Horizon Report K-12 2013 and American School of Bombay

Photo by Alan Levine Creative Commons licenses

Photo by Alan Levine
Creative Commons

The annual Horizon Report, while not a “prediction tool”, but more a barometer of where educational technology trends lie in business, education and government, is eagerly anticipated each year. The Report for K12 was released very recently and its alignment to the American School of Bombay is worthy of note. While the Report sees a trend of adoption of under a year or less, ASB has already moved forward on all four of the trends chosen by the analysts of the Report.

True to my “easterly” disposition, I will present a big picture view of ASB’s alignment with the Horizon Report.

Time-to-Adoption: One Year or Less

BYOD: The technology team carefully investigated and prepared for a move to a BYOD program for at least a year before introducing the program to the school. Because of the state of readiness, teachers were invited in to the program even earlier than originally anticipated. The program was introduced at a small scale for the first year and will scale up to include all teachers and students from grades 4 to 12 in August.

Cloud Computing: ASB began making a move to the cloud about 5 years ago in anticipation of the popularity and necessity of basing services and storage on the Internet rather than on local servers. Because of this, we are way ahead of the trend and have already fully adopted and embraced cloud computing in our practices. It is an accepted part of our culture and its integration can be seen most obviously in our daily use of Google apps.

Mobile Learning: This past year, the Research and Development team at ASB initiated a prototype of mobile devices in the classroom at all three levels. A larger prototype is being introduced in August with many more teachers and assistants being supported through funding for devices and apps and with professional development to support them. The area of PD will certainly be a challenge as this is still new territory in terms of existing research and pedagogy. At this time, a team of three educators is developing an online course which will be offered through ASB’s Online Academy which could be one avenue of support for teachers using mobile technologies in the classroom to support learning.

Online Learning: ASB introduced its Online Academy about two years ago. Initially, it was meant to support parents and teachers in their understanding of the technologies and digital citizenship and ethics, but was quickly opened up to those outside the school due to demand. The original vision did not include ASB’s students, but over time, it became apparent that existing online courses did not always satisfy ASB’s students’ needs, so several courses for ASB students are currently under development. Additionally, high school students were offered a variety of online courses as electives for the first time this year and will expand with more beginning in August.

I would like to offer a few observations about ASB’s success in anticipating these trends:

–> ASB is small enough as a school entity to remain agile for the implementation of change.

–> The creation of a Research and Development team of volunteer ASB educators, and more recently, parents, has served to provide a space for experimentation and growth. Prototypes are encouraged and then analyzed for success. Because the team is made up of teachers and parents, buy-in is is built-in for new approaches and initiatives.

–> ASB leaders recognize the importance of careful study and preparation before making a “big move”, such as the move to cloud computing and the BYOD program.

Let’s take a look at some of the other trends that are highlighted in the Report that are already being investigated or supported at ASB.

Learning Analytics: ASB has invested heavily in this area by offering significant training to staff recently about data analysis and by participating in several types of third party testing and examinations.

Open Content: The ASB Online Academy offered its first open course in January, a course about online and cybersecurity, and is exploring the facilitation of more open courses or even scaling them to a ‘MOOC”, massive, open, online course, which may be the first to be offered by an independent school.

Personalized Learning: ASB has been way ahead of the two to three year schedule suggested by the Horizon Report. The construction projects of both campuses last year were inspired with the desire to create learning environments that would foster personalized learning. Additional staff have been hired to increase the teacher-student ratio. A large bouquet of online courses have been offered to high school students so that they could have more choice in their learning opportunities. A move to changing the school calendar has opened the door to the possibility of several “inter-sessions” being offered through the school year which provides even more learning opportunities for multi-age, inter-disciplinary courses for students at all divisions.

3D Printing: The school has purchased several 3D printers and is supporting the training of a group of staff members to participate in Maker and Design Thinking Workshops.


Driving change forward in so many directions at once is difficult in any environment and can take a toll on staff. Turnover of staff from this year to next is quite high; this could be a drawback or it could be an opportunity – professional development and training must be handled shrewdly so that the school leadership achieves buy-in and investment by new and returning staff. Successes must be celebrated and an environment of exploration and inquiry must be fostered. Tolerance of “failure” in such an environment of dynamic change and experimentation is important. Leadership will need to inspire vision, hope and value for the staff.

These are exciting times to be an educator! I look forward to negotiating the future of learning along with my colleagues at ASB.

