Educating parents of the Siri generation

In our digital world, some parents may feel lost at sea. Here’s what they need to know

[Ed. note: Carl Hooker will deliver a related session on digital parenting at this year’s ISTE conference on Monday June 29. Previous ISTE coverage has focused on iPads and coding and keynoter Josh Stumpenhorst.]

digital-parentsWhat ever happened to the good old days? When I was a kid I used to listen to music my parents didn’t like and stay out riding my bike until the street lights came on. Today, our kids have scheduled playdates and a steady stream of organized activities, and spend the rest of their time connecting to others online. We no longer live in an analog world, yet why do we think our parenting should look the same as it did back then?

As an administrator in a one-to-one mobile device district, I’ve seen firsthand how access to devices can disrupt learning for both good and bad. But we forget that this disruption also occurs at home when the students take their device home. Our teachers hopefully have hours and hours of support and training for integrating these tools in the classroom, but what help are parents getting?…Read More

The 10 questions to ask before you start your one-to-one program

Asking the right questions can make all the difference, says a one-to-one pro.

questions-one-to-oneWhen preparing for one-to-one programs, schools today spend too much time thinking about the device and not enough time on why they’re launching a one-to-one program in the first place.

That was one of the key takeaways of a one-to-one themed session given by Ann McMullan–former executive director of educational technology at Klein ISD in Texas who now works as an ed tech consultant–at the Annual CUE 2015 conference in Palm Springs last week.

“If you have the money, ordering the devices is easy,” she said. “The No. 1 challenge is: How do you make life inside today’s classroom relevant to the students’ lives outside the classroom, and prepare them for their tomorrow? We need to think about students being creators of content, not just consumers.”…Read More

True tech integration starts with learning goals

The real challenge is not integrating technology effectively. It’s developing a vision for technology use

vision-goalsThe other day I was working with a group of elementary school teachers on lesson planning with technology. They were introducing some new vocabulary words to their fourth grade students and were looking for some ideas. As we began, they said very little and it was clear were expecting me to introduce some new tools and apps that they might adopt in their classrooms.

Instead, I asked them a question: How can you be sure that students understand the vocabulary? Over the next several minutes we discussed ways in which the teachers would be certain that students knew and understood the new vocabulary words. One of the teachers offered that if the students really understood a vocabulary word they would be able to find and identify a relevant and appropriate picture depicting the word.

Another mentioned that if the students understood the vocabulary word they would be able to identify a recorded description of the word amongst recordings of other words. So, we began our technology integration process by envisioning learning activities that would demonstrate student mastery of curriculum content.…Read More

A one-to-one program done slowly—and right

Superintendent Steven Webb’s successful one-to-one rollout could serve as a roadmap for districts

webb-leadership

Dr. Steven Webb’s rise as a visionary leader in K-12 education is as much a credit to his listening skills as it is to his leadership skills. Before the board of Vancouver Public Schools adopted the strategic plan for the district’s digital transformation in 2008, they did extensive public outreach to ensure that every community in the district had an opportunity to be heard. “What’s happening at our district isn’t my vision,” remarks Webb. “It isn’t the board’s vision. It’s the community’s vision for their children.”

It makes sense. If your district’s digital transformation supports a scalable personalized learning initiative, how personalized can it be if it’s a top-down, one-size-fits-all plan that doesn’t take into account the specific needs of the community?

The district collected more than 2,000 separate sets of input from a variety of different engagement strategies, including focus groups with targeted audiences, such as parents and students in unique populations they might not have heard from otherwise.…Read More

Why overwhelmed educators should stick to these simple tech tools

Tech is shifting faster than teacher training can keep up. The solution is to keep it simple

simple-overhelmed-teacherI recently had the pleasure of spending a few hours in a friend’s classroom where I introduced her students to technology applications that would engage them in “showing what they know” at different points in their learning. Having worked with this teacher for many years, I had always considered her a technology pioneer.

So it came as something of a surprise when, planning for our time together, she confided in me that she no longer felt empowered by technology so much as overwhelmed by it. Looking back, it’s easy to see how this could have happened.

When our new wireless network went live early last year, the choice of which applications and technologies to use was no longer limited by bandwidth issues. Our Board of Education then announced we were now a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) district, but did not provide the professional development time to support this initiative. My friend was overwhelmed by the plethora of tools available. She needed guidance on selection and advice in where the potholes were in introducing these tools to her students. She knew enough to know there are always “snags” when technology gets introduced, but no longer felt confident in navigating those snags.…Read More

5 steps to move technology purchasing into the 21st century

Choosing and buying the right technology can be a daunting process, especially if you don’t know where to begin

technology-procurementWith marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Google Marketplace, AirBNB, and OpenTable, it’s quite conceivable to think purchasing educational technology for the 116,000 schools across the United States in a $12B market would be as easy as buying a toothbrush online. Point. Click. Buy.

Rather the opposite is true. Ed tech procurement is a very analog process in a very digital world. I have seen this as Superintendent of the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District (Howard-Winn) in rural northeast Iowa. Investments in ed tech companies reached historic levels rising to $2 billion in 2014. The choice and innovation is great, but finding and buying even simple things can tax our resources.

As Superintendent my goal, like that of my colleagues across the country, is to ensure we have the most up-to-date technology in the hands of learners—kids and adults. Historically, it’s been inefficient to discover the right products. There are many vendors and sales people. Deciphering the best solutions to even begin conversations can be daunting.…Read More

Why technology must be invisible during ed tech roll outs

One district leader shares his philosophy for invisible tech roll outs that focus on goals, not tools

invisible-techWhen it comes to classroom and infrastructure technology implementations, it’s the equipment, software, and apps that usually take center stage. Rob Dickson thinks he’s found a better way to approach K-12 technology implementations, and in his mind the tech itself is not the focal point. In fact, Dickson, the executive director of information management systems (IMS) at Omaha Public Schools, thinks the equipment and tools being installed and put to work should be “invisible.”

“Implementing a project should begin with a vision,” writes Dickson, in a post for SmartBlog on Education. “Technology shouldn’t be the main focus but a vein running through a strategic plan touching every objective and outcome, providing the highway to efficiencies and collaboration. Every district is different across the country, with different views, demographics, policies and procedures.”

Dickson, who has been in his current position for six months, bases his philosophy on the fact that technology should be viewed as a utility that’s provided by the district, rather than a key driver or central focus, during implementation. “Just like gas, water, or electricity, the technology is the utility or the service that’s being provided,” says Dickson, who developed the idea during a recent cloud-based Office 365 implementation, “we shouldn’t be focused on the technology itself, but on the actual learning and benefits that students and teachers get from it.”…Read More

The when, why and how of PD for iPads

One teacher explains that collaboration is key to finding time, and resources, for teaching with iPads

ipad-pdType “professional development for teachers” into any search engine and numerous results fill the computer screen. Type in “professional development for iPads” and the results are more narrow and, in my search anyway, not at all what I need. So how do educators find what they need when it comes to teaching with iPads, apps, and all that conjures up?

In my case, I did what we all do. I turned to my peers for ideas and relied on my own experiences. We as teachers are each other’s greatest resource and as the old teacher saying goes, “beg, borrow, and steal.”

I’m very thankful that my students have iPads, and I love watching them become completely absorbed in learning while using them. But I’ll be honest. I need and want professional development for them. My time is valuable and my learning should be held at the same importance as my students. So, what do we do? We collaborate and find what’s best for us. Just like our students we learn differently, so we need to seek professional development that best fits our learning.…Read More