Monday, March 11, 2013
NCTIES 2013 Post Analysis
How long before state and national educational "technology" organizations recognize that the issue is not about technology but about what we do with it? Can we replace the noun technology with better goal focused titles than this seeming focus on mere equipment? How about Literacy, Discovery or Learning? What about verbs, e.g., Solving, Thinking? What did fill the halls and rooms of the conference though was an intense and motivated interest in the presentations at hand, with many filled to overflowing.
fine pre-conference analysis of the last two years of NCTIES presentation topics that also showed changing trends. Post-conference, after seeing many of them, I analyzed 203 presentations (David counted 202) in the downloadable Conference Program. I deleted a couple of them for which there was insufficient information to determine what the presentation was about. Naturally this eCROP blog site takes the digital palette strategies and media categories (image on right) that make up 21st century literacy and reworks the NCTIES presentation topics into eCROP's digital palette structure. Note that deciding on the focus of a presentation is a highly personal perspective that others would treat differently. You can try your own hand at categorization by changing my outlining treatment in this Word file, NCTIES-sorted-by-eCROP-digipalette-only.
On this first pass look at the data, it showed 67 Strategic focus sessions and 136 Digital Palette media focused presentations. Further details show a much deeper tilt. Of the 67 strategic thinking related sessions, only 1 focused on problem sharing and discovery. Two were on problem shaping (thinking more deeply about questions), and 61 focused on some aspect of problem solving (46 on the Look or search for digital information or the annotated listing of digital thinking tools, with 5 on actual search technique and the rest on new teaching strategies with new tech) 4 on composition (Evoke), 9 on Assessment and 3 focused on Publishing. That is, our state's digital leadership is missing much of the exploration of 2/3 of the larger strategic problem process on which our culture's advancement depends and lacking a fair amount of attention to key elements of the problem process (LEAP).
Distributing the 136 Digital Palette media presentations across the the 11 media elements of the digital palette that make up the current range of dominant tools for digital composing and understanding, the results showed: 17 Text, 2 Image, 2 Audio, 11 Video, 1 on 2D Animation, 2 on 3D Animation/Printers/Virtual Reality; 1 Sensors/Robotics, 15 Interactivity and gaming, 3 programming, 15 on teaming/collaboration and 69 devoted to Frames (planning tech use, use of digital devices, 1:1 computing, and software tools).
None of the sessions on programming tackled the topic head-on by focusing on real computer languages, addressing them rather obliquely. As programming and computer science undergirds everything we discuss, where is our both our instruction and our advocacy for this knowledge as well as lucrative and critical career? No one in the vendor area nor any presenter discussed the impact of 3D printers, laser cutters and the potential rebirth of the "shop" in school programs undergirded by new digital technology. (It should be noted that the vocational education theme was the first bill sought from the Legislature and signed by the governor in 2013. Do we need a Current Topics session every year so that late developing topics can get proper attention? But even with the noted shortcomings, clearly the term "technology" in the conference title is relevant to the overall thrust of the conference. What was surprising here is the small numbers of sessions that focused on gaming given that gaming was the theme of the conference. Perhaps this tilt towards technology, this focus on digital things and their maintenance, is one more measurement of the current state of the art in our educational systems's digital integration. Our schools are a long way from universal one to one (1:1) integration but clearly moving in that direction. Until our outgunned and underfunded technology staff teams can put the 1:1 issue to rest, a monstrous challenge, it is hard to see beyond that. Though I wonder how we can properly do that planning without the larger strategic view being much better understood. I conclude that our group is far more focused on applying the mechanics of the digital tools of the age than the bigger picture of where we are and where we should be going with those tools.