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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