How the 140 character discussion helps me

Tonight marked the 1st #MNLEAD  twitter chat. Michelle Ament (@mlament)and Lisa Sjogren (@lisasjogren) did a fantastic job creating the discussion agenda and moderating the event.  Having the agenda ahead of time really helped me keep track of the answers to the questions and flow of the conversation.  I also appreciated learning about tweetchat – a tool specifically for twitter chats.  For those of you who have not participated in a chat before, essentially a moderator will ask a question and then you respond.  Typically you get 10 minutes to have a rapid conversation (I mean crazy-fast high-adrenaline discussions) around the ideas presented, before moving on to the next question.

Below is a sample:

moderate
My response

twitter

 

While what I tweeted was nothing earth shattering, it was a my statement, my thoughts and something that I could have a side twitter conversation about.  This is what  like about twitter chats.  A single tweet leads may lead to a favorite or  retweet (RT) which can lead to a reply.  The reply leads a formal twitter conversation that may include actual samples and  ideas that are being currently implemented  in districts.  That 140 character conversation leads to follow up email or in this case an invite to a  Google community #MNTransformEDU.  Follow up emails and/orconnections in Google communities can lead to longer more in depth conversations. If online discussion is not enough it may be necessary  for a phone call and my favorite – Google hangout.  I can not begin to tell you how many times a spark on Twitter has lead to some pretty significant change in my district as well as my own professional growth.  Because of that 140 character discussion cycle, I have now have a deeper connections to like-minded colleagues around the state (or world) who support me, but more importantly challenge me in my thinking.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still learned quite a bit from our chat.  I like that we had 40-50 ed leaders in MN come together to talk about leadership and what we like, what we do, and how we will follow up with what we learned.   We also have to tweet our actionable items throughout the rest of the week – (this was a nice touch!)  If you are wondering what the lollipops are about – please watch the video in the agenda.

action

One pondering question I have.  What if we had MORE edu leaders participate and engage in Twitter Chats.  What kind of movement would that create in MN schools? Join us Sundays at 7pm cst!

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

What do you see in your crystal ball?

Flickr photo by Kikishua

Flickr Photo by Kikishua

Currently our district is in the process of technology planning for the next 3 years.  As part of the process I made site visits to each of our schools to seek input from our teachers.  I shared with them videos as well as the 2010 Horizon Report (2011 just came out!).

Then I asked teachers to think and respond to the following questions:

  1. What technology ideas do you have that would enhance/support your student’s learning IN and OUTSIDE your classroom?
  2. What technology ideas do you have that would enhance/support  YOUR learning IN and OUTSIDE your classroom?
  3. What technology ideas do you have that could help you do a better job at teaching or help you be more productive?
  4. What technology ideas do you have that could help our district save money?

What do I see in my Educational crystal ball?

  • Education based on student inquiry, authentic assessments, social constructivism, and digital citizenship
  • Engaging learning/teaching environments in and outside our classrooms for all district stakeholders
  • Mobile devices – Student owned and district owned
  • Personal learning plans for all students/staff that indicate individual needs as well as talents

Above are just a few of the things I see coming to education in the near future.  What am I missing?  A template of this  Google Doc was created and shared with our schools and district technology committee as a way to seek input.  I would also ask that you share your ideas if interested!  Either use the Google doc or reply to this post….. What should we be considering for the next 3-4 years?

Call for Collaboration

I just skimmed the May 2009 District Administration article “A Call for Collaboration” and was reminded of a group project I recently completed with some grad students from UW Stout. For the first time, in my online learning career, I have made an interpersonal connection to fellow students!  Typically, in a complete asynchronous environment this does not happen.  In a world of text, it is very hard to identify with people.  For my own personal learning journey, the best experiences come from a blend of synchronous and asynchronous tools.  With the rise of Web 2.0 tools… making that personal connection has become increasingly easier to accomplish!

If interested in learning more, you can check out our work on our group wiki OR see the summary of our project by clicking the voicethread below!  Enjoy!

S.O.S – my distress call to you!

I remember just a few years ago, we focused on learning how to use technology tools.   I took a look at our technology curriculum (5yrs old) and that was pretty much what that curriculum was all about.   Learn to use the computer, Learn to use Office Applications, Learn to keyboard, Learn to communicate, Learn to find information on the Internet.

Lets fast forward to today. In just a short time, it seems as though the world has transitioned from learning how to use the tools, to using the tools to learn.  We can no longer use technology tools just for the sake of technology or because our kids are tech savvy!

David Warlick pretty much hit the nail on the head when he stated,

It is not a bad reason integrate technology – to motivate learners with more familiar information experiences.  But what bothers me is that it appears to ignore the greatest and most critical reason – that an increasingly connected, technology-rich, information-driven, and rapidly changing world alters the “what” and “how” of education.

