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Culture will tell you what it needs, but only if you ask it

We had the pleasure of having Zac Chase as a guest facilitator this past week in one of my principal licensure cohorts. Zac was amazing, which is no surprise to anyone who knows him.

One of our activities with Zac was using the Question Formulation Technique to unpack teachers’ and students’ beliefs about school culture and climate. For instance, we can take an affirmative statement that represents a desired end goal such as “Nearly all of our students can be successful in a Tier 1 instructional environment without interventions” or “We can achieve equity in our extracurricular programs.” Then in small groups we can brainstorm questions like crazy without any self-censoring. Examples might be “How do we do this with English language learners?” or “What about students who don’t have transportation home after school hours?” Then we can collect, organize, and prioritize all of our questions to uncover what concerns and needs we have around that topic. Finally, we would allocate resources and support structures to help us address those needs.

My students found a lot of value in the technique and recognized the power it can have in their future administrative careers. As Zac said, “[Your school] culture will tell you what it needs, but only if you ask it.” Let’s do more asking instead of telling or mandating…

Thanks for visiting, Zac!

Toward better technology integration: Introducing trudacot

Leadershipday2014

[My Leadership Day post this year introduces a new tool, trudacot, that we have been using to facilitate productive conversations with educators about technology-infused learning and teaching…]

[UPDATE 1: trudacot was featured on the MindShift blog. Awesome!]

[UPDATE 2: see my trudacot resources page]

 

We’ve got a lot of technology floating around our schools and classrooms these days. And while that can and should be a good thing given the digital age in which we now live, we often find that our technology-related efforts aren’t paying off for us as we had hoped. There are many reasons why this is true, but a main one is that we don’t have great ways to think about what’s occurring when we see students and teachers using technology for learning and teaching purposes.

TPACK and SAMR are the two main technology integration frameworks being used right now. While conceptually useful, both of them have their limitations. Neither are very specific when it comes to helping teachers think about what to change to make their technology integration better. The SAMR levels have the additional challenge of apparently meaning very different things to different people (I have witnessed on numerous occasions a particular usage of technology placed in all four SAMR levels by educator audiences). Resources like the TPACK activity types help with some of this, but my colleague, Julie Graber, and I were looking for something different. Failing to find what we wanted, we decided to make our own…

Starting with purpose

Technology integration should be purposeful. That very simple statement is at the heart of the trudacot template. When we use digital technologies for learning and teaching, those uses should be intentional and targeted and not simply ‘tech for tech’s sake.’ My team continually asks the question, ‘Technology for the purpose of what?’ With that in mind, Julie and I set out to create a template of questions that would allow educators to think critically – and purposefully – about their technology integration.

For example, if a class activity was using learning technologies for the purpose(s) of enhancing personalization or enabling greater student agency and choice, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:

  • Learning Goals. Who selected what is being learned?
  • Learning Activity. Who selected how it is being learned?
  • Assessment of Learning. Who selected how students demonstrate their knowledge and skills and how that will be assessed?
  • Work Time. During the lesson/unit, who is the primary driver of the work time?
  • Technology Usage. Who is the primary user of the technology?

In contrast, if a lesson pulled in digital tools for the purpose(s) of enhancing student communication / connection, and perhaps even facilitating collaboration across locations, we would ask very different questions. The types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:

  • Audience. How are students communicating? If with others, with whom? [students in this school / students in another school / adults in this school / adults outside of this school]
  • Communication Technologies. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate the communication processes? [writing / photos and images / charts and graphs / infographics / audio / video / multimedia / transmedia]
  • Collaborators. How are students working? If with others, who is managing collaborative processes (planning, management, monitoring, etc.)
  • Collaborative Technologies. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate collaborative processes? If yes, in which ways? [online office suites, email, texting, wikis, blogs, videoconferencing, mindmapping, curation tools, project planning tools, other]

Similarly, if teachers wanted students to use technology for the purpose(s) of enabling them to do more authentic, real world work, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished would be different from those previous and might include:

  • Real or Fake. Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by real people outside of school?
  • Domain Knowledge. Are students learning discipline-specific and -appropriate content and procedural knowledge? If yes, is student work focused around big, important concepts central to the discipline? [not just minutiae]
  • Domain Practices. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and -appropriate practices and processes?
  • Domain Technologies. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and -appropriate tools and technologies?

