Friday, September 26, 2014

Troubleshooting In a BYOD-Google Apps Classroom: Lessons From the Fire Swamp!

Yesterday, I had a chance to help some of our 6th grade students set up folders in Google Drive and share those folders with their teacher. It took a bit longer than I expected, but for the most part, the kids did a great job. Still, when I was done, I felt like I had survived this scene from one of my favorite movies!

In The Princess Bride, Wesley and Buttercup learned three lessons on how to survive in "The Fire Swamp." Hopefully, surviving in a classroom isn't like surviving the Fire Swamp, but here were the lessons I learned that may help you when teaching in a BYOD classroom with Google Apps for Education!

Lesson 1: Students Didn't Bring Their Device
Fortunately, we have a supply of laptops and Chromebooks available for students to check out for the day if they come unprepared. Our goal is to help students come prepared every day with a fully charged device, but some days, they forget. Having extras allows them to still take part in Digital Age Learning.

Lesson 2: Personal Google Accounts
Often students will not be able to access the files we know they should. Most likely, this is because they are logged in to a personal G-mail account. We try to remind students that their Google Apps for Education account is their "professional account," that needs to be used when working on school related activities. Given that many have G-mail accounts, it can be difficult, and often they forget to switch. By checking in the upper right corner to see which account they are logged into, you can help them get to the right one and get on task.

Lesson 3: Google Apps on an iOS device
One of the students in class was trying to utilize her iPad as her primary tool. Using Safari in the mobile version of Google Apps did not allow her to complete the tasks as easily, and she quickly got behind. While I think the iPad is a great tool, with many redeeming qualities, it doesn't always play well with Google Apps. In our eLearning2 initiative, our minimum requirement is a device that will run the Chrome browser. Those who choose to use an iPad, do so with the understanding that they need to be able to figure out a workflow within our ecosystem.

Hopefully these three lessons will help with troubleshooting as we move forward. I chose to leave out the fourth issue I dealt with, the parent who locked down the child's computer so that they couldn't get to Google Apps. I'll leave that one for another post...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Day in the Life of eLearning2

On September 23, I took a random walk around classrooms in our secondary schools, 4 weeks in to our eLearning2 Digital Age Learning Initiative. Here is what I observed...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Eighth Graders....A Student Shares Her Insights on Our eLearning2 Initiative

Collaboration at South View MS-Courtesy @lakesmpls
Earlier this week I sent out a survey to our students, getting feedback on our eLearning2 Digital Age Learning initiative. As outlined my post from yesterday, we have moved to 1:1 this year through a hybrid BYOD system, where students are encouraged to bring a device from home, or check one out from the district.
One of the questions I asked in the survey was:
How has using your device impacted your learning this year?
Most students responded positively, with stories of "being more organized," appreciating accessing content in our Moodle learning management system, collaborating on Google Docs, and creating projects for a global audience. I was pleased to see all aspects of our digital age learning framework being addressed. 

There was one response, from an 8th grade student named Annika, that stood out from the rest. She graciously gave me permission to share it in this post.She began by mentioning things that most of her peers had said:

I find it helpful in some ways, like the ability to work on online assignments through Moodle during school hours, and since more people have access to devices, you can work in class for projects needing the computer. You also can use the Web 2.0 tools more often for projects, which is also nice.

Then she noted something that I haven't necessarily thought of as a "problem:"

Some problems I have though are that it kind of defeats the purpose of the computer labs... Students will only be going to the labs for standardized testing.
I have been saying for years that "going to the computer lab to do technology projects is not authentic. It's better to get the technology out right in the room when it is needed, and put it away when it isn't. Going to the lab takes time away from the lesson and implies that technology only happens in a certain room in the building." It's one of the main reasons I have advocated for us to be 1:1.

But then Annika continued...

I also find that school is changing all so much, I remember elementary school when it was always fun getting to go to the media center to work on computer projects, it felt like a little treat, and Internet usage was used respectfully more often than not, because it was a gift to get the time to use the computers, but now that it's just here, and it's now an everyday thing, it's not so special, and having it there so often makes it tend to be a distraction to some students, and ends up being used disrespectfully at times. I believe this is more of a personal problem on my part, but I do feel like I should share this with you.

