Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April Key Instructional Contacts Meeting-iTunes U, Integration, IWB Pedagogy

April 18th was the TIES Key Instructional Contact meeting. Here are my raw notes and thoughts from the meeting.
The official agenda and notes are here.

Podcasting & iTunes U in Minnesota
Christine Dufour from the Minnesota Department of Education started off the meeting discussing how the University of Minnesota is using iTunes U. She is looking for school districts with content that could be utilized on the site. Districts must sign a contract initially, then they can put up content into an album. Once that content is up there, it can be organized by subject and grade level.

  • Students are comfortable using iPods and mp3s
  • There is a shift to mobility
  • Minnesota iTunes U can leverage all districts.
Launched in December, there have been 15,000 downloads. By contrast, in their first 9 months, Ohio has had 1 million downloads!
The content can be both staff and student produced, preferrably in the 2-5 minute range, and it must be free. You can include photos, videos, pdf files for lesson plans, assessments, etc.
Mike Dronen from Stillwater suggested that this would be a great opportunity for teachers to share their work on integration as well.

I think this is a great option for sharing out content, and hopefully this meeting will gather momentum for districts to start utilizing this option.

Integration Best Practice
Cara Hagen led a discussion of Technology Integration Best Practice Resources
Lemke's document has a great graph on ease of use and pedagogy.
Grappling's Technology and Leaning Spectrum shows uses that starts with Tech literacy, moves to Adapting uses, and Transforming Uses. At times, each is a good level to be at, but ultimately, we want to take teaching to a new level with the transformative uses.

Problems and/or issues include time, money and accountability. Shawn Beaverson brought up the assumptions about student access and abilities. He noted that we change or limit our practice based on assumptions. How do we determine what the actual access is? Roger Bovee felt that computers are not the issue at home, it's Internet access. Perhaps "checking out" 4G devices could be checked out, though filtering issues might need to be addressed.
Marla Davenport asked about what happens when students bring in mobile devices in their classroom? Who's responsible for troubleshooting, supporting?

We then broke up into groups to explore issues involving assessment, student helpdesk support, professional development/staff assessment, student access-equity and filtering. See the notes for more info.
Interactive White Board Pedagogy

Many issues with integration also apply to Interactive White Boards. Cara is doing a book study this summer on IWB called, "Interactive Whiteboard Revolution: Teaching with IWB's" by Chris Betcher and Mal Lee.
Often pedagogy with IWB's ends up being the teacher at the front of the room, however there are many student-centered options.
How are we going to combine technologies, support and standardization?
Many staff say they are comfortable with the presentation tool aspect, but the awareness and comfort in creating lessons, including students is often underutilized.
If districts have limited funds, should districts install IWB's or improve infrastructure so that students can bring their own devices, or use other tools to present such as an iPad?
Philosophically, if we are trying to create students who are learners, does it make sense to put them in front of an IWB or in front of a personal device? Dawn Nelson suggested giving students the devices, teaching them how to use them responsibly as a learning tool.
Wayne Everything we have today is going to change...What's happening with how we are training students to learn, think critically. Cara added that it's more important with how students interact with the technology, curriculum, and most importantly, with each other.

Dave Eisenmann from Minnetonka said that SMART Boards in their classrooms were a game changer, because it forced teachers to use and interact with technology. They were a wise choice 8 years ago, today, he's not so sure...perhaps it's the iPad and online tools like Schoology.

Cara pointed out that you have to meet every learner where they are and take them where they need to be. For some teachers, that might be with a SMART board, as an iPad may be too much. In any event, whatever tool they are using, teachers need the support to take them further.

Schoology Notes

Jonathan Hume from Schoology came to share information about their social networking/ Learning Management System
  • Global Education Network
  • Teachers sharing content with each other-Joining Personal Learning Communities
  • Now will have Google Single Sign-on integration
  • Gives students real-time access to academic content
  • Parents have real-time info related to their kids
  • Updates, flexibility of when it's open
  • Access codes unique for each course
  • Single Sign-on
  • Administration allows for separate roles for users with specific permissions
  • Ties in to unique ID's for students and parents.
  • User Profiles can be set to District, school, class etc.
  • Custom domains and branding
  • Feed for each course in the news ala Facebook
  • Course outline set up in the main section similar to Moodle
  • Forums can be filtered by user to view their interaction.
  • Assessments can be done online
  • Assignments created automatically get posted in the gradebook. Can be unchecked.
  • Gradebook can be integrated between systems.
  • Course Analytics can be viewed quickly and easily at the course and activity level.

Mark Garrison from White Bear Lake talked about how they are using it in his district. People like the layout, since it's so Facebook-like. Recent activity shows what students were working on. The built in calendar is right there, with links to every assignment for every kid that a parent has.
White Bear is using it for:
  • Teacher Websites
  • Digital Extension of the Physical Classroom
  • Staff Development
  • Technology Integration
  • Great communication tool with the ability to get an e-mail or text messages for assignments, messages, etc.
  • Social Media
  • Truly integrated technology
  • Ease of use for staff and students
  • 24/7 access
  • Allows for innovation-Link for ideas to improve it. They are always evolving and changing.
  • Groups-Mark showed a nice example of students working on a homeless project
  • Media-currently internal, but they are working on allowing public viewing of images. Tagging of photos just like FB.
  • Students can see their feed from each class rather than having to go to each site individually.
  • "If you think making content available and communicating with parents is too much, what are you doing in the classroom?"
The shared library allows ranking of materials for use.
They are looking at Standards based assessment integration, assessment reporting, and classroom analytics in the future.

Students might be interested in extracting some or all of their learning from the system at some point for their digital portfolio. Schoology is looking at allowing for this.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gone Google Billboard

Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Lindley

My colleague, Molly Schroeder recently entered our district in a contest for a billboard featuring our use of Google Apps for Education. Well, we were selected as one of the 10 world-wide winners of the "Gone Google Campaign contest", and now, drivers along Interstate 494 in Richfield can view the sign!
On Thursday, Molly appeared on Channel 9 in the Twin Cities and was interviewed regarding the billboard contest and our use of Google Apps for enhancing student learning:

Edina Public Schools Have Gone Google: MyFoxTWINCITIES.com

Molly did a great job discussing the ways that students are using the tools for communication, collaboration, and creating meaning for their learning, and the fact that "the secret to student success is great teaching." She also made an important point regarding the number of colleges and universities that have embraced these tools, and how our use of these tools is helping prepare our students for their future. Currently, Brown, Northwestern, Arizona State, USC, the University of Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Temple and Notre Dame are among the schools using Google Apps.

We currently have 6775 users using our Apps for Education site. As you can see by the following graphs, the use over the last 6 months continues to increase:

The graph on the left shows the number and type of document being used by students and teachers. The graph on the right, shows how more and more users are collaborating on the documents that are created.

There are many districts around the country who have moved to Google Apps for Education, and with Molly's leadership we have developed a very successful implementation. She has been a leader in our district, and as a member of the first group of "Google Certified Teachers," she has taken that experience and expanded it, here and around the world. Congratulations!