Category Archives: Technology

Exploring Digital Citizenship with Google

One of my goals next year is to improve upon and expand our existing Digital Citizenship model. So I’m excited to attend Exploring Digital Citizenship with Google with Craig Leach. Any school that incorporates technology needs to include meaningful, digital citizenship. In conjunction with Common Sense Media, he has been developing a Digital Citizenship Course.

He starts by telling us to explore Digital Citizenship in our backyard. It’s never hard to find stories about digital presence resulting in negative consequences. He provided us with 5 local stories that we explored, ranging from cyberbullying to student arrests. We engage in group discussions about the themes behind these topics. One element that I noticed is that schools are so focused on being reactive to these events instead of preventative. Dealing with incidents of cyberbullying or bad behavior online necessitates a broader educational program, including teachers, students, and parents (who are often left out). It needs to be consistent and pervasive education; if you are focusing on Facebook behavior, then you’re not preparing for the next tool. These incidences and events expand outside of the Classroom.

We next explored the definition of Digital Citizenship. Common Sense Media defines Digital Citizenship is “The ability to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world.” An approach to digital citizenship needs to include balance: powers and perils. So you should talk about ready access to media, but also address copyright infringement.

Craig tells us that the topics that he likes to tackle inlcude:

  • digital life
  • internet safety
  • privacy, Identity & Digital Footprints
  • Cyberbullying, Communication, & Relationships
  • Searching, Evaluating and Citing
  • Reaching the Community

I like that it doesn’t wholly focus on “Stranger Danger.”

When Craig got a classroom set of iPads, he created some digital expectations and classroom guidelines for technology use. His acceptable use policy included protecting the devices as well as appropriate behavior inside and outside of the classroom. He recommends having students build their own policy in their own words.

We talked a little about Google Searching; show them how to find effective sources and assess it. He recommends that you explore google search tools and advanced search features. Navigating and negotiating online tools is important.

By using Google Research tools, especially features like “search by license,” you can engage students in conversations about licensing, copyright, and plagiarism. One of the great things about Google Tools is that they allow you to to instigate a number of empowering conversations about online engagement.

Are you Future Ready?

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

The keynote speaker this morning is James Sanders from Classroom in the Future. I love the title of James’ talk “A Resume Full of Failure.” He begins by telling us that he “fails all the time.” We work so hard on avoiding failure, that we forget that it’s an integral part of learning. In fact, google “succesful people who have failed,” and you will find a list of impressive people that have not only failed, but failed miserably.

James tells us about his childhood working in a mill. He learned how to drive specialized vehicles and doing hard, demanding work. He also spent quite a bit of time going to the doctor and the hospital as a result of his work there. In the process, however, he learned a lot about himself; in order to learn about yourself, you have to make mistakes. He tells us that “we are a collection of all of the mistakes that have come before us.” We have to learn from what has failed and take that and try to do better. He then tells us his resume of failure. He tried to become an entrepreneur t-shirt developer, that failed. He then tried to get his kids on tumblr… not a good idea. He then worked as a teacher with students in rows, and they went all “Lord of the Flies.” He next tried to create an online gambling website. He then was exposed to the KIPP Academy of Opportunity and their Chromebooks programs. The Chromebooks were a prototype at the time. The Chromebooks made it possible for his classroom to be mobile, the internet access allowed them to connect with students from around the world, and students could engage with material outside of the classroom. They used the Kiva project, investigating  entrepreneurs, and making investments around the world.

Even though this roll-out was great, they had a number of problems that arose. Chromebooks were quickly damaged. So, they had to start teaching students how to treat their devices.

He also found that traditional lessons didn’t work very well. For example, a current events project was quickly written after a student grabbed an LA Times that morning. Instead, he made students create their own newscast! You can see their news network here. Students couldn’t do this at the last minute, it required planning, structure, writing, and production. If you tried to do this at the last minute, it would fail miserably. However, in keeping with his method of learning by failure, he got so excited that he had all of the students create their own YouTube accounts. As a result, students start to post things that were not appropriate to learning, including an aspiring rapper whose language on his YouTube channel was…. you can figure it out.

James then started to have his students post their work online. He then began to put himself out there even more. He started a podcast show. However, his hashtag “pen is mightier,” which became #penismightier caused a few problems. Their Edunation Cast didn’t take off, so they decided to push it a little further. He drove up to Google and tried to pitch an educational angle at Google. He joined them to help develop “YouTube for Schools.” The goal of this was to move towards unblocking YouTube. He moved to San Francisco and then started another company called “Classbadges,” which allowed teachers to award digital badges to students.

After his work at Google, he moved to DC and joined the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. While there, he started the White House Film Festival. I’ve seen some amazing student submissions with this project. Students get to highlight their own learning experience; it gives them a powerful voice that is then witnessed by the Federal Government.

James finishes by talking about his experience teaching in Los Angeles, where the school to prison pipeline is a reality.

He said that in our classrooms, we need to take risks to disrupt this. There isn’t an easy solution. As teachers, we need to take big risks and be willing to fail… and if you take big risks, you will fail. It’s not easy, it’s hard. At the same time, the rewards for success are immeasurable. We write our own script, and we need to try to do more. Put yourself out there, and let your students put themselves out there. HIs latest project is Future Ready Schools. Start looking at what schools should have today; more big idea projects, what do you need to be successful in your job? What do students need? Being Future Ready means. Look for that window, the opportunity to relight your fire and allows you to put yourself out there. If you keep pushing through your failure, you will find what works for you.

Design Playground with Google Drawing

The next session I’m attending is Design Playground with Google Drawing, by Ken Shelton (the keynote speaker). While I’m familiar with Google Drawing, I have never seen it meaningfully applied, so I’m excited to learn something new.

Ken begins his workshop by telling us how Google Draw can be used for within a rich pedagogy. The first thing he points out is that there is a lot of cross over from other Google Tools (Docs, Sheets, etc) as you can share, comment, and a few other things. We start by inserting our first shape, a rectangle! It’s easy, just click, drag, and draw. I manipulate the image by changing the color of the image and the line; you can even play with the weight of the line. We drew another rectangle, but this time we held down the shift key. This time, it aligned the shape and drew a perfect square. He shows us a few different shortcut tricks that you can find here.

400px-TopologicSpatialRelarions2After we have mastered shapes, we next get to play with spatial relationships! How do shapes work together? What’s the differences between cross and intersect? Touches and connects? Overlap and Overlay? So now we get to play again by scaling our shapes up or down and then creating different spatial relationships. I create a square and then insert a circle and then an equilateral triangle.

By using the guidelines that appear, you can perfectly align these shapes; you’re trusting not your eyes, but the program! By using the Arrange –> Order feature you can select which shape overlaps Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 2.08.27 PMthe other one. By playing with the alignment, order settings, and color and line settings, I can create an ice-cream cone with a cherry on top! Even though this drawing was simple, I had to play with size ratio, resizing, and manipulate color. Next, by selecting Arrange–> group, all of these shapes are now one! I can resize and align as a single design.

The possibilities of layering provide a a world of opportunities – students can create graphics and other designs (like infographic tools). I have to admit that this is far more flexible than I thought. I can certainly think of some ways to apply this.

One exercise example he gave us was to use the shapes to visually represent concepts, like: resistance, overwhelm, stress, and rhythm. You can even share drawings with those outside of the Google Domain by sharing as a PDF, Scalable Vector Graphics, PNG, and JPEG. You can even import it into

There really are some cool tools, and it’s not just the red-headed step child of Google Apps.

10 Ways to Drive GAFE Adoption at your School

My next session is 10 Ways to Drive GAFE Adoption at your School by Peter Henrie of AmplifiedIT. I have done a little work with the guys at AmplifiedIT (they facilitated our adoption of Cloudlock), so I know I will get some great information from them. Peter tells us that his objective is for us to go back to our schools equipped with a few ideas of how to drive adoption of Google Apps at our schools.

1. Plan your school’s adoption: map out what, who, when where and Identify areas which would benefit from Google Tools. Set milestones, like going paperless or increase docs use by 50% by next semester.

2. When you reach milestones, celebrate them publicly. How do you know if people are using Google Apps or if you have hit your milestones, use the Reports Tab in the Control Panel. Here is a document that can help you navigate the reporting tools.

App Usage report in the Audit Log.

App Usage report in the Audit Log.

3. Help staff transform their current lessons with GAFE, not simply use the technology for technology sake. Focus on curriculum delivery, create champions of various tools, deliver key outcomes, and have department/subject specialization. I think this idea is especially important. Science teachers and History teachers have different needs, as do elementary and high school teachers.

4. Explore external/online training solutions like Synergyse Google Apps Training. These tools (often paid) can allow people to train on their own schedule and on their own topics. Its reporting tools give you up to date information on who has completed professional development. As these tools only focus on PD, so their content is always up to date.

5. Create & Publicize Templates. Templates are kind of hidden away, so you will need to direct people to them. You can create templates for things like course websites, forms, agendas, etc. Teachers can create and add their own templates, which is a great way to sure lessons and other tools. You can learn how to create and submit a template here.

6. Get people to use other services in GAFE: Calendar, Groups, Sites, and Drive. To get people to use these tools, create resources in them. For example, if you want them to use Calendar create a  Test Calendar or a Resources Calendar. For Groups, you can create discussion groups. For sites, use them for course websites or digital portfolios. Drive is a great way to have people share robust files that are too large for email (video).

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.03.39 PM7. Browse the EDU sections of Chrome Webstore and Google Apps Marketplaces. The Chrome Webstore allows you to add extension or add-ons to Chrome and has an education extension. The benefit of using these add-ons is that you can not only access a myriad of tools (paid and free) and automatically have single sign-on. The Google Apps Marektplace is a feature that your administrator will need to enable and tends to include more robust tools that are often tied to third party tools (like an LMS).

8. Remove Obstacles: Don’t make it hard for people to use these tools. Make sure that GAFE is configured correctly, create a browser policy (to facilitate Chrome adoption), delegate admin rights, and use Groups for easy sharing.

9. Create a Teacher Dashboard. Peter recommends Hapara. If the cost is prohibitive, try Google Classroom (which has fewer functions). The dashboard makes GAFE more usable and easier to navigate.

10. Lead by Example: Model effective integration of GAFE by using Google Docs, default to Chrome, and practicing what you preach. If you draft the minutes of a faculty meeting on a Google doc and share it out with faculty to revise or view, then it not only forces them to log in to that Google Doc, but demonstrates application and learning.

AmplifiedIT has also drafted a couple of ebooks on Google Apps adoption: 14 Ways to Increase Google Apps Adoption at your School and 9 Expert Pieces of Advice for Adopting Google Apps for Education at Your School.

GAFE Summit Los Angeles – Ken Shelton

Kenneth Shelton courtesy of http://kennethshelton.net/

Kenneth Shelton courtesy of http://kennethshelton.net/

I am so excited to be in Los Angeles at the Google Summit at Harvard Westlake. Harvard Westlake is not only a great school, but my good friend Moss Pike (follow him on twitter) is organizing this conference!

The Keynote Speaker is Kenneth Shelton. His topic is “Why Technology Matters.” Ken tells us that he wants to use this time to discuss how we identify the word “technology,” how students use it, and how it can and should be used. He says that he looks at technology as a way to accelerate learning. It doesn’t make a bad teacher good, but it allows a good teachers to become better!

One of the greatest hurdles facing educators in technology is anxiety. On the other side are teachers who can’t get enough technology (self-identified)! Ken next shows us a series of images that can all be identified as “technology,” things like: bicycles, erasers, stoplights, etc. Technology doesn’t have to involve electricity or plugging in. So he asks us “what is one word that highlights how we feel with technology” and shares a tinyurl for us to submit our thoughts via a Google Form. Ken shows us some of the responses which range from “frustrating” to “empowering.” I personally feel that technology itself is neutral, it’s how you use it.

“We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.” – Carl Sage

Technology Myths

Digital Immigrants vs. Digital Natives – this has been a popular concept in the realm of educational technology and I’m happy to see Ken knock this one out. I find it frustrating and an unnecessary barrier. We all grew up with technology, it has just changed. Additionally, just because a student knows how to post a status update or search a map doesn’t mean that they can harness it effectively.

It’s Easier than it Looks – Technology use is not the same as effective use. For example, we don’t give students the keys to a car without driving lessons. It looks easy, but it’s not. We cannot just give kids tools and then let them run. Kids may be better at figuring things out, but that doesn’t mean they can use it meaningfully.

It’s Harder than it Looks – Technology has become more user friendly and there are numerous resources to learn how to use them.

Courtesy of WIkimedia Commons

Courtesy of WIkimedia Commons

Blooms Taxonomy – Ken steps into controversial territory when he says that Blooms Taxonomy is a myth. It shifts regularly and requires a strict protocol and hierarchy. Ken states that in the digital age they are no longer hierarchical, you can create to understand without going through remembering. You can blend creating with application and understanding. You don’t have to follow it from the bottom up.

A New Philosophy

Advantage of NOT Knowing – When you are in the creation phase, you have a million opportunities for an outcome. You have an advantage of not knowing and thus can explore. We are used to getting the result we are looking for, we get frustrated. When this happens in the classroom, we try to shield our students from knowing that. There are millions of possibilities and we should embrace it! By focusing on the result that we want, you ignore the thousands of other possible options and outcomes.

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.” – Lao Tzu

If you embrace change, then you can do many more things than you envisioned.

Strong Meaningful pedagogy hasn’t changed. What has changed, is how we can incorporate meaningful tools and processes into our classroom. Do we embrace innovations or do we stick to our old ways? You have to try the new thing and adapt. The more you experiment with new tools, the better you get at them. We have a fear of trying something new; we don’t want to fail or stumble. However, if I knew that everything would be the same in 5 years I would be horrified. We have to try new things while stumbling along the way.

Students need good boundaries.

Most rules and boundaries in education apply only to the physical boundaries of the school. We need to expand our conversations about rules to things that take place outside of the physical construction of a school; this includes the digital realm. If we want to keep students safe, then we need to have meaningful discussions with them about digital citizenship. Talk to them about building a positive digital footprint. What will someone find when they google your name? The case of Justine Sacco is the most famous recent case of “digital shaming.” While her case is a good one to highlight about how an errant tweet can create chaos, it also brought about a new discussion about how powerful digital shaming has become. In fact, Monica Lewinsky just did a TED talk about this

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame.html

I really think that it is necessary to discuss our reaction to people’s online behavior. Does an errant tweet really necessitate a public shaming by millions of people worldwide? Is this a new version of cyber bullying?

In addition to discussing what to post online, it’s a good idea to talk to students about contributing meaningfully. Do we need a million cat videos? Probably not… When my students create something often, I do like to encourage them to put it out there – build your own portfolio of what you want others to see. Kids are making stuff and putting it out there all of the time. Are we discussing with students and parents what they are putting online? Let’s talk about responsible use!

We need to support students, parents, and teachers to use technology in a responsible and product manner. If we don’t support our stakeholders and give them support, then we are setting them up for failure. The tools are important in that we must use them meaningfully.

The last component of why technology matters is to plant the seeds of intellectual curiosity.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sa.” Antoine de Saint Expuery

Technology can open up new worlds for students in a responsible manner and build a sustainable model of motivation. Technology can give students a voice; children that are shy or struggle with communication skills can harness new technologies in powerful ways. Students can make their thinking visible, show their work, and create a powerful narrative.

Use Zaption to Enhance Video Content

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

Video has become a more ubiquitous element in education today: YouTubeVideos, Kahn Academy, Flipped Content, iTunes U, and more. However, most teachers don’t want their students passively absorbing content. Rather, they want to make sure that students are engaged with the material. A great tool for incorporating more responsive features in your lessons is Zaption, which you can use to create interactive videos via a web browser or their free iOS App.

Take the Zaption Tour to see what’s possible.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 1.55.49 PMWhile Zaption does offer a robust, subscription model, the free tool will allow teachers to do a lot with both existing videos as well as those they create. After you sign up for an account, select “New Tour” on the top left of your screen. This will open the editing screen. The great thing about Zaption is that everything is drag and drop. So if you’re a bit lost, just try clicking and dragging something! If you want to add video, you can search for content online (YouTube, Vimeo, PBS, Nat Geo, etc), the Zaption library, or upload your own videos…

Read the rest of the article here: Use Zaption to Enhance Video Content.

Primary Source Materials for Your iPad

Primary sources are vital resources for educators. iTunes has collected various primary sources, including: historic film, documents, and oral histories. Many of their posted resources are free! Check it out here.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 2.53.55 PM