Listen on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/edtechnow/jaime-casap-on-edtech-now
Lee Schneider: This is EdTech NOW, a short podcast about education technology and how it’s used in the classroom. EdTech NOW is sponsored by Stackup, a Chrome browser extension that tracks reading online for teachers and students and delivers metrics to administrators. Here’s our host, Noah Geisel, Education director at Stackup. Hey, Noah.
Noah: Hey, Lee, great to be here today and great to be joined by our guest Jaime Casap, chief education evangelist at Google. Jaime, welcome to the podcast.
Jaime Casap: Thanks for having me.
Noah: Jumping right in. The first question we have for you is about panel You recently took part in at Zøcalo and Arizona State University, with the title Can digital learning dismantle the American class system? You’ve also said that education disrupts poverty and education is powerful. and to what extent is digital education especially potent and how can you see it being used as a tool for equity to dismantle the American class system?
Jaime: Yeah I often struggle with that word digital right in terms of you know what is what does it mean. Because you know I just want us to talk you know — or even the idea of edtech. I want to get to the point where we just talk about education. So you know to use an example from my life you know I had a — when I whenever I needed information when someone asked me a question for example like what happened on December 7th 1941, I would have to say I will come back tomorrow and tell you because I had to go find that information. And I had — option number one was to go to a set of encyclopedias. The problem is I grew up poor so I didn’t have encyclopedias. Well that’s not true, we had the M, we had one of the books, but we didn’t have the rest of them so I couldn’t look it up in an encyclopedia. So I had to go to the library, the Columbus library, on 51st Street and 10th Avenue and there was where my resources were. That’s where my information was. That’s where I had to go get information for papers, for research projects for just general knowledge.
So I would go to this place that was not open after 5 p.m., wasn’t open on the weekends, and it’s and if I could find a book that I needed it was a good chance the book wasn’t there because it wasn’t my library it was everyone’s library. It was everyone who went to PS 111 and PS 51 and PS 45, and everyone in between. Everyone who lived in Hell’s Kitchen.
Now I have a hundred million Colombus libraries at my fingertips, right? And that’s not you know we can call that digital. But the reality is it’s information it’s everything that’s at our fingertips, so I think that having that access, having that potential is something that we haven’t really taken advantage of. And but that’s OK we’re at the early stage of this right? You know we have to remember that you know in 1995 only one percent of the world was online. We’re just getting started with what’s possible. So this idea of you know digital content — you know I don’t remember anyone saying that when they when I went through the when I went to the microfiche machine to look up information or look up newspapers — you know they just called it the microfiche. They just called it the newspapers. That’s where the newspapers were. So you know I hope we get to the point where where our kids are when they don’t recognize digital they don’t recognize — they just know the Internet. They know the Web and the contents available to them. We have to do a better job of going through that content and helping kids determine what’s good content — but it’s out there already.
Noah: You know I think you really touch on a another question we like to ask you to that’s you know in that era of what you described as having 100 million libraries at our fingertips, and at the same time being in an era of fake news and questionable sources. So what guidance do we give students about how to recognize what’s real and what is not real in this educational media that also happens to be digital.
Jaime: There is a Stanford study that I would recommend people look at where and I don’t have the name off the top of my head but there is a Stanford study where they looked at elementary school kids. Extensive study, and what they determined was that 82 percent of elementary school kids couldn’t tell you the difference between a sponsored website and a real news site. And that’s scary.
So there’s a couple of things going on that we need to think about. Number one is perspective — which is that fake news is not new. We’ve had fake news since the very beginning of time. Wars have been started over fake news. Fake news have caused tremendous tragedy in our world, since the beginning of time. So we have to keep that in mind that this isn’t a new thing. It’s just faster. It’s it’s easier to develop. Right? There was actually even last night there was this story that was being passed around Twitter. I live in Phoenix Arizona and Trump came to speak last night. And there was those that went to go see Trump and then the protesters that went to go protest Trump. But you know minutes after this thing took place people were posting pictures of like look how big the Trump crowd is and look how small the protester crowd is. And people were passing them around and sharing it like it was real, and it wasn’t and it was actually a picture of the crowd that gathered for the Cleveland Cavaliers when they won the championship.