We are no longer preparing children with the skills and knowledge that they will need for all of the rest of their years.  In my father’s time, it was common to graduate from high school (or not), take a job, and do that job for the next 35 or 40 years, retire, and live another 10 years.  Expectations were not much different when I graduated from high school almost 40 years ago.

But today, I suspect that much of what we teach won’t remain valid for five years after graduation – and that may be a generous statement.

Our focus should not be on using technology to make our students easier to teach.  It should be on crafting learning experiences, within networked, digital, and information-abundant learning environments, where students are learning to teach themselves, and begin to cultivate a mutually common cultural and environmental context for for their lives.

Online learning, Web 2.0, Social Media, and the Participatory Culture are all having disruptive affects to the learning of our organizations, classrooms, staff and students. These terms also coin new skills that will be relevant to our students as they leave our school and go to college and/or global workforce.

The new media literacies – Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

We have always been fortunate.  We have a great community, greatschools, great staff, and great kids.  But I am becoming increasingly worried that if we do not address these new learning environments and new skills needed to be TRULY successful in the 21st century, we are in trouble…

So what are our roadblocks?  I am not at all an expert here…but these are the big roadblocks I see to move us from a traditional industrial aged district to a 21st learning institution.

  • Education.  We need to educate ourselves to understand the affects the new media can bring to the learning table.  (This also means to be motivated to become a self learning organization.) This is probably the most significant issue because when we talk or hear about these new technologies and learning environments, it is very difficult to promote their use, when key leaders and teachers are not using them themselves.  A personal example is my recent use of Twitter.  I knew what it was, how it worked.  But I NEVER fathomed the learning potential of this new tool until I started using it.  This is my aha moment, what aha moment have you had lately?  Why not share it?
  • Computers.  I have seen a significant rise in computer use in our schools.  This is good!  As more teachers begin to utilize web/electronic media in their classrooms, our computer labs are becoming utilized more and more.  The problem is that we are also are utilizing computer labs for state and standardized testing.  We literally shut down our labs, for weeks at a time, to accommodate these tasks.  Take away the computer time, we are taking away their learning time.  The other day, I did a count of all the wireless devices (like iPods) in our high school and was amazed to find about 1 in 5 students are bringing these devices to our school.  Of course I would LOVE to see a 1 to 1 computer program in our school, but until then, maybe we should figure out how to utilize the devices our students already have access to.  They come to our schools with the Internet in their pockets… why not use these tools to our advantage vs developing policies to prohibit their use?
  • Time & Money.  This is probably the most difficult issue of all.  Our economy is down the tubes and we are stretched to the max with responsibilities beyond our control.  It is going to take some time and is definitely going to take some money to get there!   However, If we do not step up to the plate now, what will it cost us five years from now?  What affects will this have on our students, our community, and our society?

I know this may come across as doom and gloom, but I do feel that have an extraordinary advantage because we have very VERY talented people right here in our district and community.  What are your ideas? How can we start making a change today!  This is not going to be a one man show, but a movement by many!  So are you interested?

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!

Tweets

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!

Collaboration with Google Docs

For the past two weeks I have been privileged to work with two individuals, whom I have never met, on a collaborative project to build an assessment toolbox using Googledocs. We were each required to research an assessment tool and then combine the writings into one document – or toolbox. Even though I did learn about Elluminate Live! – To me the real learning occurred by participating in this activity.

With individual projects, you are in charge of everything. What does it look like? What will the content have? What will the timelines be? With the group project everyone has their own ideas and perspectives. What was even more interesting was taking the collaboration project online. F2F sessions are easy. By the end of the meeting, you can usually agree to some of the basic underlying questions. However, in an online environment, where people don’t have the same schedules, little things can be somewhat difficult to agree to. Not because of a clash of opinions, but because of time it takes to respond to the email or discussion thread. It seemed that we were never really online at the same time. Even though I believe that this may be due to some limitations in D2L, it does represent a challenge to a collaborative online project.

I have been very satisfied with our team’s efforts.  I have never participated in a Googledoc collaboration quite so large.  (meaning the number of pages – linked together like a website )  Previous use was more of a brainstorm activity on 1 page, usually after a f2f meeting.  I am pretty impressed with the tool and would like to encourage teachers and students to use it in collaborative projects.

Looking back, I wish we would have time to play with the other tools – presentation, spreadsheet, and forms.  I am sure Melissa and Dora would agree that there was a incredible amount of time spent on this project and it is nice to have it behind us.  One other thing I wish we could have dabbled in was the templates.   There are some VERY professional and PRETTY templates that might have worked great as well.  What matters most for me is I learned a ton! I see Google Docs as a huge benefit in collaborative work for online students.

