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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What Would Your New School Look Like?

An Apple MacBook in an aluminium casing.Image via Wikipedia

This question has to cross the mind of K-12 ed. tech leaders on a regular basis - if given the chance to design a 21st century learning environment, what exactly would that look like? I am going to offer a few of my insights, but please feel free to offer your own. I look forward to the sharing.

Here are some non-negotiable items that would be in my new school:

  • Mobile Devices for all users (teachers and students)
  • Learning Management System - enhances communication and collaboration between student/teacher and teacher/teacher
  • Dense Wireless deployment
  • Interactive components in ALL classrooms (projector, interactive white board, document camera, student response system, audio enhancement system)
  • Open access to Web 2.0 collaborative tools
  • Library would consist of e-books, research stations and interactive learning stations
  • Professional Learning Communities for faculty/staff
  • Ongoing staff training to ensure all faculty/staff are comfortable integrating technology into their daily curriculum.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

iPhone Apps / Extras

It's been a little while since I've posted some of my favorite apps / accessories for the iPhone, so I figured now is as good a time as any to post an update.

  • mxMobile - excellent iPhone app for anyone looking to do walkthroughs in their school or district. The app is free but requires a subscription purchase through Media-X.
  • FlightTrack - I used this app while traveling over the holidays and it provides real-time information on current flights, upcoming flights and even shows you where the flight is currently located (if you were tracking someone else)
  • PS Mobile - very cool app for any photoshop lover. PS Mobile allows you to take / select an existing photo and apply basic photo changes to the photo. You can crop, change the tint, exposure and add cool effects.
  • Mark the Spot - AT&T attempting to be proactive about their service? Eh - I would like to see the collective data on this app. The app is designed for AT&T users to report a dropped call, failed call, no coverage, data failure or poor voice quality by using the GPS locator on their iPhone. The concept is a good one, I just hope AT&T does something with the information they receive.
  • Ustream Broadcaster - cool app for anyone who uses (watches / broadcasts) via Ustream. I've only used the app a couple of times, but had no problems with lag on Wi-Fi or 3G.
  • Dragon Dictation - There was a post over at Techucation on this app back in December, and after reading the post and downloading the app - I have been fairly impressed. The app is designed to recognize your voice and allow you to "export" the voice once it is converted to text either to SMS, Email or just the clipboard. The thing that has most impressed about this app is its ability to distinguish words. I have tried to trip it up on purpose a few times and it has surprised me.
  • USPS Mobile - good app for anyone who sends / receives packages on a regular basis through the United States Postal Service.
  • iVideo Camera - ahh - my favorite. I finally broke down and purchased this app (for only $0.99) and it was well worth it. For those of us still living in the dinosaur days of the 3G phone and don't have built in capabilities to shoot video, this app is a must. The quality is pretty good and it is certainly better than not being able to shoot video.


By far one of the best purchases I have made as an extra / accessory for my iPhone. The Tekkeon Sleeve / Battery extender DOUBLES the battery life of your iPhone without a bug bulky sleeve that gets in your way. My iPhone is almost 18 months old and I have noticed it is difficult to make it through a day without my battery needing to be charged. But that has changed. I now charge my Tekkeon sleeve overnight, along with my iPhone (as I used to do) but now when I leave the house, I place the iPhone in the sleeve and it runs of the charged case for approximately 3 hours, meaning it doesn't start using my regular iPhone battery until late morning. By the time I get home in the evening, my phone still has a charge and I don't have to plug it in to make it through the night. I highly recommend this purchase for any iPhone user that is struggling to keep their device charged in a normal day.

Tekkeon MP1200 myPower Battery / Sleeve


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Digital Citizenship Seminar

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

Our district is organizing a community wide Digital Citizenship Seminar for students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members. (If you are unaware of Digital Citizenship, please visit here before reading the rest of the post.)

Digital Citizenship covers nine different elements related to the appropriate and responsible behavior for technology use, including how we live our lives online. Those nine elements can be found here:

Some of the topics we are looking to cover include:
  • Student Use of Technology / Online Behavior
  • Parent Monitoring of a Web 2.0 Child
  • Appropriate Teacher Interaction with Students Online
  • Life after High School / College - How does that impact me?
  • What skills should my (5th, 8th and 12th) grade student have in order to compete in a global society?
  • What is Digital Citizenship? What are the 9 Elements?
I am hoping to have local state policy, state education technology leaders and local leaders participate in this event. I believe it will help raise awareness for all age groups / genres on how they should behave in an online world and also what questions / thoughts to bring to the next event. I believe this large event will start several smaller groups to carry on the banner of Digital Citizenship and Appropriate Online Behavior for all.

What are you doing in your school district or community to educate others and raise awareness for Digital Citizenship? Is this a priority for your leaders? Please share your experiences.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Marshall County Public Schools - We Want You

This is a teacher recruiting video that was created last year in a joint effort from our district office and our high school media class. If you are looking to become part of a cutting edge, student centered, real-world and caring school district - take a look at Marshall County Public Schools in Benton, KY.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]