Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Handheld Digital Magazines - An Intriguing Concept

Being that it's almost 2010, it's somehow appropriate to blog about this really cool concept video that came across my Twitter stream via @levarburton (Yep, of Roots, Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek fame!). Mr. Burton's exact Twitter words that intrigued me and made me click to watch the video were "8 minutes that rocked my world! This changes the ereading game...!"

To quote the purpose of the video from its web page:

This conceptual video is a corporate collaborative research project initiated by Bonnier R&D into the experience of reading magazines on handheld digital devices. It illustrates one possible vision for digital magazines in the near future, presented by our design partners at BERG.

The concept aims to capture the essence of magazine reading, which people have been enjoying for decades: an engaging and unique reading experience in which high-quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories.

I was fascinated by this video and the digital magazine concept. Being a lover of reading, I was mostly struck by the idea of trying to preserve some of the traditional paper-based reading experience while moving to a digital medium. I'm actually encouraged by this.

One of the issues I have having been born and learning to read in the pre-digital era is the experience of reading is not the same quality for me when I am reading on a computer screen. I have not as of yet tried a Kindle or any other brand of e-reader simply because the idea of reading an entire novel on a small digital screen holds no appeal for me. I realize as an educator that this is the way things are going, and I should probably force myself to try an e-reader or e-book, but I don't really want to invest in one when it appeals to me so little.

The conceptual digital magazine caught my interest, though. I wanted to hold it and try it out. I think the fact that I would interact with it makes me think it will be closer to the paper-based experience I am used to. I also started to imagine the possibilities for longer works - plays, short stories, even novels - where more graphics could be incorporated with the text. Not that I want to ever give up being able to imagine the settings and events in my head, but think of classic works of literature with historically accurate graphical backgrounds enhancing the text. Or works set in the future with the author's concepts of the settings visually represented.  Just leave the characters out so I can still picture them in my mind, please. :-)

Anyway, you can see the video stirred up some ideas in my head. Take about eight minutes to view it, and see if it does the same for you. Maybe it will "rock your world" as well!

Mag+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grading Shouldn't End With Meeting the Rubric

I just read You Can't Get Too Much of a Good Thing (Not!) at The Educators' Royal Treatment. The post was written by Adora Svitak, a 12 year old accomplished writer, educator, and student.

Adora writes about the need for teachers to provide constructive criticism for all student assignments, especially the ones that "meet the rubric". She gives some very specific examples of how such feedback for continued student growth might look. Adora's words on the need for teachers to provide feedback that goes beyond a grading rubric really resonated with me, so much so that I wrote a comment on her post.

I want to preserve my thoughts here, as well. I love commenting on blogs, but for some comments I hate that I "leave" the thoughts on another blog that I might not recall if the topic comes up again down the road!

So, for my own recollection later, and your information if you are interested, here are the comments I left on Adora's post:

Adora, I am currently a student in an online master's degree program and I want you to know I really, REALLY appreciated and related to your post above on the importance of feedback that goes beyond the rubric, especially when the assignment meets all or most of the rubric's requirements. On assignments where I do well, I still want to know what the grader thought about my ideas or be challenged to stretch my ideas.

I think back to a paper I did as an undergrad. I received a good grade on the paper, but I don't remember it exactly; I do remember a comment the professor wrote in the margin to this day, nearly 20 years later. I remember it because it challenged my beliefs and made me look at them and actually become more resolved in them.

As you so rightly pointed out, everyone, including a student who "meets the criteria" for an assignment, needs to be encouraged to grow from wherever they are. None of us ever arrives - but we can stagnate. A good teacher will use constructive dialog to help keep that stagnation from happening.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reflecting Upon Teaching With Technology

The following post was written as a reflection on my learning during the fifth and final week of a Teaching with Technology course I am taking as I pursue a master's degree in educational technology leadership.

As an educator, I am quite opposed to the word "stupid" when referring to a person. And yet, as we wrap up our Teaching with Technology course, a repurposed political phrase is circulating in my head. "It's the learning and assessment, stupid."

I do not really think our leaders are stupid, but I do think they have missed the point for quite some time. For years, we have been trying to get teachers to use more technology, to not let those computers in their classrooms collect dust. All the while also building the climate of high-stakes standardized testing, which says every child will perform at an expected minimum level on tests presented in the same medium to everyone.

So, as James Paul Gee says in his Edutopia video Grading with Games, schools have become "test-prep academies" where it is too risky to use digital tools like games and social networking to teach because they don't have enough "skill and drill" focus which is what helps students pass standardized tests. The computer, which could be helping differentiate instruction, often becomes an expensive tool for drill and practice. The potential for true transformation in the classroom is wasted. We have a dichotomy in place where we know what kind of learning is most beneficial for preparing 21st Century students for the world of today, but our schools are still judged on how well they prepare students for the 20th Century.

What is the answer? How about lessening the importance of THE TEST and increasing the importance of real world problem solving? This Vision for 21st Century Learning video was intriguing to me, as it shows a possibility for authentic learning and assessment through simulations which would connect students to the ancient world.

But I am just one person. I cannot institute on my own the paradigm shifts required to make 21st Century learning and authentic assessment a reality in today's classrooms. Unless I redefine paradigm shift. An entire educational system can make a paradigm shift. So can a person. Maybe for now, until Gee's modern Sputnik comes along to spur the overhaul of education that is needed, I can focus on helping individual teachers move toward constructivist and connectivist practices. I can show them how technology can support them and their students in these new endeavors. We actually made our drop in the bucket this school year by starting a Moodle initiative. At least five classrooms I'm aware of are now experiencing blended learning environments. The word is getting out and more teachers want to try.

My own mini-paradigm shift because of this course has been toward concentrating on teaching, not technology. For the sake of some test-prep academies I know and love, I'm going to look for ways to sneak the good practices in. Then, hopefully, when the change really does come, we'll have teachers ready and waiting to lead us in 21st Century learning - because they've already been there.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Designing Student-Centered Learning Experiences With Technolgy

This content below is written as a reflection on what I learned in week four of the Teaching with Technology course I am taking as I pursue a master's degree in educational technology leadership.

The two themes that stood out the most for me during Week 4 of Teaching With Technology were "cooperative/collaborative learning" and "contextual/situational learning".

After working together to design an action plan for helping a teacher teach with technology, the project group I belong to started creating and uploading lesson plans and resources like crazy! It has been stressful trying to get everything in place in time to meet deadlines, but extremely rewarding as well. Something that became evident to me as I was working with my team was the fact that I was experiencing cooperative/collaborative learning at the same time that I was reading about it. As a teacher I have asked students to cooperatively complete assignments and projects over the years, and I have been on many collaborative teams. I have not ever, that I can recall, worked on a team that was somewhat separated by distance, however. I worked with three very dedicated people, so it was a rewarding experience for me. I found that I love learning "across space"! I also reached out to my "extended cooperative network" for ideas via Twitter. At one point I was at a loss for how to approach loading our files to our Google website, so I sent a message via Twitter, and within minutes, five people had sent me suggestions. The power of cooperative learning, or as Pitler et. al. (2007) quotes Wong and Wong (1998) on page 143 of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works, "cooperating to learn", was demonstrated for me in a real and immediately applicable way. I was then able to turn around the knoweldge I gained for the benefit of my project group. This is an experience I could not have had even six months ago, before I came to know the usefulness of Twitter as a networking for learning tool. This transitions me nicely to my second learning theme for this week.

In Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools, Solomon and Schrum (2007) write on page 103: "Lave (1998) suggests that most learning occurs naturally through activities, contexts, and cultures, but schools too often abstract learning, 'unsituate' it, and teach concepts removed from natural contexts and applications." They go on to say a little further down the page: "We often provide 'just in case' training rather than 'just in time' training, which provides educators with the information they need just as they need it." These words literally jumped off the page at me. The authors reference several times in this chapter the fact that even after years of investment in training and infrastructure, educational technology has not lived up to its potential in the majority of schools. I find these observations echoed in many of the educational technology blogs I read, such as this one. Although I don't entirely agree with the blog author's take on his colleagues and their lack of technology savvy, I do understand his frustration. After all of the professional development reading I've done in my coursework, I would argue, however, that the failure of educational technology to reach the heights we should have expected by now lies not with teachers for the most part, but with the way we've tried to train them, in hour-long or even day-long workshops using traditional "chalk and talk" or "spray and pray" methods (Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p. 101). I am now beginning to make connections to the need to use connective Web 2.0 technologies in staff development to stay in touch with and continuously support educators and their growth in the use of educational technology. The support will work on two levels; educators can ask for help when they need it and receive consistent feedback, and they can become proficient in the use of the tools because they'll be using them in context. My own experience of becoming more of a participant in blogging and personal learning networks (PLNs) is evidence of the benefits of contextual/situational learning. I became a blogger because my graduate classes asked me to blog and reflect, and I became a PLN participant because someone in a workshop gave me an opportunity to participate immediately in a PLN. I am excited by these personal discoveries, reinforced by our professional readings this week, and look forward to hopefully creating similarly meaningful opportunities and experiences for the teachers in my district.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Planning for Student Centered Learning With Technology

The following was written as a reflection on my learning in week three of the Teaching with Technology course I am taking as I work toward a master's degree in educational technology leadership.

This was a content-packed week in our Teaching With Technology course, and although I have been working consistently on the coursework, I find myself finalizing my assignments just under the wire of the no-penalty grace period. I am tired, but not discouraged, as there have been many important learning moments for me over the course of the last seven days.

The first theme I encountered this week is that of planning for instruction and the needs of learners first, and then planning to use technology if it will help address learner's needs. Fortunately, in most cases, technology does make indvidualzation and instructional support more possible than ever before. One example that stood out to me was from the book Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools by Solomon & Schrum (2007). On pages 92- 93 Christopher Johnston writes in a sidebar about using a blog in math to help students articulate their problem-solving strategies on a new problem posted each week. One of the issues faced in math education is the rote memorization of procedures without understanding of the "whys" behind the steps. I thought the use of a math blog to help students solidify their understanding was a brilliant idea, and an excellent example of using technology for an authentic purpose rather than just using a blog for the sake of blogging itself. This was just one of many examples of incorporating technology in classrooms when and where it makes sense, and it gives me food for thought about how we might need to tweak staff development opportunities in our district, so we are emphasizing the "why" of technology integration more than "how-to" of using technology.

Planning for instruction and the needs of learners was the major emphasis of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles I learned this week through readings, UDL lesson plan design, and creation of an online book using the UDL Book Builder. The in-depth work we did with applying UDL principles to a complete lesson plan design helped me for the first time to get my head around the essence and practical applications of UDL - the "how-to" of meeting the needs of the diverse learners in today's K-12 classrooms. Again, meeting those learner needs is more possible than ever before because of the wide range of technology tools we have at our disposal for delivering content in multiple formats and giving students diverse choices for demonstrating their learning.

As I read in Chapter 6 of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning (Rose & Meyer, 2002) about addressing the three identified UDL brain networks - the recognition network (the what of learning), the strategic network (the how of learning), and the affective network (the why of learning) - and then had to make sure I addressed them in the development of a lesson plan, I made a connection back to the 14 Learner-Centered Psychological Principles which we were introduced to and had to apply in our Curriculum Management course. In both systems, educators are encouraged to put the needs of the learner or learners above everything else, and then design instruction and activities around those needs while keeping in mind methodologies that will engage the learner on multiple "fronts" of cognition. I think that the UDL model is easier to keep in mind when planning, since it includes only three networks and many of the strategies for addressing the networks are similar or overlap. Making the connection, though, made me realize that although I am not in the K-12 classroom, I am still a teacher of teachers when I develop staff development, and just as I was able to address the 14 Learner-Centered Psychological Principles in designing staff development for our Curriculum Management course, I can also use UDL principles in designing effective staff development experiences for teachers. I look forward to being able to apply these principles in real-life very soon.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Lesson Plan Reflection

Putting together a lesson plan in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) format for Week 3 of my Teaching with Technology class was challenging and rewarding. I have been out of the classroom for a few years, so I felt a little rusty at formal lesson design, but the UDL model was easy to follow. The challenging parts were striving to address all three of the UDL brain networks and finding quality resources in a variety of formats to incorporate into the lesson.

I was amazed at the amount of time it took me to hunt down quality resources to address the recognition, strategic, and affective networks. Providing multiple media and formats addresses both the recognition and strategic networks while offering choices of content and tools addresses the affective network. With the Internet, these types of resources are abundant, but the time investment it takes to screen the resources for appropriateness regarding quality and level and type of content is large.

The recognition network was addressed by supporting students' background knowledge and providing multiple examples of critical features in multiple formats. I imagined myself working with students and moving seamlessly from displaying and discussing a diagram under the document camera to manipulating an interactive website on a whiteboard as we began to investigate food chains and webs together. I hope students would be as engaged as I imagined they would be.

The strategic network was addressed by providing opportunities to practice with multiple media and formats. It was also interesting to imagine students getting to decide if they wanted to read from a book (would any really pick that nowadays?) or view movie clips or play interactive games on the computer. Would they work in pairs or solo?

Addressing the affective network by offering choices in content and tools, rewards, and levels of challenge was most engaging for me to think about, though. One of the goals teachers often have is to turn their students into lovers of learning. How much more frequently would we achieve that goal if we strove to connect more with students' feelings about learning through methods that address affective networks?

If I were still in the classroom, I know I would feel challenged to plan all lessons to this level all of the time. And I know logistically that would be impossible. But I hope these principles will stick with me as I design staff development for our teachers. I hope to integrate some of the UDL principles into our staff development offerings, so they become less focused on technology skills and more focused on solid pedagocial practices.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

SixthSense: The Next Evolutionary Leap in Personal Computing & (Hopefully) Edtech?

