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Keynote Presentation:  Making IT Stick



David S. Jakes

Instructional Technology Coordinator

Community High School District 99

Downers Grove, IL  60563




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Making IT Stick blog post


I've felt for a long time that telling stories is the best way to communicate with people.  Stories resonate, and everyone has a story or two.  So, Making IT Stick, is comprised of four stories, focusing on imagination, innovation, school climate and culture, and the concept of stickiness.  The stories are:


1.  Sticky "Back in the day"

2.  Sticky Today

3.  How well do you know sticky?

4.  The Seven Factors of Stickiness


Story 1:  Sticky Back in the Day

Do you remember  the ditto machine?  The opaque projector, the 16 mm. film, and your first calculator?  These by default were sticky, there were no other choices.  But with the emergence of "microcomputers" and tools like laserdiscs, things changed.  The introduction of Macintosh computers into education changed everything.


Introducing the Macintosh | Steve Jobs.  Watch Jobs in the following movie to see what "sticky" looks like...



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You know the Macintosh is sticky when you see this:  Mac Classic basement



Innovation:  the introduction of something new.


Imagination leads to innovation.


How does an innovation become the way?


How does an innovation become classroom sticky?


My vision of the role of a teacher in 2007:  The 4 C's



Story 2:  Sticky Today


Is there a difference between what kids do with technology in school compared to what they do outside?  How large is that disconnect?  How much do they have to "power down?"


Kids are fairly savvy users of technology, but what do kids really know?


  • Cell phones
  • IM
  • Games
  • mp3's
  • MySpace, Facebook


We overstimate what kids really know about technology.  We underestimate their affinity for learning about new things.


Let's take advantage of that natural affinity and leverage it to really produce learners!  Let's focus them.  Let's turn online entertainment time into online educational time....


Kids also know social networks, so how can we leverage that into learning?  Kids started with Ratemyteachers.com, have moved on to MySpace and Facebook, plus a host of others. 


For an interesting glimpse at what these kids can do in a mash-up world, watch the following video, featuring snowboarder Shaun White.


Shaun White Video


Story 3:  How well do you know sticky?


Web 2.0 tools: www.web2logo.com lists a phenomenal number of Web 2.0 tools.  Are these tools or resources sticky?


  • Moodle
  • Flickr:  see my Flickr page
  • YouTube
  • Blogs
  • Wikipedia
  • Second Life
  • OLPC laptop | see photographs of the release of laptops to Nigerian students


In your school, are these sticky?  Are these tools sticky outside of school?


The upshot:  what are the characteristics of a school's climate and culture that enable an innovation to become a seamless part of the fabric of what a school does and is?  What are the characteristics of the innovation itself that promote stickiness?  I've got seven factors to consider.  Read on...



Story 4:  The Seven Factors of Stickiness


1.  The innovation must have multiple entry points for a spectrum of usership.


Everybody can use the innovation for something. There also must be growth potential for all, with the goal of moving every user to the right in terms of their ability to utilize the innovation for learning.  This describes a content management system like Blackboard or Moodle, that has the potential to deliver a host of technology services that range from classroom management functionality (announcements, posting documents) to learning capabilities (blogs, wikis, Turnitin.com integration, discussion boards).  With these systems, beginning users can accomplish simple tasks (and building confidence goes a long way in continued use and growth), users of intermediate skills can jump in and use such things as discussion boards and Turnitin.com, advanced users can take advantage of the integration of Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, RSS).  An additional, and very important aspect of this is to provide one place, easily understood and fearlessly supported, that can provide a wide-range of technology services to teachers and students.  I want teachers to use the technology to help kids learn, and the more simple and easy it is to deliver and use, the greater the likelihood that the technology makes an impact.



Beginning user:  posting announcements and documents for simple course management

Intermediate user:  establishing and extending class discussions in discussion boards, submitting files through a digital drop box, using Turnitin.com to help students learn synthesis and citation skills, intermediate uses focus on course management as well as learning tasks.

