Day 10: A Visit with Dr. Bohach and an Overview of “DestinyQuest”

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Today posed an interesting new perspective for me, as I was visited by my advisor in Luther’s Education Department, Dr. Barb Bohach. Dr. Bohach is currently on a research sabbatical taking a look at the same topic that I am, so to collaborate and share some of our insights was a great learning experience and very productive. It was a wonderful day of thought processing and research collaboration, which resulted in a slightly later blog tonight, but I won’t leave you hanging! (chuckle)…

20130116-124534.jpgThis was one of the first times I had really vocalized some of the elements I’m finding in the classroom to a fellow educator, rather than just typing and blogging about it, so it was fun for me to further synthesize my thoughts and process some ideas with a professor in higher education!
As a follow up from yesterday’s blog on digital textbook progressions, I wanted to also pass along this article outlining the developments taking place at Lynn University. This campus has recently mandated the purchase of iPad Minis for all incoming students to completely replace textbooks and required reading materials. The article itself goes into much further detail than I have space for here, but is undoubtedly worth the read to get a very encouraging picture of where technology and education reform may be headed in the future.

Article: Lynn Univ. – iPadU

The inevitable question, though, which is prevalent even in my daily experiences, is this… “Why don’t students just use all e-readers and online books? Where is the reform in libraries happening?” This, coincidentally, was a large portion of my new technology learning for today!
As a part of our tour of the building, while walking Dr. Bohach through the media center, we both learned about the new media management program called “DestinyQuest” that is being implemented at both the middle and high schools this week.

20130116-161630.jpgThis program functions very similarly to many of the older ‘card catalog’ programs, but is entirely Internet based, allowing students to access the media center from anywhere with an Internet connection…including from home! What has been curious to think about is this fusion between “old school” and “new school” through the digitalization of databases to better organize and allow access to physical books. While online and e-readers may be the future, there will undoubtedly always be a place in education for real, bound books. Offering vast improvements from old systems, DestinyQuest also has a much more user-friendly design, showing students directly upon logging in what the top 10 books in the library are for that day, what the librarian recommends, and what books are new additions to the shelves! This allows students without a specific idea of what they’re looking for to have a place to start.

20130116-162221.jpgOnce a search has been executed on the program, students have the opportunity to see many pieces of information regarding the book they’re looking for that was there, but not as easily accessible before programs like this. Students can see what books are near their book on the shelf, place holds on books, create a personal list, receive suggestions of other books they may like, and are even given access to “TitlePeek,” in which they can receive even more information on the plot, author, and content of the book.

Link: TitlePeek for “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen

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20130116-163706.jpgTo get a more comprehensive, and wonderfully produced, perspective on this program, I encourage you to take a look at the following video clip interviewing teachers, students, and administration from districts having already implemented the same program! Well worth the 3 minute watch…

Video: DestinyQuest

The new streamlining of this media management program for the media center, which is truly bridging the gap between old and new methods, got me thinking and chatting with Dr. Bohach about the realities of efficiency and effectiveness surrounding this new technology from a wholistic educational perspective. Being able to chat and truly vocalize this was my take-away from today. What I ended up finding myself talking about most prevalently was the change in teacher self-assessment and the necessity for better prepared educators. There is truly a new sense of efficiency in instruction as the iPad revolutionizes the way we assess students. The ability to see immediate feedback and broken down statistics has allowed teachers to clearly see and compile data to assess their own instruction and holes in instruction. Once this “look in the mirror” increases effectiveness and eliminates gaps in instruction, students scores begin to rise as well. It all starts with the new effective assessment allowing teachers to take an introspective look on their own teaching. In order to do this, though, we are in desperate need of my second bold topic; better teacher preparation. This begins with TEPs across the state and continues with programs and clubs educating teachers already in the classroom on new tech ideas. The fact of the matter is, whether admitted by colleges and universities or not, old methods of teacher education are leaving future educators unprepared. The sooner this is realized and the paradigm is shifted, much like Lynn U is doing with their students, the sooner we will see the jump in tests scores, the jump in excited teachers, and the drop in stress levels for future educators. It has been incredibly encouraging for me to see glimpses of this realization in the education department at Luther, including Dr. Bohach, who made it clear through setting foot in the classroom today that she wants to ‘get there’ and begin that shift close to home. What an exciting time to be entering education!!

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