Monday, November 30, 2015

Curriculum Using Technology (CUT) Institute

"You really made me think of ways to use technology," the teacher had written in the online CUT journal. The author of the journal entry went on to say, "I felt inspired to go back to my classroom and use technology. We really need these kinds of inservices to keep me focused and renewed. " 

And, that's exactly what the Curriculum Using Technology (CUT) Institute was about--connecting with classroom teachers, reflect on what they're doing in their classrooms, and then helping them find ways to use technology in their classrooms. Sometimes, this can be a challenging, albeit necessary, experience for teachers.

The Curriculum Using Technology (CUT) Institute helped teachers to develop problem-based learning units that integrate technology. Revised many times, the CUT Institute is the result of planning sessions in which the facilitators of the CUT Institute sought to interweave several important strands:

  1. Information problem-solving processes such as the Big6, FLIP IT, KWHL, and other similar approaches.
  2. Problem-based Learning
  3. A practical, step-by-step approach to integrating technology into classroom units and lessons.
  4. The use of rubrics to assess student creations.
To blend these strands together, the CUT facilitators developed the Curriculum Using Technology Model and planning guide. They also developed several, imperfect lesson and unit plans.

The planning process that participants follow for the 5 day institute is as follows:

1. Ask a big question based on a real life problem or situation that requires your students to work in cooperative groups to research and develop a product. The example the CUT facilitators use is that of Benedetto Baldoni, an immigrant to America. Read the fictional narrative, or scenario, below which serves as the unit engagement:
The year is 1914. Benedetto Baldoni has left his wife, Vittoria and 2 small children, Basilio and Massimo, behind to search for what he hopes will be a better way of life. Life in his home country has been hard the past 15 years. He knows that they will be reunited some day.
The boat approaches the harbor and the large statue of the lady holding the torch is now visible. This is the symbol he has waited for. It has been a 10 day journey and the conditions on the ship have been deplorable. The food consists of bread and soup once a day.
"Those with papers go to this side," says the ship's officer as he points in one direction. Those without are told to stand on the other side and are given signs that are labeled WOP's (With Out Papers). Benedetto's heart is racing. He can't wait to touch dry land. He clutches the letter from his cousin, Guiseppe Belamori, to his chest.
"Cousin," Guiseppe writes in his letter, "many opportunities await you, but also many dangers. We will have much to discuss when you arrive."
Below are the activities CUT facilitator model to teachers pretending to be students:

After sharing the Unit Engagement with your students, ask them to respond to the following questions:
  1. What hunches do we have about Benedetto Baldoni and what is happening to him?
  2. What do you know about Mr. Baldoni and his situation?
  3. What questions do we need answer in order to do something about his situation?
After exploring and prioritizing the questions, share with students that they will be exploring immigration in order to help Mr. Baldoni.

To encourage them to focus on the activities, you might divide them up into different groups. Each group assumes a different stakeholder role. For example, the following stakeholder roles might be used with student groups:

  • Immigration Officer(s)
  • Recent Immigrants from different ethnic groups
  • Second generation immigrants
  • Italians in Italy discussing the conditions as to why other Italians, like Benedetto, are going to America
  • Labor party. For example, where will Benedetto work?
  • Relatives of Benedetto
  • and many more...choose roles that will explore/investigate the content you want children to discover.
After children are divided into stakeholder groups, have them begin their research.

Problem-based learning approaches like this help introduce the unit to students and get them personally involved in doing the necessary research to find a solution to the problem introduced in the scenario. Feedback via the CUT Journal included comments such as the following: 

"All teachers learning should be guided through the activity with a class of non suspecting students to see their response and questions."

2. Use the CUT Model to help guide your curriculum development, lesson planning and activity assessment. Feedback from the participants included comments such as: "The facilitators were well prepared and have a good format for guiding us through the process of making technology useful in preparing a unit."

The CUT Model is a simple framework that asks 3 questions; the questions include the following:

a) What is the real life connection to curriculum? Real life connections can be established through the use of video/newspaper articles or radio programs, plays or vignettes, fictional narratives, and/or community problems or projects that engage students emotionally.

b) How is technology going to be used? The types of technology that can be used can include productivity tools, including web page creation, multimedia scrapbooks, subject samplers, and publishing student work to the web.

In the "Diversity in the United States" unit plan, there are 16 different activities. Each activity represents a lesson that can be used with students. A wide range of technology tools are used to model how they might be used in the context of teaching and learning.

Also, students have access to online resources that the teacher has organized in the form of a multimedia scrapbook on "The Immigrant Experience."

c) How will students be assessed? Assessment through the use of rubrics is employed, however, careful thought must be given to whether students will be assessed individually, in groups, or both. 

Also, what other forms of assessment might be used in addition to rubrics?

In preparing assessments for the "Diversity in the United States" unit, rubrics were used because they best assessed technology products created in cooperative groups.

3. Technology is integrated in every content area in K-8. 

4. Choose the tools and materials you will need to accomplish your teaching and learning objectives. For example, "The Diversity in the United States" uses a multimedia scrapbook to focus students in their research, as shown below:
Activity 9. Students will use "The Immigrant Experience" learning activity and teacher provided handouts to research requirements for becoming a US citizen. They will also look at what past requirements have been and how they have changed. Students will create a graphic organizer to show the steps involved in applying to become a citizen.
5. Write your unit plan and submit it to the CUT Online Unit Plan repository, a wiki site.

And, finally...

6. Decide on an information problem-solving process. In the Diversity in the United States unit plan, the Big6 (TM) ( is chosen as the information problem-solving process to use. 

Students use the Big6 Assignment Organizer as a way to organize information. The accompanying activity states:
Activity 11. 
Step 1. Students will use the Big6 information problem-solving process to investigate the contributions of a self-selected ethnic group.Step 2. Students should work in groups to generate possible research questions. Some possible research questions that students may generate include: What traditions, customs and or celebrations did your ethnic group bring to the United States? What Language/specific words from your ethnic group do we use today? What types of entertainment, recreation, or arts did your ethnic group bring to the United States?, What notable Americans are members of your cultural group? Why are these people important? What types of food did the group bring to the United States? Did your cultural group settle in any specific area of the United States? If so where?Step 3. Ask students to brainstorm where they might find answers to their questions. Students might include web sites, Institute of Texan Cultures, the library, and other resource books
The goal of CUT was the development of standards and problem-based learning activities through the informed use of cognitive tools (spreadsheets, databases, desktop/web publishing and multimedia), as well as meaningful assessment using rubrics correlated to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and making those activities available via the web.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Two Wolf Tales

Image Source:
I'm sure you've read the old classic, Two Wolves (A Cherokee legend), story of the grandfather and his grandson, but if you haven't, I include it below again. It also inspired me to write my own wolf tale, so you'll find my tale right after it...maybe you'll suggest a title?
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil--he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good--he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevelence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you--and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute, then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
"The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
What a great story. Just this school year, I shared it with one of my team members, and she revealed that she had not heard it before. Then, in a moment I treasure, she made the effort to share it at a coaching session. For a learner who shares his learning, few moments are sweeter.

Tonight, I realized that I had a wolf tale in me. Here's my attempt at writing a story, perhaps one that you have experienced in some form or another:
An old hunter took a walk in the forest with his son. From the path ahead, vicious snarling could be heard intermixed with a rare whimper. Cocking the hammer on his flintlock rifle, the old hunter took the lead, signaling his son to silence.
"What is that?" asked the boy as a dry twig exploded beneath his bare heel. In the dawn's light, a magnificent wolf snapped at the steel trap it had blundered into.
"That's the wolf that ripped up our milk cow, ain't it, Pa?" the boy asked. "Will you shoot it?"
The old hunter's face, still and quiet, bespoke of peace. He passed his rifle to the boy, and with a quiet calmness, edged slowly towards the wolf. It stared at him with dark malevolence, fear, anger and damned desperation. As the hunter stretched his hand out slowly to the manifestation of his nightmares, the wolf grew pensive. Making soothing noises, the hunter gently extricated the wolf's paw from the trap. With the wolf ready to snap, it's lips pulled back in a silent snarl, he made sure that the leg was not broken.
As the hunter and the boy watched the wolf limp, then lope away, the boy asked, "Why didn't you kill that mean wolf?"
The hunter, with a restrained smile, smoothed the boy's hair, and said, "I wouldn't leave my own worst enemy in a steel trap to die slow." With that, he took back his rifle, slung it, and headed for home.
Source: Miguel Guhlin
What do you think of my wolf tale?

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

5 Steps to Fostering Technology in Schools

The slides flash up on the screen. The basic expectations for technology integration for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 are outlined to students. I can’t help but smile as the words come out of my mouth. “Folks, these are the minimum expectations for using technology in your classroom.” 

As I pause for effect, I emphasize the following words, “Note that these are classroom-based expectations regardless of your content area, not something that happens only in the computer lab. These expectations exist whether you are a kindergarten teacher or a departmentalized fifth-grade teacher.” The information in the slides is based on a presentation done by Patsy "Mother of TA:TEKS" Lanclos in the 1990s at the Education Service Center, Region 20.  How tim has passed.

As I sat in a two-day academy on Problem-based Learning--a replication of the TCEA PBL Academy shared at the 2003 State Conference--and saw those same slides shared with teachers, I was astonished yet again at the fact that they registered as something “new.”

Excerpt from Dr. Chris Moersch's Levels of Technology Implementation - Source:

  • LOTI 0: Non-Use
  • LOTI 1: The use of computers is generally one step removed from the classroom teacher (e.g., it occurs in integrated learning system labs (i.e. Jostens, CCC, IDEAL, Plato), special computer-based pull-out programs, computer literacy classes, and central word processing labs). Computer based applications have little or no relevance to the individual teacher's instructional program.
  • LOTI 2: Technology-based tools serve as a supplement to the existing instructional program.Student projects (e.g., designing web pages, research via the Web, creating multimedia presentations, creating graphs and charts) focus on lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (e.g. creating a web page to learn more about whale species). Greater emphasis on technology rather than critical content.
  • LOTI 3: Technology-based tools including databases, spreadsheets, graphing packages, probes, calculators, multimedia applications, desktop publishing, and telecommunications augment selected instructional events (e.g., science kit experiments using spreadsheets or graphs to analyze results, telecommunications activities involving data sharing among schools).
  • LOTI 4a: Technology-based tools are mechanically integrated, providing a rich context for students' understanding of the pertinent concepts, themes, and processes. Heavy reliance is placed on prepackaged materials and sequential charts that aid the teacher in the daily operation of the instructional curriculum. Technology (e.g., multimedia, telecommunications, databases, spreadsheets, word processing) is perceived as a tool to identify and solve authentic problems relating to an overall theme or concept.).
  • LOTI 4b: Teachers can readily create integrated units with little intervention from outside resources. Technology-based tools are easily and routinely integrated, providing a rich context for students' understanding of the pertinent concepts, themes, and processes. Technology (e.g., multimedia, telecommunications, databases, spreadsheets, word processing) is perceived as a tool to identify and solve authentic problems relating to an overall theme/concept.
Since September, 1998, the Technology Applications: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TA:TEKS) have served as a tool to encourage content-area teachers. It is for that reason that I was perplexed that a school district might not have a TA:TEKS curriculum that addressed Middle School. These days, many school districts flounder without a clue about how to blend technology into core content, and computer labs are kept as expensive assessment centers for high-stakes testing and/or interventions (e.g. Istation, Think Through Math). 

The reason why we haven't achieved escape velocity in the area of Technology Applications is simply that Curriculum & Instruction Departments lag far behind their Instructional Technology counterparts, unwilling to blend technology into content and pedagogy, to hit the sweet spot on, or follow the clearly staked-out, well-lit path of the Technology Integration Matrix, work that languishes without adoption in many schools.

While the technology may be integrated across the curriculum, in an informal data collection effort, I found that the majority of school districts responding preferred to have abandoned efforts to address technology. It is too expensive to pay for a teacher, knowing that every teacher should be blending technology into the curriculum. In spite of knowing this, integration efforts in the content areas have failed in districts--and that includes device frenzies that achieve 1 to 1 device saturation but no one knows what to do next--that neglected to provide extensive staff development for classroom teachers at a LOTI Level 4 or higher.

Yet, the fact remains that fostering technology applications is an imperative. But, how do we do move beyond technology-centric approaches, and build on content/pedagogy rich strategies that fail to achieve the promise of blended technology? 

Follow this 5-step approach that bridges the gap between computer literacy classes of the past and the desired target technology integration needed in Texas schools today. 

STEP 1: Schedule a meeting with key stakeholders (e.g. principals, teachers, and curriculum staff).

STEP 2: Ensure that your campuses have the hardware and software needed. At a time when technology is like water, no one should be struggling. Develop and document multi-year equipment and infrastructure plans.

STEP 3: Provide the necessary professional development for teachers in HOW TO USE the tools. It's easy to hand-out millions of dollars in equipment, but harder to show people how to use it once it has found its way into desk drawers, locked closets, or left behind in car trunks. Instill a sense of urgency, wonder, and develop a PLN/PLC to get going.

STEP 4: Build a virtual space where curriculum using technology (CUT, an acronym I coined many years ago with colleague Jim Baldoni) can be found and contributed to.

STEP 5: Develop an Implementation Plan with attention to fidelity of implementation.

These steps are simple to state, difficult to implement.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

MyNotes: Intro to #TPACK

Source: Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by
These are MyNotes on the introduction to TPACK video that appears online. They are offered up as a way to help those participating in the ECISDLearners Weekly Voxer Chat.


  1. Content Knowledge (CK) is about what teachers know (knowledge and expertise in your content/curricular area). It includes the following:
    1. facts
    2. concepts
    3. theories
  2. Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) is about how they teachers teach (expert knowledge about the art and science of teaching). It includes the following:
    1. Assessment Strategies
    2. Instructional strategies - Approaches such as inquiry-based learning, Problem-based Learning, Think-Pair-Share, for example.
    3. Learning theories
  3. The interaction between Pedagogical and Content and Pedagogical Knowledge (PCK) is "Teaching at it's best." 

    [Miguel's Note: However, it's not enough to rely on traditional "teaching at it's best" at a time when technology is so prevalent in society and life. As such, we have to consider adding a third component--Technology Knowledge). 

  1. Technological knowledge (TK) is about how technology is used in the classroom. It includes the following:
    1. Knowledge about tools, apps, mobile devices.
    2. How to integrate technology and
    3. Improve access to quality content
  2. Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) describes how technology is used for enhancing deep and lasting knowledge. For example, the use sophisticated tools to collect evidence, make observations, and document findings. Then, they can use interactive software to manipulate data. This allows deepening of student engagement or inquiry.
  3. Technological Pedagogical Knowledge describes how teachers choose and manage technology for your students. It tries to help you answer the following questions:
    1. What technology will be best?
    2. What collaboration tools could be used to enhance student learning and collaboration in the classroom, as well as at a distance?
  4. The core of TPACK is the dynamic interaction of all 3 elements.
    1. Support student more deeply and effectively
    2. Examine 3D models of water quality, do research, then share information with others.
    3. Collaboration with others.
    4. Brainstorm ways to redesign learning experiences with staff.
  5. The enclosing circle of TPACK is "context." This is because every classroom context is unique. 
  6. Start with content and pedagogy, then layer in technology. Technology is a part of great teaching.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Managing My Clouds: Unlimited Storage

Earlier this month, I received a notice from Dropbox. It said, simply, that I was no longer going to have access to gigs of space (buying a Samsung phone had given me additional hours) I had over the last few years. Instead, access would be knocked down 48 gigs! Still, I had to prioritize content for removal from the cloud, and figure out a way to migrate it from one cloud storage solution to another.

At the time, I wished for a solution that would allow me unlimited storage and an easy way to blend my work scattered across various cloud storage solutions. Then, Amazon Cloud Drive--unlimited storage--for $5 for initial year came along (it may still be available, so I encourage you to take advantage of it!); it regularly costs $60 a year, which still isn't a bad deal.

Some other needs:

  • Access cloud storage solution on all platforms (especially GNU/Linux)
  • Unlimited storage or as close to it as possible at low cost
  • A way to move content from one cloud storage solution to another easily.
  • Easy Encryption accessible on mobile as well as computer

Here are the cloud storage solutions I'm now using:

  • Google Drive (Total Storage: 24gigs)- This is essentially where I store everything I'm using regularly. I don't imagine moving away from it, but I do occasionally back things up to USB external drives at home. Few items, if any, are confidential. Supports 2 factor authentication $20 per year.
  • Dropbox (Total Storage: previously 64gigs) - This is where I store podcasts and content for the Around the Corner blog. There are no backups of the data stored on Dropbox, and none of it is confidential. Works great across multiple OSs and platforms, even if it has a bad rep for security. Supports 2 factor authentication. No Cost.
  • Amazon Cloud Drive (Total Storage: Unlimited) - This is the first solution that provides unlimited storage at a reasonable cost. This will also let me make encrypted backups available via the cloud and better organize work. $60 per year (except for the initial $5 promotion)
My goal is to "put all my eggs" in as few baskets as possible, while backing up other data. But how to move it in bulk from one to another?

To move content from one cloud storage solution to another, while I have access to the excellent solution, I explored using (FREE) It flawlessly enabled me to begin the transfer of data from Dropbox to Amazon CloudDrive, even though it could just as easily been another cloud storage provider:

It's amazing to see all the data flowing from one location to another:

In the past, I've eschewed solutions like Boxcryptor (even though it's great!) in favor of free, open source encryption solutions (e.g. Secure Space Encryptor). Unfortunately, SSE won't work on mobile devices I use every day and I need some assurance of encryption.

While Amazon Cloud Drive has a nice web interface, Boxcryptor has just come out with Boxcryptor Portable, a solution that works on GNU/Linux and allows interfaces to all the cloud storage solutions I use (e.g. GoogleDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox) and others.
With Boxcryptor Portable, you don't need a local installation of Boxcryptor or even your favorite cloud storage provider’s software. Therefore it is ideal for users who do not have administrator rights on their computer. Boxcryptor Portable connects directly to your provider to maximise your flexibility. Simply log in to your Boxcryptor account to have all your data in one place, encrypt it or perform file actions. Boxcryptor Portable supports all providers which are supported in our official Android version (Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive and many more).
The usage is very similar to our smartphone apps as you decide on uploads and downloads. Therefore, there is no need to sync files locally. Place Boxcryptor Portable on your USB drive, hard drive or download it directly from our homepage and use it on any computer.  Access your secure data without caring about limitations of the computer you are using
This makes Boxcryptor ($48 a year, although there is a free version that allows access from 2 devices) an easy-to-use solution for encryption. Again, you may not need it and may prefer to just encrypt files on your computer before storing them in the cloud storage solution of your choice.

How are you managing your cloud storage solutions?

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hooked on Gaming: 5 Quick #Leadership Lessons from #ClashofClans

"Leadership and management skills required?" I gasped as I began to play this game on my iPad, then later load it on my Android, and even more recently, iPhone. "I just want some simple diversion, not to have to think while playing a game." Yet, I resisted the urge to delete the app. Something kept me hooked, and periodically, without realizing it, I found myself observing the valuable lessons in leadership and management the Game taught. May I share a few of these not so serious leadership lessons?
Image Source:

As a veteran Clash of Clans gamer, I have found myself reflecting on what powerful lessons this game teaches those who play it. It's only natural, of course, given the amount of time and discretionary funding I've spent. Of course, this wasn't my intent when I started playing, submitting to the incessant encouragement, exhortations and downright nagging of my son about a year ago. In no particular order, here are some leadership lessons:

Lesson #1 - Get involved.
If you're a laggard when playing Clash of Clans, your clan may decide to "kick you out" because you don't play well. So, you need to "show up and be present" when there's a war on. The flip side of that is that if you're a leader in your clan, you have to be willing to ruthlessly prune (a euphemism for kick out) your clan mates if they aren't willing to launch their attacks, invest 100% in the game. Sitting on the sidelines isn't an option.

Lesson #2 - Develop your individual team members.
When you are in a war, the higher the opponent you are able to gain stars (total of 3) on when attacking, the more loot you get. But you'll find that Level 1 players fight ineffectually in war, and succumb to the pressures of a tough field under fire. No team member is beneath being developed, and it's your responsibility to cajole other clan members, as well as your own teams, to build up their skills.

Lesson #3 - Develop capacity to needed to support growth.
In Clans, if you don't build up your capacity to store loot (gold, elixir, dark elixir), you won't be able to grow. Simply your ability to grow is directly connected to your storage of what your team needs to be nurtured.  As a leader, you have to continuously improve so that you can save for the tough times or be able to store enough so that you can save resources that are needed.

Lesson #4 - Grow a little each day to achieve big outcomes.
As a leader, it's easy to want to pile it on before the big deadline, getting the work done in one rush of adrenalin. Unfortunately, real change isn't like that. There are no shortcuts, I've learned. You have to make the changes, slowly, over an extended period of time. In Clash of Clans, that slow growth pays off big in time. Consider this Todd Nielson story:
...changing our current state does not necessarily have to be hard.  Learning a new language is hard, but if you learned 10 words a day or 5 words a day, how much greater could you learn to speak that language, than if you had done nothing?  Dr. Nido Qubein, said: “I learned English by memorizing ten words a day.  Each day, I would review the words I had learned the day before and then study 10 new ones.  By the end of the week I had added 70 new words to my vocabulary.  It was this consistent effort, that enabled me to achieve fluency in English.” Source: Don't be a Status Quo Leader

Lesson #5 - Match your team members' strengths to the challenges ahead.
In Clash of Clans, it's very easy to lose sight of the fact that your strongest players (e.g. dragons) may  not be the best to solution to apply in every situation. Each team member has strengths, but they may not be as powerful in the face of obstacles specifically designed to push back against them. As a leader you have to know exactly how to put them into play so that they are successful, that their interdependence enables each to be successful against the challenges they are most equipped to handle successfully.

and, a bonus:

Lesson #6 - Develop relationships.
While it's easy to tell your clan, "fight or be kicked," the truth is that encouragement can go a long way. Not only encouragement but lending a helping hand when necessary (e.g. providing Clan Castle troops as needed by the team so they will be able to seize loot and be successful when at war or raiding others).

Playing Clash of Clans sends a powerful message to future leaders...and there are many more lessons that time and reflection may be able to tease out. See you online!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rethinking the Continuum: Teaching, Learning and Technology (Keywords: 4Cs framework LOTI)

A short time ago, after a conversation with a colleague, I imagined the following continuum:

Not being satisfied with that, I worked on it a little, and it ended up looking like this:
GoogleDraw version

For fun, I dropped the SAMR model into the equation, even though it has become quite controversial. In truth, I wonder if such "complex" models can really do more than describe ideas and mayhem endemic to school districts. As a technology director, I see my role as facilitating the technical side of things, allowing curriculum to blend technology into their work. And, this approach would probably work except for the deleterious effects of high stakes testings and interventions mandated from on-high.

It may be that the role of Instructional Technology Specialist is an anachronism from a bygone era, but unfortunately, until curriculum folks aren't running around trying to meet TEA requirements that result in fascinating contortions, we may not see much progress without the hardy Instructional Tech Specialist.
"Research consistently shows that technology adoption requires the presence of pioneers to field-test technologies, contextualize their use for specific purposes, and then help their peers implement them." Source:ISTE, 2013, p.6 as cited in Dr. Kristi Shaw and Kaye Henrickson's presentation
This results in curriculum experts who may not know how to hook up their mobile device to a digital projector, create a wiki, or create a form to capture data or analyze it in a spreadsheet, perpetuating paper-n-pencil approaches that have been replaced in other areas.  I can think of at least one instance where this has had disastrous impact on school district public relations (e.g. a curriculum specialist published confidential data online).

That this dichotomy exists, well, that's pretty astonishing given the amount of technology available, right?

In Naturalizing Digital Immigrants, order it here, a different approach is suggested. Their "collegial coaching Model for Technology Integration" includes these points, which they elaborate on in their book:
  1. Establish the Need: Explore fears, hesitations, insecurities, and overarching goals, helping focus them on 3 tools.
  2. Create partnerships: This suggests adapting past projects and blending technology into those, focusing on content.
  3. Differentiate technology projects, supporting teachers in short-term, easy to attain projects, building confidence over time, moving on a continuum from personal to professional.
  4. Assess Progress: This involves aligning technology-enhanced activities to what was originally intended to be taught, constantly refining how you teach to match what students need to learn.
  5. Ask reflective questions. One nifty quote they share includes one from John Dewey, such as reflection allows one to convert "action that is merely appetitive, blind and impulsive into intelligent action" (Dewey, 1933). I can think of no better description for the avid app consumption that occurs when teachers are given iPads ("Go get this free app now! You can tutor kids with it!" rinse, repeat).
Read my blog entry about this framework
While it is tempting to continue as we are, with curriculum in one silo and instructional technology in the other, it is critical to realize we can't continue as we have been. But we may very well have to so long as our colleagues in Curriculum & Instruction are taking their marching orders from those bent on destroying public schools. In fact, instructional technologists may be all that stands between helping learners be "CREATIVE, COLLABORATIVE, and INNOVATIVE, not compliant, complacent, and disengaged" (Source: Todd Wold)

When I envision changing what is happening in the classroom, I confess that some of the transformations I'd like to see include the following:
  1. Problem-based Learning, or at worst, Project-based Learning: For me, choosing one of these approaches involves rethinking how you approach teaching and learning in the classroom. As a result, far better than any other instructional approach I've seen, PBL engages students not with technology but powerful ideas and learning possibilities that technology usage can only accelerate. Read More about PBL | Visit Professional Learning Site
  2. Collaboration: The hallmark of today's technology-embedded classrooms must be increased communication opportunities, as well as collaboration. In my article on 3 Steps to Leverage Technology for Dual Language, any reader can perceive that these uses transcend technology and enable powerful, interactive activities that can be done at a distance. You're no longer collecting digital stories for classroom consumption, but creating a multimedia anthology of digital stories to be read, viewed, listened to across the wide global spectrum.
  3. Lifelong Electronic Portfolios: As consumers, most of our lives are captured through what we buy and sell. As learners, most of our work disappears at the closing of a grading period, if not sooner. Creating lifelong ePortfolios will enable students, parents, and teachers greater insight into what we learn, how we learn and what impact that has on us as human beings.
    Find out more: ePortfolios | Picture Portfolios | Holly Clark's Post on Digital Portfolios
  4. Empower the Previously Impossible or Hopelessly Difficult: Technology should allow us to learn in ways previously impossible. If it doesn't, then we have to overcome the "So what?" factor. For me, this means that Substitution/Augmentation activities benefits are so terrific that it's a "Wow!" moment that leads to Modification, or that the fundamental learning activity has been redefined. Consider technologies like an iPad and Moticonnect, which fellow blogger Richard Byrne highlights through a guest post by Maggie Keeler and EdTechTeacher...I don't know about you, but MotiConnect is pretty incredible augmentation of what may have been done in the past. Communication and Collaboration fall into this, too. Gathering and analyzing data via GoogleSheets with students groups across the Nation is pretty incredible.
  5. Amplify Student Voices: Powerful learning can come when we hear our own voice in the world. Students are, to be obvious, human beings, too. Affirming their ability to impact social justice issues in their community--which goes well with PBL--as well as connect via social media to highlight their burgeoning efforts can help them develop their Voice. "Voice" because crafting a digital presence means recognizing that when we possess and use digital devices, we are on a world stage which can transform our lives in an instant for good or ill.
If we commit to these 5 transformations in our classrooms--is your campus ready?--we will have achieved the often-unrealized promise of technology in our children's lives. . .and, they will have learned much of what we hoped they would.

Some related materials to this conversation:

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Read it on your mobile device or via the Web

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Safeguarding Your Darlin's - Email Archiving for School Admins

"Miguel," asked an administrator colleague at a school district, "How do I save my emails in GoogleApps forever? I was told they disappear forever after 30 days or something. Is that true?"

The question is one that will occur to any administrator who has had to deal with discovery or open records request on short notice. While many school districts take advantage of email archiving solutions like Google Vault (available at no cost for GoogleApps for Education districts) or DataCove-type options, individual admins may be a little nervous about what's archived. "Did the email archiving system get it all?"

Without what often involves superintendent approval--if not Human Resources Superintendent prior review--how do you safeguard your darlings?

Here are a few tips on how to archive your own email, most of which will certainly raise an eyebrow in light of email server hacking news stories:

1) Mozilla Thunderbird Offline Option or, if you have a Mac, use Apple's Mail
Want to maintain an "offline" email archive, no matter what the archiving policy is for your district? Then consider installing a free copy of Mozilla Thunderbird, an email program that is available at no cost for Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can set it up to save a copy of your email to your own home computer. Read these instructions to backup your Mozilla Thunderbird email now saved on your computer. Of course, be aware that any confidential or sensitive data you receive via email will also be archived. Are you taking precautions to safeguard (i.e. encrypt) that data? Before you save it to your computer, you may want to encrypt it and then delete the original, decrypted version.

2) Auto-forward Critical Emails (use GoogleApps filters) to Evernote Premium
While you'll need an Evernote Premium account (approx $50 per year) for this, you can get a "secret" Evernote email address that you can auto-forward messages to from your Gmail account.

There are some other solutions...

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Malware Protection

Aaron Martinez


  1. Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) Everywhere...Malware Detection
  2. Attack Continuum
    1. Before: Discover, Enforce, Harden, Reputation Filtering is done on URLs before
    2. During - Detect, Block, Defend: Signature, AV, Spam scanning, URL scanning, File Reputation/AMP, sandboxing/AMP
    3. After - Scope, Contain, Remediate- Continuous Retrospection
  3. OpenDNS Umbrella
    1. Cover your DNS blind spot for better security visibility
    2. Protect devices on and off the network against malware and breaches
    3. Extends firepower/AMP intelligence and protection beyond the perimeter
    4. Identify targeted attacks by comparing your activity versus the world's
    5. investigate security incidents with global context and predictive intel

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

When You Don't Fit, Go Naked

Upon arriving in the small, inner city school district, I knew I didn't fit. The old saying, "No me hallo," [S panish] or "I don't find myself in these surroundings," I'd learned from a childhood maid while growing up in the Republic of Panama (Canal Zone) was on target. But what to do? Six months later, it didn't matter. I had migrated to a better place, committed to finding a place that appreciated me for who I was, realizing my present wasn't preparing me for the future I wanted.
"When one discovers what is right and begins to pursue it, the necessary people and resources turn up." Source: Gandhi
I'd experienced the feeling before, a form of culture shock when I arrived from Panama in a beautiful neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas where I was afraid of being kidnapped, murdered, chased by gang of wannabe thugs too rich to venture away from their Atari consoles but once a day. In time, I came to make my home in San Antonio, but there is always a sense of strangeness.

That sense of strangeness presses at you, stealing your breath, freezing your thoughts, and you realize, either you better make friends quick, islands of comfort in a place where you've been isolated, or leave. Worse, that sense of strangeness can permeate your interactions with others.
Once you have a critical mass of good people — if you bring someone who isn’t a fit, they self select to leave. We had to watch really carefully to see if people were a fit or not and then help them leave if they weren’t the right person. Source: Diane Greene as cited in this interview, Scaling VMware with Diane Greene
How do you survive in places where you don't fit?
  1. Focus on the work. While insufficient for more than a short time, focusing on the work enables you to do what you were hired to do, and increases the opportunity to build relationships with others.
  2. Inventory your biases and expectations, then make sure you don't take on work somewhere you don't want to be. You know almost instantaneously whether you're going to fit in or not. If you know what your expectations are, what your needs are, then you'll be less likely to fall for that voice inside you that says, "Go ahead...stay, it will be OK. You're not being fair." By knowing who you are, where you stand, you can take control of your expectations and endure.
  3. Listen to yourself. If there's a voice telling you to ignore that nagging sense of strangeness, listen to the part of yourself that senses things are quite what they need to be for you to be at your optimum.
  4. Avoid temptation. When we start a new job, it's easy to fall for the temptation...the money will change everything, you say, for the better. Unfortunately, money can drown out the warning your senses are whispering.
  5. Pray, reflect, ask for guidance. If you find yourself wondering, "Did I make the right choice?" or trying to decide if you should take the plunge, make the time to reflect. Avoid the frenzied lists of pros and cons. This is not a matter of the intellect alone, but of the heart and soul. Less talk, more listening, allowing yourself to dwell within the moments.
Finally, when the time comes to leave because you don't fit in, embrace the separation. It may be a little frightening avoid what Robert Quinn calls "slow death" in his book Deep Change:
When dealing with slow death, deep change requires us to go "naked into the land of uncertainty, knowing how to get lost with confidence." This journey into uncertainty results in the creation of a new paradigm, "one in which we must separate from the status quo and courageously face and tackle uncertainty."
When you don't fit in the pants you've put on, it's time to "go naked," to go into the land of uncertainty...get lost with confidence. When we do this, we take control back from that which urges to practice "safety," that says, "Fit in no matter what, no matter what the cost, the emotional toll."

Note: This is NOT an exhortation to embrace a nudist colony life. ;-)

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure