Be SAFE with BYOD

There’s loads of advice on how to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) campus or workplace and even what to do once the policy is in place.

JP Prezzavento (@jpprezz) published a great piece on 3 B’s of Bring Your Own Device. You can find this and other great pieces of information on his Blog – J.P. Prezzavento – The Bits and Bytes of Education: My thoughts on teaching and technology.

After reading JP’s 3 Bs – Be Available, Be Free, Be Selective, I started to wonder how it would be best to remember the specific verb, and so I’m suggesting the following with an extension (as inspired by JP’s work):

Be SAFE

Selective – according to JP, master a handful of useful tools that simplify classroom procedures and make learning in a BYOD environment collaborative and authentic, such as Google Drive, Blogger, Padlet, and awwapp.com.  Leave out apps that are more flash than substance or complicate simple classroom procedures.

Available – According to JP, whichever tool a teacher decides to use should be available on all student devices, including web browsers.  This means that sometimes web applications like Padlet will be the way to go instead of iOS or Android apps

Free – According to JP, just like we don’t expect students to buy their own textbooks, we shouldn’t expect students to regularly purchase apps for our classes.

Engaged – According to me, the types of tools used should engage students and teachers to work either individually or collaboratively; there should be a level of excitement, motivation, and inspiration to use the chosen tool to produce something purposeful, meaningful, and sustainable for future learning or instruction.

JP – I know we’ve never met, but I thank you for your post to allow me to reflect how I can Be SAFE with BYOD.

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PD – Not just for teachers anymore

Thanks to my CUE Technology Coordinators SIG (via Google+ Community), I was exposed to reading a recent blog by Jackie Gerstein regarding how educators are taking PD into their own hands. To supplement the missing links, teachers pay out of pocket for PD, do not receive recognition  or compensation for taking such initiatives, and often remain voiceless in their actions (this last part I added).

* On a side note, have you noticed that those who are most vocal often do and accomplish less than those who are reserved about their actions?

Shortly thereafter, I completed the anonymous Survey Monkey poll for CUE. I’m disclosing my answers for the final prompts because they deserve to be asked/discussed regardless of CUE membership.

In a nut shell:

  1. What are current challenges for schools, teachers, students, and parents?
  2. Knowing that CUE supports legislative advocacy, what are my current concerns?

To answer the first question:

  • Schools face challenges in keeping up with all what is out there not just regarding educational technology, but educational policy reform and best practices -> Schools as a whole should have access to necessary PD and support = don’t just leave it up to the schools themselves to figure things out.
  • Teachers face the challenges of receiving adequate and personalized PD -> This is where Jackie’s blog comes into play. Yes, teachers are taking PD into their own hands because schools continue to provide one-size-fits-all PD. PD nonetheless, but not PD that matters. That said, schools need to ensure that the mission and vision are carried out, and so if providing PD to meet those needs facilitates that challenge, then continue. But if that PD does not meet the individual needs of the teachers, then the PD is falling short. How can PD merge the needs, and wants, of the teachers and the school?
  • Students and Parents – We have forgotten about providing development for these two audiences. While we’re so busy making sure that schools and teachers receive PD, we have let students and parents fall to the wayside. Yes, I realize that this is an extremely generalized statement and I appreciate that there are schools and teachers who provide students and parent PD, but to my personal experience and knowledge, there is a shortage. So what do I mean about student and parent PD?
    • Students need direction how to use tech beyond social circumstances. Using technology and media for education is different. While conceptually it makes sense for adults, but making the logical connections from one to the other can be difficult and not as obvious to the teenage brain. I say teenage here because that is my focal group and the audience who I teach.
    • Parents need to gain awareness how technology and media is used in their student’s (students’) classrooms, especially in high school because traditionally, students have 6-8 different teachers who all do something different, and expect something different. Parents should receive PD regarding the tech their students use.

To answer the second question, I find that there is one overarching concern with at least one sub-component:

  • Merging educational technology with CCSS not just efficiently, but effectively
    • Now include above for students with accommodations – IEPs, 504 Plans, and more. These students are mainstreamed, but there still may be a need to differentiate the type of technology and CCSS (i.e. Connectors) for students. Let’s start looking at how we can seamlessly develop curriculum and instruction to meet this challenge.