And if a lesson or unit integrated learning technologies for the purpose(s) of facilitating students’ deeper thinking, creativity, or metacognition, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:

  • Deeper Thinking. Do student learning activities and assessments go beyond facts, procedures, and/or previously-provided ways of thinking? [e.g., ‘syntheses’ or ‘analyses’ that actually are just regurgitations]
  • Creativity. Do students have the opportunity to design, create, make, or otherwise add value that is unique to them?
  • Initiative. Do students have the opportunity to initiate, be entrepreneurial, be self-directed, and/or go beyond given parameters of the learning task or environment?
  • Metacognition. Do students have the opportunity to reflect on their planning, thinking, work, and/or progress? If yes, can students identify what they’re learning, not just what they’re doing?
As I hope is evident, trudacot tries to get at some specific, concrete ‘look-fors’ that can help educators think about what they might change. In other words, we are attempting with trudacot to make explicit the kinds of questions we might ask when considering which intersection of TPACK – or level of SAMR – a particular instance of technology integration may be inhabiting (and how to shift it toward more robustness).
Using trudacot
The complete, annotated, first version of trudacot is now available and includes some tips for usage. First and foremost is the suggestion to focus on just one or two sections of the template. Unless we’re designing a big, multi-week project, we need to pick and choose a few focal areas rather than trying to cover the entire template. Let me be clear: the trudacot template should NOT be used as a massive checklist of things that should be present in a teacher’s lesson or unit. A second suggestion is to answer a question or two from trudacot about a lesson or unit – preferably in small groups, not just individually – and then ask, ‘If we wanted the answer(s) to the question(s) to be different, how could we redesign this to make that desired answer happen instead?’ THIS is where the powerful conversations occur; THIS is the work we should be doing with educators. Finally, we are finding trudacot to have the most power as an up-front brainstorming, idea-generating, and design tool, not an after-the-fact evaluative tool. We want educators thinking about lesson and unit (re)design in ways that are safe and generative, not worrying about being judged.
In addition to the trudacot itself, you’re welcome to see the resources that we considered when creating the template and/or sign up on our mailing list for updates. Soon I will post some examples of how we have been introducing and using trudacot in our pilot activities this past spring and summer. Until then, I hope that you find trudacot useful to your own technology integration efforts and that it helps you foster rich discussions about lesson and unit (re)design with your educators. Please stay in touch as you have questions, ideas, and suggestions. The trudacot template is very much a work in progress – help us #makeitbetter! The more people that we have looking at and working with trudacot, the more useful it can become. Julie and I would love to hear how you’ve been using trudacot yourself so let us know!
Happy Leadership Day 2014, everyone. Thanks to all of you for helping me celebrate my blog birthday!

Calling all bloggers! – Leadership Day 2014

August 15 is the 8th anniversary of my blog. So, once again, I’m inviting everyone who’s interested to help me celebrate by participating in Leadership Day 2014!

Over the past 7 years, we’ve had nearly 500 Leadership Day posts. That’s awesome because, to paraphrase what I said seven years ago,

many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators are still struggling with

  • what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
  • and so on…

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

So let’s help.

How to participate

  1. On Friday, August 15, 2014, blog about whatever you like related to effective digital leadership in schools: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video or a voice-narrated presentation. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Create an app, game, or simulation. Draw a cartoon. Do an interview of a successful technology leader. Respond to some of the questions below or make up your own. If you participated in years past, post a follow-up reflection. Whatever strikes you.
  2. The official hashtag is #leadershipday14
  3. TO ENSURE THAT WE CAN FIND YOUR POST, please complete the online submission form (also available below) AFTER you post, including a short teaser that will drive traffic to your post. Everyone then will be able to see your post in the complete list of submissions. If you want to link back to this post or leave a link to yours in the comment area, that’s okay too!

Some prompts to spark your thinking

  • What do effective P-12 technology leaders do? What actions and behaviors can you point to that make them effective leaders in the area of technology?
  • Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that administrators can take to move their school organizations forward?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that can be taken to move administrators themselves forward? Given the unrelenting pressures that they face and their ever-increasing time demands, what are some things that administrators can do to become more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of technology leadership?
  • Perhaps using ISTE’s Standards for Administrators (formerly the NETS-A) as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
  • What strengths and deficiencies are present in ISTE’s Standards for Administrators?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges and barriers to administrators being better technology leaders (and how do we address them)?
  • What are some of the lessons that we have learned over the past year(s) regarding technology leadership?
  • What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?
  • What should busy administrators be reading (or watching) that would help them be better technology leaders? What are some other resources that would help them be better technology leaders?
  • How can administrators best structure necessary conversations with internal or external stakeholders regarding technology?
  • How should administrators balance enablement with safety, risk with reward, fear with empowerment?
  • When it comes to P-12 technology leadership, where do we need new knowledge, understanding, training, or research?
  • What are (or might be) some successful models of technology leadership training for school administrators?
  • How might preservice preparation programs for administrators better incorporate elements of technology leadership?
  • When you think of (in)effective P-12 technology leadership, what comes to mind?