Annika's thoughtful response was a new twist on the "lab" idea, that I hadn't considered. To my way of thinking, we needed to "blow up" the labs, or at least repurpose them for other things. It hadn't made the connection between the lab being a "treat," and thus devices used more responsibly.

Earlier this week, Dean Shareski wrote about "Putting the Laptops Away," during class. Here the week we had finally become 1:1, someone I respect was saying to put the devices away! Perfect timing! But in the post, Dean notes this:

This is about recognizing what types of learning you are doing in class and when technology makes it richer and when it dilutes.
 I still believe in what Chris Lehmann says about technology,
 "It should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, invisible, and necessary." 

As we progress in our implementation, I hope that our staff and students begin to see when it makes sense to have the devices out, and when it would be better to put them away. As we continue to focus on the learning, the laptop may disappear, but I hope that the "treat" of digital age learning will not!

Thanks, Annika for pushing my thinking.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

eLearning2: Impacting Learning and Living in Beta

Edina Public Schools is now starting year three of our eLearning2 Digital Age Learning initiative
We began giving students the option to bring their own device for their learning during the 2010 school year; we saw slow growth the first two years. At that time, the program was called "Go Wireless," and I chronicled our progress in posts here and here

In December of 2012 the district joined a partnership with Best Buy to provide the services of a Web store for families, and Geek Squad support for student devices two days a week in each of the three secondary schools. In return, families would see a significant discount on the price of the device when they checked out. For the last two years, we saw roughly 60% of our families in the grade levels eligible take advantage of this opportunity, and students would then bring a device for their learning. In addition, the district provided a Chromebook computer to all families of need. This partnership was the first of it's kind, and Best Buy is beginning to work with other districts around the country on similar models.

While the increased access was encouraging, and we saw pockets of transformation, the effect of an optional program was two-fold: 

  1. Many staff were reluctant to include activities if not all students had a device
  2. Students felt that if not all staff were utilizing the devices, why should they bring them to class?
We were BYOD, but not truly 1:1. While there were pockets of great things happening, and we were able to supplement somewhat with carts for those who didn't have a device, we weren't meeting our mission of "All for All." While eLearning2 has always been about personalizing learning and transforming instruction, lack of a requirement for students to bring a device and teachers to implement digital age learning meant we weren't where we needed to be.

No Longer Optional
This year, we have moved to a hybrid BYOD model. We opened up the Web store for families in grades 6, 8 and 9 to purchase their own device. We are continuing to provide a district provided Chromebook for families in need, and in addition: all students who either chose not to purchase a device; or those who purchased a device they are unsatisfied with; or a device that broke, are being provided with a district provided Chromebook. We have also changed from saying bringing a device is optional to making it a requirement that all students have a device. In addition, we have declared that the minimum device is one that runs the Chrome browser and has a keyboard. This means that phones are no longer considered a primary device, and can be used only at teacher discretion. So far, staff feel that this policy has been working well. If a student needs to take picture or video for a project, they ask for permission to use the phone. We also require that all secondary staff utilize our ecosystem of Moodle and Google Apps as their primary learning platform. 

For professional learning, we are focusing on a definition of Digital Age Learning that incorporates Content, Collaboration, and Creation.

We have been utilizing Carl Hooker's "Swimming Pool" model of SAMR in our discussions with staff, noting that SAMR is not a ladder to climb, but a pool to swim in. We are also saying that some days, it's ok to not get in the pool, but:
"It is no longer ok to never get wet!"
Not every lesson is going to get to the "redefinition" level, and that is ok! 
Staff have appreciated this model as it encourages growth, but, also doesn't force them to use one pedagogy. Just as we are trying to personalize learning for our students, allowing them to use the tools that will work best for them, we are trying to do the same for our teachers. 

Living in Beta 
For our district kickoff this year, my colleague, Molly Schroeder reprised her excellent TED talk on "Living in Beta." Molly noted that we are living in a world of constant change, where the tools we are using and our pedagogies are "in beta." It's ok to not know everything, and more importantly it's ok to fail! She says that the classroom is now a "community of problem solvers."

