Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tech Planning Process - Conversations

We have finished the tech request portion of the tech plan and I will begin to put together a 3 year budget. Over the next 3 days I will meet with each school to discuss some big picture questions. I am opening the session with a powerpoint that you can download here: techplan.zip

We also shared the district technology vision

Here are the questions - any answers?

Technology Planning Starter Questions

Teacher 1-1 Laptops –

· What would be the curricular impact of 1-1 laptops for teachers?

· Staff Development

o What would be the staff development required for 1-1 laptops to effectively impact the curriculum?

o If we go to a 1-1 initiative should teachers be required to participate in a certain number of staff development hours to receive a laptop? Is so, how many hours over the lifetime of the computer?

· What would be the most important technical features in this device?

· What kind of technical support would teachers expect for a district provided laptop?

· What kinds of opportunities are created for community outreach through teacher laptops?

Student 1-1 Laptops –

· What kind of cost considerations would we have to think about? For example, are we willing to forgo textbooks for student laptops?

· How would student 1-1 laptops impact our curriculum?

· What would change in teacher expectations of student work, behavior, use of the device, etc?

· What kind of training would be required for each student? When and how would it happen?

· Would every building in the district do this with every student?

· What would be the most important technical features in this device?

· What kind of technical support would students expect for a district provided laptop?

Media Rich 21st Century Classrooms

· What should be in our classrooms?

o Here are some of the items that showed up in tech requests:

§ Computers – 1 or more…

§ LCD Projectors – Wired vs. Wireless

§ Document Cameras, Interactive Whiteboards, Blutetooth Tablets

§ Speakers and Sound

§ Printing – color vs. B&W – local vs. networked

· How does that impact the layout of our classrooms?

· How does the technology in the classroom impact instruction?

· What staff development would be needed to effectively use the technology present in a media rich 21st century classroom?

Staff Development and Technology Support

· Staff Development

o How much staff development is needed?

o What form should staff development take?

o When should it take place?

o Who should offer it and teach the teachers, staff, and students about technology?

· Technology Support

o What does technology support need to be doing to meet the needs of the organization?

o How many people does it take to meet those needs?

o Does building level technology support need to be people from the technology profession, geeky teachers, or a mix?

· Where in the building should technology support be located? What hours should support be available?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Asus Eee Series Pc Student Trial

Here are the initial results of the Asus Student Trial where we have several students trying out the eee around school and home.

Here is what the teacher said about the process:

I've had two students try it out as a loaner and many others just test it out for a few minutes or so. I've also gone and talked to other teachers and students in their classes here about it and what possibilities it holds. It is now with another student and I'll get it back from her next week and pass it on. Here are the responses from two students who had the pc for a few weeks and what they thought. One is male, other is female. Both are AP Chemistry students. I did talk and bring the computer to share and show all levels of students and with their teachers permission brainstormed ideas if they had one. Many thought it was really cool.

Here are the 2 student's responses. Their names have been removed (question #1)

Student #1

2. What is your gender?

male

3. How easy was the eee PC to use?

Fairly easy

4. Did you/How did you use it to in class?

I didn't use it in class

5. Did you/How did you use it at home?

I checked my e-mail and other uses.

6. Did you/How did you use it online?

Checked e- mail and did some research.

7. When compared to your current computer, what are its advantages and limitations?

Its portable and easier to use.

8. What surprised you?

It didn't have a carrying case.

9. What disappointed you?

You can't download programs and you can't hook up external drives.

10. What did you like the most/the least about this computer?

I liked that it was smaller. I didn't like that it did not have a carrying case

3. How did you find the keyboard, mouse, screen, battery life?

The battery life was pretty good the screen is easy to read, the mouse moves well, and the keyboard was a lot easier to use than I thought

4. If you showed it to someone, what did they like or dislike about the computer?

They didn't like the size of the keyboard, but they appreciated the compact size.

5. Did you run into any errors messages?

No

6. How fast did it link to the web?

Really fast but it was really hard to find a good connection at Maine West. At Panera, library, and home it was awesome!

7. Would you carry one of these around school on a regular basis?

Maybe.

8. What about school would change if you had one of these all of the time?

I probably wouldn't have to ask so many questions. I could just look up the answers.


Student #2

2. What is your gender?

female

3. How easy was the eee PC to use?

very easy

4. Did you/How did you use it to in class?

I could not really find a reason to use it class because my classes are not structured for the use of a computer. I think that if the laptop was worked in to the curriculum in future years it would be easier to find uses for the laptops.

5. Did you/How did you use it at home?

I used it at home to go online and look up things but only because I already have wireless at my house. it was aggravating because the D207 restrictions were still on the computer. this would make it hard for students with no other computers to do things for projects that require Google images or other blocked sites.

