Sunday, April 15, 2012

Kids Today Using 1980s Technology

Interesting video on how today's kids struggle to utilize technology from the 80s.  What will they be telling their kids about technology from 2012???


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Instructional Time

Too often in the land of educational technology we get lost in the tools, their functionality, professional learning, technical features, etc.  What we often fail to discuss with other educators is an essential question:  How does this tool provide more efficient and effective use of instructional time for my students?

At the end of the day, time is invaluable.  We are constantly competing with the social lives' of our students, other initiatives within our buildings that compete for the time and attention of our students.  Time is a commodity.  Anything that can provide a more efficient utilization of our instructional time with students should be highly valued. 

Let's look at a scenario.  A classroom full of students have an assignment requiring them to do research, take notes, and create a media project to share with their peers.  Unless the building already has an established 1:1 initiative in place, or a successful BYOD program (depending on the age of the students), this classroom would be competing for shared resources within the building, i.e. a cart of devices. 

Option 1:  The students check-out laptops that are district resources and proceed to power on the device, wait for it to boot-up, log in to the network, and launch the application (browser, productivity tool, etc.) they are utilizing first.  What is the time to accomplish this above in your environment?  5 minutes?  10 minutes?  You also have to ensure these devices were fully charged when picked up by your students.  Otherwise, students could be scrambling to find a power source to complete their work for that day.  At the end of the period, time must be allowed for the students to save their work, log off / shut down and return the device to its location.  What is the time for these activities?  Another 5 minutes?  So let's assume the class period was 50 minutes.  Right out of the gate you, as the instructor, have lost 10-15 minutes of instructional time.  This is assuming there are no other technical issues requiring you or an expert's troubleshooting.  That is 20%-30% of your entire class period that is lost instructional time. 

Option 2:  The students check-out devices that are district resources that have an instant on.  This could be an iPad, Ultrabook, etc. - any device that allows for the immediate on, with a long battery life - not requiring the lengthy boot-up time and log in process.  Once the students have the devices in their possession they launch the application they are preparing to utilize and begin their work.  What is the time to accomplish this?  1-2 minutes?  At the end of the period, students save their work, power off the device and return it to its location.  What is the time to accomplish these tasks?  2-3 minutes?  Again, assuming the class period is 50 minutes.  You have only lost 3-5 minutes of instructional time, or 6%-10% of your overall time with students for that period. 

Let's look at these scenarios over the life of the project.  Let's make an assumption that to complete the entire project takes 5 class periods.  This includes research time, organization, collaboration, and creation. 

  • 5 class periods = 250 minutes of instructional time
  • With Option 1, students would only have 175 minutes of instructional time.  They will have lost the equivalent of 1.5 class periods.  
  • With Option 2, students would have 225 minutes of instructional time.  They essentially gain back one full class period of work. 
I am not here to advocate a specific device as the 'solution' to an educational environment.  However, I am a firm believer in maximizing instructional time for students.  As our technology vendors continue to provide solutions that have longer battery lives and instant ons - the winners are our students.  Think of what you could do with an 'extra class period' each week as an instructor?