Advanced user:  utlizes wikis, blogs, podcasts, and RSS integration to support learning, plus the features described by the other two skill set.s


2.  The teacher becomes a confident, active, and visible user.


The teacher has internalized this as a tool, it now becomes a viable option to use and part of the teachers repertoire.  The kids know it, see it, and respond to it.  The tools and processes of technology are now seamless, and used just like a lecturing, structuring cooperative learning, and different types of assessment.  It's not about making a teacher integrate technology, its about helping teachers make technology integral and part of what they do.


Of course, for this to happen, there must be professional development opportunities that educate the teacher and provide the necessary skills.  This is predicated on readiness of the organization to support the innovation.


3.  There must be a high degree of organizational readiness for the innovation.


If you are initiating a new program, have you done a pilot program first, where every aspect of the program has been tested and evaluated and corrective measures have been taken, if necessary? Are professional development activities available to support the initiative? Are you ready for general release to all teachers? Nothing will kill a new program faster than if things don't work, equipment isn't available, and support isn't ready and dependable.


See a complete list of organizational readiness factors


Use pilot groups to develop organization readiness.  See my description of pilot groups in this document.


Pilot composition is absolutely critical.  Who do you recruit for your pilot?  Consider Malcolm Gladwell's idea of connectors-see The Tipping Point.


4.  The innovation must clearly address an instructional need, with benefits for both teacher and student.


If it doesn't why bother?  The digital dropbox in Blackboard, as simple as it seems, provides a methodology for student transfer of files as well as the electronic submission of digital assignments.  The discussion boards have been huge for our teachers, and provide all the opportunity for all to contribute.  The wiki pages in Blackboard provide teachers with the ability to set up a digital space for product creation, access assessment data on which student is adding content as well as modifying content, while at the same time providing students with a way to connect digitally 24/7 and learn valuable collaboration skills that will undoubtably serve them well in the future.



Digital Dropbox

Discussion boards

Wiki pages

Google Earth and Maps


5.  The technology has been taken out of the technology, or innovation.


It has to be teacher-friendly, and surprising, kid-friendly (we overestimate the global understanding of what kids know about various technologies). If you are going to start podcasting in your district, perhaps starting with simple systems like Evoca or Gcast (try the cell phone recording features that both platforms offer) makes sense before you start putting Audacity on your ghost or image.


For digital storytelling, consider Photostory 3 (PC) from Microsoft or of course, iMovie on the Mac.  For tutorials, both printed and screencasts, see my Jakesonline.org here.


For geography classes, see My Maps from Google.







6.  The innovation must add value to an instructional process.


It must take the learning to a new place, a place where the learning could not go unless the innovation had been included. The process of digital storytelling adds value to the process of writing, and gives students the capability to develop voice with an entirely new medium, one that can potentially reach a world-wide audience.  With the emergence of online video sites, such as YouTube and Google Video, teachers and students now have a publishing platform that can reach millions.  And with the emergence of other video sites that specifically target the promotion of student voice (uthTV, pronounced Youth TV, and SchoolTube), video publishing becomes even more attractive.


Also see Slideshare.net for posting PowerPoints online.


Also see GoogleLit Trips, where the geographical locations of famous novels have been plotted in Google Earth-in my opinion, this creates an entirely new approach to teaching literature.


Crisis in Darfur

Historical Photographs of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

American Facilities in Vietnam


7.  There must be visible and tangible results indicating that the innovation improves student learning.


This is the big one, and how do you measure student learning as the result of the inclusion of the innovation? What constitutes an improvement? How many school districts define the criteria for success for an innovation prior to the implementation of that innovation?  How can you separate the contribution of the innovation to the overall process of student learning?



Wikis in Blackboard:  the wiki tool we employ in District 99 provides student contribution data and provides teachers with a snapshot of who is doing what within the collaborative group.  How can that improve performance?  Teachers can intervene to support individuals who are contributing, and those who are not, to course-correct.


Conclusion:  Today, you'll have an opportunity to interact with many talented people.  What innovations will you see that have the potential to make learning come alive in your school district?  Think about the 7 Factors of Stickiness-use them as a framework for evaluating and ensuring that any new learning technology


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