The idea that it happens faster is dangerous, right? We have to keep that in mind. So we also have to keep in mind that just because these kids are students, are digital natives, and they are truly you know if you think about Generation Z they are truly the first digital generation.
They don’t know what the world looks like before Google. You know those that are about 16 years old and younger … they that’s how they have access to information. And just because they’re born that way doesn’t mean that they know how to use these tools. We have to stop assuming that they know how to use these tools. We have to stop saying well they were just born with technology, they were born with the Internet, they were born with Google and Facebook and all the other things they have they have access to — that somehow they just know how to use these things because they were born in. It’s almost like making the same assumption for me which was you know I was born when there were cars. I couldn’t just get into a car and start driving it. I had to learn how to drive a car. This generation needs to learn how to drive the Internet, how to look for information, how to vet information, how to notice something is credible, how to test something, how to confirm something.
How to stay safe online, how to be private online, how to be secure online, how to have a digital profile. These are tools that these kids need to learn how to do how to use and it’s up to us. Because if they’re not going to learn how to do this in school where are they going to learn how to do this?
So I don’t want to make an assumption that kids know how to use these tools, that they know how to tell the difference between a sponsored web site, a fake story, and something that’s real or credible. And even within the real world there is a difference between an article that’s posted in, you know, one magazine versus another magazine. So there’s lots of work that we need to do in the space.
Noah: So Jaime, when you’re talking about you know this generation’s need to learn how to drive the Internet, at the same time we know that the adults who are guiding their learning also have learning needs as well. So when we think about you know how to just be responsible users of what’s at our fingertips, how might it look to provide more educated professional development about this?
Jaime: Yeah, I think you know, so I get a question often which is will technology replace teachers? And the answer is absolutely not. As a matter of fact, I believe that the role of the teacher becomes even more important in the world that we are creating and what we need to do right around the skills that people or students need the most.
You know this idea that I often hear people say teachers need to move away from the front of the classroom to be facilitators of learning. And I don’t like that answer, to be frank. And to use a sports analogy, and forgive me for those who don’t follow sports. You know if you think about a basketball game right, an NBA game, a college game, or a high school game ,whatever you want to think about — if you think about a game. Who’s a facilitator in that game? It’s not the coach — it’s the referee. The referee has no no say in any of it, has no skin in the game. Right? The referee is facilitating the game to go from beginning to end and making sure that everything goes smoothly. That’s the facilitator. The coach, on the other hand, is invested. He has skin in the game. He’s sweating. He’s cursing. He’s all over the place he’s up and down. He might not be playing, but he’s in the game. And I want teachers to be coaches, right? I want them to be there to put the right teams together, to put the right content together to put the right questions together, whatever that is.
I’m going to be teaching a class this fall at my school the Phoenix Coding Academy, and I’m going to be teaching a communication class, and I’m excited by that, but I’m also scared. Because it’s hard to kind of think about preparing a class with almost a blank sheet of paper.
You have some guidelines of what you want. I have learning objectives. I want I know what I want these kids to learn how to do. I know how to I know how I want to get them there. But I’m going to let them drive a lot of learning. I’m going to coach them. I’m going to I’m going I’m not going to sit down and lecture them on how to be a great presenter, for example. I’m going to let them experience it. I’m gonna let them do it, and I’m going to coach them through that process.
And so I think that what we need to do is you know and I yell at superintendents and other people in the education leadership space about this all the time — which is we need to make sure that our teachers have the professional development that that they need. That teachers have the skills that they need, that they have the resources that they need, and that they have the autonomy that they need. That they can experiment and try different things. That they’re the experts in the room.
You know I’m a big fan of teachers, and I wrote a blog post on Medium a couple months ago around this idea that … I work now in education, you know before my time at Google. You know I worked in electronics, in high tech. I worked in an Internet company. I worked at Accenture as a consultant. So I worked in in government, in health care, in finance, and all these different kind of workforces. And I can tell you without doubt that the most passionate and the most dedicated work force in any industry are teachers. And so we don’t take advantage of that. We don’t turn them on. We don’t give them the space that they need to try different things, to experiment. We don’t give them the resources in professional development. So it’s absolutely critical that we spend some energy on making sure that teachers have the knowledge, skills and abilities. We often talk about like our students: What are the knowledge skills and what our students need? Well, we’re not going to get there unless teachers have the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they need to help students drive through what they need to learn to solve the problems that they’re interested in solving.