After hearing that talk, many staff have commented on how liberating it was. Along with the district endorsement, it has freed them up and given them permission to try new things and "live in beta!" It has truly been liberating, and staff are pushing themselves to try new things such as Google Classroom. There may be issues, but together, we can solve any problems and learn as a community.

So Far...So Good
So far, the school year has started out really well! Our media staff did a great job checking out Chromebooks to those that didn't have them, and our staff set an expectation from day one that students have a device for their learning. 
In talking with Shawn Dudley, principal at Valley View Middle School, she noted of the 13 observations she has done this year, "12 staff have included a digital formative assessment exit card. And none of them were the same! Some used Google Forms, some Socrative, and others KahootIt's been one of the best starts ever!
Staff have utilized our planning document along with a suggested road map for the first six weeks as they begin the year 1:1. Some quotes from staff include:
I'm able to have students work independently more often as we move through the first unit, allowing me to spend more time with students who are having questions, and letting students learn at their own pace.
On the second day of class, I had students logged into the network, joining Google Classroom, and working with Google docs. Brand new students have been logged into the network the day they start. These 6th graders are the most tech savvy crew I've ever had and have taught me a few new things in the first week. The kids couldn't wait to use their devices and students who were loaned devices had huge grins when they came back from the media center with their devices; I don't anticipate making many, if any, copies this year. 

Students have commented that:
I am much more organized, and I can understand what I am doing much better.
My device helps a lot, I'm able to create quizlets, write essays, store pictures and writing digitally and make presentations. 
Many teachers are taking advantage of having us take online notes, and utilizing Internet quizzes and tests. Teachers make us turn in homework online, and we have been using Google Sites to post our learning to the public. 
Here are some additional observations as the year has started:

Moving forward
As we move forward, we are continuing professional learning for staff on digital age learning, including after-school drop in sessions, individual meetings, online courses as well as another Technology and Learning Cohort where staff have the ability to earn a Technology Certificate through Hamline University, another one of our partners.

I recognize that while we are now truly 1:1, we need to continue to help staff get into the pool, try the deep end once in a while, and help students have authentic learning opportunities. As Patrick Larkin notes in this great post, we need to "stay uncomfortable!" Larkin mentions the work of Amy Edmonson, who defines different zones of implementation: the Apathy Zone, Anxiety Zone, Comfort Zone and Learning Zone. At this point, I would say we are in the latter stages of the Anxiety Zone. 

As we begin to implement our Next Generation Educational Competencies, I see many ways that Digital Age Learning will positively impact the ability of students to demonstrate mastery of these skills. 
Edina Next Generation Educational Competencies
I look forward to supporting staff and students "living in beta," helping us progress into the "comfort zone," and continuing forward into the "learning zone." Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Edina Teaching & Technology Cohort Reflections 2014

Thirty teachers from Edina just finished a Teaching and Technology Cohort through Hamline University. The Teaching and Technology cohort focused on improving their leadership and technology skills through four blended courses.

The focus of the classes was to enhance practice of integrating technology into Edina’s curriculum as well as build leadership skills in teachers in the field of technology and learning. The cohort gave participants the opportunity to collaborate with Edina colleagues from different grade levels and buildings. The cohort was taught in a blended format where the cohort met face to face once a month and then completed the rest of the work online.

Here are a few of their final reflections about the cohort

Angela's Reflection

Brit's Reflection

Debi's Thinglink

Reflection from Eric
I came into the year and the cohort as a user of technology, but a hesitant one at that.  My ah-ha moment came when I realized that using technology is about jumping in and play, play, play.  I feel that this is the best way to get kids using technology and programs, it also works for adults.  When you play, the overwhelming pressure that comes with learning something new that is previously unfamiliar goes away.  From my participation in this cohort I feel that I have changed as a learner and teacher.   I have changed because if you want to learn new technology you have to take the time and play with it.  I have seen this in my students the past year.  When they are given the time to play and explore with an application their success level greatly expands of they are given time to explore and play.  I would like to take some time to highlight one project that I worked on in particular and that is coding.  You can see my link to the work that I did with this project on this website.  Coding is a fantastic activity to have your kids work on collaboratively or as individuals.  Students learn industry, problem solving and critical thinking skills all in a fun and non threatening environment.

