Cutting-Edge Classroom Technology

Our guests discussed the new and emerging technologies that are likely to have an impact on the K-12 classroom.

Chat: Cutting-Edge Classroom Technology

Tuesday, June 23, 2 p.m. Eastern time

Our guests discussed the new and emerging technologies that are likely to have an impact on the K-12 classroom.

Related Stories:

  • “High-Tech Simulations Linked to Learning,” (April 8, 2009)
  • “Educators Test the Limits of Twitter Microblogging Tool,” (June 25, 2008)
  • Guests:
    Lucy Gray, education technology specialist at the University of Chicago Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education
    Eric Klopfer, director of the MIT Teacher Education program
    Katie Ash, staff writer, Education Week and Digital Directions, moderated this chat.

    Chat sponsored by: CTB/McGraw-Hill

    Live Chat: Cutting-Edge Classroom Technology(06/23/2009)



    Web Person: Casey: Good afternoon. Today’s chat is open for questions, so please start submitting them now. The chat itself will begin at 2 p.m.

    We’d like to thank our sponsor of this chat, CTB/McGraw-Hill.

    2:00 Moderator: Katie Ash: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s chat about cutting-edge classroom technologies! I’d like to welcome our guests Lucy Gray and Eric Klopfer. Could you both take a minute to introduce yourselves please?




    2:01 LucyGray: Should I go first??

    2:01 klopfer: Sure



    Okay, here goes... I’m Lucy Gray and I work for a unit at the University of Chicago that works on math and science education initiatives.

    2:02 Moderator: Katie Ash: Perfect! Thanks, Lucy. And why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, Eric.

    2:02 LucyGray: It’s called the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, and the people here develop the Everyday Mathematics curriculum among other things!

    2:03 klopfer: I’m Eric Klopfer. I’m Associate Professor and Director of the Teacher Education Program at MIT. We do R&D of educational technologies, mostly games and simulations. I’m also the President of a new non-profit called the Learning Games Network.

    2:03 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent! We’ve got a ton of questions already, and we’re going to try and get through as many as we can.

    2:04 LucyGray: Great! I see the long list!

    2:04 Moderator: Katie Ash: I think a good place to start might be with Susan’s question.

    2:04 [Comment From Susan]
    What specific new technology is anticipated to make the most significant impact on the classrooms of 2009-2010?

    2:04 Moderator: Katie Ash: What do you guys think?

    2:04 LucyGray: A place to start might be the New Media Consortium’s K12 Horizon Report.

    2:05 LucyGray: It lists emerging technologies that schools should be looking at in the next few years.

    2:05 LucyGray:

    2:06 klopfer: Well, smartboards are flying off the shelves, but in most of the cases I’ve seen they don’t actually impact classroom practices. I’m preferential to two of the technologies we work with - Mobile Devices (cell phones) and games. I think cell phones are another year or two away from starting to become accepted in schools, but this may be the year for games.

    2:06 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent. Maybe you can speak to Elizabeth’s question, then, Eric.

    2:06 [Comment From Elizabeth]
    Where do you see the use of cellphones going?

    2:07 klopfer: Ah. We’ve been designing simulations and games for mobile devices for several years. One of our motivations has been that “soon kids will have these devices themselves”. Well, now most kids 10+ have cell phones. Cell phones are hard to use, but the increase in Smartphones (like the iPhone) opens huge opportunities.

    2:08 klopfer: They are really personal computers.



    I think more schools are starting to do pilots with iPod Touches.

    2:08 Moderator: Katie Ash: Definitely.

    2:09 klopfer: With connections to the Internet and big developer communities behind them, I think they can make a big impact on practice



    The portability and pricing of such devices are really appealing to schools. Is MIT developing any educationa iPhone apps, Eric?

    2:09 klopfer: Yes, we have a few in development. We’re developing a client for our location-based games. We have a weather game in development for middle school, and this fall we’ll begin a multiplayer physics game.



    I see the potential for these devices with my own children.

    2:10 Moderator: Katie Ash: How so, Lucy?

    2:10 LucyGray: My 6yr old and 10 yr old have iPod nanos... and we’re thinking of upgrading to Touches.

    2:11 Moderator: Katie Ash: I bet they support that idea.

    2:11 LucyGray: There is so much free or affordable content on iTunes and in other places that really work well on these devices.

    2:11 klopfer: My son (5) loves playing physics game on my iPhone like Fantastic Contraption

    2:11 LucyGray: Audio books, videos etc. I can customize learning for them.