Ada Lovelace and celebrating women in technology

Today has been designated Ada Lovelace Day – an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. I thank Cindy Seibel for drawing my attention to this important event a few months ago!

I knew immediately I wanted to blog about the accomplishments of Susan Einhorn, whom I have met only recently, but who has become a woman I admire deeply because of her lifelong commitment to enhancing learning through the use of technology. For me, it was a jolt to meet her because she had been living here in Montreal under my nose while I had been using web 2 tools to network for so long with those who lived beyond my own city and province. Sometimes you can get the feeling that you are the only one in your community using emerging technologies and who cares passionately about innovation in educational technology.

Many of you are aware I began teaching at a new school in September. Imagine my surprise to meet Susan (you will see her bio below) as one of the parents of not only my student, her daughter,  but also my advisee! We met for coffee shortly after our initial meeting and later went off to experience Educon ’09 together in Philadelphia!

I asked Susan to provide a bio of her education and experience:

I’ve been involved in educational technology for over twenty-five years and, since 2007, I’ve been the Executive Director of the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation (AALF). AALF is an international non-profit organization focused on ensuring that all children have access to unlimited opportunities to learn anytime and anywhere and that they have the tools that make this possible. To achieve this, AALF helps schools develop visionary leadership and knowledgeable, innovative educators. AALF provides educators with news, resources, and research on 1-to-1 laptop learning and runs a variety of programs for school leadership, including summits, institutes, and academies focused on learning in technology-rich and 1-to-1 laptop environments. In my role, I do whatever needs to get done – from editing newsletters to speaking at conferences, from handling event logistics to building an online community website- in order to support schools as they not only implement 1-to-1 programs, which ensure equitable access to technology for all students, but also as they begin to re-imagine what learning is in a technology-rich culture and the role of schools in this learning process.

Prior to joining AALF, I worked at Logo Computer Systems Inc (LCSI), the company that designs and develops Logo-based constructivist software. I was introduced to the Logo computer language while studying for a Masters degree in Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal, QC. There, I read the book Mindstorms by educational technology pioneer Seymour Papert. I was completely enthralled by both Dr. Papert’s ideas about learning and by how empowering it was to create my own program in Logo on the computer. Although this wasn’t my first introduction to programming – I had taken a course in Fortran at the University of Michigan in 1968 while studying for my B.A. (Psychology) – Logo was far more accessible. More than a language, Logo embodies a pedagogical belief that people (male/female, child/adult) learned best when actively engaged in creating personally meaningful projects and technology – personal computers – provided opportunities to create at previously unimaginable levels.

In 1984, I joined LCSI, Dr. Papert’s company. Although rather unqualified for the available job – Quality Assurance programmer – my interest in Logo convinced management to hire me. After a year, I became a member of the Product Design team and an author/editor, developing project-based learning materials for students and teachers for products such as the award-winning LogoWriter, LEGO/Logo and MicroWorlds, and culturalized into more than 15 languages for use around the world. During my 23 years at LCSI, I held a number of positions before becoming President of the company in 2005. During these years, I had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Papert and other leading members of the MIT Logo-community to continue to develop new Logo-based educational initiatives and products. In the many projects we observed, we noted that girls as much as boys were actively involved in being programmers and problem-solvers, immersing themselves in the mathematical thinking that programming and debugging require.

The most striking part of all this work has been my ongoing need to always be learning – whether about new technologies (from Fortran to Facebook), how people learn, systemic change, or the three “C’s” – collaboration, communication, community-building.

It is women like Susan who have been trailblazers in the area of educational technology in the last 20 years – years where it has been difficult to find women in such positions of leadership.

Thank you, Susan, for dedicating your career to promoting excellence in innovative education. You have provided a model for those of us who are only just starting – we benefit from your wisdom and experience!

“7 (Boring) Things About Me” Meme

Okay, Alec Couros tagged me, so now I have to share 7 boring things you wish you never knew about me… or something like that….

1. I love cheese. I never truly discovered this about myself until I was in Africa and craved it. Because I live in Montreal, I have access to amazing cheeses – Oka, Brie Bleu, Spiced Gouda… mmmm

2. I have never tried any illicit drugs. Never. Most would say I had a very boring adolescence!

3. I was on my Reach for the Top team in school. Some might have called me a nerd. 🙂

4. My husband and I exchanged Elizabethan sonnets when we were dating. He is actually a pretty good poet for an engineer!

