Why allow ed-tech access? ‘We owe it to our students’

The administrative team uses iPads to conduct classroom walkthroughs, and data are recorded and analyzed using Teachscape Walk. The district also promotes paperless environments. We do our very best to take notes, communicate with stakeholders, and store and access files in the cloud. NMHS is in the process of becoming paperless through the targeted use of ZippSlip. Other apps used to streamline administration include Evernote, Dropbox, Classlink Launchpad, DocuSign Ink, PocketCloud, Delicious, and Diigo.

Social media also has become an indispensable administrative tool to enhance communications, improve public relations, and establish a positive brand presence. This has been accomplished through the creation and consistent use of a Twitter account (@NewMilfordHS) and Facebook page. The school also has established YouTube and Flickr accounts. The use of social media has allowed us to form strategic partnerships with companies and stay abreast of the latest trends and developments in the world of educational technology. As principal, I regularly use social media to advance my knowledge through professional growth and the formation of a Personal Learning Network (PLN). I can be found on Twitter (@NMHS_Principal), Google+, LinkedIn, Blogger, Flickr, Pinterest, etc.

Through the formation of a Professional Growth Period, staff members now have the time during the day to pursue innovation and integrate technology. The result has been an increase in effective use of technology without the use of mandates or directives. Some teachers have used this time to work on the flipped approach to learning with Adobe Captivate, while others have learned how to blog—with a full rollout to all classes anticipated this year. We’ve also saved precious funds by implementing a BYOD initiative and by using Skype to hold video conferences for a fraction of the cost.

What ed-tech project are you most proud of, and why?

I am most proud of the BYOD initiative that is now in its second year. This is not only a cost-effective means to integrate technology, but also a critical factor in teaching students about digital responsibility, citizenship, and productive ways to use their devices. We have been able to overcome many of the challenges of implementing a program like this through professional development, self-directed education, partnerships, and a common vision for use.

What’s your best ed-tech advice to colleagues?

Look for solutions instead of excuses when it comes to integrating technology to transform school culture. Stop fighting the idea of putting technology in the hands of students. The hallways, classrooms, and lunchrooms should be places where students have access to learning opportunities.

Instead of keeping technology at bay, commit to finding a way to bring it safely into the harbor. Fear is very powerful and often inhibits change and innovation. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do something every day that frightens you.” Unlimited access to technology can be a frightening endeavor. Find a way to make it work. We owe it to our students to allow them to function and learn in the technology-rich world they know. We owe it to them to provide them with the opportunity to create more, research responsibly, behave ethically, think divergently, and evolve consistently. We need to learn and evolve with them.

eSchool News Staff

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