    2:11 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent!

    2:12 Moderator: Katie Ash: Let’s switch gears a little and talk about Web 2.0 and the classroom.



    Have you seen that Crayon physics one, too?

    2:12 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s a question from Dr. G:

    2:12 [Comment From Dr. G]
    I’m sitting in a classroom with preservice teachers...we are about to explore web2.0 classroom applications. What do you think is the most meaningful web2.0 application for our classrooms and what might be some of the successes and challengings in using it/ them?

    2:12 Moderator: Katie Ash: I know you’ve done a lot of work with Web 2.0, Lucy.



    I personally really like VoiceThread.

    2:13 Moderator: Katie Ash: What is that, and what do you like about it?

    2:13 LucyGray: I think it’s a natural fit with what teachers are already doing in their classrooms.

    2:13 LucyGray: VoiceThread lets you upload pictures and video, and then others can comment on them.

    2:13 LucyGray: Sounds deceptively simple, I know

    2:14 LucyGray: but it’s a really nice interface and the commenting tools are great. You can comment with text, video, and even by cellphone.

    2:14 klopfer: Looks really cool. I hadn’t seen this before.



    We’re using this in a pilot of a science curriculum right now, and the feedback is really positive. Great ease of use.



    VoiceThread has been particularly understanding of educator’s needs, so check out their ed pricing and community.

    2:15 Moderator: Katie Ash: Good idea.

    2:15 LucyGray: I think generally with Web 2.0 that it’s not about the tools.



    The tools are fun and cool and whatever...

    2:16 LucyGray: But you are not going to produce anything great with your students unless you think carefully about instruction first and foremost.

    2:16 Moderator: Katie Ash: That’s a huge concern for educators.

    2:16 Moderator: Katie Ash: That sort of speaks to a question from Christopher. It’s a long one, so brace yourselves.

    2:16 [Comment From Christopher Frascella]
    Two questions, to be taken together, or separately: 1) Will professional development be adequate to prepare teachers for the changes sure to come as a result of further integration of technology into the classroom, or must teacher preparation occur at the level of pre-service/induction for our classroom workforce to have the capacity it needs to implement these changes? 2) Is this more than just a shift in medium? Just how profound a change to PEDAGOGY does this imply?



    I think if you understand your curriculum well, then you can see logical places to infuse technology.

    2:17 klopfer: That is an excellent point!! Too often people think just using the tools is what is required.

    2:17 klopfer: It is about how you use the tools. Web 2.0 makes it easier to create good pedagogical models of instruction, but it doesn’t do it for you.

    2:17 LucyGray: Oh preservice education MUST catch up. Eric, do you work with preservice teachers at all?

    2:18 klopfer: Learner-centered social networking and collaboration are easier to facilitate

    2:18 klopfer: yes, I do pre-service teacher prep

    2:18 klopfer: Our course is Moodle based which I really enjoy.

    2:19 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s a question for you, Eric.

    2:19 [Comment From Randall F.]
    Eric, have you seen any research or applications of educational alternate reality games? I did a Master’s research report on them and did not find anything about ARGs in education.



    Technology is seen still as an add-on by many schools and schools of education. We have to get over that. And,just because young teachers can add a picture to their Facebook profile, it doesn’t mean that they know how to use technology effectively to be better teachers!

    2:19 klopfer: Students peer review each others’ work. We have weekly discussions that are split online and off. And many of the students use Google Docs and similar for group work.



    Switching gears to alternate reality...

    2:20 klopfer: I know of a few instances of people using ARGs for education. I think this is a really compelling model, but I don’t know if any definitive research at this point. Jane McGonigal has written about some of the learning in ARGs. ...

    2:21 klopfer: I think this form of game could be great for classes - low cost, flexible, integrates lots of different technologies, collaborative, could be authentic...

    2:21 Moderator: Katie Ash: What kinds of games do you see having an impact on education at this point? You said earlier this could be the year for games in school.

    2:21 klopfer: But they are challenging to facilitate. I think that some technology may make that easier in the coming year(s)



    Here’s a related question... how do we get truly cutting edge technologies to trickle down to classrooms, Eric? Do you see schools ready to embrace truly new learning environments?

    2:22 klopfer: I saw someone asked the question earlier on commercial off the shelf (COTS) games. These have had the most impact to date, because the production quality is high and teachers have made curriculum for them -- SimCity, Civilivation, etc....

