Friday, February 24, 2012

Redefining Awesome...Connected Learning

Last September, Will Richardson challenged our faculty to "Redefine Awesome" in what learning looked like in our district. The last few weeks, have seen some great connected learning opportunities happening at Valley View Middle School that get at what Will was talking about. 
Project Lead the Way
Tim Berendt, a teacher in our Project Lead the Way program, began using Twitter this year as a way for his students to share the work they are doing with the outside world, and also as a tool for formative assessment.  Students tweet out what they hope to accomplish at the beginning of the class period, and then tweet what they completed at the end. In many cases, students have received feedback and encouragement from people outside the district, such as this exchange from Autodesk, the company that makes the software the students use! 
Berndt did a great job at the start reminding students to follow our Web 2.0 Code of Ethics, and how they could use hashtags to label their work. Students label their tweets with #edinapltw, #STEM and #EduWin to share with different audiences. He was recently contacted by our local ABC affiliate KSTP-Channel 5 for a story about his use of social media in the classroom! Tim is seeing first hand the engagement and motivation his students get, when creating for an authentic audience! 

9th Grade Government
Students in Erik Anderson's government class recently had a debate with students in New Brighton, Pennsylvania via Skype! Erik had connected with Brian Pasquale, a fellow government teacher on Twitter during a weekly chat called #sschat. They realized that they had a similar curriculum, and thought they would try this as an experiment. It took a lot of work and planning the first time through, but as Pasquale noted on his blog :
The most interesting thing to me was how much they (the students) completed outside of class.  Numerous students told me about tweeting, texting, and googling outside of class and into the evening hours.  This was something I was hoping would happen (naturally) and was glad to see in some cases that it did.  In the workforce projects are no longer just completed by people in one office building; the some of its parts come from all over the world and the students need to be prepared to effectively engage in that environment.  I believe they already are, they just needed to apply their social life to their academic/vocational life.
The students met each other briefly via Skype on Monday, collaborated on Google Docs throughout the week, and then presented on Friday. Anderson noted that the students were totally engaged in the Cover-It-Live backchannel, which allowed the teachers and select students to moderate the discussion. They were also able to post poll questions to gather feedback. Several students brought their own devices and Anderson used the computer lab so all could be engaged. 

During Richardson's talk last fall, he mentioned how the National Council of Teachers of English defined literacy for students today. They need to be able to:

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology  
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally  
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes  
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information  
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts  
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

I would venture to say that Berndt and Anderson have done a masterful job of taking the leap and meeting these standards! Not bad for a social studies and engineering teacher!

If you would like to learn more about how you can use Twitter and other social media tools to engage your students and enrich your learning, I will be hosting a Webinar on Tuesday, March 20 from 4-4:30, CST. Details to follow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

TIES TLC 2012: You Are Not Alone: The Power of Personal Learning Networks in EdTech Leadership

I had the honor and pleasure of presenting at the 2012 TIES Technical Leadership Conference last Thursday.
As the presentation unfolded, I added some anecdotes, and participants had good questions about balance and "what about the Introverts?" I have updated the slides to address this. 
It's interesting that even though this presentation is 5 days old, I find myself thinking about how I can improve it! It's something teachers often think about in regards to lectures that we give, but I wonder what it would be like and we turned it around for students? Obviously, at some point there has to be a "summative" but what if you said to kids, "you are free to keep following the passion and exploring"? I'll continue to add notes, and link to what I'm referencing. As always, I appreciate your feedback!

TIES TLC 2012: Aimee Bissonette Privacy, Security, Access and Ownership: Legal Issues in Cloud Computing

In this session, Aimee Bissonette focused on aspects of cloud computing for school districts. Her slides can be found here.
She asked how many districts were using it, and most said they were, and that most were free. Many were Apps for Education districts.
After discussing the attributes of cloud computing, why schools are interested in using it, and how it works, she focused on the implications.
The disadvantage to free services include, "It might not be there tomorrow," Advertising, and "It might not be free anymore!" How much leverage do you have regarding terms of service when something is free?
She pointed out benefits, but also raised concerns regarding privacy, security, data integrity, intellectual property, etc.
The student data that you collect and store involve many laws, FERPA, FCRA, HIPAA, etc.
It is important to understand how data is stored in the vendor's system, and how you can access it
Free services typically have limited tools available which may make e-discovery cumbersome and time consuming. Google does have a good service for retrieval if you pay.

