Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Why" is More Important Than "What"

Image by o5com

I have had the opportunity to serve on a few committees centered on technology integration in the classroom. Many times, there has been a greater emphasis on tools and services, the "what" of technology, and not as much focus on the reasons behind it, the "why."

The "what" places focus on putting a specific tool in the classroom and making it work while the "why"focuses on the objective and which tools would be best for meeting that objective. "Why" creates a vision and "what" creates a to-do list. It is difficult to get people on board if they do not see a value to what they are being asked to do.

What can help teachers become invested in technology in the classroom? An understanding of why it is important. Teachers, administrators, students, and parents need to be able to see and understand the value of technology in the classroom or else it becomes another fad they have to "get through."The "why" includes why technology can add to their teaching; how it will benefit teachers and students as lifelong learners; why it empowers their students. Focusing on the "what" creates a mindset of always feeling behind because technology can be hard to keep up with. There will always be something newer and shinier and chasing tools can lead to dissatisfaction and missing the bigger picture.

Don't misunderstand me, in discussion of technology integration, there must be discussion about appropriate tools and services because  parents, teachers, students, and administrators need to know what resources are available. But, in my opinion, they need to support a larger vision or it will continue to be an uphill battle.

Author Seth Godin wrote an excellent blog post with excellent starter questions.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Google+ for Higher Ed

Last week Lisa Thumann and Chris Penny presented on Google+ in higher education in a Google hangout as part of Google Education On Air. Although I have a Google+ account, I failed to use it nearly as much as Facebook and Twitter. After listening to this session, my eyes have been opened to more innovative ways that Google+ serves education especially higher education. The new feature that I learned about that I'm really excited about is Google+ pages. Pages allow users to create pages that Google+ users can follow and appears in Google search. Beyond Google+ as a teaching and learning tool, the session also ventured into topics such as digital scholarship, collaboration, academic resources, personalized learning, online learning, accountability, and so much more.

Best practices for Google+ included:

  • Student collaboration through Circles
  • Opportunities for blended learning
  • Development and presentation of projects
  • Opportunities for student advisement
  • Using Google+ as a blog of sorts
  • Professional collaborations
  • Pages for groups, organizations, clubs, classes/courses etc.
  • Bringing in outside experts

Find more ways to use Google+ in higher education here

Here is the video of the session: