The tools are there; can we meet the challenge?

Posted by Susan Gilley on November 8, 2014

Do it yourself - letters with tools attached.Back in the day, when your computer was messed up, you phoned a friend or even took your machine in to a computer technician. A couple of days ago, my laptop began showing an error that the battery was not charging. I googled a little last night trying to find the solution and tried a couple of options without success. Tonight I came home and googled possibilities again. Believe it or not, the second YouTube video I watched provided the answer.

Your response may be, “OK, cool!” or perhaps it’s, “Big deal; so what?” Regardless, to me this experience emphasizes how education is changing. People now have an incredible network of options for solutions to problems. In this case, I watched a 3-minute video, performed the steps suggested in the video, and my battery is now back to charging.

Does this new abundance of learning resources replace live people in the classroom? Absolutely not! Does it allow anyone to learn about anything they want at any time? For sure! That puts a lot of educational and learning power in the hands of the learner, and challenges us all as educators.

● How do we stay current in today’s ever-changing educational landscape?
● How do we keep in tune with how our students are meeting their educational thirsts for knowledge?
● How does society blend the answers to both of these questions to enhance education?

For myself, I choose a variety of ways to stay current beyond just googling and watching YouTube videos. One way I have expanded my professional learning community is through Twitter and Google+ communities. Both of these social media outlets allow me to follow people around the globe who share the same interests as I do and choose to share more information about those interests through their Twitter feeds and Google+ communities.

My philosophy has always been, it’s not what you know, but what you share! So, I welcome your comments and discussion. Follow me on Twitter @uniqsuseq, check out the websites I have bookmarked at https://delicious.com/sgilley, or visit sgilley.com that hosts all of my resources. And, of course, feel free to add your thoughts right here by commenting on this post.

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Packrati: My road to super-productivity!

Posted by Susan Gilley on March 16, 2014

PackratMy motto is,  “It’s not what you know, but what you share!” People who know me know that I make no secret that almost all of my shared resources come from Twitter. Twitter is all about finding the right people to follow that will allow you find the resources that will help you do your job better. That’s the key to me as to why Twitter is such a valuable social media tool.

In order to make Twitter successful and productive for me, I needed a way to get what I had tweeted to my bookmarks. I use Delicious as my bookmarking tool.  My old school way was once a week or month, I would copy and paste each tweet over to my delicious account as a bookmark with tags.  This was a horribly inefficient process.  Then I discovered Packrati.  Packrati works with my Twitter and Delicious accounts to automatically bookmark and tag anything I tweet.

Here’s how it works:  If there is a URL in my tweet, it automatically gets posted on my delicious web page.  Any words within that tweet that have a hashtag (#) are added as Delicious tags of the bookmarked page.  Welcome to the world of super-productivity! To start setting up accounts for yourself, visit the following websites and create accounts:  twitter.com, delicious.com, and packrati.us. If you are interested in seeing all of the resources I have gathered, check out my bookmarks at delicious.com/sgilley or follow me on Twitter @uniqsuseq.

 

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New Year’s Challenge: Jump In!

Posted by Geoff Belleau on January 1, 2014

Logos in mortar boards: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, RSSMost of us entered a career in education because of the students.  The rapidly changing, technology-driven, mobile world is changing those students. They are still children—or young adults—but they have access to an unprecedented amount of information, and their social interactions have changed. In addition to Facebook, they use social tools like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Kik, and Vine among others. Gone are the days when schools could easily restrict access to such tools; now they’re as close as the mobile device in each student’s pocket. Our challenge is to model appropriate social interaction using tools most educators are just plain unfamiliar with.

How?  Just jump in.  For starters, if you haven’t joined Twitter, do it. Twitter can be used to log into and share on many of the tools listed above. Next, as you make your way around your school building or district every day, make at least one day a “follow me” day. When you see an amazing lesson, snap a picture and post it along with a short note for your followers to see (yep, that’s called tweeting). If you see an orderly lunch line with a smiling food service employee, tweet it. Follow the good example of Kris Corey (@coreykrisc), superintendent in Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. Those stakeholders who follow her on Twitter know when she’s visiting schools because she is sharing lessons, student work, special events and even the Chipotle fundraiser flyer. Several of her administrators have followed her example and share the daily activities of their schools:(@kristenwitt13, @crystalmiddleca, @annakyleelem, @principal439).

Recently, Twitter launched Vine. Like Twitter, Vine is microblogging (140 character limit), but with an added feature: 6 second videos that loop. Create a Vine video by simply touching the screen. Then add a short description and post. Since Twitter is used to create the Vine account, your post goes to both Vine and Twitter automatically. Many have said a picture is worth a thousand words; a video could be worth a million words!

Outside your office post your Twitter, Vine, and Instagram username, plus any others you may have such as Facebook and Pinterest. Next add these usernames to email signatures and newsletters going home. Let your followers build naturally and don’t worry if the count only goes up slowly.

If you are more inclined to share graphically, use Instagram to share the amazing things going on at your building or district. Instagram is a favorite because it makes those artistic looking square pictures with filters and borders. By linking your Twitter account on setup, you can automatically share on twitter whenever you post to Instagram.

One common element across all of this social sharing is use of hashtags(#) to code posts and call them out for attention from a specific audience.  Start using hashtags as part of your New Year’s challenge.  You could start with one I use: #makingheroes. When you post, add #makingheroes to your tweet, Vine video, Instagram picture or other post. Also start using a hashtag that relates to your building or district. That way when you click on those #hashtags you will start to see all of the sharing that is going on!

It’s easier than you think! Take this 5 minute challenge (modified from @digitalroberto).

  1. Take a picture of student work and post it on Instagram (Twitter). (1 minute)
  2. Shoot a Vine video showing active learning or a special event and post it on Twitter. (1 minute)
  3. Tweet about something amazing going on by describing it (1 minute)
  4. Share one of your colleagues posts from one of their schools with your followers on Twitter (2 minutes) If you at a site try to do this once a day, if you are a central office, try to get out and do this once a week. Set a reminder on your calendar.

Unlike our students who are digital natives, we are digital immigrants.  We need to become digital colonists and model good digital citizenship. If we are to help students be great digital citizens, we must be citizens in the same digital world.  Jump in!

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Hacked—It Stings!

Posted by Tim Landeck on July 14, 2013

Just when I thought it was OK to leave the safety of my district’s content filter and venture into the growing realm of social networking (SN), I was stung by the mighty SN wasps—my Twitter account was hacked! Before I knew it, I was advertising a weight loss program to all of my Twitter followers. To add to the confusion I actually had just lost some weight and won the “losers weight loss contest” at the district office. Many were aware of my improving health and thought I was endorsing a specific weight loss program! Even if you haven’t been hacked yet, find out how to prevent it.

Wasp face on.
Photo credit: Wim van Egmond. Used by permission.

 

How I knew that I was hacked

One morning I began to receive emails from friends and colleagues asking if my Twitter and Facebook accounts had been hacked. When you receive multiple versions of these emails within a couple of hours, it’s time to check it out as quickly as possible. I looked on my Twitter account and sure enough, I was advertising for a new weight loss program. It’s embarrassing to have your account hacked, especially for a “techie” like me; I wanted to stop the unauthorized posts as soon as possible.

How to secure your Twitter account

  • Step 1: Change your password ASAP. Usually this is how your account was hacked so changing your password will bring the addition of new, unauthorized posts to a halt. You can increase security by making your password long and complex,  such as IhateGetting365Hacked!
  • Step 2: Disable unnecessary third party applications.  Log into your Twitter account and under settings (look for the gear in the top right hand side of your web browser window) click the Apps menu. Look through the applications that are presently authorized to post to your account and make sure that you truly need and want each of those applications to have access to your account.  Revoke access for all the apps that you don’t recognize.
  • Step 3: Remove any saved passwords to your Twitter account that you may have on various computers and mobile devices.
  • Step 4: Run an antiviral software program on all computers that you use regularly to be sure that you don’t have a virus or keyboard logger on any of your computers
  • Step 5: Reset your password again.

Although being hacked and sending unwarranted posts to hundreds of your followers is a horrible thought, don’t let it prevent you from utilizing social networks. Twitter, Facebook and other social network sites provide excellent tools for educators. Just play it safe by following the steps above.

For more information, visit Twitter’s Help Center.

 

 

 

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Blips not to overlook

Posted by Butch Owens on January 31, 2013

Radar screenAs we venture forth into 2013, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at some items that should be on every administrator’s radar.  We all need to be developing a plan on how we will incorporate each into our schools.

Learning Management Systems

A learning management system (LMS) is a software application or Web-based technology used to plan, implement, and assess a specific learning process. Typically, a learning management system provides an instructor with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student participation, and assess student performance. A learning management system may also provide students with the ability to use interactive features such as threaded discussions, video conferencing, and discussion forums.  Read more.

Flipped Classrooms

Flip teaching (or flipped classroom) is a form of blended learning which encompasses any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher-created videos that students view outside of class time. It is also known as backwards classroom, reverse instruction, flipping the classroom, and reverse teaching.  Read more.

BYOD

Bring your own device (also referred to as Bring your own technology (BYOT), Bring your own phone (BYOP), and Bring your own PC (BYOPC)) is a term that is frequently used to describe the policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smart phones) to their place of work and use those devices to access privileged company information and applications.[1] The term is also used to describe the same practice applied to students using personally owned devices in education settings.  Read more.

MOOC

A massive open online course (MOOC) is a type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in the area of distance education and a progression of the kind of open education ideals suggested by open educational resources. Examples include Khan Academy and free offerings from Stanford and MIT.  Read more.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a free web-based office suite offered by Google within its Google Drive service. It also was a storage service but has since been replaced by the before-mentioned Google Drive. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of Writely and Spreadsheets with a presentation program incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems.  Learn more.

California Student Bill of Rights Initiative

The California Student Bill of Rights Initiative did not make the ballot last November, but had it qualified for the ballot and been approved by the state’s voters, it would have:

  • Authorized school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to claim average daily attendance funding for student participation in approved online courses.
  • Authorized school districts to contract with public and private providers to deliver online courses taught by credentialed teachers.
  • Allowed students to take online courses offered by any school district, regardless of student’s residence.
  • Provided students access to courses required for admission to state universities.
  • Established the “California Diploma”, which would have demonstrated completion of courses required for University of California and California State University admission.

If students need flexibility in their schedule or a teacher in another district has a great online course, students will definitely seek out that option if available—and the ADA would follow the student for that course. Students will no longer be held hostage to what their local district, school or individual teacher of a course is offering.

Huffington article on California online bill of rights
Click image above to read this Huffington post article.

Personal Learning Networks

A personal learning network (PLN) is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection.  Read more.

Sir Ken Robinson: Changing Educational Paradigms

This is a great 11 minute video by Sir Ken Robinson to open up the dialog about the need to change and adapt our schools to meet the needs of students today and into the future. Pay particular attention to the section on divergent thinking. As Sir Ken points out this is one of the most important traits students will need to be successful in our changing world.  Learn more.

A Question

Let me finish by posing a question. If students truly have a choice about what courses they take and where they take them, will they choose to stay enrolled in a course that is textbook-driven and without access to technology or any expectation to use technology to produce evidence of their learning? Or would they choose a hybrid or blended course with online,24/7, access to highly interactive threaded discussions, media rich resources, and the ability to schedule the class around other commitments and activities?

Take for example this brief blog post.  It starts with a brief description and includes links to other resources for those looking to explore a topic in depth.  Compare this to a one page article with definitions of each trend. Which would provide a better understanding of the topic? Which would lead to a deeper understanding? Which is more engaging?

If you are looking to continue this conversation you should consider attending the Leadership 3.0 Symposium sponsored by TICAL, ACSA and CUE.  It takes place April 11–13, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency, Irvine, California.  Learn more.

 

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