Doug Johnson noted that there are policies in place for administrators to archive paper communication, why can't they be responsible for storage of electronic communication.
Bissonette noted that the question is how can it be retrieved? She wondered what people would get from doing that. If someone is working for you and they are sued, you are sued too! It doesn't get the employer off the hook!
Is there a legal difference between staff and student accounts regarding archiving? The school is responsible for it's employees, not the student user transmissions regarding archiving.

Service Level Agreement Issues
What is the guaranteed up time?
What is the fine print?
What services do they agree to provide?
When may the contract be terminated? For you or the vendor? If you terminate, what happens to the data?
What about "Automatic Renewal" language?

Accessing Data Quickly
Schools need to specify specific circumstances when the district needs access to data in an emergency. This should be outlined in the contract. What would it be like if you stored the data yourself? Use those as a guideline for how you need it in the cloud.
The death of a student, health or safety emergency of the school or other people are examples.

Warranty and Indemnification
The contract should address the violation of a 3rd party's intellectual property rights as well as if there is an inappropriate disclosure or data breach. Some schools may have state laws restrictions here. If there is monetary compensation, it should be pretty big! ($1,000,000 especially if someone like MSFT and Google!)
Indemnification by the school needs to be clearly specified as well!

Choice of Law/Venue
The school's law and juristiction should be the governing law. The action should be brought in the defendant's juristiction.

Other Issues
Publicity -Can the provider use our logo in publicity? Perhaps as long as permission is asked for first!
Responsibility for unauthorized use.

Negotiating Contracts

  • Don't sign a provider form as is!
  • Retain counsel to assist with contract review
  • Consider pooling resources with other schools.
Wisconsin has done a nice job of pooling resources this way.

Contract approaches
  • Baseline-Individual schools make decisions based on them individually
  • Commercial Sourcing (COMSo) Districts pick specific services to move to the cloud.
  • Institutional Sourcing An institution provides IT services to schools for a fee
  • Consortium Sourceing-Like TIES
Doug Johnson asked about Google, and the fact that so many districts and institutions are using it, isn't it a fairly safe move? Bissonette said "probably", but when it comes to the smaller companies, or services that are not free, then it would be prudent to take a closer look!

What about ebooks that have a cost? It also comes up on iDevices where Apple wants you to tie it to the staff members own e-mail. State law currently states that you can't charge students for this as a "technology fee" if you choose to use them.
Some districts have assigned a separate e-mail account for each device they manage.

Friday, February 17, 2012

TIES TLC 2012: Aimee Bissonette: Legal Implications of Student Owned Devices

Aimee Bissonette, an expert in school law spoke at the TIES Technical Leadership Conference on Legal Implications of Student Owned Devices. Her presentation and notes are here.
She began with a disclaimer that if issues arrise in your district, you need to consult YOUR OWN lawyers!

Student Free Speech
Students currently engage in cyberbullying, posting as others, etc., but mostly off campus. Case Law is still in flux.
In Layshock vs. Hermitage School District, a 17 year old received a 10 day susspention  for creating an imposter Website on their principal. He was the 3rd student to do this and the principal had enough.
In Snyder vs. Blue Mtn. School District, an 8th grader posted sexually explicit material and the principals photo on an imposter site. The student received a 10 day susspension.
In Layshock, the court said it was innapropriate. In Snyder, they agreed with the school district. Both are under appeal. Both of these rulings occured on the same day! The 3rd Circuit took up both cases and ruled that the schools acted wrongly, because they disciplined students for sites created outside of school. However, both principals could have sued for defemation, but chose not to. 
In January of this year, the Supreme Court chose not to take up the case. They also chose to not take up the Kowalski case where a student cyberbullied another student. The student was suspended and the suspension held. There is no clear direction! 

Schools Can't Wait For the Courts!
Schools Can't Wait For Legislatures! (Note Missouri and Louisiana)
The best tool for schools is policy!

They have been part of our lives for a long time now, and every district represented in the room has one.
They insure students are protected, and enable students and teachers to access resources on the Internet.
The initial policies were more about protection. Now they are evolving to talk about "Responsible Use!"
Bissonette noted that Blogs, Wiki's Social Bookmarking sites and Cloud Based tools are out their, and we should teach kids to use them correctly.
Half the people in the room has revisited their AUP in the last year. She encourages people to do so!
Consider changing the name to "Responsible Use" rather than "Acceptable Use"
Frame the AUP in terms of the Bennefits! She showed the Bellingham Public Schools 1st paragraphs as a good example!
She suggests that districts create a schedule for when they review their AUP. This can then enhance buy in. It is important to include teachers, administrators, parents and students not just the IT people.

State and Federal Laws
CIPA, FERPA at the Federal Level
State laws pertaining to Internet Use in schools.
In Minnesota, the US Dept. of Education says that our current bullying law gets an F.
Key Minnesota Laws include: 
Minn Stat. 122A Teachers and Other Educators
Minn. Stat. 121 A Anti Bullying Law
A question came up about student owned devices and CIPA-If they are off your network, are you in violation. She recommends that you tell students not to access off your network.

Four Big Ideas for Your AUP
Responsible personal conduct online is similar to Face 2 Face
Individuals must protect personal safety (I asked her to define this)

  • From a legal standpoint this means "don't have too much self-disclosure." Research has shown that it is students who share too much info or posting on inappropriate sites
  • Age Appropriate
  • She talked about ""
  • Discretion and appropriateness are key

Civic Life has an expanding digital dimension that demands responsible engagement by individuals and groups.
Long-lasting implications to publishing in the online environment.

Doug Johnson asked about the new MSBA revised AUP guidelines that 

She shared our policy as an example that references off campus behavior. 
Bissonette recommends that the policy address student owned mobile devices. She suggests stating that students are prohibited from accessing other networks on campus, and that they should include examples of different types of technology. 

She suggests "test-driving" BYOD and BYOD policy language that allows you to add additional rules as needed. She referenced the Jefferson-Scranton School district as an example of best practice.
Confiscation is ok if missuse is occuring. It is NOT recommended for the classroom teacher to "rifle through" to see what is in the computer. That should be left to an administrator and only with due cause. For example, if a student is accused of taking pics of a test, you can look at the cell and the pictures on the cell. 

Web 2.0
Barington, IL
Edina, MN (No we didn't pay her for all of these references!)
Fairfax County Schools in Va has very specific guidelines. The "Best Practices" approach is good because it doesn't constrain you.

Cell Phones
Probably not a good idea to ban cell phones but allow BYOD! 

Someone in the audience noted that a BYOD program is NOT a 1:1 computing program.
Student sharing, additional carts are ways to supplement.
Do NOT require students to have one, unless you're ready to provide for those who don't!

Staff Off-Hours or Off-Site Use
Natalie Monroe, the Pensylvania teacher who posted how bad her students were on her blog, who now has REALLY SMALL CLASS SIZES!
She shared other cases of teachers who did not use common sense when posting online.
It is important in your policy to show a nexus regarding off duty behavior.
She said she likes Minnetonka's Guidelines for conduct
She said that you might want to specify that during the school day, even if you're on 3G and on your lunch break, you should specify what is permissible.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TIES TLC 2012: Tim Wilson "Bring 'Em If You Got 'Em: Increasing Technology Access with Student Owned Devices

Tim Wilson, Chief Technical Officer for the Osseo, MN Public Schools has been a pioneer in the implementation of Bring Your Own Devices. The Project Copernicus program began in 2008
He used the site "" as a "student response" site
Bring Your Own Device has blown up in the last year. 
Headlines touting, "Consumer tech invades the enterprise" are now the norm.
People noted that the "illusion of control" has been lost! Wilson said that he starts conversations asking people to recognize that the devices are there whether they like it or not.
He showed a clip from Lord of the Rings with Theoden in Helm's Deep as the Tech Director and the devices are invading! "You know that the Orcs are going to get in! There is NO WAY to stop it!" You're crazy to try!
Wilson thinks it's fantastic, as this has the potential to positively impact classroom instruction. Here in this middle phase, there are some growing pains.

QuestionPress allows you to toggle question answer display on and off, and the questions show up on the display. It also allows you to re-run questions and it includes that as a separate question in the list. Wilson used this to get info about the policies that districts represented in the room. The response also delivered the questions and responses out to the devices as well. 57% of respondents said phones are ok before and after school, at lunch, etc. and 30% said phones are allowed everywhere including classrooms.
The latest survey says that 60%+ now have data plans. We noted that several districts have seen changes in their policy in the last year.
In the room, 45% allow BYOD, but 37% say it's coming soon. 41% of districts said that they have 81-100% coverage in buildings.
The environment most technical folks like things is everything in lock-step. That is not today's reality. We have no business managing them, as they are not ours!
It is totally understandable that we need to protect the district network, but we need to be planning, and not put our heads in the sand.
Roses and Thorns

Others noted:

What excites you about the potential of student-owned devices in the classroom?

