Sunday, January 19, 2014

What is in my horizon?

I am always looking forward to find new ways to integrate technology to the curriculum. After this course on Instructional Technology, my vision for teaching and student learning has had a shift in my mind. To exemplify it, I chose the first unit of inquiry (UoI) from the PYP for third grade level to expose the horizons now and three years from now in order to improve the integration of technology. 

The unit of inquiry is “Chain Reaction”:
  1. Transdisciplinary Theme:  How We Organize Ourselves
  2. Central idea: Our choices and actions affect society
  3. Lines of Inquiry:
  • Children’s rights and obligations
  • The importance of values (PYP student attitudes and learner profile)
  • How respectful interactions lead to positive relationships

The technology integrated to this unit was the introduction and use of Google Apps in order for “students to use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others” among other NETS standards (International Society for Technology in Education [NETS], 2012.) 

My vision of approaching this UoI in the horizon looks as follows:

Monday, Jan 20, 2014...

Google apps were introduced and set up along with the students at the beginning of this school year (August-September 2013) with the UoI “Chain Reaction”. The content of the document was in charge of the lead teachers and depended on their personal approaches to the lines of inquiry for the UoI. All third grade students have been using Chrome as their default browser in the lab ever since. They have been using Google Docs and Presentation mostly since September. They have been using e-mails to communicate with their teachers, parents and friends. They know their work is available in Google Drive and some have discovered Drawing. Most of them understand they are in a safe network environment and that they have been using cloud computing, this is, they know they can find their work in any other device outside the lab, which was not possible when they were in 2nd grade.

As for January 20, they will continue to create shared documents and presentations in at least one more UoI. When they were introduced to the shared apps, they worked in teams or couples within the lab environment. As time has passed by, and the teachers and students have become familiar with the use of Google Apps, they have been working also in teams from home. Students have done some research online and have taken notes in order to create their documents and presentations. I have introduced Diigo to some of the groups but others have not had the time to do it. No printing has happened in the lab since 3 years ago, so far, this is an eco-friendly lab.
Next school year...

The introduction and use of Google Apps will continue with this same UoI since students will be using Google Apps from then on. The Mac desktops in the lab will be running Mavericks OSX  in the newest version smoothly. The features of Google Apps will probably change for the best and I will have to be ready for these updates. 
There will be an important extra shift going on though, the full implementation of the BYOD program at our school will be running effectively. Consequently, students will have access to the Apps not only in my lab, but also in their classrooms through iPads or at home with a variety of devices. Collaboration will move on to a higher level since it will happen not only in the lab, but from the classroom or home at the same time. Children will understand cloud computing and how they can use it much better through direct experience.
Their research procedures will change as well. Class time will be used better and we will have more time for research in the lab. I will teach how to use the Google Docs research tools to look for information for their inquiry. The teachers will be aware that they use their own words for their reports and the participation of each student. They will also have time to work with Diigo so instead of taking handwritten notes (notes students always loose), they will have their research work saved and also available in every device they use in the Web. By highlighting or making notes on the webpages found to support their inquiry process, students will understand researching online better and will be able to have access to their information and share ir with classmates and supervised by their teachers.

Three years from now...

The lab will still be in use. The Mac desktops will be running a new operating system or an updated version of the last available if they can run it. Google will still be running on them. However, depending on the trends of technology, it could happen that most the technology could be taking place more into the classroom than into the lab. Cloud computing and mobile devices use for education will be both fully in use. More useful apps will show up and added to the ones that still are in use. They will make the research process easier among other processes. 
Teachers and administrators will be looking forward for new challenges to face. One of them could be using learning analytics in order to decipher trends of student-related data, to further the advancement of a personalized, supportive system of K-12 education. Another, the use of open content, and bring the textbooks to the mobile devices. Technology into the classroom will be looking forward to be customized to each student’s unique needs through the development of new technologies that will provide more learner choice and control and allow for differentiated instruction (New Media Consortium [NMC], 2013).
Some other trends on the use of technology in education might arise and be adopted, since this is the vision of the school regarding modern infrastructure: “ASF is a 21st century learning environment because of ongoing investment and stewardship in: state of the art classrooms conducive to interactive learning; the finest technology, classrooms, science laboratories and athletic facilities; a new performing arts venue; the vanguard of technologies for students to research, work and communicate effectively” (The American School Foundation, 2014).

