If this post looks very similar to one by Tracy Watanabe, your are correct. We actually do follow many of the same blogs, so no shame for borrowing from her list. Although my list is not identical, nominating any one blog per category is difficult as there are so many bloggers out there contributing great things everyday! The purpose of the Edublog Awards, or Eddies, is to raise awareness of educational blogging and social media for learning.
Models haven't changed much over the years when it comes to implementing technology in our schools. I have by not been perfect by any means, but have learned a few things along the way that I use as guiding questions before making implementation decisions. However often circumstances seem to get in the way and decisions are made that produce large blanket purchases of technology that is hastily thrown into classrooms. We have seen this happen many times and on such a large scale that it gathers negative press when things don't go oh so perfect. My concern with the dump truck model is the negative impact it could have on the smaller roll outs that generally take more effort to set in motion.
Celebrate Don't get me wrong, there are any number of large roll outs around the world that have been well planned and executed and remain a model for others to follow. It is those scenarios that we need to celebrate and hold up as examples to promote the importance of providing our students the relevant environment they deserve. The recent publicity that LAUSD has received with their billion dollar ipad initiative is one that is too big to fail. Without being involved in such a gigantic project, I can only reserve judgment on why they have had their issues, but it has drawn attention and gives the nay sayers fuel that is unfairly used in other situations. LAUSD will work out their issues and find success, they have to, and it will benefit other educational technology projects in many ways. Many of us do not have the resources that larger districts possess and having a successful model with resources to share is important for success outside of LAUSD.
Take Steps I did a quick search for "steps for implementing technology" and had a wide range of returns, which included a variety of business world ideas also. One article that held my attention was titled, "Eight steps for implementing a technological overhaul", written by Ken Tysiac and highlighted the work of author and consultant Geoffrey Moore. Although the focus was business, many of his eight points easily cross over to the K-12 environment and I have highlighted a few below that I feel are very relevant to implementing a successful technology implementation.
Determine which tools would have the biggest impact on effectiveness in those key moments with clients.
Calibrate ambitions with their organization’s technology adoption tendencies, such as whether employees tend to be innovators, pragmatists, or conservatives.
Recruit to the effort first those employees who tend to embrace new ideas.
Engage with outside help to design and prototype the first new tools for communications and interactions
Focus on user experience as the critical acceptance criterion.
Get feedback from early adopters to create the case for applying the system to more pragmatic, less enthusiastic adopters.
Align the technology to solve a particular issue that causes the pragmatists pain, and do whatever it takes to solve that issue.
Once pragmatists are convinced, deploy a global roll-out.
Moore's ideas were addressing a specific need for client employee relationships and did not include the initial employee input on the best tools to address the need, which is something we rely on in the K-12 space, or should. But the idea of recruiting the high flyers that are always willing to embrace new ideas and listening to their feedback is critical.
It is difficult not to take advantage of grants, overrides, large funding sources of any kind when they present themselves. My hope is that the dump truck model is put in perspective and the audience, early adopters, and their feedback is kept in mind before that familiar sound is heard...beep...beep...beep.
So we have all heard of phantom vibration where you think your Smartphone is ringing or there is an incoming text, and when you go to check, nothing. Sometimes it is disappointing right, you were expecting your friend to hit you back or waiting for that call from your significant other and it is just your imagination playing tricks on you. I stumbled across a recent article on phantom phone vibrations, thanks Feedly, and was surprised that there are researchers that have actually studied this. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, there is probably a study for just about every behavior known to the human race, but still. I was hooked however, because I have some "ring-xiety" myself and wanted to see how this was going to turn out for me.
The article quotes a research psychologist who studies how technology affects our minds, Dr. Larry Rosen. Rosen talks about how technology is affecting the way our brain processes information and possible obsessive behavior with our devices and backing away from them may be a way to keep ring-xiety down. I can't help but think of other situations over the years that seem to bring on similar behavior as phantom phone vibration. If you have children, how many of you would wake up multiple times a night thinking the little one was crying, only to find them sleeping soundly. Or sitting on the couch and you think you hear a car pull up in the driveway, walk all the way to the front door to look out and nobody there. Hopefully you have experienced something similar, if not I may need to take a little time off.
As time changes and technologies become more prevalent in our lives I am sure our brains will process things differently. Moving from a chalkboard to whiteboard probably caused some dryerase-xiety in the past, just as phantom phone vibrations are making news again now. Dr. Rosen makes a good point about backing away from your devices every now and then. We all know that to much of anything is not a good thing, so take a break once in awhile from that device, it will be there when you get back.
Make It Yourself I wrote about 3D printing in a post titled "Creative Juices" quite awhile ago, here is a few sentences on my view of 3D printing at the time. "Another technology device that I am amazed with is the 3D printer. Maybe it is just a shiny object that is distracting to me personally, but it seems like the device has a tremendous amount of potential to be used in schools. What better way to incorporate essential standards into a project based activity and actually be able to build a product, literally have it appear right in front of you." My views on 3D printing have not changed, but I still haven't found a way to procure a 3D printer for my school district, something I need to work on. Since writing about 3D printers almost two years ago, I have seen 3D printers small enough to fit in a backpack. It is amazing how quickly devices improve and become more economical to produce, but it just keeps getting better.
Digitizer When I saw the recent unveiling of MakerBot's Digitizer, I kept saying to myself, it just keeps getting better. My
first thought after watching the demo was, now I will be able to wreck my bicycles, come home, pull up the scan of a not so broken part, print it out and back in business. After thinking about it a bit more, the possibility of using a 3D digitized scan of a stock part and then modifying to my own specifications, truly intrigued me, not to mention making this happen in my garage. The Movement It is technologies like 3D printing and digitizers that keep me thinking about our classrooms and how we are to keep up with the pace that industry moves at. I attended an ISTE session this past summer where Gary Stager was presenting, titled, "The Creative Learning Revolution You Can't Afford to Miss". Gary spoke about the maker movement, and focused on three game changers, fabrication, physical computing and programming. Many of his thoughts speak to the answers that we continually ask about preparing students for today's world and that is allowing students to do things that matter through "making". Digitizers, 3D printing, and other technology I could only dream of as a kid are becoming a reality due to their affordability and can enhance the learning environment. If we want our students to be critical thinkers, creative, and possess 21st century skills, they will need learning experiences that foster this in the classroom.
Have You Heard
Newsflash, the Internet has changed the world! I know, I shouldn't have let that secret out, but think about how quickly we have become a global community and it is truly amazing. For most of us we work, play and communicate daily from our multiple devices, but there are still billions of people that do not have access to the Internet.
In The Sky
By now everyone knows that Google is filling the sky with balloons to bring the Internet to rural and remote areas. If you have 4 minutes, watch how loon works, it is amazing what humans can do when they have the desire to innovate. The project has begun testing in New Zealand and most recently has asked for volunteers in California's Central Valley area to participate in generating traffic. Like all big news makers, there has been some criticism of Google putting the cart before the horse with Loon, but we all know you need a solid infrastructure before adding devices.
Recently Facebook has been in the press with their internet everywhere initiative through internet.org. Zuckerberg's plans are a bit different than Loon, as he imagines bringing the Internet to world through mobile phones. The plan doesn't seem quite as flashy as sending up giant balloons that ride on the edge of space, but having the power of mobile carriers on your team is never a bad thing. My only thought is thinking about driving to my families house in the White Mountains of Arizona. It is difficult enough getting solid 4G service in the town that they live, much less on the ride there. If establishing a reliable cell network in our country isn't easy to do, what will it be like in a third world country?
I am excited that Facebook and the other corporate giants involved are working to help connect other nations around the world that lack the infrastructure to become part of a global society. Internet.org's focus will be on these emerging markets, and I am ok with that as we will all benefit and grow as a world if we are connected. Just one request, don't lose site of the emerging markets that have no access right here in our own rural and less fortunate neighborhoods.