  • Our group noted that it's a learning tool for students not an instructional tool for teachers. 
    Most students know how to use the tool, so the focus is about the learning.
  • Instant access to information...the potential of learning going beyond the classroom.
  • Student engagement
  • Less dependence on district resources.
  • Shrinking budgets ...this allows new tech in the classroom.
  • Less financial burden
  • Because it's not necessarily 1:1, students collaborate.
  • Engaging students
  • Off set our technology costs and students have ownership
  • Student response systems and group collaboration
  • More tech access will mean more engagement for students. More sustainable.
  • Faster access to info that they can get anywhere
  • Instant feedback
  • Stimulate learning by making it more interactive.
  • Increases engagement collaboration. Also lends to project based learning
  • Students get to use the technology they are familiar with.
  • Assessment tool, individualized learning, cost,
  • Access
  • Digital Equity Ability to do more with technology in the classroom. Motivate students
  • Access to online resources and more personal experience.
  • The sky is the limit
  • Reverse classroom
  • Draws a line in the sand as to what we support and the level we support it.
  • Freedom to allow students to be in the driver seat of their learning. Also frees teachers from having to know everything. They can be coaches.
Wilson noted that we are already asking kids to bring calculators that run above $100. We are not that far away from affordability for most students. Then we can supplement for those that can't. Blended learning and Flipped classroom trends are also ones that technical staff need to be aware of, so that they are able to support it.
He then asked the group,
What concerns you about the use of student-owned devices in the classroom?
  • Support
  • Who fixes student devices?
  • Support - we say we won't support personal devices, but...
  • Wireless capacity
  • Network security
  • Teachers will not be able to troubleshoot
  • Ease of misusing the devices for noneducational purposes.
  • The wifi not handling the load.
  • Inappropriate content
  • Professional development!
  • wireless bandwidth and staying on task as well as controlling content.
  • Teachers are concerned about supporting and helping different devices.
  • compatibility, access to bypass filter via cell service toggling, nuisance issues: is it easier to not be on task?
  • Keeping the line drawn on support. Is it district resposibility to support student owned devices if they need them for learning and application in the classroom...
  • Network security/threat management. Teachers also may be overwhelmed with variety of devices.
  • Equality among students and Intrusion Protection
  • Staying on task.
  • School network can't handle it.
  • No content filter on 3g 4g device
  • Non-verbal students become even more non-verbal. Need to stress verbal communication skills. Will public speaking become a lost art?
  • Management/support ???
  • Classroom management, Professional development for teachers, access for all students, infrastructure
  • Do we have a wireless the new standards coming out next year 802.11AC
  • Cheating, chatting, support for so many devices and apps
  • Loss of classroom control
  • Tech support - staffing - teachers doing tech support vs providing instruction - staff development
  • Financial inequality making BYOD not accessible/feasible for those without these devices.
  • Having support to help put out the little fires that can get in the way and kill a lesson plan.
  • What happens when the student device fails in class?
  • Inappropriate use, broken, bandwidth
  • Students bypassing CIPA-compliant filters with their own data plan.
  • Distraction, security
  • Teachers not understanding how to work with a variety of devices instead of a class set of 1 type
  • Teacher concerned about having to support and know all technology. Student possible cheating on tests.
  • Filter bypassing via 3/4G
  • That teachers will design student technology use in the lesson to the lowest level of tech that any given student has
  • Transitioning to student devices with current infrastructure. Where do we draw the line for support?
  • Equal access - haves and have nots and battery power - access to power outlets
  • Distractions
  • Distraction. Not all students having a data plan for question press
  • Inappropriate use At home broadband
  • Equity
  • Exposure to unfiltered data viruses
  • Liability and exposure to viruses
  • Who will teachers call for support since devices won't be owned by the district
  • The universal service application to deliver content.
  • Some teacher afraid of no longer being the CONTENT expert. Dude, someone wants to move my cheese!!!
  • The threat of non-standardization.
  • Not being on the same platform having the same applications
  • Getting teachers to focus on content not devices
  • Control
  • Resistent staff
  • Wireless coverage/costs.