    2:24 klopfer: Educational games have paled in comparison, but newer educational games (see - a game designed by Scot Osterweil in my lab in collaboration with Maryland Public Television) give an experience that is both engaging and explicitly educational. That is a big leap that these games have taken...

    2:24 klopfer: But Lucy’s question is a good one. For the most part this is all taking place at the margins...



    We still have a digital divide in the sense that some schools will try things that you are describing, but other schools don’t even realize the existence of technologies, imho. I

    2:24 LucyGray: I find it really alarming.

    2:25 klopfer: Early adopters, maverick teachers, etc. Some schools are adventurous, but not many. I see this mostly at the level of individual teachers. The question is how to get this out to a broader audience. ...

    2:25 Moderator: Katie Ash: Definitely - it seems to vary drastically from school to school, classroom to classroom.

    2:25 klopfer: Part of it comes down to access to technology, support and training. Part of it is about what the standards and schools value.



    Technology is not an option.

    2:26 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s a question from Emma that I think brings up a couple of important points:

    2:26 [Comment From Emma]
    With technology developing so fast, how can schools keep up with the cost of staying current? In a few years, there will be a new wave of changes.

    2:26 LucyGray: I think it’s more of an attitudnal barrier... I still run into teachers who think their students can’t do something such as programming in Scratch.



    Good point Lucy. I think some of that is about placing students in control and feeling comfortable with that.

    2:27 LucyGray: You don’t have to be on the bleeding edge... many of the tools that have worked well for me at various schools are free.

    2:28 LucyGray: I’m thinking specifically of the Oracle Foundation’s site which kids in my last school LOVED. Or, using Google Apps for education across a school.

    2:28 LucyGray: I think schools will need to focus on keeping their infrastructure up because a lot of activities will require bandwith etc.



    At this point a computer that is 4 years old is still pretty decent. We’re getting to a point where the upgrade cycle could slow down. The cost I think is in training and tech support. Those should not be ignored.

    2:29 Moderator: Katie Ash: Yeah - there are quite a few schools out there that struggle with bandwidth issues.

    2:29 LucyGray: Don’t feel you have to keep up... do excellent work with what you DO have.

    2:29 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s a question from Scott I think both of you might have suggestions for.

    2:29 [Comment From Scott Guild]
    If i were a teache who wanted to learn more about games, simulations and how to effectivley use web 2.0 tools where would you send me?

    2:29 klopfer: + we’ll see more mobile devices that kids will have themselves coming down the line.

    2:30 Moderator: Katie Ash: Do you have any advice/resources for teachers who are just starting out?



    Yes, I have a couple of sites to recommend

    2:30 LucyGray:

    2:31 LucyGray: And this matrix :

    2:31 klopfer: I was just about to make the same recommendation on classroom 2.0

    2:31 LucyGray: Classroom 2.0 is a great community for finding info on new and emerging technologies. You can find other like-minded practitioners there.

    2:32 klopfer: And you can find people to help you too. They look for “newbies”

    2:32 LucyGray: The matrix gives good examples, not necessarily cutting edge, on what tech integration looks like. I love this model.

    2:32 Moderator: Katie Ash: That sounds helpful.



    I also think Twitter is a huge PD resource.

    2:32 klopfer: we also wrote a paper recently. LInk coming...

    2:32 Moderator: Katie Ash: I was just about to ask you about that, Lucy!

    2:33 LucyGray: Don’t underestimate the power of “What are you doing ?”

    2:33 klopfer: Using the Technology of Today in the Classroom Today



    I recognize a name on that report! :)

    2:34 LucyGray: This kind of info is really useful to teachers, Eric. Everyone is always looking for evidence.

    2:34 Moderator: Katie Ash: Can you elaborate a little more on how you use twitter for PD, Lucy? What do you think is helpful about it?

    2:34 klopfer: Yes, it was really Jen Groff’s effort that made that paper possible.

    2:34 LucyGray: I personally would love to see data on how professionally engaged teachers are... what appeals to them, how much time they spend on certain activities, etc. It would inform how I coach teachers.

    2:35 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s another question about games for you, Eric.

    2:35 [Comment From Kim]
    Do you think students can transfer knowledge and strategies gained through playing games to standardized tests? If so, how?

    2:36 Moderator: Katie Ash: This can also be applied to other technologies. Is there a disconnect between using these technologies and assessment?



    I’ll come back to the twitter question, Katie, when Eric’s answered.

    2:36 Moderator: Katie Ash: sounds good.

