Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jesus is Risen, and I Believe...

God works in mysterious ways. This week, He brought a couple of things across my virtual radar and convicted me to share on my blog some truths I believe to the core of my being. These are not truths that have to do with education or technology, but eternity.

So here it is:

  • I believe Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and lived a sinless life, died on the cross as a perfect sacrifice to pay for humanity's sin for all time, and was resurrected from death as proof that God the Father accepted his sacrifice. 
  • I believe that when I leave this life I will go to Heaven and live eternally with God based solely on the sacrifice Jesus paid for me. 
  • I believe that anyone who does not put their faith in Christ's sacrifice will spend conscious eternity separated from God, which will result in eternal torment. In other words, Hell.
The first two things I listed above are nice and warm and fuzzy and easy to say. The last one is not. It is beyond difficult. But it is just as true as the first two things. It is not something I wish on anyone (nor does God), but it is truth, and if I am going to speak the first truths, then the last one must also be spoken.

What things convicted me to post this on my edtech blog?

  • An article from Huffington Post, What if Jesus Really DID Rise? Reading it reminded me that not everyone believes what I believe. I tend to discuss these things only with people who do believe, like me, that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter over 2,000 years ago. But they already know it, so they don't need to hear it. Others do.
  • A video from magician/comedian/entertainer Penn Jillette, an atheist who recounts a meeting with an audience member/fan who gave him a Bible, knowing full well he was an atheist. These words Jillette speaks cut me to the core:
If you believe that there's a Heaven and Hell and people could be going to Hell or not getting eternal life or whatever. And you think that, uh, well it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward. much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize them? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

Why do I think I should post about my Christian faith?

Well, as I said, I felt compelled! But here are some ways I hope God might use this:
  • To demonstrate His love for anyone who comes across this post by exposing them to their need to believe in Jesus's sacrifice to receive eternal life.
  • To hopefully show those who aren't believers in Christ that those of us who proclaim faith in Christ aren't all hate-filled bigots. Those types of religious-folk, unfortunately, are the ones who get most of the media's attention. If you've come here because you are a regular reader of  my blog or follower on Twitter or friend/follower on Facebook, I hope you know enough about me through my previous writings and/or our previous interactions to know that I am not hateful toward anyone.
  • Because as atheist Penn Jillette said, fear of social awkwardness, which I sadly confess I use as an excuse for not sharing my beliefs, should not stop me from telling people that I do believe everlasting life is possible for them. God's asking me to put myself out there. So, here it is!
  • To reassure other believing educators that they aren't out there alone. It can feel lonely sometimes, since we are expected to not speak of our faith in our work environments. But, you aren't alone! There are many of us; see just a few here and here and here and here!
  • To encourage conversation. I don't plan to debate Christianity with anyone (a debate assumes you can change someone's mind; my mind won't be changed, so no sense in debating!). I will, however, converse with people who have honest questions about the Christian faith, or talk with others of different faiths or no faith about how we should all be able to work together.

Going Forward

This blog is primarily about education and educational technology, and it is going to stay that way. So, if you are shocked at or uncomfortable with the topic of my post, please don't worry that you'll be bombarded with such posts in the future. If I become that compelled to write about faith on a consistent basis, I'll start another blog. (That being said, if you are uncomfortable with this post, I hope you'll take time to reflect on why...)

As Easter draws to a close (about 5 more minutes in my part of the world), I will close with words from How Deep the Father's Love for Us which we sang in church this morning:

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

God bless and keep you, my friends!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Can BYOD Narrow the Digital Divide? #SXSWedu

Notes from SXSWedu presentation by Dr. Michael Mills
Follow #BYODchat on Twitter

Nothing is the magic tool for getting our kids where they need to be. But we can use mobile devices to help.

We can no longer depend on textbooks for accurate information. A new state of matter was just discovered in December.

Engagement is key to getting kids involved and increase their learning. It's becoming more socially acceptable to talk about school outside of school because of mobile devices.

Studies have shown that low SES students test scores go up 30% when they have access to mobile devices. Mostly due to increased engagement.

Access is a basic right in our country. Because its about empowerment. Surveys show low SES schools tend to have less access to technology and teachers integrate devices like cell phones at far lower rates.

Students do not use personal devices for academic reasons unless they are prompted. Everyone needs a Yoda or Dumbledore to hone their skills and talents and learn to use the tools.

Instructional objectives must be our primary focus with ample attention toward student engagement.

A BYOD policy is a bridge for low SES students. Gives them access to knowledge that other students might experience in person. Ex: travel

If you are a crappy teacher with bad classroom management who sits at their computer checking email all day, don't do BYOD.

Let the kids be creative and innovative.

TRUST but verify! Students need boundaries but they should be elastic. Kids need teacher guidance. Think Anakin Skywalker vs. Luke Skywalker or the Karate Kid.

Use rubrics. Rubrics are easily updated as tools change. You can do rubrics just for process.

Texas School Budget Cuts: Efficiencies & Impact. #SXSWedu

Notes from presentation at SXSWedu 2013

All reports available on Children at Risk website. You can also follow Children at Risk on Twitter.

Children at Risk - sharing findings from research on impact of budget cuts.

The best public policy we've ever had is high quality education. That requires funding.

We are now 49th in spending per pupil in The United States.

65% of students represented in CAR research on impact of budget cuts.

The types of cuts instituted, like deferred tech upgrades, deferred maintenance, staff attrition, etc, cannot be maintained long term.

Pre-K is the most researched educational practice for long term positive outcomes. It is one of the programs that was cut.

How can we fix this?

Increase funding and equalize per-pupil spending.

Reinstate funding for Pre-K and increase quality standards. We only meet 40% of national standards.