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Thanks for a great run, Iowa

Some of you know that I’m headed back to higher education (after a 4-year hiatus to keep a promise to my daughter that she could finish high school here in Ames, Iowa). I will be an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Colorado-Denver starting in August. We will miss Iowa tremendously but we’re also excited to explore some gorgeous mountains!

I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve done the past 9 years in this state with the very substantial help and partnership of some wonderful colleagues. Here’s a partial list:

  • rejuvenated a struggling educational leadership program at Iowa State University, including doubling our program’s enrollment, faculty, and tuition revenue;
  • graduated 13 Ph.D. students as their primary advisor;
  • brought in over $350,000 in external grants and contracts;
  • published 18 peer-reviewed articles, 1 book, 6 book chapters, 32 invited publications, 8 research briefs and white papers, and 63 other publications;
  • was a visiting faculty fellow in New Zealand;
  • worked with over 130 different Iowa schools, associations, and other organizations;
  • immersed several hundred Iowa principals and superintendents in 6 to 12 days of technology leadership development;
  • sparked the nation’s largest statewide, grass roots 1:1 computing initiative (220+ districts and counting);
  • launched the annual Iowa 1:1 Institute, which rivals in size the other major education conferences in Iowa;
  • initiated EdCampIowa, which I believe is still the nation’s largest single-day EdCamp event;
  • launched the new technology innovation team for Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency;
  • created the trudacot technology integration discussion protocol, which is now spreading across the globe;
  • delivered hundreds of keynote, peer-reviewed academic, and other presentations and workshops, including 2 endowed lectures;
  • created 3 new Did You Know? (Shift Happens) videos and numerous other digital and online resources;
  • supported thousands of Iowa teachers and administrators as they move toward deeper thinking, student agency, authentic work, and technology infusion;
  • was a visible and vocal advocate for Iowa students and public schools;
  • served in dozens of advisory board, task force, editorial board, and other state and national leadership and service roles;
  • named one of three finalists to be the Director of the Iowa Department of Education;
  • received the ITEC Technology Leadership Award, the School Administrators of Iowa Friend of the Association Award, the Phi Delta Kappa Emerging Leader Award, the National School Boards Association 20 to Watch Award, the Center for Digital Education Education Innovator Award, and the ISTE Award for Outstanding Leadership.

That seems like a pretty good run to me… Thanks to everyone who’s been a part of this fun and hopefully-impactful work. Looking forward to my next adventures!

Redesigning technology-infused lessons and units at ASB Unplugged

I facilitated three workshops at ASB Unplugged in Mumbai, India this year for international school educators. All three sessions went extremely well and the folks at the American School of Bombay were impeccable hosts, as always.

In my sessions we discussed deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion. We utilized the trudacot discussion protocol to redesign lessons, units, and other learning activities. We had some amazing conversations and came up with all kinds of ways to #makeitbetter. Padlet screenshots are below. Right-click on the image to see a larger version or click on the date to see the actual Padlet. Let me know as you have questions. I love working with administrators and teachers on this kind of redesign work!

February 24

ASB Unplugged Feb 24

February 26

ASB Unplugged Feb 26

February 27

ASB Unplugged Feb 27

BloomBoard collection: Rethinking AUPs

BloomBoard invited me to be part of its February blogging campaign and to create a collection over at its site. I tried to pull together a few resources related to acceptable use policies (AUPs):

The blogger that follows me in BloomBoard’s campaign is Shannon Holden over at NewTeacherHelp. You also can check out others’ contributions at the BloomBoard blog. Hope these resources are helpful to you!

Summits

Summit. (noun) A day-long ’sit and get’ event designed to draw political and media attention to the powers-that-be at the top. Usually comprised of speeches, panel presentations, and non-interactive breakout sessions. Iowa antonyms: EdCampIowa, ISLI, StuCamp, EdCampDesMoines, school district unconferences, Iowa 1:1 Institute.

Summits are a great way to reinforce the passive, transmission-oriented model of learning.