    2:36 klopfer: Complex question. If you mean the standardized tests that we have in most places today. Then the answers is probably, but you could get them to score better more quickly with less effort using other means...

    2:37 klopfer: But I think the tests are changing (hopefully with this big federal initiative) to incorporate a broader range of skills and knowledge and not juts factual regurgitation....



    My personal belief, not based on data, is that games are going to make kids more engaged learners. And I think those behaviors will payoff on student achievement.

    2:38 klopfer: When that happens we’ll see the advantage of games (and simulations), that do help students transfer knowledge across situations and contexts in ways that most other experiences don’t facilitate.

    2:38 LucyGray: I think we fall into this trap that there is a silver bullet out there that is going to make kids “achieve”. We are not talking enough about student engagement and the social/emotional piece that relates to learning.

    2:39 klopfer: Agreed Lucy! Games (and all of these other tools) are about the community and learning environment just as much (or more) than the tools.

    2:40 Moderator: Katie Ash: Yes. Community does seem to be a big part of lots of new technologies - wikis, blogs, social-networking, as well as games.



    Absolutely. Kids want to learn. Why are schools turning some kids off?



    And interestingly enough.... teaching has NOT been about community.

    2:41 LucyGray: We’ve been isolated in our classrooms and that is changing. It’s really exciting to see. But scary for some!@

    2:41 Moderator: Katie Ash: I know you both work primarily with integrating technology into science and math, but we’ve had a lot of questions about technology and ELLs. Like this one from Nancy.

    2:41 [Comment From Nancy Melhorn]
    What advice do you have for English Language Learners who are learning to use new technologies in the classroom? Are there any teaching techniques to improve content learning?

    2:41 Moderator: Katie Ash: Any thoughts?

    2:42 LucyGray: Hmm... I’d go back to iPods on this one.

    2:42 LucyGray: I think there is so much rich content out there for kids in iTunes and ITunes U.

    2:42 LucyGray: You actually dont need an iPod... you can listen to this stuff on computers with iTunes installed.



    We actually have been doing a fair bit of work on games for ELL, first at MIT and now at the Learning Games Network.

    2:43 klopfer: We are working on a game platform with some partners and the sponsorship of the Hewlett Foundation.

    2:43 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent!

    2:44 klopfer: It isn’t ready yet, but there is a preview. It is for native spanish and mandarin speakers. Though the platform will be open for others to add to.

    2:44 Moderator: Katie Ash: Lucy, our guests are clamoring for more info about Twitter.

    2:44 [Comment From Rhonda Arney]
    I’d like to hear more about Twitter from Lucy Gray.

    2:44 LucyGray: By the way, you might want to look at Grace Poli’s work with iPods and ELL kids:

    2:44 Moderator: Katie Ash: What else can you tell us?

    2:44 LucyGray: Okay, I’m a Twitter nut! I followed Eric, by the way, but he hasn’t followed me back yet.

    2:44 LucyGray:

    2:44 klopfer: I just did :-)

    2:45 LucyGray: Anyway, I’ve been able to connect with many professionals over Twitter first and and foremost.

    2:45 LucyGray: I can ask a question and have suggestions within minutes.

    2:45 LucyGray: I can find out what’s going on with various organizations such as museums, universities, etc because they are all twittering away now.

    2:46 LucyGray: I don’t try to manage it all... I jump in when I can. And I use a few tools to help.

    2:46 Moderator: Katie Ash: That’s a very good point. It can be overwhelming to check Twitter if you haven’t been on for a few days.

    2:46 LucyGray: Tweetdeck is a free client that allows you to see your activity.

    2:46 LucyGray: I use a bookmarklet called Twit This to share web sites with others over Twitter as I surf.

    2:46 LucyGray: I also love Hootsuite for this...



    Now, in Tweetdeck, I do searches for things... and this allows me to find other Twitterers that are interested in the same things.

    2:47 LucyGray: For instance I have on standing search on “Everyday Math”. I have another on “Citizen Science”.

    2:48 LucyGray: I find and follow people this way... I know it’s a little stalkerish!

    2:48 LucyGray: But I also find links that people have posted to current and interesting resources.

    2:48 LucyGray: Twitter is about giving and taking... the more you share, the most information and help comes back to you.

    2:48 LucyGray: Does that make sense?

    2:48 Moderator: Katie Ash: Perfect! Looks of good resources and advice for using Twitter.


    LucyGray: And

    2:49 LucyGray: If you haven’t seen what’s been going on with Iran and social media, you are living under a rock. It’s really, really powerful.

