9 Links on EdTech and Rethinking Strategy

  1. Slidedeck from George Couros’ presentation on Engaging Parents in the Process of Learning. http://www.slideshare.net/gcouros/involving-parents-in-the-process-of-learning-ties13  George Couros was at the TIES conference this year to talk about how he views the role of being a principal. He wasn’t a keynote speaker, so you had to seek him out. He talks about supporting teachers, interacting with students and parents in a very straight forward format. His ideas seem simple and convincing, so I thought I would share his slidedeck of his presentation.
  2. Ed Tech Integration Is a Low Bar. http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_ahead/2012/02/integration_is_a_low_bar_support_teachers_to_redefine_their_clasrooms.html?override=web this is an older blog post from Chicago Public School’s Jennie Magiera on 2/2012 that talks about setting a bar for “Technology Integration” across a district. Her article brings up some very valid points about adding technology to a teacher’s instructional plate as just another checkbox. Being almost two years old, I found the article to be short, to the point, and interesting to look at the ways our current district’s are trying to integrate technology.  
  3. Ed Tech Frameworks: Why I Don’t Use TPACK or SAMR with my Teachers. http://www.edtechcoaching.org/2013/11/ed-tech-frameworks-why-i-dont-use-tpack.html from fellow midwesterner Krista Moroder over by Milwaukee. Many schools spend a lot of time working with SAMR and TPACK models, or fighting over which one is better. Krista wrote this post last October about her approach to EdTech in the classroom, and how the idea of using technology to make you more efficient or effective could be a better way to start than a prescribed framework for EdTech integration.
  4. Digital badges bust out of school-defined learing http://www.educationnews.org/technology/julia-steiny-digital-badges-bust-out-of-school-defined-learning/ A longer article, discusses the idea of verifying someone’s skills through an online course or test in order to teach or obtain a certain position. I thought this article fit very well with our current course, and at least provides a little overview of the ideals and thoughts behind, “Digital badges” along with what that really means to the real world like us.
  5. 5 Things to Rethink http://jakes.editme.com/rethink by David Jakes. A former director of technology in a large Chicago suburb, David Jakes spends time designing innovative workspaces, and apparently speaking on them at the Midwest Google Summit this past fall. His entire focus is on the design of a learning space, which ultimately translates into changing the design of a few teaching strategies. This article gives a five different topics for all teachers to think about ways to redesign in their school system. Most of which are not too far fetched.
  6. Technology is not a magic bullet.  http://cevans5095.blogspot.com/2013/11/technology-is-not-magic-bullet.html While not a new idea, this quick article is another reminder for anyone caught up in a converstation where you are trying to decide what device to buy your 20,000 (or maybe just 3,000) students and it seems like you might be missing the basics. Are teachers or learning ideals leading the drive, or just the technology? I often think it’s good to have little reminders to keep everyone from getting caught up in the flash, not to sound like a broken record all the time.  
  7. http://everyfield.com/ A website that set out to map every sports field in the world. Yes, a web tool made the list as an example of using the internet for good, in very simple ways. How does this relate to you, you might ask? I bet your local fields have not yet been drawn or added to the map. Future class project. A local project with real world, online implications? Sounds fantastic!, you might say. If you can amp up student excitement that this website and mapping project really means something in the end, I think it could work. The 5-12 social studies license in me had to mention this site as I can’t help but investigate projects like this when I see them online.
  8. Google+ Guide for Educators  https://docs.google.com/document/d/13LQkWSH104pwgjWvIXpXf6O8wi23zPG4hzcJ9I32in0/edit  Thinking about using Google+ with your teaching team or students? Here is a quick guide to help them get started and off the ground, without ever using anything like Skype or a video camera before.  
  9. Lucidchart.com (webtool, App, Google Drive Add-on). Graphic organizer that harnesses the sharing and collaboration power of Google Drive. Auto-saves to Drive or no account needed to use it. Import photos, create collaborative graphic organizers in small or large groups. Develop mind-maps interactively between multiple devices with your class. You could even create a flow chart of YouTube videos.  Any questions?


If I were the district technology leader, I would ____

I am currently in a educational leadership course and we were all asked to respond to the following question,

"If I were the district technology leader, I would ___."

This question really made me think a little deeper into my peer's responses because everyone in the course are classroom teachers. Teachers don't often have a place to provide candid and private feedback about how they would change someone in their administration.

Here are the answers that stuck out to me the most:

  • Hone in on a few tools, not the flavor of the week.  
  • Provide more staff development around implementing tools, not simply . 
  • Equitable access to technology for teachers and classrooms, even teachers who come off as apprehensive to technology. 
  • Only supporting the high-flying technology teachers isn't helpful for student learning in the other classrooms. 
  • Get rid of all the "blocks" on the internet. Trust your teachers and students more. 
  • At some point, a decision needs to be made. More devices and learning management systems will come out, but we have a need to fill today. 
  • Give more opportunities to teachers to extend themselves through technology.
While this could have been a chance for teachers to talk down their district's technology, all the teachers had meaningful and helpful feedback for how a technology team could better support teaching and learning. Reading through their responses a second time, a few of the ideas are realistic changes that could have a huge impact on instruction. With that, it reinforces the idea that as a district leader you have a lot of constituents. Talk to your teachers more often, in real life. Find out what they are excited about and frustrated with. What are their goals? If you can, talk to them on a level playing field.   

How would you respond to the question,  If I were the district technology leader, I would ___ ?

Comment below. 


Borrowing sugar

Today, our technology support staff were trying to resolve a problem that they couldn't find an answer to. They had gone through all the normal steps of technology troubleshooting, and even  a few internet searches. No updates, restarts or reinstalls would fix the problem.

Then they asked me, "What do you want us to do next?" The first response that popped into my head was that we should tweet, email or call a few of the many neighboring school districts that happen to have a couple thousand of the device in question to find out if they have run into the problem before. It turns out that school districts and people that I consider to be neighbors might not be considered very close or neighborly to other people, and I think connecting with educators through Twitter and Google+ are the cause of that.

I'm not too young to never have borrowed sugar from a neighbor (or apparently to use it as a metaphor). Consider connecting and learning from someone who works with the same content or ideas as you, as borrowing sugar. You're borrowing some knowledge (sugar), with that idea that you will later give back some different knowledge by posting or sharing your work. By connecting with other professionals through social media or other forums, you can use the internet for good. While you might not share a backyard with someone else you tweet at, it may still start to feel a little neighborly when they can relate to an entire project you are working on. Using the internet for good seems to make wild ideas such as Wikipedia.org succeed.

Remember when Wikipedia.org was banned to use as a citation? Now it's where most people start their research.