Innovation: A parent’s perspective

I want to take some time to cross post my thoughts from a Voxer post/discussion in the #OSSEMOOC Innovator’s Mindset group.  The conversation really hit home for me – not just as an educator that works in a school system – but as a parent.

My Story. My youngest is a senior this year in a high school, outside of the one I work for,  and is enrolled as a PSEO student in a local community college.  We have had many college discussions. He knows college is the “right thing” to do.  But, he really is unsure of what he wants to go into to.  He is a good student. He gets decent grades, and decent test scores. He knows how to “play school” very well.  He has been accepted to a 4 year state university and plans to attend this next fall.

The problem.   My son has had ZERO self directed authentic learning experiences (in school) that would connect him (and his learning) to any type of career.  ZERO.   He does enjoy his PSEO classes, as I have observed more critical thinking than his HS courses.  But the relevance of what he is learning is still missing.  He simply continues to “play school”.

Within our discussions of college  – we also need to discuss the considerable amount  of debt that will accrue over the next 4 years. The college he has chosen, estimates tuition and housing to run over $17,000 per year.    He has interests but still is not sure.  So, does he go to college undecided? Or does he wait until he knows what he wants to do?   Lets look at the odds.

  1. There is a chance he won’t make it past year 1 of college.   1 in 3 students will not make it to sophomore year.
  2. There is no guarantee of a career in his major of choice after college.  Only 27% of College grads have jobs within their major
  3. And IF he is successful, and graduates with a degree – he will have significant debt. Rates in 2013 say the average was $30,000 – I am doing some calculations and guessing this will be much more for my son. More likely doubled or more.

Consider the changing paradigms of “School” as we know it. (Video below)

Changing Paradigms – Based on Sir Ken Ted Talk


What student-centered innovation looks like today. Innovation that is TRULY student-centered can lead to potential careers.  There are a couple of times, within the school I work for,  I have been able to interview our high school students in courses that teachers allowed significant choice and voice in authentic learning.  In both of the examples below – the courses were designed on Hybrid days – where there was blocks of time where students would not need to “report” to class.

Example 1 – In @RyanRadke316 ‘s  child development class, genius hour project where students are able to freely choose a topic of research under child development AND use hybrid days to either go and interview experts in the field and observe the job in action.  One student, after a personal experience, wanted to further study post traumatic stress disorder.  This student was able to use their hybrid days to interview local child psychologists about the topic.  They were able to tour the facility and discuss specific topics about supporting the patients and the job in general.  When I interviewed this student – this experience sealed the deal and they made the decision to enroll in a psychology major in the next fall.

Example 2 – In @rockychat3′s stats class – students had an opportunity to freely study statistics outside of the traditional classroom during hybrid days.  I happened to interview two students who decided to put their stats knowledge to work with a current passion – and analyze basketball stats.  They poured over the data, analyzed, summarized  and would eventually share their findings.  Both girls shared that they did not realize that Math was “Everywhere” and this stats class had opened their eyes to the application of Math.  And one student, shared she would be pursuing a degree in statistics – specifically  sports analytics in the fall.

Not all open ended, student centered, student directed authentic classroom experiences  are going to lead to a career decision. But I can guarantee – interest/decisions in careers are more likely to happen when students have relevant real world learning experiences vs. reading about it in a book, watching a video about it, or practicing fictitious scenarios/problems on paper.

A few weeks ago, I was at a personalized learning summit in January.  Part of the summit included watching a movie called Beyond Measure.   One of the people, int he moview,  said it best when explaining our education system today relating to baseball.

“If learning baseball was like our current education system players would learn about baseball in high school, would create a play about baseball in college, and wouldn’t get in the game until graduate school. “

Questions to consider. Politicians want innovative schools and cry REFORM REFORM REFORM yet still hold schools accountable by test scores. Standards are a mile wide and can be very difficult to go deep with them.  Not to mention – are still organized by “grade levels”. School systems  in public schools still continue to work under a belief system where seat time = learning. And in Minnesota – the Carnegie unit is still king.  At some point, shouldn’t we  recognize EVERY student’s passions and talents? Shouldn’t we give plenty of student directed, authentic experiences in our classes that could spark new passions, talents, and career interests?  Sure we want them to be great readers. We want want them to be great mathematicians. But -so often the way we try to raise their scores is doing the same thing that doesn’t work in the first place. (Just more of it that kills the love of learning). When do we start working on the student’s personal genius, whether it be art, or music, or programming, or carpentry or “Fill in the blank” to land a potential career?

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What student-centered innovation could look like tomorrow (Warning – idea alert). An interesting and extremely innovative highered idea is the Gap Year. Where students “Take control of their learning” Its an interesting concept and to tell you the truth – would be an awesome senior year opportunity. I know – people may look at this idea and think/say, Ya But, Ya But, Ya But.  And we will find many roadblocks and many obstacles make ideas seem unrealistic.  Should obstacles stand in the way of what is best for kids?

What can parents do? So parents (aka voters and tax payers) when it comes to innovation in education your voice needs to be heard too.  Don’t settle for Ya but. Things are changing quite rapidly in the world of education and more importantly the world of employment.  Even though you have a 13 year internship on how school is done – you need to educate yourself.  When a college and is determined, make sure there are plenty of real world experiences within the core of the school work too.  Politicians need to hear you, as do our  school boards and schools.  Our kids need community members with strong voices and even better –  potential career connections and learning experiences.

Innovation: A tech director’s perspective

As I shared, in my previous post, innovation is one of my passions and I want to strengthen and improve my understanding of it to help our district  create a culture of innovation.   It just so happens, a new MOOC (#OSSEMOOC) was beginning this month  around George Couros’s Book – The Innovator’s Mindset.  I had lurked previous, MOOCs before – but never was an active participant AND have yet to see a MOOC through.   So, here is my shot, to elevate further develop my learning through new opportunities.

