Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 in Review and What Will 2011 Bring?

Left TurnImage by Thomas Hawk via FlickrWith 2010 quickly approaching the rear view mirror, it is time to take a few minutes and reflect on the past year - but also focus on the upcoming year and what it promises to bring.

Top 3 2010 Education Technology Trends

  • The iPad makes a splash in K-12. While the first gen version of Apple's tablet device made a splash both in the consumer market and the education arena, many educators were left wanting more (typical Apple strategy) from the device (camera, usb, etc.). Many school districts are still in the process of determining the best fit for the iPads and the role they will play in one-to-one learning initiatives moving forward. Are they the 'game changer' devices? Too early to tell in my opinion.

  • Social Media / Social Networking enters K-12. Many school districts grappled with how to effectively integrate the safe and secure use of Social Media (YouTube) and Social Networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) into their culture. While some were quick to be reactive and limit access to these resources for faculty, staff and students - other school districts took the time to research, discuss and determine how these tools could enhance learning opportunities for students and teachers. Those districts that took the time and energy to be proactive will reap the benefits of these tools.

  • Increase in one-to-one initiatives. More districts are reviewing how 1:1 initiatives can impact their curriculum and learning environment. Most districts are taking the standard approach of procuring a similar device for students and working with vendor partner to ensure effective professional development for teachers and appropriate integration for students. (See below for how this will shift beginning in 2011.)

Top 3 2011 Education Technology Predictions

  • Increased use of web-based instruction. Online courses will continue to gain momentum as school districts look at ways not only to save dollars, but to provide new and unique learning opportunities to their students. Many school districts have the technology in place to accomplish this, it is simply a matter of the cultural change that comes with an online learning platform.

  • Shift from 1:1 Initiatives to One-to-One Learning Initiatives. Instead of a technology driven initiative that has the appearance of being about putting laptops/tablets/devices in the hands of students, the focus will become on shifting the learning environment to that of a collaborative, problem-based learning classroom where the technology is simply a tool that enables students to better accomplish and reach their goals.

  • One-to-One Learning Initiatives will become more personalized. With the increased demand for school districts to provide tools to students for curricular goals / objectives, many school districts will explore the more cost effective and personalized avenue of allowing personal devices (all shapes and forms) onto their network. The technology has been there for school districts to safely and securely allow users to bring their devices onto the network and also have access to certain resources. These devices will come in all shape and forms from laptops, tablets to mobile devices. Students have the flexibility to utilize a device that meets their needs and their learning style. Big game changer.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

iOS 4.2....Day 2 with the iPad

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Day 2 into the new iOS for the iPad and I'm learning quite a bit and enjoying some of the new features. (Although I will state that anyone looking to upgrade their device, should attempt to avoid peak hours for the next few days. My update took approximately 1.5 hours total.)

First and foremost, I am excited about the ability to use folders on the iPad. For me as a user, I missed that functionality from my iPhone. Also, for our iPad field tests this allows users to organize apps either by school, grade level or content area. This is a big win for any school looking for a way to organize and evaluate the apps during a field test.

So I have haven't a chance to test out AirPrint yet, because apparently none of my printers are compatible. However, the concept is fantastic. I do struggle with how many printers out there are compatible and is the AirPrint function THE printing solution iPhone / iPad users have been craving. I think only time and testing will tell.

This was probably the feature I was most excited about prior to release and definitely the feature I was most disappointed with after the update. AirPlay is supposed to allow a user to stream videos from your iDevice to your TV or other iDevice. However, I realize my Internet-enabled Sony 55" LED television at home, will not work without Apple TV. Thanks Apple Marketing for being such a genius that you crush my expectations. I guess I will wait for a future update to this feature (which I'm sure is coming in the next release) that (probably for a cost) will allow me to connect to my other devices.

The new update brings multitasking from other iDevices to the iPad. You can be more productive as you work, have more fun as you play or do both. Everything happens smoothly and efficiently — without slowing down the performance of the foreground app or draining the battery unnecessarily - at least in my early findings. Fairly impressed with this functionality thus far.

Find My iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch — the MobileMe feature that helps you locate your missing device and protect its data — is now free on any iPad (and other iDevices) running iOS 4.2.3 Once you set it up, you can find your lost device on a map, display a message on its screen, remotely set a passcode lock, and initiate a remote wipe to delete your data. And if you eventually find your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can restore everything from your last backup. Pretty impressive resume - however something I hope I never have to use. This could be a function that school districts look to leverage as they deploy these devices to students - maybe Apple Marketing was one step ahead of me again.

I do like the ability to view all mail in my inbox (gmail, yahoo and exchance) from a single view. Also, the ability to thread messages (much like gmail) provides a cleaner and concise view. I haven't attempted to open attachments in a third-party app, but I know that is a function that is also available. To be tested soon...

Some of the new Accessibility Enhancements include Control VoiceOver using a wireless keyboard and output in braille to over 30 supported 
wireless Bluetooth refreshable braille displays in more than 25 languages. Both items that special education departments will be looking to utilize in determining whether the iPad continues to play a prominent role in the education of children with disabilities.