If you look closely at any successful district, school, or business, you will find that the leader has surrounded themselves with amazing people. Those people are the ones that make things happen on a day to day basis, and without those people, one person alone can not make an organization great.
I am very fortunate to have a great team in place that makes the day to day happen in our district. I learn from them weekly and they make my job an easy one. Among our team members is our district Technology Integration Specialist, Tracy Watanabe. I will always credit her for inspiring me to get in the game and start a blog. I would recommend her blog to any teacher K-12 as she does a great job of breaking down technology integration into easy to understand pieces. I wanted to share one of her recent posts as it is relevant for not only teachers but any educator. You can visit her blog or follow her on twitter. Enjoy!
How are We Using Technology in Classrooms? Technology has changed how we do things in our daily lives such as shopping, banking, communicating, and it has changed how we should do school.
When I was a child, I remember spending so much time going through microfiche to find just the right bit of information to share with the teacher. In those days, finding the right information and recollecting that information was the mark of a good student.
Today, knowledge and information is at our fingertips. In fact, there is so much information that it's tough to know where to start and what's the best source to use. Therefore, accessing the right information at the right time is more important than just finding information.
Focusing on skills rather than knowledge is a shift in how we do school. It changes what students are taught and how they are taught.
What do these shifts look like in the classroom? This type of learning is easy to capture because there are artifacts as evidence of learning. I could have gone to any number of AJUSD blogs to look for artifacts, but was able to find a plethora of content to share from Mrs. Hamman's post titled, The End of Another Great Year!
How we “do school” has changed, and focusing on 21st century learning skills is the shift taking place. We see this shift in the Common Core State Standards, and we see this shift as a necessity to prepare students for college and careers.
Change isn't easy, but it's a necessity. I'm proud of our school district, because we are focused on giving our students 21st century, student-centered classrooms.
What shifts do you see in how we "do school"?
Change takes time, and progression occurs one step at a time. What goals have you made to take another step forward this school year?
What questions or comments do you have regarding this post?
Backlash Isn't it just crazy how some celebrities work all their lives to become larger than life and then after they get there, things seem to fall apart? It becomes trendy to dislike them at a point, their decision making skills go out the window, they start believing in their own persona, or they relieve themselves in mop buckets and spit on people, allegedly, (sorry Beiber fans). That is when a good publicists steps in and cleans things up. If the situation is completely out of control an entire team will go to work recreating an entirely new image for the person.
It may be a bit of a stretch to compare celebrities to companies, but I can't help but see some similarities at times between the two. They start small and many grow quickly to what seems like a larger than life company that can't do anything wrong. But give it enough time and there will be some backlash or their product lines stay the same for so long that disruptive innovation is not a priority. I am not an expert on Blackberry history, but it seems like a good example of a powerhouse that had to play catch up in a market that quickly passed them by, and it seems like their clientele focus stayed to narrow. I am still a huge fan of Blackberry and their influence on messaging and e-mail use on a mobile device, but their name isn't on my radar when thinking about a new phone.
Microsoft restructure When Microsoft recently made news with their big restructure plan, I couldn't help but think of the larger than life celebrity that became to big and then starting making questionable decisions. Ballmer seems committed to creating something that is more collaborative and focused, but is the direction a catch up approach or create game changers one, that will put them back on top as an innovative powerhouse. If they decide to keep throwing Hail Mary passes like giving away 10,000 Surface tablets at ISTE this year, I am not sure they are going to reconnect with their audience.
Bring it around
So how does it all apply to the local IT shop? I think it is rather simple, do not become to comfortable with the service you are providing and become something larger than life. When you become complacent and feel there is nothing that you can improve upon, the backlash will begin. Continue to look for ways to innovate and ask your customers for feedback on your service and please, stay away from mop buckets.