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My Notes on (Re) imagining Engaging, Internet-Infused Educational Practices-Dr. Cassie Scharber

Dr. Cassie Scharber, who I collaborated with on initial evaluations of 1:1 in Edina, spoke to the CAREI (Center for Applied Research on Educational Innovation) Assembly meeting on (Re) imagining Engaging, Internet-Infused Educational Practices. Cassie is co-director of the LT Media Lab at the University of Minnesota.

Macro: Tech Integration Barriers
Scharber started the conversation talking about the current "teacher shaming" that is happening in the media.
She read this letter from a teacher, which she used as a frame to talk about what is on teachers plates today, and how technology sometimes is seen as an add on to that plate.

She was one of the 50% of teachers who resign within 4 years of starting the teaching profession. This was in 2000, and she found that she ran into many obstacles and barriers, with filters and other policies that limited her ability to teach in today's world.

Her focus is on literacy, and that is the context that leads her to be an advocate for technology in schools. What does it mean to be literate today in the United States? "Literacy is no longer an endpoint to be acheived, but a process" 
Literacy however is not about the technology but the practices that the tools make possible. It's about changing skills and practices of what students can do in order to be successful in today's world.
It's not about all students having a device. It's about the practices that are possible when those devices are connected to the Internet.

Why? The world is changing and Education is changing!
She then showed this video, that reminded me of a 2014 version of "Did You Know?"

Scharber wants to reframe the tech integration conversation into one in Literacy rather than which tool a district is using. She wants to change the discourse to be not about tools but practices.

She asked us to explore what has "inhibited" our teachers/students from using technology for teaching and learning activities. For the folks around me, we would say:
Fear, Lack of experience, infrastructure/connectivity, not all students having a device, desire to do things the way they've always done them, and teachers seeing themselves as the master of the content.

Scharber listed Reality Check-Barriers to Tech Integration
Internal Barriers

  • Resistance to technology itself (emotional)
  • Resistance to Change
  • Fear of Failure
  • Lack of technology discourse and knowledge
  • Lack of technology proficiency-We teach the way we were taught (Scharber notes that she still sees that in the young pre-service teachers she works with today. They learned the same way she did 20 years ago.)

External Barriers

  • Access to tech tools
  • Access to tech support
  • Access to working infrastructure-If this isn't there, you're not using the tools to their fullest capacity
  • Access to supportive, collaborative communities and ecosystems both within the district and outside the district. (BYOTchat is an example of this!)

Pedagogical Barriers
  • Tendancy to teach how taught
  • Lack of appreciation of how technology can enhance teaching/learning
    • students learn WITH technology, not from
  • (In)Compatibility between teaching beliefs and tech affordances (Collaboration and creation are not honored in how we currently assess students today)
  • Shifting role of teacher-Hard to be a co-learner rather than the lead
Scharber shared TPACK as a way to incorporate this:

Scharber gave these tips for:
Hurdling Barriers
  • Anchor in pedagogy and content
  • "Evolution rather than revolution (Zhao, 2002
  • PLAY,PLAY, PLAY
  • Recognize and let go of FEAR
  • Be OK with "Failing!" (Live in Beta)

Barriers don't always make headlines, tools do. Scharber notes that we need to focus on the practices, grounding in literacy. She mentioned Science Leadership Academy, where they're anchor is Inquiry Based Learning.
Don't make your anchor the laptop!

Scharber asked us to think of our pedagogy like the Delorian in Back to the Future, where we can go back in forth in time to use the tool that works best for the time. Stay future oriented:
"Roads, where we're going, we don't need roads!" 
Don't let yourself be tied to linear thinking.

Micro: Bright star snapshot
"What do our children need to be ready to succeed, prosper, and seize opportunities for an unpredictable future-and how to they need to be learning it?" David Warlick

Bright Stars
Technology-Mediated Urban Settings for Youth as Pathways for Engaged Learning
Tied to connected learning, the research question asks:
How do school, library, and community based urban settings position youth as engaged learners through the use of digital technologies?
Scharber identified three frameworks:

  • Participatory Culture
  • Engagemet-in-learning
  • Activity Theory
Using this theory, learning is social, not just cognitive. They look at the entire ecosystem. 
They studied a Community Based Organization, where youth participated three days a week, where students got to know one another and learned how to use tools to make documentary films. The object/purpose was defined by the teachers as an internship. The mentor thought it was about being fun and challenging, more about building relationships. The youth thought it was like "group," a fun learning experience, that was more real-world and adventurous.
The youth and adult leaders were very invested in reaching the goal. They found that the youth were very engaged, and immediately moved into the role of film-makers.


The objects for the library, school and CBO were different, but the magic of the facilitator is what made the learning space work. The object was malleable, and the facilitator was key. It wasn't about the tools.


Current Projects from the LT Media Lab


Questions: Conversation

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