Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Transparent Memo to the Participants of a Workshop: What would you write to encourage people to participate?

This is an open memo (or at least, that is the plan):  I am writing this openly, to share with participants and others.

I'm interested in getting the workshops to be a real example of interaction.  I want to video every part of the experience.

The core of the Fischler idea, the work by Enrique Gonzalez and the Big Picture education (Dennis Littky) and the idea of "transformed education" is: 
a) personalized instruction.
b) don't worry about the devices.  Clark says it is not the media, it is the teachers' methods.
c)  beliefs of teachers can get in the way of real learning.   "Learning Styles" is a distraction
d)  we don't need ipads to have students working to create projects together.
e)  we don't need internet to make portfolios.
f)  we can flip the classroom in a creative way so that students arrive in class ready to discuss the key new ideas and then to work 

When people ask me, "How do we use technology to teach?"  I want to unplug everything and just ask them "How do you intend to teach each student so that each student feels heard by a teacher?"  If it's 30 or 30,000 students, how can we use these new methods to personalize the curriculum and make the learning visible?

I want to start with
a) what do we mean when we say "we need technology in teaching"?
b)  What is instructional or educational technology?
c)  What skills do you want to learn?
d)  How can we use devices in the classroom?
e) what will be our methods?
f)  how will we check to see that we have learned something?

then I want to show them all this memo and reveal that technology also is:
the pen and pencils
colored ink (whoooooaa   that was a technical leap)
chalk, green board
folders for portfolios
tables to sit around 
pins in the wall and tape

of course cameras, computers, tablets, Internet, etc.

It's the definition of "educational technology":
Instructional technology is "the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning," according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee.[1] Instructional technology is often referred to as a part of educational technology but the use of these terms has changed over the years. Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources."[2] While instructional technology covers the processes and systems of learning and instruction, educational technology includes other systems used in the process of developing human capability.From Wikipedia

instructional technology covers the processes and systems of learning and instruction... it's not just the devices

I want them to really participate in this workshop (to edit the book that I will bring) and create a workshop to bring their methods to this discussion.

Will this procedure be too strange or unfamiliar?  (usually there is a lecture).   I will be prepared for a lecture and a "hands on" session where students go through a checklist of "how to use this device" and I certify them at the end of the workshop as "ready to teach Technology in Education."

I have two groups
a)  Technology in teaching to some students of Tourism and Hospitality (who might want to learn how to use technology or to know what they are missing and what they would be using if they were in university in Venezuela or Mexico or Spain or USA)

b)  the flipped classroom with professors.  The focus will be 1. How do we make learning PERSONAL?   
2. How do we use lectures effectively?  
3. How do we arrange the classroom time so EACH STUDENT is contacted by a professor or by a teaching assistant and so that EACH STUDENT really gets challenged to learn?  
4. How do we create an environment for learning?   
5. What role does the flipped classroom play?   How can we use the flipped classroom when we don't have the internet?
6.  In this workshop, do we have time to use the flipped classroom approach?

I want them to speak from their own experience. 
I want them to speak and we will record the session.   I think a group of teachers (and students) can create a system that is better than what I described in the workbook.

Will this be too much of a shock to the professors who want to learn about the Flipped Classroom?
If they want a lecture, I can give the lecture.
I just want to discuss with them, "How can we make this session interactive?"
In addition
a) How can we create time for me to sit with each of them, one at a time, to check their prior knowledge?
b)  How can we arrange the class so that they work together or individually and I can check their understanding?
c)  What do they want to be the outcome?
I think it will be easy with these professors because you say that the Cuban system encourages discussion and ongoing verbal summaries in class (through the day) to check understanding.

I want their "homework" or work product from the workshop to be a handbook about how to make the Flipped Classroom in Cuba.

As you can see in the workbook that I sent you, I want the participants to be active.  this workshop is a reply to Gilberto's question "How do you use technology in teaching?" and I have tried to bring in Clark's philosophy and articles.

I look forward to further discussions.  I believe in transparency. I want this entire memo to be open to the participants.   I think you said that Gilberto can arrange for printing at the school.


Monday and Tuesday
Plan for the class called "Technology in teaching"

1.  Define "instructional technology"
2.  make a list of available technology
3.  ask students, "What skills do you want to learn today?"
4.  create tasks to check skills
5.  hands on, learning with partners
6.  are we limited by the technology in this room?
7.  can we promote learning with the tools at hand?

Key questions to guide the class
1.  What technology is needed to meet the needs of the students?
2.  can we bring portfolios, projects and personal learning plans into cities that don't have broadband internet?
3.  What 500 videos should students see before they leave high school?

What is the product?
Every person leaves the room with a list of skills.  The list is about skills that the students want to learn about to become better learners.

1.  Review the previous day (show the instructor what you learned)
2.  get more hands on practice with the tools.
3.  Describe how you plan to use Personal Learning Plan (PLP), projects and portfolio in the future.  
4.  how can we go farther?   where can we learn more about the Personal Learning Plan?


