Thursday, January 30, 2014

Screentime, Myths about the Cloud, and New Year's Resolutions

Stop trying to figure out if screentime is good for students
Conducting device-focused research makes as little sense as doing research on pens, papers, folders, book-binding, and three-ring notebooks. Where are the papers, studies and statistics on the negative impact of chalk dust, calling for blackboards to be limited? We must understand that it’s not about “the thing;” It is about what we do with the thing and what the thing can do for us.

Five Myths about the Cloud
A survey commissioned by Citrix in 2012 found that a majority of American adults didn’t understand what “cloud computing” meant, with 51 percent believing that stormy weather could interfere with it and 54 percent saying they never used it — even though 95 percent actually did.

New Year's Resolutions? How About Using That Twitter or Facebook Account to Connect?
We, as 21st century educators, also participate in a "sharing economy" where our value is based on the quality of relationships we make through "Web Presence" established through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, and other content sharing outlets. 
Free photo from morgueFile

Netflix’s Dumbed-down Algorithms
I might still think of Netflix as an online version of your old neighborhood Blockbuster Video store, Netflix itself wants to replace something which accumulates many more viewer-eyeball-hours than Blockbuster ever did. It doesn’t want to be movies: it wants to be TV. That’s why it’s making original programming, and that’s why the options which come up on your Netflix screen when you first sign in are increasingly TV shows rather than movies.

For 2014, Tweet Less, Read More
There was talk this year about the benefits of an activity that’s in some ways the antithesis of texting and tweeting with their rat-tat-tat rhythm. That activity is the reading of fiction. According to some researchers, people who settle into it are more empathetic — more attuned to what those around them think and feel — than people who don’t.

What’s In and What’s Out in Education

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Slides for "Challenge Based Learning in a 1:1 Learning Environment"

Today, Apple has asked me to deliver a Challenge Based Learning presentation to the Michigan Association of School Administrators' Midwinter Conference:

Here are some of the slides that I have prepared for the presentation:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fostering Leadership and Collaboration through Technology

Two educational technology passions of mine converge this week.  On Wednesday I will be making a presentation on Challenge Based Learning to the Michigan Association of School Administrators.  My presentation description notes that I will describe the paradigm shift of "teacher-learner to "co-learners".

On Thursday, I will be back at Mercy for an all-day workshop with the iWizards. The various projects of the iWizards very much follow the principles of CBL. The students form groups to determine how to meet various challenges.

The main purpose of Thursday's workshop will be preparation of media and resources for the new-student iPad orientation that the iWizards will lead in August.  The teams are entirely composed of ninth and tenth graders.  The girls have determined the topics and have great lee-way in developing their products.  Each team is led by a student project manager selected by the team.

Beyond this, the iWizards have some other major projects on the horizon. Different iWizards have taken the lead on these projects:

1) A Google Hangout with the Tech Sherpas of Central Maine, for the purpose of exchanging information.

2) The construction of an iWizard Web Site available to the school community and general public.

3) The development of an iWizard App allowing for easy access to tutorials and iPad tips.

4) The creation of an IT internship program that will allow students to assist the IT Department and possibly get paid of work over the summer.

In this way the iWizard program is giving its members rich experiences in leadership and collaboration.  I love being a "co-learner" in these endeavors.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tech Talk Break-outs

Conference coordinator Ann Lusch has put together and enticing program of break-out sessions at Tech Talk

On February 28 at Mercy, an attendee can listen to Keynote speaker, Liz Kolb on the topic of Passion Based Learning with Everyday Technical Knowledge.  He or she can follow this up with the following types of combinations:

An iPad fiend could attend
Creating and Publishing eBooks on the iPad
Student Presentations... iPad Style
iTeach, iLearn, iPad
Formative Assessment via Tablets, etc.

