Sunday, July 27, 2014

Reflection on re-enlisting to teach "Technology Leadership"

This week, just as I was finishing by LiveText documentation for EDU 6270 (“Technology Leadership”) at Madonna University, I was asked about teaching the course again in 2015.  I immediately agreed to do so.

Faithful readers may be surprised by my lack of hesitation on re-upping to teach this online course.  In P.S. - Online Courses the Dark Side I detailed some of my frustrations with the experience. And to be honest, similar frustrations continued right to the end of the course. 

But now that I am finished I have the urge to put my steep learning curve to someuse, particularly since I had to create so many new materials, rubrics, and assignments for the online version of the class.

Most importantly, teaching this class forces me to stay current of some important issues that personally and professionally interest me:

1) Curriculum Alignment

2) Principles of Leadership

3) Transformational Uses of Educational Technology.

Essentially, teaching this graduate course has become an important part of my professional development, making it well worth the occasional headaches.

Screenshot of Grant Writing Assignment and Rubric Workflow through Blackboard LMS

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Learning through Twitter Chats, Fantasy Football and other Stuff!

Why Twitter Chats Matter
Social media is called that for a reason. Twitter chats expose you to colleagues and friends you might not otherwise engage with. As I've written before, hashtags are powerful. While you might not follow me, we can still engage in a meaningful conversation because the hashtag connects us. One-way conversations don't really work on Twitter. I find engaging with new voices one of the reasons I keep coming back to Twitter chats.

What Fantasy Football Taught Me About Learning 
Relevance to the learner is primary to authentic learning. Helping learners discover the relevance of a learning task or content Knowledge is one of our greatest and most important challenges as educators. With it so much of what we teach is enhanced. Without it, diminished.

dabruins07 via Compfight cc

Why I broke up with Apple
For all its glitz and glam, the iPhone had a lot of features I didn't need (see: Air Drop, Passbook, Airplay, Photo Stream and iTunes Radio). But mostly, it just didn't do enough of the stuff that I really cared about. That's why I decided to ditch the iPhone for an Android device.

4 Attributes of a Great Assistant Principal
One of my proudest days as a principal was when our school started “Identity Day“, not only because it was such a great day for our school community, but this was an idea that was started and lead by my assistant principal.  Not only did she come up with the idea, but she worked with every single grade to ensure that the day was a success.  Being able to be actively lead initiatives and work alongside teachers gave them instant credibility.

53+ Free Image Sources For Your Blog and Social Media Posts
If you want a photo or image on a specific topic, you'll want a site that's searchable. Here are a few to check out. (To better help you evaluate these sites, I performed the same search on each using the word"coffee.")

About Creative Commons:  Creative Commons Kiwi

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Kindergarten Classrooms Seem to Get It Right"

"When students become teachers of others, they learn as much as those they are teaching." — Steve Ventura

"We do not need educators who loudly proclaim to not get it when it comes to computers. We would not tolerate an educator in the 19th and 20th Centuries to loudly proclaim to not get it when it comes to reading books. This Century requires a new literacy and there is less and less room for illiterate educators to work alongside those who constantly strive to remain relevant." — Thomas Whitby

"I would not send my own children to any school that puts children in rows of desks facing a podium. To me, that is the ultimate red flag. . . .I’ve noticed two things: 1) in general, elementary schools — and in particular kindergarten classrooms — seem to get it right more often than their secondary school counterparts 2) in general, the more ‘august' a school, the more likely the classroom design signifies outdated pedagogy." — Shelly Blake-Plock

Photo by woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

"Educators need to create classrooms they would want to learn in [and] assist learners in creating a present & future that want to live in." — Jackie Gerstein

"The buzz around ‘curation,’ once a term rarely heard outside of art museums, mirrors a broader obsession with customization. In a digital realm where we expect everything from news feeds to Twitter timelines to be filtered for personal preference, no one wants to be fed from a generic music genre. ‘We're way past the point of “play me some rock’” — Charlie Hellman, vice president of product for Spotify." — John Jurgensen

"If you think education is expensive, try estimating the cost of ignorance." — Howard Gardner


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Keeping Formal Education Relevant

In my last post I offered some musings about Key Trends from the 2014 NMC Horizon Report. Here I offer a comment about one of the “Wicked Challenges” (those that are complex to define, much less to address). This particular 
Classroom scene, Washington, D.C. (public domain photo)
challenge is described as Keeping Formal Education Relevant:

As online learning and free educational content become more pervasive, stakeholders and administrators must seriously consider what schools can provide that cannot be replicated by other sources. It is no longer necessary for parents to send their children to school for them to become knowledgeable and gain skills that will lead them to gainful employment. There are, however, valuable skills and attitudes that many believe can only be acquired in school settings. 

