Monday, December 26, 2011

Great Video on Copyright, Fair Use, Remixing & Reposting Online

I just came across this very informative video which is posted on the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center website. In it, the executive director and associate director of the Stanford Fair Use Project, who also happen to be lawyers, answer questions about what is permissible to post to YouTube (or really anywhere) and what isn't when it comes to using material for which someone else holds the copyright. The questions are very authentic because they were selected from questions submitted by YouTube users.

The video is just over 30 minutes long but is well worth the watch, especially if you like to remix others' content for posting online or you have the opportunity to educate students on copyright and fair use. Students will be interested to know what is ok and what isn't in regards to mashups, parodies, and lip dubs. I was interested to hear the experts take on software tutorials, which I had never considered might be copyright violations (good news for all us teachers and edtechies - they most likely aren't!).

What I really appreciate about this video is that the experts speak in everyday language that us non-lawyers can understand. I think older middle school and certainly high school and college students would easily follow this video. The video is also aimed at the question of fair use in general, not specifically at educational fair use, so the content is applicable both inside and outside of school.

The key to fair use seems to be the transformative nature of a work that draws on or uses someone else's material. I am not going to try to summarize transformative use here, because for some reason it is a concept I have a hard time getting my mind around. But after watching the video below, and being exposed to some other materials in recent years, I am starting to understand the concept better and beginning to believe I might draw the line on what is and isn't fair use far on the conservative side. The examples of transformative use in the video will be personally helpful for me to refer to in relation to future questions I may have on the subject.

Another nice feature of the video is the fact that they display each question on the screen when it is asked, so after viewing the video in its entirety one time (which I highly suggest you do), you can always scan through it to revisit particular questions that pique the interest of you or your students.

Of course, the video comes with the caveat that it is not hard and fast legal advice, so please do not hold the video creators, participants, or this blogger responsible for future decisions you may make regarding copyright and fair use. It does shed some much needed light, though, on a subject that is not purely black and white. I hope you find it as informative as I did!






Copyright is a topic I revisit from time to time on my blog. If you are interested in other posts on this topic, please click here.



Copyright symbol graphic used with permission from http://www.psdgraphics.com/icons/3d-copyright-symbol/

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to My Readers & Followers!

To my blog readers and Twitter and Facebook followers, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Thank you for being part of my learning community by reading and responding to my thoughts and sharing your thoughts and resources with me all through the year. Through our online interactions, we have the opportunity to exchange gifts of learning every day.

On the day when the birth of a Savior is celebrated, I hope your hearts are full of joy and you are near to the people you love. And if this day finds you in difficult circumstances, I pray faith and the love shared so freely that first Christmas will comfort and strengthen you.

Jesus was born in much simpler times, yet his story has transcended the centuries. It needs no updating, but I still admire the creativity of the video below which modernizes the Christmas story with some digital tools. I hope you have a couple of minutes to enjoy it as you celebrate this day. God's blessings to you and yours!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Your Future Self May Thank You: Tidy Up Your Online Presence Over the Holidays

Courtesy of morguefile.com
The holiday season is often a period of looking backwards and forwards at the same time. We reflect on the happenings and learnings of the twelve months that are coming to a close while anticipating what may come our way in the new year ahead. As a practical outworking of this reflection and anticipation, I encourage you to set aside some time to tidy up your online presence. And perhaps even encourage others around you to do the same.

A couple of things got me to thinking about this as a worthwhile endeavor for the holidays, when most of us in the education world on are a break and can devote some time to the project.


Educators Under a Social Media Microscope

Courtesy of morguefile.com
Social media and its uses are fascinating to me, and as a result I often read stories of how educators making controversial choices in their use of social media put their jobs in jeopardy. The moral turpitude clause in our contracts leaves us more vulnerable than many other professions. The story of Ashley Payne is particularly concerning to me, because unless there are untold details, it seems she lost her teaching job as a result of posting a picture of herself holding (not even drinking) an alcoholic beverage and taking part in a trivia contest that had a profanity in its title. Most concerning was the fact that this young woman had fairly tight "friends only" privacy settings on her Facebook account; someone copied this information from her profile and anonymously submitted it to her principal. She had taken the precautions educators are continuously counseled to take, and it still wasn't enough.

Ashley's story began in 2009. As recently as October 2011, Ashley is still in court trying to get back her job or monetary compensation.

I read of Ashley's story through two ISTE articles, which are well worth reading for educators concerned with protecting their jobs as much as possible in times when teaching positions are becoming more scarce due to cuts in funding at the federal and state levels. You'll see in these articles that issues with teacher online conduct are not unique to K-12, but have affected professors in higher education as well.


Facebook Timeline Makes Our Online History More Accessible Than Ever


At about the same time I was reading of Ashley Payne, I became more aware of Facebook's new profile layout called Timeline. After glancing at articles about it over the past few months, I decided to give it a try on my personal profile. I realized quickly that this new layout for Facebook profile pages makes everything you or anyone else has ever posted on your Facebook wall/profile infinitely more available than it ever has been before. The information has always been there, but if you were really digging into someone's Facebook past, you had to scroll endlessly to get to it. Now, if someone has activated their timeline, I can just click on 2008, then March, and see exactly what they were documenting online at that time in their lives. It's extremely simple.

I can see some Facebook users thinking this is no big deal. The ones who stay educated on privacy settings have nothing to worry about, right? How quickly we forget the lesson of Ashley Payne, who had her profile set to private, and had information leaked from it anyway.

While I've aimed most of this information at educators who need to take extra precautions in the social media realm, what about teens who have posted without care and without paying attention to privacy settings for several years? Or friended people whom they don't really know in person? How might their future educations and careers be affected by their profiles being much easier for others to scour?

Fortunately, with a little education, you can clean up your Facebook Timeline before it goes public. And it will go public for everyone eventually. A quick search of Facebook help reveals that folks can opt in early, or simply wait until Facebook decides to move you to the Timeline setup.

I would encourage you to opt in now, while you have some time to go back through and hide or delete posts you don't want your friends or anyone else to see. And if there are others in your life who use Facebook, help them do the same. When you activate your timeline voluntarily, you have seven days where you can see it and work on it before anyone else sees it. Why not take that time now, instead of waiting until you are forced into it?

Activating your Timeline now is a perfect opportunity to tidy up anything that was perhaps posted in haste or which could be misconstrued or misused by others.When you first activate your Timeline, Facebook steps you through a little tour of all of its components. This article, Your Guide to the New Facebook Timeline Privacy Settings, is also an excellent resource which details all of the changes to the privacy settings that come with Timeline and also shows you how to delete and hide content from the Timeline. It is very thorough and includes screen shots. Another good article: Prep for Facebook's Timeline Layout: 6 Must-Do Privacy Tweaks.

If you are in a position to talk with your own children or other young people about their Facebook presence, Polishing the Student's Image on Facebook Timeline provides good ideas for how to give context to the importance of cleaning up your online image. My favorite quote from the article:
Know your brand. Everything you post online says something about you. Ensure that is a message you want to convey.

Remember Your Other Digital Footprints, Too

Courtesy of morguefile.com
Facebook is a common location for us, but there is also YouTube, Flickr, Twitter - the list of where we display our digital selves is endless. Unlike footprints in the snow or sand, online footprints do not disappear with a change in external conditions. They must be cultivated by their owners.

While you are tidying up your online presence, don't forget to visit some of those places where you, or others, have been contributing to your online image. In today's world, your online image equals your image as a person, so make sure it is representing you the way in the way you want to be seen and in a light that will open doors of opportunity for you in the future.



Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Gift of Kind Words

Used With Permission from Morguefile.com
A Lesson from my Classroom Years

When I was a newish 6th Grade language arts teacher, I learned about a Christmas time activity from a veteran teacher down the hall, and I incorporated it into my classroom every December after that. We would take a break from the normal class routine one day and bust out the markers and white construction paper. Each student would decorate the construction paper with a "bow" drawn in green marker, as if it were the top of a present. They also drew a "tag" on the "present" which said "To: Their Name". They could be as creative as they wanted as long as they left at least 3/4 of the paper blank.

After the "presents" were decorated, I took them up, and then I described to the students that we were all going to give each other a gift this Christmas season - a gift of kind words. We were going to pass the presents around the room, and in red marker on each present, each of us was going to write something kind about the person to whom the present belonged. And sign it. In our discussion of this activity, I acknowledged that not everyone in our class was best friends, that in fact in some cases there might be someone who rubs you the wrong way most of the time. In spite of that, it is still possible to say something nice about anyone, even if the kind thing you say is there is a particular shirt that person wears that you think is really cool.

Then, I put on Christmas music, and we passed the "presents" around. There was a "present" in the mix with my name on it, too, and I participated in writing on everyone else's papers.

Was I nervous each time I did this? Yes, especially the first year. I worried for those odd personalities in my class - the ones who, let's face it, are difficult for peers (and sometimes teachers) to like. What kind things would their classmates find to say to them? Would they be able to rise to the occasion and find something kind to say about each of their classmates, the vast majority of whom they didn't get along with much of the time?

When the "presents" traveled all the way around the room, I took them up. Their owners would not see them until our Christmas party at the end of the semester. The bell would ring, the room would empty, and I would sit down to read every comment on every "present". And every year, I would need a tissue box beside me. There was always a Christmas miracle - from somewhere deep inside my students pulled out the most insightful things about each other. I learned wonderful things about my students I didn't know even after  a semester with them. I learned great lessons in kindness from those 11 and 12 year old children every year.

But the best part was yet to come. The day that the students got to see their own presents. In the early years we were in an elementary school, so I would get their papers laminated and set them out as place mats for the party. When we moved to middle school, parties were gone, but I still waited until the last day before break before giving them their presents. Then, I gave them time to read.

The looks on their faces as they took in all of the good things their classmates said about them were priceless! I was reminded once again that we can never give people enough encouragement. All too often we only receive feedback when improvement is needed. We don't get to spontaneously hear about the good things we do or say or are. (I wonder how many of those kids kept those "presents" through the years?)

A Lesson from Today

I came to love the yearly Gift of Kind Words activity in my classroom, and it's one of the things I miss most in the years since I've become an instructional technologist with no classroom assignment. But I was recently reminded of the continued importance I need to place on giving kind words and encouragement to others, and not just at the time of year when gift-giving is on everyone's mind.

I was visiting one of our high school campuses a couple of weeks ago to install desktop video conferencing software and teach a couple of folks how to use it. As I was leaving, I decided to stop by the library and let the librarian know that I was really enjoying the Facebook page she had created to get students connected to what was going on the the library as well as literacy related activities like lunch time book discussion groups and the Austin Teen Book Festival.

This educator is in her first year as a librarian, having just come out of the classroom, and during our conversation, she thanked me for taking the time to chat with her. She alluded to the fact that she's trying to do the right things. It got me to thinking that being a librarian is a lot like being an instructional technologist, in that you are often one of the few in your position in a district, and almost always the only one on your campus. Sometimes it's hard to find folks to bounce ideas off of, and it's sadly rare that someone seeks you out to give you unsolicited positive feedback on something you are doing. In five minutes of my time as I was making my way out of the building, I was able to give this new librarian's professional confidence a little boost. Seeing that was a gift to me as well.

Ongoing Efforts

When our campus technologists copy me on emails which give me insight into what they are doing on their campus, I try to email them back to thank them for what they are doing and give them encouragement. Depending on what other projects are going on, I don't get back to them as often as I wish. I am reminded, though, as I reflect on my classroom activity of years ago, my recent encounter with a new-to-her-position librarian, and my own experience in receiving some face-to-face compliments this summer (which I wrote about in a previous post), that receiving in-person, personal feedback for the things we are doing well or the qualities people admire in us is nourishment for the soul.

In an age where technology increasingly connects us while often decreasing the "need" for in-person interactions, I'm going to increase my efforts to make in-person connections for the purpose of positive feedback and encouragement. The magic of giving kind words to others is that it winds up providing a gift to both the receiver and the giver. A personal experience like that is worth the effort for all parties involved.

How about you? Who in your sphere of professional or personal influence needs to hear some great things about themselves today? Make an effort to share with them, face-to-face if at all possible. You'll be glad you did!




Saturday, November 26, 2011

2011 Edublog Award Nominations

After watching the Edublog Awards process for a few years, and even voting in the final round before, I've decided it's time for me to get involved at the grass-roots level by making some of my own nominations in 2011!

As many have lamented in other posts around the edubloggersphere, it is often difficult to pick the people/resources that are "the best," but if I look at it from the perspective of  "Who has influenced/helped/inspired me most recently?" it makes the process a bit easier. I think giving a shout-out to these people/resources benefits the entire online educational community by highlighting great resources others may not know about and giving those of us less experienced in blogging and PLN building examples to learn from.

Here are my Edublog Awards nominations for 2011:

Best Individual Blog: Cool Cat Teacher by Vicki Davis - Vicki has been nominated for best teacher blog in the past and won the award in 2008, and she deserves every nomination and win. Her dedication to promoting the noble calling of the teaching profession and teaching digital citizenship to students through real-world, world-wide collaborative projects is inspiring. I rarely come away from reading one of her blog posts on these topics and others without having much food for thought to chew on. Best of all, Vicki is real in sharing her own questions and struggles, which makes her ideas and experiences that much more accessible to the rest of us. Vicki's blog helped inspire me to start blogging myself.

Best Individual Tweeter: @jdthomas7 aka Jeff Thomas - Jeff consistently tweets practical information and resources that add to my personal education and technology toolkit. I find myself passing his tweets along to my own followers quite often and appreciate the quality of what he shares.

Best New Blog: Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home by Terice Schneider - Terice has just gotten started with blogging this school year, but the information she is sharing about the 1:1 iPad initiative at a middle school in her district is invaluable to the edtech and education community as there is a lot of experimentation but very little quality reflection/documentation on what implementation looks like in this arena. Terice's post on what she would do differently before deploying iPads to 735 middle schoolers went wild on Twitter, so I know the information she is sharing is important to a wide audience. (As a disclaimer, I  have worked with Terice before and know her personally, but this adds to my nomination of her because I know the thoughtfulness she puts into her work!)


Best EdTech/Resource Sharing Blog: Ask A Tech Teacher by Jacqui Murray - Jacqui shares technology tips based on questions she gets from parents, fully developed lesson plans for teaching technology to elementary students, and tips and techniques for managing and teaching in a student computer lab. Her resources are practical and classroom tested for teachers and technology specialists alike. Jacqui is also good about engaging with her readers when they leave comments or have questions and is equally gracious in promoting other bloggers by linking back to them when something they've written or posted inspires her to make a post.


Best Twitter Hashtag: #eduit - I am fairly certain Howard Chan (@socratech) started this hashtag a couple of years ago. It blends the educational side of technology with the technical side. I follow this hashtag to better understand the technical implications and aspects of some of the pedagogical/instructional initiatives that are going on in the edtech world. It has given me a heads-up on a few challenges ahead of projects we've started in our own district, and as a result I've been able to pass along helpful information to our technical staff before they hit the roadblocks themselves.

Best Librarian/Library Blog: WHS Library by Carolyn Foote - This library blog promotes traditional and digital literacy resources for students and teachers alike. Throughout the posts, you'll also see how Carolyn partners with instructional technology to promote their initiatives, including a 1:1 iPad program that her school has implemented this year.

Best School Administrator Blog: Reflections from an Elementary School Principal by Jessica Johnson - I was just recently introduced to Jessica when someone suggested I follow @PrincipalJ on Twitter. I love how Jessica is transparent about her own learning in her reflective blog posts as she documents her administrative experiences. She is providing a strong example of being a life-long learner for her students and teachers through her blog.

Best Free Web Tool: Thinkfinity.org sponsored by Verizon Foundation - Thinkfinity is 100% free and provides a one-stop-shop for educators who are looking for quality lesson plans and online resources. Through a partnership with nine highly-respected educational content providers, Thinkfinity provides a powerful search engine that will return results which have been vetted for their educational appropriateness and aligned to state teaching standards. In recent years Thinkfinity has expanded to include an online networking community for educators. When I get a last-moment request for a resource to support teaching and learning, I often start with Thinkfinity. In addition to providing quality resources, Thinkfinity is also dedicated to providing professional development to teachers so they can get the most out of the resources the site and its partners have to offer.

Best Use of Audio/Video/Visual/Podcast: Learn it in 5 by Mark Barnes - Learn it in 5 provides short, practical videos which classroom teachers can view to learn about how to use specific web tools in their classrooms. Mark is an experienced educator which makes the free tutorials extremely relevant to classroom practice.

Lifetime Achievement: Wesley Fryer - I have been following Wes's work and using his resources since my early days as an instructional technology facilitator. I first discovered him through his Tools for the TEKS website (no longer maintained), and in recent years I have been fortunate to continue to benefit from his ideas and resources via Twitter (@wfryer was one of the first people I looked for and followed when I joined Twitter) and his Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog. I could continue the list but Wes's CV speaks for itself. You might expect someone with so much experience and so many credentials to be arrogant or unapproachable, but in all of his online interactions and the few in-person presentations of his I have been fortunate enough to attend, Wes is kind and down-to-earth. He has consistently advocated for the advancement of educational technology integration by sharing the facts and benefits with authoritativeness that is respectful. I can think of no one more deserving of a Lifetime Achievement recognition than Wesley Fryer.




Wow, that took a lot longer to write than I thought! If you are interested in making nominations, visit this link for instructions, and please know that your "reasons" don't have to be as detailed as mine. I really wanted to give some kudos to the folks I listed, though, to let them know why their contributions are valuable to the online education community and to me personally.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If You Could Only Follow 5 Education Twitter Accounts...

In February 2012, I will be presenting a workshop on Twitter for Professional Learning at the Texas Computer Education Association convention. As part of the workshop, I want to be able to recommend high quality Twitter accounts for the participants in the workshop to follow. Many of the attendees will be first time Twitter users, so I want to help them get a strong start on their PLN.

I need your help! I'm hoping my own PLN will help me get a good resource list together. I would appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to fill out the survey below. I'll also share the results back out to my PLN when they are compiled.

Here's the scenario: Suddenly, all of the Twitter rules have changed and you can only follow a maximum of FIVE accounts at a time (I know, shudder to think, right? Relax, it's hypothetical!). If you had to pick only FIVE education accounts to follow, which ones would they be? Why?

Please fill out the survey below. It's ok if you want to do less than five. Thank you in advance for your help!!


UPDATE: The survey is closed, but got quite a few responses! If you would like to see all of the recommendations for whom to follow from my PLN, click here: Twitter Accounts to Follow

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crafting Quality Teacher Professional Development

Photo by catspyjamasnz 
Used with permission under a Creative Commons license
I've been thinking a lot lately about educator professional development. As an instructional technology specialist, I have the privilege of helping my colleagues grow in their knowledge and implementation of technology in the classroom. This happens in a myriad of ways. In just the last few weeks, I have taught planned sessions to groups of teachers, I have made one-on-one appointments to assist individuals with specific needs, and I've even helped to design and facilitate my district's first completely online PD experience.

As I design these learning opportunities, I am constantly thinking about how to make them meaningful for teachers so that in turn the information shared will make an impact on student learning. Regardless of the topic, I've found that there are some consistent practices on my part that seem to contribute to making the sessions successful.

Before I delve into what I think those consistent practices are, I have to share what started my wheels turning on this topic. It goes all the way back to this year's summer staff development in my school district, where a colleague and I who often plan and teach PD together received some of the highest compliments either us could remember receiving. We received these comments from several teachers who took time to speak to us face-to-face, rather than just leaving their thoughts on the end-of-class surveys, which is why they made such a profound impact on me. I will have to paraphrase a bit because I've slept some since then, but the gist of the comments was that my colleague and I were greatly appreciated because we were knowledgeable in the topics we were covering, organized in our delivery of the content, and we were not arrogant in our manner of presenting the material to the teachers.

I distinctly remember one teacher telling me, "You haven't forgotten what it's like to be in the classroom." That last comment touched me deeply because of a personal/professional commitment I made when I moved out of the classroom into a full-time instructional technology position in 2001: For as long as I held a position supporting instruction, I would never forget the perspective of the classroom teacher and the realities of the environments they work in every day. I worry sometimes that despite my resolve, the longer I'm out of the classroom, and especially the longer I am not stationed on a campus, I will lose touch with reality as teachers know it. The colleague who made this comment to me this summer has no idea what he did for my own professional morale.

So now you know what got my wheels turning. Although it is important to seek continuous improvement in our professional practices, I think it is equally important to reflect on what you already do well so you don't throw out the good stuff when seeking improvement. Here are the things, based on my own observations and participant feedback, that I think contribute to impactful professional development experiences for teachers. They are not listed in order of importance, because I think they are all equally important.

  • Begin with the end in mind when planning a PD session/experience. Ask yourself, "At the end of this session, what should teachers be able to accomplish back in their classrooms?" Then work backwards in planning the content and activities for the session. A valuable skill I've learned from my colleague is to make an agenda for myself with allotted time frames for each section of the presentation. This helps me keep focused on sharing just what is needed to accomplish the goal.

  • It is highly unlikely that in one face-to-face session anyone is going to become a total expert with a tool. I try to keep in mind the goal of helping the participants become comfortable enough with the tool to be able to start using it and be able to explore further from there. Whenever possible, I provide additional resources for them to use in further exploration, and one of those resources is always contacting me. The mantra is "Comfort, not expertise," and I often share this goal with the participants to set their expectations as well.

  • Participants need time to practice with or process whatever we are learning, especially if it is a brand-new-to-them technology tool/concept. When at all possible, I try to plan a session as 50% "show-and-tell" and 50% "hands-on." The longer the session is, the easier this is to do. When I have the flexibility, I plan for a longer session to build in more "hands-on" time. For example, last summer we offered a session on digital storytelling using Microsoft PhotoStory. I knew from experience that an overview of digital storytelling (at a high level) and the basics of the software could be covered in three hours. So I asked if we could have an all day session - six hours. The entire afternoon was left for the teachers to create their own stories, something they could use back in their classrooms if they wanted to. This was one of our most highly rated sessions of the summer because of the time we gave teachers to create a product.

  • No matter what tool/topic/concept I am presenting or how convinced I am of its value, I never present it as "the silver bullet" or "the most amazing tool ever" or "if you don't learn this and use it with your students you are a bad teacher." I will not hold back on my enthusiasm for the topic or the benefits I believe it will have, but I also do not make promises about the effectiveness of its use. There are variables in each classroom, including the teacher's style/strengths and the educational needs of the students, which can render an otherwise effective strategy completely useless, so promises of efficacy/outcomes are highly risky. I think this is an area where PD presenters can be perceived as arrogant if they are not careful.

  • Instead of planning a chunk of my presentation to be "How this should be implemented in the classroom," I trust the teachers to figure a lot of that out for themselves. I do interweave suggestions for use with students throughout my presentation, and at points I will stop and ask for feedback on when/where/how they might use a certain approach with their students. I don't, however, proscribe exact implementation plans. The teachers know themselves and their students needs/learning styles intimately; I do not. I will serve as an "idea bouncing board" if they want me to, though.

  • Remember that regardless of their ability or confidence level with technology, everyone in the room is an intelligent, capable person. The fact that they are professional educators with college degrees is evidence of this.


  • Everyone has something valuable to contribute. We love it when PD participants contribute new knowledge, insights, or enthusiasm over something learned. But even complaints, frustration, or other "negative" contributions can create learning opportunities for all involved. Especially me!

  • At least one person in the room is smarter or more technology capable than I am in one way or another. And that is ok! If they can share something with the rest of the group that I couldn't have, we are all now a little smarter. Corollary: If the smart person starts to overwhelm others because they are way ahead of the group in certain aspects, it is ok and necessary for me to redirect the flow of the learning so the majority does not become discouraged. I usually offer to pursue the "advanced" track with this person one-on-one at another time.



As I've been ruminating about what I do that contributes to quality professional development experiences for teachers, these are the things that came out on the top of the list. I hope these are helpful to you if you are in a position to plan professional development. I also hope you will share your own insights in the comments below so we can continue to develop our professional practices together!





Friday, October 21, 2011

Been Thinking About CTRL+F & Technology Basics


I read an article, "Why Don't We Teach Kids How to Use CTRL+F?" a couple of days ago and it reminded me of two things:
  1. We make a lot of assumptions about what people know about using computers.
  2. No matter how much we know, there are always some basic fundamentals that we don't know. Technology has too many facets for anyone to know everything.
For instance, did you know that CTRL+F  is a key combination that works for searching a web page or document in every standard web browser and in Office and PDF documents? It's a shortcut that's been around for a long time. I think I learned about it a couple of years ago and still don't use it consistently. How much of my time has been wasted by scrolling when CTRL+F could have taken me to the info I need so much faster?

If you didn't know about CTRL+F, don't feel bad. According to the article, 90% of folks don't know about it. But now you know, so use it, and pass it on to others!

Why do 90% of us, teachers and students included, not know about such a fundamental computer skill? I encourage you to read the article, as it is relatively short and talks about more than just using CTRL+F, including a few observations about why basic computer literacy might be low on the priority list in education.

After you read it, come back here and share your favorite "computer basic everyone should know" and/or your thoughts on the conclusions drawn in the article.

Blog photo courtesy of Flikr user secretlondon123 with permission under a Creative Commons license agreement.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

iPad Management in K-12

Notes from TCEA TECSIG breakout session, October 13, 2011

Carl Hooker, Eanes ISD

Did a great deal of research via Twitter, Skype, in preparation for bringing iPads to students. Buy-in from the community - parents came to informational meetings. There was a lot of interest! Teachers were given iPads the summer before school year began. 2000 iPads for Westlake High School students.

24/7 Access to knowledge and collaboration - Students use Facetime to attend class even when they are absent.

Researched netbooks, playbooks, but went with iPads because of number of Apps. No longer need document cameras or wireless slates to control computers because Apps have replaced those functionalities.

Summer before distribution, upgraded wireless infrastructure. Access points in each classroom and a new controller. So far no wireless issues with 2000 new devices on the network.

iPads handed out on third day of school. Five minute AUP video shown to all students when they received the iPads. Barcodes laser etched into the backs of the pads.

Created a "juice bar" (based on Apple "genius bar" concept) in the Westlake HS library so students can help students with their iPads. Apple training students to run it.

Small pilot with check-out iPads and 30 SPED iPads one year before implementation.

Students and teachers presented proposal to the board. This was key to getting approval because it wasn't just coming from the technology department.

Tip: Some developers will give you a code or two to download a free copy of their apps so you can evaluate them. You just have to ask.

Eanes uses Casper to deploy Apps.

Students and teachers can install their own Apps. They request codes from tech department or department heads for paid apps.

The WIFI - Eanes ISD iPad Pilot Project Blog
WHS WIFI Site - Tutorials, links to apps, & integration ideas
WHS iPad Pilot PhotoStream on Flikr



Bryan Doyle, Bastrop ISD

200 iPads. Originally non-synching Brefrod carts shared as class sets with multiple users on each device.

iPads are not really meant for multiple users.

Synced an iPad with FREE Apps and content, used iPhone Configuration Utility, Created Backup of iPad then restore backup individually to other iPads. Similar to building an image for the iPads.

Syncing is managed by the technology department. All iPads synced to one iTunes library and Apps are added as requested. iOS updates had to be done individually and were very slow. Hoping with iOS 5 that this will be easier.

Challenges: Multiple users on each iPad made getting content off the iPads difficult. Teachers wanted more control of apps on devices.

Changes this year: Added a Bretford Sync cart for simultaneous syncing. Utilizing VPP (Volume Purchasing Program). Extending syncing ability to the campus instead of just tech department. WebDAV for giving access to network resources.

App Licensing: Personal iPads can have one copy of an app and put on as many devices as you want. But educational institutions must have a license for each app on each device. http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html.

Volume Purchase Progam (VPP) Setup: Developers have the option to provide a 50% discount on their Apps. Three key roles:

  • Program Manager - enrolls the organization, assign/manage program facilitators, setup Apple account with sole source agreement or use SDA form each time you purchase Apps. http://edu-vpp.apple.com/asvpp 
  • Program Facilitator - Redeem VPP Voucher (a gift-card like card you get in snail mail), Purchase Apps, Manage licenses, assign download codes to end users
  • End User - Download and install Apps. If you purchase 30 licenses, one code can be used for all 30 licenses.

Additional Notes during Q & A

There is a trick when you create an iTunes account for setting it up without a credit card.

Flash support is improving and virtual desktop apps exist so you can run Windows on the iPad.

Teachers having ability to sync helps them have more investment in using the devices in instruction.

Eanes has Deepfreeze so devices are not backed up to district computers. Teachers and students sync at home. At one time they redirected iTunes to a Thawspace on the local computer.



Update June 2012: If you found this post valuable, you might also benefit from this series of posts I wrote based on sessions I attended at iPadpalooza on June 19, 2012.


Photo courtesy of  Flikr user flickingerbrad; used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Building a Personal Learning Network (PLN) Using Social Media

On October 13th I'm helping facilitate a breakout session at the TCEA Fall TECSIG meeting. The theme of the session is Social Media & PLNs, so I prepared a Prezi (my first ever; please take this into account if you peruse it below!) which provides an overview of how my PLN has been built over the past couple of years.

Although meant as a visual aid for my presentation, I tried to put enough detail into the Prezi so it could stand somewhat on its own. I would appreciate feedback on it, even though I probably will not have time to do too many tweaks before tomorrow.

If you are visiting this post and taking time to read it, you are a member of my PLN! I'd love to show the session attendees a PLN in action. Would you take a few moments to comment on your own PLN participation? What are your favorite PLN tools/activities? Is there a specific instance in your experience when you can recall your PLN proved to be a valuable resource to you or you to it? Anything you wish to share will be appreciated!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Qualities of Leadership

Whatever your role in education (or any other profession), you are probably a leader of someone. The leadership role may be formal, such as that between a teacher and students or between a superintendent and district staff, but it may also be an informal role as well. Perhaps you are the teacher in your grade level who is most innovative with technology or you are a content area specialist who consults with educators on an informal basis. Certainly, in your non-work roles, there are children, other relatives, or friends who look to you for leadership in some area of their lives.

We are all leaders somewhere or somehow. As such, we should aspire to become better leaders, for the sake of those who look to us for guidance.

Last weekend I had an opportunity to participate in a Leadership Forum sponsored by the Texas Computer Education Association. What I appreciated about this forum, in addition to the fact that the contents gave much food for thought, was the fact that it was open to any member of TCEA who wanted to participate. And, it was free! Can't beat that - a self-improvement opportunity that cost me only an investment of time and gasoline.

The principles shared in the forum were based on the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. I was fortunate to win a copy of the book as a door prize at the end of the event and look forward to reading it. We discussed levels of leadership and what different leaders look and act like and how we could work on improving our leadership skills. I could recount that here, but, I think you'll get more out of reading the book or taking part in a similar workshop. :-)

What I do want to share is the results of one of the first activities we did during the day. We were asked to list the Characteristics of the Greatest Leader We Personally Know. It could not be a famous person, unless we really knew them. I had no trouble picking my person. I reflected back on the first principal I ever worked for, Dr. Jo Ann Ford.

These are the qualities that came first to my mind in the time limit we were given:
  • Believed in her people
  • Encouraging
  • Spoke to your weaknesses in a way that inspired you to work on them (not feel ashamed or embarrassed)
  • Confident
  • Gave people opportunities to make a difference
  • Joyously recognized people's accomplishments
  • Always put others first
  • Made everyone feel like they were her favorite person
  • Did not dwell on her own struggles
  • Inspired others "quietly" through her own accomplishments
  • Focused on what was best for kids and teachers
  • Gave me a chance when I was young and inexperienced
You can read books and attend seminars to increase your capacity for leadership, but those are not the only ways to improve. Think of the people in your life who are a joy to follow, and then think about why. Choose one of their qualities that most appeals to you, and strive to appropriate that quality for yourself.

If we all made it a goal to become better leaders for the benefit of others, think how much we could accomplish together!!!

What are some of the characteristics of a great leader you personally know? Share in the comments, or reflect on them in your own blog post and share a link below. We can all be inspired to grow by the great leaders you share!


Leadership photo by Flikr user sqrpix, used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Are Strong: The United States After September 11th

These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. - President George W. Bush, Address to the Nation, September 11, 2001

Ten years after the words above were first spoken, they have been proven true over and over again in large and small ways.

These are some of the ways I noticed their truth just today.

I started this day watching coverage of September 11th Tenth Anniversary events in New York. I heard stories of the incredible care and thought that had been put into the placement of the names on the National Memorial at the former Ground Zero. Family requests to list names in certain places, perhaps close to colleagues or fellow first-responders, had been honored. Relatives of those lost to the terrorist attacks ten years ago were the first allowed into the memorial; it will not open to the public until tomorrow. We are a nation which affords dignity to and understands the needs of the grieving. Our compassion makes us strong.

Story after story after story of ordinary people who put others before themselves on that horrific day, too many times paying the ultimate price because they had done so. We are a country that raises up people who unselfishly serve others when the need is great. Our servant hearts make us strong.

I went to church this morning, where the first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was a large table full of donations for families affected by wildfires that have raged across Central Texas over the past week. Our willingness to meet the needs of strangers in dire circumstances makes us strong.

As part of our worship service, we watched a reflective video on the events of September 11th, and we prayed for God's continuing mercy for the families and the country forever changed by those events. President Obama made no speeches at the 9/11 Anniversary events in New York today, but simply read aloud Psalm 46. A large proportion of our citizens are religious people who acknowledge that as humans we do not have the wisdom, understanding, or resilience in and of ourselves to persevere under great adversity. Our faith makes us strong.

I enjoyed lunch out with friends, laughing and discussing plans for vacations and new homes and schoolwork. I observed similar groups around us at the restaurant, and later as I stopped at Starbucks for a coffee. Regular people going on with their daily lives, enjoying one another's company and talking of the things that are important to them. Carrying on makes us strong.


There is no doubt September 11th forever impacted our country. In terms of human lives alone, nearly 3,000 people were killed that terrible day, and over 6,000 of our brave volunteer military members have paid the ultimate price as a result of events set in motion ten years ago. 

There is also no doubt that the purpose of the evil visited on us that day has not been realized.

I am proud of my country today and blessed to be a citizen of the United States of America. We will never forget, but we will continue to press on.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Resources for Teaching About September 11th

With the 10 year anniversary of September 11th just one week away, it is difficult to imagine any classroom in the United States not discussing a day that challenged and in some ways forever changed our country. It is possible that the events of September 11th will be discussed in other parts of the world, too, as most parts of the global community were eventually touched in some way by the events which transpired that fateful Tuesday.

For those of you who work directly with K-12 students, it will be an interesting challenge to present what for a few of them is an indistinct early childhood memory and what for most of them is truly a historical event. As I reflect on this, I think of the desire I have often had to understand what it was like living in the time of Pearl Harbor, World War II, or Vietnam, and of the loved ones and teachers who tried to answer my questions and  explain things to me over the years. Still, I know I will never grasp fully what it was like to BE there and experience directly the political and social climate of the day.

I struggle similarly with how to convey thoughts, feelings, and experiences to others too young to remember the day that I was certain I was witnessing the beginning of World War III. One advantage we have just 10 years from September 11th in the Internet era is copious media to rely on for helping children understand. In many cases, the faces who reported the events are faces they still know, and this, too, provides a more immediate connection.

And of course, many of you will want to also focus on how we have moved on and must continue to move on. What lessons were learned and what our future leaders - the children you teach each day - can do to continue moving us forward.

Several educational blogs have been posting resources for addressing the topic in classrooms. I hope you will find their resources, along with a few I've found on my own, helpful as you plan to address this topic late this week or early next week.


Resource Links
NOTE: All links below were verified on 9/2/12

Stand-Out Video Clips

In all of the links I've been browsing in preparation for this post, these videos stuck out to me in capturing the essence of the day.

September 11 Summary of Breaking News Coverage from Around the World

The first video is from the Television News Archive. It is just under 30 minutes long and covers the events of the day through clips from multiple news sources, including sources outside of the United States. I believe part of its impact comes from the fact that it starts with the routine Today Show opening segment. A full explanatory timeline of the video can be found underneath its original posting on this page.




BBC News September 11, 2001 Summary Report of the Attacks

The second video appeals to me because it provides a summary of the day from outside our borders.




Man in the Red Bandanna

In the midst of the evil and tragedy, there were innumerable acts of courage and self-sacrifice.






I Am an American

September 11th was devastating, but we persevere. I love the quiet dignity of this 60 second PSA.




9/11 Memorial

Where we are today...








How Are You Addressing the 10th Anniversary of September 11th?

How are you or your school addressing the upcoming anniversary? Please share your ideas in the comments, including links to any resources you recommend.



Monday, August 22, 2011

A Conversation Starter for Digital Citizenship

This video from Birdville ISD in Texas is well done and covers several digital citizenship and online safety situations which are relevant to the young students in our classrooms. Additionally, it serves as a great example of a student project. Think how much these young ladies must have internalized about digital ethics by participating in this video! What could your students learn from a similar project?


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Leaving Tumblr

This is a cross-post from my soon-to-be-gone Tumblr blog, with a few minor revisions to make it make sense here.

Photo Used Under a Creative Commons License
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bossco/2670450616/
Well, I gave Tumblr a try. For all the things I like about it, which include the ease of posting small snipits of interest without doing a full blown blog post, I cannot get past the amount of clean-up I constantly have to do regarding spammers and pornographers who "like" my posts.

It makes PLN building not so fun. When someone likes one of my posts, I click on them to see who they are and what they're about, to see if I should follow them back because they might add value to my learning. I'm quite frankly disgusted at the number of times those links have led to pornography.

I will also never recommend using Tumblr with K-12 students or in K-12 settings.

In an effort to continue expanding and contributing to my PLN, I have started a Facebook page. If you feel things I shared on Tumblr were of value to you, I invite you to check out the page and join me there if you like.

https://www.facebook.com/EdTechSandyK

And, my original EdTechSandyK blog (which you are currently reading) and Twitter presence will continue on as well:

http://edtechsandyk.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/#!/EdTechSandyK

I will be deleting the Tumblr blog at some point in the near future. I've enjoyed learning with and from the legit folks who have interacted with me there, and I hope to connect with them again in one of my other online spaces.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Finding Hidden Talent in the New School Year

Summer break is over and schools are starting up again in the U.S. over the next few weeks. As you contemplate the upcoming school year, I want to issue you a challenge. But first, sit back and watch the video I have linked below. Watch it from start to end (six minutes isn't a lot to ask). Watch even if you've seen it before - it's probably been a while. Embedding of the video is disabled, so you'll need to follow the link below. Please come back after you've viewed it, I have some more to say to you when you get done watching...

Link to Video

I hope you didn't skip the video! :-)

Did that not blow you away? I have the Susan Boyle video favorited on YouTube and I watch it from time to time when I need some inspiration. Seeing so many people go from cynical as they see a person whom they perceive to be a frumpy middle-aged woman to completely overwhelmed by her talent after a few notes come from her mouth is a thought-provoking experience. For goodness sake, even the ultimate mean guy Simon Cowell looks amazed and gives a contented sigh during her performance!

Susan, an admittedly socially awkward woman, has an amazing talent that is now a gift to the world because a few people looked beyond the awkwardness and encouraged her along the way and gave her a chance.

So, what's the challenge I have for you (and for me) in the upcoming school year?

Look beneath the surface of people in your life to find and encourage their hidden talent.

Your Students
Used With Permission Under a Creative Commons License
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaxport/4638651795/
As those new faces walk through your classroom door, try to look beyond the first impressions, favorable and unfavorable. You will make judgements and assumptions from moment one of meeting them (we are all human; we all do this), but try to rise above those judgements and work to get to know the kids and their interests and passions. Maybe focus on the ones like Susan who have a few social or academic strikes against them. Make efforts to draw them out, listen to them and encourage them. The area where their talent/gift resides may not be in your subject area, so be willing to help them move in a direction that will help them be more fulfilled in life and perhaps even enrich the rest of us with their gifts.

Your Colleagues
Used With Permission Under a Creative Commons License
http://www.flickr.com/photos/create-learning/3948400246/
In your sphere of influence, there may be a new to the profession teacher who is enthusiastic but uncertain of  themselves. Check in on him or her. Watch for things they are good at - motivating kids, planning hands-on lessons, interacting with parents - and compliment and encourage them in these areas. Ask them about an instructional approach they are using; I can remember being so flattered when I was a young teacher and a "veteran" would ask me about something I was doing!  Also, let them know through your actions that you will be an uncritical but helpful ear if they need to bounce ideas off of someone during the year. Even if they seem over-confident, there may come a time when they realize they really don't know everything, and your interest in them will make you more approachable, especially if their over-confidence is off-putting to others.

Your experienced colleagues may have some hidden talents and need encouragement to pursue them, too.  Is there something you admire about the way one of your team members teaches? Have you told them that? Have you asked them for advice or wondered aloud with them how the technique could be applied in other areas? Maybe their talent could benefit children beyond their own classroom.

Teachers are an isolated lot, so when we notice each other's talents, we need to build one another up. Vicki Davis at the Cool Cat Teacher Blog recently posted an inspiring peace about how we as educators need to be each other's cheer leaders. Read Vicki's piece, then choose a teacher or two on your campus or in your district who might need extra encouragement this year. Here's a hint: they might be some of the harder teachers to care for.

Used With Permission Under a Creative Commons License
http://www.flickr.com/photos/crazyeddie/2888389000/
Yourself
Don't forget yourself in all of this talent seeking! It's harder to find "new" things about ourselves, but asking a few questions of yourself might help. What's something you've always wanted to try but have never taken the opportunity? What's something others often tell you you're good at that surprises you? What's something you already enjoy doing and know you have a talent for, but wish you could take to the next level? Is there an organization you belong to that you've desired to take a different or larger role in? The answers to any or all of these questions could help you discover an area of talent for you to pursue at the next level.

If you still can't identify the natural talents in your life, ask a trusted friend or colleague. It might be an awkward conversation, but you can preface it with the fact that you are looking for some new areas in which to grow in your life. You can couch the question this way: "How would you finish this sentence: 'One thing that insert your name here does really well/or is really talented at is ________________.'" Ask it in an email if having the conversation in person might be too awkward for you. It also will give the other person a little more time to think.

Here's another hint: The hidden talent in you may have nothing directly to do with your educational role. And that's ok! Discovering a talent/gift in yourself, or pursuing something you've always wanted to try, may help make you a more fulfilled person, and that new level of contentment will translate into bringing more balance to your life which will in turn flow into all parts of your life, including your teaching. Being a "student" of something, if that is part of the hidden talent path, will also help you relate more to the people in your charge each day.

Susan Boyle
Used With Permission Under a Creative Commons License
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Susan_Boyle_Nov_2009.jpg
Lessons from Susan
Susan Boyle had learning difficulties in school and was bullied as a child. She dedicated her life to caring for her elderly parents until her mother finally passed away in 2007, just two years before she came up with the courage to appear on Britain's Got Talent.

And courage it took. She was mocked twelve years before in an audition for a different British television show. She lived only with her parents until the age of 45 and rarely worked outside her home. She had singing experience in her church and a few local venues, but nothing as big as Britain's Got Talent.

It also took encouragement for Susan to step out. Her mom encouraged her before she passed away. And then her singing teacher.  Her Britain's Got Talent performance was the first public performance she gave after her mother's passing.

And how very blessed and fortunate we all are that people spoke into Susan's life and encouraged her.

Who are the Susan Boyles in your life? Does a colleague's name come to mind? A former student you might see in the halls this year? Perhaps it's a new student you've yet to meet. Or maybe it's you. Regardless, someone you know or are about to know needs encouragement to share their talent/gift with the world.

In the coming school year, you have the amazing privilege and opportunity to provide that encouragement.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Are Technology Trainers No Longer a Need in Education? - Part II

Last month when I first posted on this topic, I stated I would share my own thoughts in the comments or possibly in a follow-up post after giving readers a chance to comment. (Reader comments were wonderful for adding to my perspective; thank you!) I did share some thoughts in the comments, but I'm not done, so here I am with a follow-up post as well. You may want to go read the original post to gather some context for what you are about to read below.

Cutting to the chase, I believe technology trainers are still needed in education. Of course technology training is part of my day job, so I am obviously not unbiased. But I think some insider bias is ok in this case, because it is my investment and experience in my work that gives me insight into this question. Read on for my reasons that tech trainers are still important in education.

Facebook Fallacy


In my previous post, I related a story about a CTO who implied that the fact most of us learned to use Facebook without ever having taken a training class on it is a perfect example of why teachers don't need technology trainers. In his example, teachers have proven by independently learning about Facebook that they can train themselves. 

I'll grant you that teachers (really, most members of Facebook) have learned the basics on their own. Filling out your profile, making posts, and adding friends are pretty easy to figure out independently. But without any formal training, how many people are using Facebook well? Consider these points:
  • How many of your friends have ever dug deeply into their privacy settings and/or frequently check their privacy settings? Several of my Facebook friends do this only occasionally, usually when I or another one of their connections takes time to post something to Facebook about privacy concerns or changes.
  • How many educators have lost their jobs because they shared unprofessionally on Facebook?
  • How many of your Facebook friends have created strong passwords to keep their information, and ultimately your information, safe? (Corollary question: How many of your Facebook friends have ever had their accounts hacked or clicked on links that started sending spam out from their accounts?)
  • With credit to Ann Witherspoon's comment on my previous blog post, how many of your Facebook friends "have created groups, fan pages, or events within Facebook"? In other words, how many of them have used Facebook at a deeper level?
These questions regarding self-taught users of Facebook, who have not received or sought further training resources to help them understand safety measures or dig deeper into the platform, can be asked of any program or platform an educator uses for productivity or instruction. The answers to those questions when applied to educational applications are far more critical. How many people dig beyond the surface of technology tools on their own? How many of them are ultimately encouraged to do so because they receive some basic level of training?

Learning Styles

http://www.flickr.com/photos/langwitches/4094918145/
Used Under Creative Commons License
In the education field, we recognize that our students are individuals and that each of them has strengths and weaknesses, or at the very least preferences, in the way they learn. Likewise, adults in all areas of education from the classroom to the administration office have different learning styles. If we ignore all we know about learning theory for the sake of expediency or because providing in-person training is more expensive, we begin to ignore the heart of our mission - to reach people where they are and facilitate them moving to the next level in their learning, regardless of whether they are a student or an educator. Whenever possible, we should offer online or print materials on using technology tools for those who are able to learn in this way, but we should also offer in-person training on technology resources as well.

Some people learn better in in-person settings. They need to be able to watch someone else or have a chance to ask questions on the spot as they experiment with a new program or tool. The face-to-face training can give them the start they need to explore a technology tool further on their own.

I know people who feel intimated or even "stupid" when they are reading a manual or watching an online demonstration, but in a show-and-do Q & A session with an experienced trainer, they pick up everything they need to gain a little confidence and get started. When the trainer has more experience in the tool being taught, they can also save the teacher the hassle of getting stuck on tricky parts because they can steer the teachers around those spots. And there are always going to be people who won't make an independent effort to learn something on their own because it is not in their area of interest; requiring a face-to-face training is the only way to ensure they will be properly exposed to the material.

Support the Mission

http://www.flickr.com/photos/heycoach/1197947341/
Used Under a Creative Commons License
In educational technology departments, there is usually a mixture of staff whose background is on the education side of things with teaching experience as well as staff whose background is more technical without teaching training or experience. The "educator vs. technical" background is not a distinction I like to play up much, because in my mind no matter what your background, we're all on the same team with the same mission - to support educators and students in teaching and learning. If there is something technical I need to understand to help with the mission, then I rely on the technical people on the team to help me understand it. And I hope that if the technical people need to understand an educational purpose or practice behind something we are doing they will rely on me and my teaching background as well.

Teacher training is an area where I hope CTOs will rely on the experience of the educators on their team. When I hear of statements like "It's just part of their job to know how to use the tools" without the follow-up statement "So let's design the training to teach them," I become concerned that the lack of teaching/training  experience in some members of the technology team is impacting the quality with which a new program or tool is rolled out and implemented. If your school or district acquires or upgrades technology for the purpose of positively impacting student learning, then I believe it is the responsibility of the school or district to provide appropriate training in meaningful use of the technology.

Students Deserve the Best

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shareski/2942564830/
Used Under a Creative Commons License
Yes, this post is about teacher professional development, but ultimately, it's about impacting learning. Just as you and I expect our peace officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, and lawyers to be "up to date" on all of the latest techniques and information for performing their duties to the best of their ability, and therefore impacting our lives for the better, we should expect teachers to be well informed on the latest instructional practices so they may provide the best educational experiences possible for the students in their charge. In today's classroom, being well informed includes being versed in the use and integration of technology.

I think this quote from an Edutopia article sums it up best:
It is critical for veteran teachers to have ongoing and regular opportunities to learn from each other. Ongoing professional development keeps teachers up-to-date on new research on how children learn, emerging technology tools for the classroom, new curriculum resources, and more. The best professional development is ongoing, experiential, collaborative, and connected to and derived from working with students and understanding their culture.
"Learning from each other" includes learning from dedicated specialists in instructional technology. It is a given in our personal and professional lives that technology evolves constantly and rapidly. For the sake of keeping student learning relevant and having our pedagogical practices benefit from the latest technology infused approaches, I believe it is critical that schools and districts place an emphasis on technology training for teachers, and that part of the training menu includes opportunities for face-to-face staff development experiences.

Face-to-face is how the majority of educators still teach. It is not unreasonable for educators to continue to expect similar opportunities for their own learning, with a healthy dose of online learning experiences thrown in. Keeping instructional technologists on staff is a valuable investment in bringing multiple opportunities and styles of learning to today's teachers, which is ultimately in the best interest of today's students.
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