Thursday, March 9, 2017

Protect, Deter, Recover: Data Risks in K12 Schools #SXSWedu

Protect, Deter, Recover: Data Risks in K12 Schools 
SXSWedu 2017 Panel

Hosted by Absolute: Empower K-12 staff, parents and community by learning best-practices for digital citizenship, including device safety and security, cyberbullying and Internet crime. Learn how to promote a healthy environment for students and faculty, including education on device safety and scenarios where they may be at risk; and how to work with local law enforcement to protect devices and data. Harold Reaves, Level V Certified in Homeland Security, shares best practices to protect student-assigned mobile devices and risks regarding social media and the Internet; and education consultant and former IT director can provide real-life scenarios, lessons and best-practices.

Empower (Educate) K12 Staff, Parents, and Community

Students don't think much about safety and security. Parents may think a lot about it but don't necessarily know what to do.

Communities expect we manage devices paid for by their tax money well. There's also an expectation that we protect students when we give them access to devices and send devices home with them. Helping parents have a role and responsibility in this is important.

Use your website and other communication tools to help educate parents with videos and other modes of information.

Show that your organization understands their responsibility by making it a community collaboration to help keep students safe.

Educating community members who are not tech savvy can trickle down and help everyone.

Digital Citizenship

Schools and districts often have curriculum for digital citizenship, but it is just as often not implemented because it's not tested.

Students are connected to devices 24/7. They rarely unplug.

Digital citizenship cannot be taught one time in drive-by lessons. It has to be continually taught, retaught, and revisited.

Do students know they should keep their devices out of sight when they aren't using them to protect them?

Work With Local Law Enforcement to Protect Devices and Data

When doing a big new tech rollout, get local law enforcement involved from the beginning. They can consult with you on how safe your site is where you are storing the devices. Also it's good to establish the communication with them ahead of time in case technology should disappear later.

Publicize to the community the security measures you have in place on district devices.  This lets them know you are being a good steward of the resources and also may help deter theft.

Protect Student-Assigned Mobile Devices

Teach students how to treat them properly: carry them, store them, etc.

Data Risks

Are we teaching data backup? What happens if a child drops and breaks their device. Teach good data stewardship.

Find Partners to Help You With Awareness Programs

Pro-active training strengthens the reputation of your program and builds public confidence. Districts can demonstrate they have taken measures.

Absolute has developed a curriculum for mobile device safety training.

What do you thing is the most common security issue facing students and teachers today?

Device security.

Putting out too much info on the internet. Lack of awareness of how this could endanger them.

Not thinking about how much personal information they are giving over to apps and extensions when they install them. (Think of all the access an extension might ask for when you install it in your browser. Do we ever even read that?)

Recommended video: Privacy is Dead; Get Over It

Online Resources

  • Common Sense Media
  • Digtal Citizenship Webquest
  • Tech Learning
  • Elements of Digital Citizenship
  • Edutopia
  • Microsoft Security and Safety Site
  • Raising a Digital Child

Absolute Resources

  • IDC White Paper
    Student Technology Analytics: How K12 Leaders Make the Case for Better Technology in the Classroom
  • Safe Schools Program
    Absolute Safe Schools Program Helps Promote Safe Digital Citizenship

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Personalized Learning and the Tech to Make It Happen #SXSWedu

Personalized Learning and the Tech to Make It Happen
SXSWedu 2017 Panel

One of the most promising ideas in education right now is personalized learning—providing instruction that is meaningful and contextualized for every student. The rapid growth of edtech is making it easier to transform schools and classrooms into environments that support individualized learning, but success requires a thoughtful, strategic approach. Join education experts working with schools all over the country to pilot new technologies in support of personalized learning. Educators will learn how to replicate success happening in cities like Chicago and Boston and edtech practitioners will get real-world insights on the way technology is being used in today’s classrooms.

What does personalized learning mean?

It's an umbrella term for a variety of approaches to learning. It is the next phase of differentiation which brings in student voice and choice.

It's an opportunity for the highest achievers to take off and students who are struggling to move forward. To identify what each learner really needs.

Understanding students in terms of strengths, needs, and interests. Start with the child first instead of the curriculum. Just because I'm born in a certain year I don't necessarily need to be in a group of students my same age. Also understanding that learning is social. Go beyond the four walls of the school to connect.

It is not students sitting in front of individual computers with headphones all the time.

Where do schools start?

A team of teachers with a supportive principal that are going to pilot for the rest of the school. If they are successful, others will follow.

Find your WHY first. These are curriculum and student experience decisions.

It's a paradigm shift. No longer teaching to the middle. It's about getting to know kids and what they need.

One problem is schools and districts don't think about the plumbing first. Are 30 computers accessing WiFi going to crash the network? Are the computers older than the students? Technology funding needs to be a priority with built in refresh cycles. Make sure you know what your infrastructure is now and where it needs to go.

Don't forget student privacy policy. What will happen with the student data? Make sure it won't be sold.

You need a trusted adviser to assess what's going on.

It's not really the technology, it's the constructs around it. The vision.

McCormick Middle School in Boston had challenges with their technology. But teachers embraced working with an edtech product to understand exactly what they needed.  Their interest and passion has resulted in the district investing more in their school. They are moving along a continuum to get closer to student voice and choice and ownership of their learning. With more data, students were able to take on more ownership than they had when grades were the only means of assessment.

Is 100% student voice and choice crucial for personalized learning to happen?

Sometimes the pendulum swings too far. Developmental age is important in these decisions. Rigor and top quality work are still important. Teachers must still be mentors, coaches personal trainers.

We still need to set learning goals. Unfettered choice can leave students not knowing where to start or end.

What are some of the pitfalls?

It's hard to know what's going to change about your teaching before you begin using new tools, such as adaptive learning technologies. It's messy work.

It's more than the teacher. The school board, superintendent, assistant super of academics, principal, etc, need to access the data and use it to make decisions.

You can add too many tools to the menu. You have to refer to your why and keep a coherent strategy. What are you using tech and nontech and clean the closet of tools that aren't helping. SIMPLIFY.

We over-invest in the tool and the technology. Make sure you are investing heavily in professional learning.

There may be 1000s of edtech tools out there, but only a handful have shown to add value. Stop buying CRAP and look for robust tools. 

Schools need to be interested in and make use of research.

Paradigms for rapid-cycle trials and feedback on tools need to be used so developers can keep the tools relevant and make them stick.

A lot of the work is change in teacher philosophy and practice.

Test scores cannot be the end all be all of judging program/product efficacy.

What are some challenges?

Defining efficacy and going beyond the test.

Standards don't need to be relaxed for this to work.

There will probably be a backward slide in achievement in the beginning.

How should tech support personalized learning in schools?

It should allow you to scale personalized learning by bringing some part of the instructional process to where the student is.

It should drive human interaction. A deep assumption that there is a teacher or adult involved and there is high quality interaction with them. Data should be empowering the teacher to meet the needs of the students.

What are your favorite tools for personalized learning?

  • Lexia learning in elementrary grades.
  • Think Circa for writing.
  • SeeSaw
  • Padlet

What does tech infused personalized learning look like in practice?

A busy classroom with lots of things going on at the same time!

Teachers can know a kid is having a question/struggle before they even raise their hand.

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

CS for All: Teaching CS in Elementary Schools #SXSWedu #CSForAll

CS for All: Teaching CS in Elementary Schools 
SXSWedu 2017 Workshop

As the Computer Science for All initiative jump starts around the world, more students in grades 6-12 have the opportunity to take computer science courses. Early exposure to computer science is critical to addressing equity in technology education, so how do we ensure that we are meeting the needs of a diverse pipeline of K-5 students who are ready, willing, and excited to learn CS? Join representatives from the NYCDOE CS4All team, the SF Unified School District, and the Austin Independent School District to explore specific pedagogical approaches, equity and implementation strategies, and lesson plans and resources to infuse CS into the elementary school classroom.

Slides & Actvities:

Table Discussion: What are the equity issues in computer science education where you live?

  • Access to teachers who are knowledgeable about CS and its opportunities.
  • In a low SES district, teachers worry so much about the basics they don't think there is time/need to move on to more advanced concepts.

Unplugged Activities: Programming without devices.

  • Have groups of students create a list of steps to accomplish something. (Ex: How to make a PB & J sandwich.) Have other groups try to follow the steps and/or debug instructions.
  • Relay Programming: In a relay race, have groups of students write directions on how to recreate a graphic.
Paired Programming
  • Using a tool like Code Studio, students work in pairs. One drives the device, and the other navigates (gives directions). Students switch roles frequently to complete simple programs.
Interdisciplinary CS With Robot Mouse
  • Video of Robot Mouse:
  • Program Robot Mouse to navigate on a grid of numbers to the sum of two rolled dice. Challenge: Change to multiplication.
  • Program Robot Mouse to navigate on a grid of letters to spell a word with greater than 3 letters by navigating to each letter in sequence. Challenge: Perform an action on each letter.
  • Program Robot Mouse to navigate a map of your community.
  • Program two Robot Mice to perform symmetrical movements.