1.  Describe the flipped classroom
2.  Ask the participants to imagine the benefits of the flip
3.  What could go wrong?
4.  what tools are needed for the flip
5.  how could the flip be organized in a city that does not have easy access to the Internet?
6.  what lectures work well for the flip?

KEY QUESTION to guide the participants:
Can we organize a flipped classroom in a city that does not have easy access to the Internet?  
What tools do we need?
What training do we need to give students and teachers?
What procedures are needed?

GOAL:  Each person creates a video for a flipped lesson
(in the second day, each participant actually makes a video to demonstrate some important points)
SECOND GOAL:  we work together to make a better workbook.
What pages in the workbook worked?

HOMEWORK:  a) watch the flipped classroom by Katie Gimbar
INDIVIDUALLY to get the experience (perhaps we simulate this by asking each person to watch the video in turn while doing a project)
b) develop a script for a video

THURSDAY (next day)
1.  review the previous work
2.  create the videos
3.  describe the flip procedures for a school that lacks internet and lots of computers.


For both workshops
How can we arrange the classroom time to create time for the instructor to meet with each person or at least with pairs of people?
a) PAST what information and expectations do you bring into the class?
b)  NOW:  what do you want to learn now?
c)  FUTURE:  What do you want to do in the future?
How can today support your plan?


Split the class into small groups

1. start with a group lecture.   
2.  build an understanding about "how will we use the class time?"  (Posters to create a "culture of interactive learning and participation" in the class)
3.  students work on activities
4.  pairs of students meet with instructor (instructor walks around the room)
5.  Report back to the whole class.  Instructor checks the understanding
6.  Write "we learned this" in our portfolios.
7.  Reflect:  how does all of this connect with the main topic?
Repeat (move to the next topic)

Activities include
a) goals for the class and for individuals
("get to know each other")
b)  personal learning plan
("put your goals in writing")
c)  set up a portfolio to capture work
(two folders:  (A) projects, classwork portfolio
(B) personal learning plan, plus a journal)
d)  plans for getting the portfolio into a digital form.  What are the options?
e)   think about projects  (what project can we create to capture what we learned here today?)

Schedule (expectations)
Instructor's time
Lecture 5 minutes
Organize the discussion
Walk around the small groups, meeting with pairs or individuals.
Learn every student's goals.
Learn every student's names (we know that students learn more when an instructor knows something about them)

Participants' time (we expect participants to do these things)
Interrupt the professor with questions during the lecture
Talk in the discussion
Build a personal learning plan
start a portfolio
work on projects

Other procedures
1. put posters in the restroom to promote random learning
2.  plan the breaks.  food, water   Create breaks to support learning.
3.  timing:  use an audio timer (music goes on every 10 minutes to indicate a change in activity)
4.  choose the method of homework.
5.  write the key questions on the board
6.  Ask, "How will we make the learning visible?  How can we see the learning?"
7.  Every person gets a notebook.  "the design notebook" -- use the book to capture designs.  It's the Dan Pink exercise.
8.  An empty chair in the room.   Everybody looks at "who is not in this room?  What can we do to include that person?  How will that person know what we are learning?"   Jeff Bezos of Amazon always has an empty chair in the room.
9.  The "E" exercise.   Write the letter E on your forehead using a pen.
What are some more activities?

Some of this uses the "R" words from Marilee Sprenger's  Brain Book
How to Teach So Students Remember
Study Guide written by Marilee Sprenger
These words might guide us in the end of the workshop to know where we could improve the process.

This document is distributed in the workshop to help participants see the direction that we are going.  Instead of lecturing about the "importance of interactive work in classes to produce learning," we can use interactive work.   The method is the memo.    For younger people, teenagers especially, the memo is not needed, but some of the curious students will want to know "where are we going with this process?" and "Do I have to take notes?"  If we distribute this document, we answer both questions.

Send comments to

Note to Mario:
OUR PAPER  [I include this comment so that participants can think about contributing to the paper or article]
I also hope you have had time to think about the paper or article that we will write about "What can U.S. teachers and principals learn from Cuban teachers and principals?"    

There are two topics
a) "What can U.S. teachers and principals learn from Cuban teachers and principals?"  (especially the Beca and the high school away from home)
b)  in Distance Education:  "What can teachers in USA learn about distance education from Cuban professors?"  

Do you think it is a good idea to show any of this to Gilberto to build connections to the distance education program in Univ of Havana?

Maybe I can connect with a professor of distance education at Havana and you, he and I can write an article about "What can teachers in USA learn about blended learning and distance education from Cuban professors?"   and that article because it has distance education can be published in TOJDE   Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education.   I'm downloading the entire 12 years of TOJDE to bring to the workshop.  (4 issues per year x 12 years =  48 PDFs).

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