I was thinking about waiting until I got a little further into the
project to start blogging about it, but since I made the choice to
start blogging daily, I have really found that this forum let’s me
think through all of the things that I need to.
So the new responsibility is this: I have been put in charge of
administrating multiple moodle installations in our district. The
reason why this new charge I have been given is so strange to me is
that up until 2 months ago, the only “official” moodle installation in
our district was at a high school in parker, which I had little to do
The reason for the shift is nothing short of an economic and
pedagogical perfect storm. Our district had slowly been building the
capacity for more and more teachers to start asking for a way of
teaching and engaging with their students online, and with the failure
of our bond election, the only choice for an LMS was to have someone
who was already working in open source to implement and support a
solution like moodle.
The best part is, however, that no one I have talked to thinks that we
are settling for something. From all of the initial conversations, all
stakeholders believe that professional development, online learning,
and blended learning fit well within a vision of moodle that includes
outside assessments and google apps for communication.
I guess the only reason for this post is to ask for advice. If you
were asked to design and implement learning environments for an online
school, a professional development program, and a blended model
(online and in centers/schools) using moodle, what would you make sure
to do (or not do)?
While I have a definite vision for the way forward, I am not the
smartest person in the room (considering that I have no idea how big
this room is). I want to know more… Always more.
I was thinking about waiting until I got a little further into the
So, this came across my tweetdeck today:
It outlines in very specific terms one way of integrating Google Docs,
Moodle, Wikis and Blogs. I say very specific because one of the
general hallmarks of the 2.0 version of teachers is that we tend to
all be pretty good at explaining things in vague terms for others and
specific terms for our students. We tend to be able to project a
vision to the outside world and not be able to back it up with the
specific ways of getting there, the ways that we got there in our own
The videos at this space are concrete (in-progress examples of just
how a classroom can run). The pedagogy page is a brilliant explanation
of how all of these tools should fit together, and it may be one of
the first coherent things I have seen that isn’t just a list of tools.
However the real reason for this post is not to talk about the site
itself, but rather the name. Goomoodlewikiog, although a mouthful, is
specific in terms of its purpose. It projects exactly what it aims to:
a collection of interrelated tools.
I believe that we should always be intentional in naming things that
we want to be associated with. We should always frame our
conversations in the terms that we want to be speaking about on a
daily basis. And although I’m not sure that I’m going to be using
Goomoodleikiog on a daily basis from now on, I am glad that someone
My question is: what other terms do I need to make more concrete? When
is it time to drop Web 2.0 and start talking with language that
actually means something?
I was given the task recently of coming up with 15 questions to ask a
information technology director candidate during an interview. While I
missed the window during which this information would have been useful
to the person who solicited my help (moving is really hard), I would
like to provide it here. It may not be useful as a list in itself, but
I had a lot of fun coming up with it, and it may lead to more good
thinking if I ever care to answer these questions.
1. What do you see as the purpose of technology in education?
2. What is the one change that you would make to our institution that
would help students to learn in a more connected way?
3. What do you believe is the purpose for acceptable use policies?
What is your ideal AUP?
4. What should professional development look like?
5. Who is in your personal learning network?
6. What does your learning workflow look like, or how do you learn?
7. How should our institution archive, tag, and share information and
8. How do you plan on bringing all stakeholders to the table to make
9. What role should open source software play in our institution?
10. What is your vision for mobile devices accessing our institution?
11. What does online learning mean to you?
12. What kind of technology infrastructure is essential in our institution?
13. How will you connect our institution to others in the state,
country and world?
14. How will you let our students take their learning identity with
them after they graduate?
15. What will we find if we google you?
Anyone think of any others?
Anyone want to answer these ones?
As I have been looking for people who are working to roll out Google Apps for Education in their schools, I wasn’t really thinking that I would find a student so engaged in the process. But, I think this may qualify as the best Senior project I have ever seen.
I can’t get over just how cool a student creating a blog to chronicle the progress of rolling out Google Apps is. This particular student clearly wants both teachers and students to be using it to its greatest potential. I think my favorite quote from his blog so far is as follows:
Two of the students I was working with were techno-phobic a the beginning of our sessions last fall. They consistently told me that they didn’t like computers, and were the first ones to simply give up when they didn’t get it the first time around.
The first one, most recently, made the same comment to me – “I don’t like computers” – and I simply asked him if he liked cars. Of course, he said yes, and I asked him what you do to a car when it breaks or isn’t working right – he said that you simply fixed it (in a matter-of-fact tone). So I then asked him what you should do when a computer breaks – the thought about it for a minute, and said, “fix it I guess.” After that, he never told me he hated using the computers – and later in the week last week was the only one who actually followed along with my instructions and was getting everything right the first time – he even started to help other students if they had a question about the sites we were working with.
The second one kept iterating to me that he hated computers and that they never worked for him – I kept insisting that computers were pretty cool things when you think about all of the things you can do with them. Then, when I was talking about how global data on the internet really was – he paid extremely close attention. Now, this student really had very rudimentary typing skills (from lack of exposure to computers as opposed to lack of potential or ability) and therefore got relay frustrated, and usually had his partner do the typing for their online labs – last week, he actually took the computer from his partner and was insisting on typing everything himself.
This is a teacher in the making. He said that he realized that he was having the time of his life talking to teachers about how to use Google Apps. If you would like to encourage him a little bit (or ask him questions) , he put his email on the front page, but here it is for easy access: rminnick(at)brvgsk12.va.us.