PD – it goes beyond schools and teachers.

Legislative Advocacy – let’s merge tech, CCSS, and students with accommodations for a seamless curriculum and way of instruction.

Utopian Qualifications for School Leadership

Yesterday, Standford University released a synopsis of a recent study conducted by its School of Education on Instructional Leadership. The study reached similar conclusions to previous research. This particular study examined school leadership via survey-based methodology across East and West Coasts and the Midwest. Participants included 800+ principals, 1100 assistant principals, and 32k teachers. In addition to the survey, researchers conducted 250+ full-day observations and interviews with principals. The results? Schools demonstrate growth in student achievement when principals show strong characteristics as organizational managers.

According to Stanford’s definition,

  • “effective organizational managers strategically hire, support, and retain good teachers while developing or removing less effective ones”
  • allocate “budgets and resources, and [maintain] positive working and learning environments”
  • “strong managers develop the organizational structures for improved instruction more than they spend time in classrooms or coach teachers”
  • In essence, principals should not focus on day-to-day activities and spend less time on administrative tasks like managing discipline, but place a conscious effort in long-term school climate.

At first glance, these definitions lead to make me think that schools should be treated as businesses. And maybe to some extent they should be because don’t schools provide a product to the public and to the students they serve? Aren’t schools supposed to demonstrate successful academic outcomes? And then wouldn’t it make sense to promote good teachers and give amazing bonuses? But what constitutes good, productive, and effective teaching? A teacher whose grade book is full of As and Bs (perhaps not entirely an honest record), or a grade book that includes a range of grades that adequately shows students’ abilities? And this is perhaps an entire different can of worms to discuss at a later point in time. But I digress – let’s get back to the issue at hand – how are school principals supposed to look like if schools are to demonstrate academic growth?

Let’s break the definition down a bit. If principals are to be strong organizational managers who hire, support, and retain good teachers, then why would there be a need to develop or remove less effective ones? Who is on the hiring committee and what are the criteria when hiring new faculty? If there is a need to develop less effective teachers, what constitutes effectiveness? And what proof or documentation would be needed to remove less effective teachers? One could argue that if the strong organizational managers hires effective teachers, then the teachers who require development or need removal are those who are more seasoned to the school – the veteran teacher. But not just any veteran teacher, one who is not willing to assimilate desired approaches to teaching; a veteran teacher not willing to develop.

  1. How does your school manage with teachers who are resistant to change?
  2. What is your definition, or your school’s definition, of effective/effectiveness?

If principals are not the ones conducting classroom observations, there is someone at the school with the designated role to do so. If principals should be able to allocate budgets and resources, effectively, then the principal should have a background in finance and/or business. If principals are to a maintain positive learning and working environment, then the principal should have a background in psychology. If principals are to improve overall instruction, then they should also have a background in curriculum and instruction.

  1. Do you know of a principal who carries these qualifications?
  2. What is the role of your school’s principal?

Between public and private, single-gender and co-ed, and parochial and non-denomination systems, geography, funding, and standards (state and federal), among other aspects of running a school (a business), are principals able to act as organizational managers, or are the pressures of other issues at hand hindering this study’s suggested implications for policy and practice?

Is #flippedlearning a Controversy?

Recently, I attended and presented at the annual American Education Research Association Image conference, this time located in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. But using social media, specifically Twitter, I felt anything but love.

This conference attracts a different type of audience compared to say ImageImage, and Image. Papers, that’s right, papers that are submitted as proposals and blindly peer-reviewed are based on research, not anecdotes. There is fierce competition as to whose study is better, fear of research fraud, and divisions of multiple facets of perspectives ranging from curriculum design, teacher education, educational policy, organization and leadership, LGBTQ issues, and minority studies to just name a few.  Imagine 20 some thousand researchers in some realm of education vying for recognition as the best; and then not to mention the multitude of SIGs (Special Interest Groups) that allow members to be part of sub-specialty areas of interest.

