Category Archives: technology

Speaking With Clarity and Purpose

As I browsed Feedly today, I came across two blog posts about the words we use. Brad Currie pushes back on those who would discourage educators from using buzzwords. Peter DeWitt, meanwhile, names 10 educational words that should be banished. Ironically, I can’t tell you what those words are except that one is technology, because DeWitt’s list is now hidden from me behind the EdWeek paywall.

I come down on the side of letting people speak, and Currie makes an interesting argument around using buzzwords:

Last I checked people have the freedom to say what they want, when they want, and how they want. If educators are committed to taking risks and evolving over time, then they should be allowed to use whatever words, phrases, paragraphs, etc they want.

The important point here is that using buzzwords is acceptable as long as we are using them to move forward. So, if you’re a principal or superintendent who calls yourself a “lead learner” then you should walk the walk of a lead learner.

From what I remember, DeWitt suggests banishing the word “technology” because it continues to make it seem as though technology is an add-on. I don’t disagree, but I think  instead of banishing the word, how about asking educators to be more clear about why and how they are using technology. Are they fostering collaboration through the use of Google docs? Or encouraging creativity by integrating a tool like Animoto? We can use the word to foster clarity about the use of technology as it supports pedagogy.

Also, I think DeWitt is overlooking the fact that, for many of our schools, technology is not so ubiquitous that it can become invisible. Sadly, technology use is often still a novelty, something of comment, as teachers sign out carts to bring into their classrooms or line up their classes to head to computer labs.

So, rather than banishing words, let’s take Currie’s approach and allow their use as long as we are more clear about their meanings for us and how they inform our work as educators.



Ozobot Out of the Box

I finally put “robots” on the top of the to do list for the weekend. Opened up the Ozobot Bit, did a little reading, and started drawing.

I started pretty simple with changing the speed. It slowed down correctly and made the left turn, but the turbo boost color combo didn’t do what I expected:


Exit Instead of Turbo from Karen Richardson on Vimeo.

I was also having trouble getting it to do U turns.

A little troubleshooting and I discovered that the blue marker I was using was too dark so the Ozobot couldn’t distinguish it from the black. Here it is hitting the turbo boost and then doing the Win/Exit dance:

Turbo Plus Win/Exit from Karen Richardson on Vimeo.

Here’s the U turn. The light blue color makes everything work perfectly:

A Working U Turn from Karen Richardson on Vimeo.

Coding Camp with the Kids

I bought a Kano last year and have done a bit of work with it. One of the things I like is the way they emphasize community, very similar to Scratch. Sharing of final products and code is encouraged.

They also encourage creativity by suggesting particular projects, providing some base code, and then offering ideas for how to personalize them that challenge you to write your own code. I find that it’s a nice balance of recipe and personality.  It reminds me a bit of the ds106 Daily Create. You get the germ of an idea to spark your own creations.

The past week, I’ve been participating in the Kano Summer Camp. Each day brings a new challenge  from camp flags to badges to tents. They use the Mark Art app that comes with the Kano and has a web-based version so you don’t need the Kano hardware to participate. The challenges get increasingly difficult. Today, I was able to figure out how to craft a pretty rudimentary star using polygons. It’s mostly trial and error, still, as I don’t completely understand how the code works.

I can’t help wondering the age of my fellow campers but then I decide I don’t really care. It’s a kick when I get a like or comment. And, I’m so impressed with the work they’re doing. I generally do my own challenge first before checking out the shares so I’m not intimidated or overly influenced. The creativity is amazing and I’d encourage to create an account and give it a try…it takes a few minutes a day.

Here’s my star badge:

Shine On Badge

Missing the Point

I missed the point of today’s Google Doodle because I was so busy looking at the gears and never saw the monster’s head above water. One of my current making projects is to build an automaton. I want to use it to make my Strawbees amusement park ride turn around:

Amuse Yourself

I have two prototypes but neither one works very well. I started with this post from Makezine and then checked out the Exploratorium site as well. I think my main issue is with using kabob skewers that are hard to attach to the cam and cam follower. I’m on the hunt for bamboo skewers and will also dig out the glue gun to just make everything a bit sturdier.

Model, Model, Model

One of my objectives in my technology classes is to model technology use no matter what the content we are thinking and learning about. My examples cover a variety of different instructional strategies from mini-lectures to small group brainstorming to individual creation. Here are some of the examples of these activities along with the technology I used to support them:

We’re starting to talk about technology integration and we’ll be looking at the TPACK and SAMR models. As an introduction to TPACK, I often play a “discovery” version of the TPACK game with groups. This time, I used a Google presentation template. It made it easy for each student to grab a copy of the gameboard and play. In this version, students organize items into three groups and then justify their groupings. The interesting piece last night was how post-technology they seemed to be. Almost no one used technology as a category, choosing instead to think about the function of the technologies as part of pedagogy instead.

As an aside: the “real” TPACK game is more about matching different technologies, pedagogies and content areas. I’ve done this version using brown paper bags, and I just discovered that Matt Koehler has an interactive version. We may extend the game when we meet next time.

Once they had a completed game board, I was able to talk them through sharing the link on their class blogs in our Google Site. That made it easy for me to share some of the solutions and discuss them as a full class. The game allowed us to focus on the content even as we practiced some technology skills. They had lots of ideas for using Google templates.

In past classes, we have used Padlet and to brainstorm, tools I know they then used in their own classes. Last night, students used Animoto to create short videos to support content learning. It was also an opportunity for them to apply for their upgraded educator account. At least a couple of them were excited to share what they had created with the students when they got to school today. Their students will benefit from their enthusiasm.

I also did a mini-lecture last night: mostly a guided tour of a page I had put together for them about contemporary vocabulary words like MOOC, OER and Creative Commons. I wanted to give them an overview of these topics and then offer links and resources they could use to explore further if they were interested. It was also a chance to talk about copyright in general. They always have great questions and comments, willing to share their experiences and ideas an think about what topics mean to them as leaders.

It’s a lively class with a wide range of skills. They are comfortable helping each other as we work and appreciate those times when I stop and make sure everyone is following along.