The shift in my mind is huge. I am already a pro 21st century learning teacher looking forward for my students to use Web 2.0 tools to create technology products that will prepare them for the future in the present. However, my perspective moved from: “I will work with whatever new technology is available and let us see what comes next” to “I understand where I need to go.” 

This new understanding and connections made me embrace a new vision of how things will evolve, which is just fine; nevertheless, in the mean time, while embracing this new vision, I also understand that I do not need to rush towards the horizon, since it is never ending, but to enjoy the ride.


Beers, S. (2011). Teaching 21st Century Skills: An ASCD Action Tool. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.International Society for Technology in Education. (2012). ISTE NETS. Students. Retrieved from ISTE:, I., McCain, T., & Crockett, L. (2011). Education and the Role of the Educator in the Future. Phi Delta Kappan , 92 (4), 15-21.New Media Consortium. (2013). Horizon Report 2013, K-12 Edition. Retrieved from HZ NMC Horizon Report: American School Foundation. (2014). Mission and Vision. Retrieved from The American School Foundation. Educating Global Citizens for a Changing World:

Final Project #EDC601 (@pattyshanti & @tipsbytracey)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

How has course EDC 601 affected me?

As a life-long-learner, I am happily enjoying EDC 601, Instructional Technology like a kid. Being a technology teacher and knowing and using already many of the tools we have been exposed to, it would seem that this has been a piece of cake for me. Well, it has been challenging in many ways and it has opened my eyes in many unexpected ways.
I have always believed that there is always something new to learn. This course has offered me being updated. I already knew I will never be "updated enough", but the red lights turned on on me about using PLN's much more and taking advantage of professional connections as of the importance of my web presence and networking.
I have also been challenged and inspired to work for spreading information in Spanish, my native language. Never thought about blogging in Spanish, since I have been doing it for my studies in English. Getting to know the scarcity of information in the Web of Spanish EdTech publications has brought back my sleeping interest in publishing. I have to confess I studied a BA in Journalism and Mass Media. This is the moment to do it!
As a teacher, I am inspired in looking forward for more K-12 Ed-Tech options to implement in my teaching. The name of the game is to keep moving on. I am not a rookie anymore (30 years teaching!); however, I understood that renovating and reinventing myself has to be a cyclic process in order to keep myself rolling in the educational tech world. 

Thanks @pattyshanti & @tipsbytracey! 

Does this mean I will get an A?

Just kidding!  ;)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Assistive Technology: How technology can make class content more accessible to students with learning disabilities.

As educators, how many students in our groups have learning disorders (ADD, ADHD, dyslexia) or even disabilities? They struggle hard with writing, spelling or just putting their thoughts on paper. Teachers face these challenges everyday as much as their students.
Consequently, teachers and administrators in schools need to understand these challenges and figure out solutions. Many of them are already available through resources and tools that match specific needs. The concept that explains the foundations of these technological resources is assistive technology.

According to Lynch (2013), in K-12 classrooms, assistive technology is designed to improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability: “While the word "technology" automatically conjures up images of cutting-edge electronics, some assistive technology is possible with just simple accommodations. Whether high-tech or simple in design, assistive technology has the ability to transform the learning experiences for the children who benefit”  (para. 2).

He also highlights the following strides in some common assistive technology areas:
  1. Alternative input devices: Tools designed to allow students with disabilities to use computers and related technology easily (touch screens, modified keyboards and joysticks, for example.
  2. Text-to-speech options: These provide a learning advantage for students who have mobility or dexterity problems, or those who are blind. It allows students to speak their thoughts without typing and even navigate the Internet.
  3. Screen readers: This technology informs students of what is on a screen (Lynch, 2013).

