HELP WANTED (and CONTEST) – 500 school leadership blogs in 10 days?

Trapped[UPDATE: And the winner is… Suzie Linch, who submitted Nathan Barber’s blog, The Next Generation of Educational Leadership. Congratulations, Suzie!]

Does your local principal or superintendent blog? Do you read the blog of your local, state, or national school administrator association? Know of other blogs that are of interest to school leaders? I’m trying to collect 500 school leadership blogs in the next 10 days. Sure, there are some lists but they all need updating:

I know that many of you will contribute out of the goodness of your heart. But, because 500 blogs is a very ambitious goal, I’ll sweeten the pot a little. The kind folks at Lenovo are going to let me give away a Lenovo m90z all-in-one desktop computer to anyone in the world who submits a school leadership blog using the form below. I’ll choose at random from all of the submissions. You get an extra chance for each blog you submit; the more you enter, the better your chance to win!

FYI, the m90z is a pretty sweet machine (Lenovo sent me one to review first). The huge touch screen is very responsive. It would be a great home or classroom computer; my kids have taken to it like ducks to water. Here are a few pictures so that you can see what you might win and here are the technical specifications. Also, over the next few days check out these blogs for additional opportunities to score a m90z:

The form is below. The deadline is May 16. Thanks in advance for helping out. I’ll clean up the list of contributions and share it back out so that we all can make good use of them!

Big Move #2: Does a faculty member need to live near his university?

TrappedI said in my previous post that I had a second big move to announce. Well, it’s now official. Starting in August I will be a faculty member at the University of Kentucky (UK). Here’s the quick back story (and why you should care about this move of mine).

November 2010. I get a phone call from UK. My colleague, Dr. John Nash, and I are officially targeted by the UK President, Provost, and Dean of the College of Education to be faculty members at UK. Not an open search; a targeted search (i.e., they want us and only us). Wow. Wasn’t expecting that!

December 2010. We go to Lexington with our wives to check out the university and the community. We’re given the red carpet treatment throughout by the Department of Educational Leadership Studies, including meeting with all of the aforementioned folks and the state Commissioner of Education (who happens to be a LeaderTalk blogger!). We’re suitably impressed with the support and vision these folks have around P-12 technology leadership. Plus we’ll get to work with Drs. Justin Bathon and Jayson Richardson, 2 of the other 6 to 8 faculty nationwide that care about technology leadership issues. Four of us in one place? Incredible!

January 2011. Lots of mental anguish in the McLeod household. The job may be the best professional setup I’ll ever get. But it’s not the right time to move our family from Ames, Iowa. What to do, what to do? Think outside the box! Pitch UK a ‘global worker’ proposal. 90% of my work is online / electronic anyway. Can I remain in Ames and fly to Lexington a few days a month to take care of the rest? We wait anxiously, fingers and toes crossed. UK says YES!

February 2011. A few logistical and contract things to work out. The job offer is signed; John signs his too. It’s official. We “See Blue!

Okay, why do you care about this?

Well, for one thing, I’m walking my talk. This is an unusual setup for a tenured faculty member at a traditional (i.e., not wholly online) university. I’ve repeatedly said that knowledge workers are increasingly able to work for anyone from anywhere. Apparently I now get to live that statement.

More important, however, is this: For the first time ever, we’ve now got a critical mass of faculty in one place who care about the leadership side of school technology. The biggest limit to CASTLE’s impact and expansion has been the small numbers of people associated with the center. We now have four (4! I can’t believe it!) full-time faculty, all at the same institution, all focused in the same direction. We’re going to be the Skunk Works of tech leadership! With the support and vision that we have from the folks above us at UK and in the state department, the possibilities are nearly limitless.

The first beneficiary of the move? Our School Technology Leadership classes. Up and running in Spring 2012 (hopefully). 15 credits of wholly online awesomeness, aligned to the NETS-A, available to anyone who cares about technology leadership. Possibilities for a graduate certificate, Master’s, and/or Ph.D. in School Tech Leadership. Interested? Sign up here.

