April 26, 2011 by aronsterling

A fascinating piece to run across today about Micro Schools.  My idea for podular type schools is very similar in tine to this idea, but interconnected with the traditional school.

A day in a school no longer my own…

September 7, 2010 by aronsterling

So, spending a day in a school that is not your own is amazing.  Honestly, there are so many opportunities in which to integrate the technology, and people are very interested to hear your connections. It is funny to me because after so much time thinking about the integration, it really is about getting the job done, the learning to fit or the differentiated need to be met.

I guess the bottom line for me today is that I spent so much time today talking to people about what they want to accomplish, and I suppose people from the outside mught have picked up on the technology, but today it really receded into the background.

As I reconnected with people from my past, it was refreshing to see how accepting they were about just talking about teaching or planning or constructing.  Yet, for the one new person who came to me today, asking for support, there was a very different feeling.  This person wanted to know more about the actual tools and seemed impatient with the discussion about what was going to be accomplished.  Honestly, I think this person may have more put off than she let on, but if so she hid it well.  It was a stark difference compared to the conversation with two former co-workers in which we discussed the need and the construction and then delved into what technologies mught facilitate this work.

This day was a tribute to the longevity of what I believe is real change, based on conversations at am emotional level.

Hiatus almost over

September 6, 2010 by aronsterling

As those of you know from other web tools, it has been the crazy time getting schools up and going.

Blog posts will begin to re-roll very soon.

One thing to think about as the school year begins is the definition of integration.  What is yours?  What is it for your colleagues?

Remember, a person’s internal definition will do much to define the actions he or she takes regarding to integrating technology and the tolerance level for its messiness in the classroom.  In addition, a mismatch between internal definitions can cause friction within teams.

If you want my working definition, look it up.  It is well worth it!

3rd wave is arriving now

August 11, 2010 by aronsterling

So, as of late, I have run into a lot of 3rd wave people.  By 3rd wave, I mean people who are late comers in terms of the levels of technology adoption and diffusion.  The technical terms for these folks are the “late majority.”  I absolutely love these folks!

I am not being sarcastic in the least when I say, “Welcome to the party. We need your ideas.”  Amazingly, people who were, a year ago, still mired in the idea that technology was not part of education (or a main focal point) are now walking around talking about the moral imperitive to change.  Hearing these folks mention discussions that were once put forth in the 80′s (someone mentioned to me the idea of teaching cursive), is exciting to me.  It gives me a sense that people are on the right path.

Still, these folks have a slightly stilted definition of integration (rightfully so) at this juncture, but it is on the right track.  People recognizing engagement as just one piece, not a major emphasis, is a wonderful thing.

Now, what changed these folks?  Was it just new information?  I do think so and that information was the economy.  People in education are looking around going, “Hey, my livelihood might disappear,” thus, taking them down a few rungs on the Maslow heirarchy and creating an emotional change.  And this is what I am all on about….

At this point, I need to speak to these folks and begin the discussion of how we can create a common language around integration by using this awareness scale of mine.  We also would do well to discuss a solid definition of integration.

The next wave is coming….

Conversations with kids

August 3, 2010 by aronsterling

In the past three weeks there have been several opportunities to speak with kids about school experiences.  Most of those indicate that using technology inside of the classroom is sporadic at best.  One girl at a tech camp actually told me, “I have used the computer more today than the entire year.”

The reason for bringing this is up is because this week has started a bit of an experiment for me.  Looking through the web at some newer adaptive learning games and just watching my kids move through them has planted this idea in my head:

What if I could compose, from paid and unpaid resources, a comprehensive learning environment for  my children and then present this as a test-case to others.  Especially important would be to place this school head-to-head with a live, teacher-led environment.  This will allow a focus on what parts of a hybrid education are most effective.  I suspect that the game-based program one child is involved with would certainly be favored of a live teacher.

My thought is this:  If this environment could be built as an example that was complete, comprehensive and compelling, could this model be used as a topic of conversation with teachers who are at an Awareness or below (Beginning Awareness and Unaware) level to create an emotional reaction towards integrating technology?

Questions for Dan Pink

August 1, 2010 by aronsterling

So, this week we will be seeing Dan Pink.  There are a lot of questions to ask.

Do you have any?

I am thinking that, maybe I could ask him:

“Dan, it seems like 6-7 years ago if I mentioned doing some distance based training through say, Skype, peolple would have looked at me funny.  Maybe this is because I could not make people feel an emotional attachment.  In any case, with the economic downturn it is, a “Whole New Mind.”  People are discovering things mentioned years ago.  Now, I know about the stages of technology adoption could explain this, but I tend to think that this is like the grapes being sweeter in a time of stress.  My question to you is, “In what ways has the economic down turn change the acceptance of your message and books?”

