Kathy is recognised worldwide as one of the leading voices in edtech. She has written hundreds of articles and authored several books about educational technology topics.She has also received numerous awards for her work, including a People's Choice Webby and both the ISTE and MassCUE Making IT Happen Awards.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I was trained as an elementary school teacher and then a school library media specialist. I had a keen interest in technology early, so moved to becoming a technology director for both instructional and infrastructure. I started my Web site, Kathy Schrock’s guide for Educators, in 1995 to help teachers get to sites that could help them in teaching and learning. Along the way, I partnered with Discovery Education in 1999 to host the site, and it was online until June of 2012. I have now created a new site to help teachers in a different way. I have been speaking and writing about technology for 20 years now, and pride myself on keeping up with the newest trends and developing presentations and resources to support teachers as they use technology for teaching and learning.
You have a great deal of experience using technology in education. How important do you think that the advent of mobile technology has been for the classroom?
I believe any time you give a classroom full of students a device, especially 1-to-1 or 1-to-2, you are opening up a new way of doing things and a world of information. We saw this years ago when we first put in computer labs, But, put a smaller, portable device that can go anywhere in the hands of a student or teacher opens up the ability to create and learn “anytime, anywhere”. No longer do classes have to traipse to the computer lab and sit in front of a monitor. They can move freely around the room or around the school, sharing and collaborating easily. They also have access to additional information if they need something clarified or just wish to explore their passions.
What aspects of learning do you feel can benefit the most from constructive use of iPads in the classroom?
I feel that the ability of students to create with the devices provides an almost unlimited choice of both formative and summative assessments choices! Students can easily show they have mastered in the content in many ways— by using everything from Plickers to iMovie Trailers
What advice would you offer a school about to deploy tablets for the first time?
Make sure your bandwidth can handle the new number of devices you will be placing on the network.
Try a pilot class with a 1-to-1, all day, all year set-up instead of shared carts. Have that teacher keep track of successes, failures, and student creations. Once the great things that are going on in that classroom are showcased to school boards and the community, the support for more 1-to-1, all day, all year set-ups will be easily acquired!
Remember the iPad is a really a personal device, and don’t lock them down so tight that students and teachers cannot explore or download apps to try.
Have a plan for PD for the teachers, first in how the devices work, but, more importantly, the importance of the use of the tool to support pedagogically-sound teaching, learning, and assessment.
What is your opinion on BYOD as an option for schools?
Although I teach a graduate level course that includes BYOD as a major topic, I hesitate to recommend it. I know the cost savings are tremendous to districts and students fell comfortable with their own devices. I worry about the range of devices that come in with a BYOD initiative and the ability of all students to be on a level playing field when considering what assessments to offer. I would rather see school-supplied devices to allow teachers to feel comfortable knowing all students have the hardware and software to complete an assignment. I am not promoting assessments that are all the same, but, in order to allow student choice, I feel there needs to be an a similar baseline of hardware and software.
You've put some phenomenal resources together tying mobile technology to Bloom's Taxonomy. What led to this cross-pollination?
Andrew Churches, of the Educational Origami site was the first to coin the phrase “Boom’s Digital Taxonomy” and he mapped Web 2.0 tools to the levels of Bloom’s. I started out by doing the same thing for mobile device apps and added Google, Windows, and some others. I feel it is important to think about what cognitive level is being addressed when planning an assessment for students. I then moved the SAMR model into the mix to provide teachers with a strategy for developing technology-rich activities that help students both demonstrate their knowledge acquisition as well as use technology in new and exciting ways.
Do you have one particular project or success story that you are especially proud of?
I think the creation of Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators in 1995, when the Web was still young, wild, and disorganized, is what I am most proud of. As a curated directory, I hope it helped a lot of educators who were new to the Web to find resources that were useful for their classroom.
How important do you think it is for teachers to harness apps that allow students to create rather than just consume content?
Since I am only a subject generalist by training and experience, although I recognize the power of providing remediation and extension information using the content-based apps, I have concentrated on the creation side of things. Mobile devices give all students the ability to be creative by both having a camera and mic as well as many wonderful applications and online tools for the creation of content. I believe creating content using mobile devices gives students practice in the information literacy, visual literacy, and media literacy skill-sets, as well as learning how to use the technology to produce a product for an authentic audience.
What are your personal favourite apps right now?
I really like Microsoft’s OneNote as an organizational application for both teachers and students. It is available for both Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android platforms and it easily syncs across devices. It is easy to use and is a great curation tool!
Is there an app that you recommend above all others?
That is a hard question. Although not an iPad app, I love Reflector (http://www.airsquirrels.com/reflector). This cross-platform tool runs on Windows or Mac computers and turns your computer into an AirPlay device. Teachers and students can project their iPad screens to the computer that is already hooked up to the projector in their classroom.
Teachers and students are no longer tethered, but the best part about Reflector is the ability to record the projected image of the iPad to create both an archive or an instructional demonstration. As far as apps go, I feel Explain Everything, an iPad app that allows screencasting and much more, is a must-have for every iPad. There are so many options in the tool, including P-I-P face recording, the ability to animate objects and there are many ways to use screencasting in the classroom for everything from a “ticket to leave” to the creation of a digital story (http://www.schrockguide.net/screencasting.html).
More and more educators are getting behind the coding revolution. Do you think the iPad is a viable tool to start learning to code with?
I feel that the apps available on the iPad provide a good starting place to have the students become experienced with the computational thinking process. Beginning with such apps as Scratch and Scratch Jr., Hopscotch, Daisy the Dinosaur, and Tynker, can lead students to the more instructional coding apps such as Codea, Codeacademy, and Hackety Hack where they can learn programming languages.
You have more than one website, what can people find on each of them?
Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything (http://schrockguide.net) is a support site for the presentations I offer to schools and at conferences. I usually study a topic in depth for a year, collect resources, and create a presentation about the topic. The Guide to Everything includes links to those resources as well as others as I continue to learn about new aspects of tools and pedagogy.
The iPads for Teaching site (http://ipads4teaching.net) is devoted to various components of iPad use in the classroom including assessment, collaboration, workflow, and links to ideas, tips, tricks, apps, and successful practices.
How can our readers keep up to date with what you're up to and your latest projects?
I will continue to develop new topics for presentations as I study new ideas, thoughts, and pedagogical models I feel can support teaching and learning through the use of technology. I am already booked at many conferences and school districts for next year. I am also an adjunct instructor at two universities teaching graduate-level technology courses, and will continue that also.
Kathy it's been a real pleasure to hear from you. Thanks for speaking with us and we wish you continued success in all that you do.