One final feature that I found cool was the ability to find text on web pages within Safari. What this allows you to do is a quick text search to find and highlight specific words and phrases on even the longest web pages. This is a pretty neat feature - I used it last night while reading news articles and was able to quickly jump to a section of interest based on a keyword search.


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Sunday, November 21, 2010

IASB Conference

Image representing AudioBoo as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBaseI had the opportunity to attend the IASB joint conference over the weekend with some of my colleagues from District 203.

It was great networking time and to see how other school districts in the state of IL are integrating and utilizing technology in the classrooms. Below are a few of the highlights:

  • A book I ordered today that will be at the top of my reading list: Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen .

  • WallWisher - a new way to communicate. An online notice board maker that is safe and secure for students to communicate and collaborate with each other - and its free:

  • I've blogged about this before - but I figured it was worth another mention. WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine that is much more sophisticated than the traditional search engine. For a demo of WA, visit here.

  • (iPhone / iPad app or on the web) - Audioboo is a mobile and web platform that enables users to record and upload audio for others to hear / view

  • Khan Academy is a non-profit video based academic lesson repository. It currently has over 1,800 titles in primarily math and science. It has drawn the attention of national and world leaders - including Bill Gates and PBS. Check it out:

  • Blabberize - Blabberize is a tool that allows students to take a photo and add their voice on top of it to create an authentic piece of work that captures their thoughts, ideas, etc.

  • - Kid Blog is what it says it is - a safe and secure way for students to blog. It is primarily designed as a way for elementary and middle school teachers who want to provide an avenue to communicate and collaborate with their students, as well as foster that same relationship for students and others.


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Sunday, September 12, 2010

iT203 Update: Instructional Technology

2 Months on the job and nearly 3 weeks with staff/students back, things are certainly picking up for the iT203 staff. We have many initiatives underway and several other projects on the horizon.

  • Student Information System
    Our SIS project is moving along as scheduled. This past week we completed our 'Champions Training', where 25 District 203 staff members gained a high-level overview of the new tool and its many modules and features. The purpose of the training was for this group to champion the tool amongst their peers, colleagues and work process groups. I felt this training was a success as many of our staff members were able to see first-hand the improved system we will be putting in place over our soon-to-be legacy system.

  • Electronic Communications Policy
    We have had a team working to create an Electronic Communications policy / guidelines that help accomplish 2 goals: 1. Provide a framework for 203 staff and students to utilize social networking sites / social media during the school day for the purpose of improving collaboration and communication both inside and outside the district. 2. The provide guidelines and recommendations for appropriate student / teacher communication on many devices / resources. This document is in its final draft form, coming soon to our cabinet and board of education.

  • Service Catalogue / Disparity Issue
    The instructional technology team has been working on developing a service catalogue that captures the value add of all classroom technology components. It also allows us to gain a snapshot of the current hardware, software, PD, staff, funding and other value drivers at each of the 22 schools. This moves us one step closer to developing a disparity recommendation to 'level the playing field' for all schools and provide a benchmark of technologies across all of our classrooms. This is certainly one of the more exciting and impacting projects for our team this year.

  • Student and Teacher Technology Assessments
    Our staff is currently taking a look at several vendors that provide assessment tools for measuring technology competencies of our staff and students. From a staff standpoint, this data will help drive the professional development opportunities in our buildings by providing just-in-time necessary trainings that address gaps in our staffs and buildings. From a student perspective, it is the first step in developing a scope / sequence tool that will give a high level overview of expected skills / knowledge across grade levels.

  • Learning Management System
    Our team continues to review technologies that have the potential to be a player in the future in our district. A core team will be assembled shortly to manage this project very similar to how our SIS project was managed. We will be assembling requirements, top vendors, review / pilot and RFP. We are leaning towards a phased implementation process, given that our SIS project has top priority in the district. A phased approach would allow our users to migrate slowly from any existing system they would be using to a new system.

As you can we have several tasks ahead of us as we continue to make iT203 one of the leading K-12 IT departments by providing world class innovative technologies and stellar service in an effective and efficient manner.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

iPhone to PC

ITunes StoreImage via WikipediaSo I finally was ready to update my iPhone to the new OS and realized I had a situation. All of my iTunes music existed on a desktop that was in storage. I certainly didn't want to take the time / energy to locate that desktop, connect it and copy the music files over to an external HD and then finally to my new laptop.

I started doing some research on third party applications that exist. I came acros Pod to PC by Macroplant and was impressed with the simplicity of their application and its future use after resolving my current dilemma. I purchased the application for $19.95 and watched as within minutes all of the music, videos, podcasts, etc. that existed on my iPhone was transferred to my new laptop. All of my playlists, organized file names carried over.

Anyone looking for a quick easy way to move files from an iTouch, iPod, iPhone to a new device - I suggest you take a look at Pod to PC by Macroplant. You can download the application and run in demo mode, which will move 10 songs over, so you can see what the process looks like.

