So I know Monica Burns as a speaker from our iPadpaloozaOU conference in 2016 and 2017 and through the ADE program. I generally know her in only a professional capacity.
She recently asked me if I would be willing to do a review of her book coming out next week, no pressure but if I would be willing to write a review of it. And honestly, I felt no pressure and approached it as if I were looking at for use with my preservice teachers.
First, let me say that I was complimented. I have reviewed books before in the pre-publication phase but never been given an opportunity to endorse a book or not.. I have copies of some of Monica’s other books and I find them to be very practical and applied, which can be a great compliment when paired with more empirical readings as part of teacher education or professional development course for current teachers. Students seem to be really motivated by these hands-on books because they are wondering how it is done in the real world and inservice teachers are looking for ideas that are well justified and tied to curricular goals.
Much like when one is asked to review someone’s tenure dossier and you realize they are “good” .. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the pre-publication copy of Monica’s Book Tasks before Apps and realized it was REALLY GOOD! So I was comfortable endorsing and could see using it with my preservice teachers or in my spring graduate course where I always have students read one professional book in addition to research articles.
So the book is called Tasks before Apps
This book deals with a problem that I have long felt in Ed Tech. The idea that we have to keep chasing the new popular app and forget all about what we were wanting kids to do in class. Tech without content or without a sound rationale for using it.. (ie.. is it assessment? will it help students to explain? Will it engage additional communication channels or ways of explaining?) A perfect example of this problem is whiteboard apps.. I see teachers all the time that really have mastered something like Educreations but then hear that Explain Everything is “better” and abandon their workflow and process to use the “better” app. Both of these apps have their pros and cons but the most important factor is a teacher who knows them well and uses them comfortably with their students – and even more importantly has their students create things with them to achieve a meaningful classroom task (explanation, assessment, presentation, communication, etc..)
Additionally, Tasks before Apps focuses on having students using tools in content creation – which matches my philosophy and is where I see educational technology needing to go.. We need to get past teacher productivity and move to concrete examples of students creating things with technology to show their understanding. We also need to make more examples available to teachers of how this can be done to both generate ideas and opportunities to discuss and critique actual use cases.
Finally this book has real example of how you could use different tools in the classroom in a meaningful way. I especially liked that it dealt with different grade levels. I love teaching an educational technology class, but sometimes wish my early childhood, elementary, and secondary students were in different sections – because rarely are there examples for all grade levels.
I am going to consider using this book as the practice book for my Teaching with Technology graduate class this spring (I always pick one book that is under $30 that might be read as a book group for PD) and perhaps in the future for my undergraduate course.
When we think of our service role to our field, I think looking at new books and helping to curate content is an important role for us as professors to play. We have the opportunity to review resources both open resources and affordably priced resources that could help our future teachers generate ideas, critique and feel supported in the classroom. I enjoyed this opportunity and look forward to other opportunities to share my expertise in the future.
So I think I have an endorsement on the book, (haven’t seen it yet, but Monica Tweeted my comment out) but happy to endorse. I think this would be a good book for preservice teachers or for a book study in a district. You might want to check Tasks before Apps out.