Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (August 17, 2014)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Most Important Story In Our Country This This Week is #Ferguson...#LeadershipDay14

I am most appreciative of Scott McLeod's annual call for leaders to discuss what it means "to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live." I thoroughly enjoy scrolling through the wonderful posts under the hashtag #LeadershipDay2014 on Twitter to see all of the great ideas being shared by school leaders across the globe.

This week, however, I am a bit distracted by the horrible news coming out of Ferguson, Missouri and in spite of the sickness I feel in the pit of my stomach over the actions of those in law enforcement, I feel fortunate to live in a time where are there are forms of media that allow the public to see firsthand accounts of those in the middle of such events. We have the ability to look beyond press releases and the sometimes misleading accounts of those in authority and push action and accountability if we so choose. 

So for my #LeadershipDay2014 post, I will share some of the stories, headlines, and perspectives that have caught my attention from the unfortunate events in Ferguson.  It is important that ALL of our students know how to access and navigate the endless streams of news at their fingertips so that they can see all sides of a particular issue and build accurate representations of the truth.  

"(Mike Brown's death) must remind us that we are nowhere near being the country we need to be for our citizens of color — and, therefore, for all of us."   Chris Lehmann

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Time to End the Device Debate

As a school leader in a 1:1 iPad district, I am always interested in the perspectives of those in other 1:1 educational settings. Whether they use iPads, Chromebooks or any other web-enabled device, there is something that can be learned by paying attention to the conversations in these environments. Two of the more thoughtful pieces on the topic which were recently written come from Tim Holt and Joshua Kim.

The Device Debate: Creating vs. Consuming

Tim, a Director of Instructional Technology from El Paso, Texas, gives a strong account of how iPad can be used as a tool for creation. He clearly details some of the concrete ways that the often-defended tablet can be used to produce videos, music, drawings, and works of art that move well beyond consumption. Kim, on the other hand, offers a unique perspective as an educator who has recently transitioned from supporting an iPad environment to using a Chromebook as his primary device. In his post, 3 Reasons Why Chromebook Beats iPad in 1:1 Programs, Kim gives the following three reasons for the superiority of the Chromebook:
  1. Chromebooks are for creating, and iPads are for consuming
  2. The App vs the Web
  3. The Google Ecosystem for Collaboration
The most viable of these three reasons from Kim is the final one, the collaborative tools that are inherent in the Google ecosystem can be accessed seamlessly on a Chromebook. While iOS device access to Google tools continues to become less and less of an issue, schools that want to focus primarily on Google tools should look no further than Chromebooks. However, I would like to challenge Kim’s first two points. As he notes in his discussion around his first point, the consumption versus creation debate with iPads and Chromebooks has been made countless times by those on both sides of this discussion.

Apps vs. Web

While I agree partially with his point that everyone he knows uses a laptop as a complementary device, I think that there is a line that we can draw here in regards to the age of the learner. From my experience, our younger students are less and less concerned about a laptop and much more comfortable with a tablet as their primary device. In fact “The App vs the Web” conversation is not as simple as purported. The point here implies that iPad is rendered useless without an extensive arsenal of apps. This implication falls short in a world where companies are doing everything they can to offer a web-based mobile experience. If the point here is that we need to encourage end-users to not become “app-dependent,” then I agree wholeheartedly, but the notion that iPad is not a multi-faceted device in the absence of apps is false.
This also goes for the idea that iPad is not valuable without internet access. Of course, it needs to be noted that the Google Chrome environment is also one that offers an endless list of extensions and apps. Personally, I have no strong emotion tied to one device or another. In fact, as a learner, I get a great deal of satisfaction by figuring out how I can get my daily tasks done on any device that is placed before me. In fact, my main takeaway from most of these debates regarding one device or another is that those of us in schools need to steer clear of strapping on the blinders that can come along with one platform or another. We need to ensure environments that are adaptable and allow learners to accomplish their tasks with whatever devices are available. For all intensive purposes, devices are now basically disposables after two to three years. It is time to dispose of the debate on devices as well.
Looking to learn more about iPads and Chromebooks? EdTechTeacher offers app recommendations for all devices. They will also be hosting a number of FREE, LIVE webinars for Back-to-School in the coming weeks.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (August 10, 2014)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (July 27, 2014)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guest Post: The Official Google Educator Group-Massachusetts

I am excited to share that I will be leading the Google Educator Group for the great state of Massachusetts! You can become a part of this community by clicking here. Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 11.59.54 AM
Why Join the Massachusetts GEG?
If you are an educator, technology integrator, or administrator in the Commonwealth, and have “gone Google” with Google Apps for Education, or your team is considering the adoption of GAFE, I  urge you to become a part of the GEG Massachusetts community for several reasons:
1. Go beyond 140 characters
The Massachusetts GEG is a community. People who choose to become members of this community believe in Google and what is has to offer to students and teachers. As a member, you’ll be automatically connected to a group of educators with similar interests, attitudes, and goals. Obviously members of this community have a great deal of enthusiasm for all things Google. In fact, there are several Google Certified Trainers (and a few self-proclaimed “Google addicts”) who are members and I’m excited to have the opportunity to learn alongside them! This community will allow you to engage in deep discussions with colleagues, both virtually and face to face.
When you need advice, want to share a tip or trick, or are faced with a challenge, fellow community members will be there to offer suggestions and encouragement. Twitter is still definitely an excellent way to build a PLN, but the Massachusetts GEG will take sharing and connecting to another level. If you feel as though you’ve mastered Twitter, or you are at the point where you need more than just bite-sized sharing, then it’s definitely time you give Google+ a try. Set-up your profile. Add a picture (we want to know what you look like!) and a story (what makes you tick!) and any other details you wish to share about yourself. Create a GEG-Mass circle to organize all the new contacts you will make as a member of this community and get ready to learn, share, and grow as an educator.
I can tell you from experience connecting with other educators via social media is truly life-changing. Like many teachers, I worked in isolation for many years. However, when I discovered how educators were using social media for professional reasons, and learned about the concept of a PLN, I began building a network of colleagues whom I learn from and am inspired by daily. Every educator should have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be connected. And I don’t mean gaining thousands of followers. I’m talking about real connections and professional relationships, some of which can ultimately evolve into meaningful friendships. It’s truly amazing how many genuine people there are out there who are willing to help their peers become better educators.
2. Make the Mass GEG Your “One Stop Google Shop”
Share and curate resources and get the latest updates about anything and everything related to Google Apps for Education including:
  • Drive
  • Docs, Sheets, Forms, Presentations
  • Sites & Blogger
  • Gmail & Calendar
  • Hangouts
  • and best of all…CLASSROOM! (yes, I’m excited about Classroom launching this fall, can ya tell?)
And if you know anything about GAFE, you know that Google is constantly updating its products and tools with new features to make the user experience more powerful. The Massachusetts GEG will ultimately become your “one stop shop” for all that is Google. You won’t need to join separate communities to learn about specific Google products and how to integrate them into your school or classroom. Whether you’re 1:1 Chromebook, iPad, or BYOD, the Massachusetts GEG will serve all of your needs. Heck, you’ll even be able to ask questions and learn more about Google Glass! The best part is that because this community is the official GEG for Massachusetts, there is a strong connection directly to Google. My interaction with the folks at Google has been great and I can tell you they are very excited about the GEG initiative.
3. Received invitations to face to face and virtual learning and networking events. This is the part of the GEG initiative that excites me the most. I plan to work very hard to coordinate regional, face to face events throughout Massachusetts. I am hopeful the first face to face meet up will be in late August and will release details as soon as the event is confirmed. There will also be Hangouts to discuss the latest educational trends and Google products. Please feel free to suggest topics or offer to host a Hangout or face to face event in your area. Massachusetts is filled with incredibly innovative and talented teachers and I am hopeful that our GEG will grow into a strong, collaborative community where all members contribute their knowledge and skill. Thank you in advance for joining and I look forward to working with all of you!