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.