Other ideas?

Change and Leadership

July 18, 2010 by aronsterling

It seems that every day now the topic of leadership in times of change arises in something I am reading.  The concept of the emotional part of the change is prominent in each of these readings.

Especially interesting to me was reviewing the Diffusion of Innovations principle (1962) from Everett Rogers.  This concept is one often spoken about in technology integration.  Rogers places out for us the idea that there are different rates that people embrace (or don’t) new technologies.  According to Rogers, there are:

  • Innovators
  • Early Adopters
  • Early Majority
  • Late Majority
  • Laggards

Oddly, when I look closely at my Technology Integration Awareness scale, it fits very nicely with this model.  It was not something done consciously at all, either.  One major difference is that Roger’s “laggards” were people that needed to be shown the door.  This obviously has not happened in education.

The Laggards continue to thrive in some areas.

Another comment that seems to resonate with me is the idea that people fear a hodden agenda from reformers.  As I was doing the research for my papers on the topics of defining integration and looking at the awareness of such, there were quite a few people that looked upon what I was doing with skepticism.  Unfortunately, at the time, I did not put this into the larger context of reformers.  This has been such a good nugget of information.

Strangely, technology integration is neither a new idea or real reform, at this point.  So, it is a testament to the staying power of tradition that some folks still see integration as something to look at with suspicion.

What to say to Alan November

July 13, 2010 by aronsterling

So, while attending ISTE 2010 in Denver, I had the unique pleasure of covering one of Alan November’s talks through Elluminate. People back in Virginia, through the vision of CRSTE, watched a feed of Alan November’s speech while I moderated the room, going to websites Alan visited and responding to comments in the room. It was quite an experience, considering I got front row seats, the highlight of which was sitting next to Tim DiScipio, founder of ePals, which I love and highlight in a couple of the online PD courses for NT.

During Alan’s speech he was so passionate, as usual, about the idea that technology needs to be used effectively. On each of his points I personally reflected on how I had put each into motion sometime between 1995 and today. It is a bit odd to reflect on collaboration between students, which I did back in the 90′s (so last century!) as being something Alan still is banging away at today.

But then, he got to the idea of basically forgetting about teachers… and that is where I got off the bus for a stop or two. I know, I know…the kids get it. But really, this is what I am all about. The kids have an emotional connection to using the technology (sometimes even too much…had a conversation today about addiction to the web)… we need to do the same for educational technology.

Raise the Awareness, I say. Connect to teachers by having and hold conversations about what they are passionate about: teaching. Make connections to who they are as educators by speaking in the language of awareness of integration… not just by rating the products produced or the tools used.

What to say to Alan? Let’s get emotional.

Drive the Elephant

July 12, 2010 by aronsterling

Today I watched an amazing synopsis of Dan Pink’s book: Drive!  The website that provided this amazing work was RSA Animate, who should be held up as a shining example of all that is going right with learning.  I believe that if we were to show teachers this example as how and why we need to integrate images, both static and animated, into instruction (answer: long term retention of the materials).

I would say that teaching instructors to embed video is probably for those that are in Awareness and above (those in flexible awareness would be able to see the function of student-created materials).  The emotional connection to be made here would be that teachers would see retention increase and possibly move towards Active Awareness in which he/she would actively plan for use of images and see that this integration would lead towards greater differentiation, smaller groups, extending the learning opportunities outside of the school day and hours, etc. Here is the video:
RSA Animate: Drive

Website of day

July 7, 2010 by aronsterling

Ok, really loved this website:


What level of awareness could access? Not Aware and above (Not sure what this means? Check out my paper…)

How could we integrate this in to create engagement, higher level thinking, collaboration, etc? The first thing that actually came to mind would be counting, plain and simple.  This could be a back beat to some nifty counting done by kindergartners.  Now, for older kids, we can see this used in so many ways.  Some examples might be: rhythms in music class; see if kids can describe to remote partners (use typewith.me or some other shared document creator) and then use LearnCentral (Elluminate) or Skype to share; use the nifty beats created to be the free music for podcasts; see if kids can work together to create a language based upon the beats; have the instructor create a complex beat and see if teams can recreate the beat with each person using only one hand; learn about rhythmic clapping in African cultures and use this to demonstrate examples.

I am sure there is more, but this is a start…