Image Credit –

Innovation = First Different, Then Better.

What does innovation mean to you? What does Innovation look like, sound like in your role? 

As a technology director for 20 years, change is a constant in my job.  I think about innovation often.    While you don’t need technology to be innovative, technology certainly can be a catalyst for innovation.  My inbox (email/phone) is continually bombarded with vendors trying to sell me their latest and greatest.  Sell me things that could “Revolutionize Education”.   I will admit, I do love shiny things – and even I wind up getting immersed and excited about the NEW – but I also need to remember to ask – Is it Better?

As I am writing this, I am reflecting on our PD roll-out of 1:1 iPads 3 years ago.   We focused on the SAMR model of integration.  Focused first on the S – Substitution with the hopes within 3 years, the grades would be at the M/R – or transformation. Our  thinking then – was to get our staff “comfortable” with what they already knew. And now, as I reflect on it – I am not sure it was the right decision.  Presentations, word processing and workflow was a significant portion of the initial training.  While we focused on the new of the ipad.  We unfortunately did not focus as much on the better.  Sure it was better that every student had a device – as they wouldn’t need computer labs, had the internet at their fingertips… but our initial training should have focused on the better – specifically BETTER of harnessing the functionality of the iPad to support a deeper purpose…. A student – centered education.  I want to mention I own this failure, as I certainly could have steered us down a better path of PD.  But I know more about iPads, more about GOOD pedagogy, and more about PD than I did back then.

Since this rollout several years ago – PD has improved and I continually try to innovate within the system.   We have had Edcamps, created a DLC position,  created a personalized gamified PD program, and worked with a local highered institute to create the Innovative Instructional Leadership program.  I believe our PD programs should be an incubator of ideas/innovation (around student centered learning)  VS sit and get one-sized fits all death by powerpoint PD.  Don’t get me wrong, large group PD can be good – especially when modeling excellent pedagogy practices.  (Something I want to get better at!)   But, there also needs to be follow up.  PLEASE – no more 1 and done PD.

Image Credit – Unknown.

Many times when an idea doesn’t work (the first time) schools will drop it.  Many times schools will not put forth adequate resources and time for ideas/innovation/action to become better. Measurements need to be determined and evaluated.  While it’s good to have measures – sometimes we don’t know how to measure truly innovative ideas/actions without living it for awhile.  And be ready…. many times Traditional measures  won’t be able to measure innovation.   I also believe reflection and reiteration is just as important as the putting an innovative idea into action.  No matter if you are a student, a teacher, a principal or even a “veteran” tech director – failure should be permitted and opportunities to revise – given.

So what does innovation mean to me? Because of my role in the district, both information and instructional technology – I believe that student-centered thinking and innovation (as in the definition of innovation) should be at the forefront of what I do.    Do I like these new tools/concepts because they are shiny or do they make things better?  They need to have both.   BUT, sometimes the “better” is not so clear and I have to be open to ideas that don’t necessarily seem to be student centered at first.  Have we given sites like Vine and Snapchat a fair shake?  Teachers throwing out grades?   I am always appreciative of divergent educators and will always leave MY DOOR open to new pilots in tackling these innovations  and will work to the Nth degree to help remove roadblocks vs being the roadblock (which unfortunately is the view of many folks in my position).

And finally, I have been participating in the Voxer Group for this Mooc.  One question was raised – Does innovation decrease the further up the ladder one  goes?  IE – From Teacher, to Principal, to Superintendent?  Absolutely NOT.  If anything – the further you move up the ladder – the MORE we should be innovating AND being very transparent of these innovations, actions, reflections, and reiterations….. It is my belief that transparent modeling might just be some of the best PD in a pursuing a culture of innovation.


Goal 2: Improving my professional learning through my PLN

I have been thinking alot about my learning and my personal learning network. I recently shared my past/current PLN experience. But now its time to think about where I want to be, and how my PLN can help me.    Over the next few months I want to take time to improve my professional passions and desires and will find ways to integrate these goals with my PLN.  Effective PLNs don’t just happen.  It’s important to continue to cultivate and customize towards one’s needs.

Learning Growing Changing

Image Credit –

Before reading my improvement  plan – it is important to mention they all are interconnected with MY Why.    Please note – if you are new to being connected, this may seem overwhelming.  Don’t be.  Instead, think of my thought process to accomplish this task.  I started with my passions and came up with some ideas on how I could further strengthen them. Then I moved to my desires.  Right now – these might not be my passions (yet) but are items I want to either improve upon, learn about, or be a part of!

I hope to accomplish the items below by June 1, 2016.

