Blending technology and classroom learning: Jessie Woolley-Wilson at TEDxRainier

Blending technology and classroom learning: Jessie Woolley-Wilson at TEDxRainier

Translator: Christopher Phillips
Reviewer: Denise RQ Pivotal moments really can create who we are today and very much shape
who we become tomorrow. When I was a student, I was part of a group that went
to the DC metro area to try to figure out what business could do to try
to improve education for every child. What I remember most
about my first classroom visit in DC was the sound of dripping water
from a dilapidated building. There was this classroom
full of maybe 20, 25 students, and there was one student
sitting at a desk, captivated by the water
dripping from the ceiling. I won’t forget that scene because there wasn’t
much learning going on, but I also won’t forget his eyes. He saw me when I looked at him,
and he knew he deserved better. That was a pivotal moment for me. At that time, I decided not to take
a traditional path from business school and to devote my career,
really my life’s work, to try and figure out a way to make quality education
available to every child, regardless of what language they spoke,
regardless of where they called home, regardless really of their ZIP code. Do you know how important
your ZIP code is to giving you access
to a quality education? Of the 40,000 ZIP codes
in the United States, two outside the Boston area
are considered the most highly educated
ZIP codes in the country. So it seems to me we have a choice. We can load up our minivan
and take all kids to the best neighborhoods with
the best teachers and the best education, or we can figure out a way
to make ZIP code irrelevant to a child’s ability to learn,
to realize their learning potential, and I believe, in doing so,
realize their human potential. I am very, very excited
about the future of learning, despite what you might read
in the paper every day, because I think it rests in
the promise of blended learning. Blended learning – learning that combines the traditional face-to-face
classroom experience, that all of us perhaps grew up with, with new innovative learning technologies that have the power, in my mind,
to democratize learning. So I want to tell you a little story,
I want to talk about three things, three things that I think
are converging now that are going to permanently,
and I think, positively, change education. The first is the economic tsunami
that we’ve all weathered. 26 of 50 states are going to dramatically
decrease their investment in education as the result of what has happened
in the past several years; 26 of 50. And as a result, schools are being
forced to do more with less, while classroom sizes get larger, and while the learning readiness
of the students in that classroom continues to get broader
and broader and broader: broader socioeconomic, broader cultural,
broader language skills. So what is a teacher to do? I want to tell you a really
encouraging story about a teacher. Her name is Wendy Funk,
she’s a teacher in California. She saw, over the past two or three years,
her class size go from 18 to 28 students. In the United States, the average
classroom size is about 25 students now, but that’s up from 16 in 1980. So Wendy looked at her classroom,
and she said, “What am I going to do to make sure that every child gets
what they need when they need it?” What is a teacher to do,
even a great teacher like Wendy? Wendy’s pivotal moment came
when she turned to blended learning. She turned to blended learning
that was supported by an intelligent,
adaptive learning technology that I’ll tell you more about later. So she asked her kids to spend 100 minutes
a week on this adaptive software program and to rotate, part live class with her,
some time on the adaptive program, and the results were nothing
but astounding. In six months, her classroom achieved the equivalent of a full year
of learning; in six months. So with the help
of these adaptive technologies that I’m going to introduce you to, we could actually increase
the velocity of learning. So it doesn’t matter
what a child’s starting point is. It doesn’t matter
what they know when they start. What matters is the journey
and where it takes them. And that brings me
to the second major force that’s changing education
in a positive way. I mentioned it a few minute earlier:
intelligent adaptive learning. How many of you have ordered
something from Amazon or Netflix that you never – more on that later – that you never intended to buy? Because these software programs
that we use get to know us through use. They get to know us through use. And sometimes, they’re right;
oftentimes, they’re right. We’ve brought that kind
of capability to learning so that these adaptive technologies learn
the learner as the learner learns. Sounds funny, but it’s true. They actually learn the learner
as the learner learns. So that they can help
determine what next lesson, what next learning experience
a child should have, based on what they demonstrate
they know, and what they don’t know. So let me share with you
an example that might help. Behind me, you’ll see a virtual
manipulative, a learning tool. This is designed to allow students
to explore a lot of different ways to solve problems. But what is happening in the background,