On the face of it, this challenge might strike some readers as absurd because of the “valuable skills and attitudes that many believe can only be acquired in school settings.”  However, it is important to consider that relative cost and convenience that online education provides.  These considerations are placing enormous pressure on institutions of higher education.  We don’t see this as much in K-12 . . . . yet.

Perhaps my antennae are up on this issue because I work at a private school.  Our revenue is almost entirely provided by tuition paying parents.  We have to continuously persuade those parents to choose our school over the “free” public school in our district and other private school options.  

Since becoming an administrator I have had regular formal opportunities to confer with teachers, and I ask them rhetorically, “What value do you add to your students’ classroom experience that makes paying for your course the right choice for them and their parents?”.  

The Horizon Report implies that all brick and mortar schools need to be continually asking this question.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Reflection on Key Trends from the 2014 NMC Horizon Report

The internationally recognized NMC Horizon Report examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry within the environment of pre-college education. There were some aspects of the recently released K-12 Report that particularly resonated with me. Today I will extract some "key trends".  The quotes are in italics and my remarks are in blue.

Key to nurturing the new role of teachers is providing them with plentiful opportunities for professional development. Singapore offers a noteworthy model in which every teacher is entitled to 100 hours of training per year, and each school has a special fund allocated to supporting these learning opportunities.

My university students-- all current teachers -- have made this point again and again. Even though they are early adopters they believe they and their colleagues (in different school districts of course) are vastly under-supported with PD.  At Mercy I find that providing PD for technology competes greatly for valuable PD time with other important training initiatives.  

To enable the shift to deeper learning, schools are thinking about how they can leverage technology to produce products and extend the learning experience 
beyond the classroom. Challenge-based learning, another thread of deeper learning, is defined by Apple as an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages learners to apply the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems.

I conducted challenge based learning training for all of our teachers on an almost weekly basis three years ago.  Several successful initiatives were achieved.  But when the formal focus on CBL ceased, I soon found that I was the only one still regularly featuring this particular approach in my instruction. The Horizon Report calls the "shift to deeper understanding approaches" a fast trend.  I don't see the trend and it certainly was not represented in our Tech Talk conference.

Open educational resources (OER) are growing in breadth and quality, as is the use of these materials in classrooms, networks, and school communities world wide. The use and adoption of OER materials is increasingly a matter of policy in schools, especially in the many disciplines in which high quality educational content is more abundant than ever.

I think that OER is one of the most exciting trends out there, particularly in terms of creating open textbooks.  Michigan has some outstanding OER evangelists such as Anthony DiLaura of Zeeland.  The textbook publishers have been a thorn in the sides of our 1:1 program as too many of them drag their heels on supplying content to our iPads.  For such disciplines as math, science, and social studies, our answer may arrive through open educational resources.

A renewed interest in online learning has taken place over the past few years, fueled in large part by press attention to massive open online courses (MOOCs), but also by increased access to the Internet and broadband services, and a growing recognition that online learning can indeed add value to almost any learning environment. Hybrid learning models, which blend the best of classroom instruction with the best of web-based delivery, place a strong emphasis on using school time for peer-to-peer collaboration and teacher-student interaction, while online environments are used for independent learning. 

Last year I had the opportunity to teach a hybrid course at Madonna University. Despite the fact that our classroom meetings were four hours in duration (it was a spring term), I found it to be a very satisfactory arrangement.  I could "flip" content for the courses and reserve class time for discussions and student presentations (one of the best experiences in the class).  I think hybrid courses have tremendous potential for individualized learning.  However, if a course simply asks students to watch lectures outside of class and get help with conventional exercises in the classroom the hybrid model is essentially same-old, same-old.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Intercepted Tweets from #ISTE2014

Intercepted Tweets from #ISTE2014

"We have to teach all children as if they might one day be a member of our family.” — Jeff Charbonneau 

“And remember, a good teacher doesn't always need technology, but technology will always need good teachers.” — Luke Allen

“When students have to author content, they have to know the content.” — Sean Junkins

“The people driving change with digital tools aren't tech geeks. They're teaching geeks.” — Bill Ferriter

morgueFile photo by Hotblack

“I'm saddened by how much I continue to hear device focused conversation at #ISTE2014 - Focus on the learning, NOT on the technology.” — Tom Murray

“Project-Based Learning makes the best use of tech while avoiding tech for tech's sake. — James Murray

“What might happen if students were leveraged for not just tech support, but lesson support?” – Jamie Lewsadder

“Love how @techsavvyed video on #notatiste14… is one of highest viewed videos for #ISTE2014 Check it out!: — Sue Waters

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Quotes Overheard at ISTE 2014

I attended ISTE 2014 this week and pulled these quotes from Twitter or sessions that I attended.  For one reason or another they resonated with me. How about you?

KayVee.INC via Compfight cc
"If your dream does not scare you, it is not big enough."
— Kevin Carroll

"Education is a single player sport, but we live in a team-based world."
— Jaime Casap 

"Build a [school] culture of connectedness and innovation."
— Jason Markey

"Stop layering more technology onto traditional methods of teaching." 
— Digital Promise 

"Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator." 
— Michael Fullan

Professional Development must have structured voice and choice.  You can't assume you know which flavor everyone wants."
— Andrew Miller

(To principals in Title 1 schools) "Set big, hairy, audacious technology goals." 
— Derek McCoy

"Whenever people are asked to change without their buy-in, we create resistance."
— Dale Carnegie Institute

"Most school variables, considered separately, have at most small effects on learning.  The real payoff comes when individual variables combine to reach critical mass.  Creating the conditions under which this can occur is the job of the principal."
— Wallace Foundation

"Do you reward students for giving the right answers or asking the right questions?"
— Erin Klein

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ISTE 2014 on my Mind

While ISTE 2014 is fresh on my mind I wanted to post a few impressions.

The conference organizers did participants a big favor by organizing presentations into “strands” allowing us to more easily identify topics of special interest to our roles.  For example, my Becoming a Digital School Administrator presentation was tagged for the "Leadership" strand.

The Leadership sessions were packed— in fact oversubscribed.  It was a shame that some folks were turned away from mine and others.  Perhaps tagging the presentations by strands was too successful, but . . . .

It was clear that the administrators at the conference were hungry for information on technology.  As more and more school districts implement 1:1 plans it is clear that the administrators— especially principals are eager, even desperate, to get up to speed.

My presentation implicitly demonstrated the value of curation.  I am not an awesome creator of content, but I collected some terrific stuff from elementary principals like Curt Rees, Melinda Miller and Brent Coley.  They were the “stars”, and I was proud to bring their videos into a room of 150 people.  In fact I was less nervous than I otherwise might be because their stuff was so good.
My audience of admins pre-preso

All of the “leadership” sessions I attended were full.  I am sure glad I got to hear East Leyden principal Jason Markey.  He is a bright guy and a true visionary. Like the best innovative teachers, he is a risk-taker and never forgets school is all about the kids.

My favorite session was about the MOOC invasion.  I agreed with Anissa Vega that MOOCs are an ideal method of providing professional development to educators.  She remarked that she was surprised that there was relatively focus on this at the conference (probably because MOOCs are strongly associated with higher ed).

On the other hand, when I visited the exhibition hall, I was intrigued to see two vendors whose products were aimed specifically at online course creation.  The first provided products to create a mini studio with a green screen and simple control board for producing rich instructional videos.  The second was a software system for verifying the identities of online students, allowing for remote proctors to visually identify test takers and examine their products as they work on them.

Note to presenters:  Attendees at large conferences like these want the presentation content to deliver as advertised.  They make their choices very carefully and the venues are vast, making it hard to switch choices.  I was in a couple of presentations with interesting descriptions that disappointed because the presenter digressed or resorted to his/her old presentation boilerplate.

And lest you think I take myself too seriously, you can see below that I also found time for some valuable networking (with BrainPOP’s Moby).

Photo by my old 2009 ADE buddy Robert Miller (who totally rocks BrainPOP)

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