Month: April 2020

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Try Something New If Not Now, When?

In these unique times, we have a huge opportunity to experiment and try things we have never done before. Whether professionally or personally, the time is now. We don’t know when this will end and the stakes are different. No exams, fewer grades, and students ripe for new experiences. So whether you a teacher or a parent, try something new…maybe even shave your head!

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Teachers, Please Give Actionable Feedback

We are still in the middle of the COVID19 crisis, but home learning seems to be going well. Teachers are doing a great job of connecting with students while managing their own crazy lives. In this vlog post, I recommend that reachers avoid “Good Job” or “Well Done” when giving feedback to students. Instead giving them actionable and specific feedback to encourage them, be constructively critical, and give them items to work on with a timeline for review.

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Sean Thompson – Global Conversation – Writing an EdTech Book

In this episode of the Global Conversations series, we talk with Sean Thompson about his new book, Creativity is Everything: Rethinking Technology, Schools & Humanity. Sean talks about the process of ideating, writing, editing, and publishing an EdTech (Educational Technology) book. This inspiring interview give tons of tips and tricks for aspiring educational authors.

Buy his book here:
https://www.amazon.com/Creativity-Everything-Rethinking-Technology-Humanity-ebook/dp/B082QSTXTC/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=creativity+is+everything&qid=1587371590&sr=8-1

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Parents, You Don’t Need To Be a Teacher At Home

A message for parents during #RemoteLearning: You Don’t Need To Be a Teacher at Home. Home learning is a tough time for all parents, having other responsibilities, and little experience with teaching. Don’t worry about. Don’t feel like you need to be a teacher at home. Just be supportive and present with your kids. The emotional part of learning is just as important as the content and by you being there, as much as you can, you will fill that need and have a lasting impact.

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Flip Your Online Learning

During COVID19, we have lost the opportunity to engage in flipped learning because we aren’t meeting students face to face. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage in this valuable approach to teaching and learning. In this vlog entry, I suggest you flip your online learning by combining office hours style video conferencing and basic pre-recorded sessions to give students better engagement and feedback on their work.

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Take Some Notes, but Don’t Give Yourself More Work During COVID19

We are all experiencing many things during this crazy time. However, there is a lot to learn and remember as a way to improve our work and lives once things get back to normal. So I suggest people take a few notes in the moment to remember some key events, knowledge, or ideas that were valuable. However, don’t make any decisions, plans, or more to-dos. Now is not the time.

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You’re Doing Great – EdTech in the Time in COVID19

You're Doing Great During #COVID19

A restart of The EdTech Vlog in the middle of the COVID19 crisis. I am currently doing work as a consultant, a parent, business owner, EdTech support, PE coordinator, and at home learning coordinator. It’s tough…yet I see others having greater difficulty and still doing amazing things. I just wanted to say, YOU’RE DOING GREAT!

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5 Tips for CyberSafety for Families During COVID-19

CyberSafety

As families are homebound due to the COVID-19 virus, cybersafety and cybersecurity have become even more important. Children are spending more time online and the cyber dangers out there seem to be increasing. This has become a challenge for parents who are managing work, online learning, and increased parenting duties.

Here are a list of 5 tips for CyberSafety for families during COVID-19.

  1. Make online time a social activity in the house. Connect with pre-teens and teens using the very social media platforms they are using – Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, etc. Parental presence as a participant will lead to greater safety.
  2. No technology use behind closed doors…for anyone. If parents are going to surf or be on Social Media they should do it in common rooms, just as the children should. Charge devices in common rooms, and don’t allow them bedrooms, toilets, or behind closed doors. This may not work for video conferencing or certain work activities, but try to avoid those hidden spaces.
  3. Encourage dialog. Talk about what you see, share funny memes, don’t judge when a child shares something inappropriate. Discuss them openly and make the habit of sharing a safe activity. Parents should also share some of their experiences with children, both good and bad (though not inappropriate or NSFW content), so children feel in partnership rather than being controlled by parents.
  4. Set rules and guidelines and try to stick to them. Child must know what is appropriate or inappropriate behaviour before they engage in online activities and they need to know consequences.
  5. Monitor and review activity on devices. It is important for parents to check search histories, read messages, look through photo streams, and review content that was posted by children to make sure they are safeguarded both as victims and those misbehaving.

CyberSafety comes through intention and partnership with children, not through heavy controls or limits.

Please Contact Me for further help and advice on CyberSafety or Digital Citizenship.

