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Tara Linney – Global Conversations – Girls in Coding

In this episode of the Global Conversations series, we talk with Tara Linney about her book Code Equity: Keying Girls Into Coding. Code Equity is an EdTech book talking about Girls in Coding. We talk about empower girls in coding and computer science, from clubs to support to activities to encouragement. An inspiring discussion for helping girls become more involved in EdTech.

Buy the book here:
https://www.amazon.com/Code-Equity-Keying-girls-coding-ebook/dp/B07B9HN6YB/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=code+equity&qid=1587372291&sr=8-1

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YOLO – You’re Only in Lockdown Once, SO HAVE FUN!!!

During COVID19, most of the rules and social norms are out the window. So, now is a time to experiment, goof off, try new things, dress up, tell stories, make videos…do things you couldn’t normally do in school.

In short, YOLO – You’re Only in Lockdown Once…SO HAVE FUN!!!

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Go for Creativity, Not Complexity

As teachers are thrust into using technology for learning, they tend to slip back into a common pitfall of more, more, more. We see more tasks to do, more questions to answer, and more complexity in our tasks. However, more isn’t always best…in this COVID19 time, I suggest we give more control to students and ask them to be creative in their work. Have them show their learning through their creative ideas. This will take up time, increase engagement, and make learning more meaningful.

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Digital Hygiene during COVID19

Cyberattacks, data breaches, and privacy issues have been all over the news during our stint of force remote learning. In this video, I talk about Digital Hygiene for cybersafety and cybersecurity. We should take the same approach as we do with Physical Hygiene during COVID19 – Social Distancing, Wearing Face Masks, and Quarantines.

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You Are Using Your School Website Wrong

You are using your school website wrong

A school website is the first port of entry for anyone looking to learn about a school. This includes existing community members (students, teachers, staff, leaders), potential community members (new students/parents, teachers apply for jobs, potential board members), and those looking for more information about the school (inspectors, donors, media, educational organizations). Schools that try to create websites that are all things to all these people end up creating a diluted or inconsistent experience for all.

The schools that use their web presence successfully understand that needs of each stakeholder group and partition their sites accordingly.

Existing Community Members

Stakeholders in the community don’t have much need for a standard website. Static information about the school’s curriculum or contact info have little value to students and parents that visit the school daily. Instead, they need dynamic content that changes each time they visit. They need portals that are customized to their needs with regularly updated information that informs them and incites action. A teacher needs communications about calendar changes, policy updates, and means to interact with parents and students. Parents need news, pictures, and communication channels directly related to their children rather than schoolwide information. Students need academic and social content that meets their interests and needs while aligning to their uses of social media outside of school.

A school website cannot do this…and nor should it. A school website should only provide access to other systems, such as social media sites, communication systems, a learning management platform, or access to related online tools. A school website should not be developed with existing community members in mind.

Potential Community Members

Incoming parents, potential employees, and students applying to a school will look at the website as their first interaction with the school. They will be looking for a snapshot of school life. Rarely will they delve deep into policies or mission statements, instead looking for highlights of school events or examples of student work. They will want to know about requirements for entry, what to expect when on campus, and a calendar of school events.

This is where a school website should focus. It should provide high level information about the school that answers all the key questions potential community members may have. It should deliver static information about the leadership structure, school history, and curriculum. It should show the school calendar with links to pictures and videos from recent events. It should provide a very clear process for admissions or job applications. It should not be overly dynamic, instead relying on consistency so when school personnel meet these potential community members they know what has already been seen.

A key aspect for potential community member is a visually appealing product. Whereas existing community members will be more impressed with targeted dynamic content, potential community members will be judging the school on its presentation. The website should have consistent branding, colors, fonts, and headings. It should have professional visuals and pictures that showcase the best the school has to offer. The structure of the site should be simple and clear and it should include an easy to use search function. Written language should follow the 3 Cs: concise, cogent, and consistent.

Schools should think of their website as a classroom visit from an outside inspector; it is their time to show their best selves for someone who knows little about them, but who is judging them.

Outsiders Looking to Learn More

While potential community members are the website’s primary audience, there will be outside people and organizations using the site to learn about the school as well. This audience is often looking for two things: clear explanation of process and procedures and a snapshot of the school community.

Inspectors, accrediting agencies, and even the media will evaluate the school based on its adherence to accepted school practices. They will look for a clear mission and vision statement, descriptions of curriculum, and policies such as admissions criteria or privacy protection. It is important for schools to include this information in a standardized format that is easy to find. Further, the site should include an “About Us” or “Message from the Head of School” that encapsulates the key aspects and statistics of the school in a few short paragraphs.

The website should also provide content for potential donors, the surrounding community, and outside organizations just trying to get a feel for the school. There should be content that provides a snapshot of daily life at the school, highlighting key achievements and features of the school. This content should be interspersed throughout the site while being prominent on the landing page. For example, if the school has just held an arts installation pictures from the event should be prominent on the home page and placed as anchor images in random areas throughout the site.

A Window into the School

A school’s website should not be designed for those already in the school. As a window display in a mall is intended to attract people to the store rather than support customers already inside, a website should focus on the external. It should provide rarely changing information, pictures, and videos of the school for those outside of the school community. It should present a realistic view into daily school life in a professional and polished fashion. To cater to the needs of existing community members, the website should only be an entry point to more dynamic and targets systems.

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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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