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New blog for a new stage in life

March 19, 2011

I have moved my blog to blogger.  I’ve found the tools and interface more usable and the audience to be larger.  Access it here http://teachunleashed.blogspot.com/

Internship part II

July 21, 2010

Excerpts from my final reflection
… My role as an intern was two fold. My first job was to observe the technology director and complete tasks that she assigned to me. My second job was to assist the field technicians in their day to day maintenance of the district network, hardware, and software…
…I was flabbergasted when we worked on a teacher’s cell phone so that the teacher could pull up school email on their phone. I do not think technicians should work on a teacher’s equipment. It seems to me it would be a huge liability issue. What if we accidentally broke the phone? Would the district then buy that teacher a new phone? What about the hourly wage that is being paid for the tech to work on the teacher’s phone? We were easily working on this teacher’s phone for an hour. When I think about a district’s technology department and the salary of those who work in it I automatically think of tax payer dollars. If it was a one time occurrence that would be one thing, but this happened on multiple occasions where the field tech I was working with worked on a teacher’s personal equipment during district paid work hours. If I were the technology director in this case I would make a policy for the field technicians that they could work on a teacher’s personal equipment after or before work. If they wanted to be compensated for their time they would have to take that up with the teacher. I would emphasize to them that it is a liability issue. However, the technicians did have a LOT of dead time while software was being loaded onto computers to work on teacher’s personal equipment. In this case as the technology director I would recognize that there is dead time for field technicians and create a database of jobs that could be done from any computer in the district. Technicians working on the “to do list” of jobs could earn extra compensation, per job. Regardless, there needs to be something technicians could work on for the district while software is being loaded, or during dead time. What falls under or what does not fall under the umbrella of the technology department is a tough issue. In my opinion a technology department responsibility should be district technology equipment only…
…The field technicians were able to do an amazing amount of trouble shooting with remotely logging into a teacher’s computer. Remotely logging to troubleshoot should be considered before traveling to the building to fix the problem on site. This will not happen if the field technicians are all out traveling around fixing problems in all different buildings. All troubleshooting problems should go to one person, instead of different people who are assigned to different buildings. This person would be given the title “remote tech” and when they receive a work order they first try to see if it can be fixed remotely or by advising the teacher through a chat session. If the problem cannot be fixed remotely or through a chat session it then goes to the field technician who travels to the site of the problem. If it is still not fixable it will probably lead to the purchase of equipment. If it is a network issue it goes to the network administrator, all others go to the technology director. If there is software that needs to be installed it goes to the remote technician. If there is hardware that needs to be installed it goes to the field technician. Organizing the two field technicians in this way will save on transportation expenses and lead to faster response times despite fewer technicians and more buildings.

Questions I am still pursuing:

  • What does an ideal school technology staff look like?
  • How should a technology department handle growth in the district?
  • What are the essential skills of a school technology director?

Project based learning: Is it an answer to a school’s economic crunch?

June 10, 2010

Remarkable…That is the word that came to mind when I heard this podcast. Any podcast that is slightly offensive, (because it makes you think about what you believe) and makes you want to listen to it more than once, is a good one. This is one of those. The point he makes is that if schools are going to continue with the goal of raising test scores in the traditional way they have been trying to do it, it is going to increasingly take more money. Problem based learning, according to Wyckoff, is the answer, and I think he makes several valid points. PBL requires fewer teachers but does not decrease the quality of the learning. Check out how this charter school in Kansas delivers education to their students. It’s fascinating to me that this school gives students the option to complete traditional classes or to complete project based learning classes. Students keep track of the standards they have mastered and they go to subject experts (teachers of the subject) to be evaluated on the standards after they have mastered a concept by completing a project that incorporates those standards. One question I have is, what if a student doesn’t know that they are fascinated about space science until it is taught to them in a formal classroom? When I teach I should complete this sentence, “I am teaching this so that my students can ___________________________”. If my answer is, to answer a test question, is it worth my time and effort teaching that? I love the example for why project based learning works that Wyckoff gives in the podcast. He asks the question, which means more the divers permit written test, or the actual driver’s test? The drivers test shows application of knowledge, so duh… the answer is the driver’s test. Someone can memorize the distance at which you turn on your blinker, or how far away you should be from the car in front of you, but it is totally different once you are behind the wheel. The person that aced the permit test can still make you fear for your life when they are behind the wheel. As a teacher I get tired of teaching when I feel like what I am doing is spoon feed, test, repeat. I get bored, and the students get bored. Has anyone out there gone to a totally project based classroom? What does it look like? What if the teachers around you do not go to that? Does it take a team of teacher or can an individual pull it off?

Wyckcoff brings up three problems with the way technology in schools are used. In general schools use technology for: entertaining kids while they are bored with the other stuff, to remember the stuff that doesn’t matter or, we really would like to figure out how technology is used in the real world and we hope that if we give students technology they make that connection…. YIKES If we want students to make a real world connection with technology they need to be given a real world problem and the appropriate tools to solve that problem. Wyckoff puts to words things I have been thinking about. Take some time and give his podcast a listen. Thank you Wesley Fryer for recoding this podcast and putting it on your blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity.

Internship part I

June 4, 2010

I am doing an internship with a school district as the culmination to my masters in educational technology. With my internship I am working with the field techs and getting a glimpse as to what they do on a day to day basis, in addition to creating a few educational products myself. Summer in a technology department is different than during the school year. The pace of life seems a little more relaxed, but like a duck moving across a still pond there is some serious work going on beneath the surface. Yesterday I went with a field tech to dust out teacher’s computer cases. The job hasn’t changed much since I did it over 10 years ago as a 15 year old. It’s amazing the computer towers still run with the amount of dust you will find in them. On the way back a teacher was having problems getting her school email to run on her Android phone. We spent 45minutes trying to figure it out to no avail. I was somewhat surprised we even attempted working on the teacher’s phone. Should school tech departments work on a teacher’s personal equipment? I’m not sure it’s the best use of man hours or even the right thing to do liability wise, but the teacher was thankful for the attempt. If a school really wants teachers to be able to access school email on their phones they should move to Google Apps. It would make the headache of phones, and accessibility barriers greatly decrease. (not to mention save a few bucks) Back in the office I began working on a few instructional screen-casts for Outlook, Learn 360, and CPS. These short instructional videos will soon be posted to the district website for teachers to further their effectiveness with the available district resources. Another assignment I’m working on for the district is creating a book trailer using Animoto. I’ve not used Animoto before but I’m excited about trying it and thinking about it’s educational possibilities. As I learn more about Animoto I will post my thoughts on it here. A book trailer’s purpose is very much like a video trailer’s purpose, and I hope my trailers will encourage students to read the books.

seriously…

May 30, 2010

Race to the top is a 4.3 billion dollar initiative for states to create innovative change in the educational system. Of all of the states that have applied only two have won any money yet. Those states are Delaware and Tennessee. Both of these states changed state laws and created a plan that ties teacher salary in charter schools to student performance. Missouri did not win anything in the first round of applications. But, never fear Missouri has come up with a “new curriculum” for pre-k through high school that will change education in Missouri… SERIOUSLY! First of all a new curriculum is not going to change anything if it’s not taught by teachers who are on board with it and 67.4% is not enough. Tennessee and Delaware had a much higher percentage. New curriculum? innovative? doubtful. Maybe if it was an altered curriculum for 1 to 1 classrooms with initiatives from the state to implement 1 to 1 into schools. Maybe then a curriculum would make a difference. Missouri is going to have to think outside of the box if they want a chance at this, and they are going to have to get a LOT more educators involved. Majority may work in presidential elections, but it is not going to work in getting a chunk of change for educational reform from the national government. Ironic? maybe… but, come on Missouri let’s study success so that we can be successful. We should have learned that lesson after the blunder of buying into the MAP test.

KC Tech Net Conference

February 12, 2010

Today I did my first presentation to a group of educators on technology use in the classroom. You can access the presentation yourself in the previous post. Things I learned from presenting today…
1. I can do this
2. I know things that other people want to know. I guess I just assumed that people already knew the stuff I knew or if they wanted to they could figure it out… neither of these assumptions are always true
3. teaching people older and more experienced than you is only as intimidating as you make it.
4. Everyone has their own flavor of teaching, when those flavors are mixed it’s pretty sweet.

New web tools to look into
ipadio- my woes of g-cast charging for their phone casting service are over. I can now make use of my commute again by creating podcasts in the car using my cell phone.

vocaroo- Mindless voice recording. click mouse, talk, click mouse, DONE a link is created of your recording that can be copy and pasted anywhere. So easy a caveman can do it.

voicethread– conversations in any form around media of any type. WOW

Screenr and ScreenToaster– Powerful free screen recording. I have used Jing before but I’ll be interested to see how these compare

RemotePad-
Turns your iPod Touch or iPhone into a mouse pad like all these web programs and apps this one is free. This only received 3 stars on iTunes App store but I think it is great!

21st Century Learning Tools

February 6, 2010

Enjoy the workshop presentation. Here is a link to the presentation and back channel discussion. Feel free to leave comments or questions.