I should be studying, but I made the "miskate" of checking my Twitter streams first this morning. When looking at my #edtech search, I came across a tweet that actually sent me to the second of the two videos below, which then sent me on a rabbit trail I'm excited to have gone down.

I had not heard of SixthSense technology before today. It's a project being worked on by MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group, led by Pattie Maes and her student Pranav Mistry. Assuming continued successful development, this technology has potential for causing a huge paradigm shift in personal "computing", and it SHOULD be hugely impactful in the world of education. (I say SHOULD because of the unfortunate slowness of adopting new technologies especially in the K-12 world). I predict this for two reasons:
  1. The technology behind the device costs around $300, well in reach of the masses in developed nations.
  2. Mistry plans to open source the technology.
Is your curiosity meter revved up yet? What is this SixthSense thing that has me blogging instead of studying this morning? I invite you to watch the two videos below - combined they are about 20 minutes in length and they will convince you I think. Only have time for one? The first one gives a great overview of the technology. But the second one is also cool because it talks about the development - I like the "story behind the stuff". By the way, you can follow @SixthSenseTech on Twitter if your interest is piqued.

I also invite you to leave a comment on how you think this might impact society and culture in general, and education in particular.

I leave you to the videos, while I go study so I can finish my master's degree and hopefully live to see this technology integrated into K-12 one day. :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Research Shows Technology Strategies That Positively Impact Student Learning

The following was written as a reflection on what I learned during the second week of the Teaching With Technology course I am currently taking as part of my masters in educational technology leadership program.

December 1, 2009

During the second week of the Teaching With Technology course, I learned the most from the research studies we read such as Michael S. Page's Technology-Enriched Classrooms: Effects on Students of Low Socioeconomic Status from the ISTE Journal of Research on Technology in Education (2002) and John Schacter's The Impact of Education Technology on Student Achievement: What the Most Current Research Has to Say from the Milken Exchange on Education Technology (1999). Page's work included an overview of prior studies of educational technology's impact on student achievement and then went on to detail his own study of the achievements and classroom interactions of 211 third and fifth grade students, half of whom were learning in classrooms that were not integrating technology, and half of whom were learning in classrooms with multiple technology resources as well as teachers who were thoroughly and continuously trained in the use of the technology they had been provided. I was encouraged by Page's findings which concluded that when compared to their counterparts in the non-technology infused classrooms, the students in the technology-enriched classrooms posted higher math achievement scores, showed higher self-esteem levels, and participated in a significantly more student-centered environment. As an educator, I have informally observed such results on a regular basis, and it is empowering to be able to point to specific research that demonstrates technology's positive impacts on student learning.

Likewise, all of the summaries in Schacter's work were interesting and demonstrated various instructional benefits of educational technology. I was particularly intrigued by the West Virginia Basic Skills/Computer Education study by Dale Mann (1999) which Schacter referred to. The finding that "Consistent student access to the technology, positive attitudes towards the technology (by both teachers and students), and teacher training in the technology led to the greatest student achievement gains" (1999, p. 6) was again reaffirming what I have come to know as best practices in the use of technology in instruction. I wanted to know more specifics about the West Virginia BS/CE initiative, so I did some looking around the Milken Family Foundation Website and found West Virginia Story: Achievement Gains from a Statewide Comprehensive Instructional Technology Program (Mann et. al. 1999). Upon skimming the information, I discovered that the State of West Virginia started to infuse classrooms with computers beginning with Kindergarten classrooms in 1990-1991, and moving the initiative up one grade level during each successive year throughout the elementary grades. Teachers were thoroughly trained in the use of the technology as it was implemented. It turns out that the specific software the teachers were trained in was primarily a drill-and-practice approach aligned with West Virginia's basic skills goals, making it easy to correlate the infusion of technology and teacher training directly to increased standardized test scores. These were interesting and encouraging findings which led me to wonder if any studies had been done since the late 1990's or early 2000's on the impact of technology on student learning, particularly since it has been since 2000 that Internet use and the read/write web have become mainstream. I put a request out amongst the edtech professionals I network with on Twitter, and Teri Wilkins pointed me to Technology in Schools: What the Research Says 2009 Update, an overview of recent educational technology research which seems to be similar in design to Schacter's work. I have not had time to delve into this promising find, but I look forward to reading it and finding out what more recent studies have to say about educational technology impacts on student learning. The next question I'll be looking to answer is, "If we have studies going back at least ten years showing that thorough teacher training and consistent student access to adequate technology resources positively impacts student learning, why are we still struggling with how to properly implement instructional technology in our schools?"

Photo of kids at computer courtesy of edenpictures used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license agreement.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Learning Theories and Implications for Teaching With Technology

The following was originally written as a reflection assignment for week 1 of a graduate course I am currently taking called Teaching With Technology. Upon re-reading it, I decided I needed to preserve it here on my blog, because it documents a shift I see myself making in my philosopy of edtech.

November 22, 2009

After completing the readings, videos, and discussions this week I find I have a much better understanding of the constructivism and connectivism learning theories. I have been exposed to constructivism before, but the Learning as a Personal Event: A Brief Introduction to Constructivism (SEDL 1999) and the How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (Bransford 1999) readings and the specific classroom and instructional examples they gave in addition to describing the theory of constructivism really helped me get a better grasp on the approach. I now clearly see the progression from activating each student's unique prior experiences with a subject, to placing them in situations where they can collaborate to share their current knowledge and expand their learning, and then giving time to reflect on and share their learning in a way that makes sense to the learners. I had not heard of connectivism before, but I see it as a logical addition to constructivism where "Including technology and connection making as learning activities begins to move learning theories into a digital age" (Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools, Solomon & Schrum, 2007). The collaborative nature of constructivist learning can only be enhanced by the digital tools and continuous learning advocated for in the connectivist approach. As I was responding to a classmate's post on the discussion board, I was reminded of a video from Edutopia which demonstrated the use of virtual environments in K-12 teaching, but after viewing it again, I believe Harness Your Students' Digital Smarts (see below this paragraph) is also a prime example of constructivist and connectivist learning and teaching with technology in action.

