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.

Award-Winning Darfur Video Project: How to turn a teenager into a global citizen

Six years and many global projects later has brought quite a few special people and learning opportunities my way and for that I have been blessed and very grateful. The Darfur Video Project, supported by Take2 Videos for Students, was extra special.

Imagine what happens when a National Geographic photojournalist embeds herself in areas of global conflict for weeks at a time in order to provide high definition video footage to North American students so that they can create their own products. Karin Muller has made this commitment and has now produced two sets of footage and supporting materials from Chad/Sudan and Cuba. She has also made herself available to skype and email the participants of the project.

Imagine managing a group of exceptionally dedicated and engaged students who push themselves to producing the very best documentary for an audience of peers. These students sifted through nearly 38 hours of footage to select themes and topics which examine issues such access to health care and education as well as issues relating to the environment and gender discrimination in the refugee camps of Darfur and Chad. Their documentaries effectively blend image, text, music and even humour to depict the stories of the people in these difficult circumstances.

Imagine that an online social networking site has been created to support the students through collaboration, communication and showcasing their work. Students can upload podcasts of news events of the areas of global conflict, critique “rough cuts” of each other’s work and share reflections and resources.

Put all these ingredients together and you have the first place award-winning (ISTE’s SigTEL Online Learning) Darfur Video Project. With great pleasure, I traveled to Washington DC to accept the award on behalf of all those who made this such a terrific and noteworthy project. My students told me that their involvement in this project made a significant impact on their appreciation and understanding of the issues surrounding Darfur. Some of their reflections of what they learned along the way actually made me cry!

The project was displayed at last week’s National Educational Computing Conference in Washington DC; many teachers expressed interest in participation in next year’s project. The footage and materials from Cuba will be made available in late August. If you are interested, please contact Karin Muller and Take2 Student Videos. She is a very special lady with great vision and passion for her work!

The videos of the students speak for themselves:

Find more videos like this on Take 2
Find more videos like this on Take 2
Find more videos like this on Take 2
Find more videos like this on Take 2

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!