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Education Technology Thought Leader Interview – Kathy Schrock

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“It is not about the technology but about the higher order thinking skills …”

Kathy Schrock has been supporting educators with pedagogically-sound practices for seamlessly embedding technology into teaching and learning since the early 1990’s. Through sites like Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything and kathyschrock.net she shares a wealth of resources and techniques for incorporating technology in instruction. She has held positions including a school district Director of Technology, instructional technology specialist, and academic, museum, and public library librarian. She is currently an online adjunct graduate-level professor at two universities and an independent educational technologist.

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  1. Hi Kathy. Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to have this dialogue! I notice you have quite a few different web sites and sub sites, like your KaffeeKlatsch, your Guide to Everything, kathyschrock.net, and others. Any particular pointers on the goals or focus behind these different sites? What should readers look for from each site?

My namesake site, kathyschrock.net, is where viewers go to find out all about me and what I can bring to their school, district, or conference as a speaker. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything is a support site for all of my educational technology interests and my presentations. As I study a topic in depth, I create a page to support it. My blog, Kathy Schrock’s Kaffeklatsch is where I do my in-depth reviews of mostly very cool technology gadgets and also things I feel passionate about sharing.

  1. From 1999 through 2012, you partnered with Discovery Education on the publication of the site Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators. What are some of your favorite memories and outcomes from this long, productive relationship and body of work?

My favorite memories include the time I asked teachers to “adopt a page” of the site and check the links monthly to make sure they were still viable. In the early days, almost 20% of sites disappeared each month. They would send me the dead links and I would find out where they had gone or replace them with new ones.

My other favorite thing to do with with the “old” site was to decorate the schoolhouse image on the front page for holidays. Teachers would always love that!

Putting my name in the name of the site was not my idea, but the idea of a local Internet Service Provider who knew, when he started his business, that my list of links on file cards in a box would make a good Web page and teachers would come. He was a smart marketer, but having my name front and center helped me move ahead, first with the partnering with Discovery and then with all my speaking engagements. I love meeting teachers and talking to them about their teaching and learning needs.

  1. Anyone who has ever happened across your site iPads4Teaching will know that you are an advocate of incorporating the iPad in teaching and learning. Speaking of which, I’m looking forward to your Keynote address at the upcoming Teaching and Learning with the iPad conference this Fall! Do you have a couple of quick pointers for teachers who are new to the use of the iPad in the classroom?

First and foremost, think about the iPad as a creation tool rather than a consumption tool. We all know that students can search and curate the Web and use any number of apps for content enhancement. But consider that you are putting a drawing, painting, typing, recording, and video-making tool into a student’s hands and there are any number of creative ways they can use the iPads for showcasing their acquisition of content knowledge, whether for formative or summative assessments.

  1. You write that you, “study a new topic in depth for about a year and then come up with pedagogically-sound ways to embed that current area of interest meaningfully into teaching and learning.” Might I ask what topic or topics your readers can look forward to learning about in the coming months?

It’s a secret! No, not really. I am concentrating right now on helping teachers “dabble” in the new technologies that are here now and suggesting ways to get them ready for the technological advances that are coming. In addition, I am broadening all my presentations to work on iOS and Android tablets as well as laptops and Chromebooks to meet both the needs of BYOT schools as well as those that have settled on a specific device.

  1. During the last few years, as I’ve been teaching and diving deeper into the possibilities that technology offers for teachers, I’ve been inspired by a number of books. Sal Khan’s One World Schoolhouse, and Sams and Bergmann’s Flip Your Class: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day are two examples. I wish every teacher would read both of these. Are there any specific books that you would recommend that every teacher read?

I am not one that jumps on new bandwagons of educational pedagogy lightly. I don’t believe these “new” ways of teaching are really new. Teachers have always used a blended approach to meet the needs of their students. However, the “Maker movement” which, again, is not a new concept, is exciting to me. I feel the thinking and experimentation processes inherent in the project-based teaching model can help students across the curriculum. That being said, any teacher who wants to learn more about this should read Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Martinez and Stager (http://www.inventtolearn.com).

  1. So, with all the time and energy you’ve devoted to education and instructional technology, I’d love to know … if you had just one recommendation to make to teachers everywhere regarding the integration of technology and education, what would it be?

Try to avoid using the phrase “integrating technology” when thinking about the use of technology to support teaching and learning. “Integrating”, to me, means to add technology to already existing lessons and units, usually replacing traditional assessments with technology assessments. I like to use the phrase “infuse technology” since I feel it requires the teacher to look at the unit or lesson with a new lens and to re-design the learning experience to take advantage of the great things technology can bring to the lesson in a way that may not have been possible before. The SAMR model, as explained by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, can be used as a model for teacher re-development of lessons or units (http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/).

  1. How about those in charge? What are the most important recommendations would you like to drive home for administrators and leaders at other institutions regarding the integration of technology and education?

I won’t step onto the “integrate vs. infuse” soapbox again, but it is relevant for leaders, too. They should provide professional development for their teachers in the creation of learning experiences that incorporate the use of technology to meaningfully enhance teaching and learning. The administrators and leaders need to be knowledgeable about what that looks and feels like in a classroom situation. It is not about the technology but about the higher order thinking skills of analyzing, evaluating and creating to make sure the students can turn the content into knowledge.

  1. The ever expanding array of technology tools at our disposal these days can be rather overwhelming – what specific uses of technology do you see emerging as the most meaningful and most promising for engaging students and impacting learning outcomes?

This one will have to wait until after my ISTE 2015 presentation! I am still deciding. However, if educators want to see what the “experts” say, they should take a look at the 2014 NMC Horizon Report K-12 (http://www.nmc.org/publications/2014-horizon-report-k12). It will provide them with a glimpse of what may be coming in the next year, next two years, and five years out.

  1. Any additional thoughts, observations, or future plans you would like share with EmergingEdTech readers?

I would remind educators to take their time with the infusing of technology into teaching and learning. Using a device for a low-level, substitution task is fine sometimes, but remember to plan for those higher-order thinking skills, too! And curriculum re-design takes time. Make sure you are on Twitter and create a PLN there for yourself. It helps to have others to learn from and to bounce ideas off of. I am @kathyschrock if you want to follow me!

Come and and join Kathy and hundreds of other practitioners at the original iPad focused education conference – Teaching and Learning with the iPad, November 20 – 22, in Raliegh, NC. We hope to see you there!

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Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Education Technology Thought Leader Interview – Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.
Interview with Education Technology Thought Leader Terry Heick of TeachThought
Education Technology Thought Leader Interview – “Cool Cat Teacher” Vicki Davis

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