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. Again...wow.

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.