Sunday, July 4, 2010


....and here we go. My first "official" blog - The 2010 ISTE Conference. Why would a conference change my mind about blogging? Was it an awesome breakout session? No. Was it seeing everyone sitting around on their laptops/iPads in the Blogger's Cafe whenever I passed by? Nope, still didn't inspire me. Was it reading all the blog posts about ISTE that have been published and continue to be published? Although I'm loving the reading material, not really....I mean, who cares what I have to say, right? Right? Well, strangely, that now appears to be....wrong. It all started Saturday during the EduBloggerCon when I sent out my first tweet of the day:

"Technology doesn't improve education, it changes it.....TEACHERS improve education #ebc10 #ISTE10"

Now, over 170 Re-tweets later and a couple of features (The #1 Quote of ISTE 2010 & The Best #ISTE10 Tweets where I have 3), I am still receiving feedback from professionals all over! Say what? 140 characters just aren't enough to adequately convey what I was thinking at the time (#1 question) and what context it was done in (#2) SO without further ado, I'll attempt to address the assumptions and inquiries I've received thus far below:

I sent this during a conversation about the misconceptions people have concerning the integration of technologies such as interactive whiteboards into the classroom and just expecting student learning and achievement to automatically improve. If the teacher does not know HOW to use that technology in the best way possible for their students, then it is of little to no use. It’s just a board. Too many times, and for various reasons that are out of our control (no PD position, lack of $$$) new technologies are integrated into a classroom but it's up to the teacher to learn how to use them. Yes, students can help in that process but if the teacher is not able to be trained on best practices, the technologies' full potential is severely handicapped. The whole point of the tweet was that we need to focus on teachers and how they use technology as much as the technology itself and what it can do. What type of technology is not the issue here (I've been informed several times that there are many items that are considered technology that aren't digital in nature), what matters is how it's used.

Hmmm...interesting.....all this writing has raised a new question. Is that how this blogging thing works? Wait, that's not the question I was talking about. I was wondering "Now What?" If teacher-training is an issue (which it always seems to be no matter what your situation) then what are other ways we can deliver the information needed in order to fully utilize technology in the classroom? I think this is the point where I see if I get any comments now? I have several ideas and things I've done, but would love to hear from others out there in the field!

Have at it?


  1. Micheal;

    Congratulations, and welcome to the Edublogoshphere! I too was at Edubloggercon in Denver and it certainly will inspire one to start blogging. I'm horrible at blogging. I've started it several years ago but failed to follow up and continue blogging. Attending something like ISTE will re-energize you and make you want to contribute to your PLN. I know that is one of my top take-aways from ISTE and I am going to try to follow through.

    I agree with you when you talk about interactive whiteboards. If you buy it, they will learn seems to be the mantra of some of the vendors selling them. I think good teaching has to be present as well, then technology will definitely help.

    I also think that teacher motivation to learn and use technology is a big part of technology integration. I see way too many teachers using wonderful Macbooks they received in our school district 2 years ago just as an email reader or just a place to enter their grade, because they have too.

    I'm the type of person who can't wait to get my hands on a new Web 2.0 tool or a new piece of equipment and spend many hours first learning how to use it and then try to figure out how to use it in my classroom.

    I do feel that teacher training is vital but too many times many teachers that I try to teach Technology to are only there because they have to be there and have no intention of using it in their class.

    At ISTE 2010 we saw, met, talked to and were energized by those who are the early adopters of technology in education. Now our task is to try to get other teaches excited as well.

    Great post. All the best.

  2. Because we, as educators, are "prisoners of time", one way we have had some success is to have a paid pd, (yes, we scraped for funding). That way teachers don't resent a pd taking up time that could, (probably should), be used to prepare for instruction.

    Enjoyed, now you have to keep it up.

  3. Mike, congrats, and welcome to the club. The hardest thing about blogging is the getting started. Except for the other hardest thing, which is to keep going. Then there's the other other hardest thing, which is to continually reflect on your teaching so you have something to write about, which is after all the main point of blogging. So now you get to think out loud in front of an audience. :)

    One of the most powerful things about blogging, though, is exactly that. Other people see and hear your thoughts, and through comments can help you refine and shape them.

    To your point: I agree that there has been too much emphasis on the tools and the toys, but several people I've read or talked to recently noticed that the hardware and software wasn't so much at the forefront this year as was the application and the integration. It's more about the why than about the how and what.

    But I think it goes even deeper than teachers understanding the tools and why to use them. I think we need to understand that proper use of technology is dependent on a solid foundation of technique, curriculum, and core values. Without those, the tech doesn't make much of a difference.

  4. Michael,

    I agree that simply putting technology into a classroom isn't enough to improve learning. It is the teacher's job to learn how to use it, at least pedagogically. But most tech PDs emphasize the tool, not the pedagogy.

    I think PD needs to start encouraging the mindset of exploration, lifelong learning, and risk. If we can teach teachers "how to fish [explore new tech]" then limited PD time can be used for conversations about how to use the technology.

    This year I introduced several new technology tools to my students before I had even learned them. I did this purposefully so that I wasn't an expert. I gave them a brief description of what the tool could do, showed them some examples, and then let them play. My "help" was limited to comments like -- what have you tried? what happens when you use that button? it looks like Dashawn figured it out, why don't you ask him for help? My students figured it out, although they were uncomfortable and even suggested using the tool in other classes, which had never happened when I did a more traditional demo/tutoriallesson. In a sense they were able to think pedagogically - they knew what the tool could do and they matched it to specific assignments as an alternate way of meeting the learning goal.

    I think that this might be a more effective way to do tech PD for teachers, with some supervised play with the tool but mostly conversations about how to use the tool to improve learning is the best way to encourage technology integration. If necessary the conversation could continue online asynchronously.

  5. Hi Michael.
    I need to remind you that you were already blogging. Remember Twitter is a microblogging platform. You are clever enough to say in 140 characters what a lot of us need a lot more space to say. So you've decided to go marco. That's great and I wish you luck.

    Now onto interactive whiteboards. I was thrilled last year when I heard 12 classrooms in my school would be getting Promethean boards. Our principal, in all her wisdom, even had the teachers in the building write a mini-grant to be one of the teachers to get one. I thought that was a brilliant idea. We were both shocked when not even 12 teachers would apply. Well, the boards arrived and had to be installed. So some teachers who showed no interest in them at all got one.

    Another teacher and I were trained by our district on the boards and had to redeliver to our staff. I thought that was going to be a battle because we set up Promethean "Parties" for after school with no money for stipends. I thought no one would come, or if they did happen to show up all that they would be thinking about is when could they leave.

    Luckily it turned out much better than I thought it would. My co-presenter and I demonstrated how we use the board in our classrooms. Since neither of us want to be the "sage on the stage" we have are students do the "driving" from the board. Our fellow teachers liked that idea and things progressed nicely from month to month. By the end of the training, teachers were saying they were the best PD sessions they had ever attended - very hands-on and relevant.

    Interactive whiteboards are engaging if the teacher will turn them over to the students to use. If the teacher is the one using the board most of the time than we have just taken a huge step backwards.

    I'm glad I got to meet you at ISTE this year and on ISTE island in SL. Thanks for making us think.

  6. Well Mike, I think that you have started a good discussion here especially with the comments from Gerald and PNaugle. I'd say that's pretty darn good for your first, other than Twitter, blog post. Great Job!