Visit: for more information.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Making Our Mission Come To Life

I have spent the past two days in our Administrator's Kick-Off event. The purpose...making our mission come to life. I must start with the mission itself. Not only is this one of the most inspiring and simplistic mission statements, every member of the organization from top to bottom believes and lives this mission statement every day.

Our to educate students to be self-directed learners, collaborative workers, complex thinkers, quality producers and community contributors.

My job as Director of Instructional Technology for District 203 is to ensure that our mission is at the forefront of every decision that we make. Ensuring that our students utilize technology tools to become more self-directed. That they collaborate between classrooms, schools, communities, cities and countries. That they utilize technology tools, resources and applications to become complex thinkers. By allowing unfettered access to appropriate tools they are able to produce quality real-world work, work that allows them to pursue educational or work related opportunities upon graduation. And finally that they understand what it means to be members of a community and how to appropriately utilize technology tools as a productive member of society.

I look forward to this challenge and am excited for the opportunity to work for a school district that truly understands the purpose of education.


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Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Device for Every Student...

Over the course of the past year and a half I have debated via this blog the purpose, look/feel and desire for student devices. What exactly does that look like? What value does it provide? How do you measure success?

Here is a summary of my thoughts over that time...

Devices 4 Students (12/2008)
e-Textbooks v. Traditional Textbooks (1/2009)
Laptops for Teachers (4/2009)
Cell Phones in the Classroom (6/2009)
Is 1:1 The Solution? (10/2009)
Teacher Devices before Student Devices...(2/2010)

I am a firm believer that teachers should live and understand the 1:1 environment PRIOR to implementing ANYTHING for students. Fortunately, the district I am in currently teachers have had their hands on mobile devices for nearly 8 years. The next step is the correct and appropriate professional development that prepares them for the paradigm shift in their classroom of how student learning will take place. They must understand how their role will shift from presenter / gatekeeper of all knowledge to facilitator of learning. This is huge. Some teachers will have difficulties in accepting and even comprehending this role change. But the role change is essential to a successful 1:1 environment.

I also believe having a solid Learning Management platform is essential to a 1:1 environment. Students and Teachers need a place to communicate, collaborate and learn outside the walls of the classroom. A modern LMS that fosters the benefits of social networking, while allowing assignment submission / revision / editing / collaborating is key. A successful LMS implementation relies on not forcing change, but allowing teachers to "find out on their own" how such a tool can enhance their classroom and student learning.

So what becomes the next step?

I believe a district has to evaluate multiple devices. We simply cannot pigeon hole ourselves to a preferred device that may / may not currently exist in the district. Put the devices in the hands of teachers and students and gather feedback and data. What works? What doesn't work? What are the limitations of certain devices?

They also have to visit sites that have effectively, efficiently and cohesively implemented AND sustained a 1:1 initiative. Learning from others is one of our greatest tools. What were their successes? What were their mistakes? How do we learn from those mistakes? Our country is already filled with school districts that have refined this model. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, simply seek out the information and learn / share.

The district must also be prepared to PARTNER with a vendor that is willing to embrace the change in the school district. The vendor partner must bring new and innovative tools to the table. Tools and applications that improve and enhance the world of our teachers and students.

If we want to prepare our students to live in a global society - one that is ever changing - and want to them to succeed - no matter their destination post K-12 - a device (with the correct support, training and tools / apps) is becoming a must have. The debate is no longer should we / shouldn't we. The debate is what does it look like in my district and how do I make this happen.


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Student Information System

Exciting times in 203. We have formally announced the selection of our new Student Information System vendor - Infinite Campus.

The next year will be spent managing, training, data conversion, project governance, etc. as we prepare our end users to transition from a system that has been in place for nearly 10 years to a modern web-based system.

My role specifically is on the district's steering committee, Project Champions Group (core team) as well as the lead for Training and Student / Parent portal. I believe my background in a previous SIS implementation (though on a much smaller scale) will serve benefit to my groups throughout this project. I can draw on previous successes and failures in designing our implementation strategy.

I look forward to Infinite Campus playing an integral role in 203 moving forward. I believe they are a company that understands education and their role within the environment. Their implementation partner CIC, appears to have a good grasp of IL K-12 as well as IC.

Here is to a great year with both partners as we work to a smooth implementation and ensuring our end users are provided the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively and efficiently run in the new environment.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 3 with the iPad

I have utilized the iPad the past few days in a variety of meetings. I took notes via the notes feature in my Calendar, the basic notes app that comes standard and I also downloaded and installed the Documents Free app. I have found the Doc Free app the easiest to use, having the ability to upload the files quickly to Google Docs (while connected to the office WiFi). I also utilized the Calendar notes feature to quickly share my notes from a meeting to the other attendees who were on the invite.

Typing on the iPad isn't that difficult, since I have been an iPhone user for 2 years+. A wireless keyboard would be ideal and I have started to do minimal research on them. My looming concern at this point after a fairly intense process of utilization is having to lay the device flat on a table surface and leaning over to type / view the content. I really need a stand to have an optimal experience...

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

iT203 Open House...A Success!

The Naperville 203 Technology Department (iT203) held an open house today where principals, school board members, central office employees were able to come by and taste some food, mingle with technology staff, compete in raffles / games and experience many of the technology components we utilize.The feedback received has been outstanding. Thanks to everyone who made this a successful event!

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Evaluating the iPad

iPad is a Wi-Fi 64 GB version (another one beh...Image via Wikipedia

Over the next few weeks I will be taking part in our district's evaluation of the iPad. I have one in my possession to use at the office and at home.

My immediate reaction was "wow"...It is like a large iPhone. Obviously impressive with media, browsing the web, videos, etc. But then I started thinking like a student. Is this device really just for those who wish to consume or can it be utilized who those who wish to create also?

If I wanted to take information that I pulled from the web or other venues, could I easily and efficiently manipulate that information into a format for a presentation, collaboration, etc?

What about input? Is the 'keyboard' on the touch screen the most efficient way to input data? Obviously an external keyboard of some sort would be ideal.

I utilized the iPad during a morning meeting and took pretty efficient notes. (Mostly because of my 2 years+ on the iPhone, I consider myself a proficient i typer.) The problem became after the meeting - I was required to do some copying / pasting and then sharing to distribute my notes. It was manageable but cumbersome.

I'm looking forward to the continued evaluation on my end, but most importantly feedback we will receive from teachers and students.


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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First Few Days

The first few days as Director of Instructional Technology for the Naperville Community Unit School District 203 have been great. I have spent the first days meeting people, organizing my new office, sorting through docs and starting to establish my vision and direction.

Some of the items our department will be working through this year include:

  • Implementation of new Student Information System (our role will center around the training and implementation of the portal)
  • Reviewing strategies for gathering data on both student and teacher technology competencies. With the second phase focused on how to utilize that data to implement change.
  • Research and strategies for 1:1 initiative - what does it look like? how do we justify and measure the impact - and not just in test scores.
  • Embedding Digital Citizenship concepts through the curriculum at multiple levels.
  • Discussing the potential change in teaching methods when digital curriculum is introduced. How to prepare teachers for this paradigm shift.
  • Embedding 21st century skills throughout the curriculum. This goes hand in hand with our research and strategies for a 1:1.
  • Discussing how student email plays a role in the district moving forward. What are the potential pit falls and risks vs. reward. With the technology in place, how do we communicate to the staff on how to effectively utilize this tool.
  • Ensure the Learning Management System the district utilizes is a core function of technology integration, 1:1 discussions and digital curriculum conversations.
I am excited for this great opportunity that has been presented to me and look forward to working with leading edge K-12 administrators, teachers, technology specialists and staff in a truly world class district - Naperville 203.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Imaging Has Started!

We have started imaging the teacher laptops. Utilizing Windows Deployment Services (a new venture for our district) we are deploying a variety of instructional and technical packages to our end users while adding to our domain.

This is also the first flavor of machines in our district to utilize Windows 7. Realizing there will be a slight learning curve for some of our end users, we still feel this was the right time and right project to push out Microsoft's newest OS.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Laptop Program Update

We are approximately 6 weeks into having our laptops on-site and the work is really starting to pick up. Our tech staff is working deligintely to ensure all desktops that are being replaced are brought back to our central location (they will later be cleaned up and upgraded before being redeployed to the handful of teachers who chose a newer desktop over a laptop). They are also in the final phases of preparing an image that will be utilized on the laptops. One of the exciting pieces of these devices is they will be the first district owned Windows 7 devices on our network. We have tested, but are anxious to see the benefits once the curtain drops.

We are meeting next week with our Professional Development consultant from Dell to determine the path we wish to set for our teachers with this project. We are excited about those teachers within our district that have stepped forward to serve as the Model Teachers and be a leader, champion and inspiration for educational technology within their walls. Without their leadership and guidance, the instructional piece of this project would suffer.

Time will tell the impact this project has on the district, teacher technology skills, utilization of technology (both teachers and students) and student learning. I hate I won't be here to see the first-hand impact it plays in the overall educational role, but feel confident those still here will carry the torch forward.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

2 Jobs

The struggles of trying to keep up with two jobs. I am down to 9 official working days as CIO of MCPS. Closing out projects, collecting information for a new person, meeting with staff, preparing next year's budget / projects - that in itself is quite the time commitment.

But I am also trying to get a head start on my new role. Director of Instructional Technology for the Naperville 203 School District. 203 is winding down a search for a new Student Information System and I have been involved in that process for the past month. Combine that with learning people, processes, etc. and I feel I am getting somewhat of a "leg up" on July 1.

The next month will be quite the whirlwind. Combine the above with selling a house, getting married, purchasing a new house / relocating out of state and as one of my good friends and colleagues and MCPS said "you are doing six MAJOR life changing events within about 2 month period...try to stay sane". I will do my best.