Strengthen my passions

  • School innovation to improve/personalize student learning.  I love to dream. I love ideas. I love to connect ideas and act upon them. (especially when it revolves around MY Why!)
    • Goal: I want to strengthen and improve my understanding of school innovation and how I can better facilitate opportunities for innovation and help my district create a culture of learning and innovation.
    • PLN Action steps:
      • Find, follow, interact with leaders in design thinking (dt).  Participate in a #DTk12chat.  Participate in a webinar/hangout around the topic.
      • Find and be an active participant in a Mooc (Maybe this one or this one) to learn more
      • Read and be part of an online book study – Innovator’s Mindset.  I have subscribed in one out of Canada (ossemooc) that started in Feb!
      • Share successful innovation stories within my district.  Identify local innovation stories and Tweet at least weekly to #byronbears AND blog OR periscope 2 times per month bigger stories about those innovations.
      • Create Twitter lists of the above!
    • What will success look like?: 
      • WSU Fall course outline will be created, I will facilitate a design thinking experience in the district. Potentially Summer 2016.
  • Become a better educator.  I am constantly thinking about PD and how I can deliver/model it more effectively and make it more relevant for the participants. I have 2 big areas I am working on – a new personalized/gamified pd program within our district. I am also an adjunct in a program where I am really trying to be innovative in the delivery of instruction and  assessment of learning.
    • Goal – Expand/Improve my PLN in the area of personalized learning
      • PLN Action Steps:
      • Curate a list of blogs/resources around this topic.  (diigo or evernote)
      • Find/follow/interact with educators who are doing amazing things with their students AND educators who are doing amazing things with their staff.  Expand my PLN in the area of Twitter/Facebook/Voxer.
      • Share my journey (wins and challenges) through blogging/tweeting!
      • What f2f opportunities do I have to learn and observe in action?
    • What will success look like?: 
      • Reflect on current PD program, find ways to improve it.  Evaluate Connected Educator/Connected Classroom course and reflect on opportunities for improvement. Analyze feedback from staff/students.
  •  Leadership.
    • Goal: Strengthen and improve my leadership – specifically around change leadership and developing other leaders.
    • PLN Action Steps
      • Find, follow, and interact with leadership experts AND folks who are also looking to improve their leadership.
      • Create Twitter list of the above!
      • Participate in a formal leadership chats (outside of #mnlead)
      • Maybe form a voxer group of technology director leaders in my state.
      • Influence leaders within our district and outside our district to become connected.
      • Blog at least 2 times about my progress of improving my leadership
    • What will success look like?
      • This is a little tough – I would guess my blog posts would help measure this.  Maybe do a presentation about leadership with another group?

Achieve my desires

Goal without a plan is a wish - quote/pic

Image Credit by

  • Become a better writer/blogger.  I am sure my high school teacher would smile to see this as a desirable goal – but I have learned a lot through my own reflections.  I would say I think about writing/blogging at least 3-4 a week, but wind up writing an average of monthly if lucky.  My blogs are terribly long and I find it takes me days to create them.
  • Goal: Reflect and improve writing through more frequent blogs. Work on efficiency of writing.
    • PLN Action Steps:
    • Read Write more in 2016 by A.J. Juliani
    • Find other blogs/bloggers who share insight on improving blogging practices. Curate and share those with my PLN.
    • Blog weekly and schedule time for it.
    • Quit worrying about telling the whole story.  Increase opportunities to blog about ideas in the works, challenges I face – not just things I have done.
    • When appropriate- consider blogging and directing to people to my blog for answers vs district emails.
  • What will success look like?: 
    • 4 blogs per month!
  • Influence/improve teacher preparation programs.  It wasn’t too long ago I went on a college visit with my son.  We did a tour of the college’s education building and I was troubled by what I saw.  Lecture halls with students in rows.  Sage on the stage. I want to learn how regional universities are preparing our teachers for today’s classrooms.  Can I help them improve their programs?
    • Goal: Expand my PLN in the area of higher ed preparation.
      • PLN Action Steps:
      • Find/follow/interact with cutting edge teacher prep programs (and leaders/professors)
      • Expand my PLN in the area of Higher Ed.  Lurk, learn, and participate in conversations with leaders pushing the envelope in higher education.  Right now I have a voxer group with a few members. Be more active in this group and find more people to add to this group.
      • Find online opportunities to interact with to be teachers in undergraduate programs.
    • What will success look like?
      • My dream – facilitate f2f conversation with institute about  ideas. Present to either A. teachers candidates ro B. Profs in teacher prep program.
  • Understand social media analytics for myself and district . It’s one thing to have followers and follow people. Its another to have people engage and influence “your brand”.
    • Goal: Expand understanding of social media analytics.
      • PLN Action Steps:
      • Learn about Twitter and Facebook Analytics and best practices to improve engagement and relevance to education.
      • Share learning in a future blog post and with district administrators.
      • Can analytics tell me how can I become better at giving back to my PLN?
    • What will success look like?
      • Measure Improvement within my own personal analytics (engagement – not just followers) and FB analytics of our district FB page.
Golden rule of PLN

Image Credit – By Carol Skyring



This past week my grad students (in course Connected Educator, Connected Classroom) began blogging and self assessing their current connectedness.  I decided it was a good time for me to do my own reflection and current practice with my personal learning network.

A brief PLN history.  It’s ironic, I stumbled on an old blog post of mine called My Reflection on Blogs from 2009 that  was an assignment during MY Grad program from the University of Wisconsin Stout – eLearning graduate certificate program.  In the post, I talk about my thoughts of blogs – and how boring mine was, how I appreciated blogs with opinions and a strong author’s voice.  Still true today.   But what I absolutely loved – was a concept map I created of where my PLN was at that moment.

Jen Hegna - PLN - Year 2009Jen Hegna – PLN – Jan. 2009


Social networks and wiki’s were a big deal for me back then.  I was lurker, learner, contributor of these types of networks had created and facilitated these types of networks for my school and groups I was associated with.  I also subscribed to discussion boards that would be delivered to my email.  The H-NetEdtech board was my favorite and would have new content delivered nearly every day.  I had a few blogs I subscribed to and learned from on a regular basis as well as podcasts. I had an iPod, but it was not wireless  – to download new content the iPod needed to be tethered to a computer. I had a SMART phone – but I believe it was sort of Palm Pilot that was cool (at the time) because I could have my calendar on it (again, after a tethered sync) and email!  Whoo HOO! While I felt I had an established PLN.  My future desires was to work with Twitter and Second Life to support my learning.