I would also like to highlight some of his handywork. This is a great presentation, and I can’t wait to ask him what he left out of the online version (he said that he took out some activities because he wants to keep them as trade secrets).
With students like this, why is it that so many schools do not recognize their contributions or honor the ways that they can add to the learning environment. What if we asked all of our seniors to create a site like this to chronicle their passion? What if we had a huge repository of all of their creative endeavors?
And what if we didn’t just ask this of them in Senior year, but every year of their education?
This Saturday, at Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation, we will have the privilege of hosting a student panel. During which , we will be able to ask the burning questions of intelligent and engaged students. I didn’t realize it until today, but it is so rare now that I take the chance to ask difficult and reflective questions of students.
I can’t believe that is rare. I never thought it would be when I left the classroom. But somehow, now that I am no longer in the classroom, I am starved for answers from students. Why should it be rare to ask important and big questions of students, for any educator (in the classroom or not)? For example, I want to ask some students about how facebook is changing the way that they write a research paper. I want to ask them why they aren’t using twitter. I want to ask them what they want to preserve from their school career into their working career. I want to ask them what matters in learning.
Does it makes sense to have a place to ask questions of students, to have them engaged in a larger learning network with adults (not as a selfish way of simply asking and not answering anything, I would like to give back to students in a wider network too)? I am struck that this may sound weird and kind of creepy, but I’m really interested in the idea of where the space is that adults and students interact. I know that Students 2.0 did a lot of work around this topic, but I am not sure that they/we have come up with a real learning environment that includes both adults and students.
Where does this exist?
Perhaps it starts with asking those questions of our panel on Saturday.Perhaps.
This is a really interesting question.
First, if you are looking for engaging videos to show for professional development, I would look here:
As for introducing the subject of engaging students with technology, I think that you would really have to find a good itch that you think all of the teachers want to scratch. What is the one thing that they can do with technology and students that they couldn't do before? Why should they care about technology?
Places like http://classroom20.com, or http://supportblogging.com, or even something as specific as http://voicethread4education.wikispaces.com/ would work well to figure out just how deep the topic goes with your teachers.
As for an article, I like http://blog.futurestreetconsulting.com/?p=94, many of the posts from http://weblogg-ed.com, or any of the presentations at slideshare about educational technology.
If you are really interested in starting this conversation, I would recommend that you start up a discussion group over at Google Groups or set up a wiki for this purpose. Or, simply get an e-mail group going if that is where your teachers are at. Creating an avenue for this kind of conversation is the only way to make it last. Let me know where you want to go from here. Creating change is not an easy business.
I am in need of your expertise:
I am preparing a session for teachers within my school district on engaging students with technology. My emphasis is on 'ENGAGING' not on putting a child in front of a computer with headphones. Some of our staff has forgotten that instruction still needs to take place even if your are using technology.
My question is…. How would introduce this subject… I would like to show a video to break the ice… Something like MR. BEAN or SEINFELD that would a lead into the subject.
Do you have any suggestions?
Also, I am looking for a professional article to share with teachers along the same subject.
I would appreciate any help that you could give. Thanks so much for inspiring me with your articles and presentations.
When I look out onto the learning landscape, I see people who are heavily invested. In making sure that students know what they need to, invested in the future, invested in the past, invested in keeping kids in schools, invested in unschooling children. We are invested in so many things, and that is why the landscape is so beautiful.
I don’t ever want to live in a place where we only want one thing in education. It would be easier, but so much less fulfilling.
Let’s never try to kill the landscape of learning with saying it only has to happen one way. We are all invested. Let’s find a way to make a huge return on all of our investments.
(Although I would like to find a way to make it less cliche.)
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One of the big revelations for me at educon was that creating things is the only way to sustain change. You cannot influence things to change. You have to create what you would like to see and make the change real for people.
Concretely, I mean that every student, every teacher and every administrator should not be allowed to leave their buildings with being able to truthfully say that they created something new that day. The following things do not count as creations:
2. Worksheets or any answers to lower level thinking questions
3. Meetings or notes from meetings
4. Email (unless it is cross-posted somewhere else)
Another reason why I believe that everyone should create something every day is because no one will be removed from learning if this happens. If you have to go through the process of creating something new, you have to also go through the process of demonstrating learning or of even learning something new. We would no longer have teachers who are out of touch with students or administrators that are out of touch with teachers. If we are all engaged in the act of creation, we are all speaking the same language.
We must, therefore, create an economy of creation as well. We must require creation as a requirement for participation in society. If we all now have the ability to publish quickly and create regularly, why are we so timid about requiring it of others. (That being said, anyone feel like poking holes?)
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Idea one: The purpose of school is not to churn out a finished product. Innovation doesn’t come from a place of completion.
Idea two: If we mean 99 percent of the places that we call school, I would say there is no purpose.
The purpose should be to be THE place to go and create, learn, and build real things.
Idea three: The purpose changes. Does the purpose take into consideration of all cultures and ideas. It can’t just be the transmission of values, other than inquiry.
Idea four: The purpose of school is to create community.
The best thing you might be able to do in a day is getting the students to talk to one another.
Idea five: The purpose of school is to learn how to communicate.
You have to be able to present arguments and convince people that you know what you are talking about.
Calibrate what students know as important, difficult, and original.
Idea six: The purpose of school is to expose kids to people who are actually doing what is possible.
Perhaps it is in finding out how things really work. Perhaps it is in not knowing everything. Perhaps it is in knowing exactly what you want to do with your life.
Idea seven: The purpose of school is to be the great equalizer. But the system can’t keep up.
We need to fix it so that schools are what they should be.
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