What If? Let's Reimagine Learning. Technology Can Help. | Kerry Gallagher | [email protected]



what if it's a question I started asking myself as I was designing my students learning experiences what if they could talk to an expert from across an ocean what if they could design and create the same things the professionals were making what if when the bell rang they were actually disappointed that class was over what if let's reimagine learning technology can help it isn't this use of technology that's going to help us reimagine learning sitting and typing these students might as well be alone at home not together in the classroom and it isn't that the solitude of writing isn't valuable it's incredibly valuable it just isn't where the passion for learning comes from this is where the passion comes from it comes from a sweltering classroom filled with smiling teenagers who waited for one another to pose for a question even though they'd just finished taking a two-hour final exam they're making C's with their hands because they're c-block by the way they have this passion for learning because they built a community of learning together they read they analyzed they collaborated they designed they shared and published and they actually learned a little history along the way too they did all this because of Technology skeptical that technology can make that much of a difference you see these are my learners and all of you here today whether you're here because your student or a parent or a teacher or a professional you're a learner too and just like my hope for them this is my hope for you I don't just want you to learn I want you to want to learn there is a big difference and technology can make that difference you see in 2009 I joined a cohort of teachers and our purpose was to study the latest instructional practices and the difference that technology was about to make an education I was critical that technology was going to make that much of a difference we had to post reflections to a blog weekly as part of the cohort and my first blog post titles are reflective of my skepticism is cheating bad anymore my students could look up anything they wanted instantly using the little phone in their pocket if they could do that why were my colleagues and I toiling to create and correct quizzes that assess their ability to memorize those facts it felt outdated connected but not making connections they were connected to their phones and they were connected to the games on their phones and they were connected to social media but were they making meaningful connections face to face with one another I wasn't really sure teacher versus technology now if you know me well you know that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever said out loud but I felt like I was competing for my students attention and even though I was a young teacher I was starting to feel like a dinosaur because I didn't understand the flashy games or silly videos that were pulling them away from me we had to find a better way in my classroom and that really was the key we we had to find a better way I said to my students let's not think of technology as something that's going to pull you away from learning let's think of it as something that's going to bring us together you see we were gonna take a risk not every time we use technology would be a success sometimes it would fail but once they knew that they were going to be making the decisions about how they were going to learn they bought in right away we did set up some ground rules first we agreed that tech when we use technology it couldn't just be about the bells and whistles it had to truly enhance our learning that we agreed that when we got distracted because it was going to happen that we would take note of what distracted us and what we should have been doing when that happened so we could prevent it in the future and third we agreed that we wouldn't ask how can I use technology instead we would ask what does technology make possible what if here's some of the things that we discovered quizzes so if you're sitting here today and you went to school at all you've taken a quiz and if you're a teacher which I know many of you are then you've given quizzes and trust me for those of you who aren't teachers no matter which side of the quiz you're on they're no fun typically quizzes signify the end of learning but what if they didn't what if quizzes looked like this you see it takes the teacher the same exact amount of time to create a quiz on a digital platform like this as it does for them to type it up in a Word document and I actually save time because I didn't have to stand at a copy machine waiting for it to spit out 125 pieces of paper and then stand before a roomful of students to distribute and then collect those papers I also save time because Digital quizzes are self-correcting so instantly I knew how my students were doing of course I chose to show you one where they did very well the Green is correct and the red is incorrect but technology isn't just about efficiency remember I said it had to enhance our learning so this is where that happened not only did I know instantly how they did my students know instantly how they did that means that quizzes weren't the end of learning in many cases they ignited their learning because if they hadn't mastered something they wanted to dig back in and learn more when students experience this type of assessment regularly together in the classroom they say things like this like this when I enter answers even if I'm not 100 percent right at the end I get to see everyone's answers and anonymously and check the trends it helps to see that I'm not the only one making a mistake quizzes with technology can actually build a classroom community and give the learner confidence to try again that's what technology makes possible let's talk about group work so we've all done it let me paint a picture and let me know if it's familiar you sitting around a table with three or four other people talking about a topic inevitably you divide up the work and everybody agrees to go their own way and do their thing and then come back together but there's always that one person who goes off and does the whole project on their own anyway and everybody else in the group resents that person because they think that means that person believes they weren't competent to do their apart and that person resents the group because he or she believes that they didn't pull their weight group work doesn't have to create this kind of tension there's a different way what if group work looked like this this isn't group work this is collaboration in collaboration every person in the group is using their strengths for the benefit of everybody and everyone is engaged with one another working toward a goal the whole time notice these students are each using technology in a very different way but they're all clearly contributing to the goal of the group they're all fully engaged these students are so engaged they can't even sit down and if you knew these boys you know that's pretty typical they're researching information and simultaneously taking notes collaboratively on a digital platform you see when I talk with parents and teachers about technology I often hear them get bogged down in a discussion about how technology is distracting our children and how it's preventing socialization as a matter of fact in an article from a leading news source recently one mother describes the impact of mobile devices on her teenagers by saying that they're over stimulating and numbing but this doesn't look like over stimulation are numbing to