    2:49 klopfer: I’ll just add that I played a Twitter game at a recent conference. It really engaged the participants in publishing (and consuming) this media

    2:49 LucyGray: Oh that looks neat!

    2:49 klopfer: Oh. And Tweetdeck just released a free iPhone/iPod touch client.



    Here are some tips for getting started that I posted recently:

    I saw that for the iPhone! Sweet!

    2:50 Moderator: Katie Ash: Awesome!

    2:50 Moderator: Katie Ash: Eric, it seems like a lot of our guests are surprised at your comment about interactive whiteboards.

    2:50 [Comment From Andrea]
    Still wondering about interactive white boards effectiveness in classroom practices?

    2:50 Moderator: Katie Ash: I know it’s way back at the beginning of our chat, but can you expand a little bit on your statement?

    2:51 klopfer: I’ve seen a lot of schools who have invested in interactive white boards - one for every room. In most cases what I see is teachers projecting notes on to them and clicking to advance to the next slide. Maybe they’ll show a website or two. It isn’t really “interactive”. And they are expensive. ...

    2:52 klopfer: They certainly have the potential to be used creatively and effectively in a one computer classroom And I have seen examples of that as well...

    2:52 LucyGray: Again it goes back to honing your teaching skills.

    2:52 LucyGray: If you are not on top of your curriculum and good teaching in general, how are you going to use a whiteboard effectively?

    2:52 klopfer: But a lot of schools are investing in the technology and are happy that teachers are “using” them, without thinking about how they are being used and investing in training and applications for their use.

    2:53 klopfer: Right Lucy.



    At my last school, we had really great success with them. The teachers took ownership of the boards and taught each other tips and and tricks.

    2:53 klopfer: Comes back to community - creating a community of effective practice.

    2:54 Moderator: Katie Ash: So again, it goes back to not necessarily the technology itself, but how it’s used in the classroom.



    I was really pleased with their progress. It takes a certain amount of time and commitment for teachers to evolve in their use of IWB.



    Absolutely... again no silver bullet, no magic formula.

    2:55 klopfer: Although part of that formula needs to be training, time to collaborate with colleagues and technical support.

    2:55 Moderator: Katie Ash: Definitely. Professional development seems to play a huge role.

    2:56 LucyGray: Yes... discovering what works for your particular school culture.

    2:56 klopfer: Looks like some folks are following me on Twitter now :-) I’m eklopfer.

    2:56 Moderator: Katie Ash: Great! And what’s yours, Lucy?



    lol, I’m elemenous.

    2:56 Moderator: Katie Ash: Perfect.

    2:56 LucyGray: By the way, I know some people were asking about research....

    2:57 Moderator: Katie Ash: Yes - let’s talk a little bit about that to close things off.

    2:57 LucyGray: Eric, do you have any other good sources of research that people can take back to their districts?

    2:57 LucyGray: This is a list I’ve created for a grant we are writing:

    2:58 LucyGray: But it’s mostly focused on social software.

    2:58 klopfer: I think the research question is a good one. And should be paid attention to. though i’d argue that an even more important one is finding good working examples. Real educational research is tricky. Look at the recent study on reading methods in schools -- so much is variable across schools and classrooms.

    2:58 LucyGray: Okay, got some sources for examples then?

    2:59 Moderator: Katie Ash: MIT’s Education Arcade has quite a few research papers out there, doesn’t it?

    2:59 Moderator: Katie Ash:



    The paper I cited is one and that comes from The Education Arcade.

    2:59 klopfer: And the Classroom 2.0 community is also an excellent place to look.




    3:00 Moderator: Katie Ash: Great.

    3:00 LucyGray: I’m amazed at all the questions that were posed in this session!

    3:00 Moderator: Katie Ash: I know! We have enough questions to do this for hours.

    3:00 Moderator: Katie Ash: But unfortunately, we’re about out of time for today.



    Any last question, Katie?

    3:01 Moderator: Katie Ash: I think that’s about it. After this chat is closed, it will remain on this page, for those of you who would like a transcript.

    3:01 Moderator: Katie Ash: Thank you so much, Lucy and Eric for joining us and sharing your expertise.


    Web Person: Casey:
    Thanks everyone for participating in this chat, a transcript will be available shortly on this same page.

    We’d also like to thank our sponsor, CTB/McGraw-Hill.

    3:02 klopfer: Thanks


    Education Week's Spotlight on Technology in the Classroom

    Related Tags: