Archive for the ‘Matching Tech’ category

Ways to implement the ISTE Administrator Standards

August 11th, 2014

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has created a set of standards for educational technology applicable worldwide. While there are discrepancies in the availability of technology, five standards for educational leaders help ensure that schools are moving in the right direction for student equity and tech efficiency. I’ve included summaries of those five standards below alongside my personal recommendations on how to implement these standards.

1. Visionary leadership – This is an administrator’s ability to involve all stakeholders in purposeful change, follow through on a strategic plan, and advocate for policies and funding.

Implementing a vision is why we need leaders and the best leaders create opportunities for those impacted by a decision to help create that decision. Involve teachers, students, and families in brainstorming sessions regarding the direction for technology at the campus and district level. It is important when gathering feedback to include those who may not be the most comfortable with technology. Even though they may disagree with you, they will be the ones working with you and potential problems can be resolved early on in the process with shared understanding.

Keeping the change purposeful is also key. Too often it is tempting to implement new technology simply because it is new. Everything that the school does must support the big picture vision and mission of the school, which leads to…

2. Digital age learning culture – The innovations that technology can bring to a school must focus on improving instruction. Educational leaders must also model a learning lifestyle for students and teachers in part by participating in learning communities.

Instruction is what we’re about. It may take on various forms depending upon the style of the teacher and the content of the curriculum, but, at the end of the day, we are about students learning. If an activity – technology included – does not help students learn, cut it.

Modeling positive behaviors in education is crucial. Educational leaders must live out what they expect students and staff to do, otherwise it can be dismissed as hypocritical ideology or chasing a trend. A principal who uses a shared network drive instead of making hundreds of copies for faculty meeting handouts is one simple example of using technology to help the school. Modeling the use of collaboration software (such as Google Drive, Evernote, or One Note) with department chairs will in turn show them through experience how to use technology with their students.

3. Excellence in professional practice – Resources such as time and money must be allocated for educators to engage in professional growth. Educational leaders must also stay current on educational research and emerging trends in order to evaluate which practices to pursue.

Money is tough to allocate when the economy is struggling, and time is a commodity that teachers do not have in excess, so creativity is needed to implement this standard. With regards to time, faculty meetings or weekly staff emails can have a section dedicated to sharing best practices. Experienced teachers can be the best experts and money could be saved on not having to hire an outside presenter or consultant and have more practical applications of technology on a campus by campus basis. Opportunities to use teacher-led workshops for recertification credit must also be available.

To stay current, social media is probably one of the quickest ways to see new trends emerge in technology. The issue will be to sift through what is reliable, what is applicable, and what is worthwhile. There are various blogs and Twitter feeds to follow that emphasize Educational Technology, such as The Digital Shift and Michael Karlin’s The Ed Tech Round Up. Another technique is to follow non-educational tech blogs to get a business world perspective.

4. Systemic improvement – Educational leaders need to collaborate with the staff on their campuses and with other administrators to establish ways of measuring success and to interpret those results for the growth of the campus. Leaders must also develop a sustainable framework for technology which includes recruiting and retaining personnel who use technology effectively.

Measuring success is key in determining whether technology use works towards the mission and vision of the school. Is success defined by student scores on summative assessments? Find the correlation. Is success a reduction in late homework turn-ins? Check to see if the data lines up. Data-based decision making is the reality of modern schools.

A sustainable infrastructure is also essential. It’s not a good investment to send a teacher to a training for them to quit the next year. Ways to build connections between teachers and the community, to find what resonates with employees, are crucial for retaining top talent. Autonomy is also something that teachers may find motivating. This is tough when addressing technology because there are so many things that could potentially go wrong, but the flip must not be forgotten: there is so much good that can happen when teachers take calculated risks to inspire students to be better learners.

5. Digital citizenship – Each advancement in technology provides opportunities to educate students, staff, and other community members on the ethics of technology and to create opportunities for increased cultural understanding.

While the fast-paced development of technology makes it tougher for educators to stay current and opens up new ways for students to break a school’s code of conduct, our students must learn how to use technology ethically. Inappropriate use must still have consequences, but a clear definition of appropriate use must be given. Instances where teachers can leverage a Bring Your Own Device initiative to enhance instruction will replace rules of not allowing devices on campus at all.

One of the best ways to help teachers acclimate to new technology is to give them a choice. Teachers already feel like more and more aspects of their jobs are being dictated by groups that they perceive as outside of their circle of influence. Adding a Bring Your Own Device requirement for every classroom will not be well-received. Highlighting teachers who have implemented it well and sharing those effective lessons and strategies will have the natural progression of increased adoption. It is slower than forcing everyone to do it, but will last longer due to incorporating a teacher’s motivation to look for ways to improve his or her practice.

We run a Bring Your Own Device system at our campus, so if you are interested in how to launch/improve something like that on your own campus, just leave a comment here. Also, Vicki Davis has a great list of BYOD apps/web sites that can help you sift through everything that’s out there. The options are ever-increasing, but her information is a great starting off point.

Smithsonian X 3D Explorer

November 14th, 2013

The Smithsonian is scanning in some of their items from their exhibits and making them 3D models. That’s great because now there will be digital copies that will act as a back-up in case something were to happen to the originals.

But it gets better.

Not only can you browse the 3D models by visiting their website, on some models you can download the 3D model. Let’s say that you have a 3D printer and would like to make a copy of a dinosaur skeleton – now you can! I wonder if anyone will put Lincoln’s face in a video game mod now…

Screencast-O-Matic

August 27th, 2013

When I do my library orientation or teach a technology lesson, I sometimes want to record what I’m doing so that an absent student can follow along. Check out Screencast-O-Matic. It lets you record 15 minutes of footage, add your voice, and download the video as a file to your computer – for free. The trade-off is that it puts a watermark in the corner of your video. Normally screen capture tools put a watermark in the center of the video, which sometimes can confuse the person that you’re trying to help. Screencast-O-Matic seems to be a pretty viable solution. It does require you to run a Java applet – something that makes me nervous – but I haven’t seen anything too questionable. The fact that I can start recording straight from the homepage without requiring a login is a bonus.

PBS’s collection of research on educational technology

November 10th, 2011

There is definitely a push to use technology in education, which makes sense since much of life in the United States involves some form of technology. Throwing technology at students for technology’s sake, though, is not best practice.

That’s where PBS comes in as a great resource with their collection of articles about using technology in education, complete with research as evidence and essays on effective use. If you’re an educator, it’s something you will want to check out by clicking here.

One of my favorite features is a database of technology lessons that you can search by content area. With just a few clicks, I found 78 pages (as of the time of this post) worth of lessons for using technology in Reading and Language Arts classes.

Open Yale courses

August 16th, 2011

Back in 2008, I mentioned iTunes U. The selection of great, free academic content has continued to grow.

Yale partners with iTunes, but also has its own site that is easy to navigate. You can download straight from the site if you’re not a fan of iTunes.

With my phone, I had to go to the downloads page for the course to get the file. The other ways required Flash or QuickTime.

Espresso Book Machine

April 27th, 2009

I get frustrated when I go to a bookstore and they say they have the book at every location except for the one I’m standing at.

I don’t like paying for shipping (or paying a subscription to not pay for shipping).

But have you seen the Espresso Book Machine? It launched on Friday at a Blackwell’s bookstore. You type in which book you want, it binds a new copy while you drink a cup of coffee.

Insane.

Now you don’t have to worry about books being in stock, especially rare/old books.

What will really be interesting is to see how the employees of the 60 branches scheduled to get the machines adapt. Will people look for more recommendations now? Less? There will be less time walking the shelves, straightening titles and all that. What if the employees now had a set-up like an Apple Store Genius Bar?

Guidelines for Blogging/Online Community Assignments

February 10th, 2009

Angela Kemp, one of our 8th grade English teachers, is using part of the library’s Moodle environment to have students discuss more in depth The Diary of Anne Frank. I just started following along and the student insights are amazing. I know that this does not come by accident but by laying out your expectations ahead of time.

Here are her guidelines, reprinted without her permission:

Anne Frank’s legendary diary didn’t start out that way; in fact, its purpose was merely to record the thoughts and feelings of someone who was once just an ordinary teenage girl. Anne Frank had no idea that the sentences she scribbled in her diary would become famous.

The purpose of this project is for you to take some time to explore the world around you in the written word. Instead of writing these thoughts in our journals, I’d like to give you the opportunity to communicate with your peers- especially some of those peers that you normally do not converse with in or out of school.

Before you being your blogging, please take note of some important assignment guidelines:

1) You should be prepared to respond to each prompt in well-developed paragraphs. Please try to elaborate your answers in at least two full paragraphs (5-7 complete sentences) in order to earn a grade of 10 points.

2) “Texting” language is completely unacceptable. Uz it n i will not grade ur work! K?

3) After you have answered a question (in two paragraphs) you are welcome to respond to your classmates. When responding to others, you do not have to write in complete sentences. You may add short comments or questions. For example: “Good point.”

4) Please keep all responses appropriate and respectful. Anything that would not be acceptable in class is unacceptable here.

5) Be brave! I know some of you are nervous about sharing your thoughts in a forum, but just remember that your input is valuable! I am always impressed with the amazing ideas in your journals; this is your chance to share that brilliance with the people you have sat with in class for the last six months!

Newseum

February 6th, 2009

A Science teacher brought this in today, but it could apply to any discipline. Newseum searches the majority of the front pages of newspapers across the country. It reads the RSS feeds from multiple newspaper websites. The nice thing is that it’s the front page at a glance. You don’t have to log in, but if you do want to read more you’ll have to click on the ‘Web Site’ link.

Demoing an interactive whiteboard

February 3rd, 2009

We got two SmartBoards donated to us and I demoed one quickly this morning. Our drama teacher said it looked very much like this.

AZ K-12 Technology Leadership

January 20th, 2009

I’m at a technology conference and teachers/librarians, I totally recommend it. It’s the AZ K-12 Technology Leadership conference put on through NAU. What’s great is that I’m typing from a conference-provided laptop during one of the breaks. The sad thing is that I can’t take home the MacBook. (As a Mac fanboy it’s a lot of fun to see so many Macs here. I haven’t seen one PC yet, and this is a conference talking about pushing the limit of current technology. Interesting…)

One session that has blown my mind are the new features of Google Docs. I had followed this during the beta for Word and Excel files. Now have you seen Presentations and Forms? Why would anyone pay for surveys to be created anymore?

The best part has been hearing from the speakers. We’re hearing from Tony Vincent, Amanda Hughens, and Tim Tyson

The whole point? Find your vision and align everything to that. Whatever students do must be meaningful. Don’t just add technology: an interactive whiteboard used as an interactive blackboard is pointless. Use technology to have students create something that the world has never seen before.