Second Life never really panned out for me. It was something I was investigating during my masters degree.  It was cool, you could meet and chat face to face with people and you could go visiting and building other destinations.  (Reminds me a lot of minecraft today)

Twitter on the other would become a significant part of my learning. I decided to search for my very first tweet.  Not the most clever tweet now was it?  But that tweet would become the first of 15, 400 tweets (as of Jan 26 – around midnight!)  Sometime late fall of 2009 or early 2010 – I received my first TRUE Smart phone.  I believe it was a Motorola Droid (of some sort).  This changed things and mobile learning became an essential part of my growth!

My First Tweet

My First Tweet

Snapshot of Twitter

Snapshot of Twitter – 1/26/15

My PLN today.

Twitter. Twitter is my primary learning tool of choice.  What was once a wish, is now my reality.  I have gone through all the phases of twitter use and today, twitter is just what I do.  Participating and moderating in Twitter chats has really created new learning connections for me.  My top – most favorite chat is #mnlead on Sunday nights at 7pm CST.  I also enjoy #plearnchat on Mondays and lurk and learn from a ton of other hashtags that fill my tweetdeck columns. Some of my favorites today – #makered, #pblchat, #sblchat, #leadwithgiants, #sunchat, #divergED, #tosachat, #satchat, #designthinking.  (there are many more!)  Frequency of use – I use twitter every day, multiple times a day but mostly at night and on weekends. I use it to learn and have conversations with other people on learning journeys. I use it to share ideas and share great things  I see in my district.  Its a regular part of my routine.

Social Networks. Nings and wiki’s have been replaced by Facebook and Google+ Communities.  I do have a Facebook account BUT I use it primarily for personal use.  Recently, I have been joining groups on FB.  Some of my favorites – TTOG (teachers throw out grades)  Hack Learning, and my newest group BreakoutEdu.  I also “LIKE” pages like Edutopia, Teachthought, and Mindshift because I enjoy a little “sprinkling” of PD on my personal wall about educational innovations.  Google+ communities is used less frequently but  there is great potential in connecting. I also like how it integrates with Google Apps and Gmail.  I have created a few Google communities but haven’t been the best facilitator. It really shouldn’t be about me – it should be about the group – but sometimes we need people to keep the convo going.  I probably should try to bring some life back to them.  Frequency of use – I use Facebook every day – usually early morning and at night because of the personal connections to family/friends. Google communities are used sporadically several times per week.

Video Conferencing.  I don’t remember the last time I used Skype (literally – I think it has been at least 2 years).  My new video platforms of choice – Google Hangouts (GHO) and Periscope.   I also love Google Hangouts on Air as a way to stream video live and it records to Youtube.  Here is a recent hangout I did with Kim Hurd (@khurdhorst) in taking a tour of her classroom!  We had approximately 9 people watching it live and asking questions.  I think the best part of this tool is that it archives to YouTube so I can share it out, review it later.  Something I wish Periscope would do as the streams only last for 24 hours. So- you have to remember to save your videos to your camera after recording – and then upload them to YouTube later.  I was playing around with my phone – there may be a setting within my Google Backup that will allow me to save periscope videos to my Google Account.  Fingers crossed.  Frequency of use – I use both google hangouts and periscope on a weekly basis.  I have weekly team meetings using GHO. I do watch several periscopes a week (just because I am notified via my phone).  But actually facilitating a GHO or publishing a periscope – is probably a couple times per month.

Blogs. Reading and subscribing to Blogs that make me think are  daily routine for me.  I use Feedly to track all of my content.  The majority of my content consists of educational leadership and edtech with a sprinkling of entrepreneurs and business blogs.   For the blogs I REALLY like – I will subscribe via email just because I am in my email – much more frequently than feedly.  Blogs that I read that spark my interest will usually get tweeted out to my pln.  Frequency of use – Nightly/Weekends.  As for writing blogs – this is sporadic and is a big area in which I want to improve.

Voxer. One of my newest PLN favorites is Voxer.  I will admit – I didn’t like it at first and took some time for me to get use to. Twitter is transparent and open.  You can jump in and out of conversations with other folks and its totally OK.  Voxer – is a little less open but allows people to get deeper with conversations.   I believe this can improve the relationships of the participants.  My first voxer group was MN Educators on Voxer and it took me some time to figure out the communication norms.  From what I understand – in my short 7 mos of true PLN voxer experiences – conversations may change from time to time – but everyone tends to discuss and contribute to the same topic.  Its very awkward when people randomly come into the conversation with topics outside of the scope of the convo.  I have been that random person – and its helpful to listen/read the past posts to know the topic at hand.  Check out these other Voxer Norms via Tammy Neil (@TG_Neil) Frequency of use – Daily, multiple times a day.  Mostly before and after work on my 25 minute commute.

I still am connected to a couple of email groups, I subscribe to Youtube content, have a LinkedIn account, and do follow great people and pin great things on Pinterest. From time to time – I will even pick up the old telephone or meet my PLN at a f2f conference or edcamp!  If I had to guess – all in all I spend an average of 7-12 hours each week on my professional growth.  Some weeks less – some weeks more.  Sometimes its a couple of minutes – other times it hours (like writing this blog post over the course of 3 days).  I am not saying that this is a good amount of time and effort spent on learning –  but some time towards my growth is going to be better than no time towards my growth.

While this is where I am today – I certainly have hopeful goals of where I want to be.  But that – is for a future post!

PLN Image

Image Credit –

Influence and Personalized Gamified PD

Over the break I decided to take some time and read Influencer: The new science of leading change.

In the book, the authors share 3 keys to influence change.