Some examples of these resources are:
  • Kidspiration: An application that works with screen readers and helps young students to organize their ideas. This child friendly graphic organizer can be used as a word processor as students use mental maps to organize their ideas through images and then go to the writing section to write about them without loosing focus on what they want to say:  “Kidspiration works the way students think and learn and the way teachers teach. As students make visual connections, they build fundamental skills in reading, writing, math, science and social studies” (Inspiration Software, 2014).
  •  Livescribe pen: Though many online resources are available, a combination of tools can work for alternative input devices A smartpen as Livescribe Pen, allows word capturing, scribbling and diagramming, and then syncs everything to a tablet or a smartphone.  This smartpen “captures the audio in the classroom, which can then be uploaded, and shared online. Students can tap on the notes they took during class and hear the audio recorded at the moment they were writing. The pen is helpful for students who don't catch the main points during class” (Duffy, 2012).
  • WordQ: A simple application that integrates word prediction and text to speech to provide a writing solution. Users include students from primary school to college. It includes a simple interface that offers the support needed when needed, instead of distracting with features and functions not used at the moment.

Assistive technology is a concept that adds up to many others as to many other technologies that are changing the way we work and learn; that is well known. What is important? To know they exist, how to find them and; most important, that they actually are useful in providing solutions for the challenges students with learning disabilities face day-to-day.

Duffy, F. (2012). The Write Tools for ADHD Students. Retrieved from ADDitude. Living well with attention Deficit: Software. (2011). WordQ. Retrieved from Think, Write, Go: GoQ: Software. (2014). Kidspiration - The Visual Way to Explore and Understand Words, Numbers and Concepts. Retrieved from Inspiration Software: (2013). How Smartpens Help Students with Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from Livesribe:, M. (2013, September 9). Assistive Technology: A Necessity for Student Success. Retrieved from Education Week:    

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How Web. 2.0 Empowers Students and Young Adults

According to its definition, the term Web 2.0 describes a second generation of the World Wide Web that is focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online. It refers to the transition from static HTML Web pages to a more dynamic Web that is more organized and is based on serving Web applications to users. Other functionality includes open communication with an emphasis on Web-based communities of users, and more open sharing of information. Blogs, wikis, and Web services are all seen as components of Web 2.0. (Webopedia, 2014)

Web 2.0 empowers students and young adults as it allows them to access tools easily to innovate by consuming and creating technology products to consume and share information. Students have the possibility to take the lead in their own learning process and share to the world by their own means. Teacher’s role has consequently been changing to be mentors, guides or facilitators.

AdoraSvitak, for example, is a prolific short story writer and blogger since age seven, (now 12). She is also the youngest TED speaker going around the United States and inspiring adults and children as an advocate for literacy. She has had this possibility through the Web 2.0 tools (Svitak, 2010a).

In the video: "What Adults Can Learn From Kids", Adora Svitak highlights that  “the world needs "childish" thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids' big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups' willingness to learn from children as much as to teach” (Svitak, 2010b).

"What adults can learn from kids" 
 Uploaded from TED, Ideas Worth Spreading (Svitak, 2010b) 


Svitak, A. (2010a). Speakers Adora Svitak: Child prodigyRetrieved from TED Ideas Worth Spreading:
Svitak, A. (2010b). Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids. Retrieved from TED Ideas Worth Spreading: (2014). Web 2.0. Retrieved from Webopedia:

Assignment 9, #EDC601

What is the relevance of emergent technologies for teaching, learning or creative inquiry in the Horizon Report K-12, 2103?

The NMC Horizon Report series serves the higher education, K-12, and museum communities across the globe in their desire to understand the impact of emerging technologies on their chosen field or discipline.

The Horizon Report 2013, K-12 Edition identifies six technologies into use for teaching, learning, and creative inquiry. They can be near-term, mid-term and far term for their implementation and use.
These six technologies and their relevance for teaching, learning or creative inquiry are:

  1. Cloud computing (near-term): It is used for storage, conferencing and collaboration, as for office suite management, takes the pressure off the schools to continually update their machines and software. One of its most common uses in the classroom has been the integration of cloud-based tools such as Google Apps into the K-12 curriculum.
  2. Mobile devices (near-term): It is used for accessing reference materials, supporting student performance, and watching videos. They are portable, flexible and have natural intuitive interfaces. They are cost effective for schools for one-to-one learning and for BYOD programs.
  3. Learning analytics (mid-term): Web-based software and tracking tools are giving teachers a closer look into the learning activities of their students. Districts use analytics to inform their decision-making. Data is becoming an integral part of designing and assessing learning experiences.
  4. Open content (mid-term): Educators are taking advantage of open resources rather than textbooks, since they keep current in any area of study. Open resources help to expand curricula with media-rich tools and texts that can be used and adapted to specific lessons. Teachers now have access to a wealth of digital information that they can use to meet district expectations.
  5. 3D printing (far-term): It enables more authentic exploration of objects hat may not be readily available to schools. Its practical applications will allow students to interact with models of different objects or creating something that is all their own.
  6. Virtual remote laboratories (far-term): They are a trend to more authentic online education as virtual and remote labs offer flexibility and students can run experiments as any times as they like in and outside school; which means less pressure for students as they may repeat and make adjustments to the process of experiments in a controlled environment safely.
The Horizon Report has proven to be an accurate resource to help educators understand and stay at the leading edge of emerging technologies.


New Media Consortium. (2013). Horizon Report 2013, K-12 Edition. Retrieved from HZ NMC Horizon Report:

Assignment 8-1, #EDC601

Why should educators consider updating their classes to meet the needs of a 21st century learner?

Learning has changed with technology, and the 21st century challenges are not easy to address, especially in education; however, it is essential to understand the way of a world where technology rules and to look forward to adapt to the changes in order to provide quality education and prepare students to be successful. Therefore a shift is required, teachers need to become facilitators and turn the classroom into a learning studio in which students design their own pathways to knowledge, understanding they are teaching for the future, not for the past. Therefore there is the need to understand what is happening in culture, and what is happening in this new age of information (Rankin, 2011).
The fact is that technology is changing exponentially and therefore changing the culture, from a systemic perspective, includes a change in all the systems and subsystems. Consequently educational systems are changing, and learning is so, because it is dialectic, interconnected and subjective.
According to Rankin (2011), in the cycle of technological change, as new technologies become successful (innovation), then a new culture forms around the technology (building), after a new problem appears (solidifying) and finally new technologies appear threatening the system (destabilizing). In this age, it seems so that teachers are in the destabilizing phase as students are moving towards innovation.
Students as 21st century learners consume, participate, create and innovate through the human-computer interaction (HCI) artifacts (computers, tablets, smartphones) into real situations, solving real world problems.
They are operating together and creating community to change culture as technology is more:
  • Portable
  • Mobile
  • Accessible
  • Standardized
  • Differentiated
  • Interconnected

However, what is it that educators need to understand about learning in the 21st century? Rankin (2011) highlights that information is instantly available at one click, however it is important if it is relevant in context. Therefore what is needed is not to teach about information but to teach information models for when information changes so we know how to apply the models in particular contexts.
This change in culture involves everything, in the case of educators, is both the way they understand education and the way they understand the world.
There are many opportunities to go the way of the 21st century and to make the correct decisions for improvement and updating. Educators need to move the way of innovation through strategies and methodologies, plus adopting the new technologies and learning about them as they appear and are used in education. They need to create a laboratory in order to turn teaching with HCI artifacts towards consuming and creating technology products. Educators need to adopt a new role into the system.

Mobile Learning at ACU


Beers, S. (2011). Teaching 21st Century Skills: An ASCD Action Tool. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.Rankin, W. (2011, January 25). Next Wave Mobility & the 3 Ages of Information [Video]. Retrieved January 7, 2013, from You Tube:

Assignment 7, #EDC601

Friday, May 24, 2013

Creating an Advertisement

I decided to use this photograph because I love this brand, which I even use in the mild weather of Mexico City. My target audience is any consumer who likes cold weather or does not, but still wants to use high technology cold weather clothes. My message is to use this brand through a funny presentation that might call the attention of costumers and make them smile.

Assignment 7