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How Do Leaders Support EdTech Initiatives?

How Do Leaders Support EdTech

Whenever I go into a school and they ask me what is needed to create a successful educational technology program, I tell them you need three things: resources, engaged teachers, and supportive leadership. These three items are the fertile ground in which a school can plant the strategy, IT infrastructure, learning outcomes, instructional activities, and measures of impact needed to build success with technology for learning.

Resources are vital because EdTech is tool- and system-reliant. This doesn’t mean that schools need to focus on quantities of technology or ubiquitous access to be successful. In fact, I have seen impactful programs in schools with limited budgets using only the technology at hand with the students. What sets these programs apart is that they have clearly identified the resources available and they have learned how to leverage their learning potential.

Engaged teachers are equally important as the teachers are where the rubber hits the road in technology for learning. Their engagement in professional learning, planning, and instructional activities will determine the impact on students and realized value of computers in the classroom. Without engaged and supported teachers, no amount of resources or leadership planning will gain traction in the learning experiences of the students.

These two critical factors – resources and engaged teachers – are heavily influenced by supportive leadership. Supportive leadership will find, organize, and grow the technology resources available for a school. Supportive leadership will provide clarity of purpose and vision for success which often results in greater engagement from teachers who understand the direction they are being asked to go. Supportive leadership is what initiates EdTech programs, gets them off the ground, and keeps them running after the initial phases. Supportive leadership is explicit in its backing of the efforts of the teachers and students.

Of course, this begs the question: how does leadership show its support of EdTech in school? The most effective ways come through offering resources, time, language and recognition.

Resources

The staff and school community know that school leadership use resources to enhance specific aspects of the school’s program. By allotting resources towards the access to technology and professional learning for teachers, leadership will show its tacit and lived support for educational technology. Teachers will be able to use these resources, with the implied call to action, to build technology rich lessons that enhance learning for all students. However, resource-based support can be quite dangerous if done without strategy or sustainability. Supportive leadership must develop a clear and transparent strategy for the allocation and usage of resources for them to be used effectively for learning. Further, by following the common mistake of only allotting resources at the beginning of a program rather than on a perpetual timeline, support will be viewed as fleeting or non-committal when it comes time to renew or refresh.

Of course, a key form of resource-based support comes through budgeting. Professional learning, access to technology, sustainability, and proper assessment of the impact of educational technology on the school should be found easily within the school’s budget. Regular line items that reflect the ongoing learning and operational needs should be in the expense budget and the capital budget should contain regular technology purchases for expansion or refresh. And supportive leadership will always show financial commitment to technology by fully funding its depreciation.

Time

The resource most valuable way to demonstrate support for EdTech initiatives is time. Leadership has the ability reserve, find, and even make time for teachers to focus on the teaching and learning aspects of educational technology. The most supportive leaders of EdTech will carve out formal and informal time for teachers to learn and collaborate. In formal sessions, teachers will develop new technology or pedagogic skills or author technology-enhanced curriculum. During informal sessions, teachers will collaborate to share and collaborate on best practices in their classrooms. By providing this time separate from required staff meetings and administrative tasks, leadership will demonstrate its academic and operational priority of teachers using technology effectively.

Language

However, school leadership is not simply a planning or resource allocation activity. It is one of outward demonstration of vision and priorities within a school. Good leaders, beyond technology, will embed what is important to the school in every conversation and school communication. The same applies to supporting EdTech. Supportive leaders will talk about the value of technology for learning and the school’s plans for implementing it effectively when talking inwardly and outwardly. They will use proper terminology when talking about technology-based instruction and be able to identify the key leverage points for EdTech in the school. By using words to show support, the community will see the value of technology for learning embedded in the school ethos and they will begin to look for, and expect to find, it in the actions taken by teachers and students.

Recognition

Finally, leadership can use their language to give specific and powerful support to their engaged teachers. Those who have worked in schools know that financial incentives have little effect on the engagement or impact of teachers. Instead, what motivates teachers to do the best is the belief they are doing work of value. Leadership can honor and support this value through formal recognition. Recognition in the context of EdTech can come in a number of ways; highlighting a successful project, celebrating a certification attained by a group of teachers, publicizing conference presentations by staff, or giving certain teachers additional roles and responsibilities within the EdTech program. And given these are technology-based recognitions, they can be done through school communications, Twitter feeds, or during staff meetings.

By showing implicit and explicit support of teachers and EdTech in the school, leaders are the tipping point for immediate and sustained success for technology in a school.

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