me if we teach our students how to use these powerful tools in the classroom to develop these kinds of skills imagine what they'll do when they leave our classroom research some of us in this room started our careers in research by pulling out tiny drawers thumbing through little cards and we did this in rooms that were full of books I think they were called card catalogs and libraries today research is done when students type words into databases or search engines and then they have to wade through the thousands of results in both cases the experience of research can be long frustrating tedious and lonely but it doesn't have to be that way what if research looked like this I was planning a unit on the early Industrial Revolution for my students and through my research I decided to reach out to the people who are the experts who live in the place where it started in England so I contacted the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester England and talked to the historians and educators there I asked them if they would take some time to meet with my students now I wish I could fly them to England for a one-day excursion but I couldn't so we set up a video call and this historian his name is Jamie he turned on and demonstrated the use of textile machines that date back to the early 1800s he showed them real artifacts and he answered all their questions and my students felt important because this person who's an expert who lives this history for an hour his attention belonged to them and even though we studied primary sources and images and maps this is the part of that unit that they all remember the most a few of my students and I piloted an education technology course and part of the work in that course was to research their favorite apps they got accustomed to reaching out to the app developers and designers they would either tweet them or email them or sometimes walk up to them in person at a conference and that's the schedule a call every single time my students reached out to one of these people they had a call scheduled within a week and my students were amazed that these adults who they'd never met who lived all over the country were cared enough to dedicate that kind of time to them but I don't know why they were surprised if a teenager came to you and said that they wanted to learn about your life's work and they wanted to learn from you wouldn't you drop everything to do that you see research doesn't have to be tedious and lonely it can be something that helps connects up connect us to one another and helps our young people understands that all of the adults not just their teachers and parents but all of the adults are invested in them that's what technology can do projects so as adults when we do projects either at home or at work we do them at home because we want our home to be a better place for our family that matters to us we do projects that work because hopefully we've chosen a profession that we love and we believe our work in those projects matter but think about the experience of a student when he or she does a project in school they work really hard on this project sometimes staying up way too late at night to get it done they bring it in and proudly turn it in to their teacher and then a week or two later they get the project back with a grade and that's it do you think our students feel like their work matters well what if their work mattered like this my sophomores were learning about the early women's rights movement and at the end of the unit my student Cara wrote a pretty impressive blog post that she ended up publishing herself on her own blog that connected the experience of a young woman in the early 1800s to her experience as a young woman in the early 21st century it was well researched it was incredibly well done she even created gifs to make it animated just an incredible piece a few months later a debate was sparked on Facebook among our student body because there was a senior class fundraiser that pretty much amounted to like a mr. high school beauty pageant talent show competition and the debate there we go the debate was whether this type of event was perpetuating gender stereotypes there were some pretty impassioned beliefs on both sides but Kara dropped in the link to her blog post in the midst of the debate it was like a social media mic drop moment the debate ended because her post was so well done because she was going to publish her work she created it in a way that made it matter to her and because it mattered to her when the topic came up in her life it mattered to her peers a lot of my students decide to publish their work online and because of that their work has been picked up by other websites and republished from blackout poetry to movie trailers to podcasts to you know video tourism advertisements all over the web and when this happens my students believe that their work matters because it does so reflecting on this I asked some of my students to co-author with me an article about why they like to publish their work and this is a quote from that article from Evan I've built a level of confidence that I think a lot of students deserve when students in mrs. Gallagher's history classes published work they're proud of they're actually recognized for it rather than just getting a grade grades don't matter recognition matters technology can make that possible for our students so as you sit here today as a student or a teacher or a parent or a professional remember that you are a learner and ask yourself what do I want to learn who do I want to connect with and what do I want to create that matters and then think about how technology can make that possible if you want that for yourself shouldn't we want that for the students in our classrooms if you're a teacher I urge you to take a risk in your classroom and bring your students in on it tell them that you're taking a risk it may not always work but the rewards will be incredible so when we think about technology and learning let ask ourselves what if thank you

13 thoughts on “What If? Let's Reimagine Learning. Technology Can Help. | Kerry Gallagher | [email protected]

  1. Hi fellow teachers. I am looking to have three teachers answer these questions. Any takers?

    Teacher Interview Questions:

    How much of a priority is it for you to teach your students how to use the technology that you integrate into your class lessons?

    What are your main sources for discovering the latest in educational technologies?

    What have you found to be the best ways to assess the effectiveness of an integrated educational technology?

    On a scale of 1-10, how effective do you believe your school is in the area of teaching digital literacy? What steps would you suggest for your school that may increase your school a few points on the scale?

    How do the teachers and administrators who take the lead in the use of technology in the classrooms share their experiences, ideas, and knowledge with other teachers?

    What has been the most effective piece of technology that you currently use to create authentic learning experiences for your students?

    How have recent education technologies been integrated into your assessments?

    How has edu. technologies made a difference in the differentiation of your instruction, content, and assessments for various learners?

    How have you noticed students using available technology to support their learning process?

  2. "Quizzes with technology can build a classroom community and give the learner confidence to try again" I like that!!! (6:40)

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