Someone interested more interested in Web 2.0 tools that work across platforms could attend
Weebly, Webquests, and more with Web2.0
Social Media: Friend, not Foe
"Remember Everything" with Evernote
Free Web 2.0 tools for your Classroom

In each case, one would hear from different speakers in each session.  And of course twenty other interesting break-outs mean that a wide variety of interests and needs will be met by this program.  Sign up soon in order to take advantage of the early-registration discount.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Half a Dozen Quotes from the Drive-thru

Thomas Edison:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Those 10,000 detours resulted in the Dictaphone, mimeograph, stock ticker, storage battery, carbon transmitter and his joint invention of the light bulb. In the end, 10,000 flops fade into insignificance alongside Edison’s 1,093 patents.”
Thomas Edison (Library of Congress)

Eric Rabkin on MOOCS:
To my mind, the point is not to replicate the give-and-take that students and instructors normally share in a campus-based course but to create a context within which participants produce a give-and-take that helps them educate each other . . . . The aim is to crowd-source commentary and evaluation within the context of a genuine community.”

A Sean Jenkins tweet:
“Had a teacher tell me she didn't have time to use Twitter. I told her I don't have time not to use Twitter.”

Sherry Turkle from The Documented Life
“Technology doesn’t just do things for us. It does things to us, changing not just what we do but who we are. The selfie makes us accustomed to putting ourselves and those around us “on pause” in order to document our lives. It is an extension of how we have learned to put our conversations “on pause” when we send or receive a text, an image, an email, a call. When you get accustomed to a life of stops and starts, you get less accustomed to reflecting on where you are and what you are thinking.”

“Peter Drucker
"The best way to predict the future is to create it.” 

Sam Gliksman -- excerpt from iPad in Education for Dummies
Students traditionally produced a product for an audience of one: their teacher. Thanks to the Internet and the power of social networking, those digital stories can now be shared worldwide in an instant. Producers of a digital story today can communicate with people and communities anywhere around the globe through the power of a device — such as an iPad — that they hold in their hands.”

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Updates at "Becoming a Digital School Administrator"

Over the holidays I refreshed my free iTunes U course, Becoming A Digital School Administrator.  I did some weeding, but also received some new additions.  I am continuing with my practice of only using resources created by school building administrators.

Principal Curt Rees told me about TouchCast, an app that staff at his elementary school use to produce videos. For the course I have included a video that Curt shared with the school community over the summer.  It will show administrators that they don't need advanced editing skills to replace letters to parents with more engaging video presentations.

In the "Interactive Communications" section of the course, I have added the Knapp Elementary Twitter as well as the Walnut Creek FaceBook page as best practices.  Addtionally, I have included a Canadian principal's blog on Your School Needs a FaceBook Page. I have also replaced one blog best practice with another. Susan Astone of Francis Wyman School is the author of the new one.

I am anticipating more upgrades from two of the course's strongest contributors in the not-too-distant future.  Eric Sheninger's  new book will be available soon.  I am hoping to link its digital format to the course.  Melinda Miller has informed me that "I have been asked to present about Flipped Faculty meetings to MO Principals at our state conference in March. I will share that with you when complete. I have also been asked to lead a 2 hour workshop on Digital Tools to Improve Admin. Productivity.  . . .  I will share that with you as well."

Melinda, Eric, and many others have given me permission to use their media at my June ISTE presentation.  As I continue to curate this course, I build my own personal learning network and stay on top of best practices.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Presentation Topics for 2014

'Tis the season for submitting conference presentations.  In the past I have generally tried to serve up enticing topics so that my proposals would be selected.  This year I took a different tack, offering niche topics that reflect the work I have put into creating iTunes U courses over the past three months. I am also reprising a couple of topics. I've listed the sessions and their descriptions.

Michigan Association of School Administrators Midwinter Conference
January 22, 2014. Grand Rapids, MI.
Challenge Based Learning in a 1:1 Learning Environment  
This presentation outlines Apple’s “Challenge Based Learning” as implemented at a 1:1 school. CBL is not dependent on specific software/equipment. It fosters authentic learning and leverages technology tools and resources. Successful single course, interdisciplinary, and extra-curricular challenge projects will be described. The shift from teacher-learner to co-learners will be examined, along with professional development tips for bringing faculty on board.

ISTE Virtual Conference
(Published details forthcoming)
February 13, 2014.  online. 
ISTE 2014 Preview Session and Panel Discussion   
This one hour virtual session will preview my June ISTE presentation.  I will be joined by Kara Gunn (From Inspiration to Implementation). This will include a discussion on leadership issues with two others as well.

