Saturday, March 3, 2012

Educational Technology Musing

I wrote this for my school district earlier in the year and wanted to post on the blog....enjoy!

Educational Technology Musings

“The best tool is your creative mentality”

In the following paragraphs, you will find links/resources/ideas and they are meant to be a starting point for a much bigger conversation at your school, department meeting, or among colleagues. Some are for principals, others for teachers, and some may be relevant to us all. In the spirit of collaboration and best intentions for our students, please share with anyone you feel would benefit.

There is much discussion around 2.0 classrooms, outfitting them with the latest interactive boards, laptops/tablets, clicker systems and maybe even being a 1:1 environment. Of all the advocates for a 2.0 classroom, I can assure you my rallying cry is very loud. With that being said, it’s fully acceptable to be ‘on your way’ towards a 2.0 environment. Having a 1.5 classroom/school is in my opinion completely acceptable, and on some levels much more attainable and easier to support. Not every classroom/school needs a 1:1 deployment; 1:2 or 1:many is very common across our country and potentially easier to handle for all stakeholders. Focus on what you already have first, and ensure that it’s being used at full capacity.

A large focus for schools is having the devices for our students to create, explore, play and better understand this digital world in which we live. In my opinion, it’s just as important or even more so, for the staff of each school site to be building their digital framework with the many free tools we have at our disposal. The utilization of Google Apps for staff is very exciting, and opens endless avenues from which we can become more paperless, more collaborative, more efficient, and less reliant on old systems which our students have not grown up with. How can your school grow and develop with this non-student centered approach? Challenge your front offices to utilize these digital tools in new ways each week.

A few ideas….

Create free podcasts with which you can email/embed/tweet and share with your school community in many different ways.

Set your class up with their own blog on, it’s free, easy to use and is bound to expand their writing.

Have your staff/class backchannel on during a staff-meeting, workshop or for a designated time throughout the year. See what your colleagues are thinking during your trip to the CUE conference or while their class is using the new Video Conferencing equipment with another school.

A great article from an excellent online resource. The KQED Mind/Shift blog, How to bring ideas into a low-tech classroom.

If you only have one iPad per classroom, ten laptops for student use across your entire campus, I challenge you to use your creative mentality and maximize their usage. The most qualified experts on these devices are our students, as they have grown up with them and can manipulate them in ways we may not have seen.

The following video link is of Bobby Mc Ferrin, ‘hacking your brain’ and incorporating only a microphone and an entire audience, in a very ‘low-tech’ way. How can you accomplish this level of collaboration at your site with only one Flip camera or just an iPod-touch?

Another great network for Principals or AP’s to continue the 2.0 conversation is, you’ll find resources on Technology Integration, Professional Development, School Culture and much more. Enjoy collaborating and exploring with others!

Additionally, a group of colleagues has begun collaboration on an iPad Learning wiki for all to use. You’ll find app recommendations, classroom ideas, learning links and project ideas. Please explore the site if you have iPads or are hoping to add them, and fill out the linked form to contribute your own app recommendations or ideas.

In conclusion, I leave you with a list compiled from a favorite online resource of mine, Simple K12. My question is, what’s missing from this list and how can we all incorporate best practices in our ever-developing digital world?

Enjoy, and thank you again for reading,

In October 2010, there was a list produced by Simple K12, ’21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Teacher”

1. You require your student to use a variety of sources for their research projects…and they cite blogs, podcats, and interviews they’ve conducted via Skype.
2. Your students work on collaborative projects…with students in Australia.
3. You give weekly class updates to parents….via your blog.
4. Your students participate in class….by tweeting their questions and comments.
5. You ask your students to study and create reports on a controversial topic….and you grade their video submissions.
6. You prepare substitutes with detailed directions…via Podcats.
7. You ask your students to do a character/historical person study and they create mock social medial profiles of their character.
8. Your students create a study guide…working together on a group wiki.
9. You share lessons plans with your teacher friends…from around the globe.
10. Your classroom budget is tight….but it doesn’t matter because there are so many free resources on the web you can use.
11. You realize the importance of professional development….and you read blogs, join online communities and tweet for self development.
12. You take your students on a field trip to the Great Wall of China…and never leave your classroom.
13. Your students share stories of their summer vacation….through an online photo repository.
14. You visit the Louvre with your students…and don’t spend a dime.
15. You teach your students not be bullies…or cyber bullies.
16. You make your students turn in their cell phones before class starts…because you plan on using them in class.
17. You require your students to summarize a recent chapter…and submit it to you via a text message.
18. You showcase your student’s original work…to the world.
19. You have your morning coffee…while checking your RSS feed.
20. You are reading this.
21. You tweet, blog, “like” or email this to someone else….

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