As we finish this week, I am struck in particular by two thoughts. The first one is a shift that is occurring in my own philosophy. As I posted in a response to another classmate on this week's discussion board: Through readings we've been assigned in some of our classes as well as professional reading I do on my own, I am beginning to experience a philosophical shift in my approach to educational technology from the basics of "just getting tools into the hands of teachers and students" to actually seeing a need for redesign of instructional practices which better meet the needs of 21st century students while harnessing the power of technology. What I find ironic as I begin to experience this shift is that the ideas behind it are not new. The two readings which most impacted me this week in this vein were written in 1999. So my second thought is, "Why? Why is the implementation of something that was evident ten years ago taking so long?" Especially since the constructivist and collaborative examples of classroom practice given in those two readings are so much more easily accomplished today in the era of Web 2.0. On page 41 of the Web 2.0 New Tools New Schools book, the authors address the fact that the climate for such change is not optimal due to the high stakes testing that has been implemented in the last ten years. Is high stakes testing the only or primary roadblock? Probably not. Whatever the roadblocks are, it would benefit us to identify them and begin to find ways to conquer them before our educational system falls further behind.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

EDLD 5364 Web Conference Reflection

On Saturday, November 21st, I participated in my first web conference as part of the Educational Technology Leadership online master's degree program I am enrolled in through Lamar University. It was an enjoyable and welcome experience.

I was first of all excited to see that both Dr. Mason and Dr. Abernathy were participating in the conference. After seeing them in video lectures, it was nice to connect with them "in person", and especially beneficial to be able to directly ask them questions regarding our particular course and the degree plan. I also enjoyed meeting other students in the program via the web conference. Hearing their questions and where they were in their thoughts on the assignments was very beneficial for helping me better understand the expectations of the course and think about next steps I need to take.

I am immensely enjoying the convenience of an online program and the ability to access course materials and complete assignments on my own schedule. I have, however, been missing the sense of connection that usually occurs in a course between students and their professors and classmates. Although we have had interaction via email and on discussion boards, there is still a dimension of connection that only live interaction can satisfy. Even in the brief contact we had, I was able to get a little sense of the humans on the other side of the videos, assignments, and discussions. I enjoyed experiencing the human dimension through our video conference this week.

I appreciate the time Dr. Mason and Dr. Abernathy took to spend with us and answer our questions. I hope the video conferences will continue periodically. And I hope they will be instituted in other classes in the degree as well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What's The Most Important Thing Teachers of Today Need to Realize or Learn?

An educator I follow on Twitter,  thecleversheep, tweeted this this morning:
Care to share your wisdom? Looking for global representation in a preso on Collaboration: (retweets appreciated)
When I clicked the link, here's the question I was faced with:
What is the most important thing teachers of today need to realize, or need to learn?
One of those thought provokers! Here was my response:
The World Wide Web was invented in 1989; it is 20 years old. For students in K-12 education today, the Web has always existed. There has never been a world without it. Teachers who are 30 years old or older had little or no exposure to "growing up online" or learning online when they themselves were students. They certainly did not have the unsupervised access to technology that today's students have - nor did they have the opportunities for global learning. To stay relevant in our pedagogical approaches and to equip students to survive and thrive in the digital world where they already live, we must become adopters of the technology ourselves. We may never be immersed to the extent our students are, but to ignore the digital world in our personal and professional lives is a great disservice to our students.

How would you answer that very same question? Post a comment here, and while you're at it, post a response for thecleversheep's pesentation.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shaping Well-Rounded Youth in a Digital World

This video profile of 14 year old Virginia from Edutopia had multiple impacts on me. First, I was impressed with the balance this young lady is learning as she conducts her life on many fronts: home, church, school, service, and social. And then I was impressed with WHY I believe she is learning that balance - because she has parents who are involved with her and a school and a teacher who see the importance of exposing students to the latest technology tools and teaching them the ethics and safety they need to be responsible digital citizens. I wish this young lady's story were more typical of teens across our country and our globe.

Schools can and should do a lot more to help shape well-rounded citizens like this young lady. I say that knowing it's not as simple as throwing some technology into a classroom and getting the kids up to speed. Even if the money for the purchase and maintenance of the "stuff" was no object, staff development would have to be continuously implemented. Technology coaches and teachers need to be well trained and continuously supported in order to create environments that will nurture more students like Virginia. As I write this, the system I work in is not there - YET. We'll get there. We're already making some baby steps, and we'll get there. It is hard not to be impatient, though, as this New York Times article suggests.

After viewing the video below (it will be a well spent and inspiring seven minutes!), if you want more in depth information about Virginia, her teacher, and her school, you can access it here.

Please post a comment with any thoughts you have after viewing this video!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Operation Christmas Child - A Simple Shoebox Can Impact a Life!

In the "About Me" section of my blog page, I have a little statement that says there are "no guarantees that a more personal post might not sneak in every once in a while". Well, this is one of those posts! My blog is 99% edtech, but Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is such an important ministry to me personally that it gets to sneak into the 1% non-edtech.

OCC is a ministry of Samaritan's Purse International. Each year they send millions of shoe boxes to children in desperate situations - poverty, war, natural disaster, famine - all over the world. The shoe boxes are full of toys, school supplies, and necessity items selected and packed by people just like you and me! The kids receive their shoe boxes at parties put on by local Christian ministries, they hear the true meaning of Christmas, and they receive a Gospel storybook in their own language. The local ministries then follow up with the children and families who are open to continuing to receive help.

What I love about this ministry is not only the impact it can have on the children who receive the shoeboxes, but also the amazing lessons it can teach us and our children - that Christmas isn't supposed to be about get, get, get, me, me, me. It's about God's gift to the world in His Son, and in honor of that gift, our giving to others.

In the United States, collection week is November 16 - 23, just before Thanksgiving. There are collections in other countries, too, and different rules for what you can put in your shoeboxes and different collection dates.

For more information about OCC, how to pack a shoebox, and where and when to donate shoe boxes in your country, please visit these links:

This video captures what my words cannot. I dare you to watch this video, see the looks on the kids' faces, and NOT send a shoebox!

Thank you for taking the time to consider supporting this effort. Please leave a comment if you are familiar with OCC or decide to participate!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Building a Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter

The Personal Learning Network (PLN) that I've built on Twitter over the past couple of months has become an amazing resource for learning about what's going on in the educational technology world. I was excited when I had an opportunity last week to present using Twitter as a tool for personal learning to some of my colleagues. Although I knew I wouldn't have time to share everything I've learned or done over the past couple of months with them, I wound up reflecting back in some detail on my own journey as I prepared for the presentation.

The list that follows is a result of that reflection. You might think from reading it that building my Personal Learning Network (PLN) has been a linear, methodical process, but in reality I stumbled my way through and saw the steps I took only on reflection. I almost titled this post How To Build a PLN on Twitter, but that would imply that there really is a specific "method".

One thing I've learned about using the web and Web 2.0 tools in general is it's often "messy"; that is to say there are not usually step-by-step guidelines for doing this or that. So glean what you can from the list below. What worked for me may not work for you, but I hope you find a nugget somewhere that might help you along the way.

If after reading the list below you find yourself wanting to know more, you might want to check out these PLN related blog posts from @kylepace and @shellterrell, or take a peek at my first PLN building post (before I knew it was called a PLN!). You might also want to check out my Twitter related links on Delicious. Tons of informational resources there! (NOTE: As of 2011 I am using Diigo as my primary online bookmarking tool. You can now access my Twitter related links there as well.)

