Sunday, August 31, 2014

Connected Courses Blog Syndication

As part of participating in the Connected Courses cMOOC, my blog will be linked to the Connected Courses blog. Just having my blog listed in proximity of Howard Rheingold's blog definitely puts some pressure on keeping up with my blog on a regular basis. From being part of #BlogJune, I know that it is difficult to find the time to write a reflective post every day and have been trying to maintain writing at least one post a week as my goal.

I am looking forward to being part of Connected Courses though and learning from colleagues everywhere.

Funny how in the past, I would have been fortunate to share ideas with colleagues in my own school district on district professional development days that were scheduled only once per quarter during the school year, and now I can reach out to colleagues from across North America and from around the world by just turning my laptop or iPad on and writing a blog post or sending out a tweet on Twitter. It is truly amazing what a globally connected world we live in today!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Participating In Connected Courses

I am looking forward to participating in Connected Courses over the next several months.
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"Connected Courses is a collaborative network of faculty in higher education developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web."

The Connected Courses cMOOC is sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and Digital Media & Learning Initiative Research Hub. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Office, New Approach To Utilizing Office Space - Introduction To Hoteling

Yesterday was my first visit to our new offices for the Personalized Learning department. Over the summer the elementary school that we are officed within underwent a complete redesign of all the classrooms and learning spaces to create more innovative use of shared spaces and classrooms. The amazing new multi-classroom shared spaces remind me of the open classroom concept from a few decades ago when there were no walls between classrooms. More about the classrooms later though.

As part of the school redesign, our office space was condensed from two classrooms to one in another part of the building that also underwent an architectural change over the summer. Our district facilities department began looking at more innovative uses of office space about a year ago, especially for offices with staff who aren't necessary working at a desk from 8:00 to 4:00 every day but who may be regularly out in schools working with teachers for part of the work week.

Our new office space contains a variety of seating options - two double-sided desks, cushy swivel chairs with a movable arm rest piece to put your laptop on with a movable whiteboard partition to allow for small group brainstorming sessions, and a flexible small group meeting area that doubles as a break area.

The idea of hoteling is that in an office, such as ours which has fourteen staff members, most of the staff are actually have very mobile job duties and spend a great deal of time working in schools with principals and teachers on integrating technology and revamping library spaces and services. The idea of hoteling is that less desks and chairs are needed, and ultimately less office space and furniture are required, if people are not assigned to desks but rather can be more flexible about where they sit and work while they are in the office. The concept of hoteling then relies on being flexible and temporarily occupying spaces while in the office.

A few years ago I did a presentation at ISTE about how schools could learn from companies like General Mills and the University of Minnesota who have put hoteling into practice for years now to create flexible office space designed around team and project needs versus quiet work spaces for intense work for the former and more creative, collaborative use of classroom learning environments and hallway spaces for the later to create dynamic technology-enriched classrooms and learning stations that allow all students and groups to share their work with the class without need for transition time or movement through connected table pods that can access the room projection and audio system as well as having movable whiteboard space for brainstorming group work.

Storage space is at a premium in the hoteling model with shared storage cabinets for office supplies and shared technology equipment and a personal portable storage cabinet for each of us that can be personalized with photos and magnets and that can slide under the desk countertop while we are working in the office and that can be pulled off to the side when we leave to free up the desk space for the next person when they arrive at the office.

We have definitely entered a new frontier in terms of being more mobile, agile, and living in less personalized spaces than in the past when we had assigned desks covered with family photos and desk toys that gave some impression of our personalities and interests. I am excited though about starting out the year with the knowledge that I don't have an assigned space and can be more flexible about moving around as needed according to who I am collaborating with on projects while in the office.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Google Slides App For iOS

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Google continues to make the Google Apps For Education suite more iPad friendly as the Google Slides app for iOS debuted to the masses today! Slides along with Google Drive, Sheets, and Docs have enabled iPad users to tap into the collaborative power of Google apps like never before on iPads.

Google Slides has also added new features and options that were not available previously when accessing Google Slides via the Chrome iOS browser. Users can now create presentations on the iPad rather than being limited to just viewing them as well as continuing to work on presentations offline and having the new content sync back up once connected to wifi again.

These changes make using Google Slides more friendly than ever for schools and districts going 1:1 with iPads.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SAMR Model Use

I recently had the opportunity to reflect on my conversation with Dr. Ruben Puentedura about his views on the various SAMR Model graphic organizers at ISTE2014 in Atlanta.

My school district is going 1:1 with iPads and part of that work is to help our teachers and staff stay focused on the pedagogy of personalized learning rather than being overwhelmed by the glitz of devices even though that can be an important factor in engaging digital age students.

I created the video below reflecting on my conversation with Dr. Puentedura as an introductory tool for teachers and administrators who are unfamiliar with the SAMR Model to reinforce for them the transitory nature of technology integration in the classroom in terms of moving back and forth between the levels. While our goal is to help students and teachers to use technology in ways that exemplify the Modification and Redefinition levels of the SAMR model, the way that technology is used in the classroom depends upon the task.

A teacher might have students Skyping with an expert in a particular field one day and using the Notes app on the iPad the next day as a tool for taking notes, which is a totally appropriate usage. The SAMR Model, when used as a self-reflective hierarchical model, helps teachers and students to be more aware of how they are using technology and reminds them to strive for the higher levels of Modification and Redefinition which will have the greatest impact on students learning.

Friday, August 15, 2014

#Leadershipday14 - The SAMR Model Is A Self-Reflective Tool Not An Evaluation Tool

It can be tempting to try to repurpose the SAMR model to be used for evaluation purposes in terms of teacher technology use in the classroom. The SAMR model is designed to be a self-reflective model of technology use though and should not be used as an evaluative tool.

This past summer, I had the pleasure of getting to chat with Dr. Ruben Puentedura at ISTE about the SAMR model and which graphic representation he felt was easiest for teachers to understand.

Watch the video below to learn more about why the swimming pool model helps teachers to understand SAMR.

Due to the spiraling nature of technology use in the classroom, using the SAMR model would not be a fair evaluative tool because teachers may have students using technology in a substitution manner directly after using it at the redefinition level due to the changing needs of each classroom task.

Maybe having a teacher document their technology integration use throughout the year in connection with the academic projects or tasks would be a more reflective and equitable measure.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

iPad Training - Basic Introduction Level

I created this handout for an upcoming training on iPads for participants who have never used an iPad before or who have very little use of one. Due to bandwidth limitations, we also are not able to have participants download any apps to the iPads during the initial training. Given those parameters, you can see the outline of the training below that I came up with. This training will focus on the basic functions and settings of the iPad to try to familiarize users with those so that they know where to go later and how to make changes in the settings.

Additional trainings will be offered later on a set of core apps that has been identified. I spent a lot of time trying to think about how to ensure that the training was dynamic and engaging given that we would not be able to demonstrate any flashy cool apps.

Feedback welcomed.