  • Focus and measure – have crystal clear goals AND good frequent measures
  • Find vital behaviors – Don’t spend time and effort on wrong behaviors – instead draw out underused behaviors, risk takers, positive deviants and culture busters!
  • Engage all 6 sources of influence (Image below).

Throughout this book I did quite a bit of self-reflection on my role in influencing and achieving our district’s strategic plan and  technology plan.

One support program, that kept crossing my mind, was a new program created this year called BearsPD.  It is personalized, gamified, and has a social twist.  While it is still in its infancy, it is having having an effect on learning in my district.  We have had over 50% of our teachers participate thus far.   It provides choice and voice in learning through 4 tracks – iPad Playdates, Google Apps for Education, Innovation, and Creative Pedagogies.  Teachers can earn badges and points for their participation in a program.  These points will then go into a drawing for prizes (up to $2000 classroom innovation shopping spree).

The following badges have been aligned to our district’s vision  – Learn. Share. Innovate. Inspire.

  • Level 1 – Learn Badge – 1 pt – Attend a session. (just show up)
  • Level 2 – Share Badge – 3pt – Share what you know (share teacher evidence)
  • Level 3 – Innovate Badge – Integrate into the classroom (share student evidence)
  • Level 4 – Inspire Badge  – Teach others about what you have done (through presentation, blogging, ect)

You can learn more about the program by reviewing the following slide deck.

So how does this relate to influence?  In the book, the authors share that you need to target SEVERAL (not just one) of the 6 keys of influence.  The following are ways  BearsPD aligns to these keys.

Personal Motivation.  In the book, the authors share 4 tactics to make them “love what they hate”.  1) Choice 2) Create direct experiences 3) Tell Stories 4) Make it a game.  In this program, teachers have complete choice of what they want to learn and how far they want to take the learning.  We have also gamified it to add a little “friendly competition”.

Please note – We track everything via Google Apps for Education (Google Forms/Sheets). A BIG thank you @kmgriswold1 for helping us set this up. We are using  addons like Autocrat and FormMule as well as a whole ton of formulas I never knew existed until now!  I hope to gain better skills in advanced use of Google Apps as it is an incredibly powerful tool and very VERY efficient when setup correctly.

Personal Ability.  While this program is about improving the personal abilities of our staff, participants can also request follow up from our coaches.  Most sessions are short (1/2 hour to 1hour) and frequent – at least monthly.  I wish I could do more – but my schedule just will not allow for it!

Please Note – In the book, the authors also mention feedback – specifically “Provide immediate feedback around a clear standard” (p.128).  This leads me to wonder if future revisions of this program should include 1 track that educators focus on all year long to give better feedback.  We are going to work on perfecting this with our Google Apps rollout and basic competencies.

Building Graph

Example of social influence by building

Social Motivation. We have a leaderboard that tracks and counts the badges of individuals as well as the badges by building and by PLC/Grade level.  Once per month, teachers are emailed their progress reports.  On the progress report it has their personal progress (points/badges earned) as well as the number of  points of the district leader, the points of the building leader, and the points of each team.  Also, when a participant submit digital evidence and it is approved, the participant and principal are emailed their approval with the digital evidence.  Eventually I would love to tweet these or have a newsletter with the ideas to have it be even more social.

Please note: the conversations we have with teachers are  growth mindset oriented.  We know that things will not work all the time. That is OK.  The more we can model this at a social level – the better! Also, the book highlights to engage your opinion leaders to help with social motivation.  Opinion leaders are not always the lead innovators.  The idea of this program is based on meeting the skill of each individual participant. We want all to have a great learning experience!

Social Ability. The final badge – Inspire –  encourages sharing.  Through blogging, presentations, staff sessions –  participants can share what they have learned.  At some point, I hope to have more staff lead sessions within this program.  (time is an issue)  It is incredibly powerful to have educators model their learning in front of their peers.

Structural Motivation.   Dan Pink is the master of motivation and has shared that true motivation goes beyond carrots and sticks. (reward and punishment) Instead, what people want is purpose, mastery, and autonomy.  When PD does not have these 3 criteria are it tends to fail miserably.  No voice. No choice. One time sit and get. No follow up. No follow thru. No direction of what’s next.  In this program, rewards are given (through badging and points) by recognizing the behavior we want to see.  Show up – 1pt. Try it yourself 3pts. Integrate it in the classroom 5pts.  Share your results/learning with others (Inspire) 7pts.

Worth a watch – Dan Pink: Drive – the surprising truth of what motivates us. (10:47)

Structural Ability.  This is the area where system improvements could be made.  Right now, this program is voluntary.  The way it works, is I clear my calendar for the day and hangout in a building.  Teachers can drop in before/after school or during their preps/lunch.  If I only had more time – this could be so much better.   The other thing we have not done yet – is flip some of this learning.  That is something I DO have control of.  Finding the best way to do this is and have the time in developing is something I aim to do by the end of the year.  This would be a great way to model blended learning!

And a little more.  One benefit I did not see coming was establishing (or re-establishing) relationships with our staff.  Right now, much of the iPad playdates are lead by me and our continuous improvement coaches.  While sessions only last around 1/2 hour – 1 hour, I have had the opportunity to have great conversations with teachers. These conversations are leading to opportunities for me to learn/observe awesome things in the classroom.  Visibility, trust, and building relationships – also great influential qualities I aim to improve over the year!

Day 1: Connected Educator, Connected Classroom

Today was the first f2f day of Connected Educator, Connected Classroom.  This is course 2 of a series of 5 graduate level courses in our new Innovative Instructional Leadership Program with Winona State University.  We meet 3 days (beginning, middle, and end – for 4 hours) f2f and the rest of the time is spent online.

PLN pic

Connected Educator Sketchnote – via @sylviaducksworth

There are 5 big goals in this course:

  • I am a connected
  • My classroom is connected
  • I influence others to connect
  • I am an active/contributing member in this cohort
  • My evidence and reflections prove I have met course objectives (ePortfolio)

I will admit.  I am very excited about this course.  Excited first because I can’t wait to see what the products, processes, and opportunities these educators in our class create, implement, analyze, and reflect on.  I have seen the amazing work of these educators – and you can too by clicking on their ePortfolios.  (Check out their Blended Learning Artifacts)

2015-16 Innovative Instructional Leadership Cohort!

Another reason for excitement with this course is that I am doing my own innovating as course facilitator.

#1 – I have eliminated grades in this course.   Yes. Grades.  I was inspired to try this after learning a few of our teachers in my district were going down this path.  I have been reading the books and blogs by @markbarnes19, and @mrssackstein, AND lurking, learning and participating in #TTOG (teacher throw out grades) groups via Facebook and Twitter.  Instead, the course is chalk full of self assessment where students maintain their own progress reports.  (see template here)  Most activities are on a 5 points scale.  Below is an example of a generic scale.  When my students submit their work, I will provide them feedback.  If we agree on the score, we are golden!  If not, we may need to have a short conference to discuss.  At the end, when all work is completed and evaluated – we will have a f2f conference to discuss their final grade.  This is the grade that will be posted to the college.  Please note – I was up front about this with my S’s as we discussed how learning would be assessed.

Generic Scale

#2  Besides a few scheduled twitter chats, this course is completely open! Teachers can go in and out of each module. They can work ahead or catch up.  They can revise all they want – to produce the best learning products to get the best results!  My students can also propose new activities/evidences if they have another idea – even better than mine.  I do have a few deadlines – just to check for progress as some of the projects are significant and will need quite a bit of pre-planning before implementation.  For instance, they need to develop a personal growth plan to create/expand their PLN.  They need to create a lesson plan to implement a global learning experience in their classroom.  They also will create an action plan to influence others (colleagues) to become connected.  Once plans are created and self assessed, they are put into action and implemented, evidence is collected, analyzed, and reflected on their ePortfolios.

Speaking of evidence – Below are 2 samples I shared during our f2f session today to showcase evidence of the “journey”.  To me, the journey is just as important (if not more) than the result.  I assured my students, if you do not get the result you want, that is OK!  What did you learn? What can you do better next time?

Evidence via @DonWettrick – the metacognition in this video is incredible!

Evidence via principal @dellwein – 8th grade middle school students doing live collaboration with students from Norway using padlet.

Both of these examples were found via my PLN (twitter or periscope) and serve as excellent samples of students during the learning journey.  I do want end products too – but the journey is just as important!

One of the things my students will have to do (under the target – I am connected) is create a blog to use for or I should say AS learning.  I have a few prompts for them to respond to, as well as providing flexibility in topics.  As promised, I also will be modeling the use of reflection through blogs and hope to blog just as many times as my students.  ( I need this anyways as its one of my professional new year’s resolutions!)

PS – the PechaFlickr icebreaker was so much fun!

Petcha Flickr Activity

Petcha Flickr Activity – an impromptu way of story telling and getting the creative juices flowing!


Giving back to my PLN!

Picture at awards

2015 Minnesota Technology Leader Award. December 14, 2015

On Monday, December 14, I  received the 2015  Minnesota Technology Leader award at the TIES technology conference in Minneapolis.  Its  a very humbling and exciting experience to be recognized for my accomplishments with Byron Public Schools.   So many congratulations from district members. So many congratulations from my peers and PLN via social media!  Words can not express the gratitude I feel to all who have influenced me and supported me through my journey.  (And I have so much more to do!)

One of my recent accomplishments is to be working with Winona State University (WSU)  in the development of the Innovative Instructional Leadership Certificate Program.  This is a graduate level certificate and can be an “emphasis” area in WSU’s M.S. Education Leadership Program.


Innovative Instructional Leadership Certification – COURSE OVERVIEW –

Throughout this process,  I always had the intent of putting an creative commons license on my work.  Many districts across our state do not have the resources to develop these types of courses or the resources to pay for this type of training.   Other entities, like higher ed teacher prep programs, regional trainers, ect are also free to use however little or much they need from my course.  My goal, develop the courses, have a cohort go through them, and then publish the courses for others to use, adapt, and share alike!

What better time, than the day I received my award, to give the 1st course away.

I just finished course 1 of 5  and I am extremely happy with the outcome!  You can check out my learner’s ePortfolios to see some of the paths they chose to take.

If you want to take a look at the course (or download), Blended Learning Environments, please visit by going to  Use the guest login to access.   Any questions? Feel free to reach me at @jenhegna!


Model, Model, Model!

Second take away from #TIES15 this year.  Model, Model, Model.  Too often, there are expectations for educators to accomplish things in their classrooms, when they have yet to experiences them as learners!

I was VERY fortunate to be on a team with Matt Hillman (@mahillman), Michelle Ament (@mlament) and Rachel Gorton (@raztech ) for a session called Pathway to Personalized Professional Development.   One of the things we decided to do, as a team, was to provide participants choice in what they would learn.  So, upon coming into the session, participants would make a choice, based on a 1 minute or less pitch by us – the facilitators. We would then take our groups and split up.  After about 20 minutes of showcasing our ideas, we did a jigsaw so members of our groups had an opportunity to learn from members of other groups.   We brought the group together for a whole group conversation – and follow up with a call to action Flipgrid. (I believe we ran out of time for this activity feel free to add your ideas now!)