I reference the building of an educational technology (edtech) PLN below, but you can apply the same principals to building a PLN on your topic of interest.

This is what has worked and continues to work for me in my PLN building:
  1. I set up a Twitter account. You might want to pick a Twitter username that reflects why you are on Twitter. I did that on accident because I was investigating for professional purposes, but in hindsight I’m glad I did! The name I picked was EdTechSandyK.

    Privacy Tips These are personal preference to me, useful if you don’t want your pic and name all over the web yet:

    Numerous other sites pick up Twitter tweets or feeds, and they lift your pic/avatar with them. I didn’t know that at first, but I’m glad I use a cartoon avatar.

    I decided not to use my last name in my account.

    I changed my email account to a new one I created just for edtech stuff. That way friends don’t find me when they sign up for Twitter. Since I don’t use Twitter to keep in touch with personal friends (I have Facebook for that), this works for me!

    I kept my account protected at first (no one could follow me without permission) until I figured out what was going on.

  2. I started slowly by following just a few organizations or ed tech leaders I knew. Ex: @TCEA, @ISTEconnects, @wfryer, @moodlefairy

  3. I scanned Twitter help to see what all of the symbols like RT and @ and d and # meant.

  4. IMPORTANT TIP: After following a couple of folks, I took a few days to just observe: Watched tweets (posts) of the people I was following and watched who they RTed (re-tweeted or re-posted). I started to follow some of the folks they frequently RTed. (I subscribed to a few blogs based on links I saw tweeted, too!)

  5. Edtech people tend to tweet a lot of links. I save ones I might use to my Delicious account for future reference. (NOTE: As of 2011 I am using Diigo to save my links.)

  6. I started to RT (re-tweet or re-post) useful tweets when I saw them.

  7. I started to notice #hashtags (words that start with # like #edtech, #moodle, #teaching) and added them to my RTs when they applied. #Hashtags help other people on Twitter find posts related to topics they are intersted in.

  8. I also searched by #hashtags to get more info. This helps you get ideas without having to subscribe to a lot of people all of the time. I subscribed to more people who posted a lot about #edtech.

  9. Eventually I got brave and posted original tweets with good resources I had found. I used #hashtags with them, too, so people looking for that info would benefit.

  10. Started using to better organize my tweets and see who was RTing me or replying to me. It also made shortening links a lot easier!

  11. I started to get more followers! I monitor my followers and block spammers and marketers. You can tell by going to their profile and seeing what they Tweet about. A suggestive or pornographic profile pic is also a sign you don't want them to follow you. Unfortunately, those folks are out there. (You should subscribe to the @spam Twitter account and report all spammers and pornos to them.)

  12. A couple of EdTech leaders on Twitter added me to recommended lists on TweepML. I was flattered and that has really increased my follower numbers which potentially increases my PLN. Here are their lists in case you are into EdTech:

    @ShellTerrell TweepML EdTech List: (Link no longer active)
    @NMHS_Principal TweepML Education PLN Builders: (Link no longer active)

    NOTE: As of 2010, TweepML no longer exists. Twitter has had a built in list feature of its own for quite some time. 

  13. Now that I've been at this a little longer, I don’t follow people as easily or quickly as I did at first. There’s only so much info a person can take in! Before I decide to follow a Twitter account, I look at their profile. Are the majority of their tweets specific to edtech? Do they share lots of resources through links? Or are they just tweeting mostly mundane stuff?

  14. I don’t feel obligated to follow people who follow me. I usually check them out when they start following me, though. Or if they RT me frequently I might check them out again down the road.

  15. Out of courtesy to my followers, I try to keep one-on-one conversations private (direct) or very short if “public”.

  16. I was following some news tweeps and other personal interest tweeps, but it got to be too much for me on one account, so I started a separate account for following them. I keep that account protected (no one can follow me) and don’t Tweet from it at this time. Using it's easy for me to check both accounts at the same time.

  17. I was obsessive about reading EVERY Tweet at first, but it quickly became information overload. So, I now follow the “stream” philosophy. I won’t see every drop of water that goes by, and I won’t know what I missed. I glean from the drops I do get to see.

Well, that's it! That's where I am and how I'm operating now. If anything stood out to you or you have other tips on building a PLN, I hope you'll comment and share!

5/6/12 Update - I am amazed by how often this blog post gets visited or resurfaces on Twitter, two and a half years after I originally wrote it. It was early in my PLN building when I wrote this post, yet each time I revisit it, I find it still pretty accurately represents the process of building a Twitter PLN. Earlier this year I presented a three hour workshop on Twitter for Professional Learning at the 2012 TCEA Convention in Austin, Texas. If you liked this post, you might also benefit from the resources from my presentation, which I published in a Livebinder here. Hope to see you in the Twitterverse! Be sure to comment below or Tweet me and let me know if any of this information was helpful to you. ~ Sandy Kendell, AKA @EdTechSandyK

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How Do I Introduce Twitter to Someone Who Is Interested?

This is a follow-up to my last post. Trying to avoid the cute guy to the right here, Mr. Fail Whale! :-)

The principal who approached me about having a Twitter account for his school doesn't know anything about it from personal experience, but he's heard about it and wants to try using it as a means to communicate with parents and students.

Before we talk about the logistics of using Twitter to communicate with stakeholders, I need to give him a high level overview of what Twitter itself is. Assume I have about 15 minutes with him.

Where would you start?

Have you made a similar presentation you wouldn't mind sharing?

Do you have a link to an already existing resource that you would recommend me using?

I have a few resources and ideas, but want to also take advantage of the wisdom of those with more experience. I'm naturally curious and have figured Twitter out on my own. Sometimes my biggest challenge is figuring out how to start with someone new that needs a little more guidance without overwhelming them!

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give! :-)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Help Me Help a High School Get Started on Twitter!

First, thank you for taking the time to visit this post and offer your advice! :-)

A public high school I work with is interested in broadcasting info to parents and students via Twitter. I'm a relative newb to using Twitter myself, and have never even taught one other person how to use it, let alone a public institution.

My charge here is two-fold: gather enough info to present to our superintendent to hopefully get this approved and guide the high school in using Twitter and using it well.

Would love your advice! Some questions I have include:
  • What are the benefits of a public school using Twitter?
  • What are potential pitfalls of a public school using Twitter?
  • Do you know of examples of high schools already doing this and doing it well?
  • Would you recommend a 3rd party client and if so, which one and why?
  • Should tweets be public or protected?
  • What would you share with your superintendent? You don't know their previous knowldege of Twitter so assume no knowledge or experience.
  • What questions should I be thinking about/asking that aren't on this list?
I think that about covers it! Thank you in advance for any wisdom you can share. This is very exciting. I'll keep folks posted as the project progresses!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Did You Know? 4.0 - Shift Happens

Did You Know? 4.0 was released today. This video, also known in some incarnations as Shift Happens, started out as a PowerPoint presentation by Karl Fisch at a high school faculty meeting in 2006 and was later remixed by Scott McLeod. Since then, these men have continued to collaborate on updates to the video. I've seen the various versions of the video over the past couple of years and each time it fascinates me and makes me realize how _s_l_o_w_l_y_ the wheels of education turn in relationship to the wheels of the society which we serve.

Take four and three-fourths minutes to watch and contemplate:

There is so much to process from this video. As an educator who's been thinking about digital citizenship lately, the info on the number of text messages sent, number of "free" music downloads, and the percentage of people disciplined at work for online activities jumps out at me. We obviously have an important job ahead of us in the realm of educating folks the ethics of living in an online world.

That's not to say that the amazing facts about the size and power of computers, that 93% of adults in the US have cell phones (Really? I'm not sure why that shocks me or I have a hard time believing it), and that most of us will access the Internet off of handheld devices by the year 2020 are lost on me. Technology continues to transform our world at an almost incalculable pace. There is so much flying by in this video I'm no where near processing all of it yet.
How about you? What stood out to you in this presentation? What implications does it have for educators and education?

In case you want to see earlier versions of Did You Know? (they were more focused on education) or are interested in the thoughts of the authors, here are some links you might explore:

Enjoy the contemplation!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Anyone Using ePals for Student Blogs and/or Email?

If anyone is using ePals for student blogs and/or email, I'd love to read about your experiences with this program as I begin to investigate it.  Please comment on this post. If you can leave contact info in case I have follow-up questions, that would be awesome, too. Thanks! :-)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Daniel Pink on Importance of Intrinsic Motivation in 21st Century

This video is almost 19 minutes long...and worth every second of the watch. Although aimed at business, there is much to be gleaned for educators. Take some time to watch and reflect.

I just watched the video for the first time and want to take some time to digest. There's definitely an argument here for 21st Century skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving.

I came across this video on Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog, where he also shares some thoughts.

What do you think the implications of the findings Pink reports might be for K-12 and/or postsecondary education and educators? I hope you'll share your thoughts with a comment!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Web Activity Packs from PBS Teachers

This looks pretty neat, so I thought I'd experiment! PBS teachers has posted web activity packs with code you can embed in social media sites (like blogs or even Facebook) or into traditional web pages. There's a wealth of resources under the topic headings of The Arts, Science and Technology, Health and Fitness, Reading and Language Arts, and Social Studies. When you drill down into specific resources, you find video, interactives, and lesson plans teachers can use with students. What a great way to reach digital learners!!!

Here's a sample of the Breakthroughs in Medical Research Web Pack:

Pretty nifty, huh? Be sure to check it out. And if you don't know how to embed it into your blog or website or whatever, find a techie friend to show you how. Us techies love to do stuff like that! :-)

In case you missed the link in the first paragraph, here it is again:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy 40th Brithday, Internet!

Quick, short post. I'm sure others have waxed more eloquent, but I could not pass up this opportunity to wish the Internet a Happy 40th Birthday, today, September 2nd!

Most of us probably didn't become aware of the Internet until the late 80's/early 90's when the World Wide Web began to invade our lives, but the Internet itself had its beginnings about 20 years before that.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the job I have today without the Internet. This job didn't EXIST when I was a kid or even when I started teaching. How about you?

Here's a couple of cool sites I thought I'd share in honor of the occasion:

Interactive Timeline: The Internet Turns 40
How many of these events do you remember? I remember using Mosaic!!!!

Happy Birthday, Dear Internet, Happy Birthday to You
Blog post from Vicki Davis, a teacher in Georgia who is big into technology integration. She puts the whole Internet thing into perspective:

Hope everyone has a Happy 40th Anniversary of the Birth of the Internet!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Twitter Journey So Far: Using Twitter as a Personal Educational Resource

Like many of you I started hearing buzz about Twitter this year. Everyone was on it. The local news station. The radio station. Technology gurus. Celebrities. But I didn't see any use for Twitter for me, an ed tech specialist with nothing to sell or promote. I signed on in April of 2009, but didn't do much with it.  I thought it was a mini-Facebook, with people constantly updating what they were doing, no matter how mundane. I really didn't need that much information about people I know, let alone strangers. I was getting that info from the people I wanted on Facebook already. The little I did explore led me to view Twitter pretty much like this.

Then, a couple of things happened. A friend of mine started getting into social media and using Twitter in the tourism and to a small extent the personal realm, and I heard her mention it once or twice. So, I followed her on Twitter. Interesting, but still not my thing, I didn't think. I logged on once a month, if that.

Next I attended a TCEA workshop on 21st Century learners in June. And they encouraged us to use Twitter to share brief thoughts on what we were learning that day. Then my previously mentioned friend sent me a link to a blog post on educational uses of Twitter. (And we made a bet about "if you'll try Twitter, I'll try this...." I won't out her on what she had to try, but it's innocent and fun!)

And before I knew it, I was hooked! The main way I am using Twitter is to find edtech resources. Organizations I trust, like TCEA and ISTE tweet (that's a Twitter post) resources all the time. And sometimes they RT (re-tweet or re-post; kind of like a quote) someone else's Twitter posts. So I started seeing who other good edtech resources were based on re-tweets and learning how to do Twitter searches for other edtech posters and followed them.

Eventually I got brave and did a couple of RTs. I even found resources independently and posted them. It's pretty exciting when someone re-tweets you for the first means they found value in your resource. I'm a sucker for positive feedback and reinforcement!!!! I've even gained a few followers, which is fun and reinforcing as well.

So Twitter has become part of my toolkit for furthering my knowledge of my profession and sharing resources I find to be valuable. I'm tracking some folks who work with Moodle like Mary Cooch and Moodlerific as that is an initiative our district is just starting. I also looked for ed tech gurus I already knew about like Wes Fryer, David Warlick, and Miguel Guhlin. And I've discovered more ed tech leaders I personally hadn't heard of like David Ligon and John Evans. The people I also highly value are the folks who are classroom teachers and on-site K-12 practitioners of teaching and technology integration. There are too many to list and I wouldn't want to leave anyone out. They pass along the practical things that I know can be immediately useful to my colleagues.

And, just so I'm not all work and no play, I did stumble over a celeb I like to follow, becuase he posts pretty authentic stuff. You might recgonize Nathan Fillion from Firefly or Castle.

My latest Twitterventure has been experimenting with a couple of third party solutions for making Twitter more manageable. I am trying TweetDeck and HootSuite. You can see evidence of my HootSuite experiment in the right-hand column of this blog, where I've embedded code to track my latest Twitter posts as well as posts mentioning me.

I'll close this post with a list of websites that have been helpful for me in figuring out how Twitter works when I have questions. (As an aside, I found most, if not all, of these sites via posts on Twitter...)
Hope this is helpful and you enjoy your own journey on Twitter, wherever you may be in the journey. Feel free to check me out on Twitter as well!

Monday, August 10, 2009

More on Social Networking Guidelines for Educators

A couple of months ago I posted ten social networking guidelines for educators that I had come up with in response to a request from colleagues in my district. Today I came across some more detailed guidelines in the making. One is a blog with several thoughtful comments, and the other a wiki that is being collaboratively created. A great amount of detail in both and much food for thought.

Guidelines for Educators Using Social Networking Sites

Social Media Guidelines for Schools

Friday, August 7, 2009

U.S. Recruiting Cyber Patriots to Defend the Interwebs

As I feared, the combination of full time job and part time masters degree leaves me little energy for blogging. I have some thoughts I hope to post soon. Maybe when I get a break at the end of the second class - school law - which I am almost finished with.

In the mean time, wanted to record for myself and share with any stumbling across my blog this interesting report on recruiting efforts for young people to become the defenders of the Internet. Fascinating. Maybe in light of this need a technology applications credit might be required in Texas high schools again some day? Should this threat be the Sputnik of technology education?

Found the article above vastly more interesting in light of the huge Denial of Service attack that targeted multiple service providers but one individual yesterday:

I'm thinking all those video game skills our kids are growing up with might save our Internet infrastructure in the end...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Concepts of Educational Technology Reflection

NOTE: The post below is a reflection on my experiences in Lamar master's degree course EDLD 5306 Concepts of Educational Technology.

What outcomes had you envisioned for this course? Did you achieve those outcomes? Did the actual course outcomes align with those that you envisioned?
I envisioned gaining a broader knowledge of current effective practices in educational technology and gaining better understanding of the roles of an educational technology leader. The outcomes for the most part aligned with what I envisioned.
I believe I achieved the outcome of better understanding the role of an educational technology leader, especially in the area of data based decision making. Our analysis of the LRPT and STaR Charts was particularly meaningful to me in this area because it helped me see the correlation between data collection and long range planning.

Regarding broader knowledge of current effective practices, the focus in weeks two and three on professional development opened my eyes to different models of staff development and follow-up support for teachers regarding the creation of technology rich, student-centered learning environments. The concept of modeling effective practices for teachers was reinforced for me both through the Texas LRPT and the professional development articles we read.

To the extent that you achieved the outcomes, are they still relevant to the work that you do in your school? Why or why not?

The outcomes I achieved are most definitely relevant in the work I do in my district. As a district-level instructional technology specialist, one of the most important aspects of my job is to communicate with and train campus technology staff and classroom teachers on topics ranging from best practices in technology and instruction to reasons behind policy and budget decisions. The exercise where we analyzed a campus STaR chart and then planned to communicate our findings to the campus staff was particularly beneficial for me. So often, projects and deadlines arise quickly and as a result we communicate information to stakeholders in an informal manner. I enjoyed the exercise of looking deeply at a STaR chart and then breaking down its meaning for a campus staff. Experience with practical assignments like the presentation of the STaR chart will help me communicate more effectively with our staff, even in the limited time frames that often constrain us.

What outcomes did you not achieve? What prevented you from achieving them?

The one outcome I did not achieve was learning more about best practices in student instruction. I understand the visionary ideas of the LRPT and educational technology leaders like Prensky and their “we better get technology into the students’ hands now or we’re doomed to irrelevancy” message. As far as being better equipped to train teachers in the practical aspects of imbedding technology in their instruction, I did not achieve this outcome because the course content did not deeply address best practice models of K-12 technology integration. I enjoyed reading about Edutopia and Vicki Davis’s Flat Classroom, but I still do not have a grasp of how to help teachers move into the Edutopia/Vicki Davis realm of teaching. I was hoping for more practical examples of places that are at “Target Tech” level and whose model practices could be emulated. With less than 1% of the districts in Texas at Target Tech level, it is still disappointing, but not surprising that I did not achieve this outcome.

Were you successful in carrying out the course assignments? If not, what prevented or discouraged you?
I was successful in carrying out the course assignments from the aspect that I got them turned in on time and received good grades. I would have liked to have received some feedback on the quality and content of my assignments so I would know what I did that was deserving of an A.
I was, however, frustrated at times when carrying out my assignments. In particular, the online collaborative community assignment comes to mind.

At the end of the Week 2 assignment, the question about online learning communities confused me, because we really hadn’t been exposed to the online learning community concept yet in the videos or readings.

Also, having never used a wiki before, I struggled to interpret just how I was supposed to use it to complete the collaborative tasks in Weeks 3 and 4. It was especially disconcerting to be asking colleagues of mine to participate in this exercise with me when I wasn’t quite sure if I was approaching it correctly or giving them enough or too much guidance. A model of an online collaboration would have been helpful. Perhaps Professor Borel or Ms. Dean could have led our class in a collaborative wiki first so we would be more certain of how to organize our own wikis later.

An aspect of the course assignments I really enjoyed was the discussion boards. It was enlightening to me to see what stood out in the readings for different classmates based on their own experiences inside and outside of K-12 education and to be exposed to perspectives other than my own. It would have been encouraging to hear the perspectives of Professor Borel on the discussion boards as well. Her reactions to our thoughts and her perspective from a university setting would have added yet another dimension to the conversations.

What did you learn from this course…about yourself, your technology and leadership skills, and your attitudes?
I learned that I have acquired a lot more knowledge than I realized about educational technology practices. Even though all of my experience has been in the same school district, my varied positions at different levels – in the classroom, as a campus technologist, and as a district specialist – have given me a broad range of experience to draw from and many opportunities to acquire resources for leading instructional technology. None of the topics in the class was completely new to me, but I was invigorated by delving into some of the topics much more deeply than I had on my own in the past.
I also learned that in spite of what I already know, I still have a great deal of opportunity ahead of me for growth in my leadership abilities and knowledge of educational technology best practices. I am very glad the opportunity to get this degree has come along and I have been able to take advantage of it. Although my attitude during the course has been one of frustration at multiple points – especially when the reading and guiding documents such as the Texas LRPT are long on vision and short on practical implementation – I am still excited by all that is going on in the educational technology field and all there is for me to learn and hopefully pass on to teachers so instructional practices and student achievement can be impacted and improved.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Carver STaR Chart Presentation

NOTE: This blog post is part of a requirement for Lamar University graduate course EDLD 5306 Fundamentals of Educational Technology.

The slide show below will serve as a visual aid when I present to Carver Elementary staff on their most recent School Technology and Readiness (STaR) self-report regarding campus levels of technology access and integration. The presentation covers the background and purpose of the STaR Chart, what the current status of technology integration is at Carver, and finally includes recommendations for district and campus staff to work toward continuous improvement of technology use and integration for Carver staff and students.

Opinion on Texas LRPT: Educator Preparation and Development

NOTE: This blog post is written as a requirement for Lamar University graduate course EDLD 5306 Fundamentals of Educational Technology.

The Educator Preparation and Development (EP&D) area of the Texas LRPT focuses on professional development of educators to equip them with the necessary skills “to effectively facilitate and manage 21st Century learning in technology and information-rich settings”.

