardized end-of-grade tests.  Instead, test in challenging ways, using tough game mechanics with real-time feedback on results so kids can learn from the test—not be taught to scam the test!
  2. Make all learning real, relevant, tied to communities, with real application in the kids’ lives outside of the classroom.  Learning should have an impact beyond getting an “A” on  the assignment.
  3. Teach kids to think through, with, about, for–and create–new, interactive digital global communication.
  4. Restore arts, music, shop, P.E., dance: Kids need the soul-stirring learning that lets them move, make, sing, create, dream.
  5. Eliminate the “college prep” and AP distinctions, and stop making college the implicit standard for all education.
From “Five Changes Every School Should Make” by Tina Barseghian.

Mobile Research

I watched a webinar yesterday by Shelley Terrell (@ShellTerrell) about using mobile devices for research. She had great tips and tools, a couple of which I knew about, and a couple of news ones I’m testing out. (The webinar was from SimpleK12, and I expect it’ll be up on their webinar archive soon.)

Some of the ones I’m familiar with include EasyBib, Posterous, Instapaper, DropBox, Wikipedia and Show Me. (These are all available for iOS and Android.)

New ones I’m testing include LinoIt and Newsy. I’ll also test Wikitude on my phone.

Ran across this  quote this morning, and it fits perfectly:

Students are “asked to do research on a desktop computer that absolutely has less processing power than the computer in their pocket.”

From “To Ban or Not to Ban: Schools Weigh Cell Phone Policiesby Audrey Watters on Mindshift.

But they’re Digital Natives!

Do we need to teach students about technology since they are digital natives?

Check out the discussion on

I have to say I agree with the gist of most of the comments, and love this quote:

“Calling students ‘digital natives’ is an excuse for not actually teaching them about technology.”

Just because a child has grown up around these tools doesn’t mean they always know how to use them.

From watching my kids and their friends, it is obvious that kids have very different levels of fluency with technology, just like us “digital immigrants.”

Digital Infographic

Interesting infographic about the state of digital education. While much of this relates more to higher education, the application of the concepts and trends fit K-12 as well:

  • customizable, personalized education
  • blended learning
  • cost
  • “future classrooms” – game based, analytics, mobile
  • online offerings
The fact that so many universities, higher education institutions and other educational organizations offer content for online learning, automatically impacts the K-12 education landscape. No longer are high school students tied to one curriculum: those who need additional challenge can access university courses online. Students of all ages in a rural area can access any courses not available to them locally. 

The State of Digital Education

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

BYO – 2011 Style

The thought of letting kids bring their own technology to school is enough to cause panic in most teachers, parents, technology staff — and even students.

Perhaps by listening to districts where they have these policies in place, we all can learn lessons.

In this blog post, Ken Royal interviews Jeff Crawford, Manager of Networking and Security at East Grand Rapids Public Schools, MI. The East Grand Rapids schools have had a bring your own devices program for many years. He discusses technical details, pitfalls and distinct benefits.

I was most impressed by Jeff’s statement that allowing student to bring their own devices allows students to use the tools that let them learn best. Students are given responsibility to determine the best way to demonstrate their knowledge, and to determine their own tools.  Isn’t that what will develop responsible, capable adults in the long run?