I hope to resume regular blogging in July and start sharing information about Naperville 203 and the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead.

Until then...

JDS | CIO....or should it become JDS / DIT......I think I like the first one better.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Laptops are here!!!

Let the fun begin!


Monday, April 26, 2010

New Challenges

I have made one of the most difficult decisions of my short lifetime and accepted a new job in a new location. I will be leaving the Marshall County School District as CIO in June, a district that has been my home, my family, my friend and my life for the past 30 years. I am thankful for the many relationships I have developed over that time and look forward to reading and watching how the faculty, staff and students of MCPS shine bright.

My new home will be Naperville, IL - specifically the Naperville 203 school district. I will begin July 1 as the Director of Instructional Technology working with a top notch administration, technology staff, school district and community. I am excited for this new chapter in my professional career. Naperville 203 is a highly respected school district in this country and I am honored to begin working within its walls.

Watch this blog over the next few weeks / months as I tell of my transition from CIO in Marshall County to my new adventures in Naperville.

JDS | CIO (guess I will have to change this, huh?)
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cool Tool - Repair My...

Microsoft WordImage via Wikipedia

I came across a cool tool this morning in trying to find a quick way to repair a damaged .doc file. "Repair My Word" is a FREE tool provided by Get Data. It is designed to recover text from damaged or corrupt files that will not normally open. The recovered text can then be saved as an error free Word document.

Get Data also provides other free tools such as:

-Repair Excel
-Repair Zip
-Repair BKF

And for fees you can purchase some of their recovery tools such as:

-Recover Deleted Files
-Recover Deleted Email
-Erase Clean Hard Drive Data

The free tools are very easy to install and use. I highly recommend for anyone that deals with users bringing in files from outside sources. For IT operations looking at tools to recover files, Get Data might be a solution to consider.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Framework of Essential Skills for the K-12 CTO

CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) recently put together a Framework of Essential Skills for K-12 CTOs / CIOs. CoSN, widely recognized as the leading organization for educational technology leaders, worked with technology leaders from across the country to assist in the increase of knowledge and skills.

The four main areas identified within the framework are: Leadership & Vision, Understanding Educational Environment, Managing Technology & Support Resources and Core Value & Skills.

For more information on CoSN's Framework of Essential Skills for K-12 CTOs / CIOs - visit their website at:

You can view the entire framework here.


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21st Century Pedagogy

This is a video by Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. Greg talks about the need to develop a new DNA for schooling in today's world in order to break from the past.


Internet Safety Event - A Success

While our attendance may not have been exactly what we had hoped for - it was an excellent group represented by district administrators, teachers, students and community members. At the end of the evening, the group seemed eager to continue the sharing and dialogue, along with making arrangements for follow-up sessions in the fall. That is the type of buzz we were hoping to generate last night.

We had an outstanding lineup of speakers from the KY State Police, KY Center for School Safety, KY Department of Education and Marshall County School District. Each speaker offered their unique insight into various topics that raised awareness amongst those in attendance.

We certainly hope to continue this trend in the coming months as we raise awareness on Internet Safety, Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying in our school district.

Update: Here is a link to a press release about the event: press release


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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Videos from Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI)

These four videos talk about:

-What is Digital Citizenship?
-Building a Culture of Responsibility
-How Will Broadband Effect Digital Citizenship?

All are short, but great videos to watch to gain a better understanding of these key concepts and the role they play both inside and outside of our schools.


Internet Safety Seminar / Digital Citizenship Awareness

Our district is hosting an Internet Safety / Digital Citizenship Seminar on Monday, April 12 at 6:00pm. We are hoping to attract a wide audience from faculty/staff, students, administrators, community members and more. The goal is simple. To raise awareness on Internet Safety concerns, social networking myths, parent monitoring of Web 2.0 children, KY House Bill 50 and Cyberbullying.

I had blogged about this event back in January with some of the details still not settled. That post can be found here.

Details have been finalized and all information on the event can be found by visiting the Marshall County School District website.

The event is free for all and we encourage everyone to bring their son/daughter as we learn how the world of social networking and Web 2.0 is an exciting place with awesome opportunities, as long as we know how to interact in the environment.


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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Laptops for Teachers - Part III (Reality)

Dell laptop keyboardImage by bigpresh via Flickr

If you follow this blog you know I have been talking about laptops for teachers in my district for almost a year now. The early stages began in April 2009, when I started researching and communicating with colleagues from across the country. I also posed these questions in a blog entry. Then in the fall, I collected data within my own district to get a lay of the land from our teachers. That data along with my thoughts moving forward can be found here.

After reviewing all the data with our administration and discussing key pieces such as financial details, professional development and overall implementation strategy, I am extremely excited to announce that we are moving forward with this project.

We completed the RFQ process in late February and spent a few weeks evaluating the quotes and discussing specifics internally on which vendor best met our needs. We selected Dell as our vendor partner for this project because of their commitment to the success of this project, their comprehensive professional development plan and their ability to meet all specifications of the project, including our budget.