what’s happening under the hood is that the adaptive engine
is collecting a lot of information as the student plays
what the student thinks is a game. In fact, this engine will collect about
50,000 data points per student per hour. Did they hesitate
when they picked up the mouse? Did they get the right answer immediately? All of those data points go into what lesson or what learning experience
that child receives next. So let’s say we have a classroom,
and in there, we have two students: one’s very advanced,
and one is struggling. The adaptive engine asks
the two students to build the number 48. The first student says,
“Well, I know how to do that. I’m going to take 4 groups of 10,
1 group of 8, and I get my number, 48.” Doesn’t hesitate,
doesn’t ask for help, is confident. The second student says, “I’m not
quite sure, but I do know my ones. And I’m going to push over
individually 48 ones.” In a multiple choice environment,
both students are correct, right? They both got the right answer. But you can see
that each of those students demonstrated that they had a different level
of understanding of mathematics. And therefore, where they should progress to next
shouldn’t be the same, it should be different. With the help
of blended learning solutions like intelligent adaptive technologies, students are actually put
in the driver’s seat so that they can literally help
architect their own learning path. So that that first student might be
sent to a subtraction lesson and be asked to build
the number 48, starting from 100, whereas the second student,
who was struggling, might get a lesson in fives and tens so that that student can have
a better opportunity to master what they weren’t able to demonstrate
that they mastered before. But the most important thing here is that both students get
what they need, when they need it. Both students are engaged,
they feel successful. They’re not stigmatized,
they’re not embarrassed. Both students are supported
in an environment that is highly personalized
to their own unique learning needs. This is the promise
of intelligent adaptive learning. It’ll never replace great teachers. But it can support great teaching
as those classrooms explode. That brings me to the third force
that is shaping the future of learning. My husband and I were
in a electronics store recently trying to buy a flat-screen TV
– probably for the Super Bowl – (Laughter) We went in there, and there was a little girl, maybe
three or four years old with her father. And while her father
was engaged with the salesman, she went over to the wall started pressing all the TVs
hanging on the wall. She wasn’t really satisfied,
she went to the next one. Wasn’t really satisfied,
went to the next one. She turned around and said, “Daddy, we can’t buy
our TV here, they’re all broken.” (Laughter) Grace is part
of a new generation of learners. She’s used to having immediate
responsiveness at her own personal touch. She feels in command
of her environment with her touch. And most kids don’t have the opportunity to experience blended learning
in their classroom. And we have to inspire Grace
to new levels of creativity, because the world
that she’s going to inherit, the jobs and industries
that she’s going to encounter, might not even exist yet. So we have to help Grace
learn how to learn and understand the value
of working through persistence. And in this environment
that I was explaining to you, getting the wrong answer
doesn’t mean failure. It’s just the first step to a deeper
understanding of subject matter. So when I think about my career,
and I think about 20 years ago in DC, I oftentimes think about that classroom. I think about that child whose eyes I met, I think about the desk he was sitting in,
and I think that about that drip. And I think about how many other students
in classrooms across the United States are uninspired and perhaps overlooked. But don’t be discouraged, be determined. Because that drip
doesn’t have to be a ticking clock. That drip can just be a cause
of motivation for all of us to make sure that, regardless of ZIP code,
we can bring these blending technologies to every child and help to unlock
the learning potential of every child. Because you know what? When you think
about it, these are our future leaders. These are our future innovators,
our future doers. These kids are our future. So I want to leave you with a quote from
a famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead. It guides me in my work. She said, “if children
do not learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn.” Thank you. (Applause)

Danny Hutson

39 thoughts on “Blending technology and classroom learning: Jessie Woolley-Wilson at TEDxRainier

  1. Inspiring… I'm wondering what other than speed is used to generate the data. I've got my own "diagnostics" for finding the strengths of a student to build on (part-whole vs. big-picture, wanting rules vs. using what the problem looks like, etc…

  2. Where does this lady teach?  Wow how shocking that Wendy's class size went from 18 to 28.  Geez how awful!   I have 40 kids sitting in my classroom.  In Vegas I had 50 students sitting in a classroom.  So it's astonishing to see these speakers going "Oh my gosh!  28 students!  It's a crisis!" when that's really not the reality of it.

