Yesterday one of my administrators shared THE Journal's roundtable article on "What's Hot, What's Not in 2016". Reading through it, I find it very interesting to compare the perspectives of those outside of Maine with my own responses as someone who lives here. I would invite you to read the article yourself via the above link and contemplate what you own responses would be and how they compare. To take part in that exercise myself, I thought it would be interesting to share my responses here. If you'd like to weight in, I have a quick Google Form below my responses to share how you would rank them.
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): I think my gut says look warm on this one here in Maine. With so many years of device consistency in our classrooms thanks to MLTI, those schools that opt out of the primary or secondary solution seem to still be opting to purchase their own devices. That being said, most schools that I have talked with do allow BYOD if the student wanted to. So it is certainly something that teachers are having to deal with in planning their curriculum.
- Social Media for Teaching and Learning: So many teachers are, rightfully so, a bit reluctant to jump onto social media with their students because of the various policies that most school districts have in place. But I do see more teachers jumping on board with leveraging social media to create their PLN and it would be a logical next step to have that concept cross over more into our classrooms.
- Digital Badges: With the announcement of "Maine State of Learning" last fall during ACTEM 2015, I see this as a lukewarm and potentially about to boil and that is being helped along by the proficiency-based educational changes that we see happening already. More and more rigorous platforms are being developed to track badging and add weight to them. I see them as being a great way for teachers to be tracking their own PD, especially for recertification, so that they can be increasing their skill set in a very meaningful and trackable way. I earned the "Essential Spreadsheet Skills" micro-credential from Bloomboard this fall and thought it was a fun way to demonstrate my skills. Hopefully we see it getting more traction soon!
- Open Educational Resources (OERs): I'd say lukewarm on this one. I feel like there are teachers who are more reluctant because of the open nature of them and concerns about accuracy. Tools like Wikipedia have long been frowned upon by many of my colleagues although I allowed them in my own classrooms. It's sad because they can often be a good starting point, resource for other sources, and even teaching points for information accuracy. But teachers are often too overwhelmed already.
- E-Portfolios: Eh, I'd go with cold. They were a common talking point 2-3 years ago. But I see fewer and fewer teachers using them never mind in any meaningful way. Unless the portfolio can easily be taken with the student upon graduation and is being used in a meaningful way, such as reflecting on learning, I don't see e-portfolios making big headway. However, I say that and then think of schools that are doing more capstone style courses and projects in their classrooms and the students often generate an e-portfolio through that. But they aren't as platform dependent any more and are more a collection of essays and evidence stored in a single place than a big website or blog.
- Learning Management Systems (LMS): HOT HOT HOT! I think this is my top item largely because of the success that many teachers experienced with my beloved Google Classroom. It is so easy to use that it hooked many teachers who have previously been very reluctant. And I think it was a great "gateway LMS" to get teachers interested and many have I have worked with have since gone on to more powerful LMS that has more features because they have an understanding of how powerful they can be. As someone who has been using LMS since entering the classroom a decade ago (this Monday!), I can't imagine teaching without one.
- Flipped Learning: Most teachers that originally went crazy with flipped seem to now be moving more towards blending, so I'd go cold on this one.
- Blended Learning: With the implementation of tools like IXL and Khan Academy, more and more teachers seem to be leaning this way so I'll go with hot. The value of the gained meaningful practice that happens when the lesson can happen outside of the classroom seems to be catching on. A math teacher I often work with has many of his students doing more self directed learning thanks to his blended learning environment and it seems to be working well.
- Student Data Privacy Concerns: Oh, goodness, very hot. I think privacy is always in our minds in today's technology rich environment and you'd be crazy if you said otherwise. Sometimes I feel like it goes too far and is putting up hurdles to learning. But you can never be too careful given the current climate.
- Apps for Learning: Lukewarm for sure. As apps grow bigger and bigger, I see device specific apps becoming second choice to more cloud based options. I talk with teachers all the time who complain about how little space they have on their tablets in order to accommodate all of the apps that are available. Installing, trying, uninstalling... or just having to make the hard choice of what to keep when space is limited... it's a challenge. So more teachers are turning to cloud-based apps instead and I think that's a good move so that they can be easily accessed anywhere that you have internet.
- Games for Learning: I think games designed specifically for learning are lukewarm, but the gamification of the classroom is warmer. That seems to be where some teachers are heading with their proficiency-based teaching as a way to encourage students to keep learning. I know that I had a lot of success when I gamified the "Hour of Code 2015" with our middle school students. Competition is real, so gamification seems to be a fun way to get a population of our students motivated to keep going.
- What are the hot devices?: Chromebooks for sure! We are starting our own pilot study here at Bonny Eagle and it is fascinating to see what such inexpensive technology can do in our classrooms and how many of the common complaints are easy to mitigate (over printing, misuse of the device, etc.) not to mention the impact on school budgets. I'm really interested to see how the technology progresses in the common months and years!
So, what do you think? Am I spot on with your ideas or do you think I'm off base? Read THE Journal's article and then weigh in yourself with my Google Form below. Once you submit your response, you'll see the summary of how everyone has voted so far. Feel free to share this post with your coworkers to see what they think!