Tag Archives: patrick larkin

Social Media is Learning Media

My last session of the day is “Social Media is Learning Media” by Patrick Larkin. I have seen Patrick’s work at iPad Summits for years and I’m excited to see him present again. I’m always excited to see administrators talk about Social Media in a positive, empowering way.

Patrick talks about the power of Social Media in his own career. When he was building technology programs at Burlington High School, there were not a lot of people doing similar work in Massachusetts or even the Northeast. Using Social Media enabled him to connect with other educators around the world. Education can be a lonely and isolating job; we spend most of our time with children and adolescents. Social Media can enable us to expand our experiences outside of the classroom, schools, and districts.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Patrick begins by citing Will Richardson’s article, “My Kids are Illiterate. Most Likely, Yours are Too.” What he was talking about was the fact that kids these days are not able to use media in a meaningful way, to curate, asses, and analyze online content. For example, have you fallen for one of those online hoaxes, like “Modern Family Cancelled!” If you had basic digital literacy, you could have quickly assessed whether or not the source was valid (The Onion generally is not).

Patrick then explains his own journey with Twitter. He got online because he was told to check it out at a conference, but didn’t quite get it. However, when it they announced that the President was going to give a “big announcement”, he did a quick twitter search and learned before it went live that the announcement would be the death of bin Laden. You must know and understand how to assess a reputable source. People get duped all of the time. So we need to teach our kids how to assess online content.

As a principal at Burlington High School, Patrick focused on the school’s mission which included educating students to be good citizens. He then argued that students need to be good digital citizens as well.

As Patrick grew as an educator and administrator, he also learned the power of blogging. By posting blog articles about various tools and policies, others would reach out to him. When he first became a Principal, they had a no cell phone policy in the school. Teachers, however, were frustrated that students couldn’t use smartphones to do quick google searches or to look up content. So they changed their policy!

He then was able to guest post for Richard Byrnes on FreeTech4TEachers. As their programs expanded, he was able to host a respectful communication and commentary online via his Principal’s blog! He said that it also empowered them to celebrate their successes. With these web tools, you can put out good news every day, from classrooms to teachers to district wide!

In addition to posting a blog, learn to follow various blogs. I appreciate the shout out to mine Patrick! Using an RSS reader, you can set up your consumption tools. You can also tweet out content. Feedly is a great service for doing this.

Students can use these tools in powerful ways. “It’s amazing what students can do when we just step back a little!” What a powerful statement. We all went to “traditional” schools and classrooms, so backing off and allowing social learning to proceed can freak us out. Patrick notes that we can’t go without good educators, but that empowering students coupled with skilled educators.

Patrick also discusses with us how he created a Social Media PD day with his faculty. He sat them down over an hour, had them set up a twitter account, established a hashtag, and engaged in a twitter chat for an hour. That is just awesome! Patrick is a strong Twitter advocate. He tells us that you can find out anything you want on twitter. Check out the hashtag #edchat.

Social Media also makes us think about what learning environments look like. We can now take things out of the classroom. If a student is out of school for illness, they can Facetime with their partners and complete the assignment. students can physically leave a classroom and learn as a group in other environment.

Using tools like Google Drive, they were able to encompass more dynamic methods of teacher evaluations. Using 8 topics (listed above in his source tools), teachers could share their own examples of meeting those standards. Using a google form to assess walk-throughs.

Another great tool for administrative meeting is using Google Hangouts. I love Hangouts, they’re a great way to engage with users who are (physically) all over. They are now under the GAFE umbrella, which means you can use them with students. You can also check out unhangouts from MIT.

Patrick also highlights that we need to celebrate those who are willing to try and fail.

‘it’s no longer enough to do powerful work if no one sees it.” – Chris Lehmann. I also love Kevin Honeycutt’s “Stop being secret geniuses!” You need to share and engage with others. Participate in EdCamps, build your online presence, engage with others professionals.

Social Media often has a negative backlash. However, Patrick is quick to note that the issue is the person, not the tool. Bad people with bad intentions are going to use whatever tools available to them. Tools does not turn good people into monsters.


The iPad for Leadership by Patrick Larkin

Jen Carey is LIVE blogging for us from the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. You can also find these posts on her site – indianajen.com.

Concurrent Session #3: The iPad as a Leadership Tool with Patrick Larkin

I saw Patrick Larkin first speak at the iPad Summit last Fall. If you would like to read about that, see my blog post “Getting Your Entire School Community on Board with iPads (1:1).” Given that experience, I could not pass up an opportunity to watch him again. Patrick starts out his discussion by telling us about his journey implementing iPad into a 1:1 environment. He recognizes that we are not doing what we could with iPads. As leaders in education and educational technology, iPad provides a unique opportunity for leadership.

One of the key elements of leadership is the necessity of modeling tools and behavior. In the case of a massive transition in technology and pedagogy, you need to be not just the lead user, but the lead learner! Given that, what should school leaders be doing with iPad? If we ask teachers to build their curriculum off of their desired outcome, we need to do the same with technology as educational leaders. Leaders have different needs than educators (although there can be some overlap). They need to serve as evaluators, record keepers, communicators, organization, and professional growth.

ISTE provides a great structure and framework of skills modern administrators need to have:a-indicator

  • Visionary Leadership
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Systemic Improvement
  • Professional Practice
  • Digital Age Learning
Visionary Leadership

This is a collaborative experience and process involving administrators, educators, students, and parents. Broad initiatives need the input of learners. You also invest in key people – those who will help to share the vision and expand on ideas.

Digital Citizenship

We need to model what it is to be an effective digital citizen. He asks, “What would you think of me if the following Tweets were all that you knew about me?” He then showed us an example of various tweets from students (with expletives bleeped out).

Many administrators are uncomfortable with social media. Students are largely navigating this arena without adult supervision or guidance. If we ignore this aspect of education, then we are being negligent educators and not fulfilling our mission as educational institutions. Right now, litigation is a concern for many institutions and schools causing districts to legislate social media rather than teach and model it. Patrick makes an interesting point that we are regulating social media in a way unprecedented with other learning tools.

Digital Age Learning

This is another element of modeling tools and innovation that we want to see with our educators. We need to adopt digital learning tools in our own lives, training, and practice. For example, data collection can be done digitally via a google form, subsequently modeling an assessment technique that we may want to instill in our faculties and students.

Patrick’s argument is that learning should be an individualized experience. We need to empower educators in their own classrooms and provide them the tools that they want and need. One educator made the point that iPad can magnify problems that already existed. Patrick pointed out that the problem is generally neither iPad nor technology, but rather an underlying issue that is now brought to administration’s attention.

Outreach to parents about all of this is also critical. It allows parents to understand the objectives and goals of technology in the classroom. Ultimately, working with parents can help them to understand that we aren’t just “playing Angry Birds.”

Professional Practice

Administrators must provide an environment for professional learning, adequate resources, and direct professional development support for their faculty. Instruction can and should be differentiated (as we expect educators to differentiate their teaching). In addition to access, we need to provide teachers with time to do work.

Patrick outlined a 20% rule that he implemented for faculty. During the school year, he designated a chunk of time to be used for self-development. Two rules governed this time:

  1. Do not listen to your department head
  2. Do not grade papers.

He also stressed the importance of sharing our professional development innovations with one another.

Systemic Improvement

Administrators and educators must continuously use digital tools and technologies to improve organizations, communication, and overall systemic structure. We can engage the community in these conversations as well – technology firms, businesses, communication experts, etc. – to provide support. For example, Patrick uses Evernote (one of my favorite applications) to provide instructional feedback and support and highlights several other applications that he regularly uses.

In the end, I was surprised at the number of social media applications in his repertoire. Surprised, but thrilled. I love transparency in education and leadership. As school leaders continue to encourage their faculties to innovate, experiment, and transform learning experiences for their students, it will become increasingly critical for them to model the desired behavior for their teachers. Largely what I took away from this session is the importance of this modeling.