Here is the Screencast Intro http://screencast.com/t/hzvvAs7hPAb
Our assessment toolbox – http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc859m82_57f68svdfn

Enjoy!

Bubble.us – free concept mapping

Bubble.us is a great freebie that allows its users to visually collaborate and/or organize projects.  Below is a quick concept map that I created for past workshop I have taught.  I am thinking of how I can move some of my sessions online.  Each objective should list specific course materials (readings, resources and rubrics), high quality discussions that embed critical thinking skills, and assignments/projects as evidence of the user's newly developed podcasting skills.  As you look at my map - what else should I add?  Maybe quality feedback from the student to the instructor and visa versa?

You should be able to zoom in and out and move the map around to read it better!

TIES 2008 – Opening Keynote: Daniel Pink – My Notes

This morning I am sitting at the  TIES  convention and waiting to hear Dan Pink’s opening keynote along with the other +1700 educators, administrators, teachers, and technology directors from all over the US and Canada.  (very impressive turnout by the way)  My notes are sketchy, as I was busy typing and listening.  (I apologize for that)  If you get a chance to see him – I highly recommend it!

What makes a good speech? Good speeches in general…always have 3 ingredients…brevity, levity, repetition.  Influence of a teacher – “repetition is an effective form of emphasis”.

Education and the economy  – purpose of education is not to deliver to employees to employers – allow every young person – achieve their full potential, well informed citizens, digital citizenship…

“We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past.”  (Fairfax, administrator)

Before the conceptual age we were told as kids… “get good grades, go to college, get a good jobs”.

Brains. Left hemisphere, Right hemisphere.  Last several years, because of technology, we know more about how our brains work.  Complicated and complex – elegant and efficient.  Different specialties – the left contains the logical, linear, sequential, analytical.  Right – Tasks, process at once, understand concept, facial expressions, synthesis context.

Our past – kids future.  past – Most important ability – were the  characteristics of left hemisphere and it was absolutely necessary.  BUT – no longer sufficient. Right Brain –  Big picture thinking, conceptual. ect.

The 3 causes that for our the shift in workforce in the states.  (This is also the Need for shift in Education)

Asia – 15,000 computer science degrees, upper class incomes in their country.  White collar jobs loss in the less 4 years is not an issue,  India has advantage in global economy.  Billion People.  15% of billion = 150 million.  US – last month –  just counting the those who work for pay in the US – 144 million.  If 15% make it to the status of being competitive  – then we have cit.  In 14 months – India will be the largest English speaking country.  English is the language of the global economy. Technology – cost of communication btw us and India is $0.  “Focusing on Routine is a death sentence.” This is the fault line between our past and kids future.  This skill is going out fast -right steps and have.  Accounting, financial analysis, programming. Anything that focuses on a series of steps or has one right answer will be unnecessary.

Automation- machines replace our muscle, software replace our brains.  Replace logical linear rule based side.  collaborative exercise – gov sites – figure what lawyer uncontested divorce – all steps.  Routine is off shore or gets automated. complete case.com affordable divorce solutions.  $249.  123Divorceme.com  Tax preparation. Turbotax.  Certain accounting is routine

Abundance – standard of living is breathtaking.  chart “consumption spreads faster today” –  material goods have migrated to above 80-90% of homes.  Telephone, electricity, TV, Computer, Internet, cellphone.  Storage Industry – $22.6 Billion industry.  We have too much stuff! In a world of abundance, there is a premium on getting something to people they didnt know they were missing.  Offering to consumer, has to be big and bold especially in recession.  Downturn – can still make it.

3 questions –

  • Can someone do it cheaper
  • Can a computer do it faster?
  • Is what your delivering in demand in an age of abundance?

What about STEM?  Not vending machines of right answers.  Evidence is not routine – ex. Silicon Valley, Google

“Non-routine savants”  Medical Schools – at art institute – part of diagnostic training.  Certain is routine, Ask right question.  Extraordinary observation skills.    Now measurable – those who have been thru art training are better than traditional medical training.  Art education is spreading among colleges however in elementary and secondary arts if first to go.  “This is a colossal mistake.”

Last Rant. Can you see the problem?

Technology today

  • Novelty
  • Nuance
  • Customization

Education today

  • Routines
  • Right answer
  • Standardization

6 abilities that matter most.

  • Design – make something beautiful, whimsical, emotionally engaging
  • Story – story matters, facts are free. facts in context
  • Empathy – stand in someone shoes, human ability.
  • Play – laughter humor games, in economy – shouldn’t be banishing
  • Meaning – not just accumulation.  What has meaning has purpose.
  • Symphony – Not just focus – ability see big picture, connect dots, and design something new.

check him out at – twitter.com/DanielPink