Membership within Divisions and SIGs might very well be deepening a closed minded approach to education. Are we losing, or have we already lost, the bigger picture at hand? At the very heart of our work, we must strive for what is in the best interest of the students. Don’t we? Shouldn’t we?

So you might ask yourself, why do I attend and present at this type of conference? Because I genuinely enjoy conducting research and educational theory, and then aligning findings and basic fundamentals to practice. Consider that as my way of blending my learning.

Of the three papers I submitted, two were accepted – 66% acceptance rate is pretty darn good. One such paper is based on the instructional concept of flipped learning, but supported by theory. So it’s not just anecdotal, it’s theoretical.

As many of us are so familiar with presenting at large conferences, we know that we ironically cannot depend on technology. Needless to say, the room in which I was scheduled to present my panel-based paper did not have reliable Wi-Fi, if it did in fact kick in. So afterward, I took some key points from my paper and tweeted them out, with a #flippedlearning and #aera14 attached. The basis for my research was examining the theoretically-based cognitive implications and learning outcomes when using this given instructional design in a specific content area with a specific sample of a larger population – math and undergraduate nursing students. I didn’t explore the pragmatics of the implementation of the instruction because first, that wasn’t my intention and second, I’m the one who supplied the materials to conduct as controlled of a study as possible. No malice intended.

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Perhaps I had forgotten that I was within the lion’s den or perhaps I’d become so accustomed to collaborative and team support from attendance and presentation at ed tech conferences that my own vulnerability and naiveté placed me in a peace, love, happiness state, or perhaps I really do live in a sheltered yet progressive educational part of the country. Regardless, I did not think that my few tweets would garner such negative responses. Some responses included:

  • “I read it as a dreadfully diminutive model of teaching.” BUT…

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  • “#flippedlearning is a cop out…corporate privatization technique – socialize the risk, privatize the profit” BUT…

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  • “And that’s part of the failure of #flippedlearning…reducing pedagogy to the transfer of content.” BUT…Image

Dispersed throughout such comments were two aggravating phrases:

  1. “IMO” – in my opinion
  2. “…how I define…”

Those two phrases are empty. When it comes to research, personal opinions don’t really matter (they do, but they don’t), and how someone personally defines something (unless you are a well-versed, highly published scholar in the respective area) means dirt. Subjectivism has no place. It’s all about objective presentation based on what the literature says. Personal stories like “In my classroom…” or “I do it this way…” are not generalizable facts. Comments should be supported with relevant research. And that wasn’t happening.

These negative responses came from only 3-4 people out of thousands, and lasted for a couple of days, but who knows who . Maybe it lasted longer; I don’t know because I had finally asked the tweeters to remove me from their mentions. It’s not because I wasn’t interested in reading their concerns. I wasn’t interested in reading their constant negative viewpoints without any proposed solutions to their concerns, and above all, I wasn’t interested in conversing with people who had no interest in learning about the theoretical foundations that do in fact support the cognitive implications and the learning outcomes of #flippedlearning that I initially hypothesized.

Trained as an instructional designer and educational theorist, I approach situations as methodically and rationally as I can. I thrive on learning as much information as possible before making a decision. And maybe that’s why I was taken so aback when (what I deem as) irrational comments started coming in about #flippedlearning. When someone does not know the entire presentation, don’t jump to conclusions and automatically negatively criticize 140-character snipit of a bigger whole. Ask some bigger, non-derogatory questions rather than assuming and attacking.

After the initial shock, I took some time to reflect on this trendy instructional design that is intended to help rather than hinder, to aid and facilitate rather than suppress and overwhelm. And what I began to question, “is #flippedlearning a controversy?”

  1. What about the schools that do not have technology to flip?
  2. What about the students who do not have Internet at home?
  3. What about the students who do not have technological devices outside of school, if in fact the school has such devices?

Cognitive load and learning outcomes aside, how accessible is #flippedlearning outside of Silicon Valley?

FACCT: Vision Framework for Faculty PD

When reflecting on what faculty professional development is, I thought of the following:

  • PD is not one-size-fits-all because we are not a one-size faculty. While there are general areas that we can enhance, teachers need to be autonomously aware of their areas to improve upon.
  • Guide teachers in planning and execution stages of teaching and instruction including class management and assessment. Developing individual plans for professional growth and adjusting those needs as seen fit is part of the natural learning process.
  • Support the conscious effort of the reflective process on an ongoing or final product. Reflection paves the way to growth, and teachers need to have the explicit opportunity and safe environment.
  • Not change teachers, but foster their abilities into self-betterment and continual improvement as educators.
  • It is critical to remember the fundamental essentials of teaching and the current approaches to best teaching practices.
  • Teaching is not all about the teacher talking 100%, nor is teaching hovering over students 100% of the time. Not if classroom management, instructional strategies, and student engagement are aligned.
  • In order to grow professionally, we should also grow personally.

I was recently asked to develop an outline representing my vision for a school, a vision meant to promote faculty professional development. Time frame? 1 week. So to the white board I went and started writing through my stream of consciousness. Ideas. Thoughts. Arrows. Combinations. Categories. For the time being, I concluded that a vision for a strengthening faculty PD lies within the FACCT framework: Funding, Alignment, Communication, Connection, Transparency.

Vision for Faculty Professional Development

Funding: Schools should be able to fund teachers in their areas of interest. A set budget a year before is limiting. Get someone to write the grants.

  • Grants
  • Bring in outside resources
  • Conference/Workshop/Convention Attendance

Alignment: Instruction should be aligned with the school’s graduation outcomes and the school’s mission. What’s the point in having them if they are not consciously brought to the forefront?

  • Instruction
  • Graduation Outcomes
  • Mission

Communication – Bring out the voices. Developing faculty professions is not and should not be a top-down approach. PD is not one-size-fits-all. Can teachers enhance their development to bring out the interest of the school? Yes. But teachers need to embrace their personal interests as well, so ask them what they want, too.

  • Faculty
    • What do department chairs envision?
    • What do individual faculty want to learn?
    • ADDIE; UbD; Bloom
    • Pedagogy
    • Visions of school
  • Counseling
    • Learning Resource Specialist
  • Learning Commons Resources
    • Research
    • Technology
  • Technology Coordinator
    • Technology can be scary. It can be intimidating. What we need is to be fearless. – LeVar Burton, CUE14
  • Cross-curricular
  • Parents
    • School policies – grading

Connection – teachers need to learn from each other; share ideas with each other; be humble when stuck.

  • Inter- and intra department
  • What is everyone doing?
  • Make PD daily and random
  • Tweet – action pics, whiteboard brainstorms

Transparency: Don’t be afraid to show off all of your teachers; motivate and inspire; like students, teachers, too, will want to perform if someone other than the administration is seeing their abilities.

  • Show parents/audience how the school supports PD
  • Post PD processes on website
    • Faculty
    • School
  • Current resources
    • Forms
    • Evaluation templates
  • Exemplary portfolios
    • Share on teacher profile page
    • Marketing
    • Showcase the faculty
    • Be proud of what happens on campus and in classrooms
  • Blog
    • Once a month = 8-9 times a school year
    • 4 CCSS
    • 4 Graduation Outcomes
    • Incorporate Mission
  • Teachers self-track and self-evaluate progress – ongoing; not strictly scheduled

Google Calendar vs. iCal

When a friend recently ask if there is a way to upload US national holidays into her newly established iCal, my immediate response to her was “yes!” www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/calendars

Simultaneously thinking, though, I asked her, why she isn’t using Google Calendar, to which she thought automatically to use iCal because she’s an Apple and Mac person. She also announced that, “I’ve never used a digital calendar before.” Whoa!!! Seriously? Okay.

So 1 – automatic assumption of using a product because of hardware uses and 2 – digital virgin.

Rather than focusing on the notion of where she’s been in the tech world, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to mentor her because she took the first step of entering the digital age!!! She wants to be here, so let’s help her!!!

While I have both versions set up and have them synced, I primarily use Google Calendar – it’s open all the time as one of my tabs. I find it easier to use (the go-to use of any product), and I can share it with anyone, which is the number one reason I use it. Both calendars offer color-coding for multiple calendars, invitations, and different vantage options.

I’m a Mac, yet I vote for Google Calendar. You?