Transitioning Schools into the 21st Century workshops

I thought I'd share something that we're doing here in Iowa…

The School Administrators of Iowa (SAI), the state leadership association for principals and superintendents, and CASTLE, my center at Iowa State U., are working together to ramp up administrators' knowledge and ability to be effective technology leaders and supporters.

The flyer for the workshops and our wiki will give you an idea of what we're doing:

Session 1 focused on big picture issues: the world has changed, schools need to change too, how do schools keep up?, how to lead in an era of disruptive innovation, etc.

Session 2 (occurring right now) starts with a little more big picture stuff, then introduces participants to the Social Web (including concrete examples of usage by teachers and students). We conclude with 60-75 minutes of getting set up with Google Reader and loading it up with a few feeds so that they can start immersing themselves in the Social Web too.

Reactions to the first two sessions have been extremely positive. School administrators want to do what's right – they just don't know this stuff and so don't know how to proceed. Helping them wrap their heads around what's happening, showing them concrete examples that spark ideas that can be done back home, and giving them the ability to engage in the social aspects of the Web are all activities that help them move themselves and their school organizations further along…

Session 3 likely will focus on good classroom technology integration (what does it look like? how do you support it?) and fears / concerns (what happens when you open up your school organization to these tools and learning environments?). We'll also likely show them some other stuff that they can do with Google Reader.

Thoughts? Reactions? Suggestions?

15 Responses to “Transitioning Schools into the 21st Century workshops”

  1. Many conferences and professional development sessions re: digital technologies are too often hampered by the limitations that plague many classrooms. Quite simply, there is no/limited technology that can be employed during the session to allow delegates to be connected (like many classrooms). A person ‘who knows’ stands at the front, often successfully sage-like, and shows some 2.0 videos and pithy quotes about the flat classroom/world etc. while the participants sit, inactive.

    Scott, any session that allows the participants to actually engage with the technology has to be the answer and I’m sure everyone enjoyed a Google Reader session immensely. Conferences and PD sessions without connectivity and the gear (that are about using technology) are not the answer.

    I am endeavouring to do something similiar with regional staff/leadership, in NSW, in a couple of weeks. I have a presentation to post shortly at my blog for feedback.

    Finally, IMHO unless the leadership/hierachy of the region or school are prepared to use web 2.0 tools it is hard to imagine many of the ‘troops’ following. Do what I do, look how fun/useful/relevant it is, is the way to go.

    Thanks for this useful post, Scott.

  2. Scott, maybe you could set them up to run into MANY, MANY blocked materials after getting them excited about trying out what is introduced and modeled so they can see why there is slow buy in from classroom teachers. Experiencing the “blocked” message at school dissuades even the most adventurous teachers who want to make their learning and seamless integration of technology relevant to kids of this day, at least in my experience.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Darcy. The guided tour of actual application of Web 2.0 tools by classroom teachers has been eye-opening for the administrators. They not only get to see tools that they didn’t know existed, they get to see them in action by “real live educators!” Although I’m showing them on a projector up front, they’re also following along via the wiki (plus four of them are taking notes for the group using EtherPad).

    Participants have been bringing their laptops per our invitation. They’re not used to being able to do that either.

    Good luck with your own efforts. I’ll look forward to reading your post!

  4. I wish you had been around when I was still teaching. One thing I did with my students was to use a “guided” worksheet. I posted a worksheet with url’s embedded in the writing, ( Much the way I link on my blog) – Students had to click on it and be taken to my preselected page and then hunt for the answers to my questions. This not only took them through material that I had chosen to supplement the poor textbooks but it also made them comfortable with the technology. Sometime I would like to attend one of your seminars. (Even though I am an old (67) retired teacher.

  5. Wow! What an awesome resource. We have been doing PD in our district for teachers and administrators, but this just bumped my brain to a whole new level!

  6. Thanks for the link to Google Reader! What a great resource and I see great potential for use in the classroom. The dilemma that I see for myself and other school administrators is finding time in the day to deal with the crisis of the moment and try to stay current with some of the great resources that are available. PD sessions like the ones you describe are great and can spark some changes in a district, but ongoing PD and someone to push change on a continual basis is what is truly needed. Realistically, we should have a dedicated Director of Instructional Technology in each district that would be able to evaluate the continual onslaught of new ideas. Unfortunately, most of the districts I am familiar with leave this job up to individual LMC folks in each buidling or a tech director with little or no educational background.

    For now I’ll just keep checking some of the incredible blogs that I keep stumbling upon, including yours. As a side note, thanks for introducing me to “Disrupting Class”; I’m trying to suggest this as summer reading for our admin team.

  7. I’ve run into several administrators who are taking the workshops, and you can see the difference it is making. They ask more direct, pointed questions about technology implementations, instead of “what could we be doing?” With even a small amount of awareness, they are forming a vision in their mind for their building.

    With the last two I’ve visited with, I’ve pushed the notion of how this changes professional development. That, through social media tools, they should be empowering the teachers to create networks and develop themselves, rather than a top-down approach where PD is determined by a select few. The philosophical switch of moving to a professional learning network as the heart of PD is a topic for you to continue.

  8. Scott, I love your work and am so grateful for your continuing willingness to think out loud here… thank you!

    Are you sharing Forester’s Social Technographic info, by any chance?


    I think it’s helpful both in terms of the picture it paints and because it might give folks more ways to see THEMSELVES in the social media picture.

  9. Hi, that last comment was actually from me, Shelley… must’ve accidentally typed Scott’s name into the comment field.

    Time for some shut-eye!

  10. It is truly exciting to read about what is happening in Iowa. Our district administrator is almost anti-technology. The rumor is that he will retire after this school year. Perhaps we can then move our schools into the present…and future…of technology-rich classrooms. I will be following your program with great interest!

  11. It’s great to see professional development like this taking place. With proposed budget cuts for next year between 10 – 25% in the state of Ohio, you can imagine what will be cut first. Technology budgets will be slashed and all conferences and workshops will be too expensive. I guess this is just that much more reason to spend time reading ideas from fellow bloggers.

  12. It seems like a great start to what I’m sure will be a valuable program. After much thought, I think that school leaders need to be adept in the change process. Making this type of change is significant and there are many barriers in place. While we, as leaders, talk about change I’m not sure that many of us lead the type of change that is necessary for this transformation. We are also working in a system where people have a mindset that is so entrenched due to years of schooling. The entire mindset needs to be transformed.

  13. Blair – thanks for the insight. I agree. WE, not THEY, are so entrenched that it is hard to break free. I am a member of SAI that Scott speaks of as well as have had him speak at my district on technology (still working on that return trip, Scott), so I have familiarity with both. The only problem is that I’m not sure how effective things will be simply due to this “entrenched mindset” concept Blair identifies. Even though I feel somewhat open to the current opportunities, when faced with a few recently, I think my responses were pretty “old school” and focused on the concerns of students abusing the freedoms that I would like to give them. Any suggestions from out there are appreciated. When 90+% of my students would effectively use these opportunities, why am I concerned with the 10% that will effectively circumvent the safeguards? It isn’t much different than the kids that wear hats in school, call other kids names, are disrespectful to teachers, etc. but it is harder to identify their on-line or technology violations when they are more familiar and comfortable with this than am I.

  14. It is so great that SAI and CASTLE are working together to increase administrators knowledge and ability to be great technology leaders. If you are looking for tips on how to integrate technology in the classroom be sure to check out the Texas Instrument Teachers blog. Recently, an AP calculus teacher offered insight on the best ways to use technology in the math classroom. To check it out go here:

  15. Yes, I agree. I am heartily sick of administrators and teachers who think modern technology means that students will make a slideshow. Good grief—how many times have we seen that one.

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