Our first featured educator is Ron Houtman, an Education Technology Consultant at the Kent Intermediate School District and Regional Education Media Center 8 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He helps teachers and students integrate appropriate technology into their teaching and learning practices. He uses Jing, Camtasia Studio, Snagit, mobile devices, document cameras, digital cameras, wikis, and blogs to help integrate technology into the classroom. Ron will be presenting at ISTE 2011.
ISTE 2011 Presentation: Lessons Where Your Students Are
TechSmith’s Jing screen capture tool allows Ron Houtman to record short videos for students bursting with useful, informative bits. Come talk with him to see how easily he makes this content available to view over and over again by posting it to a LMS (like Moodle, Blackboard, or Angel) or directly to independent blogs, wikis, and websites.
Watch this presentation:
Monday: 9:30AM, 12:30PM
Tuesday: 10:00AM, 12:00PM, 3:00PM
Wednesday: 9:30AM, 11:30AM
An Interview with Ron
Question: How has the Kent Intermediate School District and Regional Education Media Center 8 evolved over the course your work?
Answer: Working within our organization, I’ve seen an increased adoption rate of technology usage among all of our staff in our daily work. In the past, much of the day to day work involved face-to-face meetings and the creating and moving of paper. Now, I see much more asynchronous and online collaborative work occurring. People are using web conferencing tools like Skype and Adobe Connect in their daily practice. Moreover, instead of paper how-to guides, our staff is creating short screencasts to help inform and teach others. Additionally, the use of Google Docs has been great for collaborative work. Instead of trying to figure out what version of a document you just received via email, we are now literally working on the same page.
The largest change I see in my work with our constituent districts is a sense of urgency displayed by the educators I work with to both engage students and integrate technology into their teaching and learning practices. They understand that they are competing against Facebook and YouTube for the attention of our students. They see that many of their kids have a richer experience outside their classroom with regard to their technology use and realizing that they must figure out how to replicate those experiences in their teaching practice to make learning more relevant. That doesn’t mean doing ‘either-or’, instead it’s ‘and’.
We are working very hard to make sure our teachers understand Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and how technology can be used to meet the needs of all students, no matter if they have disabilities or are gifted and talented. We have seen that using targeted technology has really leveled the playing field for all of our diverse learners.
Question: How do you measure your success with teachers? With students?
Answer: In her book Mindset (2008), Dr. Carol Dweck describes growth versus fixed mindsets. I measure my success with teachers on if I can move them from the idea that technology is just an add-on or ‘one more thing’ to something that is transformative to their teaching and learning practice.
The fixed mindset would be demonstrated by thinking that the world has not changed and what they are doing is just fine, and it was ‘good enough for me, so it’s good enough for the kids.” A person with a growth mindset understands that we live in a different world, and that to be successful in it, one must continually look for new ways of doing things, take on challenges in unfamiliar territory and to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities.
I’m successful when I see teachers discover the power of their Professional Learning Network (PLN), and create digital representations of their classrooms to transcend the boundaries of time, space and place. I’m successful when I see educators move from a sage on the stage to a facilitator of learning. Furthermore, I’m successful when I see teachers move from covering the content to letting students uncover the learning. This doesn’t always take technology, however technology is one tool that makes this transformation more appealing to the learner.
The outcomes I look for in our students revolve around the skills necessary to be successful in the second decade of the 21st Century. Success for students goes beyond meeting their grade-level content expectations and what their score is on a standardized assessment. It should be that they are growing in knowledge and abilities year over year.
To be successful in the knowledge-based economy our students need to be effective communicators using the media of the day, like blogs, wikis, and video. They need to be able to solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking and understand the world as a set of related systems. They need to understand how to work collaboratively and get along well with others. In essence, students should be self-starters able to take what they learn in their education and apply it to their everyday lives outside school.
Question: What would you like for those who come to your presentation to take away?
Answer: We are all busy in our personal and professional lives. Screencasting is just one way that we can save both ourselves and our learners a great amount of time–not to mention that it’s much more effective a tool to explain a concept with audio and video than with static text and images.
Additionally, educators will learn how easy it is to create a collection of learning objects that their students can access on a just in time basis. Moreover, screencasting is an excellent way to meet the needs of all learners through the principles of Universal Design for Learning.
Connect with Ron
Follow Ron on Twitter
Connect with Ron on LinkedIn
Check out Ron’s Blog
Watch an interview with Ron at ISTE from eSchool News
Look forward to the next blog post about Dr. Roland Rios on Monday, June 20th.