Sunday, June 30, 2013

Building a MOOC Fallout Shelter

Reflections on ISTE '13, one of three
The most impactful presentation I listened to at ISTE 2013 this past week was delivered by Dr. Scott Garrigan of Lehigh University.  Garrigan described to us the massive impacts on Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCSon higher education.  While he devoted too little time to speculating about the ramifications for K-12, he did a masterful job describing the disruption that this will create for educational institutions.

He pointed out that hundreds of thousands of learners are already taking (and completing) thousands of online courses.  Some are simple modules from the Khan Academy.  Others are full fledged university courses from Stanford, Harvard, M.I.T.,  Duke, etc. ranging from Algebra to Biogenetics. What is more the process for accrediting these courses has begun.  "Courses" at iTunesU also proliferate.  Two recent developments have struck terror in the hearts of university presidents everywhere:  
  1. Georgia Tech is offering an online three year Masters Degree in computer science for $6,600.
  2. The California State University system in partnership with Udacity announced an initiative for piloting online courses from San Jose State for $150 a piece in courses like remedial algebra course, college-level algebra and introduction to statistics.  These will be offered through community colleges and high schools with the aim of proliferating throughout the state (and no doubt, beyond).
Creative Commons Photo by CornDogBlog
Certainly there are drawbacks to online courses, not the least being the "caring" touch, and accountability provided by face-to-face learning.  Obviously the thousands of persons taking these classes are drawn to the ability to take them at one's own pace on one's own "class meeting" schedule.  Regardless, the incredible cost differential almost makes these arguments moot.  The university system is facing a massive shakedown as a consequence.  It is clear  that the traditional brick and mortar university as we have know it will change soon, and some may face extinction altogether.

Unfortunately, though titled, "How Will the MOOC Explosion Affect K-12 Schools and Students", not much time was spent speculating on the affect on K-12.  I have been reflecting on this since and have the following meagre thoughts.

It is obvious that ubiquitous online course offerings from some of the top professors in the nation will have an effect on K-12 schooling that goes far beyond the home schooling front. I have the strong impression that the powerful pressures on traditional high schools to accept these courses in place of requirements or for advanced placement will come before enlightened policies are in place to deal with these demands.

Accreditation is a huge issue.  Even if schools and school districts welcome (or are mandated to) accept online courses across disciplines it certainly will be difficult to sort out what kind of courses are acceptable.  Perhaps this will occur at the state level. Michigan's our current governor, Rick Snyder is a keen proponent of online courses as part of his Anytime, Anywhere" education reform plan, believing that school funding should follow students who seek options other than their neighborhood school.

Of course MOOCS challenge brick and mortar schools to justify themselves as providing significant value-added beyond providing content.  Teachers that offer conventional lecture/test methods will find it difficult to argue that they provide an experience superior to lectures provided by the leading authorities in the world accompanied by interactive software developed an extremely sophisticated outfit like Udacity.

I really appreciate how clearly and profoundly Scott presented these issues. I have more questions than answers, but hope to revisit this subject in the coming school year with my colleagues, so that we can do are best to prepare for the inevitable.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

David Bowie, Fired Photographers, The Comments Are Closed and More!

Why We Brought David Bowie Into the Classroom
First off, the students LOVED it. It is a very well produced music video, full of incredible images that evoke deep emotion. But, we found that there are so many layers that teachers can go into with this video.

A revised version of David Bowie's Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station.
Chicago Sun-Times Fires Photography Staff
 The change comes following an increasing dependence on smartphone-captured photographs for newspapers and online publications in recent years, whereby reporters (or even civilians) can shoot on-site images of events as a story unfolds.

12 Ways To Be More Search Savvy
 It’s our responsibility to teach kids how to find and research information, how to judge its veracity, and when it’s time to ask for a grownup’s help. I spoke to Daniel Russell, Google’s “search anthropologist” in charge of Search Quality and User Happiness (yes, really), who brought to light some important tips you may not have known.

Power Up! / The Changing Role of the Technology Director
The job description of the chief technology officer is certainly a moving target. In the last 20 years, technology leaders have never really had the same set of challenges, frustrations, and successes two years in a row. And these shifts will continue, according to Robert Moore of the Consortium for School Networking.

The Comments Are Closed
I’ve been blogging for a very, very long time now, and in doing so I have found incredible support online — found myself part of many intellectual, personal, and professional communities. But the “community” — that is, the commenters and my interactions with them — on my early personal blogs was quite different than what exists on most the technology blogs I’ve since worked and written for. More often, it’s not “community” at all.

More to It
What if we don’t necessarily want teachers to get “better” in the traditional sense? What if, rather, the focus of PD is to help them evolve as learners? Or is that a silly question?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Rockin' Web Sites & iBooks Author

In terms of instructional technology, Thursday, June 20, could not have been much better.  I have been teaching a "Leadership in Technology" grad course for Madonna University during a condensed spring term.  We have eight, four hour meetings to accomplish our work.  Half of them were online.  But the others were killer, four-hours-straight in person sessions after we had all been to work.  Trust me, that is a challenging teaching/learning environment.

However, Thursday night, the four hours flew by me as Diana, Steven, Lisa,
Steven's home pate
Alex, Erica, Stacey, Christina, and Patricia presented their professional development projects to the rest of us.

Personally, the experience surpassed any of the fine conferences I have attended.  I learned so much from their presos.  Essentially, they were asked to develop a one-day professional development plan for their staffs.  These plans were posted to web sites they created, replete with outlines for all the workshops, supporting resources, a budget, etc. In fact two of the plans may actually be implemented in the near future.

Consequently we were treated to explanations of app after app, and strategy after strategy.  The insights I received into elementary school, middle school, and CTE instruction were especially broadening to me. The sites all look terrific and I am eager to dig in.

Also on Thursday, I received a major break through on my personal summer project of authoring/co-authoring three iBooks.  Two of my fellow team members (Carol Shea and Lisa Schrimscher) on the  Mercy Tech iBook project  attended an iBook Author Hackathon presented by Zeeland teachers at Wayne State University.  

They shared a wonderful resource at iBook called Creating Open Inter-Active Books by Anthony DiLaura which I have begun reading and listening to avidly. The timing couldn't be better as I prepare to go to the ADE Institute in August in July and really delve into my authoring.

Section 2 of DiLaura's book

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tech Orientation Dress Rehearsal

I enjoyed one of my most gratifying experiences at Mercy High School two weeks, ago.  After school following the last exam on the last day of school the iWizards had their "dress rehearsal" for the August 16, new student tech orientation.  For half a day, the new students will rotate through six 25 minute sessions which will expose them to some of the basic skills and workhorse apps that the iWizards have deemed most important for getting started at Mercy.

The girls rehearsed for two hours, using their Apple TVs, iPads, and projectors.
While they worked out the kinks in their presentations (both delivery and media), they were coached by staff members they had personally invited to join their teams.  

The entire operation involved almost forty students and staff.  Guess what?  We had 100% attendance, even though their peers were fleeing the school after dismissal like a sinking ship!  I knew these folks were devoted to the project, but I was impressed by the commitment to the rehearsal.

This would be a good time to give a shout out to the staff who are being so generous with their time and efforts:

Coaches Angela Harris --  English/Social Studies
Carol Rife-- Fine Arts
Cathy Riley-- Science
Jim Skellett-- Religious Studies
Lauren Bennett-- World Languages/Social Studies
Sara McGavin-- Science
Ann Lusch-- Religious Studies
Christopher Blitz-- Advancement
Susan Smith-- Fine Arts
Colleen Rozman - administration
Tom James -- IT
Gary Bank -- IT

This entire endeavor has been challenging to organize, but the level of dedication by the participants insures that our new students will have a very rich and beneficial experience.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Teacher to Teacher Tech Event at Mercy High School

The Technology Department at Mercy High School plans to host a special conference at Mercy High School on  February 28, 2014.  It looks probable that we will have a university partner in this endeavor.  Ann Lusch has graciously agreed to serve as coordinator for this inaugural event. 

We see this event as providing a way for expert teachers to share best tech practices with other teachers.   To do this effectively we'd love some input from our potential attendees.

If you are an area educator, would you consider taking 5 minutes to fill out a survey for Ann and me?  You can also sign up to receive more information this way. Just follow the link, below:

By all means, feel free to forward this link to any other educator in the area who might want to help shape this event.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Taylor's Reflection on Mercy Technology

I was collecting quotes for Apple's Voices of Learners Project, an caught this gem on my iPad from one of our iWizards:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

2013 Create! Conference

I am pleased to be making two presentations at the 2013 Create! Conference at  Anthony wayne High School in Ohio.  Here are the slide resources for the two presentations:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Today's Media for "Leadership in Technology EDU 6270

I.  Evernote Presentation


II. Grant Assignment

Rubric for 200 Point Grant Assignment


III. Assessment Driven Curriculum Plan Assignment

Assessment Driven Curriculum Plan (750 points)

Important-- This is so long because it is so specific, not because the assignment is so major. The rubric is exactly aligned with these requirements


For this project you will develop a very narrow, specific Assessment Driven Curriculum Plan.  

The focus will be on using technology to

*assess the effectiveness of instruction

*collaboratively evaluate data,

*communicate feedback to students

*adjust instruction based on this process.

You will plan for a learning module or set of activities within the context of a larger instructional unit that addresses outside district, state or national standards.   Feel free to use actual curriculum that you teach.  For this assignment we are going to stipulate that all teachers have a ChromeBook as do all students in the grade level subject matter.   You may postulate that the school has an LMS system like Moodle or BlackBoard in place or not.    Make those circumstances clear in your summary.

You may complete this project with a partner.  Please let me know by June 20 if you are teaming up with someone.

It is advisable to present this report sectionally in alignment with the requirements, below.  Expected length of report as indicated below: 11-15 pages.

Assessment driven curriculum (assignment edu 6270) from Laurence Baker

                      Link to ADC Assignment Rubric(Click!)


IV. Using SlideShare

44" target="_blank" title="Using SlideShare">Using SlideShare from David Hopkins

V. Ken Robinson Assignment

VI. Life after Death by PowerPoint

PD Presentation Assignment & Rubric:

*Prepare a twenty minute presentation for class.  

 *Include 20 slides that complement your spoken presentation
*No “death by powerpoint”.  The slides should be visually stimulating

*Provide link to website or text copies of plan

*Demonstrate command of your material

* 20 minute minimum description of your plan.  This will not include a tour of your site

*Demonstrate facility with Q & A.

VII.  Space Oddity

Why We Brought David Bowie Into the Classroom
First off, the students LOVED it. It is a very well produced music video, full of incredible images that evoke deep emotion. But, we found that there are so many layers that teachers can go into with this video.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Digitized School Needs a Digitized School Paper

I asked senior Newsprint editor, Catherine Denton to guest post about how technology permeates our award winning publication.

Mercy's Online Edition

Like all things Mercy, the school newspaper, Newsprint, has been following a “digitized” path for years.
The monthly print version of the paper is designed via Adobe.  Newsprint staff members spend most of their class time in the U-shaped “computer lab” surrounded by double-monitored Dells. In addition to writing stories and taking photos, each reporter is assigned to a different “page” with the goal of designing appealing layouts. Using this sophisticated and streamlined process, Newsprint was awarded the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association’s most prestigious award, the Spartan Award for 2013.
            Newsprint came to a technological “full-circle” with the advent of their website in 2010. Dubbed, the site aimed to provide more updated school news in different forms—particularly audio and video posts. One of its first posts, the Mercy Pink Glove Dance on Youtube, generated over 40,000 hits.
 Since then, Newsprintnow has strived to adapt to Mercy’s changing technological conditions. The school caters to both student’s with HP tablets and iPads, so Newsprint modified its website to be “responsive” to screen size. Despite being full of kinks, the website is supposed to modify itself to maximize readability, load time, and navigation depending on the platform.  Particularly since a so many  Mercy students have  smart-phones, the Newsprint staff wanted to make sure the website was easily readable on an iPhone or Android device. The website is currently not up to this standard, but Newsprint hopes to overcome some tech hurdles in order to make this possible next year.
In an effort to better cover the entire school community, the editors decided to create Newsprintnow “beats” for staff members to cover. The beats function much like traditional newspaper beats. Reporters have a section of the school—for example, Spanish Honor Society or lacrosse—that they are required to keep in contact with and write about throughout the semester.
Alternate story forms, or stories not written in the traditional paragraph format, have been a staff-wide focus on Newsprintnow, as well. Reporters used Storify to string together various forms of social media. In Storify, reporters can “grab” Tweets, Facebook posts, Youtube videos, and Instagram photos that users post on public domain and combine them into a story. Newsprintnow found this particularly helpful during the 2012 election debates when students were tweeting their views.
Speaking of tweeting, the @mercynewsprint Twitter has over 100 followers. The staff utilizes the Twitter to tweet links to stories, recommended songs, staff videos, contests, and other noteworthy school news. Newsprint plans to expand its presence online by making a Facebook page, expanding video usage and number of Twitter followers, and tweeting more often.

Paralleling the school’s continuous technological growth and maturity, the computer lab is also being redesigned next year. With updated hardware, Newsprint staff members hope to enlarge their digital footprint and continue to receive awards for their work.

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