  3. Jessie Woolley-Wilson is an eLearning leader who has served as President of LeapFrog SchoolHouse, Blackboard, and now as Chair, President and CEO of DreamBox Learning.

  4. "Getting the wrong answer doesn't mean failure it is but the first step towards deeper understanding of the subject matter if the resource is provided in a personalized way to the learner by use of adaptive learning environment."
    "If the learner does not learn the way we teach, then we must teach the way they learn."

  5. Advocate – Quality education should be available to every child no matter what language they speak or where they live. This is an important piece from this video. Students should receive the same effective education. I feel that blended technology is a great idea. It will enhance the future of learning for students. It combines the traditional learning experiences with new technologies that will "democratize learning."  Being able to integrate technology into the classroom is a great concept that will improve the future. Wendy incorporated a blended adaptive software that made her classroom achieve the equivalent of a full year of learning in six months which is incredible. Incorporating technology to meet the needs of students today will support teaching. We have to help students learn how to learn. This was a key statement in this video. If we don't teach our students how to understand the process of learning, they won't know how to listen to their teacher and how to be responsive.

  6. Interrogator- You both make valid points. I agree Nicole that integrating technology can support student learning if it it taught to be used correctly and effectively. This leads me to Jill's comment. It is ineffective for preschoolers to practice with their fingers. Besides finger painting those students will be using pencil to write, having them use their fingers isn't helping them with their fine motor skills that they need to be able to write. So this is when I say technology needs to be used in the classroom in an effective way.  

  7. Advocate: I see the way you are thinking Jilll, however, I feel that technology needs to be taught correctly in the classroom. The teacher needs to use it appropriately when teaching her students. We are coming to an age where technology is used with everything. Using the iPad in the classroom will help them learn how to use our new technology that everyone uses now. They are still getting face to face teaching, but the teacher is incorporating iPads to help them adjust to the real world. 

  8. Antagonist- Yes Nicole, technology should be taught to students, but what about the students that take advantage of the time teachers give to students to use technology and play games instead. I think that technology should be in the classroom but used with discretion and teachers should be aware of what sites students are on. Because often teachers may not be monitoring and students can be taking advantage of the teacher and the technology. 

  9. Advocate: I think that by assessing the students, you can find out if the ways you are teaching about technology and about how to use it, could help you enhance your quality of teaching. It is all about finding out what the students prefer using in the classroom and what their different learning styles are in order to help them succeed. If students are taking advantage, then they should not be able to use the technology. Students that learn better with it can use it. Others can do other work that supports their learning. 

  10. antagonist- You say that technology could help enhance your quality of teaching but what about the teachers that replace teaching with technology. In high school I had several "teachers" that would just show videos for the class time and then test us on what we watched. Some believe that that is still teaching. I think that teachers can end up abusing technology just as much as students. 

  11. Advocate: It all depends on the ways that teachers feel that they should teach. It is up to them if they want to use technology in their lessons or not. If they do, they need to do it differentiated. They need to look at their students and come up with a way to teach them correctly. You never know if something is going to work for you until you test it out. Some may feel that using videos will help some students learn better. Some students may not learn better that way. It all depends on the students and that is what the teacher needs to watch out for. Teachers need to watch their students on their technologies to make sure they aren't taking advantage. The teacher should always be watching them while assessing their skills using it. I still think that technology is important in the classroom because of the way our world is turning out. 