I enjoyed this session! The hands-on helped me visualize using CS in core subjects!

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Innovating Instruction: Teachers as Designers #SXSWedu

Innovating Instruction: Teachers as Designers
SXSW 2017 Case Study

Teacher need a bridge to navigate the extreme changes in learning and schools.

Instructional innovation is needed. Just adding technology does not change the fundamental way teachers work in the classroom.

One meta-analysis of research shows that

  • It takes 49 hours of it to impact instruction in the classroom
  • It works best when it is delivered in the situation where it is going to be used.

Teachers as designers is a fundamental component of school change. We often ask teachers to design without giving them the supports they need to become designers.

National Science Foundation worked in two schools over the course of 3 1/2 years. 
  • Had a vision for inquiry (elem school), exploration (middle school), and project based learning.
  • But were struggling with implementing at a deep level.
  • Three cycles of research and design to refine the approach. 

Approach became Design, Situate, Lead
  • Design- backwards design, enrich content knowledge, leverage technology
  • Situate - No "one size fits all" for curriculum design. Contextualize teacher learning, model effective practice (co-teach, observe, be observed), individualize support based on what teachers need. 
  • Lead - administration must envision change so they can support what is happening, empower leadership at all levels, sustain a culture for innovation (what changes need to be made to sustain the work)

Finding 1. Teachers as Designers
  • Teachers can be designers. It's a phrase that's thrown around a lot.
  • Collaboration, documentation, and reflection on planning increased
Finding 2. Importance of the Inquiry Stance
  • Pursue big questions.
  • Facilitators need to establish trust
Finding 3. Building Teachers' Capacities as Leaders
  • Need support of principals and administrators
  • Teachers shared within and beyond their school
Finding 4. Critical Role of Principals - Structural Changes at the School -Level
  • Need to encourage and showcase teachers and their efforts.

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Helping Parents Guide Kids' Media Use #SXSWedu

Helping Parents Guide Kids' Media Use 
SXSWedu 2017 Panel

What makes for effective parent engagement around media and technology?

Parents and caregivers are looking to schools for advice on their kids' media use.

Lisa Nielsen: Rewrote NYC Dept. of Ed. social media and AUP guidelines to make it more friendly for teachers and students. For example, infographics for kids 13+, activity books for students 12 and younger. Also translated into multiple languages.

NYC materials are available for free if other schools; districts want to customize.

Parent coordinators at NYC schools help spread the message.

As a result, more teachers in NYC are using social media to share the story of their schools.

Brian Romero Smith, FWISD - 23,000 high school students in 1:1 tech initiative. Brought parents into the schools for the initiative and had sessions in English and Spanish. Got lots of questions about filtering and social media.

Started encouraging positive digital citizenship and social media use. Created a resource website for parents. Included online presentations from students and took students out to speak with parents.

Created community events. Included teaching businesses how to boost their social media use, and taught tips and tricks to parents to help them become role models for their children. (FOOD attracts people to these events!)

Brought in experts via Google Hangouts or Skype for parents to hear.

Rachelle Wooten, Dig Learn Specialist in Ft. Bend ISD - Found that if students participate and facilitate workshops, more parents will show up.

FBISD - Why not use your LMS to help provide ongoing learning/resources to parents? Rachelle hopes to do this as FBISD moves forward with an LMS in the next year.

Kelly Mendoza, Common Sense Media - CSM offers free resources to parents and educators, including rating edtech tools for learning and media resources for parents. Known for their digital citizenship curriculum.

Digital teaching strategies offers bite size PD for teachers.

CSM also advocates for what's best for kids in education and media.

Programs for parents is called Connecting Families. Started in 2008 and has been through many iterations. Endorsed by National PTA.

Most popular download is their Family Media Agreement.

CSM has a widget you can embed on your website to provide fresh content to parents weekly from their blog.

How to encourage parent participation in events:

  • Provide prizes for parents and students for participating.
  • FEED the parents! Food is the best.
  • Have kids do the talking and drive the show.
  • Consider live streaming so parents who can't come in person can view the program later.
  • Survey parents at the start of the year to see what their concerns are. Create programming around their concerns. 
  • Share info via your school or district Twitter, Facebook, Instagram 
  • Use multiple channels to reach parents.

How do we empower teachers to play a role?
  • In Ft. Bend, students have to participate in an Internet lesson once per nine weeks, facilitated by advisory teacher.
  • Embed content in LMS so teachers just need to facilitate the discussion. Badge teachers who engage at a higher level!
  • Have a team of people on campus dedicated to digital citizenship and spread the lessons around so multiple teachers are talking with kids about their digital lives.

Make sure you also emphasize the good things that can happen around a positive digital footprint and encourage parents to help their students build one!

Find someone else who is doing this well, and partner with them to support you as you get your parent education initiatives going.

Don't beat yourself up for what you haven't done in this area, but start where you are and do what you can!

Remember it's not just about devices or media or screen time, but what's being done with those tools that matters.

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Learning, Memory, & Knowledge Post-Google #SXSWedu

Learning, Memory, & Knowledge Post-Google 
SXSWedu 2017 Featured Session

Andrew Smith Lewis 
Cerego - Co-Founder & CEO

Seth Godin famously argued that there is “zero value in memorizing anything ever again.” In the post-Google, mobile era, where information is constantly at our fingertips, this may very well be true, but how does this cultural shift away from memorization actually impact knowledge and learning? In fact, memory may be more important than ever in role as the foundational knowledge from which our learning (and information seeking) takes shape. In this talk, Andrew Smith Lewis will look at the science of memory and how technology is changing the cultural value of memory and knowledge. He’ll also explore the tradeoffs we may be making in the post-Google era as how we learn evolves.

I love Google. It's Like the Brain I don't have!
Some people hate Google.
We all have a relationship with Google!

Some people believe Google is replacing our brains.

Is Google making us smarter or dumber?

Learning - process of turning info into knowledge
Knowledge -
Memory - glue between learning and knowledge

Have we outsourced our brain to a purposefully built ad server that makes $70 billion a year?

There's a lot of "stuff" on the internet. Over 1 billion websites as of 2014.

Ad serving's purpose is to make money.

Some fake information is harmless (Elvis is alive.) Some is very harmful (fake news).

Neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to learn and rewire

  • People who are blind have increased activity in the visual cortex when engaging in braile reading or music
  • London Taxi drivers
Google effect
  • Google becomes external memory
  • We now remember where to find info instead of the info itself
We now live in an age where we no longer value thinking about things deeply but value information instead.

We are less effective when we multitask. What we are really doing is task switching w/out paying full attention to any one task. This creates continuous partial attention and that's bad for memory.

Repetition is key for memory. Short term memory - repeat to remember something. Long term memory - remember to repeat.

The act of recollection helps strengthen memory. 

There is a chemical basis for the change we are undergoing. Dopamine gives us the tingle when we find something we like on the Internet. This creates a dopamine loop. We develop a tolerance to dopamine and need more/higher levels. This causes us to want to search for more information instead of building a solid foundation of knowledge. We're rewiring our brains to find information rather than think about information.

Seth Godin & Eric Schmidt
Both arguing that memory can be outsourced.
"Zero value in memorizing anything ever again."
"Anything worth memorizing is worth looking up."

Memorization transmits culture.
Without a foundation of knowledge, we get unchallenged facts.

Ways Google is Making Us Smarter

  • Access to information.
  • Information is organized.
  • Education used to be based on location. Now it can be anywhere.
  • Helps us find experts and expertise. Ex: Nate Silver
  • Shift to culture of learning
  • Unlocks the ability to take learning to new levels of complexity. (Think calculators!)
Education is what people do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself.  - Joe Ito

Girl teaches herself to dubstep:
  • Watch over and over - memorization
  • Practice practice practice - repetition
  • Learner Agency - learn what you want
People can shape their own brains. Ultimate personalization in learning.

Cognitive Bias - We see what we want to see. But if we understand this, we can push back against it. And as Google and Facebook to push back against it, too!

Data + Right Approach = Better Learning. Design experiences to help build and retain knowledge.

Learning is about compounding. The more you know about something, the easier and easier it is to learn more about it.

Would you want to remember everything? We can outsource to Google. But memory is essential to creativity.

We can combine ubiquitous access to information and leverage it for learning and creativity. There is no creativity without memory.

Educators should focus on the how, helping students learn how to deal with information. And how to find it. (For example, it doesn't make sens to ask Google, "When is my mother's birthday?")

Thought Question: How do we decide what's worth memorizing?

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

The New Economy of Cheating #SXSWedu

The New Economy of Cheating

SXSWedu 2017 Panel

Today’s college student has more ways than ever to cheat. A simple online search turns up hundreds of websites that promise quick turnarounds and guaranteed A's on research papers and one-off assignments. Savvy students can subscribe to sites that post notes, quizzes, and exams for thousands of classes. And, if they pay a little more money, they can have somone take their entire class for them. The sites are part of a booming business that is operating right under the nose of colleges. In this session, two experts who have tracked the industry’s rise examine the shady operators, their threat to higher education and what can be done to stop them.

How College Students Cheat

  • Contract cheating is HUGE and a lot of money is made off of it.
  • People who work for these companies get about half of the fees that are paid for the purchased papers.
  • You can pay people to take entire online classes for you.
  • Ultius - Custom writing, editing, business writing -
  • Craig's List is also a popular resource for writing services. 
  • The best sites promise the grades you want. If you're a C student, you don't want to turn in A and B papers.
  • Contract cheating companies help students rationalize the cheating.
  • Cheating is often spontaneous. 
  • People under report cheating, so it's difficult to get good statistics. 

How to Stop It? (I.E. Keep it to an acceptable level of corruption.)

  • Parents need to ask more than just "How are your grades?" Interact  with your kids on personal levels and ask them if they are enjoying themselves. Are they happy. What are they learning.
  • Instructors need to change the way they are teaching.
  • 17 states have legislation against these cheating companies. But no one has been charged with violating these laws to date.
  • Accreditors need to look at academic integrity as part of accreditation.
  • Universities need to find a way to screen applications better. Students who are successful using essays written for them to get into college will have a tendency to continue cheating.

Countering Contract Cheating
  • Assume good people making bad decisions due to stress or other factors
  • Keep talking about it!
  • Educate students on fairness, importance of learning, integrity.
  • Support students. If they are writing their papers at 2:00 AM? If so, is there support for them at this time? (Writing centers? Etc?)
  • Promote academic integrity. Cheating services market themselves. Foreign students might be led to believe this is the way things are done here. 
  • Design Assessments with Integrity. If we have quality teaching and learning, it will help mitigate the issue.
  • Do benchmark writings in class so you get to know student writing.
  • Are 20 page papers with APA citations necessary for most students? Are we still asking the same questions on the same topics that we asked decades ago?

The ultimate answer is about changing the way we teach and assess learning. What is best in ensuring quality teaching and learning?

Our society is built on a foundation of trust. We trust people to fix our cars, prepare our meals, operate on us. Say to a cheater, "There are a lot of dishonest people in the world. If we continue to allow this, we won't be able to function as a civilization. So these behaviors are not acceptable here in our community."

Employers need to begin measuring competencies when interviewing perspective employees.

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

App Overkill: Going Beyond the Buzz Words #SXSWedu

App Overkill: Going Beyond the Buzz Words
SXSWedu 2017 Panel

  • Jena Draper, CEO, CachOn Inc
  • Carl Hooker, Director of Innovation & Digital Learning, Eanes ISD
  • P.H. Mullen Jr., Arc Capital Development
  • Adam Phyall, Director Technology & Media Services, Newton County School System, Covington GA

Oh oh! Mr. Hooker says this panel is going to include lots of interaction. This may impact my ability to take notes!

Freemium apps account for over 80% of apps and tools in schools today.

In the past finding tools was top down, but teachers are increasingly coming back from conferences or doing their own research and bringing tools back to school with them.

It's important to build the WHY for using apps/digital resources. Teachers need to know the value-add of the tool if you want it to be adopted.

There's a huge gap between what's being designed by edtech companies and what is happening in classrooms and what classrooms need. In classroom use cases and research is of paramount importance.

Good resources for finding quality digital resources and apps:

  • Students
  • EdCamp
  • PLN on Twitter
  • Educator Blogs

When selecting tools and resources:
  • Ask what the core functionality of the app is. And what you want it to do.
  • Look for multiple options.
  • Does the product work year after year? Can it continue to be used as students get older, change schools, etc?

Knowing if apps are being used and being used well:

  • It's important to track use AND impact on student achievement.
  • How do we define use? Is it just logging in? Or is it tie on task?
  • Is it being used only during the school day or is it being accessed after hours?
  • Campuses often purchase systems and districts need to use data to show them if the money is being used wisely or not.
  • If what you bought is/isn't being used, what other tools are being used?
  • CatchOn ( is a tool launching tonight at SXSWedu which will help districts obtain data on the use of their digital tools.

Once you have the data, what do you do with it?

  • Administrators: Ask informed questions of your staff. Why is the tool not being used? Is it too difficult? Is it not meeting the need? Then take answers to the next level. Expect vendors to help and improve. 
  • Teacher: Data should confirm what you've already observed with your students. Look for anomalies and use the data to improve your students' educational experience. 
  • Vendor: Find the breakpoints in utilization and see what is needed to fill the gaps. Data should be used to improve the apps and the classroom experience. 
  • IDEAL: Share the data between schools/districts and support one another in better use.
  • Be careful not to use the data to hit teachers on the head. Use it to open conversations and give teachers and students voice. What other tools are they using instead? Or what do they need to help them implement better.
  • Data is the middle piece in the efficacy discussion, not the end all be all.

Closing Thoughts:

Consolidation is happening rapidly in the EdTech market. Those of us in education can impact how this takes place.

USE DATA to make what you are doing better and fuel innovation.

Make sure you hold vendors accountable for their products functioning the way they should and the way you need them to.

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Designing Organizations to Support Tech on Campus #SXSWedu

Designing Organizations to Support Tech on Campus
SXSWedu 2017 Panel

  • Kimberley Barker, Librarian for Digital Life, University of Virgina
  • Ben Bederson, Assoc Provost of Learning Initiatives, University of Maryland
  • Lauren Owens, Associate Director, Online Learning Initiative, University of Pennsylvania
  • Kristin Palmer, Director for Online Learning, University of Virginia
  • Y. J. Kim, Researcch Scientist in the Learning Systems Lab, MIT 

What is your mission?

Palmer: Make sure all initiatives map to the cornerstone plan at their institution.

Kim: Transform teaching & learning at MIT around the globe through the use of digital technology.

Owens: Impact tech enhanced education on campus and beyond. MOOCs, technology infusion projects, online masters or pathways to credit, research.

Bederson: Inspires & supports effective teaching, equitable teaching, efficient teaching, and engaging teaching. 

Interesting (to me, Sandy) that some digital learning groups/departments were created in the wake of Coursera. Applies to U. Maryland and U Penn.

Pros & Cons of Organizational Structure

Lead with pedagogy first. Humans still learn by the same mechanisms they always have. Must focus on evidence based practices as we incorporate technology. Key value is gaining credibility with faculty. Not trying to sell an approach.

Pros at U Penn are a "top down" blessing from the Provost in reaching across the different campus departments and schools. Allows work for interdisciplinary projcects. But it is difficult for people who don't work with them directly to understand what they do.

It's interesting to me (Sandy) that there is confusion over who helps with what between these learning departments and the IT departments at the campuses. Just like K-12!

There is difficulty in reaching faculty because professors are often in silos of their individual schools.

Notes from the General Discussion and Audience Questions

To get uninterested teachers using technology, start with a need and show how tech can meet it. Make yourself available. Also, have events with best practice sharing. Meet people where they are, face-to-face.

This may seem obvious: The tech must work well, be documented well in understandable language, and be supported.


Strategic approaches to communication helps. Know where your audience is. Email? Twitter? Can't guarantee people will read, but every communication should have a value add. Think of the people you are trying to reach as a customer base. You have to get the "customer" interested in what you have to offer.

Engage the expertise of faculty to assess if tech you are using is effective.

It's difficult to assess overall efficacy when data is not transparent. Institutional reputation is at stake in higher ed. Student privacy also has to be protected.

Analyzing tech use should help us assess teaching effectiveness. Maybe faculty will be knocking down the doors of those who can help them teach better with tech!

Some universities, like MIT, will be looking to reach more into K-12 and across the globe to bring education to more people.

The voice of the student will be increasingly strong in helping figure out next steps in where technology needs to go in education.

U. Penn seeing push back form students in flipped classrooms. It's more work for students, even though studies show they learn more from it. Also movement toward active learning in the classroom.

U. Maryland students pushing for reduced textbook costs (which could mean more digital content) and a repository of historical syllabi so they can make more informed choices in their courses. Otherwise, they just want the technology to work!