5. My favourite Shakespearean play is “The Tempest”. I like the deeper questions of life that are explored.

6. My undergraduate honours paper was an examination of Heloise‘s epistolary style in her letters to Abelard. I like to think of her as a medieval feminist.

7. My only spiritual experience that is at all like what Alec describes in his 7 things meme post was when I was in a dentist’s chair under the influence of whatever drug they used to give to patients. No lives were saved… no message from a dead relative…. but I was quite embarrassed. Enough said.

Now I have to tag seven others:

Konrad Glogowski (nah, he’ll never do it!)
Cheri Toledo
Doug Peterson
Peggy George
Terry Freedman
John Schinker
Jen Wagner

Have fun and Happy New Year!

CCK08 and Connecting the Dots

Perhaps it was more than a little ambitious of me to attempt participation in CCK08 while beginning a new job, while maintaining meaningful contact with educators in Africa, while taking a French course, while fulfilling some of my previous consulting contracts. Oh yes, and I have a family, too, who occasionally appreciates my household management skills!

However, I am pleased about the direction of the CCK08 course in the coming weeks. Finally we will be discussing implications for practice of connectivism in educational contexts.

This is particularly relevant to me as I return to the high school classroom this year playing multiple roles – teacher of English, computer studies and providing tech support to the staff. It is really my dream job!

It has been a few years now that I have used a blended approach (face-to-face and online environments) to teach my courses. Last year was a fine year for me as an intellectual-type sabbatical from classroom teaching as I created curricula for Quebec’s online school. It gave me time to reflect and think on best practices. Now, I am gratefully back in the classroom with all the complexities of dealing with real learners in real contexts. And I am having fun!

My students each have their own laptop and our school has unfiltered access to the Internet. This permits me a great deal of freedom to explore the possibilities of providing opportunities to become 21st c networked learners. Now I just have to figure out what exactly that means and what is the best way to go about it.

The CCK08 course content possibilities are vast. So many readings, forum posts, blog posts and multimedia files to explore. I lurk, skim, filter, listen, sometimes respond, and try to make good judgment calls on what is worth spending time on versus what is not pertinent or relevant to my current situation. At first, this was quite difficult because of some of the more colourful personalities who had a way of diverting my attention….

As I have witnessed the almost relentless introduction of new online web 2.0 tools, and have experimented with many of them, I have had cause to wonder about the difference between the “gee whiz” factor and the tools and environments that truly can be used to support learning for high school students. I have looked around for valid research that supports the use of web 2 tools in education – and often have become frustrated. A few months ago, I decided to revisit the research literature I used from my pre-web 2.0 thesis about online collaboration for high school students and was surprised about how relevant to web 2 that it was. Reflection, metacognition, self-monitoring and self-regulation can all be supported with one tool/environment or another. And I have discovered that a good deal more research is now being published in order to support these skills.

I very much enjoyed one of the readings from the upcoming week of the CCK08 course. Grainne Conole provides an attempt at mapping out an alignment between web 2 applications and various pedagogies. So far, I think I am on the right track with the pedagogical decisions I have made with my students. This past week, my grade 7 students finally received their laptops and I was able to introduce blogging and wikis to them. The blogging community will serve as an environment to promote reflection, responses, and practice writing skills. The wiki will serve as a hub of collective information. They love it! It is a great way to link both of my English classes and to foster democratization of voice and interaction.

Still, I am groping about what it is to be a networked learner, so I have high expectations for the next few weeks of the course.

Some of my questions:

  • What skill sets represent a networked learner (a high school student in my situation)?
  • What is the right pace to introduce new tools and environments?
  • How can I best assess a networked learner? Where is the balance between formative and summative assessment?
  • How can I persuade my colleagues that these are valuable approaches?
  • What is the role of sociality (too little or too much) in order to foster learning in a web 2 environment?
  • How can I find that balance between social collaborative learning and individual responsibility for learning?

Looking forward to the next few weeks!

Connecting Globally with CCK08

Since returning from Africa, I confess that it has been hard for me to express myself online – whether through twitter, my blog, Facebook and all the other social networks to which I belong. I am still processing the experiences of Africa, the “what’s next” with maintaining meaningful contact with my colleagues in Africa, and how to resume living in my here and now. And, of course, I have started a new teaching position at The Study – this has become a new priority as well.

I have been weighing in on the value of online social networks and all the other tools of what we call web 2.0 as well as reassessing to which network or community I will give my time and effort. It has been a valuable time of sifting and sorting and I suppose it will continue for a while.

