1. You have recently released your book: The Chromebook Classroom. To whom and why you would recommend to read the book?

I think Chromebooks are the perfect devices for classroom. So, I would recommend my book to any teacher or school administrator. The book is helpful for schools that already have Chromebooks and those who are thinking about getting them.

Note: you can download a free chapter of my at chrmbook.com!

2. The use of classroom technology does not always have a positive impact on student learning. What approach should teachers make to ensure that their use of technology improves instruction?

That’s an important, and challenging, question. I was high school science teacher and enjoyed using technology to teach. But sometime I was guilty of forcing technology into a lesson when it wasn’t necessary. You can avoid this mistake by starting with the end in mind: “What I’m trying to accomplish here?” “What objective, what concept am I trying to teach?”

Technology is a tool, just like pencils, paper, and textbooks. You don’t have to use technology for every single lesson. Figure out what you are trying to accomplish and then use your judgement about which tool will help you get there – paper and pencil? Students talking to each other? Collaborative tools like Google docs or an online discussion tool? Pick the tools based on your objectives.

Note: I developed a free email course on developing your Chromebook Classroom. You can sign up for freehere!

3. How do you think Chromebooks are impacting education?

The impact of Chromebooks in the United States is incredible: 56% of all classroom are Chromebooks. That’s crazy! I’ve been using Chromebooks since the experimental CR48. At the time Google was literally giving them away because they had to convince people that the Chromebook was a real thing.

There are three reasons that Chromebooks have been so successful in a school setting:

First is price. Schools are very budget sensitive, and the ability to get a Chromebook for less than $200 USD is unbelievable. You can buy almost 3 Chromebooks for the price of one ipad. The low price of Chromebooks allows schools to buy more devices. Rather than a school just getting a couple of carts of devices, they can now go 1:1. When every student has a device it totally changes what you can do in the classroom.

Second is management. A lot of schools struggle to manage their technology. Making sure they are up-to-date, don’t have viruses, have the apps teachers need, etc. is a ton of work! Chromebooks are incredibly easy to manage, whether you have ten of them or hundred thousands of them. Being able to manage a large fleet of Chromebooks without hiring extra staff is amazing. Again, it gets back to affordability.

The third reasons Chromebooks have become so popular is web adoption. As society we have started to embraced the web as a legitimate place to get stuff done.

We used to think of the internet as the place we went to check email, watch Netflix, and browse the web for information. If you want to do “real work” then you would have to go offline and use things like Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, iMovie, etc. That perspective has shifted and the K-12 sector is ahead of the trend. People are now turning to the web for all of their daily tasks, from creating their documents, editing images, creating videos, and more. You can do everything on the web. Because Chromebooks are web-first device , they are perfect. Ask any 8-10 years old kid, where they spend time their time. I bet they’re on the internet.

Those are the three reasons I believe Chromebooks have become so popular and will continue to be popular: price, management, and web access.

Note: I had the opportunity to interview Cyrus Mistry, head of Chromebooks for Education at Google on my Podcast, the Chromebook Classroom. Cyrus provides some great insight and interesting stories on how Chromebooks were created and made their way into schools.

4. What do you think are the main edtech tools to promote educational change?

I prefer to think about concepts rather than tools. Let me give you three instructional strategies that I think are important and some of my favorite tools that support these ideas:

Formative assessment:

  • Google Forms(Flubaroo), Pear Deack, Plickers

Classroom Management:

Active learning:

  • asking students use technology to demonstrate their learning
  • SparkAdobe-video, webpages, images
  • Canva – print projects
  • Google Sites(new)

Again, I don’t think that technology by itself will lead to educational change. Technology simply supports effective instructional methods.

Let’s talk about formative assessment. We know that formative assessment is important for student growth. Collecting data is easy. Understanding and interpreting that data is difficult.

For example in Additio would be a jump all the info collected to tell us what to do with that info.

I use Google Forms to collect student information. It might be a quiz, a pre-assessment, or an exit ticket. I use Flubaroo, a Google Sheet add-on to help me analyze that information and use it to help students.

Next up is classroom management. There are three things a teacher has to do in the classroom:

  1. Get information to your students,
  2. Receive information from your students
  3. Provide students with feedback

If you are using Google products, you should be using Google Classroom. Google Classroom is the easiest way to accomplish those three goals. It just works.

Ultimately, we want to engage our students with challenging, creative lessons. Research tells us that we learn best when we are creating. I love to use technology to encourage students to create projects to showcase what they are learning. There are great tools like Adobe Spark for simple videos projects, or Canvas for print newsletters, postcards. The new version of Google Sites is great for larger collaborative research projects.

5. There are so many different apps and tools available to teachers.

This is something I’ve been talking about lately, the web is cool but….there are so many different tools you can choose. There are two different reactions to this – some teachers are overwhelmed by all of the choices and then you have the “techie teachers” that love to try everything. The reality is that we don’t need a thousand tools for anything.

I recommend is focusing on a few tools that you will use consistently. I would recommend people select a primary each tool to these categories..

  • Presentation tools (pick 2)
  • Image editing tool (pick 3)
  • Screencasting (pick 1)
  • Video project tool (pick 2)
  • Audio tool (pick 1)
  • Office Productivity tool (pick 1)
  • Note taking tool (pick 2)

Check out John’s presentation with his recommended tools:

6. What trends do you see on the horizon? What will schools like like in the next five years?

“There are four major trends that I see impacting the classroom:

  1. Growth based assessment
  2. Project based learning
  3. Formación vocacional
  4. Integrated Coding”

Growth based assessment is a big one. I think we are going to see a reduced emphasis on standardized testing and look more at assessments which measure how much a student has grown over the course of a school year.

Project based learning will continue to be a growing trend. Students need to learn by doing, not just listening and taking tests. Makerspaces are leading this trend, but I think it will trickle down into every subject area.

I can also see a the resurgence of vocational training in US schools. For the past several decades we have focused so much energy getting students to college that we have a shortage of trade professionals – mechanics, plumbers, electricians, etc. Schools that have cut their vocational programs are now re-introducing them under the umbrella of STEM education.

“Teaching students how to code is a big topic here in the US. However coding tends to be an after school activity or elective course.”

I think we will begin to seen an emphasis in coding across the curriculum. Coding concepts will be integrated into language and math, science, etc rather than being treated as a separate topic. We’re not there yet, but idea of coding across the curriculum is emerging.

John Sowash - Chromebook Classroom

 

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