Thursday, February 26, 2015

Competing Visions - @TCEA #TECSIG #txed #edtechcoach

Image Source: http://goo.gl/sNyTZL


Roadblock #4 - Competing Visions for Instructional Technology
"Do you think technology integration has failed?" I asked a colleague. His response was less than hopeful. For many of us across the State, Instructional Technology suffered a crippling blow when the state technology allotment was cut. These positions at the district and campus level exist only by the grace of habit or current leadership. A new model is needed that we can all join together and support. 

To that end, I commit to inviting TEC-SIG members and others to develop a model for District Curriculum Coacheswhich builds on the work of Dr. Dawn Wilson and Dr. Katie Alaniz--whose responsibilities span more than data analysis, high stakes test prep strategies, and focus on proven instructional strategies that replace 20th century pedagogical practices with blended learning. Rather than abandon instructional technology to islands of isolated local funding, we can work together to map a path ahead that all Texas districts can rely on. 

Detour - Enlist the aid of volunteer-leaders in TEC-SIG, TCEA and other organizations to transcend age-old curriculum vs edtech debates, forging a new vision based on collegial coaching for technology integration.




Upcoming Meetings and Events

TEC-SIG Spring Meeting



April 16-17

Location: 
TCEA Conference Center 
3100 Alvin Devane Blvd. 
Austin, TX 78741 



Join and/or Sign Up for TEC-SIG online at http://www.tcea.org/membership/sigs/tec-sig

TEC-SIG Membership - $20.00

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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


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Participant-Driven: Unconference Meetings for #TxEd #EdTech Leaders


With the new technologies that connect us, why rely on traditional organizations--TCEA and CoSN--to setup the venue and curate the conversations? It's a dangerous question and one that many technologists are already considering as edcamps and "unconference conferences" gain in popularity.
Image Source: http://artandcode.com/3d/wp-content/uploads/unconference_11.jpg
Many technology professionals in Texas are already agreeing to work through a variety of topics on their own, organizing their own "unconference" meetings. Instead of post-its on a wall, though, agendas grow organically as tech directors add their ideas/questions to a GoogleDoc. Everyone gets their time in the sun.
An unconference, also called OpenSpace conference is a participant-driven meeting. The term "unconference" has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as fees, sponsored presentations, and top-down organization.  Source: Wikipedia
Rather than attending as "individual" teachers, technology directors attend on behalf of their districts with the only cost including travel. The meetings do not involve fees, sponsored presentations or top-down organization. Participants--often technology directors--set the meeting topics.

These unconference meetings usually last a half-day and center around any of the following:
  • Problems that are perceived to affect more than one district
  • Solutions that one participant thinks should be shared with the group
  • In-house best practices that a district would like to share with others
And, there usually aren't any vendors present at these get-togethers. If there are any rules, they include the following:
  1. No top-down organizations (e.g. regional service centers, state-wide organizations), vendors or sponsored presentations.
  2. Participants develop ideas and questions.
  3. Solutions that work, that save money, are given preference.
  4. Safe, fear-free environment where peers can share their thinking without judgement or reprisal.
  5. Sessions are audio-recorded and shared with those who cannot attend, and/or notes are kept in a GoogleDoc to facilitate information sharing.
Aside: One day, I found myself sharing these rules with the "newbies" who had just joined the San Antonio Area Technology Directors' Meetings. Those conversations prompted this blog entry!
My first experience with ad-hoc organizational meetings like this involved a conversation Steve Young (Judson ISD CTO) had with me during a TEC-SIG meeting a few years ago. As I recall, the main benefits that attracted us to this format included slipping away from top-down structured conversations and vendor presentations. 


These two undesirable elements characterized many of the meetings we would encounter at the regional and state level. "Listen to this vendor present on their topic" and this just wasn't that exciting or helpful.

To avoid that, Area 20 technology directors usually access a GoogleDoc and input their question and/or agenda topics. Here are a few of the topics and sharing that occurred at a recent Area 20 meeting:
  1. Future Meeting Dates
  2. Two most interesting products or presentations at TCEA
  3. Mobile Security and Emergency Platforms
  4. What type of computers does your staff use?
  5. Mirroring iTCCS or TxEIS?
  6. Refresh cycle for equipment
  7. ESC-20's Clarity
  8. K-12 Instructional Tech Consortium
  9. Board Room Audio-Visual Suggestions
  10. Firewall vendors
  11. Wireless manufacturer
  12. Privacy Policy
  13. Encryption of Mobile Devices
  14. Types of School bus cameras
It's pretty amazing to look back over the history of these meetings and see the sheer volume of solutions shared! For example, in writing this blog entry, I looked back at a September, 2012 meeting--one of my first in my role as Technology Operations Director--and I was surprised to see some recurring topics, as well as ones I still had questions about now:
  1. Future meetings
  2. Region 20 BrightBytes and who is using it, other tools one can use
  3. Technology refresh rates
  4. Tech Department Evaluations
  5. Area 20 Robotics, Google Summit
  6.  I would like to discuss if anyone has any sort of budget formula based on FTE and/or Student Pop in order to fund classroom technology.
  7. Helpdesk solutions
  8. BYOT efforts
  9. Data Warehouse
  10. Staff Development for Technicians
  11. Windows XP migration to Windows 7 or 8
  12. Technology inventory solutions
  13. 1:1 device selection and applicability for elementary vs middle vs high schoolers
  14. Strategies for providing 1:1 connectivity beyond the 4-walls of your schools
  15. Mobile Device Management system round-up?
  16. Where everyone is with BYOD and if there are any specific policies in place for their BYOD initiatives; also, how do they handle providing devices for the few that may not have their own iPod, iPad, netbook, laptop or smartphone?
  17. What are some security practices your district follows?
  18. How are you deciding on areas of priority or need for campus computing? For example, how do you decide where to spend precious funding? 
  19. Do you have a minimum number of computer labs per elementary, middle and high school campuses?
  20. What web filtering solutions is everyone using currently?
  21. how are you handling proxy avoidance apps like ultrasurf?
  22. What is everyone using for imaging computers? Mac? Windows?
  23. Jump to Access Controls (door security)
  24. Digital Learning Environment HB5 scorecard?
  25. What are you using for inventory?
  26. Does anyone have experience with Neverware vendor? http://www.neverware.com/
  27. Data Governance Policy - Common Education Data Standards : https://ceds.ed.gov/ and Authentica: http://authenticasolutions.com/
  28. Discussion on Big Data and the idea that districts are the entry point for student data and future parental questions regarding locating where student data is. If I use multiple cloud-based systems, where is my district student data stored and accessed?
  29. Chromebook - Looking for deployment advice
  30. Professional Development - How are you encouraging participation? (without a cattle prod?
  31. What does your equipment replacement plan look like?
  32. Surveys - We are looking into the SpeakUP survey about student, 
    parent, teacher, administrator use of technology at home and work. I 
    really want to do this with my district but finding resistance from 
    the top-levels about doing any type of survey. I wanted to know if 
    anyone has done this survey and what tips/suggestions they have to 
    persuade a Supt. who won't. Maybe I can have your Supt. call mine! 
  33. Google Apps - We are slow rolling these out right now. Tips/ 
    suggestions/ideas? I have a website I put together that is a copy of 
    Eanes ISD Google Apps rollout that might be worth sharing if anyone 
    else is doing this. 
  34. eCourses instead of packets - This year I started making eCourses 
    in eduphoria for staff to take instead of rolling out an AUP in Google 
    Docs, a Blood-borne pathogen training video on some other site, and 
    Sexual Harassment training on Region 20. I wanted to see if others are 
    using eCourses and providing credit for teachers? I know Boerne does 
    their AUP in Project Share. Would like an update on how that is 
    going. 

Other groups across Texas are also meeting and discussing topics. For example, here's a brief overview of what Area 13--and note their #tc13 Twitter hashtag--discussed at a recent meeting:



Time
Topic/Activity
Responsible Person(s)
8:30-9:00
Breakfast/Networking

9:00-10:00
TCEA report/sharing
wireless projection--looked at WePresent and Vivitek; connects to projector/USB--no Airplay; Actiontec-- Android; Airtame; Netgear Widi --
point-to-point (for Windows 8); districts looking at new web hosting options in face of eRate changes; http://peeq.us/; CampusPress option built on Wordpress; Edlio; Sumblox -- wood number blocks teach basic math functions; emaze -- presentation tool similar to Prezi; Slides -- very nice, simple online presentations; Pechaflickr -- create improv presentations using random Flickr images; Office Mix-- add-in for PowerPoint to add interactive features, such as quizzes.
Group



10:00-11:00
Spent 3-4 months working with consultant, surveying users, getting feedback; entire process took at least a year; saving district $1 over 5 years; very easy check/click and drag report creation; service will handle business transactions, payroll, gradebook, student records, LMS, etc. Automatic data error checking
Valdez/Greiner (PfISD)
11:00-11:30
@PlaydateATX


Today’s Presentation



@iTeachManor




Register for free ticket here:




Flyer:


11:30-12:00
Beyond Hour of Code (What is your school/district doing with coding, especially advancing past graphic tools like Code.org, Scratch, etc.? Do you have future plans to do things?)
Middle school {PfISD)--local electives; video coding/gaming, robotics (looking at using Finch robots); pulling in Computer Science as 8th grade elective; also at 1 elementary using Code.org or unplugged lesson; summer partnerships/mentoring with Oracle. Manor has middle school robotics course, elementary using Code.org; will be writing Code.org, Scratch, etc. into Learning.com; offering 4-year options for CATE or STEM graduation paths.


History Logo Language for lower elementary students. Evolved into Scratch My husband, Charles Sudduth taught his 2nd grade logo in 1980.
Randy (facilitate)
12:00-1:00
Lunch/Networking

1:00-1:30
Diocese of Austin Catholic Schools are implementing Bookshare, a free audio and text resource for students with print disabilities. http://www.accessiblebooks4tx.org/. 327,000+ titles in Bookshare. Free for students with some reading disabilities. Read to Go app (iOs); Go Read, Darwin Reader (Android)


Ann Sudduth, Educational Technology Consultant, Diocese of Austin
1:30 - 2:00
Round Rock ISD NGDC (Next Generation Digital Classroom) http://ngdcrrisd.blogspot.com/
Piloting 4 devices (Chromebook, iPad, Galaxy Tab, Dell Venue); Research & Evaluation team created measurable goals for engagement, differentiation, instructional time, teachers submitting surveys weekly; teachers had to apply to be pilot class
Uselman/Heflin
2:00-2:30
Let’s look at this! YouTube for Kids App for Android or iOS if Vic will unblock it temporarily, just launched. How do you turn off the music? App includes buttons for channels, music, learning, search.

2:30-3:00
Idea Digital Classroom
-minimum hardware
-minimum software
-minimum Support / PD

3:00-3:30
Wrap up



#tc13



And, yet another Texas area group focuses on discussions that have a wide range of topics:
  1. Account management and systems integration, whether you host your own email/calendaring or outsource to GoogleApps, are critical challenges. 
  2. Establishing clear processes and procedures for purchasing new software and/or web-based services without ensuring fidelity of implementation.
  3. Implementing cost-effective Data Warehouse solutions.
  4. The changing role of instructional technologists. These positions are disappearing without a state-wide advocacy movement. They shouldn't disappear, but endure a metamorphosis to "curriculum coaches" that serve as the best examples of curriculum-technology blending. There's also a clear need to build relationships with "traditional curriculum specialists" and leaders that reflects the changing environment...no more silos.
  5. Adoption of digital textbooks has placed technology in an awkward position where data file creation strategies and building capacity is a clear and present need. For example, in the last two years, I've seen us jump from a handful of data files to over 25 data files with little changes in staff.
  6. Professional expectations for technologists and certifications for network services, technical support staff are all within our area of responsibility as technology coordinators, directors, AND Chief Technology/Information Officers.
  7. Digital citizenship that includes protection of confidential data, as well as putting agreements in place.
  8. How to choose learning management systems, or perhaps, transcend them.
  9. Assessing teaching, learning and leading in schools that reflects technology as a core component, but not the only integral one.
As I review my notes from past meetings, I'm again struck by the wealth of solutions. Of course, sharing those is another blog entry!
;-)




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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Building Partnerships - @TCEA #TECSIG #txed

Image Source: http://goo.gl/QlbLKq

Roadblock #3 - Vendor Interactions

"Why are they doing this to us?" asked on irritated technology director. She was referring, of course, to the plethora of digital textbook adoptions, each of which had a different username and password convention. Like others across Texas, I found myself spending precious hours trying to get the right username and password combination setup for students and staff at campuses in my district. 

For smaller districts, the challenge is no different than large districts--inconsistency, no voice or way of making displeasure known. TEC-SIG has, in the past, risen up to sound the alarm when inefficient practices and/or policies are imposed. 

As a TEC-SIG Officer, I offer to advocate on behalf of both large and small districts. My experiences as a director in both urban, as well as rural districts, enable me to empathize and represent your needs.


Detour - Serve as the voice of school districts suffering beneath the yoke of poorly thought out account management and identity management for digital textbooks.



Upcoming Meetings and Events

TEC-SIG Spring Meeting



April 16-17

Location: 
TCEA Conference Center 
3100 Alvin Devane Blvd. 
Austin, TX 78741 



Join and/or Sign Up for TEC-SIG online at http://www.tcea.org/membership/sigs/tec-sig

TEC-SIG Membership - $20.00

View my Flipboard Magazine.

Make Donations via PayPal below:



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


Monday, February 23, 2015

MyNotes: Unit 1 - Coaching Digital Learners #CDL_MOOCEd

How exciting to be joining in on the MOOCEd for Coaching Digital Learners! There is so much awesomeness in Unit 1, it's hard to know where to start (well, unless you decide to follow the outline!)

Source: Unit 1 - Stewarding the Future of Digital Learning & Teaching, Coaching Digital Learners

MyNotes


  1. An approach to professional learning in job-embedded support
  2. Should not be a part of the evaluative process
  3. Build trust and relationship
  4. Share your expertise
  5. IT Coaches share their competences in 3 distinct areas:
    1. Tech integration
    2. lesson design
    3. coaching
  6. Focus on pedagogy and the learning objectives...a really effective learning strategy.
  7. Need to rethink the redesign of lessons when using technology
  8. At the heart of good coaching is effective communication and collaboration skills
  9. These skills lead to trustful and open relationships
  10. Start with asking questions about current teaching and learning
  11. Active listening helps ensure those you coach that you hear and value them as a collaborative partner.
  12. Key questions:
    1. What are the dispositions and skills required to be an effective instructional technology “coach?”
    2. What is your current vision of and strengths for instructional technology coaching?
  13. IT coaches empower and prepare educators to be active, creative and knowledgeable when planning tech enhanced learning experiences.

Some of the resources shared include:
Les Foltos' video

  1. Video: Insights Into Peer Coaching - Les Foltos
    My Take-Away: professional learning methodology to help colleagues improve the quality of their teaching. They help their coaches by completing learning activities with them, model/team teach, and spend some time observing their colleagues and providing feedback on what worked, what might work in some settings, etc. The most effective PD comes from collaborating with folks. Coaches emphasize inquiry over advocacy. Probing questions are designed to help teachers think deeply so they can come up with their own answers; lesson design: pair tech with active engaging strategies like project-based learning. Help teachers develop a deep understanding of how to enhance learning.  As learning activities are planned, they are routinely thinking about how to integrate technology. And, they are adopting strategies that help students develop creativity, collaboration and problem-solving skills.
  2. What Good Coaches Do - Jim Knight
    1. Identifying our principles is important because the way we act grows naturally out of what we believe. The partnership principles of equality, choice, voice, reflection, dialogue, praxis, and reciprocity provide a conceptual language that coaches can use to describe how they strive to work with teachers.
    2.  Coaches who act on the principle of equality have faith that the teachers they work with bring a lot to any interaction, and they listen with great attentiveness.
    3. Coaches who act on the principle of choice position teachers as the final decision makers, as partners who choose their coaching goals and decide which practices to adopt and how to interpret data.
    4. When coaches follow the principle of voice, teachers feel free to express their enthusiasms and concerns.
    5. We see a partnership coach as a thinking partner for teachers and coaching as a meeting of minds. When we watch videos of partnership coaches and teachers co-creating ideas during reflective conversations, we see two energized people who laugh, talk enthusiastically, and enjoy themselves.
    6. Because dialogue is only possible when we value the participants' opinions, Freire suggests we enter into dialogue with humility. This often means that we temporarily withhold our opinion so we can hear others. Dialogue may also involve a kind of radical honesty. That is, rather than covering up the flaws in our argument or hiding our ignorance, in dialogue we display the gaps in our thinking for everyone to see. If we want to learn, we can't hide behind a dishonest veneer of expertise.
    7. Praxis describes the act of applying new knowledge and skills. 
    8. Reciprocity is the belief that each learning interaction is an opportunity for everyone to learn—an embodiment of the saying, "When one teaches, two learn." When we look at everyone else as a learner and a teacher, regardless of their credentials or years of experience, we're often delightfully surprised by new ideas, concepts, strategies, and passions.
    9. When teachers are forced to work with a coach, they often see coaching as a punishment. However, when teachers are offered coaching as one of many ways in which they can conduct professional learning, they often see it as valuable. 
    10. Principals should suggest coaching as one option for professional learning when they talk with teachers after classroom observations.
    11. when coaches take the partnership approach, their efforts are guided by specific goals that teachers hold for their students. Partnership coaches start by gathering data with or for the teacher. They then collaborate with the teacher to identify a specific student goal. Student goals can be either academic (for example, 95 percent of students will demonstrate mastery of this concept on the next test); behavioral (students will be on task more than 90 percent of the time); or attitudinal (90 percent of students will ask to read a book for pleasure over the break). 
  3. It’s About the Questions - Ronald R. Bearwald
    1. When a mentor provides a solution or makes a decision for the mentee, the mentor unwittingly inhibits the reflection needed to identify desirable courses of action. When the mentee asks, "How can I develop a master schedule?," the mentor should let questions such as "What essential information will you need?" and "What are the steps in your process?" and "Whom should you consult?" lead the way.
    2. Questions such as, "In what ways did your planning succeed or fail?" or "What 2 were some of your specific contributions to its success or failure?" will provide insights into your mentee's thinking and progress
    3. Ask questions about essential issues and behavior.
    4. Ask precise and incisive questions. Questions that prompt probing and higher-level thinking will help you and your mentee identify issues that need to be addressed. The more precise the question, the greater the resulting clarity. "Do you feel that you are part of the team?" is a far less useful inquiry than, "In what specific ways are you contributing to the team's success?" Precise questions lead to clarity that enables the mentee to identify and own the problem and develop a specific action plan.
    5. Ask questions that generate specific and relevant information. Avoid asking questions that can be answered with yes and no or similar one-word responses. Yes and no are dialogue dead ends. Rather than asking, "Do you think the staff respects you?" try asking, "What are some of the specific qualities for which the staff respects you?" Don't confuse thought-provoking, open-ended questions with generalized questions that stifle meaningful reflection. Asking the mentee, "What do you want to talk about?" or "How are things going?" rarely provides useful data.
    6. Ask questions that connect the past, present, and future
    7. Ask questions that explore values.
    8. Occasionally, ask for permission. When interacting with a mentee over time, it's important not to take things for granted as the partnership develops into a comfortable and sharing relationship. Take care of the process and the dynamic by checking in with questions that ask permission and check boundaries, such as "Would you like some feedback on what you just shared?" or "Are you comfortable continuing this analysis?" Questions of this nature help maintain a foundation of mutual respect.
    9. Avoid asking why.Coaches should develop skill in posing questions that elicit explanations without asking why. "Can you tell me more about the thinking process that led to your decision?" and "Help me understand your decision"
    10. The best coaching partnerships are voluntary.
    11. Information shared within the coaching partnership should remain confidential unless both parties agree to share with others outside that relationship. 
    12. Each participant, coach and mentee, is responsible to complete any work that both have deemed beneficial. 
    13. Coaching activities should seek to expand professional knowledge, develop skills, and explore best practices by promoting examination of the mentee's competencies and experience as well as the school culture. 
    14. Coaching partnerships should promote growth, not mastery. We are all "works in progress," and the focus of coaching must be on overall progress, not on the minutiae of day-to-day activities. 
    15. A coaching partnership focuses on the practical, not the abstract. Although education theories may be helpful, the coaching partnership should emphasize issues and goals arising from the immediate school culture. 




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Disclaimer

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