Here are the 491 ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT posts from the past seven years (491!)

A badge for your blog or web site

This year’s badge is themed around harnessing powerful ideas. Click on the image to get the full-size version. Feel free to use it as desired!

Leadership Day 2014

I hope you will join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.

Participant checklist

7 building blocks for the future of schools

Leadershipday2013

If I had the chance to build a new school organization (or redesign an existing one), I would start by attending to the educational movements listed below. Every year we see these initiatives gain further ground in traditional educational systems. I see these as basic building blocks for the future of schooling and think that leaders and policymakers should be working toward greater implementation of all of these, both individually and in concert…

  1. Competency-based education and standards-based grading efforts that shift the focus from seat time to learning mastery.
  2. Project- and inquiry-based learning environments that emphasize greater student agency and active application of more cognitively-complex thinking, communication, and collaboration skills.
  3. 1:1 computing initiatives (and concurrent Internet bandwidth upgrades) that give students powerful digital learning devices and access to the world’s information, individuals, and organizations.
  4. The expansion of digital and online (and often open access) information resources that increase the availability of higher and deeper learning opportunities.
  5. Online communities of interest that supplement and augment more-traditional learning communities that are limited by geography and time.
  6. Adaptive software and data systems (and accompanying organizational models) that can facilitate greater individualization of learning content and pace.
  7. Alternative credentialing mechanisms that enable individuals to quickly reskill for and adapt to rapidly-evolving workforce needs and economic demands.
  8. ADDED: Simulations and problem-based learning experiences that foster students’ ability to engage in authentic, real-world work. (hat tip: Trent Grundmeyer)

What did I miss here? What would you revise or add to this list? Most importantly, how well is your school organization doing at paying attention to these 7 key components of future learning environments?

[I’m five days late with this, my own Leadership Day post. I figure that’s okay; we’ve always accepted stragglers! Thank you, everyone, for your fabulous posts to celebrate this annual event!]

Calling all bloggers! – Leadership Day 2013

August 15 is the 7th anniversary of my blog. So, once again, I’m inviting everyone who’s interested to help me celebrate by participating in Leadership Day 2013!

Over the past 6 years, we’ve had over 400 Leadership Day posts. That’s awesome because, to paraphrase what I said six years ago,

many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators don’t know

  • what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
  • and so on…

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

So let’s help.

How to participate

  1. On Thursday, August 15, 2013, blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video or a voice-narrated presentation. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Create an app, game, or simulation. Draw a cartoon. Do an interview of a successful technology leader. Respond to some of the questions below or make up your own. If you participated in years past, post a follow-up reflection. Whatever strikes you.
  2. The official hashtag is #leadershipday13
  3. TO ENSURE THAT WE CAN FIND YOUR POST, please complete the online submission form AFTER you post, including a short teaser that will drive traffic to your post. Everyone then will be able to see your post in the complete list of submissions. If you want to link back to this post or leave a link to yours in the comment area, that’s okay too!

Some prompts to spark your thinking

  • What do effective P-12 technology leaders do? What actions and behaviors can you point to that make them effective leaders in the area of technology?
  • Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that administrators can take to move their school organizations forward?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that can be taken to move administrators themselves forward? Given the unrelenting pressures that they face and their ever-increasing time demands, what are some things that administrators can do to become more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of technology leadership?
  • Perhaps using the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
  • What strengths and deficiencies are present in the NETS-A?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges and barriers to administrators being better technology leaders (and how do we address them)?
  • What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?
  • What should busy administrators be reading (or watching) that would help them be better technology leaders? What are some other resources that would help them be better technology leaders?
  • How can administrators best structure necessary conversations with internal or external stakeholders regarding technology?
  • How should administrators balance enablement with safety, risk with reward, fear with empowerment?
  • When it comes to P-12 technology leadership, where do we need new knowledge, understanding, training, or research?
  • What are (or might be) some successful models of technology leadership training for school administrators?
  • How might preservice preparation programs for administrators better incorporate elements of technology leadership?
  • When you think of (in)effective P-12 technology leadership, what comes to mind?

Here are the 405 ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT posts from the past six years (405!)

A badge for your blog or web site

Leadershipday2013

I hope you will join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.

Participant checklist

Internet safety talking points: IT pushback

Internetpadlock

A lot of people found value in my Internet safety talking points for school leaders, including Cory Doctorow, Bruce Schneier, and Tim Cushing. The post now has been tweeted, liked, pinned, and shared over 1,000 times. I shared a PDF version with superintendents earlier this week. But a school IT employee in Eastern Iowa thought it was ‘adversarial’ and ‘hateful.’

I spoke with her yesterday on the phone for about 30 minutes. She was extremely offended by B, spoke vociferously against Google and Facebook (although her school system is not blocking them), couldn’t wrap her head around E or F, thought G and H were untrue (and didn’t want to hear about the research done by danah boyd and the Berkman Center that is behind those statements), and stated that the Bonus was insulting. Needless to say, our conversation didn’t result in a meeting of the minds. I encouraged her to voice her concerns in the comment area so that we all could have a dialogue but she didn’t think that school IT people read my blog and believed that she would not get a fair shake. Her final statement to me was that she was now worried that her school administrator would be breathing down her neck and asking her more questions about the decisions that she’s making. I responded that I thought that was a good thing since we all need to be regularly reconsidering and reexamining our policies and decision-making in light of both learning and teaching considerations and the rapid changes that are occurring in our information landscape. That’s when she thanked me for the call and decided it was time for us to be done.

The transcript of her voice mail message is below. Any thoughts or reactions to this?

Dr. McLeod, I had hoped I could speak with you directly. You don’t know me but I just read your article on administrators and how they should think about Internet safety and, as a 25-year veteran of IT, I want to say that I’m completely offended. This is just sad that you’re setting up this adversarial relationship between administrators and IT with the tone of your letter here and if you think that’s going to help the situation by getting IT departments angry, because that’s what this article will do. Obviously you’ve got some issues there with filtering. I would be surprised if the University of Kentucky is blocking. We don’t block any of the sites you mention but you’re leaving out a lot of very important things regarding the CIPA law with K-12, regarding E-Rate funding, regarding attacks of viruses, malware – it’s just a really simplistic approach when I look at this. I’m really disappointed in that but I don’t think my voice mail’s probably going to change your idea, I just think that you’d be doing everyone a service to not be having such an angry, resentful type of article like that which does nothing more than put a divide between two departments that, by the way, don’t work for each other, they partner with each other. So I would say you might want to rethink that and maybe even present a different article that’s a little less hateful. Thanks.

26 Internet safety talking points

[UPDATE: A PDF version of these talking points is now available.]

For Leadership Day 2012, I thought I would gather in one place many of the talking points that I use with principals and superintendents about Internet safety…

  1. InternetpadlockEven though they may use fancy terms and know more than you do about their domain, you never would allow your business manager or special education coordinator to operate without oversight. So stop doing so with your technology coordinator.
  2. The technology function of your school organization exists to serve the educational function, not the other way around. Corollary: your technology coordinator works for you, not vice versa.
  3. Mobile phones, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, Wikispaces, Google, and whatever other technologies you’re blocking are not inherently evil. Stop demonizing them and focus on people’s behavior, not the tools, particularly when it comes to making policy.
  4. You don’t need special policies for specific tools. Just check that the policies you have are inclusive of electronic communication channels and then enforce the policies you already have on bullying, cheating, sexual harassment, inappropriate communication, illicit behavior, etc.
  5. Why are you penalizing the 95% for the 5%? You don’t do this in other areas of discipline at school. Even though you know some students will use their voices or bodies inappropriately in school, you don’t ban everyone from speaking or moving. You know some students may show up drunk to the prom, yet you don’t cancel the prom because of a few rule breakers. Instead, you assume that most students will act appropriately most of the time and then you enforce reasonable expectations and policies for the occasional few that don’t. To use a historical analogy, it’s the difference between DUI-style policies and flat-out Prohibition (which, if you recall, failed miserably). Just as you don’t put entire schools on lockdown every time there’s a fight in the cafeteria, you need to stop penalizing entire student bodies because of statistically-infrequent, worst-case scenarios.
  6. You never can promise 100% safety. For instance, you never would promise a parent that her child would never, ever be in a fight at school. So quit trying to guarantee 100% safety when it comes to technology. Provide reasonable supervision, implement reasonable procedures and policies, and move on.
  7. The ‘online predators will prey on your schoolchildren’ argument is a false bogeyman, a scare tactic that is fed to us by the media, politicians, law enforcement, and computer security vendors. The number of reported incidents in the news of this occurring is zero.
  8. Federal laws do not require your draconian filtering. You can’t point the finger somewhere else. You have to own it yourself.
  9. Students and teachers rise to the level of the expectations that you have for them. If you expect the worst, that’s what you’ll get.
  10. Schools that ‘loosen up’ with students and teachers find that they have no more problems than they did before. And, often, they have fewer problems because folks aren’t trying to get around the restrictions.
  11. There’s a difference between a teachable moment and a punishable moment. Lean toward the former as much as possible.
  12. If your community is pressuring you to be more restrictive, that’s when it’s time to educate, not capitulate. Overzealous blocking and filtering has real and significant negative impacts on information access, student learning, pedagogy, ability to address required curricular standards, and educators’ willingness to integrate technology. It also makes it awfully tough to prepare students for a digital era.
  13. ‘Walled garden’ online environments prevent the occurrence of serendipitous learning connections with the outside world.
  14. If you’re prohibiting teachers from being ‘friends’ with students online, are you also prohibiting them from being ‘friends’ with students in neighborhoods, at church, in volunteer organizations, at the mall, and in other non-school settings?
  15. Schools with mindsets of enabling powerful student learning usually block much less than those that don’t. Their first reaction is ‘how can we make this work?’ rather than ‘we need to keep this out.’
  16. As the lead learner, it’s your responsibility to actively monitor what’s being filtered and blocked and to always reconsider that in light of learning and teaching needs.
  17. If you trust your teachers with the children, you should trust them with the Internet. Addendum: Mistrust of teachers drives away good educators.
  18. If you make it too hard to get permission to unblock something, you might as well not have the option in the first place.
  19. Unless you like losing lawsuits, remember that students and staff have speech and privacy rights, particularly off-campus. Remember that any dumb decision you make is Internet fodder and has a good chance of going viral online. Do you really want to be the next stupid administrator story on The Huffington Post?
  20. When you violate the Constitution and punish kids just because you don’t like what they legally said or did and think you can get away with it, you not only run the risk of incurring financial liability for your school system in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars but also abuse your position of trust and send messages to students about the corruption of power and disregard for the rule of law.
  21. Never make a policy you can’t enforce.
  22. Don’t abdicate your teaching responsibility. Students do not magically gain the ability at the end of the school day or after graduation to navigate complex, challenging, unfiltered digital information spaces. If you don’t teach them how to navigate the unfiltered Internet appropriately and safely while you have them, who’s going to?
  23. Acceptable use and other policies send messages to students, staff, and parents. Is the predominant message that you want to send really that ‘the technologies that are transforming everything around us should first and foremost be feared?’
  24. Imagine a scale with two balancing pans. On one side are all of the anxieties, fears, barriers, challenges, and perceived problems that your staff, parents, and community members put forth. If you want effective technology integration and implementation to occur in your school system, it is your job as the leader to tip the scale the other way. Addendum: It is difficult to understand the learning power of digital technologies – and easy to dismiss their pedagogical usefulness – if you are not familiar enough with them to understand their positive affordances.
  25. In a hyperconnected, technology-suffused, digital, global world, you do your children a disservice – and highlight your irrelevance – by blocking out our present and their future.
  26. Educating is always, always more powerful than blocking.

BONUS 1. Elsewhere in your state – perhaps even near you – are school districts that have figured this out. They operate under the same laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that you do. If they can be less restrictive, why can’t you?

A huge thanks to everyone who has influenced my thinking and my writing in this area, including folks like Doug Johnson, Sylvia Martinez, danah boyd, Will Richardson, and Tina Barseghian. I’m sure that I’ve forgotten a few talking points that I’ll just add later. Which one is your favorite (or least favorite)? What would you add to or change on this list?

For other Leadership Day 2012 posts, see the complete list of submissions and/or #leadershipday12.

Image credit: Bigstock, Internet security

Calling all bloggers! – Leadership Day 2012

August is Connected Educator Month and Wednesday is the 6th anniversary of my blog. I can think of no better way to celebrate both than to host Leadership Day 2012! To paraphrase what I said five years ago:

Many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators don’t know

  • what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
  • and so on…

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

So let’s help them out.

How to participate

  1. On Wednesday, August 15, 2012, blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video or a voice-narrated presentation. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Create an app, game, or simulation. Draw a cartoon. Do an interview of a successful technology leader. Respond to some of the questions below or make up your own. If you participated in years past, post a follow-up reflection. Whatever strikes you.
  2. The official hashtag is #leadershipday12
  3. TO ENSURE THAT WE CAN FIND YOUR POST, please complete the online submission form AFTER you post, including a short teaser that will drive traffic to your post. Everyone then will be able to see your post in the complete list of submissions. If you want to link back to this post or leave a link to yours in the comment area, that’s okay too!

Some prompts to spark your thinking

  • What do effective P-12 technology leaders do? What actions and behaviors can you point to that make them effective leaders in the area of technology?
  • Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that administrators can take to move their school organizations forward?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that can be taken to move administrators themselves forward? Given the unrelenting pressures that they face and their ever-increasing time demands, what are some things that administrators can do to become more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of technology leadership?
  • Perhaps using the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
  • What strengths and deficiencies are present in the NETS-A?
  • What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?
  • What should busy administrators be reading (or watching) that would help them be better technology leaders? What are some other resources that would help them be better technology leaders?
  • How can administrators best structure necessary conversations with internal or external stakeholders regarding technology?
  • How should administrators balance enablement with safety, risk with reward, fear with empowerment?
  • When it comes to P-12 technology leadership, where do we need new knowledge, understanding, training, or research?
  • What are (or might be) some successful models of technology leadership training for school administrators?
  • How might preservice preparation programs for administrators better incorporate elements of technology leadership?
  • When you think of (in)effective P-12 technology leadership, what comes to mind?

Here are the 353 ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT posts from the past five years (353!)

A badge for your blog or web site

I hope you will join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.

Checklist

Calling all bloggers! – Leadership Day 2011

Since the past four have been so successful [last year we had 114 posts!], I am putting out a call for people to participate in Leadership Day 2011. To paraphrase what I said four years ago:

Many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators don’t know

  • what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
  • and so on…

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

So let’s help them out.

How to participate

  1. On Friday, August 5, 2011, blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Do an interview of a successful technology leader. Respond to some of the questions below or make up your own. If you participated in years past, post a follow-up reflection. Whatever strikes you.
  2. The official hashtag is #leadershipday11
  3. TO ENSURE THAT I FIND YOUR POST, please add your info to the online spreadsheet AFTER you post. This will allow me to mention and directly link to your post when I do my summary post(s) a few days later. Everyone also will be able to see the complete list of submissions. If you want to link back to this post or leave a link to yours in the comment area, that’s okay too!

Some prompts to spark your thinking

  • What do effective K-12 technology leaders do? What actions and behaviors can you point to that make them effective leaders in the area of technology?
  • Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that administrators can take to move their school organizations forward?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that can be taken to move administrators themselves forward? Given the unrelenting pressures that they face and their ever-increasing time demands, what are some things that administrators can do to become more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of technology leadership?
  • Perhaps using the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
  • What strengths and deficiencies are present in the NETS-A?
  • What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?
  • What should busy administrators be reading (or watching) that would help them be better technology leaders? What are some other resources that would help them be better technology leaders?
  • How can administrators best structure necessary conversations with internal or external stakeholders regarding technology?
  • How should administrators balance enablement with safety, risk with reward, fear with empowerment?
  • When it comes to K-12 technology leadership, where do we need new knowledge, understanding, training, or research?
  • What are (or might be) some successful models of technology leadership training for school administrators?
  • How might preservice preparation programs for administrators better incorporate elements of technology leadership?
  • When you think of (in)effective K-12 technology leadership, what comes to mind?

Here are the ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT posts from the past four years

A badge for your blog or web site

LeadershipDay2011 

I hope you will join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it isn’t going to happen.

Checklist

Leadership Day 2010 – Some highlights

On Monday I published the final list of Leadership Day 2010 posts. Today I’m going to highlight a few that, for one reason or another, particularly resonated with me. This is by no means a ‘best of’ list but rather an attempt to capture a few things that struck me as I read through each post. With one exception, the highlights below are in the same order as the list from Monday.

Again, a big thank you to everyone who participated this year. Happy reading!

Leadershipday2010My favorite Leadership Day post this year

Rob Jacobs (@eduinnovation). What Do You Think You “Hired” Your Technology To Do?

You want to give your student access to the web to look up information and learn information literacy skills. That seems implicit to you. However, your students want to use the web to share information. You wanted them to consume, they wanted to produce and share. You have “hired” the web to do a different job than the students have “hired” it do. You “hired” Google Docs so students could work in small groups in the classroom on projects. Your students “hired” Google Docs so they could collaborate with people, including content experts and other students, across the globe. You “hired” technology to aide student collaboration is groups of 2-3. The students “hired” technology to aide collaboration in groups of 200-300. . . . Are you ready for that? Can you deal with that?

Leadership & Vision

Carolyn Foote (@technolibrary). Stepping out of the bubble.

How do we step outside of what we know so we can experience it in a new way? And how can we get new ideas when we are so immersed in day to day management of our own districts?

Fred Koch (@fkoch). Leadership Day 2010.

I have come to believe that “it” is so big, so complex, so multidimensional that “it” is nearly impossible to define. Basically what I am saying is that “it” simply means different things to different people. There are leaders who truly believe they understand “it.” The problem comes when we try to define and articulate “it.”

Jon Becker (@jonbecker). Who are the thought leaders in educational leadership?

If professors of educational leadership truly want to be the thought leaders and to be a part of any sort of school change process, they need to . . . stop publishing their high-quality, thoughtful work in journals that nobody who does the work of school leadership reads. One of Jon’s best posts ever.

Kristen Swanson (@kristenswanson). Leadership Day 2010.

Kristen’s emphasis on leaders making just ‘1 upgrade this year’ is a great strategy. The first step is always the hardest. After that you have momentum…

Pam Moran (@pammoran). Staying Relevant as Leader and Learner.

I’m convinced that we administrative leaders have an obligation to initiate new learning, become skillful in the use of new tools that accelerate and advance our learning work, and share with others what we are learning. . . . Becoming an educator with the contemporary knowledge and skills to influence and teach others is as essential an expectation of administrative leaders as it is for teachers. Our kids don’t wait around on someone to tell them to learn a new technology and neither should we.

Queenie Lindsey (@tandemteaching). An Open Letter To Administrators| Leadership Day 2010.

A superb Top 10 list of things teachers need from administrators if they are to better incorporate digital technologies into their instruction.

Scott McLeod (@mcleod). “No thanks. I choose to do nothing.”

Can I exercise blogger’s privilege and say that I liked my own post (and the discussion that ensued there)?

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (@snbeach). Leadership Day: A Day Late.

Riffing off Clay Shirky’s new book, Cognitive Surplus, Sheryl asks: What if we, as educational leaders, took the time we all spend watching our favorite shows on TV and used it for design thinking: inspiration, ideation, and implementation?

Tim Gwynn (@tgwynn). How About Some Walk To Go With That Talk?

Use technology to enhance your life as well as the lives of your teachers, staff, and students. Please keep talking about it, because that dialogue is important. However, show us that you know technology is a crucial part of education. It’s time to walk the walk. Let’s see action.

Tim Stahmer (@timstahmer). What Do You Do All Day?

Apple employs many creative and talented people and [Steve Jobs’] primary role is to clear the obstacles, foster collaboration, and allow them to use their talents to the greatest degree possible. I would hope our leaders, both inside and outside of the education structure, would view their role exactly the same way when it comes to improving student learning. Unfortunately, these days things seem to be heading in the opposite direction. To more standardized classrooms, rigid, narrow curriculums, and prescriptive teaching designed to meet the growing demand for more standardized testing. So, I wonder how things might change if Steve Jobs was leading American education. Instead of Bill Gates.

Lists

Natalie Wojinski (@mswojo). Leadership Day 2010: Dear Administrators.

I love it when Natalie says: Please get over your fear of NETWORKING.

Planning & Implementation

Justin Bathon (@edjurist). Rubber … Meet Road: Leadership Day 2010.

Justin shares a fantastic reflection on lessons learned (and continuing challenges) for a statewide education innovation initiative. There are lots of good things happening in Kentucky. I’m heading down in early September to check it out (and help out a little).

Safety & Security

Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax). Leadership Day 2010: A Webcomic Message.

1. The comic strip format is super fun! 2. Kevin’s principal says, “Take chances. I’ll be in your corner, don’t you worry.” We need more principals and superintendents saying this!

Standards

Doug Johnson (@blueskunkblog). CODE 77Rubrics for Administrators.

Undaunted by the enormous challenge, Doug creates his own technology leadership rubrics for administrators.

Teaching & Learning

Becky Fisher (@beckyfisher73). Educational Leaders Must Be Self-directed Learners.

Here’s a worn out school scenario: a student brings a device to school and starts pulling it out during “full frontal teaching” episodes or worksheeting activities. The teacher is disturbed by the fact the student is “not paying attention in class,” collects the device and sends the kid to the office. The principal fusses at the kid for “not paying attention in class” and informs the kid that the parent has to come to school to pick the device up. The parent comes in the next day to pick the device up and the principal talks about how important it is for parents to support the school in these discipline matters. Where in this scenario does anyone other than the student think about the quality of the classroom experience the student was opting out of? Where in this scenario does anyone other than the student realize the potential power of this “device?”

Brian Ford (@bf_teach4chnge). Marx and School 2.0: My Leadership Day 2010 Post….In Time for Happy Hour (somewhere)…

Brian channels Karl Marx: What the workers can do (their productivity) is limited by the owners’ control of the tools. It’s one of the many ironies and paradoxes of capitalism – that there are many situations in which relinquishing control would actually yield owners a greater surplus of goods/services, but the last thing owners give up (besides profits) is control. . . . [When it comes to educational technology,] liberate the means of production!

Carl Anderson (@anderscj). An Invitation Letter to Parents.

Carl proposes that every technology-savvy teacher send a letter home to parents. An awesome idea.

Josie Holford (@JosieHolford). More Educator Luddites Please.

We need to . . . establish a whole new ethos of luddism in our schools. The educator luddites I have in mind are people who have always understood school to be more than  test prep and who see themselves as far more than the agents of a standardized testing industry. I see them leading the way to create inquiry driven schools where students and teachers are not too busy to think. Schools where the technology serves the learning rather than drives the teaching and where the demand for original work is a collaborate effort to solve compelling problems to which no one present knows the answer. In such a school, the curriculum is not driven by the textbook, the flow of information is not unidirectional, learning is networked and students and teachers work together across the boundaries of age and experience as active seekers, users and creators of knowledge. In this rosy picture, individual schools form a kind of globally aware and networked cottage industry of creative learning.

Paul Bogush (@paulbogush). Acoustic Teaching.

Before you decide to push technology into the curriculum, I would just ask that you pause and find out if you will be amplifying mistakes? or allowing some teachers to do more? The best guitar teachers want their students to start off unplugged. Drum teachers start off their students with a simple drum pad. . . . Forcing technology into poor lessons won’t make them sound any better, it will just allow their impact to be heard farther into the future.

Rich Haglund. The 1908 ISTE NETS, or, how chalkboards revolutionized teaching.

Rich discovers the 1908 version of the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T).

Ryan Bretag (@ryanbretag). Walk in the Shoes of Your Students.

Ryan says: I issue this challenge to school leaders: walk in the shoes of your students for a day. Seriously. Open your calendar now and secure a day during the year where your administrative team can experience first-hand what it is like to be a learner in the school community and what teaching and learning really looks like from the eyes of your students: classroom experience, halls, lockers, homework, extracurricular, polices, teaching, learning, engagement, school goals, school vision, etc. I so love this idea and know that it’s done in some places. I’d add that the experience should go from door-to-door, to include the ‘powering down’ and ‘powering back up again’ that many students do before and after school.

Sean Nash (@nashworld). Principals as Teachers and Principals as Teachers Part II – Early Feedback.

Sean’s two-part series on principals serving as part-time teachers in online courses. Also, I wish more school districts understood Sean’s statement that “As a district we can sit the bench and ultimately swallow the future options that arise from the state level or worse . . . or we can get really smart and make our own breaks on the local level.

Steve Moore (@stevejmoore). What Are You Building? 

Essentially, every piece of great technology is about relationships between people and ideas. . . . I urge you . . . to start a conversation about what you’re learning and with whom you’re connected to. Only from that seeking out of new knowledge – through whatever barrier reducing “technology” is available to you – will there be true benefit.

Tools & Technologies

Jacob Williamson. Good Intentions.

Jacob takes exception to Edline’s claims that it ‘provides the world’s leading technology solutions that help schools improve student performance by harnessing the power of parental involvement, supporting teachers, and engaging the learning community,’ noting that it’s actually 0 for 4 in its claims. An excellent reminder that we should examine vendors’ claims critically and be clear about what ‘effective technology use’ really means.