Quite a while ago, I signed on for the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Online Conference hosted by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. Just reading through the introductions of several of the 1600 (!) who have also signed up has been like a breath of fresh air to me. I will be using my blog as a place to reflect on the content and experiences of the conference.

It seems there are a few people who are also viewing the conference through the lens of connecting developing nations. Below are some links that address these issues of digital and education divide:

The Impact of Social Media on now-developing Countries a slideshare presentation by Inge de Waard

Digitally Divided – a video shared by Tom Wambeke


Support the English teacher/soldier in Afghanistan!

Paul Park is an English teacher from Saskatchewan who has just been shipped out to Afghanistan on a task force with the Canadian Armed Forces. He is blogging about his experiences from his perspective for the benefit of his students.

Dean Shareski shares an email from Paul that was sent out to the teachers.

If you are a teacher who is interested in having your students follow Paul’s blog, please consider having them read and comment on his posts. They are fascinating and heart-breaking at times; what a terrific way for our students in developed nations to have a first-hand glimpse of the struggles of innocent students and civilians in a war-torn developing nation.

Please consider leaving a comment for Paul – he has left behind family, friends, and safety to serve people in a faraway land who hope for a better – and peaceful – tomorrow.

Life on the Grid

Sharon's twitter

Every once in a while in the last month, I would experience a twinge or two of guilt for not dedicatedly blogging my thoughts, experiences, and reflections. There was a part of me that was resistant to the idea for some reason and I needed time to think that through. Certainly part of it was that I was incredibly busy with other tasks and quite overwhelmed even, with catching up, and staying on top. I was even struggling with the notion of who or what I was blogging for – me? others? anyone??

It only came to me the other day how very active I had been in the network “on the grid” during this month. I certainly had ample opportunity to share my voice and participate in many conversations – usually live or almost live. Besides having the privilege of webcasting with the Women of Web 2 every week, I also hosted on the K12 Online final event – When Night Falls for two hours of the 24 hour event. I lurked a lot in twitter and chimed in my thoughts, ideas and resources on many occasions. Many other educators have been using UStream (free video broadcasting service) to broadcast their conference presentations and I have joined in on many such times with that. And, of course, I skype chat daily with a number of educators from around the world about educational stuff. Even this morning, it is just past 8 AM and I have already chatted with an Australian teacher, Graham Wegner, about his global project and how he can show it off to parents tomorrow night, and an Israeli educator, my good friend Reuven, about information literacy. I shared a few resources with a colleague here in Quebec. Just another typical day.

I realize many people have been saying it as well, but I am amazed at how twitter has become a tool for really fantastic professional networking and support. I now have something like over 150 followers – an interesting variety of educators from around the world. Quite often, daily now, a few of us will throw out a request or a question. And there always seems to be a few of us that can almost immediately provide some aid or answers. Sometimes the discussion gets moved to a skype chat or conference to facilitate the aid that is needed or to extend the conversation. We share blog posts and other resources.

Yesterday was a particularly busy day for me on the grid. While working on the design of some curricula, I noticed that Dean Shareski put out a request for some of us to skype in to his grade 5 class in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan so the students could experience a sense of the global network as they work on this new project, Find a Story, Map a Story. Dean videoskyped me into the classroom and I had a lovely conversation with his students for a few minutes. He went on to invite 9 others in as well over the course of the next hour. A very effective way of showing off the power of these tools and the global network! I twittered my experience and within an hour, Derek Wenmoth picked it up and blogged about the project, inviting New Zealand teachers to look into it. In a few hours, the project went really global! Later in the morning, I noticed a twitter with a link to a live UStreamed student conference of grade 6 students in New Jersey on the topic of global warming. For a little while, I tuned in, joined in the chatroom and asked the students questions about their research and what changes in their own lives they were making as a result of their research projects.

Later yesterday, I had conversations with three colleagues who are not yet part of these networks but who work closely with educational technology. When I shared some of these experiences and tools with them, they were astounded. Then I realized that maybe I should be blogging about these experiences, because while twitter is great, it is still limiting the audience. Also, for my own professional development, it is important to chronicle my experiences and thoughts over time so I can see my own growth. A lesson I tried to pass on in one of my K12 Online presentations this year, but need to live up to!
Below I will note some new resources that I would also like to pass on:

LEARN – Expressions (one of the pages I am now responsible for in my new job)

Julie Lindsay’s awesome slideshow on wikis in education

Google’s SketchUp lessons for Autistic Children

Michael Wesch’s new youtube video “Information R/evolution”

Jeff Utecht’s UStream presentations on web 2.0 tools in Kuala Lampur

Teach Collaborative Revision with Google Docs

My twitterworld – join twitter and add me!

Keynote to New Media Literacies Conference

It is exciting to be here at the University of Prince Edward Island to participate in this conference. I am sitting at a “blogger’s table” with Harold Jarche, Sandy McAuley, and Stephen Downes with Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow hovering the background. Will Richardson is delivering the keynote and he is going through it to demonstrate how the world is changing and the social technologies that are being used by students, teachers, ordinary folks and even politicians. He points out in particular how Obama is using social networking sites in order to promote his campaign. Physical space can be transcended and we can now have meaningful conversations with people around the world. Will makes the statement that model of journalism has to change – we can add our own information so easily so instantly. I really liked what he showed about how a teacher was using twitter to teach about the student uprising in Myanmar just two days ago. Students were able to view photos and videos of Burma within hours after the incidents took place.

Will also looks at how business is changing and shifting as they exploit these web 2.0 tools. His wiki page is worth exploring for the information he has collected there. He reminded us, too, of the digital divide still due to socioeconomic disparities.

I like the way Will shows off his blog as a place where HIS learning takes place. “It is a powerful learning network.” However, there is a disconnect between this kind of learning and what is going on in classrooms. He also shows off FanFiction and MySpace (not a good site – he shows it as a bad model of how young people are using such sites).

Will and I both twittered before his session that the conference could be found live at edtechtalk.com with an invitation to join. Within a few minutes three of my twitter peeps had come back to say they were following us – Graham Wegner in Australia, John Pederson in Minnesota, and Alice Wells in Maine. How cool is that?

I particularly appreciated how Will put a focus on the importance of AUDIENCE. This is often overlooked as having any pedagogical value for students, but I think it is one of the most powerful and compelling reasons we should be using web 2.0 tools and environments. I have said it before – I think all student-created material should be up online. However, this is based on the premise that the material has authentic value. He mentions three great Canadian educators who have been so innovative in creating new pedagogies around these tools – Clarence Fisher, Darren Kuropatwa and Konrad Glogowski – and I heartily concur.

He challenges us to be participatory together during these exciting times – and to build our own learning networks. We also need to be modeling our own learning to our students.

Let’s Go Global!

Last night on our WOW2 webcast, we had an impressive set of teachers with us to describe their plans and involvement in global projects for this academic year. Kristin Hokanson was effusive in her enthusiasm for using web 2.0 tools and getting teachers connected and involved. Her “Connected Classroom” wiki is very impressive – check out the video she has embedded in it.

Cheryl Lykowski, with whom I have been corresponding for a few months now, has just won an award for her impressive work on a master’s thesis project involving her students (in Michigan) in a podcast project with teachers and students in Colombia.

Another teacher whom I had invited, but was not able to join us last night, is Jennifer Meagher, a teacher who involved her Sherbrooke Québec high school students in a collaborative project with teachers and students in Uganda using the tools and environment from TakingITGlobal. Although she has since moved to another province in Canada, she is an enthusiastic proponent of global partnerships and knows of several classes around the world that are seeking partners this year.

While on the local level in my own setting I know of few teachers who are flattening their classroom walls to communicate and collaborate with students outside of their immediate environment, I am encouraged that this is changing. Opportunities for global collaborative projects abound and the tools of the Internet have never been easier to use!

Other projects/portals worth mentioning: Life Round Here (by Chris Craft), The Global Education Ning, and Teachers Without Borders.

IMPORTANT!!! If you have a great project that has used WEB 2.0 TOOLS, Terry Freedman asks that you would fill out this form so he can show off best practices examples with the upcoming Coming of Age – 2nd Edition. Please consider doing so – this way we can all share our students’ great work using these neato tools.

Below is a slideshow of a presentation I recently gave at the Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century conference in New Brunswick. I include slides of my own three teenagers who each use the Internet in very different ways – yet in ways that I believe are typical of our generation of youth today. All three of them are using tools and environments which permit them to collaborate and share with others not in their own immediate location. I included them in my presentation to demonstrate how teenagers are using the Internet as a means of communication and collaboration OUTSIDE of educational purposes. They do so easily and naturally, not because they are “geeks” (they would quickly cringe at that label!), but because that is how today’s teens are having fun and getting connected with their friends.

Check out the other portals mentioned in the slideshow if you are looking for an Internet Project or Global Partnership this year!