Summits are a great way to get your own supportive talking heads on stage and not those of others.

Summits are a great way to talk at rather than with.

Summits are a great way to hammer home that certain people and perspectives get voices and others do not.

In Iowa, we like education summits: 

My keynote for the 2015 K12 Online Conference

McleodK12online

My keynote for the 2015 K12 Online Conference is now available. It’s long because within it I profile numerous examples of innovative schools. Here is the description for my session:

Whenever any sort of change or innovation is discussed, the ‘Yes, but…’ objections are inevitable. However, instead of allowing those resistance points to dominate and defeat promising ideas, teachers and administrators can reframe opposition into possibility by asking the questions ‘Why not?’ and ‘How can we?’ Effective educators focus on adaptation, forward progress, and collective effort and efficacy. The ‘yes, buts’ don’t do anything except keep us stuck. Too often we get mired in negativity and defeatism instead of recognizing that – both individually and collectively – we usually have the ability to do and be so much more than our current reality reflects. This keynote focuses on transformative leadership mindsets and features exemplary schools from around the world that are ignoring the ‘yes, buts’ to make amazing things happen for children and youth.

Check it out and get some great ideas for changes you might make in your school. Be sure to see all of the other wonderful presentations too. The four conference strands this year are Maker Ed, Stories of Connection, Overcoming Obstacles, and Beyond The Core: Art and More. Did I mention the conference is FREE?!

Happy viewing!

Some shout-outs this year

Onalytica

A few shout-outs that this blog has gotten this year…

  1. Onalytica calculated Dangerously Irrelevant to be the 5th-most influential educational technology and e-learning blog in the world.
  2. EdTech magazine named Dangerously Irrelevant as one of its ‘must read’ K-12 IT blogs for 2015.
  3. Getting Smart included Dangerously Irrelevant as one of its 55+ ‘great blogs and blasts’ and also was kind enough to put me on its list of 50 people shaping the future of K-12 education.

Thanks, everyone, for the recognitions. Much appreciated!

Happy 9th birthday! (a few thoughts on blogging and online learning)

9th birthday cake

Today is Dangerously Irrelevant’s 9th birthday. That’s a long time in blogging years (sometimes I feel ancient even though I’m not that old yet). Most of the educators whose amazing voices inspired me in those early days are no longer blogging. A few of us continue to write and, of course, new voices have joined us. And left us.

Over the past nine years I’ve learned some things about blogging specifically and about social media generally. Here are a few random thoughts that strike me this morning…

  • The death of the comment. Blog comments used to be the ties that bound us together. It was not uncommon for us early education bloggers to receive dozens – and occasionally hundreds – of comments. That deep, rich discussion was exhilarating and spurred us to think and write even more. Today we’re lucky to get a few tweets. The growth of different writing and sharing outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Medium, tumblr, YouTube, etc.), the overall greater number of voices that have diffused online mindshare, and the rise of both shorter-form feedback mechanisms (likes, tweets, shares) and large, well-funded corporate and/or group blogs all have reduced the on-blog interactivity that many of us individuals used to see. I don’t lament this state of affairs since my work is arguably shared more than ever but I confess that I remain extremely grateful for every comment that I receive and do my best to respond to as many as possible.
  • Lack of attribution. My stuff gets ‘stolen’ all the time. I had a dustup last year with a very prominent writer / speaker whom I discovered had used my material almost-verbatim in numerous paid presentations and a published book, including proprietary material for which I had gotten special copyright permission to use. There was no possible way for the use to be accidental since it was clearly modified ‘just enough’ in a few places to be slightly different. We had a few exchanges on the matter and I moved on. On a smaller scale, I see things that I have said or written all over the place, often without attribution or credit. So I was sympathetic to Shelly Sanchez Terrell’s recent post calling out a prominent online educational leader for improper attribution (and Doug Peterson’s excellent concurrence). This individual is fairly notorious for playing fast and loose with attribution so it was good to see the person being called to account. Shelly was kind enough to do it anonymously – even though the person didn’t necessarily deserve it – and I’ve already seen some attempts by this individual to both remedy the specific instance in question as well as be more thoughtful in general. Personally, I decided long ago not to worry too much about this (with the exception noted above), figuring that I had bigger things to worry about than whether a few of my ideas and statements – which I want out there floating around – were properly attributed. That’s a personal decision and I completely understand others’ desire to take a different stance. Hopefully we all will remember the importance of proper attribution and will model for other educators and students this important linchpin of the Internet. 
  • What’s important. Voice is important. Passion is important. Authenticity is important. Helpfulness is important. Trust is important.
  • Kindness. Despite almost a decade in this social media space, I continue to be astounded by the kindnesses that educators extend to each other on a daily basis. Our sharing, our support, our willingness to lend a helpful hand or a critical eye or a sympathetic shoulder… all are commendable. Despite the occasional hiccups and bumps in the road that inevitably occur, our online sharing and connection spaces generally are serving us well. Keep learning from, helping, and encouraging each other!
  • Refusal. Numerous educators still refuse to participate in our online, networked communities of practice, even as lurkers. The belief that one can be an adequate educator these days without tapping into the vast resources that are being shared by role-alike peers continues to confound me. A few magazine subscriptions that rarely get read, the occasional conference, and usually-useless professional development sessions are insufficient for the demands of our times. We must do better at getting our refusenik peers on board.

I continue to be grateful daily for this blog. It has opened up uncountable opportunities and I have learned incredible amounts from our dialogues and resource sharing. Thanks for all that you contribute to this online space. Thanks for being loyal readers. And loyal commenters.  😉

Image credit: Cake, The Parasite

3 kinds of ISTE sessions

Iste

Not including the more informal networking events, there generally are 3 kinds of ISTE sessions:

  1. Tools, tools, tools! These sessions focus on software, apps, extensions, productivity and efficiency, how-to tips, etc. Little emphasis on learning, heavy emphasis on how to use the tools.
  2. Technology for school replication. These sessions focus on the use of digital technologies to replicate and perpetuate schools’ historical emphases on factual recall and procedural regurgitation, control and compliance, students as passive learners, etc. Behavior modification apps, teacher content transmission tools, flashcard and multiple choice software, student usage monitoring programs, and the like.
  3. Technology for school transformation. These sessions focus on deeper learning, greater student agency, and perhaps real-world, authentic work. Learning technologies tend to be divergent rather than convergent, foster cognitive complexity, and facilitate active, creative student-driven learning.

We need more of #3. Lots more. Right now these sessions are still a significant minority of sessions at ISTE (and most other educational technology conferences).

Which kinds of sessions did you attend? What does that mean for your ability to effectuate change back home?

Which kinds of sessions did you facilitate? What does that mean for your responsibility as a presenter to help others effectuate change back home?

We’re wasting opportunities to move our systems…

3 minutes with the ISTE Board

Yesterday I gave a 3-minute video presentation to the ISTE Board on What’s the next big thing in educational technology?

Happy viewing!

5 thoughts from ISTE weekend

Katie

Five thoughts from the first couple of days here at the 2015 ISTE Conference…

  1. If “it’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning,” then why are we centering so many of our sessions on the tools?
  2. Are there uses of technology with students that would offend the majority of us so much that we would stand up and shout, ‘No! We should never do that!’? I see things here and there that concern me but many others seem to be pretty blasé about them or simply accept them as inevitable parts of the landscape (for example, behavior modification software, draconian Internet filtering of children and educators, and drill-and-kill systems ‘for those low-achieving kids,’ just to name a few)
  3. The work of transforming school systems is difficult work. School transformation stems from personal transformation, not from devices or apps or software. How many of us can say that we’re truly transforming more than a small handful of other educators?
  4. The work of transforming school systems is slow work. Some of us have been at this for a decade or two (or longer). How do we invest in and energize both ourselves and each other so that the frustrations, sluggishness, and setbacks don’t win?
  5. We should have more babies at ISTE. Who doesn’t love babies?!

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