Tech Talk at Mercy High School
February 28, 2014. Farmington Hills, MI.
I Hate Copyright  (‘Finding Public Domain and Creative Commons Images’) 
This workshop presents links to millions of images available to teachers and students that circumvent the confusing issues related to copyright and "Fair Use". Bring your laptop or mobile and explore photos which you and your students are absolutely free to use without violation of copyright. 

March 13, 2014.  Grand Rapids, MI
Empowering Your iWizards
This presentation will focus on the creation of extracurricular student tech teams and all the helpful ways that they can serve a school. The activities of extracurricular tech teams from across the country will be shared. A case study of iWizards who created a tech orientation for incoming students will be featured. By session’s end, attendees will feel inspired to form student tech teams at their schools and empower them to engage in beneficial projects that will benefit the whole school.

ISTE 2014

June 29, 2014. Atlanta, GA.
Becoming a Digital School Administrator This session will help administrators "walk the technology walk" at their schools. Topics include, interactive communication with stakeholders, paperless workflow, flipped faculty meetings, and more.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Slices of Apple Juxtaposed in the Detroit Free Press

Naturally I was delighted to find an article on our Mercy's Apple Distinguished School award in the Sunday Detroit Free Press.  I had kept an eye out for the piece for several days.  When reporter Joe Guillen was composing the story he predicted it would appear sometime over the holidays.  

Continually checking for our story on the "Freep" site was not merely an act of vanity.  I visit the Free Press online several times a day for news and sports.

In fact when I was looking over the rest of the "paper" the same day our story appeared, I came across another item about Apple.  Columnist, Mitch Album wrote a piece grumping about their holiday commercial titled "Misunderstood" that ran so frequently in the days leading up to Christmas

In case you missed the sentimental commercial, it depicts a young lad preoccupied with his iPhone during the family Christmas gathering.  In the end we discover that his absorption is not narcissistic-- he has been recording and editing a family movie that the group watches tearfully at the end.

Now, the commercial was too sappy for my tastes.  However Albom attacked it on the premise that Apple was propagandizing the virtues of mobile technology when Albom contends that in fact using mobile technology is more likely to damage family relationships.

In the comments responding to the article many readers pointed out the hypocrisy of a media personality like Albom (He also has a radio show) ridiculing technology and sounding like an old crank by only focusing on the harm that technology can do. I agree with those commenters who point out that while technology can certainly distract us from important personal interactions, it can also make connections possible.  Besides phone calls, "Facetiming", FaceBook and texting our phones can surely allow us to share messages photos, and yes, videos with friends and family in ways that were not remotely possible in "the good old days".

I also found the following passage to be incredibly cynical:

By manipulating the images and making the movie version of the family Christmas seem even more emotional than the real thing, it is playing on the heartstrings of a country whose citizens want more and more to be the stars of their own films. Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. Reality TV. They all play into this.

And an iPhone is portal to them all.

So Apple, perhaps sensing that holiday humanity might mean some pushback, cleverly launches a preemptive campaign, suggesting the teen you scold tomorrow may be creating something loving today.

Except, of course, that he’s not.

The real-life teen is more likely texting a friend about how boring the family is, or checking the latest YouTube video of a rock band dressed as foxes, or playing “Angry Birds,” or watching a season’s worth of TV shows, or any one of a thousand distractions that keep real life at bay.

Hmnn.... I wonder really where Albom gathers his ideas about "the real life teen".  If the teenagers he encounters today seem withdrawn and surly, I am pretty confident that such teen behavior could also be found in the pre-smartphone days of his youth.  

I am surrounded by teens about 180 days a year, and I have found many of them to be be fantastically creative with their iPhones and iPads. It is certainly not a stretch to think that a kid could make a cool movie with his mobile device to celebrate rather disconnect from a family event.  

I very well know that technology can serve as a tempting time-waster and distraction for persons of all ages. That in itself is a valid issue and I acknowledge it.  However, Mitch is guilty of being sentimental about a cheery teenage Christmas time that never existed and, worse, seeing only the negatives about teens and technology.  I am glad that Mercy High School wins national award for innovative use of iPad in the curriculum serve as an implicit rebuttal to the Album's popular column.

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