You have to Read and Experience Kristen's reflections here!

Leslie's Kids are now a Community of Collaborators and Problem Solvers!

Mary's Popplet

Megan's Adventures in Digital Age Learning

This Blew the lid off the possibilities - Shandra

I didn't know what I didn't Know - Sarah

Thanks to all the amazing reflections from the Edina T&T Cohort!  Another cohort will begin October 2014!  Edina teachers, stay tuned for more details!

Monday, July 28, 2014

EdCampMN 2014 Keynote: Steve Hoffman-The Collaboration Dilemma Notes

Steve Hoffman, was the keynote speaker at EdCampMN 2014, on "The Collaboration Dilemma: How the Rules are Changing." Here are my notes.

Rather than a keynote, Hoffman described this as a "rigorous conversation!"
He started by sharing Dr. Seuss's The Lorax and The Butter Battle, both of which have NO ending! 
He noted that Intelligence Squared, is a debate with no real ending...

How can Collaboration Happen if:

  • Of the more than 100 people here, only 13 were men. Why is that? Hoffman noted that as of today, 40% of women are heads of household. Boy's Adrift- notes that young men today are unmotivated and underacheiving.
  • Eid started today. There are no Muslim's here. (Why did Blogger think it was spelled wrong for that matter?)
  • Where are our colleagues of color? Why aren't they here? "Hamline's a white campus!" In some ways, it is arrogant for us to be speculating about this question, when most of us here are white. I'm reminded of this article.
Hoffman noted that this recent post on "9 Roles For The Teacher That Leads" doesn't include collaboration!

I would argue that it would fall under the "Relationship Enabler."
He showed a business definition for collaboration that includes synchronous and asynchronous communication.

Hoffman believes that communication, leadership, attention, active action plan, investment, Interest, Individualize and Organizations are the key areas of emphasis currently when we talk about collaboration. 

Evidence that the rules are changing
  • 10,579 Israeli students took the largest online civics class online in February, taught by Shimon Peres
  • 1,645 bilionaires in the world today. Up 200 from last year.
  • 10.7 hours of reading/person in India
  • 425 million active users of Gmail as of April 14, 2014
  • 144.5 million smart phones in US.
  • 33% increase in global volume of electronic waste in the next 4 years.
  • 828,773 albums sold of Beyonce's album on 3 days!
  • 82% of working Americans over the age of 50 who feel they will need to work for pay when they retire.
  • 9100 Tweets every second...
  • 8,000 Americans will turn 65 each day for the next decade.
  • Zero managers left in Zappos 1500 workers by the end of the year
  • 11 saplings grown from seeds of the Chestnut tree
In a side conversation, one participant noted that until the teaching population matches the population of our country, we won't see real change!

Obstacles to Collaboration
  1. Competition-between districts, schools, AP, IB, AVID, College-in-the-schools
  2. Malaise-too hard to really collaborate
  3. State and National Organization Deficit-NCTE, MCTM, NCSS, MEMO, ISTE
  4. Change Leadership-NCLB waiver, RTI=MTSS, PBIS, new evaluation system, personalized learning
  5. Demographics and Fear-gated communities, rise in gun ownership, Eid Said, 
  6. Time, Technology, Training, Talent

So do we really WANT collaboration to happen? Will technology be a tool to get us there?
Is Starbucks model for training something others will embrace? 
Talent-mandated collaboration!

Hoffman is interested to see how these dilemma's impact education moving forward. 

Our table discussed the Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum, and how sometimes competition/high expectations and trust get in the way of true collaboration. Staff are reluctant to move away from "tried and true" curriculum content from publishers, rather than building their own.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Government Service Learning Project Continues to Grow!

A few highlights from this year's South View Middle School Service Learning Project. This year's event moved from the Media Center to the Gym, and over 200 people came to attend and learn from the students. 

In this video by Claude Sigmund, Cool Planet Founder, Paul Thompson shares his experience working with the students.

And in this video, Susana Valdez of the National Youth Leadership Council shares her thoughts on what she observed today:

This event continues to grow, and I was impressed by how students incorporated digital age learning to collaborate and share their learning with the world.
Later today, I'll add links to some of the student Websites.