Over the next few days / weeks, we will work with Dell to determine our road map for the project including ordering, staging, deployment and PD time line. The piece that excites me most about this project is the professional development piece. I firmly believe that Dell's vision for improving the implementation and integration of technology by our teachers in the classroom will continue to enhance student engagement and increase student learning. I feel confident the strategies and research they provide will mesh seamlessly with our professional learning communities and foster an open environment for technology sharing and collaboration.

We plan to use an academy style model where we will have model teachers that will receive a bulk of the face-to-face training by our vendor partner. In turn, they will go back to their schools and serve as the support and trainers for people within their building. I have seen several local, regional and national examples of this model being successful and am confident it will be so in our district.

Our tentative overall time line for the next few months looks something like this:
  • Ordering / Paperwork / Financial Details - Late March / Early April
  • Receive Laptops from Vendor Partner - Late May
  • Image / Setup of Laptops for Teachers - June - mid-July
  • Deliever Laptops to Teachers - mid-July
  • Begin Professional Development for Model Teachers - mid-July - early August
  • School begins - early August
I believe this project has the potential to have the most impact of any project since I have been serving as CIO of this district. I am excited for the possibilities that lie ahead, thankful for the support of our administration and school board and anxious of working out all the details / bugs over the coming days / weeks. Be sure to stay tuned as I share our successes and bumps in the road from this project.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

KySTE Conference 2010

Louisville-Jefferson County Metro GovernmentImage via Wikipedia

Wow. Awesome. Incredible. Amazing. Unbelievable. Those are all words that were used to describe the KySTE Spring 2010 Conference this past week at the Galt House in Louisville, KY. Those words came from attendees, presenters, vendors and KySTE staff.

KySTE 2010 featured keynote addresses from Angela Maiers and Dr. Terry Holliday (Education commissioner for KY). It also had nearly 200 sessions from vendors and school district teachers, administrators and leaders. Nearly 115 vendors packed the exhibit hall - showcasing their latest and greatest to all.

I didn't have the opportunity to attend many sessions because of my duties as an officer for the organization, but all those whom I spoke with had no complaints. In fact, I heard repeatedly that this conference was the best educational technology conference KY has seen in a long, long time.

Hats off to the entire KySTE staff, Office of Education Technology, our vendor partners, the Galt House and city of Louisville. Everyone came together to achieve what few of us thought we could do in a short period of time.

Preparations are already under way for next year - will you be there?

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Web 2.0 and Filtering

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.Image via Wikipedia

While I was attending CoSN in Washington DC earlier this week, I had a conversation with a vendor partner of mine, Enterasys Networks about Web 2.0 in schools. The conversation began with philosophical issues on why Web 2.0 tools are important for both teachers and students and why some schools allow the use and others do not.

I was then posed the question of why do those school districts not allow these tools to be used. I started with my usual "don't understand how to use them, afraid to use them, don't see the value in them and can't monitor them..." I was stopped very quickly at my last point. He said, "what if you could monitor them?" Monitor what my students / faculty are doing on their web 2.0 tools, such as Facebook or Twitter?

Most school districts today utilize an appliance that filters strictly based on URL or categories. You can block the main categories such as porn, gambling, etc. You also have the ability to block certain URLs and unblock those that slip through the cracks. While the vendors in this field do a fairly decent job of keeping the lists up to date, we all know we can't block everything. I digress...

What if school districts had a tool that gave them the ability to open up Web 2.0 / Social Networking applications such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc. to ALL users, but still maintained the control necessary to ensure they are being used either for educational purposes or for non-threatening / inappropriate uses? Wow. What a power tool that would become. I can't imagine a school district that wouldn't embrace the use of the tools that students use on a daily basis (unfortunately mostly OUTSIDE of school) and harness them to enhance student learning and communication. To have a tool that would let administrators set keyword or phrases that are inappropriate and when entered into a Facebook status update or a Tweet cause the user's browser to either timeout or be redirected to a page that lets them know of their inappropriate actions.

Since most filtering that is done today in K-12 is not content based, we haven't had these types of discussions. What a different approach to filtering and shifting the mindset of how we utilize Web 2.0 / Social Networking schools in K-12. Let's be honest, for those of us who believe in the value of these tools and wish we could turn them on for all users, we simply can't because of the lack of monitoring / control that we have. But, if you have an application in place that can take away that fear and provide a safe and secure environment for using these tools as a part of learning...think of the possibilities.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Quite possibly one of the best technology conferences I have attended - plain and simple. CoSN, Consortium of School Networking, is a leading education technology conference for K-12 IT leaders. You have the right people, at the same place at the same time.

While many national technology events cater to a wide range of K-12 users (and I think there is definitely a place for that), an event that is designed for IT leaders and decision makers is a must. The sessions were fantastic. Top notch speakers, authors and bloggers from across the country descended on Washington, DC for two days to share, communication and collaborate.

I will definitely make future plans to attend another CoSN event. I learned more from peers and the sessions I attended than most other conferences I have attended. The only negative comment I can make about the event is the lack of time participants had to interact with vendors. I heard a few comments from vendors that they were disappointed with that. From their perspective, it isn't often you get that high level of decision makers in once place, so you definitely want to maximize time with them.

If you are a K-12 IT leader for a school district, CIO, CTO, etc. check out CoSN and start making plans to attend their event next year. It will definitely be worth your time.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Smart Apps for Smart Administrators

I attended a short session this afternoon at CoSN that detailed smart phone apps for administrators. The presentation was given by AT&T and was hardware neutral. Here are a few that stood out, that I had not heard of:

-Chalk Podcast - push out videos and media to others you are connected with.
-TED - technology entertainment design - streaming mobile tv.
-Pyxis Mobile - custom created apps for K-12.
-AT&T Connect - smart phone webinars.

I will blog later about my overall experience at the CoSN conference. So far, pretty good event.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Teacher and Student Interaction on Social Networking Sites

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Another hot topic. I think the appropriate statement is not "Should Teachers and Students Interact on Social Networking Sites?", but rather "How Should Teachers and Students Interact on Social Networking Sites?"

The debate will continue to rage, whether they should be Facebook friends, interact via Twitter, etc. I see the educational value in both, along with other social networking apps that provide real-time communication and collaboration. The key is teachers (and students) understanding how to interact and behave in that environment. Proper training and education goes a long way for both groups.

Here are a couple of good reads that were shared by a colleague of mine in Kentucky today.

The first is a Social Networking "Do's" and "Dont's" for Educators: click here

The second is an editorial on Facebook accountability: click here

What are your thoughts on the subject? How should teachers and students interact on social networking sites and apps? What sort of education is necessary to ensure appropriate behavior?

Share your successes and failures.

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Distracted Driving

In my opinion, it is not the act of talking on...Image via Wikipedia

This is a topic that has picked up momentum over the last 12 months with statistics and legislation in almost all states making headlines. No matter what your opinion is on the matter (and we all have one), it is a topic that is worth discussing.

I will take the next few paragraphs and present information from both sides that will hopefully educate on making informed and educated decisions when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle.

First, let's take a look at the states that currently have some sort of law in place. (Note: I live and work in Kentucky and as of this moment there isn't a law in place, but legislators are expected to pass something this session. The Governor of Kentucky did issue an executive order that all state employees are not to send/receive emails or text messages while operating state owned vehicles.) Here is a website that gives an excellent description of what each state currently enforces:

Next, let's look at the statistics involved with distracted driving. In 2008, there were nearly 6,000 people killed and over a half million injured where at least one driver was using a cell phone or texting/emailing. Driver distraction was involved in 16% of all fatal crashes in 2008 and was most prevalent among drivers 20 years old and younger. (Reading Eagle Press, Reading PA) Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves (NHTSA, National Institute for Highway Safety) and driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Carnegie Mellon)

So if all the data points to distracted driving being more dangerous than driving while impaired (drugs and/or alcohol) and most states have some law in place or are researching putting one in place - why do we continue to use our devices while we are behind the wheel? To me, the answer is simple. We depend more and more on these devices with each passing day. We are more connected to others and the rest of the world than we have ever been. We thrive on communication, up-to-date information and real-time media. So regardless of our location (home, office, vehicle, etc.) we have that desire to communicate, share, read, etc. 24/7.

This past week I came across a new application called The app (available for Blackberry, Win Mobile and eventually iPhones) is supposedly able to read your text messages and email messages back to you - hands-free. (Here is the website: My first thought is - "great - what a novel idea!" But wait - won't I still have to somehow look at my phone and launch the app? I'm not quite sure how this app, or future applications that attempt the same, will fair for consumers. Honestly, if they are not able to not only read my messages to me, but then allow me to respond hands-free, then I can't see the value. It is difficult for me to provide a full evaluation of this product, since it isn't available for iPhone users yet, but if you want to read what Blackberry users have to say about the app - visit this site here.

My hope is that you make an educated decision when you get behind the wheel of a vehicle and use safety and caution prior to operating your mobile device. I know more than anyone the need to be connected 24/7, but is it worth your life to update your Facebook, tweet your location or check the score of your favorite team? Not to this guy.


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Monday, February 15, 2010

Learning to Change / Changing to Learn: Student Voices

A great video on students sharing how they learn, how they share information and how they communicate. We as educators must listen to them!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Learning Management Systems (LMS) and K-12

Learning Management Systems, LMS as they are commonly referred, are no stranger to the education community. Companies such as Moodle, Blackboard, D2L have been around for years. But these companies use a very traditional approach, where the teachers drive the content, pace and instruction, giving students little to no control or flexibility in creating content.

A typical LMS is designed to provide a learning environment beyond the walls of the classroom. Teachers have the ability to post assignments, discussions, media and other useful information that allows students to learn, share and collaborate 24/7. While all of these are great, they still do not give students the ability to create their own content, pull content on their own that is relevant to instruction or facilitate how to learn in a style that best fits their needs.