  12. Antagonist- Jill brings up an excellent point. States are cutting back on the amount they give to schools. School districts are cutting programs and even teachers. So I believe that what ever money is given shouldn't be wasted on a piece of technology it should be spent on adding more support to the school whether that means additional teachers in the classrooms to support children that aren't succeeding or adding more RTI specialists to help those that are beginning to fall behind to not fall behind.

  13. Advocate: If children learn better with the use of technology, then I think that funding should be spent on it because it would be important for their education. It should be spent less on things that don't influence their learning as much as technology does. Spending money on things that influence our students' futures is important. If we don't do this, then their learning will be limited. 

  14. Antagonist- I understand what technology can do for students and yes it does need to be in schools and students should be taught how to use different types of technology, but I do not think that every classroom should have Laptops or iPads, I think one computer for the teacher and a smart board to project images is fine. Maybe if the school owned iPads or laptops the classes can share but not every room needs laptops and i pads for every student. I think the money is better spent on more staff that can support learning.  

  15. Advocate: I understand where you are going with appropriate ratios. They are important, yes. But, incorporating technology into the class can improve their learning. You might not need more support in the classroom if students can learn better with technology. Alicia, I agree with you that the classroom should have a few technologies in the classroom, but not for every student. It all depends on the learning of your own students.

  16. Advocate: Yes. I think that technology use in the classroom is based off of your students' needs. If they feel that they learn better with the use of it, then the teachers should find a way to implement it in their classroom. If she assess's her students to find ways that they learn best and technology is one of them, then that's great! That is where their future is headed and using it now in the classroom will expand their critical thinking skills along with fine motor skills, might I add. 

  17. Antagonist- Jill yes I believe that the use  technology needs to be based on individuals. We all know that some students are better visual learners and some are better hands on learners. I believe there needs to be a balance. Not all students are going to understand the subject better just because a teacher plays a video, I think teachers need to use technology based on what they see fit for their students. i don't think just jumping to the conclusion that every classroom needs technology for every student is accurate, therefore it should be up to the teacher to decide what is best for his or her class.  

  18. Interrogator: I agree with you Alicia, but what if the states don't listen to what the teachers have to say? What if standardized tests never go away? What are we going to have to do? Jill, what resources do you think should be used in order to help the students? Do you think that they should tell the teachers everything about the testing so that it could be beneficial to their students? 

  19. where is all that so-called LOTTERY MONEY that is collected for EDUCATION? PEOPLE gambling dollars on a dream? last ad I seen mentioned billions collected to help foster and fund education… my district is a failing one and been ruled by the STATE for the last decade… ?

  20. My daughters school in Utica Michigan uses DreamBox and my daughter hates it. She has a hard time in math and knows she is behind her peers in the game. She hates when it continues to do the things that are difficult for her. She doesn't like the constant repetition of skills she may find too easy. It is not great for every student. I wish she would use DreamBox. I think it has the potential to help her. I have even tried to reward her for doing 20 min on the game. Nothing has enticed her to want to play. It is not the miracle you make out it to be.

  21. With the gradual rollout of technology, teachers are turning this tool to enhance teaching and learning. In fact, many classrooms are turning to a blended learning model. The technology-based activities help to differentiate instruction and motivate students. Students have access to content at any time and are more easily able to communicate with their teachers. It is important for teachers to start small (begin with manageable deliverables, make adjustments to one unit, or modify assessments) and add gradually over time. This allowed for them to become more comfortable with teaching using the blended model.

  22. Hold on she said there was going to be a reduction in spending on education, that was 2012, who was in office? That doesn't seem to make sense.

  23. trying to use this for research but the professor says I need a list of sources for the video. is there one for these videos?

  24. Interesting, but as usual, it is not said how the data on children will be stored, by whom and whether these data will be sold or shared with third parties. The real challenge of technology in the school is ensuring safety and privacy through the online systems and data gathering softwares.

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