Group Picture

Pathways to Personalized Professional Development Team!

While I have much to share about my topic – Differentiating PD (future post) – the point I want to make is the way we rolled with this session. I have participated in Jigsaw activities, but I have never facilitated PD like this.    What a great way to model good learning strategies.  I will certainly take this back to my district and use it with my own staff when the opportunity arises.

In November, at the New Prague Blended Learning Conference – I decided to do something a little different with one of my sessions. I BLENDED it.  Yes, it was a f2f session, but at the last minute – I decided to do a blended lesson using this presentation  At the very beginning, I shared with the audience, I had never done this before.  This was true.  I also shared I had my own thoughts this would crash and burn.  Also true – my fixed mindset nagging at me!  (also incredibly important to model!)

At first, the majority of the participants were not excited about this idea.  I shared – I am here to push you out of your comfort zones and besides this is the Blended Learning conference!  And then….it was MAGIC!  The participants really got into it. My only request – they had to complete Module 1, and then they could choose what module interest them next.  They had choice in where (location) they participated.  My only request,  I wanted to be in eyeshot.   They were in the classroom, out in the halls, sitting on the floor, or sitting on the stairs.  As they went through the lessons, discussions, I walked around, monitored, answering questions.  I had a chance to talk with EVERYONE!  I also wanted to get their feedback – thoughts beyond the formative assessments I had built into the lessons?  From my observation, the engagement was very high and the hour seemed like minutes! We finalized our session with an big group discussion.

Photo collage

Pictures from my Blended Session

So that brings me to today.   The last week or so, I have been running sessions around formative assessment tools with teachers.  Its been quite successful as we have conversations about opportunities the tools have to better inform instruction.  But, how often,do  we, as technology directors, model good use of technology with our leadership teams?   Formative assessment tools can be incredible to help differentiate and bring discussions deeper within our meetings.  Many times in large group staff meetings, only a few will speak up (or monopolize) the discussions.  These tools can provide everyone a voice.

So, today I introduced AND had our team do a Socrative Quiz (around a topic relevant to us) and demonstrated the opportunity of Edpuzzle as a flipped meeting tool.    The dialog was rich and hopefully the tools were seen as helpful for them to use with staff to better differentiate their own staff meetings.  (I should have done an exit ticket!)

The point is this.  Talking the talk is fine, but we ALL need to experiences how technology can be meaningful and drive deeper learning/discussion.  If we expect our classrooms to be using the tools, we should also be modeling the effective use at technology (as well as good learning design) at the school/district level too.

And so, #mnlead!  This CTA is accomplished!  (I hope to do this in future meetings as well)


My call to action after participating in #mnlead chat at #ties15







#Mindblown 3D printing – One of many TIES takeaways

Here is an  email I wrote to staff today about something I saw at our Ties 2015 Conference.  After I did it, I felt it was a good artifact to post on my blog too!  How do you share what you are learning?  In doing this again, I probably wont write what I learned in an email – and instead write and direct them to my blog.  No need to copy/paste then and I know our email boxes are inundated with tons of things. But, I also want to use email to spark interest from those who might not usually click that next link.  🙂

Warning – I was blown away when seeing this. Wanted to give you an opportunity to see what is “out there”.  Feel free to ignore from this point on if your not interested!
Ok – I may have sparked some curiosity.  Good!
I wanted to share one of my learning experiences from the TIES conference around 3D printing this past weekend.
I took this video in one of my Makerspace sessions. It is a scanner, attached to an IPad that will make help make things we see into 3D objects.  Its short and sweet – but you can see how easy it is.

Below is the replica of what Tami  (@brasst) created this morning.  While this is cool….it even gets more awesome  – so keep reading after the picture!
Inline image 1
So why does this matter?
As we think of engineering opportunities for kids to re-engineer objects we use every day is amazing.  I also learned from our keynote presenter Sylvia Martinez (@smartinez) that museums, across the globe,  are doing 3D scans of their artifacts – so schools could literally download and print a bone from a tyrannosaurus rex, or download and print the primitive tools created by Neanderthals, or sculptures carved by Michalengeo, You can also “print” and blow up micro tiny things – like molecules.  Talk about hands on access to primary materials!
But what is even more heart felt is opportunities for people to print Prosthetics for those who have lost a limb, an arm, ect.  for a much reduced cost.
Check out this ted talk describing the project!
So there you have it!  I wanted to share one of my earning experience with you!
Just to let you know we ARE exploring 3D printers right now as we begin to design our MakerSpace space type concepts in each of our buildings.

My Growth Plan: Goal 1 – Evaluation of iPads in Instruction

Goal vs Wish

Image Credit –

I have decided to blog about my professional growth goals and plans for the 2015-16 school year.   This will be a series of posts over the next week or so.  it’s important for me to be completely transparent  on what I am working on and what I hope to accomplish this year.   I know all of my ideas will not work.  Some may fail miserably. Others will be successful!  I need to have a place for my ideas and thoughts to go back to reference and reflect on. I am going to use this space as an opportunity to talk about things that work, things that do not work and professional successes and struggles.  We can all certainly learn from each other! And because this blog is public there is also opportunity for others to provide me feedback.  While I might be able to take all feedback into consideration – I do appreciate it – especially feedback that makes me think!

All of the items within these posts are highlighted in our district’s Technology Plan that was approved this past June (2015).  While technology plans are no longer a requirement for MN Schools receiving erate – I happen to actually like our plan.  It is Board approved, aligned to our strategic plan, and will assist my department on keeping focus of goals and action plans.