My ideal LMS would have the features/functionality of the standard platforms today allowing for all the items listed above, but the difference would be as a teacher/facilitator (because the role changes in this environment) presents information on a particular topic, the student has the ability to choose various media/text content from multiple sources (both published and open) to enhance his/her learning experience. That student would also have the ability to create content and share with others in his/her learning group. In this world, the teacher becomes a facilitator of learning, a guide to help students navigate through the learning.

Learning Management Systems require that an educational institution already made a significant investment in other technology services such as dense wireless, access for all students (either via 1:1 or personal devices) and sufficient staff training on how to effectively implement the LMS.

As you either evaluate the current LMS in your district or look for a new solution, keep some of these thoughts in mind on how you want the LMS to play a role in your schools and how it will be used by teachers and students.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

CIO Panel Sessions at TCEA

I'm always blessed with the opportunity to network, share ideas and have discussions with my colleagues from across the country at BLE CIO panel sessions. We work to provide insight, assistance and reviews to various educational technology / instructional vendors; but we also spend time bouncing ideas off of one another and learning from some of the best.

I am looking forward to having conversations with those districts that have effectively implemented 1:1 for students/teachers, have a thriving Learning Management System and are using data to improve student learning.

I wish I had the opportunity to spend some additional time in Austin to not only enjoy the sights and the city - because it seems fantastic - but to also attend TCEA. I've heard many wonderful things about this conference and am interested in seeing some things we could use in KY. Maybe next year...


Monday, February 1, 2010

Teacher Devices Before Student Devices?

I am of the firm belief that before a school district can effectively implement a 1:1 initiative with their students, teachers must have a minimum of 1 year with a similar device.

I believe this year+ allows the teachers to acclimate themselves to being mobile and comfortable using the device on a daily basis. This increased comfort level (side-by-side with effective staff training) will also increase and encourage the further implementation of interactive components, communication/collaboration tools and beyond the classroom learning.

Let's be honest, students are already comfortable with mobile devices. They are using them daily now - largely outside of our schools. Putting a device in their hand, is not a big learning curve. Putting a device in their hand at the same time as you do a teacher, could create a culture of anxiety for teachers.

Have you seen a 1:1 where students and teachers received the devices at the same time? What was the implementation like? If you had to do it over again, would you give the teachers a year or two? Or do you believe teachers can handle receiving the devices at the same time as students?

Leave your thoughts.

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Next Generation Device

With all the talk this week of Apple's iPad and what role it will play in K-12, I felt it appropriate to offer my two cents on what I think the next generation device(s) will look like for students and teachers.

We all thought the iPad had the potential to be the "game changer" in K-12. (It still may get to that point with future releases, but it isn't there yet.) With no camera, somewhat large/bulky size and mid-high cost - it isn't ready to be "the device" that changes education. (Keep working on it are getting closer and might still get there before anyone else does.)

I believe the game changing device in education has to be a hybrid between a cell phone (both size, function and cost) and a laptop. Students need a device that is portable, durable, cost favorable and provides them all the features / functionality there current mobile device / laptop does. A portion of K-12 is ready for that They were really hoping the iPad was that device.

Students want a single device that they can take with them 24/7, provide them access to school resources/applications during the school day and be a functional tool for social networking and sharing/collaborating/communicating with friends outside of school. Once one of the vendors figure this out and finds a way to manufacture the device at a low cost - K-12 will eat it up. I promise.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Is the next gen device too far away or are we getting closer? Is this really what students / need want? What about school districts / ed tech leaders?


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Saturday, January 30, 2010

District Technology Audit

I wanted to take a moment and share my experiences from the Technology Audit that I assisted with last week in MN. This was my first opportunity to help conduct an audit and I found it to be extremely beneficial for myself as well as the school district.

The process itself was extremely intense for all involved. Over the course of 36 hours we visited 6 schools, met with the various business teams (finance, HR, technology, facilities, transportation), multiple meetings with their cabinet, interviewed teachers, principals, parents and students and culminated with a 1.5 hour presentation on our findings and recommendations.

The people of WBL school district were extremely supportive of the process and open and honest. They shared the positives in their district related to technology while also addressing some of the areas of concern. This, along with our own findings, started to frame what our recommendations back to the cabinet would look like. We also spent time examining their organizational structure, interoperability of the systems in place, instructional use of technology (specifically staff training) and the overall health of their infrastructure.

The process itself was rewarding for me personally because it gave me a perspective of how things would look in my own district should we go through a similar process. I started reflecting on our strengths and our weaknesses. As we were interviewing teachers, I would find myself occasionally asking myself - how would teachers in my district respond if they were asked the same questions?

I honestly believe this process is something leading edge districts should strongly consider. Bringing in an outside group or personnel who do not have any ties in the district allows for an open and honest dialogue to take place about changes that need to occur.

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