Noah: Now I know it is just such a powerful you know kind of metaphor and rethink of you know what we hear facilitator of learning and viewing the educators in classrooms is more you know energetic, enthusiastic coaches versus just those referees, and to extend that metaphor you know does that mean that it’s on the you know educational leadership then to create the conditions for good facilitation — that that they need to take on roles of referees in helping to create the conditions for powerful professional learning.
Jaime: I think that leadership in education is critical. I think giving teachers the autonomy and the space is absolutely critical. You know it’d be great if education leaders can say to teachers, what do you need to get us to this next level? Right. What do you need to help us drive education to where it needs to be and then fight like hell to get those resources, to get that time, to get that space to get all of the professional development that teachers need to be successful.
I think that’s the role of a leader in the education space.
Noah: And to extend that to something that it’s more a kind of a in the weeds, as opposed to 30,000 foot: You touched on the, you know, hundred million libraries at our fingertips and you know something that’s really big right now are the OERs – the Open Educational Resources. And while we’d love it if they were all you know super mega muy trustworthy we know that they’re not. And so you know, it’s overwhelming how much is out there.
And you know I’m really curious to see, you know what you see — =You know, how can you guide our referees. Those facilitators at the leadership levels as far as solutions you’re aware of or that you foresee, that will help curate the most valuable OERs, into you know accessible just at the teacher fingertips — an accessible way for teachers and learners.
Jaime: Yeah. I always like to start that discussion with an understanding that oftentimes this is a debate between paid content versus free content and which one should we do, right? What should we use? And the answer is both, right? I don’t think that the that it should all be free, open content.
I think that people who put things together and spend time putting good resources together — if it’s good quality stuff — should be paid for that, right? I’m a subscriber to The New York Times. I’m a subscriber to The Washington Post. I’m a subscriber to The Arizona Republic. I believe that those publications put good content together and I’m going to pay them for that, right? So I could find a lot of those same material from those publishers, if you will. You know, for free. But you know how long would that last, if we have that model? So I think the answer is both. I think it’s a combination of having great resources available to you and having open free resources. And I think those open free resources need to be vetted better.
We need to do a better job of teachers communicating with each other on what’s good and what’s not, and I can give you my preparation. I spent the summer preparing for the class that I’m teaching and I paid for some material. I bought some books on presentation skills. I bought this book on exercises that you can do with your class around communication. So I wanted somebody put that together and I paid them for that. But at the same time, I went online to look for free stuff. I looked for exercises. I looked for cons and I looked to get ideas on what I want to build. But the problem was if I found a communication class syllabus for example, I didn’t know if it was good or not. How do I know that that syllabus was good? How do I know that that exercise worked? I just saw the exercise. I don’t know how effective it was.
So in terms of having resources whether it’s pain or whether it’s free, I think the same principles apply. You know, what’s the content? How do we know you know what are the outcomes of that content? And how do we know it’s good, right? And who has vetted this content, right? So we need to have that right in that space, so I think is absolutely critical — again kind of like the debate about attack tech or education technology versus just education. I think the same is true of this. It’s content, it’s material, it’s resources for students learning ,resources for teachers learning, and what are the criteria that we use whether it’s paid or for free that we need to make sure that we’re using good material.
Noah: Jaime, wow thank you so much for the mine grenade there, and just sharing your passion, your expertise and knowledge with us. We really appreciate you taking the time to join us on the podcast today.
Jaime: Thank you very much for having me. And if you can, most people can reach me like my wife does via Twitter so you can reach me at @JCAASAP if you have any questions about anything that we talked about today.
Lee: This has been the Edtech NOW podcast sponsored by stack of the only tool that unlocks the learning benefits of the entire web while providing the accountability educators need to measure progress and engagement. With Stackup you can measure and report online reading and learning for your entire district in less than two minutes. Go to Stackup.net. I’m Lee Schneider,