Minnesota Department of Education and Twitter

This weekend I learned that the Minnesota Department of Education now has a twitter!  My very first cell phone notificaton (from them) came from the MDE Twitter account regarding the Swine Influenza virus.  Of course the topic is somewhat scary to me, but what is interesting is how this technology can rapdily inform the masses.  I noticed that there were many news organizations following MDE and I suspect that this will also be a way to alert the media?  Wow.

Twitter as a learning tool

It was probably about a year ago that I signed up for my twitter account.  I knew what it was, and had somewhat of an idea of how it worked.  But, what I didn’t really understand was the educational value to this new communication medium.  It was about two weeks ago, I was found and followed.  (somewhat of twitters way of “friending” ) Come to find out my very  first follower  was a teacher from my district and, as the systems manager for the district, I decided I should probably start utilizing this tool.

My first question I had to figure out…Will I use the tool professionally or for personal use or a little of both?

So I went back to my dusty old account and immediately started to follow the “tweets” of some of the edtech bloggers I have enjoyed over the years!

The KEY to twitter is to program the application with your cell phone! (Remember standard text charges may be applied so be careful)  I was able to set my phone up to sent my first (via text messaging) tweets to my account! Note the image below “from the web” was a short message sent via the twitter website.  “from txt” was sent via my phone!


You also can decide which of the people you follow (subscribe to), you would like to have sent to your phone.  To test this out, I chose Scott McLeod’s and waited.

Scott McLeod

Monday morning I received my first official tweet from Scott!  He was having George Siemens do a live blogging keynote.  First of all, I had no idea who George Siemens was nor did I understand what or how you could have a  live blogging conference.  I was amazed.   Obviously while George was up giving his keynote, Scott and other students/faculty were having a side discussion about the address!  The microblogs were all recorded and then posted on Scott’s blog.  I really wish I could have heard the keynote, because the conversations they were having were very interesting.

At any rate, I now had the ability to send and receive microblog’s (aka tweets) from virtually anywhere.  I did not need a computer with a  wifi hotspot to update or receive the latest information!  This was my “aha” moment.  Even with RSS feeds, there is some limitations with being on the computer, logged in, exc.  Twitter was instant.  If I had interest in the content (limited in 140 characters) I could follow up with my computer or smartphone and explore further.  I am only beginning to understand the educational opportunities this tool can have.  It has had, in the short 2 weeks I have used it, a profound affect on my learning!

So thanks to daytonflyer for finding me and waking me up to this new tool.  I look forward to the new learning journey that lies ahead!

Online teaching/learning…coming soon to a location near you!

Last week, after our online learning committee meeting, I was asked to develop a survey that would ask all middle and high school teachers their interest in learning more about online learning.


Are you interested in learning more about online learning? Please select the level of training you would like to receive below.  (select all that apply)

  • Level 1 – Basic informational meeting – What is it, How does it work, how will it affect my classroom?
  • Level 2 – Extending my face to face classroom into the online environment using Moodle.
  • Level 3 – Learning to develop/teach fully online classes.
  • Other


Out of the 80 or so teachers (MS/HS), 23 teachers indicated interest in learning more about online learning…and even possibly teaching online!  I am very excited to see that our teachers are showing interest in this new method of delivering education.   After all, Pawlenty’s 2013 online high school learning experience will be a requirement for our current 8th graders!

OLL Results

Information sessions will be coming to your buildings very soon – be on the watch for invitations.

Glogster – Poster yourself!

I have stumbled upon a VERY cool tool called Glogster!  The educational potential for this site web2.0 site tremendous! It allows students and teachers to build posters on virtually any topic!  YThese digital posters allow students to build and interact with videos, pictures, clipart, text, and sound.

I actually utilized it while developing the framework for a Podcasting class that I am thinking about developing online.  These are the following tools I will use throughout the course.

  • Createsurvey – for my pre/post survey (link)
  • Bubbl.us – to have participants build the story or script
  • Elluminate Live to show participants how to use audacity and to check progress on their scripts
  • Glogster – to build the final story poster

I will tell you that I have spent oodles of time building this course and I would love to hear your feedback!  Check it out by clicking my Glogster Podcasting site!

You will need to have your screensize at minimum of 1024 x 728 and you will have to scroll down to view the entire page.  What do you think?  I cant tell you how many times I have seen students working on the old fashioned collages by clipping newspaper or magazine pictures out.  Think of how many trees will be saved by using this site AND how much funs students can have building them. They even have a Glogster education site that just recently opened!

Hack this school please

“These Kids Syndrome”–the tendency to explain away the shortcomings and failures of our education system by saying that “these kids can’t learn”; or “these kids don’t want to learn” or “these kids are just too far behind.” And after awhile, “these kids” become somebody else’s problem. And this teacher looked at me and said, “When I hear that term it drives me nuts. They’re not ‘these kids.’ They’re our kids. All of them.” (Obama, 2008)


While I was reading chapter 5 of Wikinomics (in one class) and learning about constructivism and  Blooms Taxonomy (in another class),  I stumbled upon  a conversation of a consortium in SE MN that is looking at developing a charter school due to declining enrollment.  One of the links that was included, to make the case, was a video of a charter school in Minnesota that is totally project based.   There are no schedules, there are no bells.  Students are completely in charge of their learning!  Their adviser (aka teacher) is a learning resource consultant and provides individual two way communication with the students vs the sage on the stage one way communication of the traditional industrial aged classroom.  The schools are governed by majority of teachers vs administrators and traditional school boards.

The classroom pedagogy as you and I know it, is completely thrown out the window.  The customers, the students, are also co-innovators and creators of their curriculum.   They are required to develop projects based on the standards of our state.  They learn about things that are meaningful to them.  They are creative and engaged with their learning environment because the work they have chosen is authentic and relative to their personal goals and aspirations.

I was excited to see this topic of discussion because I was able to merge two areas of my current studies into a very relavent problem we face in our schools.  Our traditional schools are losing students (and funding) to online schools, PSEO, open enrollment, home schooling, and dropouts…

Isnt it time we rethink the way we do school business and deliver education?
At what point will we no longer have a choice?

Plaigarize proof your assigments!

Due to the digital age, and the fact that information is increasing at a very rapid rate, it is becoming very easy for students to copy and paste there way through assignments.  It is increasingly important for instructors to not only be able to CATCH the plagiarists but also develop lessons and activities that promote authentic learning.

To find plagiarism takes a little detective work.  Has the skill level of the student’s writing suddenly changed midway through the research?  Where they go from an 8th grade writing level to doctorate level?  Has the formatting suddenly changed in the document.  From Times New Roman font to Arial?  Has the context of the research changed suddenly?  If you answer yes to any of the questions, you may have a plaigarist on your hands.

So how do you prove it?  The easiest way is to take the phrase you suspect and put quotes on both sides and Google it.  If you get some “hits” then you may have the proof you need.  I also found a cool tool, called the Plagiarism Checker that allows you to copy/paste and search for plagiarism in entire works.  I tested it and it works pretty good!

Stop plaigarism before it starts

What is a teacher to do?  I have found a list (here) that has quite a few ideas on how to plagiarize proof assignments.  However, after learning about  Bloom’s Taxonomy, I feel it is even more important to develop assignments and activities that encourage deep learning.  As you look at the Bloom pyramid below, the lower level –  knowledge – requires the lowest level of thinking skills.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Image – http://www.officeport.com/edu/blooms.htm

As you look at the verbs for the lowest level  knowledge level (according to Bloom) how easy would it be to copy/paste answers for  assignments and activities?  Now look at the verbs for evaluation. Those verbs would require a deeper learning, where students would have to use information literacy skills to produce an answer.

Knowledge: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce state.

Evaluation: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate.

To make a long story short, if your assignments only require a surface level of answers and your assessments only require a surface level of answers – do you think your students really comprehend the content you are teaching?


Disappointment 2.0

I am extremely disappointed.  I have been blogging for two years using edublogs.org.  About a year ago I discovered they had an excellent plugin that would allow me to measure the traffic (hits) of my blog, by using a service called Google Analytics.  Well, about a week ago my hits stopped.  At first I thought it was me and maybe my lack of good content, but I was receiving replies and still no hits.  That led me to my looking at my plugin settings and there it was…I was to be a supporter to continue using analytics with edublogs – AKA pay $40.   There was no warning.  It was gone.  Is this start of a  new trend?  Get the tools into the hands of the educators and then when the timing is right, hit em with a tab $!  As a site that is geared towards teachers and education I really have to wonder if this was in educations best interest or Edublogs?  I guess the $40 answers my question!

TIES 2008 – Dan Pink: Q and A – My notes

Because of my engagement in the first session, I decided to continue with Daniel’s Q&A session.  Again, these are my notes so I hope I will use them in the very near future.  I would love to brainstorm some ideas on change in our district – if anyone is interested.  By the way – you have to read “A Whole New Mind” to really get the gist of the conversation.

Here it goes…

What is your best guess – to jar the shift into action – while NCLB is in place?

  • “Difficult – takes time and work.  Begin with conversation with teachers, principals, and Superintendent.  What are we doing to prepare kids for the future?  Get conversation roaring!  Make the case in a left brain way. White guys in suits and guys that are left brained. Show the numbers!  What are you doing to smuggle some of this into the classroom.  Educational subversiveness with conversations with people who can make change.  “You think change is difficult – you should try irrelevance.”

What do you think of Presidential Obama “getting it” and could change come from the top down?

  • “Maybe but I am not going to hold my breath.  I wont bank on it.  That would be more of a 2nd term priority.  Economic downturn, Infrastructure, losing jobs, health care system, moving current energy system to renewable energy is huge agenda for the president elect.  What can happen is to start classroom by classroom, building by building”

Story  – what are the thoughts of simple power of story meets technology?

  • Sometimes using technology can overwhelm story.  Don’t obsess over transitions – obsess over the value of what you are saying.  Adventure of Johnny Bunko – look for artists in US.  Were extreme expert in drawing – not expert in storytelling. Technology Tools can amplify storytelling by telling it and distributing it.

If you Dan are middle left brain – how did you get over to the right?

  • I  need to get better.  Cary a Notebook “design” look for really good design and really bad design.  right down 1 good instance of design, 1 bad design.   Some stick, and most are thoughtless. He now Notices things now that he wouldn’t have years ago.  Empathy – learn more about facial expressions.  Working to be better.

Do you have daughters – you as a white guy with a tie support women in STEM careers.

  • Brains are similar – and are differences btw woman and men.  Empathy – woman more empathetic than men.  Design, story, play meaning – not as much differences.  Is STEM education misaligned to women?  More competitive than collaborative.  Sometime engineering is disconnected from the world. Education needs to engage in real world problems, teamwork, project based.

If you look at how schools use technology, (currently scheduled in the day) – how is that conducive to problem solving?

  • Not conducive to problem solving.  We didn’t have pencil labs.  Its a tool – lets use it to do something.  Older school design is problem.  Time is the issue because we work in a locket time design.  This an industrial age issue.  Conceptual age is different and is out of sync with society in a 45 segment.  Startup time end time.    Web 2.0 technology extends classroom time.  Too often in school kids get a problem that is clearly defined, single disciplined, and has 1 right answer.  Compare that to the Workforce where we have big problems that are poorly defined, multiple disciplines, multiple answers, and none of which are perfect.

Tear down the walls.  There are too many.  english, science, ect… Need more collaborating.  Infuse arts education throughout the curriculum.  Cognitive skills will be more used in workplace.  Urgency of establishing new metrics.  You have to have old metrics, right brain are harder.  JSPE – measure empathy.  Level of empathy.  Students with higher schores on empathy.  Empathy is being taught in medical schools around america.  Teachers have very little autonomy.  Involves time and task and techniques.