Progress indicated by the 2007-2008 STaR Chart for Texas schools in the EP&D area is as follows: 5.4% are at Early Tech level, 74.2% are at Developing Tech level, 19.9% are at Advanced Tech level, and .6% of campuses have attained the Target Tech level envisioned by the LRPT.

Since a majority of campuses are at Developing Tech level, I assume the following trends: Most teachers have access to and have participated in nine to eighteen hours of large group professional development regarding increasing productivity and integration of technology into their content areas, and most have attained two or three of the SBEC Technology Applications Standards. Most educators are adapting technology knowledge and skills for content area instruction and have received training on the use of online content for instruction. Administrators expect teachers to use technology and allocate 6% to 24% of their budget for professional development.

For continued improvement in EP&D, I recommend that a standardized measure be developed so teachers can earn a required Technology Applications endorsement on their teaching certificates by proving they have mastered the SBEC Technology Applications Standards. This requirement will spur districts and ESCs to offer a variety of staff development opportunities, and teachers will more quickly attain the skills they need to teach 21st Century learners.

First paragraph quote and statistical data taken from TEA Progress Report on the Long Range Plan for Technology. Statistical data also taken from STaR Chart Campus Statewide Summary by Key Area.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why We Can Never Educate Enough About Copyright and Online "Privacy"

Stumbled across this story on Yahoo! news this morning and thought it was a perfect example to use when trying to make the points to teachers and students that
  1. Just because the picture is posted on the Internet does NOT mean you have permission to use it.
  2. You give up control and privacy when you post anything on the Internet. Even if people aren't supposed to use your stuff without your permission, they still do and will.
The short synopsis is a family photo that a U.S. blogger posted on her blog and used on a few other sites like Facebook wound up being used for a life-size advertisement in a store window in the Chech Republic. Fortuntately this was a fairly innocent use of the photo, however, since it could bring profit to the store some money should have probably been made by the professional photographer who took the original photo and the family that was in it. Let alone maybe the family would like to have a say in what their likenesses are used to advertise?
For the full story, and for an example to share with teachers and students (or even just your friends who post things willy-nilly all over the web), check out these links:
Story of Stolen Picture at
Yahoo! News Story

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Three R's Are So 20th Century...

Great overview of the educational challenge before us. The three R's (Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmatic) are obviously still important, but education has to expand beyond those three basics. Warlick does a great job of explaining why and what the new definitions need to be in the video below.

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

We have come so far...and we have so far still to go!!!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The New Literacy

One of my first assignments was to react to a quote from the first week's reading. Below is the quote I picked and my response to it.

In The New Literacy: The 3 Rs Evolve into the 4 Es, Armstrong and Warlick state:

The challenge to us as educators lies in keeping up with an information environment that has changed dramatically in the past 10 years, a decade during which the very nature of information has changed in appearance, location, accessibility, application, and communication. Thus, it is crucial that when teaching literacy to our students, we emphasize skills that reflect the information environment of the present, not the past.

This quote appealed to me because it succinctly explains the tremendous change I have witnessed in technology and education during my career. It also emphasizes for me the gravity of the truth that we cannot settle for “teaching the way we were taught”.

I myself am struggling with wanting to print out the articles we are reading for this course so I can learn the way I’m wired to learn – by physically highlighting and making notes in the margins. This struggle combined with the quote above makes me realize that those of us whose brains were wired before the early 1990’s when the digital age really began to take hold in the main stream have an incredible task before us as we strive to create literate students who have grown up bombarded by and wired to take in information in ways and quantities that we barely comprehend. Learning more about learning styles and needs of digital learners needs to become and remain a priority for me so I can help prepare our teachers to successfully educate their digital students.

NOTE: Opening quote from
THE NEW Literacy: The 3Rs Evolve into the 4Es
Sara Armstrong; David Warlick
Technology & Learning; Sep 2004

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Networked Student

Oh, Wow! This video does a nice job of showing how a student with 21st century learning tools at his fingertips can construct and become a participant in an authentic learning experience. It also makes me realize I have a lot to learn about helping teachers become learning facilitators who can help students gain the skills they need to take effective advantage of all the tools out there.

Thanks to this post at where I found the video.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Top 10 Social Networking Guidelines for Educators Who Wish to Keep Their Career Intact

I put this together about two months ago at the request of some educational technology professionals I know who were curious about boundaries when it comes to what to post and do on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. I tweaked it just this week to present to a group of elementary (K-5) teachers. I'm not a lawyer or legal expert, but based on my observations over the past few years, here's my suggestions for teachers, particularly K-12 (but higher ed isn't exempt) who want to participate in social networks but still keep their privacy and their jobs.

1. Investigate the privacy settings on your social networking sites and USE them.

10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know

How To Be Safe Online (MySpace) CBS News Video

MySpace Safety Tips and Settings

2. Be mindful of what the things you post on your profile say about you – not just words and photos, but groups you belong to, “fun” items posted to your profile, etc. Would you want to discuss those things in person with your boss, students, students’ parents, or co-workers? What first impression does your profile pic give?

Keeping Face on Facebook: CBS News Video

Everyone Video from the Ad Council

3. If you wouldn’t say it or do it or view it with your grandparent/parent/spouse/child/
students/clergy/boss/coworker, don’t post it anywhere on the Internet (or send it in an email for that matter…)

When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web

4. People’s standards differ – you might not care if people see a photo of you in a bar tossing one back with your after-work attire on, but the people (students, parents, colleagues) who see your profile might care.

Say Cheese: 12 Photos That Should Never Have Been Posted Online

5. It’s called the WORLD WIDE web for a reason. Courts have ruled that once you post it on the Internet, you have given up your expectation of privacy.

MySpace Musings Aren’t Private, Appeals Court Rules

6. Do not become online friends with students. Yours or anyone else’s. Period. Don’t become online friends with any minors you are not related to.

7. It is OK to not accept someone’s friend request. Or put them in a very limited group in your profile. Don’t succumb to a false sense of guilt!

8. Bashing your current or former workplace, coworkers, or supervisors online is a bad idea. It will bite you in one way or another.

9. Colleges and employers are Googling potential students and employees. Something posted 10 days or 10 years ago can come back to haunt you. Your digital footprint grows larger every year and it really is permanent. (Google yourself occasionally. You might be careful what you post, but are your friends or others careful? Think Michael Phelps.)

Social Networking Sites Can Affect Employment Searches

10. Your job and/or career may hinge on the decisions you make about what words and photos you post, whom you are friends with online, how well you protect your online profiles, what others post about you, and what kinds of photos you allow to be taken of yourself.

NOTE: I published a brief follow-up to this post in August 2009.

Above List Copyright ©2009 All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted for use in educational settings not-for-profit. Please credit the author and let her know you're using it. Permission NOT granted for electronic reposting or publishing in any other medium without written consent of the author.