Thinking about edtech PD…

Spent the past couple of days at our state Memo Conference learning from leaders from all over our state and nation!  While there was a tremendous amount of sessions to choose from, I decided to focus on sessions that revolved around 1:1, BYOD, Flipped Learning, and anything iPad. Within each of these sessions, I also asked alot of questions – specifically in the area of professional development.

We are at a cross road in our district.  We currently have a BYOD at our high school, but we also have a 1:1 iPad pilot in our 7th grade.  From my observation, the iPad project has not only been embraced more by our teachers and students but it also appears to be far more transformative than the BYOD project.  Yet, when I heard other districts share their BYOD  stories – I had to make my own comparisons.   What did we miss?  I knew teacher training was an issue in the BYOD program – probably because there was none.  Staff were left to figure it out on their own.

The next day,  I attended another  BYOD session in which the presenters (Josh Swanson and Jennifer Wykle)  shared a slide for managing complex change.   It was a lightbulb moment.  I could pretty much plug every complex initiative we have ever had into the table and recognize when we did something well, all of the areas under the “change” box were sufficient.  Yet, I could also plug in others – that were not so successful or were very slow moving (including BYOD) and pinpoint the main issue.

Educational Origami

Adapted from – http://edorigami.edublogs.org/2009/01/18/updated-managing-complex-change/

I also heard many not so happy stories from audience members who were really struggling in their districts.  By far, frustration was very common. Below are comments that I heard.

  • We have a 1:1 and the Network is not sufficient
  • We are not able to collaborate outside of our LMS (no wiki’s, edmodo, blogs, ect)
  • My district blocks YouTube
  • My district wont adopt Google Apps (to assist with iPad workflow)
  • I have to do all of the support on the iPad carts and dont have time to help other teachers
  • We have no money to continue the 1:1 effort
  • We do not have adequate technical support.
  • etc. etc…

One of the things that I have done during our 1:1 initiative, is to meet weekly with our teachers.  This has been very helpful – especially when considering expanding 1:1 to future grade levels.  When we meet, we first discuss wins – Some of which are exciting and game changing for our teachers and students!  We also discuss challenges.  I need to LISTEN.  How can I help remove the road blocks?  Sometimes it is a process issue and other times it is working with the staff to come up with work-arounds or even new solutions.  As the weeks go by, it seems we are talking more wins than challenges – and it is necessary to provide our staff with the resources to be successful.

Other PD highlights/Resources to explore

  •  Student Led Tech Conferences – Might try this during our Middle School parent/teacher conferences with ipads
  • Florida Technology Integration Matrix – Use this to assess our projects/classrooms?
  • SAMR –  The model allows educators to select appropriate tools, plan their usage, and design metrics for results as part of a single integrated process.
  • The earlier you can give your staff iPads, the better! (prior to 1:1)
  • 1/2 hour before/after school sessions.  (short sessions around an idea/tool to support learning) ( Give CEU’s)
  • 10 minute sessions.  – I was thinking of doing APPY Tuesday.  Introduce an app with examples/samples of how to use – including workflow.  This could also be flipped!
  • Find your tech champions to experiment – lead.  (Can be a digital learning coach or other tech saavy teacher)

Use of Video

Kristin Daniels, tech integrationalist for Stillwater, has identified 4 ways in which they use video to flip learning (PD) as well as archive and share successes.  This is very important and I, as well as my Digital Learning Coaches (DLC),  need to be sure we are using video in a similar way.  (time permitting)

  1. Proactive – prepare staff for a project, introduce technology
  2. Reactive – something that happens and need react.  When something goes awry – you can develop vids to assist the teacher
  3. Spontaneous  – capture the learning as it happens, archive
  4. Celebrate Student work – tug at the heartstrings of our staff, parents, community. IMHO, these are the very big wins we need to  push out to community to validate effective technology use.  (Via Facebook or Twitter – post on front of the website)

What I  like about 3 and 4 is that it will help spread  edtech ideas around formally/ informally – and may entice new teachers to try new things. Conversations matter – and I seen quite a few videos of student work.  Also – note to self – look at Camtasia for the DLC’s to produce quality vids.  (right now we use Screencastomatic – which I love)

 Help our staff develop their own personal learning network (PLN)

All keynoters  for the conference had developed an extensive PLN using Twitter and other tools.  (Shannon Miller, Kathy Schrock, and Gail Lovely – learned soooo much from these individuals)   I need NEED to spread and encourage TWITTER (first) to more of our teachers and administrators.  I want to first start with my digital learning coaches – and then move to the rest of the staff.   I love Twitter and have had some fantastic learning opportunities and discussions because of it!  Not only is it cheaper than formal learning (see below) it is also very personalized and will allow our staff to connect with other educators, authors, experts all over the globe!  Which could, in turn, give our students some global experiences!

http://www.knowledgejump.com/learning/cost.html

Hybrid learning: Claiming our digital space

Its official, tonight our school board approved a pilot in which several of our high school teachers will be developing and implementing Hybrid courses.  Whats more exciting, is that we will be starting as early as this quarter! Last summer, my principal and I attended Claiming your digital space:Developing an Online Program for Your District.  I have to say, after leaving that day, it was like I had an digital epiphany.  We have been dabbling in online learning for several years and have some great things going. We have teachers that have been certified (through a 5-6 week online course) to provide fully online courses. (so, we dont lose our students to other online programs)  Our math department developed their own Moodle curriclum and was implementing Flipped classroom techniques and getting great recognition and gains in academic achievement!

Balancing OLL with F2F learningBut new opportunities arose, to develop our program further, when we were awarded 4 TPC Interns from an Innovative Winona State teaching program. While 1st semester is spent with these individuals as a typical student teacher mentor, during 2nd semester the interns “take over” the classes.  This frees up a tremendous amount of time for the mentor – allowing our district to use their time elsewhere.  (Big win for Winona and Big win for us!)

Seeing the writing on the wall, a couple of our teachers decided to begin developing content early this school year.  Imagine the excitement I felt when I coordinated the first official meeting last week (to address the registration guide deadlines and possibly needing Hybrid language) and the teachers were ready to PILOT now, this quarter.  And tonight, only 4 days later, we are getting board approval to move forward!  We will still  focus on course development 2nd semester, but to have some pilots started this quarter, to learn from, is going to be very beneficial!

The statistics are clear. Online/hybrid learning is certainly on the rise.  I am excited to say, our plan is coming together and I do believe we will claim our space when it comes to online learning!  Stay tuned!

Synthesizing #memo10 – Ideas to take home

Reflections from Memo

Day 1 of the Memo conference, and I have been completely energized.  The day started out with an excellent keynote by Buffy Hamilton (@buffyjhamilton), the Unquiet Librarian.  Her message – “Beyond Balance; participatory librarianship for creating , connecting, conversing, and contributing” was highly engaging and motivating. (I tried embedding -didnt work..sniff)

Even though her target audience was media specialists, I found that much, or I should say most, of what she shared could be incorporated in any classroom, school, or district.  “Where does the library live? What are the physical and virtual spaces like?” – led me to think about our classrooms  and schools.  How do we build effective virtual spaces and more importantly how do we cultivate participatory learning in these spaces?  In her library, there is a sense of shared ownership of learning between her students and staff. Her goal – build on passions. Shouldn’t we also be cultivating this in our schools?

Her ideas to get started – map out your vision – literally. (please note learning environments on her map – thumbs up!)  I think I would like to try this technique with our district technology committee to assist with technology planning.  However, why stop there? This technique could be done in any classroom, department, committee, school, or district.  As we develop our plans, goals, vision – it is the follow thru that has the planning worthwhile.  “DOING vs. PLANNING” is taking your vision, your plan, and putting it into action.  Make sure your planning and visioning has plenty of input/approval from stakeholders (shared conversations)  – because when it is time to “walk the talk” it’s those folks that will need to help you deliver the vision.

eReaders

Next on my schedule… demonstration and discussion about eBooks by Dawn Nelson (@dawnrnelson) and Lin Salisbury.  I have to admit I am behind in understanding the opportunities with this technology and this was a great session to get me up to speed.  My take aways… library’s can purchase an ebook and share it simultaneously with up to 6 devices. (Barnes and Noble Nook or Amazon Kindle)  You then check out the device to the student. Within these books you can annotate, search, and even add audio (at a fee). There are a considerable amount of FREE ebooks and nooks are compatible with ePub.  Prices for Nooks start at $149.

What gets a little “muddy” is managing this.  Problems = 1 login account per 6 devices. Having 30 devices would require 5 separate accounts. Purchasing books is also a challenge.  BN only accepts credit cards and this has caused some issues in business offices.  One alternative is gift cards – but this is also a problem with school auditors.  The SCARIEST problem shared, (that left me shaking in my shoes) was that the Nooks are directly linked to your account and credit card AND as of right now, there is no password protection! OUCH! The workaround… librarians will put the nook in airplane mode which will not give the nook access to the internet.  However – how long before the student figures out how to take to turn the Internet back on? Hello Shopping Spree!   Management and security seem to be a problem right now but I am sure BN will eventually figure out a way to make it work better. I really like the idea so that leads me to wonder about the iPad?  From what I understand  – there are apps for BN or Amazon or a bazillion other useful programs.  I don’t have an iPad yet – I think its time.  Still waiting on the Google Pad. Hurry up already!

Another session with Buffy

“Strategies for Keeping Up with (Almost Everything)”. It was a no brainer…after the excellent keynote in the morning, that I was going to attend a session with Buffy Hamilton.  One of my goals this year is to help our staff develop their own personal learning networks (PLNs).  This session was perfect timing!  I love the title “Strategies for Keeping Up” ! Instead of a title like “Creating a PLN”, which can appear to be another new thing, and extra… this title makes developing a PLN to be more helpful to organize and manage information.  Some takeaways…” “Walk before you Run”.

Looking or explaining my PLN may look very scary for staff.

However, starting small and  “cultivating their passions” is key.  It is also beneficial to show the tools to help them organize information. Google Reader, iGoogle, Netvibes, ect…(personal note – I need to master iGoogle!)  Even if they do not want to share their thoughts publicly (tweet, blog) in this case…it is OK to be a “lurker”.

Presenting with Doug

Next I was privileged to co Present “To Friend or Not to Friend: A guide for Teachers Using Social and Educational Networking Sites” with the  Blue Skunk Blogger Doug Johnson (@BlueSkunkBlog).  Even though I was extremely nervous, the audience made me feel very comfortable. They were receptive to our presentation and there was a great exchange of dialog/ideas. Yeah – I learned too!   My take away from this experience/presentation.  First of all – Doug is a master presenter. He has a great talent in engaging conversation with the audience, and making it interactive.  This is something I need to continue to work on – instead of “showering the crowd” with information, it is more influential to guide them into conclusions based on ideas and information. (guide on the side vs sage on the stage)

My other take away…is that districts still continue to have problems with sites being blocked in their districts. Youtube is blocked, Wikis are blocked, Blogs are blocked, Social Networks are blocked. Sometimes it is the settings on the filter, but most seem to blame the  “Network Gestapo”.  CIPA is usually the excuse given to block sites. But take note – CIPA only requires that schools (who apply for erate funds for Internet) require schools to block sites that are: obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors).  Creating a classroom blog, wiki, or youtube channel is NOT HARMFUL TO MINORS.  Blocking these sites is a DETRIMENT to education and your students learning is being hampered.  Classroom innovation and transformation will never happen without access to these tools.  My advice, devise a team (include students), and a plan targeting the educational value (include baby steps). Showcase the innovation in other districts aka…what is NOT happening in your district.  Don’t stop at the Gestapo if you get turned down. Your administration and board may be much more receptive.  Booster Clubs and PTA can be also be effective.  Please do not give up the battle!

Here are a couple of youtube channels for your Bag of Tricks

Hanging with District 287


I’ll be honest. Being it was almost 3pm and after a day of total engagement, I wasn’t sure that I was going to get much out of “Stimulate your district’s Online Courses” with John Fila and Mike Smart (@moodleshare).  I was soooo wrong. Talk about save the best for last!  Right now our district is at a pivotal transition.  Moodle has made an entry in our district and we are beginning to develop blended moodle courses as well as fully online courses.  The course design techniques shared as well as the FREE courses/units (aligned to MN or National standards) were AMAZING.  A little background…District 287 received an E2T2 grant and had around 80 teachers apply to develop courses and units (after being trained). These teachers were from all grade levels and subject areas. What is very nice about the free units/courses is that you can go in and preview the content and then decide to download what you like.  Eventually the plan is to make them available at the Minnesota Learning Commons.

As for the design techniques – I can’t explain how excited I was to see this.  We have all heard of Presentation Zen but I have never witnessed Moodle Zen.  Stunning graphics and visually appealing.  No scroll of death!  There is a trick to it –I think between working with labels and hiding topics, (moodle terms) is how they do it.  They also have a very good eye for media design. They are now developing Minnesota Licensure courses for their staff to take.  They have a wonderful orientation course required of all their students. (they believe their success rates have gone up because of this requirements).  Hey John and Mike – you guys need a whole day session OR an online class that I can enroll in to learn this.  It is very unique and needs to be shared!  Where do I sign up????? Oh by the way – in their district they have a position called “Innovation Coaches”.  This is like a duty for a teacher or a .1 position in every building.  What an empowering position that must be!

A little reminder of copyright…

I was recently asked to clarify copyright laws and district policy (currently under our Acceptable Use Policy) when creating classroom/sports memorabilia movies/DVD’s.   If teachers and/or coaches use copyrighted music, (whether it has been purchased from sites like iTunes or downloaded from purchased CD’s) then the final works cannot be copied and distributed to students and families (without the owner/publisher’s permission) under copyright law.  Using music for this purpose does not qualify for Fair Use.

Copyright for Kids does a good job of how to ask permission from record companies to use all or portions of music in these productions.   However, I find this somewhat tedious and time consuming especially since permission must be asked of each song used. There is no guarantee you will have proper permission to use these works in a timely fashion to distribute your copies.

But what is an educator to do? I would encourage you to look for background music under the Creative Commons.  This is a fairly new set of copyright licenses in which authors and creators of content determine how their works are to be shared on the Internet. (Versus you having to seek permission)  Please click the video below to help you understand how Creative Commons works.

To learn more about the specifics of these  licenses please visit the Creative Commons About Licenses website.  Below are several sites in which you can look for music to use in your videos.

To learn more about the law and the use of music in educational multimedia presentations, please look at the University of Texas’s Fair Use Guidelines For Educational Multimedia.  I think they do a very good job interpreting the law under fair use.