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Replace Testing with Learning #SXSWedu

Replace Testing with Learning

SXSWedu 2017 Panel

1. Assessment validity is always contextualized in purposes and uses.

2. Large-scale summative assessments have a role, but that role has expanded well beyond what these tests can do.

3. We need to be honest about what these tests can and can't do.

4. Can we use more institutionally-based assessments to also serve accountability purposes? Sounds simple, right?
     a. Long history of accountability purposes subverting instructional uses.

5. The New Hampshire model. PACE Pilot. A common task is required of students in grade levels that don't have state assessments.

Assessment does not have to be end-of-year, multiple choice tests. Assessment is evidence of learning.

Technology can help with mastery based curriculum. For example, multiple step problems can be used to assess student acquisition of knowledge/skills along the way. Why throw away data acquired by adaptive systems. Could it not be used for accountability?

Progress monitoring must be easy to understand for instructors and administrators.

Unintended Consequence: Have to be careful so kids don't think the things they are doing all the time are "the test."

We get stuck thinking the only way to find out what a student knows is to give them a test.

Assess comes from the Latin "to sit beside." What about evidence based observations of learning by educators?

We got into a trap with large-scale assessments because we pretended they could do everything. We don't want to get into a similar trap with a "new way of assessing." A system of assessments is more likely to give us a more complete picture.

The kind of assessment we need: If you didn't score the task, it would still be an excellent instructional activity.

**************************************************************************************** All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Good, Bad, & Ugly: Blended Learning Effectiveness #SXSWedu

Good, Bad, & Ugly: Blended Learning Effectiveness
SXSWedu 2017 Debate

  • Julia Freeland Fisher, Director of Education Research, Christensen Institute
  • Lisa Hansel,  Advisor, Knowledge Matters
  • Saro Mohammed (Moderator), Partner, The Learning Accelerator

Personalized learning is one of true transformational opportunities in education.

Q1: Is personalized learning a measurable framework?

Start with the definition.

Personalized learning - Anything from personal development/interests (hobbies, individual pursuits) all the way through to traditional coursework which includes courses offered online when it isn't offered in person at the student's campus.

Public education has to meet the needs of civil society. Everyone pays in whether they have students in school or not.

  • Create Informed Voters
  • Serve as serious jurors
  • A subset of people who will participate in the political process as leaders/legislators
  • Need to know enough science to think about global warming, history to understand international relations, etc, in a broad base of knowledge
  • Need to be capable of life-long learning
Large swaths of the education community have a bad understanding of what skills students need to think critically. Critical thinking is grounded in knowledge bases. 

For the sake of civil society, our young people need to finish high school with a massive base of knowledge.

Can we have personalized learning environments that are ineffective? (Yes!)

With blended learning, what we can ask is if a particular suite of tools in a particular environment is effective. Just because there is technology in a classroom, doesn't mean it is an effective learning environment.

Measuring personalized learning is much more difficult to do. What dimensions should we use to measure personalized learning? Are we leaving something out when we choose these dimensions? What about wrap-around services that students might need to be successful in an personalized environment.

Q2: What would effectiveness look like in personalized/blended learning?

Are we measuring growth at an individual student level? When we are answering that question, then we can answer if learning is effective.

Are students successful academically and personally? (Success Schools redesigned their curriculum when their graduates were making it to college but not through college.)

Standards are not enough. Let's get serious about defining a core of content, that once it is mastered, you are a graduate of a public school in the USA.  EX: Shouldn't every child in the US know and study the Constitution? In whatever language they need? At whatever level of facilitation they require.

Without a shared core of basic knowledge across the disciplines, purely personalized/blended learning will lead to communication breakdown.

Do we cover the basics more effectively and put the rest of the time toward the personalized learning? Or do we cover the basics using more effective tools and weave personalization in? 

Q3: How should we be measuring effectiveness?

Focus on individualized pacing instead of just teaching to the middle. This requires clarity in standards for outcomes.

A real fear: With real personalized pacing/learning, we will become ok with some students always being behind.

Students who come in ahead should be able to finish the core curriculum early and then pursue purely personal learning until ready to go on to higher education.

Assess tools by use case as opposed to features and functionality. 
  • Ex: This works for a student who is struggling with place value. This works well for a student who tests well in reading but struggles with every day decoding and comprehension.

