Photo above: Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park is just outside the ISTE 2014 venue. Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman spoke about lessons in character at the Extreme Networks booth at ISTE 2014. The Fountain of Rings with computer-controlled lights and 251 jets of water synchronized to music played from speakers in light towers cools off overheated attendees.
Implementing Google Chromebooks in K-12 School Districts
No less than eleven sessions at ISTE 2014 dealt directly with deploying Google Chromebooks in K-12 school districts, and a total of 31 sessions touched on the subject of Chromebooks for education. Any district with qualms about the Google devices certainly had their fears alleviated this week. CIOs describing their Chromebooks deployment experience included Adam Seldow, Chesterfield County Schools 32,000 Chromebooks; John Krull, Oakland Unified School District 10,000 Chromebooks; Bryan Phillips, Hoover City Schools 4,000-8000 Chromebooks; John Keller, Metropolitan School District of Warren Township 5,400 Chromebooks.
During the session, Delivering a Scalable Learning Model with a Chrome Centric Deployment, the CIOs offered tips on planning and implementing Chromebooks. To help with their decision, Chesterfield County Schools produced several research reports, including one entitled, Comparing Mobile Computing Devices in the Context of Teaching and Learning, which compared six types of student devices: laptop, Chromebook, iPad Mini, Windows 8 Tablet, Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire. The report found that, “The Chromebook received high ratings from teachers and students, and worked well within the division’s technology infrastructure.”
Oakland School District’s first step was to implement Google Apps prior to their move to Chromebooks. They had started into a one-to-one program with a variety of devices, and Google Drive became their common denominator. They used Clever software to speed the transfer of information into Google Apps.
Common advice from almost all the CIOs included: (1) Start with the benefits to teaching and learning. Don’t rush into buying the flavor of the week technology for technologies sake, and (2) err on the side of transparency. Provide lots of information as it becomes available to parents, students, and teachers. Chris Thompson, CIO of School District of Elmbrook, had described this in the webinar Implementing Chromebooks for Innovative K-12 Learning and Assessment just before ISTE 2014.
The Ready Or Not, Online Assessments Here We Come session specifically addressed growing concerns of school districts about assessment readiness. The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), eLearn Institute, and Education Networks of America had worked with three school districts to produce a white paper, Raising the BAR: Becoming Assessment Ready. The paper goes into key considerations, a readiness checklist, and case study briefs. For additional information on this subject, see Extreme Networks’ Common Core State Standards Resource Center.
And speaking of Common Core, presenters seemed to be treating that term delicately, like it was a live hand grenade. One could sense near unanimous support for the standards, but also an apparent fatigue at fending off the misconceptions related to them. In sessions, the term was introduced with the preamble, “politics aside”. In Nevada, and other states, they have solved the issue by calling the Common Core State Standards, “Nevada Academic Content Standards”. One Chief Technology Officer has simply turned the issue around by asking parents who challenge the standards to point out which parts of the CCSS they would prefer to have left out. When parents and politicians examine the standards, they have yet to identify any superfluous aspects.
Jason Ohler began his session on future trends and how they effect education, by showing a photo of a person wearing something he called a math hat (shown in figure at right). He asked the audience if they would want their kids to wear such a strange looking piece of apparel. When most of the audience was appalled by the idea, he suggested that if such a hat reliably increased their children’s math scores by 5%, then history has shown that some of them would go as far as to sue their schools if their children were not encouraged or forced to wear the hats.
Ohler then went through the five trends that are changing everything. Trend one is big data. As an example, Ohler referred to a Boeing 737 flying from Seattle to Anchorage in 2012 when an engine went out. Before the plane completed its emergency landing, a group including representatives from GE, Boeing, Alaska Airlines, and the FAA were analyzed 150 TB of data from the plane to understand the cause. Other examples include the fact that a google search for “global warming” returns 62 million hits, 294 billion email messages are sent every day.
Trend two is Immersion/Augmented reality, which Ohler compared to The Matrix. He also showed a video of a person being well-guided around a city by Google Glass after it tells him that the subway is shutdown, artwork that was fully realized only by looking through an iPad, and a virtual remote kissing interface.
Trend three is semantic web (webs 3 and 4), that is web pages that can read, write, focus in on selected pieces of information within web pages. The implication is that machines will be able to read, write, paint, interconnect, and think. Your car senses the tire is losing air, finds the right tire dealer and routes the car to that location.
Trend four, xTreme BYOD includes wearable devices, connected shirts, robots, sensory vests that connect to books, and drones. Trend five is transmedia storytelling, which recognizes that there is today a wide variety of media available on all topics. Rather than create simple word-based stories, in the future books will consist of all the media that can be brought to bear on the topic. That can include audio, video, tactile devices, interactive segments, and media yet-to-be-defined.
Ohler’s hope is that students today will have time to think about these trends rather than simply react to them. His presentation is available on Slideshare.
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