Social Media, Professional Development, & Boxes

There is lots of talk about using Twitter and other forms of social media for Professional Development…I do it myself.  My friend Steven Anderson, who tweets at @web20classroom, blogged recently about connectedness while at a national conference:

So it bothers me when I hear people, powerful people, people in positions that could really drive change, say educators need to be connected, but in the same breath discount the validity of Twitter or other social networking tools. Their idea of connectedness is the traditional. Let’s travel 1000’s of miles to have a conversation over dinner about assessment or the Common Core. I can have the same conversations with many more people any time of day. That isn’t to say that the face-to-face time isn’t valuable. On the contrary, I value greatly that time I get to spend with others. But if we are truly going to drive change and make waves as educational leaders we have to plug in and get connected. We have to reach out and read blogs, send tweets, participate in forums.

Professional development, and personal/professional learning and growth is so different now as apposed to the traditional. I can learn about anything, anywhere, from any number of experts. Why, as a lover of learning, would I not want to be in on that!

The line that struck me in the above quote was the sentence “I can have the same conversations with many more people any time of day.” This rings so true to me…the ability to step out of my district, my state, and my region, and to hear what educators across the country are thinking, saying, and doing is what makes social media like Twitter and blogs so valuable to me.

But here’s my problem: occasionally I have to return to that box.

Very few of us have the magic wand we need to make the changes we feel are important in our organization, including the position of power and influence needed to make this change happen, especially quickly.

So here’s my dilemma that I’m going to struggle with this year: how can I get more teachers in my district to use social media for professional development?

Actually, my question is a bit different:  How can I award professional development credit for social media activity?  Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, it comes down to this for some teachers: How do I get credit for this?

Yes, teachers want to improve their instruction for their students. Yes, teachers want their students to achieve more. But, teachers also have requirements they have to fulfill, including certificate renewal.

One of my roles this year in my district will be coordinating professional development.  This will give me the chance to introduce social media to our 400+ teachers and show they how they can get some amazing PD at their own pace, from some amazing people who “get it.”  But I know they’re going to ask “How many points can I get for this?” And I get that.

So how do I address that?  Anyone give PD credit for social media participation?  How do you do it? Let me know in the comments!

Social Media, Professional Development, & Boxes

There is lots of talk about using Twitter and other forms of social media for Professional Development…I do it myself.  My friend Steven Anderson, who tweets at @web20classroom, blogged recently about connectedness while at a national conference:

So it bothers me when I hear people, powerful people, people in positions that could really drive change, say educators need to be connected, but in the same breath discount the validity of Twitter or other social networking tools. Their idea of connectedness is the traditional. Let’s travel 1000’s of miles to have a conversation over dinner about assessment or the Common Core. I can have the same conversations with many more people any time of day. That isn’t to say that the face-to-face time isn’t valuable. On the contrary, I value greatly that time I get to spend with others. But if we are truly going to drive change and make waves as educational leaders we have to plug in and get connected. We have to reach out and read blogs, send tweets, participate in forums.

Professional development, and personal/professional learning and growth is so different now as apposed to the traditional. I can learn about anything, anywhere, from any number of experts. Why, as a lover of learning, would I not want to be in on that!

The line that struck me in the above quote was the sentence “I can have the same conversations with many more people any time of day.” This rings so true to me…the ability to step out of my district, my state, and my region, and to hear what educators across the country are thinking, saying, and doing is what makes social media like Twitter and blogs so valuable to me.

But here’s my problem: occasionally I have to return to that box.

Very few of us have the magic wand we need to make the changes we feel are important in our organization, including the position of power and influence needed to make this change happen, especially quickly.

So here’s my dilemma that I’m going to struggle with this year: how can I get more teachers in my district to use social media for professional development?

Actually, my question is a bit different:  How can I award professional development credit for social media activity?  Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, it comes down to this for some teachers: How do I get credit for this?

Yes, teachers want to improve their instruction for their students. Yes, teachers want their students to achieve more. But, teachers also have requirements they have to fulfill, including certificate renewal.

One of my roles this year in my district will be coordinating professional development.  This will give me the chance to introduce social media to our 400+ teachers and show they how they can get some amazing PD at their own pace, from some amazing people who “get it.”  But I know they’re going to ask “How many points can I get for this?” And I get that.

So how do I address that?  Anyone give PD credit for social media participation?  How do you do it? Let me know in the comments!

DNS Changer Check-Up

In case you have seen the news lately about the upcoming Internet outage and are worried you may be affected, click this link and find out. If the result is green, you will be fine. If the result is red, you won’t have Internet beginning July 9th. http://www.dns-ok.us/

The website looks less than reliable, but it’s legit and referred by the US FBI. There’s really not much to the check, as the FBI has actually be helping to ensure that no one has been affected by the DNS Changer issue until July 9th.

Quick and easy check…Green = Good, Red = a bit of work on your end to get cleaned.  Check all your computers, but mobile phones and tablets should be fine.

Kindle in the Classroom Handout

I’m walking out the door to do a Kindle training with teachers at one of my schools.  The school purchased about 25 Kindle Keyboard with Special Offers for try out with some Special Education students in small group situations.  I was asked to help train the teachers on using them, which has been interesting for me since I don’t have a Kindle myself.  I borrowed one for a week or so and played with it, and true to Amazon form, they are very easy devices to use.  I usually check out books from the public library (and sadly only read at bedtime, either to my kids or myself), so using a Kindle has been interesting for me.  I’ve had the apps on my various smartphones, but never really used them until now.

I did a quick one-page Kindle handout, which is linked here – Kindle Handout Week 1 Blank.  I only quickly proofread it, so if you see things that should be changed, let me know and I’ll credit you!  I’ll be going over the basics of the device today with the teachers, including signing in (we’re using generic email accounts for them to buy classroom books (and let them keep their own accounts separate), and will end the training with a couple of activities (browsing the store and buying the free Alice in Wonderland book.  We’ll look at the built-in dictionary and note functions as well.

Anyone else using Kindles in their schools, or personally?  Any suggestions on implementation?

My Thoughts on the $99 TouchPad Firesale

My TouchPad thoughts:

1. HP was just screwed back by all the people it screwed by overcharging for ink all these years, to the tune of $100 million (estimated losses on the TouchPad).  People are buying these things because they’re cheap, but somewhere deep in the back of their minds, they hated paying so much for their printer ink, and are getting back at HP by “cheating” them out of $200 to $400.  That thought certainly went through my mind as I bought 2, and traveled to 5 stores looking for them locally.

2. Amazon is in trouble with their supposedly-upcoming Android tablet.  After seeing the success of a $99 tablet (admittedly not an Android tablet, but less functional and with hundreds instead of tens of thousands of apps), when Apple does try to sell their tablet, a group of people will remember the $99 TouchPad and wonder why Amazon can’t sell their device for that same price.  I bought 2 TouchPads through Amazon, but they came from OnSale, not Amazon.  Some folks won’t make that connection and think they bought them directly from Amazon.  Semantics, yes, but will the consumer care when they see a ~$250 Amazon tablet on their home page?

Did you buy one?  Did you think “ink” as you bought it?

In 60 Seconds…

Teachers and students love graphics.  Teachers refer to them in textbooks and use them in PowerPoints and other presentations.  Students would rather look at them than a paragraph of text.  Well-designed graphics can help convey a message quickly and easily.  This graphic, “In 60 Seconds…” by Go-Globe.com shows what happens online every 60 seconds.  I think I’ll use this next school year in presentations to both students and teachers.

2010-2011 Goals

In January 2010 I started work with York School District 1 in York, South Carolina as an Instructional Technology Coach.  I held a similar position (Instructional Technology Specialist) in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for 2 1/2 years.  In Charlotte much of the role was project management: coordinating installations of hardware/software, working with financial secretaries and media specialists to order equipment and software, and a small amount of training of teachers. There was essentially no work with curriculum, but I started sneaking some in during my last year in CMS.

In my new job, I get to do a great deal of what I like to do: work with teachers.  In the semester I’ve already been in York, I’ve already gotten into classrooms with teachers to work side-by-side and model technology integration.  I’ve lead training on Promethean software/hardware, wikis, and Web 2.0 skills.  I get to meet with the district’s executive staff weekly and get to help advocate for teachers as well as best practices in instructional technology.  In short, since it’s a brand-new position, I get to do a lot of what I think needs to be done.

There are, of course, downsides.  The position is grant-funded, so my position is only guaranteed until the end of the 2010-11 school year.  I have to administer two state technology proficiency programs within the district, neither of which I think are as strong (or easy to figure out) as they should be.

Just like I did when I created long-term goals for my classroom, I decided to write up my goals for this next school year.  Some should be fairly simple, some depend on the help of other folks.  I’ll update the status of these goals near the Christmas break, as well as at the end of the school year.

  • Setup Moodle server (version 2) for district Professional Development use.
  • Create 2 self-paced or moderated PD classes for Moodle.
  • Recruit and provide support to at least 2 teachers to use Moodle in their classroom.
  • Continue expansion of Wikispaces Private Label service within the district.  Expand use to 25 teachers with at least one class of students each.
  • Implement self-hosted WordPress blogging solution for teachers and staff
  • Work side-by-side with at least 8 teachers, from lesson development to implementation to review.
  • Drive district to implement use of Twitter for parent and staff communication.

These are the big goals.  Not included are fairly typical things like providing traditional professional development in small groups and class settings, research best practices in technology integration, and more.

What do you think?  What am I leaving off?  Have you done any of the above items and have advice or resources?  Let me know in the comments.