Open Responses to Audience Questions

How do you assess with rigor beyond "the test"?

Other forms of assessment beyond "the test" - 
  • Performance assessment, rubrics for grading (time it takes teachers to do this is enormous). 
  • Citizen assessment - present projects to experts in the field for critique

Find a way to connect students with similar interests across the globe in learning groups so they can collaborate/debate/discuss what they are learning.

How do you bring student agency and voice into blended programs to ensure that the tech empowers rather than simply delivers content differently?

Look for things that deliver a "but, for" - But for my involvement in this, this would not exist.

Whatever we are doing with tech should be empowering teachers and students to do more, have richer experiences OFFLINE.

How do you factor culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy into the blended environment?

Content from multiple cultures can be incorporated into blended/personalized learning. Designing for culturally relevant instruction is much more difficult.

Schools, whether we like it or not, are forming our kids identities. Social/emotional learning and networking beyond the school building with mentors and role models they can relate to is important.

*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Next Generation Parent Engagement #SXSWedu

Next Generation Parent Engagement
SXSWedu 2017 Panel

  • Mike Fee, Spotlight Education, @spotlighted
  • Troy Neal, YES Prep, @jarheadtn
  • Vidya Sundaram, Family Emgagement Lab (GreatSchools), @vidya_sundaram
  • Jeff Wayman (Moderator), Wayman Services, @WaymanDataUse

If schools don't tell their story, someone else will!

Q1 for Panelists: How do you see parent engagement?

Parent engagement is crucial. Research shows everything goes better when parents are engaged, from operation of the school to student learning & achievement. It is working in small pockets, but we have yet to find anything that works at scale.

Family engagement needs to be something that schools and families do together, not something the school does to the family.

Q2: What is hard about parent engagement?

Language barriers make engagement hard. We should recognize/encourage the things families do at home, not just whether/when they are showing up at school.

Devoting time to parent engagement is difficult. One successful school in California (Garfiled Elementary) has a full-time parent engagement specialist paid for by philanthropic dollars.

Meeting parents on their time. Teachers have a full time job. Parents have full time jobs.

Q3: How are you addressing parent engagement?

Technology can help support communication when schedules don't match up. Channels that parents and teachers want to use might be different, though. Parents might like texts, but teachers might like email. Also there can be language barriers. Sundaram has software to help bridge these gaps.

Fee is using proprietary software to deliver content to parents. Data from assessments, SIS, turned into personalized videos that show up on parents' mobile devices. Also gives ideas for what they can do to address issues.

Neal: YES prep uses quality data and provides it to parents. He is also starting a private venture around providing parents with similar data.

More Thoughts During Open Questions:

Keep information personalized. And keep it short and easily digestible. In a format that parents want.

Push out two or three questions to parents that they can ask their kids every day!

Remember, some people gravitate toward numbers, and others gravitate toward descriptive text. This is important to remember when sharing data.

Trust and mutual respect and meaningful relationships have to be built between parents and schools for any information to become meaningful. Info sharing/technology should be in service of building the relationship.

Some parents don't understand the educational system. Some are afraid to engage because they don't understand it or because of the current political climate. These are barriers that need to be overcome.

Top things families want to know about their children in school:

  • How their child is doing academically
  • Key skills their child is supposed to learn
  • How they can support their child's learning

Sundaram:: Email open rates are 15% industry-wide. So email is going to be very challenging for driving engagement. Text messages have a high response rates as high as 50-60%. Granular/personalized information sent by text has high promise.

For many parents, their phone is their internet. Personalized information is key.

When something has the child's name on it, the teacher's name, etc, parents are more apt to engage.

How do you measure family engagement? First, you have to identify the goal. Increased student attendance? Increased parent attendance at functions? Increased involvement with learning in the home? And is the participation really connected to improved student outcomes?

  • This is a complicated question!!!
Academic Parent/Teacher Teams (APTT) - Model where teachers and parents come together to set goals around student learning. Training included to help support student achievement goals. Check out through WestEd.

Families have limited time too. They want to know that what they are doing with their time is important. They can't do it all. Is what schools are doing to engage families going to directly support student learning?

Oakland Unified School District - Took key measures in subjects on standards-based report card and translated them to video report cards in the parents' language. Mike Fee's company produces this software.

Rule Number One: Try Everything! The more avenues you use, the more parents you are going to reach.

Know your audience. What technology do they have access to. How do they want to receive communication?

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.