Administrator 2.0

Scott McLeod challenged education bloggers to post today about effective school technology leadership.

In many schools in our nation, computers are not available for students. I have worked in four K-12 schools. The first had no computer lab and no access to computers even for faculty. Of course, that was 1997-1998, so I hope things have changed. The second and third had labs which were difficult to get into, often requiring sign-ups or a month or more in advance in order to secure time for my students to use the lab; therefore, I never took my own students because I couldn’t get in. My current school has an excellent computer lab which is staffed by two educational technologists. Space for two classes at a time generally exists, and the lab isn’t hard to get into. I can sign up the same day in some cases, and I have never had difficulty if I sign up a week in advance. Guess which environment has been most conducive to my students’ learning of technology as well as that of my own? The first thing administrators need to do at the school, district, and state level is to support initiatives to bring computers to the classroom. Ideally, I’d like to have a lab in my own classroom, but barring that, my current situation of an accessible lab is critical. One-to-one laptop initiatives are interesting, but bottom-line, it’s more important to me to have access to a lab when I need it. Administrators who do not do what they can to bring computers to school are basically saying that educating our children for the 21st century is not important.

A second thing teachers need from administrators is support for their efforts at technological education. I think one reason administrators sometimes do not support these efforts is fear and misunderstanding. It is imperative that administrators receive professional development in technology. As Scott McLeod noted,

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Most of them didn’t grow up with these technologies. Many are not using digital tools on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

My administration, and especially the Board of Trustees (specifically our board president) have been incredibly supportive of my efforts at using technology in my classroom. Without their support, I would not have been able to successfully use wikis or blogs in my classroom. Since I have plans to utilize Web 2.0 technology to an even greater extent next year, their continued support will be critical for enhancing the learning activities of our students. If I try to visualize doing some of the work I’ve done over the last two years in the setting of one of my former schools, I have to admit I don’t think I would have been able to even try using blogs or wikis.

As administrators begin to feel more comfortable with technology, I’d like to see more administrators blogging. I know this is fraught with problems as well, as this involves giving people more access to those administrators, which could result in blogging administrators becoming whipping boys for all the problems with education in their schools and districts. I think, however, there is more to be gained than lost by being more transparent in education. “The ‘net rewards the transparent,” and over time, as more blogs like this one pop up, it will punish those who do not reach out themselves.

I would also like to see efforts at creating Web 2.0 learning experiences made easier for teachers. Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay said at EduBloggerCon that in order to have their Flat Classroom Project approved by each of their schools, they had to use different rubrics. As their students were doing the same tasks, it would have been easier to evaluate their work using the same rubric.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that it is critical that administrators support best practices in using technology. I think many administrators don’t see the need for certain uses of technology not only because they haven’t used them and don’t use them now, but because they felt they got on all right, thank you very much, without them, so why should others need them? I’m sure the same has been said in the past of running water, electricity, a dependable mail service, automobiles, and any number of services and technologies we rely on today. I don’t know yet if we will necessarily rely on Web 2.0 technology, but the 21st century is already dependent on certain technologies, and not teaching our students how to use them is to cripple them as they move on to college and the work force.

[tags]administration, education, web 2.o, technology, schooltechleadership[/tags]

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Teacher 2.0

What does the wired teacher of the 21st century look like?

I’ll be the first to admit I’m scratching my head about the use of some technologies in the classroom — cell phones for instance. On the other hand, I am right on board with wikis and blogs.

If I was not convinced before how powerful wikis can be, I was thoroughly convinced when I booted up the computer and went to check UbD Educators wiki for updates. I recently created a Resources page with a few links. I decided not to go too crazy because I knew my colleagues at the wiki would add a few. And so they did. For some reasons, this was a real “a-ha moment.” I knew they were a powerful tool for collaboration, but knowing it and understanding it are somewhat different, and I think I finally understand. I have really left the power of the wiki untapped, I think.

Which kind of makes me wonder what other technological tools I’ve left untapped.

I heard a bit of a rumor that we might have Moodle on our school’s website next year, so I have restrained myself from creating any social networks for my students until I know more about plans for next year. I don’t want to duplicate anything that my school is already putting in place. I still would like to collaborate with other schools around the country and the world on wiki projects next year.

I am excited for the next school year.

[tags]wiki, education[/tags]

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British Educators: I Want You

If you teach literature and composition in the United Kingdom, I would like to work with you on a collaborative online project. I am teaching a semester of British Literature and Composition this fall. We will be reading selections from Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and Arthurian legend, as well as the entirety of Macbeth.

I am not sure how to connect to UK teachers. If readers can help me out, I’d love to get your advice.

I am thinking of a blogging or wiki project.

[tags]United Kingdom, education, British literature, UK, wiki, English, blogging[/tags]

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EduBloggerCon 2007

I have been home from EduBloggerCon 2007 for about a half hour. First of all, the most exciting aspect of the conference was the opportunity to be around so many educators who are interested in and actively using Web 2.0 technologies in their classrooms. I am used to being very alone in this area, and I have to say that it was somewhat of a shock to my senses to hear so many educators talking about wikis, tagging, RSS, blogging, and myriad other applications. I think I realized for the first time that a great many educators actually are interested in Web 2.0. I have to admit I kept visualizing how energizing it would be to work in a school with these other educators.

The main feeling I was left with was just that — energy and excitement about the possibilities of bringing Web 2.0 into the classroom. I also met quite a few people I’ve only interacted with online, as well as some folks who are definitely going into my aggregator and blogroll.

I was fairly quiet at the conference today, and I hope no one interpreted that silence as disinterest. I was simply overwhelmed. In fact, I had never heard of ISTE before the conference today, and I had only heard of NECC a few days ago. I realize that if I am indeed serious about going into educational technology in the future, I probably need to check into joining ISTE and going to NECC when I have a chance in the future. I was sorry I couldn’t attend NECC, as it’s in Atlanta, but coming up with the registration fee on such short notice would have been too difficult.

Here’s the group picture (try right clicking the link, then opening it in a new window or tab so you can go back and forth) courtesy of Tim Stahmer. I am in the middle in the red (long gray hair!) standing to the right (as you see it) of Dave Warlick, whose face is more well-known than mine.

I want to especially acknowledge Steve Hargadon for organizing the whole thing (and for being so friendly when we were introduced), Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach for sort of taking me under her wing and making sure I met people, and Megan, Vinnie, Elizabeth, and Kevin for the great conversations.

I’ve been blogging here for nearly two years (two years on Monday!), but I realized today that the real conversation has just begun. It was the first time I had the opportunity to be around so many like minds.

[tags]edubloggercon07, web 2.0, technology, education, necc, iste[/tags]

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Classroom 2.0

Steve Hargadon, who led this session, mentioned that the wiki associated with Classroom 2.0 hasn’t taken off as he hoped and wanted to “create an action plan for developing good repositories of lesson plans and training for the use of technology and Web 2.0 applications in the classroom.” Vicki Davis took notes: Classroom 2.0.

What do you think would make it easier for teachers to find ways to use Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom?

[tags]edubloggercon07, ebc07cr20, classroom 2.0[/tags]

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Global Connections and Flat Classroom Ideals in a Web 2.0 World

One of the things that jumps out at me as I hear various stories (we are in a circle introducing ourselves) is that Flat Classroom Ideals are perfectly suited for UbD curriculum and unit planning. Many of the teachers mention that the curriculum as it currently stands in their schools impedes the introduction of the kinds of projects Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis were able to construct.

What makes an effective international project? Julie and Vicki are interested in responses to this question.

Vinnie Vrotny says students need to “actively collaborate within in the same window of time.” How would this work with two (or more) groups spread across time zones?

Vicki mentions that a lot of the work they are going to have to do will necessarily be “asynchronous” simply because of time zone differences. Everyone seems to feel some synchronous collaboration is necessary.

Kristin Hokanson mentions the need for administrative support. Vicki says administrators need to “pull over to the side and let them pass” — administrators must get on board with Web 2.0 technology.

Take a look at the wiki Vicki created during the session: Global Connections.

One thing that strikes me upon reflecting over this session is the sheer excitement about teaching and learning I am seeing among teachers who are actively using Web 2.0 technologies in their classrooms. Having experienced it to a small degree myself, I cannot wait to try to be much more involved in the future.

[tags]edubloggercon07, ebc07gcfc, UbD[/tags]

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Expanding the Circle: Facilitating the Introduction of Educators to Web 2.0

I am Edubloggercon 2007 here in Atlanta, and I am in the first session — Expanding the Circle. How can we draw educators, reluctant or otherwise, into using Web 2.0 tools? Some educators are not just reluctant, but outright hostile about using these tools.

Some teachers do not see the value in using these technologies. Julia Osteen pointed out that in many cases, using Web 2.0 conflicts with some teachers’ beliefs about teaching. It doesn’t fit their style.

A huge issue for educators is time. When I presented a session on using blogs and wikis to my own colleagues, one of the first questions they asked me was how much time I spent doing this each day. The question inferred that these technologies take up so much time — is it really worth it, Dana? I gathered that they had already concluded they didn’t have time.

Steve Hargadon mentions that we are dealing with a wide variety of audiences — administration, teachers, parents, and students.

Tim Stahmer mentions that we can introduce teachers by showing them how many of the practices they are already buying into, i.e. journaling, are perfect for Web 2.0. He also adds that many teachers are afraid of allowing students to comment on their blogs. Is this insecurity?

Jim Gates asked how many of us have blogs blocked in our schools? Tim Stahmer mentions that Blogger is blocked in his. I don’t have as much of a problem with issues like this, as I teach in a private school, and I believe that many of these blanket blocking issues seem to crop up in larger schools and school districts, whereas smaller schools (like mine) still enable access to these sites. MySpace and Facebook are blocked at my school, mostly because the sites are seen as a distraction. Actually, when our educational technology teacher sent us an e-mail informing us of some blocking, he asked that we e-mail him if any sites we used were blocked. I found that Bloglines and my hosting provider were both blocked, so I e-mailed him, and he allowed access. Of course, I realize that with larger schools and districts, this involves much bureaucratic red tape. I think we initially blocked access to some sites when the big MySpace scare happened last year (and to be truthful, my husband contributed to our administration’s decision to block these sites because of a presentation he gave about being safe online to our students and faculty).

Our session ended on an open note, and it’s clear these issues are not resolved. Like Steve Hargadon said at the beginning of the session, however, I think many of us feel obligated to try to draw educators into Web 2.0 technologies because we ourselves have been transformed by them. I know my teaching practices have been transformed by the interactivity, feedback, and networking I have been able to do with other educators. I would like to draw my students into Web 2.0 even more next year.

[tags]edubloggercon07, ebc07ec[/tags]

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UbD Update

I have been quiet for a couple of days as I finished up the school year and did some planning for a summer course I will be teaching the end of July/beginning of August. In the meantime, Grant Wiggins commented on the UbD Wiki post and offered up a nice bit of encouragement for those of us who are reading Understanding by Design and collaborating at the wiki, which Wikispaces has generously agreed to host ad-free. We are just getting started, so it is not too late to join up!

More tomorrow after I have rested from education for a bit.

Update, 5/30/08: Thanks to Grant for allowing UbD Educators to access his online course this year.  The course is no longer available for free.

[tags]Grant Wiggins, UbD, Understanding by Design, Jay McTighe, wiki, assessment, education[/tags]

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Classroom 2.0

I was invited to join the Classroom 2.0 community by Nani. I wanted to try it out for a few days before I wrote about it here just so I could be sure it would be something I’d stick with. Several familiar “faces” have joined up with Classroom 2.0. One of the interesting things about Classroom 2.0 to me, however, is the number of unfamiliar faces. The community is built around the subject of using Web 2.0 in the classroom, and I think it could be a good resource for anyone who wants ideas about integrating blogs and wikis (and other similar applications) into their curriculum.

[tags]Classroom 2.0, wikis, blogs, education, technology[/tags]

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PBWiki

PBWiki has recently removed all ads from educators’ wikis. You can read more about PBWiki at a recent post: Wikis for Educators. Consider giving PBWiki a try. They have nice templates and great customer service, as I mentioned in the previous post. Now that they are ad-free, they’re even more educator-friendly than they were in the past. In addition, you can access educator videos.

[tags]PBWiki, wikis, education[/tags]

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