Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Keep Up To Date With Burlington Public Schools in 2014-2015

As we prepare for the start of another school year, we want to remind our Burlington Public Schools families how to keep up with all of the latest happenings from our school system.  One of the best ways to stay on top of what is happening is following the district and school blogs.  One way to follow our blogs is to enter your e-mail address into the box on a specific blog from which you would like to receive updates. Activating this option will set you up to receive an e-mail any time there is a new post published on that particular blog.  In addition each e-mail that you receive will allow you the option of stopping the e-mails from that blog at any time. 

If you are following a number of blogs, I encourage you to look at an RSS feed service such as Feedly. This will allow you to see posts from all of these blogs in one place.

A few blogs that you may want to follow to get started

Other ways to stay up to date with BPS


Please let us know if there are any other social media resources that you would like to see Burlington Public Schools access to share information!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (August 24, 2014)

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Another Defensive Post About e-Reading

various e-book readers. From right to left iPa...
various e-book readers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Disclaimer: As an administrator in a district where we have provided iPads for all students, I always feel a bit defensive about articles and research studies that are quick to dismiss e-reading in lieu of traditional books. This is especially true when I am quoted in one of the articles.

Caitlin Dewey produced another take on the merits of e-reading in yesterday's Washington Post in her article titled "Why you might want to ditch your e-reader and go back to traditional books."  Dewey's piece highlights a study out of Italy that was highlighted in the Guardian this week where 50 people were asked to read a short story, half of the group on a Kindle and the other half out of a book. The findings here were that the overwhelming majority of the participants who read on the Kindle remembered less of the story than those who read it from a book.

As is usually the case with these types of studies, I have some questions I need answered to help me understand the findings of this study:

  • How many of these Kindle readers had done reading electronically before?
  • What was the mindset of these people about reading electronically?
The fact of the matter is that only two of the Kindle readers had experience reading on the Kindle, a fact that this story seemed comfortable glossing over. I am a bit at a loss as to how such a significant matter can be considered insignificant. It seems straightforward to me that people tend to perform better in an environment in which they are more comfortable.  I am wondering when I will see a study done with a group of people who consider themselves strong e-readers and face them off with a group of "luddites."

Here's my key takeaway from this article:

"Anne Mangen, the lead author of the new Kindle study, says more research will be needed to determine which devices should be used for what content and which populations benefit from each. It’s also unclear to what extent readers’ own attitudes affect their comprehension; one line of research posits that, as iPads and Kindles become more mainstream, people will approach text on those devices a little more thoughtfully."

I am left with the same conclusion that I had back in April when I wrote A Rant On Reading Online vs. Reading Paper.

Why is it that as we seek the best way to accomplish a task, we cling to the false belief that we are going to find one right answer? Personally, I love reading online and the fact that I can click on hyperlinks, bookmark key points/articles, and interact with others interested in the same topic/novel. Am I distracted or adding a level of interaction to this task that was not possible for previous generations of readers?  

Of course, the answer here is that sometimes I am distracted and less productive and other times I am able to utilize the online resources in a way that adds greater depth to my experience.  My main problem with the alarmists who would prefer that all students read paperbound texts is that they deny these students opportunities to experience the power of Interactive reading, as well as the chance to find their own individual sense of balance in this area.  We need to embrace the struggle that is part of this and have meaningful conversations to guide our own learning and the learning of our children.

Denying these opportunities benefits no one! 

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.