Saturday, March 1, 2014

Publishing and Mobility: Literacy and Creativity

I did a webinar about a year ago and I thought I would refresh my memory about it as I prepare for this spring's webinar from ASDN. My presentation then was mainly about a specific app for iOS and an application on OS which allows a user to share their content remotely. This year I am mainly discussing the relationship of the new Alaska State English and Language Arts Standards and mobile publishing. Not one to limit my thinking to a single set of standards I also head those of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE Standards) and best practices of industry leaders and researchers (shared below).

So what do the standards say?
It's not so much what the standards say that excite as much as how they say it. Students Will...

  • demonstrate independence.
  • build strong content knowledge.
  • respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.
  • comprehend as well as critique.
  • value evidence.
  • use technology and digital media strategically and capably.
  • come to understand other perspectives and cultures

From the EED website, the State prescribes to the following school of thought: 

Students appreciate that the twentyfirstcentury classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they are able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. They evaluate other points of view critically and constructively. Through reading great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures, and worldviews, students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.

Integrating Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

iBooks are perfect for:

  • Children's adventure stories, folktales, legends, fables, fantasy, realistic, fiction, and myth
  • History biographies and autobiographies
  • Literary nonfiction and historical, scientific, and technical texts
  • Including the sub genres of exposition, argument, and functional text in the form of personal essays, speeches, opinion pieces, essays about art or literature, biographies and memoirs, journalism, and historical, scientific, technical, or economic accounts

Why iBooks, though?
 Our students are unique individuals with a voice worth hearing and ideas worth sharing. They are curious and imaginative and deserve the opportunity to create. The expression of their self image, their diversity, and their singularity are absolutely vital to modern society. In addition the use of multimedia in the classroom has been long touted as a panacea to student apathy. Using movies and audio engages learners. The infusion of technology sparks interests and enables greater achievements, therefore, empowering students with with tech skills makes them more potent in their creative expressions.

The format of an iBook is in itself unique and special. The file type of iBooks allow the embedding of text, audio, video, three dimensional animation, interactives, hyperlinks, maps, and more! The accessibility options of an iOS device allow for font size adjustment, background color adjustment, and text to speech in the native operating system.

Publishing an iBook to share is a simple and easy task. Posting the iBook file type is just like posting a word document. You can place it on websites, in dropbox, on Google drive, on personal websites, or even iTunes if you're feeling industrious. Teacher should be aware of what can and can't be posted online though. The federal government via the Children's Internet Protection Act regulate what can and should be posted online, among other things.

Addressing the Standards

Demonstrate Independence
Students taking ownership of their creation will produce better materials and be more heavily engaged. Stake holder buy in is everything! Get parents involved too. Motivation from home can be a game-changer, to say the least. Think about the big picture. For the majority of my career I have been in Western Alaska where Native culture can fade, in some instances, from everyday life and may even be lost to an entire generation. Think what a determined class of highly skill and highly motivated students could do... Cataloging and digitizing of language, stories, and the wisdom of the elders is something rarely done in my experience. Think of the lasting impact on the history of a people if this were done in iBook format! 

Build Strong Content Knowledge
Place-based models for education are well proven to impact student retention. Student authored works are a sure fire way to engage and celebrate student activity. In marketing terms the "stickiness factor" is when something is interesting enough for a learner to remember. Capitalizing on this concept, iBooks engage the multiple intelligences and all of the students' senses. 

Respond to Varying Demands
Bringing personal lives and the school world together bridges the gaps of formal education present since the beginnings of compulsory education. The validity of school vs. education hinges on the ability to absorb, synthesize, and apply what they learn. I have written and thought quite a bit on the subject personally and I can tell you that Bush districts are struggling with this disparity, to say the least. In terms of the typical 21st Century Learner, our job as educators is now to encourage learning agility

Comprehend & Critique
Design-based; Poject-based; Problem-based. Not easy to say, and certainly not easy to implement at the classroom level. In truth it is nearly impossible to implement at the district level. In a nutshell I think it looks like this: complex topics solved creatively and the demonstration of understanding of the solution though multimedia or unique presentation. 
Think of the backward design model and pinpointing the learning outcomes you wish to measure. Now offer real world problems with details and characters familiar to the learner. Allow them to address the problem creatively and solve it in groups or individually through critical thinking facilitated by the teacher. To measure the understanding, evaluate via performance-based projects rich in personal expression, multimedia, or art.

Value Evidence
Student must be capable of finding and using information. Regurgitation, ceaseless testing, and data recall are no longer accepted. “Knowing” is now defined as a deeper understanding of themes and concepts. I can't tell you how much it bothers me to read text without footnotes and appendixes. Our culture has become so far removed from primary sources that I fear we will one day be ruled by cable news networks and our libraries will be run by Wikipedia... 

Use Technology Capably
Technology for technology sake is NEVER the answer. Just because children want to use mobile devices all of the time, doesn’t make it educationally relevant. Sometimes a pencil and paper is the best way to teach. Sometimes turning off, unplugging, and going outside is the best way to learn. When we do use technology, we should consider carefully how and why we do so. Consider the research of Dr. Ruben Puentedura and his continuum of adoption. I liken this to Bloom's-Technology-Taxonomy... are we striving to redefine? 
SAMR Model
Substitution – Write in Word instead of notebook
Augmentation – Add images to tell the story
Modification – Add video to broaden artistic scope of the project to include multimedia
Redefinition – Use interactive HTML applications, voice, video, sound, links, and iOS accessibility options to create an iBook published to the Web!

Understand Other Perspectives & Cultures
Give students a chance to share and you may be surprised!

What are your thoughts on the subject?