Osseo's Project Copernicus program, named to signify that "students are at the center" of the work, is in it's 3rd year. Wilson noted that giving the project a name is helpful for marketing/branding. They started slowly and gradually, much like we have in Edina. He worked with building principals, looking at "roses and thorns" and 3 of the 25 were interested, w/ 8 teachers total. At the time, phones were banned in those schools, so they had to make a "Project Copernicus Bubble." The kids got it! Most concerns that people had did not bear out. The second year, they asked staff to think about "What activities do you currently do in the fall that you could do better/easier by harnessing student devices?"
Through the second year, they moved "classroom by classroom." The program has grown organically and deliberately. As of now, he really doesn't know how many teachers are involved, it's just part of what we do. Now an entire school, Osseo High School is a "Project Copernicus" school. The default is that kids can bring their devices. "It's not our project anymore!"
They do not allow printing from BYOD devices. It doesn't fit with the instructional model we're trying to accomplish! Just like in Edina, they want students creating and using their Apps for Education to turn things in electronically.
At the elementary school, a letter goes home that explains that the parents/students are responsible for all support and liability. They tell teachers, "we have 0 expectation that you will do any tech support on their device." The "Ask 3 before me" mantra is important! He doesn't ask his tech support to assist either. Our "SMART BAR" is another good way to support.
This is important, but don't let it stop you from doing it. Monitor, and then adjust. 
How do we prevent kids from doing things they are not supposed to do? 
Have teachers monitor as they are supposed to! Osseo's network is very open. Their Tech Department is not responsible for making decisions about filtering. That is an instructional decision. The teacher's job is to create instructional activities that are engaging, and they are supposed to monitor their students! Content is filtered, so he is not as concerned about students doing non-instructional activities outside of class time.
What about not blocking Facebook and allowing Cyberbullying? 
Wilson said, "Please do it on our network, because now we can do something about it!" It's hard to deal with when it is outside the school day. He noted that in the days before technology, bullying occurred, and if it happened at school, parents/students told the administration and it was happening, and then the administration dealt with it. It's almost easier to catch when it happens electronically, as opposed to anonymous notes slipped into lockers!
What about 3G and 4G devices?
How did we deal with students bringing inappropriate material to school before technology? It's the same! We rely on students to report and then we deal with it. Tomorrow's keynote may have a different view point.

BYOD technology in the classroom has allowed teachers to step out of their normal roles and look for different ways to assess students. It's definitely been a net positive! 

If I were talking to teachers, this is one of the first things I'd talk about. Osseo has seen students with limited means bring devices, and students with means choose not to. Kids seem to share their devices pretty well. In most schools, they typically see at most, 1/2 the kids bringing their device. The kids don't seem to care, and those that do, seem willing to share. Collaboration by a few kids on a single device can be a good thing! 
Wilson can make the case that with students bringing their devices, he now has more resources to spend on areas of need within the district. 

In closing, he encourages people to get up to speed so that they don't get wiped out by the tidal wave!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How Many Students Like Jeremy Lin Are In Our Classrooms?

This morning on NPR,former Sports Illustrated collumnist, Frank Deford shared an essay titled, "Looking For Lin In All The Wrong Places." As I was listening to Deford, the last paragraph struck me:

But, in counterpoint, what is so dispiriting is to contemplate not only how many basketball players, but how many other athletes, how many artists and actors and musicians and writers, how many special creative talents never get fulfilled because the so-called experts are always looking in the same places.

Jeremy Lin is a success, and hooray for him, but his example tells us that there are, surely, so many more brilliant might-have-beens in our midst who never get a chance.

This got me to thinking about our classrooms. How many "Jeremy Lin's" are sitting in our classrooms each day, unable to stand out because we are always looking in the same places when we assess their abilities? Is it because we don't connect with their passions? Is it because our methods of assessment are flawed? Do we fall into the same traps of doing things the same way?
When I look back on my time in the classroom, I am sure there are many that I missed.
I also know of several classmates, who may have not been at the top of the class, but today sit at the top of their professions!

As we head in to our classrooms today, let's take a moment to look at the "end of the bench" for the "Jeremy Lin's" and see if we can unlock their potential and see them in a new light!

Image Sources:
Jeremy Lin

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Humbling Support for Education

On Monday, the Edina Education Fund held their annual fundraiser luncheon. It's an opportunity to showcase how past grants have been used by staff, and encourage donors to contribute to future endeavors. At the event, the video below was shown. 

Edina Education Fund - 2012 from John Hoel on Vimeo.

Videographer, John Hoel did an amazing job telling the story. The video showcases "Innovation Grants," and it is good to remember that being innovative does not always mean you have to include technology!
I am proud to have been a part of the Edina Teaching and Technology Cohort group, whose efforts are showcased at the start of the video. It has truly been a pleasure to see the staff from that group grow in their craft, and provide amazing learning opportunities for their students. Kany Seck, a 4th grade teacher at our French Immersion School shared at the luncheon how she helps her students connect with French speakers in other countries. This week in 9th Grade Government, students in Erik Anderson's class are collaborating with students in Pennsylvania using Google Docs, and Skyping with them to present their learning. The training opportunities provided by the Edfund grant are helping to make those learning opportunities possible!
The support our school district receives is truly humbling! I wish EVERY district had that same level of support for learning!