6. Did you/How did you use it online?

yes I think that I used the internet most out of the functions of the laptop

7. When compared to your current computer, what are its advantages and limitations?

its a lot faster than my computer start up and shut down wise because there is no hard drive. its so compact and easy to carry around.

8. What surprised you?

the number of programs that came on the computer. I could do all my school work on that computer whether it was an essay or a lab.

9. What disappointed you?

its keyboard was hard to get used to

10. What did you like the most/the least about this computer?

I like the idea of it changing the way the class room works. I think it could improve teaching methods

3. How did you find the keyboard, mouse, screen, battery life?

the screen is a little small but everything else is fine.

4. If you showed it to someone, what did they like or dislike about the computer?

people thought the computer was so cool because it was small and easy to use.

5. Did you run into any errors messages?

no

6. How fast did it link to the web?

at my house it connected fast but I couldn’t find a signal anywhere in the school.

7. Would you carry one of these around school on a regular basis?

probably not because the laptops are not built into the curriculum yet.

8. What about school would change if you had one of these all of the time?

I’d be able to access the web more and look things up I didn’t know. I could also work on typed documents during my free periods more easily.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Put Your Ideas Here...

There has been a lot of chat over the last few weeks in the mass of content I read about social networks and collaborative tools. The debates range from should we use them, if so how, does it really impact learning, are we preparing our kids correctly, and many variations on those themes.

Here is where I am at -

  1. Good schools still start with good teachers
  2. Good teachers with good resources can better reach their students and teach skills
  3. Students with more resources are better prepared for the educational environment
  4. Parents that have high expectations and encourage their kids make it a lot easier for schools
  5. Technology is still an amplifier in many ways - it makes good teaching better and bad teaching worse
  6. Technology can really help instruction in 3 ways - that are completely new to education (it can also stop it when used incorrectly)
    1. Efficacy through Information - It can speed up communication and can increase the amount of information available to all stakeholders. That information can flow to multiple people in multiple directions in many different formats. This information can empower all members of the educational community to make better, more informed decisions.
    2. Flattening time and space - It can break down the walls of our classrooms and make them 24/7 collaborative learning environments while bringing students in contact with different people, times, places, and ideas that were never available before in our closed classrooms
    3. New Creations - there are new products and projects that can be done with technology that could never be done before. Learners can be engaged in different highly stimulated mediums. There is a greater ability to share work and ideas.
Here is where I am going -

If you have been following my blog, you know that I am working with a company to design a totally new web environment for my district. It will serve as a CMS and will function like any other good website for getting content up to the web. That is Phase 1 and will be done in a few months.

Phase 2 is where changes really start to happen. We will be developing a web-based collaborative web-based environment that will provide the school community with the collaborative tools they need for making an impact through technology. Here are some of the things I know will be there for each student, teacher, staff member, and parent:
Dynamic Calendars and Announcements - including assignments
Teacher/Classroom Blogs
RSS Aggregator
The ability to share the following with anyone or any group in the organization (this includes students):
Documents
Bookmarks
RSS Feeds
Photos
Video
Podcasts

Here is my question to you - what "tools" would you put there to bring what is great on the web - that helps accomplish the goals I have listed above?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Response to David Warlick's "Two Assumptions"

I posted this comment in response to David Warlick's Two Assumptions

I think there is a delineation here between some different tools. As you have been pointing out, each of these sites has it's own niche market. Sure our kids are using facebook for creating social networks...and they are social. This isn't the tool I want to use for classroom collaboration, because I would want my classroom to be more than social. It probably doesn't interest my kids much either, because who wants to mix their playground with work.

What I think we need is a tool that allows students and teachers to work collaboratively in a sandbox that gives them the tools they need to work in a traditional learning setting or in one that is more progressive.

What we need more than good social networking or collaborative tools - we need good curriculum that would benefit from these tools. We need good teachers that know how to use these tools and are willing to learn how to use them better along with their students. Good tools makes all of this easier.

I feel that there hasn't been a product made yet that has all of the tools built into an environment that easily supports a collaborative learning environment. Those that do exist that try to do this (Moodle,Blackboard, of a mix of a variety of online tools) have a steep learning curve, are cumbersome, or are blocked by school webfilters. On top of all of this teachers that are using these resources don't have a large enough collection of good vetted lessons or activities that use collaborative tools.

I believe that we will eventually reach a critical mass where the right combination of hardware, network, software, curriculum, and teacher ability come together and use social networking tools to impact learning. I feel that time is not now. Now is the time to build and prepare for that time - unfortunately in the meantime we are leaving kids unprepared for the changing world - but isn't that the tradition of schooling?