3 practices that support innovation
Don't let the headline mislead you: This story won't tell you how to innovate. Still, being open and willing to take a risk or two can put your school district on the path to something great. And adopting new policies or practices can set you on the road to modeling innovation for your district and others.
What works for one school won't necessarily work for another--success is not one-size-fits-all. But school leaders can follow a few suggestions to spur innovation in their districts.
First, in order to support and encourage innovation, it's important to realize that today's "old" tools were once considered the latest technologies.
For instance, notes an infographic, the emergence of the horn-book, which featured lessons printed on a wooden paddle, was once the most cutting-edge invention. When the pencil arrived on the scene in mass production, it made for a more practical tool than slates and chalk.
Once the computer emerged for personal use, students and educators had access to almost limitless learning potential. From there came handheld graphing calculators, interactive whiteboards, personal response systems, and then tablets.
Second, school leaders must be familiar with current technology trends and also must be able to see what's coming down the pipeline.
"Today" technologies with "tomorrow" potential include:
3D printing is immensely popular right now and is being used in classrooms across the country to engage students in STEM subjects and help them make real-world connections to classroom lessons. What's the future of 3D printing and how might it impact education in the next five years?
Flipped learning, while not a brand-new concept, is another major technology trend and classroom innovation. Students watch lessons or instructor-provided lectures at home and use classroom time to complete "homework," working collaboratively while learning and solving problems.
Learning analytics involves examining student performance and assessment for early performance difficulties. It also lets educators differentiate instruction for students.
Game-based learning immerses students in motivational and challenge-based environments in order to help introduce them to new concepts or help them master lessons. For example, the University of Florida is creating a game to help students experience Colonial Williamsburg.
4 questions every tech leader should answer
As schools continuously work to construct digital learning plans that will help transform teaching and learning, it is essential that school technology leaders are updated with the latest policies and practices that could impact their district's future decisions.
Technology has changed the way students learn, and more importantly, it has changed school and district leaders’ roles. But technology and its capabilities are changing at such a rapid pace that even chief technology officers (CTO) require constant “updates” to solve some of the post pressing questions in schools this year.
To help technology leaders address what it calls the “undiscussables” of technology leadership, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) held a recent forum to come up with four questions every technology leader needs to answer in order to keep up with the rapidly-evolving K-12 school and district climate:
1. How can you move beyond just ‘technology’? “As you retool and move beyond technical skills to become an instructional leader, how do you position yourself to be an equal partner with curriculum, instruction, and assessment colleagues?”
According to CoSN, one of the most dramatic and important ways in which attitudes about technology in K-12 have changed over the years is related to collaboration between technology specialist and curriculum leaders.
“No longer can these two groups continue to work in separate silos,” notes the report. “Today’s mandate is for the technology to support instruction and instructional leaders to pay attention to the technology tools that are available to make teaching and learning more meaningful to students.”
Based on the technology leaders forum CoSN hosted, presenters and participants introduced several ways technology and curriculum could work together.
For example, it’s crucial, notes the report, that technology leaders start with an “educational vision and goals, not the device or the applications,” because teaching and learning needs to drive technology.
Also, technology leaders should make sure not to use “techie talk” that can alienate those who don’t speak it--instead, they should focus on arriving at a common language.
App of the Week: Mission Math
This app is designed to help girls establish an interest in STEM education.
How gaming is reshaping the way museums teach
The success of most video games is measured by how fun they are. Not so the games of New York's American Museum of Natural History.
Here, if a game is too fun, too engaging, it can create problems.
Gaming has slowly become an important part of museum exhibit design, right alongside artifacts, fossils, movies, music and other forms of interaction.
And not surprisingly, the American Museum of Natural History continues to push the envelope on how gaming can be used to engage and educate.
Past exhibits with game-like elements include the museum's poison display, which features challenges that ask patrons to figure out how animals died and a massive tomb placed on a pedestal that animates when the pages are flipped to tell a moving, interactive story.
But the latest games to invade the museum come on the leathery wings of pterosaur, creatures that flew with their fingers and walked on their wings.
The "Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs" exhibit, which opened earlier this month at the museum, features fossils, displays, a movie, life-sized models and two video games.
The crown jewel of the exhibition, though, is Dark Wing.
The fossil rests in a glass case in the subdued lighting of the museum exhibition hall almost lost among the array of pterosaur models--ranging from the diminutive parakeet-sized Nemicolopterus to the massive, plane-sized Quetzalcoatlus, which float in the darkened air and perch among displays.
Dark Wing rests on a smooth slab of what appears to be sandstone; the form of the Late Jurassic species Rhamphorhynchus muensteri is unmistakable among the jumble of delicate bones, needle-like teeth and even the bat-like membrane of the wings. Under special lighting, scientists were even able to track the blood vessels, muscle and fiber of those wings.
This is the first time Dark Wing, discovered in Germany, has left its native country.
Around the corner from Dark Wing visitors find themselves in the massive flight lab of the exhibit. It's here that next-gen graphics and cutting edge game controllers mingle with the more typical displays of the storied 150-year-old museum.
The first game has visitors using their hand and a motion sensor to control a pterosaur in flight.
"This is to teach people about the basics of aerodynamics and the forces of flight, both when a flying creature glides and when it flaps," said Nick Bartzokas, lead engineer with the museum's exhibition media and interactives department.
CENTRAL STANDARD: ON EDUCATION, new web series on PBS Digital Studios YouTube Channel
WTTW Chicago, Scrappers Film Group, and PBS Digital Studios present the groundbreaking digital series CENTRAL STANDARD: ON EDUCATION Premiering on YouTube on April 14, 2014; new episodes in nine-part series to be released weekly CHICAGO – April 14, 2014 – WTTW Chicago, Scrappers Film Group, and PBS Digital Studios have created a new short-form documentary [ Read More ]