So that’s the story. More to come in the months ahead. Until then, it’s time for me to actually start writing for BigThink about technology, leadership, and schools rather than myself.

Let the games begin!

Image credit: University of Kentucky

Announcing the 2011 Iowa 1:1 Institute!

Mark your calendars! The second annual Iowa 1:1 Institute (I11I) will be at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines on April 20, 2011, from 9am to 5pm.

I11ilogoIn our first year we had over 600 happy people in attendance. This year we anticipate 1,000 to 1,200 attendees (did we mention registration is FREE?!). We’ll have 120 different sessions, nearly all of which will be delivered by educators and students in the 40+ school districts in Iowa with 1:1 laptop programs. This grass-roots conference is a must-attend event; the conversations and learning are very powerful!

About the institute

The purposes of the institute are to:

  • help Iowa’s 1:1 districts learn from each other about innovative teaching, learning, and administrative practices that are occurring in their districts;
  • build excitement and ‘buzz’ around 1:1 laptop computing initiatives in the state; and
  • help others who are interested in 1:1 computing learn more about how to get started and be successful.

The institute is open to ANYONE interested in 1:1 laptop computing initiatives in P-12 schools, whether they currently are working in such a program or just want to learn more.

Since the primary purpose of the institute is for Iowa’s 1:1 school districts to learn from each other, registration and presentation slots are initially reserved for educators in those school organizations. We’ll open up any remaining registration slots on February 24. We’ll open up any remaining presentation slots on March 17.

Want to be a vendor?

We’ve got 20 precious tables for vendors. Learn more here if you’re interested in being an institute sponsor.

Can’t attend?

Follow along on April 20 with the #i11i hashtag and/or see presenters’ materials at the 1:1 Laptop Schools Ning.


If you have questions, please leave them below or e-mail Nick Sauers, CASTLE’s go-to guy for all things 1:1!

Connected Principals has joined the CASTLE family!

I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Connected Principals blog is now a member of the CASTLE blog family. Connected Principals currently has 22 school administrators blogging about technology leadership and other topics. We are extremely excited to have these insightful school leaders join us!

ConnectedprincipalsbadgeHere are a few posts to get you started:

FYI, you can visit each of CASTLE’s blogs individually or you can subscribe to them all using our overall CASTLE blog RSS feed.

Next up for the CASTLE blog family: a Leadership for Social Justice blog. Happy reading!

HELP WANTED – Questions for interviews of ‘technology-savvy’ superintendents

For an upcoming CASTLE research project, we’re going to do interviews of multiple years’ worth of the winners of eSchoolNews’ technology-savvy superintendents awards. We are soliciting input regarding our interview protocol. These superintendent interviews will be done over the telephone, recorded as podcasts, and made available online to the public as a free resource.

What changes / additions / deletions would you suggest to our draft interview protocol? We’ll take a look at anything left in the comments area by Sunday, September 19!

YellowphoneInterview protocol

1. As we get started here, would you confirm verbally that you received the consent form that was sent to you and that you also recognize that this interview will be publicly available on the Internet? [pause] Thank you.

2. Where are you currently a superintendent and how long have you served in that role?

  • eSchoolNews identified you as one of the nation’s most technology-savvy superintendents. Are you still in the district for which you won the award?
  • Would you share with us your previous administrative and teaching experiences?

3. Why do you think you were selected for the eSchoolNews award?

  • Can you describe some of the most important technology initiatives that your district implemented?
  • What do you think was the most important initiative you implemented (and why)?

4. In general, what do you think is the difference between a regular superintendent and a ‘technology-savvy’ superintendent?

  • Are there particular leadership mindsets or behaviors that would help outsiders identify a superintendent as one that was ‘technology-savvy?’

5. How do you ensure that digital technologies are used as tools to enhance learning and not just as ‘technology for the sake of doing technology?’

6. What are some of the challenges to being a ‘technology-savvy’ superintendent? What gets in the way of doing this well? [ask follow-up probes about any/all of the items below as necessary]

  • Staff?
  • Resources?
  • Parents / community members?
  • Time?
  • Professional development / training?
  • Lack of organizational vision?
  • Other?

7. Why do you think most superintendents struggle when it comes to being effective technology leaders?

  • What can be done to help superintendents in this area?

8. Did your superintendent licensure program – or any of your other administrative licensure programs – help prepare you to be an effective technology leader?

  • Did your administrative licensure programs incorporate coverage of technology leadership issues into their curricula?
  • Did your administrative licensure programs help you develop your own personal technology proficiencies?
  • What recommendations do you have for preservice preparation of superintendents and principals when it comes to the technology side of leadership?

9. What kind of learning opportunities do you have to enhance your own development as a technology leader? What, if anything, is being done by each of these entities to help you become a better technology leader?

  • School district
  • State and/or national leadership associations
  • State department of education and/or regional service agencies
  • Universities
  • Other entities

10. What are some ways that you personally use technology?

  • What do these technology tools do for you?
  • How do you keep up with the current trends in education as a whole and, more specifically, the ever-changing world of technology in education and society?
  • What are some must-have technology tools for superintendents?

11. We’ve been focusing on the superintendent side of all of this. What do building-level school leaders need to be doing when it comes to technology implementation and integration in their schools? What role do they play in all of this?

12. What kinds of professional development do you think are most effective when it comes to technology? Let’s start with teachers. What training do they need and how should it be structured?

  • Okay, and now how about for administrators? What training do they need and how should it be structured?
  • Should technology-related training for administrators be different than what is given to teachers? Why or why not?

13. So far we’ve been talking a lot about effective technology leadership. What does ineffective, or bad, technology leadership look like?

14. Here’s our next-to-last question: What advice do you have for school leaders who want to be more ‘technology savvy?’

15. Thanks so much. Is there anything else you want to say on the topic of effective technology leadership? Anything that we should have discussed but didn’t?

Image credit: Do you remember?……Call

CASTLE blog updates, September 2010

If you’re interested in educational policy issues and you’re not reading Dr. Bruce Baker, you should be. Bruce is the author of CASTLE’s school finance / policy blog, School Finance 101. The blogging that he’s done lately has been absolutely phenomenal (plus he’s inspired me to finally learn how to use GIS software). You also can follow Bruce on Twitter.

CastleLogo_300dpiIn other CASTLE blog news…

  • Our 1to1 Schools group blog, headed by Nick Sauers, focuses on P-12 school laptop initiatives and just topped 800 subscribers.
  • LeaderTalk, the nation’s first group blog written by school leaders for school leaders, continues to be hosted by Education Week and is about to get a new infusion of authors.
  • The Edjurist, our school law group blog headed by Dr. Justin Bathon, now has 7 contributors from 5 different universities.
  • Dr. Michael Barbour’s Virtual School Meanderings continues to be the source for all things (and I do mean ALL things) related to online schooling.
  • John Rice’s Educational Games Research blog focuses on educational gaming.
  • And, of course, this blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, continues to chug right along!

We’re in the process of getting a Leadership for Social Justice group blog started (interested in being a contributor?). Plus we have a few other ideas up our sleeve…

We hope these continue to be good resources for you. If you have any suggestions for improving the work, reach, and/or impact of the CASTLE blog family, please let me know!

1to1Schools tops 700

Yesterday CASTLE’s 1to1 Schools blog topped 700 subscribers. Woo hoo!

Remember that CASTLE has a growing family of blogs related to educational leadership issues. In addition to 1to1 Schools, our other blogs are:

CASTLE_LogoThere are lots of good things happening on these blogs. For example, SchoolFinance101 has been on an absolute tear lately regarding Race To The Top and other policy issues. Educational Games Research just reviewed Do I Have a Right?, a serious game intended to help American students learn their Constitutional rights. Virtual School Meanderings is reviewing virtual schooling apps for the iPad. Edjurist recently compiled a list of online school law resources for administrators. The latest posts at LeaderTalk concern abandoning the summer break, professional development, and the IBM Selectric repair man. And so on…

This fall we’ll launch a group blog on social justice and educational leadership issues. If you’re interested in being a contributor to that or any of our other blogs – or if you have a suggestion for a new educational leadership blog that we should start – drop me a note.

Happy reading!

Now accepting applicants for CASTLE’s Summer Book Club 2010 [due June 20]

Two years ago CASTLE hosted its first-ever online summer book club. We had over 105 individuals sign up to read and discuss Influencer: The Power to Change Anything. Last year we had our second online summer book club. Over 246 people signed up to read and discuss Why Don’t Students Like School? This year we’re going to have our third online summer book club, but it is going to be very different than what we’ve done before.

  1. We’re going to run two discussion groups. One for Iowa and one for the rest of the world. You must be an Iowa educator to be eligible for the Iowa group.
  2. We’re going to read two books instead of one: Education Unbound: The Promise and Practice of Greenfield Schooling and The Future of Management.
  3. Our discussions are going to be synchronous rather than asynchronous.
  4. Because of the discussion format, our groups are going to be smaller (no more than 9 individuals plus me) and thus are going to involve an application process.

EducationunboundWhy the changes in this year’s book club? Well, we had a very productive conversation when we talked live with each other in February 2009 here on campus about Seth Godin’s Tribes. More importantly, however, our first two book clubs were marked by widespread lack of participation (although we had great conversations with those who did participate!). In other words, people registered and bought (and even liked) the books, but rarely or never participated in the conversations. We ended up doing a LOT of logistical work for a relatively small number of actual participants. So this year we’re going to try something different…

Are you interested in participating?

Here are the guidelines for participation in this year’s book club:

  1. You must commit to reading BOTH books and participating in BOTH synchronous online conversations. Our conversations will occur on July 15 (Education Unbound) and August 12, 2010 (Future of Management). The World group will meet online from 5:30pm to 7:00pm Central. The Iowa group will meet online from 7:00pm to 8:30pm Central.
  2. You will need a webcam. You also will need a headset with a microphone OR regular computer / media player headphones plus the microphone that’s built into your computer. No matter what, you should have headphones (to avoid audio feedback). You should learn how to use these BEFORE the first online conversation. We don’t want to spend our time troubleshooting your equipment!
  3. After each online conversation, we will ask you to submit a 2– or 3–paragraph written reflection summarizing your thoughts at that point. That reflection will be due within a week of the conversation.
  4. FutureofmanagementIf you participate, you are granting CASTLE permission to a) make a video recording of the online conversation, and b) publicly release on this blog both the video recording and your written reflection under our typical Creative Commons license.
  5. We reserve the right to give your slot to someone else if you have trouble with these guidelines.

Are you sure you’re interested?

If you’re still interested in participating, please complete the online application form. Applications are due by 6:00pm Central on Sunday, June 20. You will be notified about your application status by 9:00am Central on Wednesday, June 23.

Please understand that we are going to have to make some difficult choices. We anticipate more applicants than we have eligible slots and extend our regrets in advance if you are not selected.

If you have questions, please leave them as a comment to this post. We’ll answer them in the comments area so that everyone can see our replies.

Happy reading! Looking forward to talking with you this summer!

CASTLE’s 1to1 Schools blog keeps growing!

CASTLE’s 1to1 Schools group blog gets more popular every day. Over the last three days it has passed the 500 subscribers mark. If you’re interested in issues related to 1:1 laptop programs and you’re not reading the blog, you should be!

We’re also adding some more authors over the next few weeks. If you’re a practitioner in a 1:1 school and are interested in writing for us occasionally, drop me a note!