Tag Archives: Education

Brainstorming: With Anonymity and without

I was reflecting for a moment on the picture here, where Design Thinking was in action, and was thinking about how we often ask students, teachers, parents, administrators, workers, and so on to add their ideas to a wall through a brainstorm method.  But I was also thinking about accountability.  I wonder if it would be better to create a system like this where everyone needs to have their name attached to their idea.  My theory is that it would help in two ways.

The first is that the overall architect(s) would be able to return to the brainstorm and see who’s name is attached to the idea.  This way, if there is a problem, they can quickly follow-up with that person to get a clearer idea of what they were writing about.

The second idea stems from the fact that I assume people will put more effort into an idea if they know their name is attached to it.  With anonymity could come sloppiness, laziness, or downright silliness.

Where I think it might squash some of the better ideas because people may not want to put them forth since their name is attached, to counteract this, people could be asked to come back to the wall or another wall for another turn at it.  This time, they could put any idea that came to their head, but could do it anonymously.

I would argue that using both methods would be most useful because most ideas would be well thought out and articulated from those who had their names attached, but the second method would enable out-of-the-box thinking and the bizarre ideas to flourish.

What do you think?  Has this approach been done before?

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Design, Education


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Has the IBO always gone overboard with criteria?

At the Nanjing International School, we use both the IBO curriculum and we are trying to adopt NoTosh’s ideas about Design Thinking.

I might argue that since we are trying to follow both the IB Design Curriculum AND Design Thinking we ask students to choose from at least one strand in each criterion.  In my teaching career with MYP, I have noticed most times every item from the IBO’s level 7-8 criteria does not make sense for students to complete.  They are not realistic and rather than student being informed by the process, they are bored out of their mind.

A case example:
If students would like to make a website, they might only choose:

Criterion A: Inquiring and analysing
The student:
i. explains and justifies the need for a solution to a problem for a client/ target audience
ii. constructs a detailed research plan, which identifies and prioritizes the primary and secondary research needed to develop a solution to the problem independently
iii. analyses a range of existing products that inspire a solution to the problem in detail 
iv. develops a detailed design brief, which summarizes the analysis of relevant research.

Criterion B: Developing ideas
The student:
i. develops detailed design specifications, which explain the success criteria for the design of a solution based on the analysis of the research (in this case, a website layout)
ii. develops a range of feasible design ideas, using an appropriate medium(s) and detailed annotation, which can be correctly interpreted by others
iii. presents the chosen design and justifies fully and critically its selection with detailed reference to the design specification
iv. develops accurate and detailed planning drawings/diagrams and outlines requirements for the creation of the chosen solution.

Criterion C: Creating the solution
The student:
i. constructs a detailed and logical plan, which describes the efficient use of time and resources, sufficient for peers to be able to follow to create the solution
ii. demonstrates excellent technical skills when making the solution. 
iii. follows the plan to create the solution, which functions as intended and is presented appropriately
iv. fully justifies changes made to the chosen design and plan when making the solution.

Criterion D: Evaluating
The student:
i. designs detailed and relevant testing methods, which generate data, to measure the success of the solution
ii. critically evaluates the success of the solution against the design specification based on authentic product testing
iii. explains how the solution could be improved 
iv. explains the impact of the product on the client/target audience. (IBO, 2014)

Following this idea, teachers would still have something to mark for every criterion, but it would be more succinct and we could enable the FUN back into the learning.  I would emphasize that we would want the students to choose and (verbally) justify why they have chosen those criteria.  Along the lines of Design Thinking, we want the kids to: “be immersed, synthesize, ideate, prototype, and then display” (NoTosh, 2015).

I think it is important that we follow the rules, but as educators we need to realize when the rules should be broken if we are ensuring that our students are not enjoying the subject matter.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Instructional Design – Weeding

This video is the next in a series about instructional design and technology integration.  It focuses on “weeding” (Mayer and Moreno, 2003 as cited by Mayer and Clark, 2010, p. 308).  Note the video in this post: where cognitive overload occurs because of the split attention effect.  As a viewer, you are trying to focus either on the writing at the bottom of the screen or the verbal explanation.  The videos are nearly identical; however, in the video in this post most subtitles and music while speaking occurs was removed.  The effect is that it reduces extraneous processing by the viewer.


Mayer, R. E., & Clark, R. C. (2010). Instructional strategies for receptive learning environments. In K. H. Silber, & W. R. Foshay (Series Ed.), Handbook for improving performance in the workplace: Vol. 1. Instructional design and training delivery, (pp. 298-328). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Education, Technology


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Instructional Design – Cognitive Overload

This is the first video in a series involving key ideas in instructional design.  It has technology integrated through authentic means in the lesson.  It is meant to induce cognitive overload, but embeds a lot of information about instructional design in doing so.  Watch this video as a comparison.  This video specifically explores: 

  • Split Attention Effect
  • Cognitive Overload
  • Learning Styles
  • Primacy and Recency
  • Presentation of the Whole Task (Pebbles in the Pond)
  • Searching for Misconceptions
  • Looking for Evidence
  • Multimodal Presentation
  • Prior Knowledge
  • Creating an Atmosphere of Problem-Solving
  • Instructivist and Constructivist Techniques
  • Motivation
  • Choice
  • Differentiation

References and Resources

Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-459.

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.

Dunn, R., Beaudry, J. S., & Klavas, A. (2002). Survey of research on learning styles. California Journal of Science Education, II(2), 76-98. Retrieved from

Hattie, J. (1999). Influences on student learning. Retrieved from

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. A. (2007). Scaffolding and achievement in problem-based and inquiry learning: A response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006). Educational Psychologist, 42(2), 99-107.

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experimental, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.

Kozma, R. B. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 179-212.

Lovelace, M. K. (2005, January/February). Meta-analysis of experimental research based on the Dunn and Dunn model.  Journal of Educational Research, 98(3), 176-183.

Martinez, M. E. (2010). Learning and cognition: The design of the mind. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Silber, K. H. (2010). A principle-based model of instructional design. In K. H. Silber, & W. R. Foshay (Series Ed.), Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace: Vol. 1. Instructional design and training delivery, (pp. 23-52). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

van Gog, T., Ericsson, K. A., Rikers, R. M., & Paas, F. (2005). Instructional design for advanced learners: Establishing connections between the theoretical frameworks of cognitive load and deliberate practice. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 53(3), 73-81. Retrieved from

van Merriënboer, J. J., & Ayres, P. (2005). Research on cognitive load theory and its design implications for e-learning. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 53(3), 5-13. Retrieved from

1 Comment

Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Education, Technology


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Google Apps Education Individual Qualification for Tom Johnson

I am proud to say that I have passed all five exams to get a Google Apps Education Individual Qualification.
Find more information about the certification here:


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Technology


Tags: , , , , ,

From Tech class to Tech integration

A learning common

As a new tech integration specialist, moving to a school where they were changing from the tech class to the tech integration model there were certain things that needed to be understood beforehand.

Some of these key ideas I posted in a post called Technology Integration: a six-pronged approach.  Other ideas, however, had more to do with dealing with the emotions of colleagues and I will touch on this now.  I would liken these Kübler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief” to the emotions that many of the teachers went through when learning they were dealing with a new strategy for technology:

Denial: Most home room teachers who have been at the school for sometime, upon hearing that their school will be moving to this model will be in shock, and do not really understand what this means.  Some may decide that they do not have time to meet with or interact with the new ‘tech integrator’ assuming this stance as one where they can keep their heads in the sand as long as possible until they will have to deal with what has been given to them.

As a tech integrator it means you need to explain the process to teachers, knowing full-well that many of the words you say or write are falling on deaf ears.  It is of utmost importance that you have patience knowing that they are dealing with change, and are there to offer reassurance, help and support when they are ready to receive it.


Anger: One of the biggest gripes from teachers is that they “have lost their prep. period”.  They do not see the big picture yet and feel like they have gained nothing, but definitely lost what most teachers treasure most – time.

As a tech integrator, this means that you have to be ready to act as the messenger, fully realizing that some teachers will be ready to shoot you.  Again, patience and understanding are key here.  Note that I am not saying, “push for your right to integrate tech”.  A tech integrators role, especially in the early stages, has more to do with empathizing and supporting than it does with integrating technology.  Be kind, be patient, listen, and support.

Bargaining: At this stage many teachers are still not ready to accept the role of the tech integrator and may decide that they will ‘leave for a coffee for the entire period’ while you teach the class in their classroom.  Although this may need to happen at first to ease into the transition there needs to be bargaining and compromise from both sides.  For instance, the tech integrator eventually needs to explain that his role is to be working with the teachers to integrate technology into the classroom.

The tech integrator eventually wants to work his way out of the job.  Essentially, he should be developing computer skills in all the teachers to such a degree that he can begin focussing his role more as a learning coach than a tech integrator.

Another worry from teachers is about how they will do the tech teaching themselves, how they are going to mark, who is going to mark, etc. These questions should all be explicitly focused upon over time with the tech integrator helping out along the way.  Remember, this is not a journey that will take a year.  In my experience and that of others, it takes between three and five years to fully move to tech integration.

Depression: There may be some hidden or some outright depression along the way.  Teachers may say things like, “I don’t know how to teach technology; I just don’t have the skill set; or Please, can you come and teach my class.”

As a tech integrator, the initial stage will mean getting to know all the teachers needs through regular meetings and setting up classroom visits.  However, upon you understanding the support necessary for different teachers, accommodation takes place at different levels.  For example, some teachers may want a lesson to be taught completely by the tech integrator.  Others, may want to team teach.  Other still, may want you there only as moral support or support when something gets tricky.  And finally, many may want you to teach them individually either for personal or professional purposes.  This is where the acceptance stage has started kicking in.

Acceptance: Not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a bright shiny light when everyone reaches the end of that tunnel.  Here are some reasons:

  1. The students have a higher chance they are learning technology through authentic means, and not in a separate class where the end goal is to learn technology.  The computer and it’s peripheries begin to be thought of as a tool to help a student come up with better or altogether new ways to create solutions to genuine problems.  Ideally, the teachers and tech integrators are integrating with the highest levels of the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model.
  2. Tech integration improves student learning processes and outcomes because teachers who recognize a computer’s capacity move from a Behavioral approach to a constructivist approach as noted in this article.
  3. Technology integration enables total engagement of the class with tools like Google Docs, Microsoft One-Note, Socrative, Edmodo, and one of my new favorites Todaysmeet.  Integration also allows for students to enlist the help of other classes, schools, or even experts in a field to find the answers to the questions that may be posed.  Students or teachers can post in blogs, on social networks, through ePortfolios and through so many other forms.
  4. As a tech integrator, your colleagues can learn from you in so many capacities.  As mentioned above, they can learn while you are teaching, while they are teaching, or by themselves at their own pace.
  5. Finally, another advantage for you, the tech integrator, stepping into so many classes is that you are gleaning best teaching practice.  I like to think of a tech integrator as a bumblebee pollinating flowers, or carrying best practice from one class to the next. This again is teaching teachers, but it has reciprocal advantages.

While the stages are not the same for all teachers, a technology integrator stepping into these shoes in a school where they are changing from tech classes to integration is unwittingly going to stumble across some, if not all, of the teachers in one stage or another.  He needs to mentally prepare himself for the situation and recognize that he won’t be liked by most upon arrival.  He needs to remember to support, support, support.  In two or three years he will be loved even more than the tech teacher who would take the kids off the teachers hands so they could have a break.  Eventually, he will become the most loved teacher through all the school, even more than the gym teacher!!

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Technology


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Books to read…

The following list are recommended by Daniel Pink and his readers in his book, “Drive”.  First, if you haven’t read Pink’s book, put it at the top of your list.  Because I love the insights and strategies Pink submits, I am definitely going to try to read some, if not all, of these books.  If you have any insight about which ones I should read first, I welcome your feedback.

Daniel Pink - PopTech 2007 - Camden, ME

Daniel Pink – PopTech 2007 – Camden, ME (Photo credit: Kris Krug)

Pink’s Reader’s Recommendations:

  1. The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle (This was just recommended to me by a friend)
  2. Encore – Marc Freedman
  3. Rework – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  4. Linchpin – Seth Godin (I love this author and blogger – This may top my list)
  5. Just Listen – Mark Goulston
  6. Switch – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  7. Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh
  8. Teach like a Champion – Doug Lemov
  9. Mastery – George Leonard
  10. Employees First, Customers Second – Vineer Nayar
  11. How full is your Bucket? – Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton
  12. Wellbeing – Tom Rath and Jim Harter
  13. Learned Optimisim – Martin E. P. Siligman
  14. Do More Great Work – Michael Bungay Stanier
  15. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
  16. The Motivated Student – Bob Sullo
  17. Good Boss, Bad Boss – Bob Sutton
  18. Intrinsic Motivation at Work – Kenneth W. Tomas
  19. Wooden Leadership – John Wooden and Steve Jamison

Pink’s Recommendations:

The reason I am putting two of the books at the top of my list is because I have heard a few people talking about them.  I suppose this is why I read most of the books that I do-either recommendation, talk around the water cooler, they are on a list for school, and now because they are on a list from an author who I respect and enjoy reading.

Personally, I would add Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics, Blur, and any books that Malcolm Gladwell or Seth Godin wrote to this list.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Education


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: