It’s about school culture, not devices

June 26, 2015
cc image via edcamp boston

In the process of wrapping up another school year and preparing for my ISTE 2015 presentation with Lyn Hilt on Designing and Sustaining Digital Environments on Monday, I am drawn into reflecting on my work with technology integration over the past decade. What I continually discover in my reflections is that my work and my job are not about any device or app at all. In fact, my work is about people and how they think, interact, and create. In essence, every technology leader should be an expert in human learning, sociability, and inquiry. Continue Reading…

Student Agency and the 6th Grade Genius Crew

May 12, 2015
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The best part of my job as a tech director is getting to connect with students in their classrooms. I try and make this part of my weekly and daily routine no matter how busy my schedule seems. Recently, I outfitted two of our 6th grade math classrooms with 1:1 iPad classrooms. I worked with both teachers on setup, logistics, and resources to get started. In Ms. Cowan’s classroom she had five homeroom students who displayed natural curiosity for the iPads that were now in their classroom. And from this, the North Street Elementary “Genius Crew” was developed. Continue Reading…

Is that the Watch?

May 11, 2015
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“Is that the watch?”

For the past two weeks that is the phrase I’ve heard as I walk around with Apple’s newest technology strapped securely around my left wrist. As with most of Apple’s products, I have been an early adopter. I paid an exborenatant amount of money for the first iPhone, stood in line for the iPhone 3GS and the first iPad; I camped out overnight for the iPhone 4 and stood in line again for the iPad 2. I have an alarm on my phone labeled, “Apple releases”. So, when I heard about the release of the first new Apple product line in five years, I simply had to have it.

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Remixing Future Ready School Culture

April 27, 2015
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I am no longer impressed by a 1:1 device deployment. Just as much as I am no longer enamored with Apple commercials for the iPod. It’s easy for schools to get caught in an innovative lull or a financial one. Aside from mobile devices and new infrastructure models, schools can still innovate and move their programs forward without the devices.

As I have said since I was first involved with one of the first large scale iPad 1:1 rollouts four years ago, the focus should be on shifting culture, not devices. One of the primary reasons for this statement is that I know for certain that the iPad will come and go in classrooms just as its many predecessors have. Whether its the dry erase board, smartboard, or laptop, the technology we deem necessary and purposeful for today’s student will soon be gone. Continue Reading…

Instructional Design and Technology

April 3, 2015
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Roughly ten years ago I had the opportunity to teach in a classroom that received a grant titled “Classrooms for the future”. The problem was, despite added pieces of hardware and software to my classroom, this was not the future. Nor would this be the classroom that students ten years later would experience. The same can be said of the classroom of 2015. I assure you this will not be the classroom that students in 2025 experience. This is why we should not get caught up with hardware and app smashing in our respective classrooms. This is not to say that apps cannot do great things, but ultimately, apps and hardware should never drive instruction.

Instructional design with technology has never been more important in today’s classrooms. Additionally, professional learning models have never been more critical for utilizing educators’ time to help nurture evolving instructional design paradigms. The two run parallel because educators need the time to share learning experiences and develop and share new ideas on how to best integrate digital tools and applications. Below are some ideas for both school leaders and instructional leaders to help teachers design dynamic classrooms that lead with learning rather devices or applications. Continue Reading…

EdCamp Grafton

March 22, 2015
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EdCamp is the best thing to happen to professional learning since the spoken word. Period. Yesterday, March 21, 2015, this was evident at Grafton High School in Grafton, MA. EdCamp Grafton opened their doors at 8:00 am Saturday morning and by 8:30, our commons area was bustling with conversation. Educators from all over the New England area came together on a Saturday morning to attend a conference with no schedule, no keynote speaker, no session descriptions, and no vendor tables filled with schwag. By the time attendees gathered in the Grafton high auditorium, we had checked in over 200 educators. Oh, and on this second day of Spring, it had snowed lightly all through the evening and into the morning. Just in case you needed anymore evidence for the powerful impact of the EdCamp movement. Continue Reading…

Why Digital Learning Day is like Valentine’s Day

March 10, 2015
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Digital learning day is like Valentine’s Day: Forcing attention to something that should be naturally occurring. Designing a day in which we champion devices and applications that digitally and virtually connect us in 2015 is the equivalent to feeling the pressure to by someone special roses on February 14th. I don’t mean to sound cynical and grumpy, but if we want digital learning to simply be part of the fabric of our school or district’s vision then we need to simply treat it as we would oxygen. Continue Reading…

(Re) Focus Technology Integration

February 3, 2015
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A few years ago I wrote about focus and how it would be the most challenging 21st century skill students (and adults) would need to possess in a world flooded with constant content. While technology has found a place in the classroom and all of our personal lives (except my father’s), we still need to ensure a healthy balance of screen time for both ourselves as professionals, and transfer that model to our students. It’s never been more important.

I make an attempt every Sunday morning to disconnect from all devices. I turn my phone off, shutdown my laptop screen, and turn off my iPad. Don’t allow for any alerts to enter these moments, simply shut it off. Not to be confused with Taylor Swift. When I engage in this exercise I get an odd feeling. I feel as though these connected devices are silently calling my name and that I am missing out on a great tweet or a great resource. My levels of dopamine are falling and suddenly Sherry Turkle’s philosophy of being connected but alone begins to surface. Continue Reading…

Educon 2.7: A conversation worth attending

January 26, 2015
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Educon was the first education conference I ever attended in 2010. I credit this conference for opening up my connected educator life and rethinking what an educational conference should be and can be: a conversation. Educon is without pretension and has always been a comfortable experience no matter how long you’ve been teaching or how “connected” you think you are. It’s a forum that allows all voices to flourish, be heard, challenged, and engaged. Continue Reading…

Community tech nights in Grafton

December 12, 2014
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Last evening, Grafton Public Schools hosted its second community tech night of the year. The focus of last evening’s session was around the Google apps for education suite of apps. Over the course of two sessions held, we’ve had 35 parents and community members show up as well as tech directors and specialists from neighboring districts.

The goal behind these events is simple: connect and support our community on the new and emerging technologies and applications that are being used in education and beyond. What we want to do is educate our greater community on the tools and applications students and teachers use daily. Most schools do a great job supporting students and teachers around technology devices and applications, but many times leave out parents. Continue Reading…