Summer Happenings 2008

Memories of Summer - by Micky (Flickr)

While most staff in k12 are out enjoying their summer off… At Byron Public Schools, summer is the perfect time to get work done that is near impossible to do during the regular school day. Here are the projects we will be working on!

  • Teacher Laptop Deployment – our district’s teachers will be receiving their 2nd refresh of laptops in 6 years. The laptops will come with built in web cams, 2 Gb memory, 160 gb HD’s, and DVD burners.
  • Prep room for Hybrid Chinese course from District 287. We will be running our first virtual classroom next year that utilizes video conferencing as well as an online learning lab.
  • Continue district’s 3 year SMART Board integration plan. We will be installing 8 SMART Boards classrooms in the elementary school and 8 in the middle school. All classrooms are retrofitted with SB’s, 4 ceiling/wall mounted speakers, projectors, DVD/VCR, and voice amplification systems.
  • Install 2 new labs at the high school. One mobile science cart and a new Industrial Arts lab for Project Lead the Way curriculum.
  • Reimage all labs (11) and upgrade district to Office 2007.
  • Install district storage (9tb) system as well as new disk to disk backup system.
  • Gear up for Bears Professional Growth Academy (Aug 4-8)
  • Work with online learning committee to look at how we can begin to develop/deliver online coursework at BPS.
  • Begin the implementation process (6 mos) of integrating Infinite Campus into our school.

Being a Minnesotan and looking at the list above, all I can say is UFTA! Enjoy your summer… September is right around the corner.

The end of Textbooks?

This weekend I had time to read a few of my technology magazines and I found a journal that sparked my interest. The Spring 08 Threshold magazine had several articles that talked about the future of education. I was increasingly engaged in the article that discussed open textbooks and courseware. I related to the challenge of moving from the dewey decimal system (printed, linear, time-limited) to google keywords (digital, changing, always available) in the current school settings. One issue in todays curriculum is relating real world applications and tools. (Try doing that with textbooks that are 5 years old!) With Web2.0, new ideas are transforming the classroom – including open source textbooks! Open source textbooks not only allow content to remain current, but also provide a wealth of resources to support deep learning for the learner.

The article goes on to state that, “It (movement) is happening so quickly that the way the brains of our children are conditioned to handle data is fundamentally different than in the past, and very different from the brains those currently responsible for formal education.”

Here are a couple of links from the article(s) that I suggest to look at if you want to learn more:

What kind of real world application would students get out of their classrooms if they were able to collaborate with each other and write their own curriculum? This may be an “out of the box” thought, however, with the tools available today – it is possible!

I Got IT!

Today I had my first video conference. Sure, I have participated in numerous video conferences – but this one was hosted and scheduled in Byron. I did not have to travel anywhere and fight the traffic or weather. I walked across the hall and was immediately connected with 6-8 entities across the state. From Moorhead to Mankato, St. Paul to Wilmar – I was very engaged with this method of of communication!

So now the wheels (in my head) are turning. I think we can start using this technology by doing some virtual field trips.   I also like the added benefit of being able to record and stream the technology for a later date.  Skype is a great alternative, but without QOS, I am not sure how well a 6-10 participant video conference would work.  How cool would it be for our HS Anatomy class to partake in a live knee replacement surgery? How about our Zoology class being able to connect with people in the Minnesota Zoo? What about our Government classes being able to connect with court judges or even State Representatives LIVE in St Paul. All of these things are possible and the technology is here to make it happen! Stay tuned…

Compatability with Office 2007

Right now our district uses Microsoft Office 2003. This summer we will be gearing up for an Office 2007 upgrade. In the mean time, we have had many students that have Office 2007 at home. For students that email or want to open files on our computers, we need to install a compatibility pack. This will allow us to open, view, and save 2007 Word, Excel, or Power Point files. That compatibility pack is available free from Microsoft and you can download it by clicking here or copy and pasting this link (  into Internet Explorer!  You MUST use Internet Explorer to download this file!

If you need more assistance you can watch me install it by clicking this screencast!

Today’s Tech – UFTA!

Most people know that technology is my passion. I love to read about it, talk about it, and most of all implement it into my daily routine. As I look at the past 10 years of educational technology in Byron Public Schools, we have come a LONG way. When properly used and implemented – technology can be a wonderful thing and almost becomes invisible to all of our communications, actions, and integrations. But when technology goes wrong, it can go very wrong and be very bad, bad, bad. It is amazing what one corrupt IOS (Internetwork Operating System) in a core switch can do to an entire system.

As one week ends, another begins…

The Bears Professional Growth Academy is now over and it was a huge success. We had 95 people attend and accumulated 836 hours of professional development time from our 18 different sessions.

The techs have developed a Wiki! It is pretty amazing how one can organize a “to do” list using this type of technology. If you are interested in seeing it – check it out here!

Truly a Grin and BEAR (with) “I.T.” day!

Today was the first day of workshops during our week long Bears Professional Growth Academy. We really had a great “round 1” of sessions. In our opening (virtual) keynote, “Preparing students for the new economy – A candid discussion about education in the 21st century”, Dr. Scott McLeod provided us with an impressive overview of where public education is heading (or as the research shows – not heading). My wheels are turning and the message was pretty clear – crystal that is. My next steps – get the word out, share, collaborate, discuss and most of all get the ball rolling! Stay tuned, you will be inundated with the message!

After the keynote, our staff learned how to use our new online computer/technology training system – Infosource. Through an E2T2 grant with the South East Service Coop, our access to this learning management system will help accomplish one common goal between all of our districts – Develop expanded 24/7 educational opportunities for teachers and staff. (How 21st century is that???)

My afternoon session, “Podcasting in the Classroom”, was also well received. Even though this technology is new to Byron teachers, I believe podcasting (whether subscribing to content or creating your own) will provide an extra resource to our classrooms and community.

I have to admit, I am very empowered by Byron staff. They are an extremely talented group! Some may feel a little apprehensive about the “tech stuff” – but for those leaders (yes you are all leaders in my eyes) to walk through my door is a giant step in the right direction!

Gearing up for Bears Professional Growth Academy!

It is the Sunday before our first annual Bears Professional Growth Academy and I have a zillion things going through my mind. Tomorrow we will have Dr. Scott McLeod provide our opening keynote – “Preparing Students for the New Economy: A candid discussion about education in the 21st century”. I am extremely excited about this opening workshop – and there will be a little surprise that I have prepared for the audience. Grin and BEAR “I.T.”