Below are a few more goals I will be working on this year!
  • Goal 2 – Create, implement and monitor a personalized model of pd that align to strategic plan and district initiatives
  • Goal 3 -Plan/create/monitor Makerspace learning environments in our K-12 media centers
  • Goal 4 – Technology planning for new PK-2 building – Byron Primary School
  • Goal 5 – What do I want to be when I grow up: My own professional growth needs to be a better technology leader

Goal 1: Evaluate the effectiveness of technology in our schools/classrooms including 1:1 classrooms

This is year 3 of our 1:1 iPad  initiative.  (I am wondering when I can get rid of the words 1:1 iPad initiative? Maybe when we are full 1:1 and its just how we do business in our schools??)  When we started our journey, we created a 4 year plan with dreams of considerable transformation in our classrooms.  Some classrooms have really moved the needle.  Our “pockets of innovation” have grown considerably.  Yet these are only the classrooms I know about.

I have been evaluating my surveys.  They are mediocre at best.  I have some great questions while others are not so great. We all should know by now, that a shiny new tool isn’t what improves/transforms instruction. While I do have some links to pedagogy in the  survey – there is GAPING holes where improvements can be made.    I know changing the questions is not usually good practice, especially for longterm goals, but if I am not receiving good data – its not effective anyways.

I know more today than I did yesterday.
How did I come to this conclusion?  Over the last couple of years I have grown professionally in the area of understanding what good instruction looks like in the digital age.  There are reasons for this:

  1. I have a seat at the cabinet level and we have many conversations about instruction. Some  discussions with the full group, others small group or 1 on 1.
  2. I have been able to see good instruction with (and without) devices in action.  I love to be invited into classrooms to observe learning and am fortunate I get an occasional invite from teachers to be witness to this!
  3. Because this is an area I want to grow, this year I have done “walk-abouts” with principals.  The dialog I have with principals afterwards is very rich in helping with understanding (more to come later)
  4. I have done my own self-directed learning  in this area too.  I am reading books about it, discussing with colleagues, peers, and coaches,  joining twitter chats about topics, subscribing to blogs and periscopes (my new fav) and voxer chats.
  5. I am trying to get better at modeling what I have learned.
  6. I try to talk/share more about learning than I do about the device or digital learning.

SO, I have some work to do and need to create a plan to rework surveys and communicate results.  Of course, the input we receive from our surveys are invaluable and will help with future action plans.    We need to compare where we were and where we are today with our implementation/progress. This is a difficult task because it could continue to evolve as we learn about these new environments. I do have some reservations because right now, this is still putting iPads and digital learning as “separate”.  One day, I have dreams where this is not separate – instead part of our overall strategic planning surveys.   But I do understand the need to provide data to show we are making progress.   Below is a proposed timeline to get this goal completed with the end result being reported to school board by January board meeting

  • Evaluate/Redesign Surveys for Parents, Students, Teachers – Drafts complete by 11/30
  • Chat with building principals and create survey timelines (for parents, students, teachers) 12/2
  • Complete Surveys by 12/15
  • Data Analysis complete by 12/22
  • Develop presentation and potential new action plans (include visible samples of classroom transformation)
  • Present to the board in January –  1/19
Move the needle

Move the Needle towards success Image Credit –

Beyond the evaluation – thoughts on change leadership

It is important that we need to continue to evaluate whether or not we are making progress towards the goals we set out to accomplish with the integration of these devices/environments- (or lets face it any transformational change we intend to make in or organizations)  As I reflect on the original goals of our program, we certainly were going down the right path towards the vision of our district!

Goals from original plan in 2013

  • Improve the efficiency and efficacy of classroom instruction
  • Prepare thoughtful, collaborative, and creative students who problem solve and think critically about global issues
  • Develop customized, individualized content to meet each student’s unique learning needs
  • Increase student engagement
  • Utilize innovative strategies for the delivery of rigorous and relevant curricula

But we must face facts.  Just putting ipads in the hands of our students will not make our goals come to life!  Our original plan had a great year 1 plan.  While there is always area for improvement, we did very well on the preparation of  implementation.  We had supports in place to continually revisit and support our teachers.

Where I fell short was continuing to make connections to this initiative with other district initiatives and state mandates. This is no easy task.  I am sure there are many districts that feel “over – initiated”. Year 2 was a struggle.  State mandates had taken up all district PD time. Because teachers had so much to learn about our new evaluation process I made the decision to “take a back seat” with digital learning for at least the 1st semester.  Not a wise decision and now unfortunately 1:1 iPads /digital learning was viewed as “one more thing to do”.  I had plenty of opportunities to intervene but I did not have the confidence I have today about the process. Why the confidence today?  See I know more today than I did yesterday above.

Lesson learned.

So here it is – Year 3 and time for my wakeup call.  (see graphic below) We are trying some things this year that appear to be working.  (at least that is what the data is telling us).  I will plan on sharing those ideas in the next post –  Goal 2 – Create, implement and monitor a personalized model of pd that align to strategic plan and district initiatives


Transformational Change - Beware of pitfalls


Linking my goals to national competencies and district plans. What am I missing?

MARZANO District Leadership Competency

Data driven progress monitoring – The district leader ensures data are analyzed, interpreted, and used to regularly monitor the progress toward district, school, and individual student goals

COSN Competencies

Data Management – Manage the establishment and maintenance of systems and tools for gathering, mining, integrating, and reporting data in usable and meaningful ways to produce an information culture in which data management is critical to strategic planning

Strategic Planning – Have a high-level view across the school system and work with instructional and technical teams to identify steps needed to transform the technology vision into a long-range plan, complete with specific goals, objectives, and action plans.

Byron Strategic Plan: Maintain excellence in resource management

Byron Technology Plan: Harness the power of technology to support, enhance, and amplify student centered learning.