Leadership Day 2010

A few days ago, I saw this tweet from @gcouros while reviewing the daily action from my PLN.

This certainly caught my attention, so I read the blog post and decided to participate.

Lets be straight up to begin. Administrators are busy people with many responsibilities to juggle. They can’ t ‘know everything’ – and they don’t need to.  I do believe there a some critical elements that are attached to their role in terms school success and staff development that will make a key difference.

School Administrator To Do List

  • walk the walk & talk the talk
  • understand digital literacy and digital citizenship
  • be familiar with, and understand the power of  web 2.0 and social media tools
  • establish a PLN (self directed, job embedded learning) and share the learnings with staff
  • promote technology use as an embedded & key part of the learning process
  • understand appropriate technology use, highlight/showcase it as a part of good teaching practice
  • include technology use in the learning process as part of the teacher feedback and evaluation process
  • require that staff learn about best technology integration strategies as part of ongoing PD/learning plans
  • ensure that technology uses are well connected to Province/State and Board/District level priorities
  • understand the role of technology in establishing and/or improving school and classroom community
  • build a culture, not a ‘one of’ island
  • embrace change
  • be vocal: share, promote and connect with other administrators

~ Mark

Dome Tech

Celebrating design and engineering technology:

I attended the Toronto Blue Jays game last night. Although there were numerous scattered showers around Ontario during the afternoon, the weather had cleared. With the game just underway, and clear skies the decision was made to open the dome.

I found it quite fascinating to actually watch the transition of the stadium from its closed to open air state from the vantage point of our seats behind home plate. There is no doubt in my mind this is a wonderful example of great engineering. The photos below capture the ‘dome transition’.

The dome opens to begin the retracting process.

Retraction process complete.

The ‘roof slide’ starts.

Roof slide: talk about perfect engineering!

Roof slide 50% complete.

Roof slide complete.

CN Tower as viewed from our behind home plate seats.

… and the Jays won to boot.

~ Mark

Off to camp?

I was listening to the CBC Metro Morning radio broadcast one day last week on the way into work. The topic that morning was ‘Camping & Technology’ – that is, sending kids of to summer camp for a week or two. Although I did not hear the entire show, it seemed that the discussion centred around a couple of main points.

  1. Should the kids have technology at a camp session?
  2. Needs/expectations: parent & student/child perspectives

I found the discussion quite interesting. The camp facilitators were focused on delivering face to face activities, which in turn fostered relationship & team building and problem solving skills among the children. There is no argument from me regarding the need for this.  The camp facilitators had taken the stance – keep the technology (cell phones, smart phones, mp3 players (iPods etc.)) out of the camp environment. On the other side of the coin, a number of the parents had expressed concern about this because removing the technology also removed their ability to communicate with their child/children – something they valued and wanted. Now, hold this thought.

In a sense, there are two polarized approaches here: keep the technology out because we don’t want to deal with it or allow it. This example of the  polarization around the use of handheld technology is really no different than the situation in many schools around the globe: keep it out because we don’t want to deal with it v.s. bring it, and use it as part of the learning process where appropriate.

It seems to me that the answer is not in maintaining these polarized view points, but looking at things from a Digital Citizenship and Character Development point of view. Embrace the challenge of finding that middle ground that allows the use of technology in suitable ways, whether it is camp or school. The Digital Citizenship approach allows for some discussion around appropriate use, meaning context and timing etc.

Back to the camp debate – From my point of view, the ‘solution’ seems obvious. Allow the students to bring the technology and have that digital citizenship discussion around appropriate use and expectations for the camp environment. A child should be able to:

  • have a great camp experience which includes the F2F focus
  • maintain contract with their parents at certain times of the day (not in an interruptive manner)
  • share the experience online with family and friends

I hope a useful compromise is achieved. Happy camping.

~ Mark

PLP Experience Focuses on Educator Learning

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to participate in a set of interviews for a story about how PLP cohorts help educators learn. Having just completed an exciting year participating in the PLP program lead by @snbeach and @willrich45, I was eager to participate.

I took a bit of time to check out Converge, an online publication and located education reporter and writer @reportertanya on Twitter and Linked In, then replied to the email indicating my interest. The next couple of emails exchanged covered some background information and arranging a time to connect via skype for the interview.

On interview day, we connected via skype at the appointed time, bridging California and Ontario, and had a 45 minute video discussion about my experience in the Ontario PLP program, what I felt my key learnings were and what our Board will be doing differently as a result of participating in the PLP project.

Congratulations to:

  • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson for designing and running the PLP program to provide an excellent training opportunity for educators, and
  • Tanya Roscorla for her excellent research and article – well done!

Enjoy the published article, Global Communities Rethink Learning at the Converge website.

~ Mark

iPad wifi tip

In an earlier blog post I commented that the one ‘clunky’ aspect of using the iPad was that the wifi connection to known networks did not happen. With further experimentation, I found that different strategies were needed including:

  • be patient and wait, sometimes the connection issue would sort itself out
  • manually choose the network from the list stored in the wifi settings panel
  • on some occasions, I was asked to reenter my wifi password again
  • complete power off and restart
  • and in a more persistent situation, I went through the ‘forget network’ process and set things up again.

Interestingly, this challenge seems to be mainly with the combination of the iPad and the newest OS. My iPhone and iPod touch do not have this issue.  Yesterday, when this issue surfaced again, and I decided to try something new.  In the settings panel, I choose the Safari tab and used the options available to clear the history, cookies and cache. Immediately following this action, the wifi connection worked fine.

Maybe I am on to something here. I will continue to test this process to see if it yields consistent result.

~ Mark

Information Fluency

I came across this video today via a tweet from @ijukes. It is certainly an interesting video – food for thought for sure. Check out InfoWhelm and Information Fluency video.

What are your thoughts re the message in the video? Share your reaction in a comment.

~ Mark

iPads on the Move

After using my iPad for the last 6 weeks, thanks to @ron_mill, I thought I would share a few first impressions and some thinking about use in education. On the topic of first impressions, I note:

  • how much I enjoy using the touch screen interface – very easy to use
  • the context sensitivity of having the right options at the right time (such as a pop up keyboard) is amazing
  • the pop up keyboard is sized to allow for ‘traditional’ typing (not the fingering poking method)
  • battery life is amazing – I am getting 9 – 10 hours per charge.
  • the selection of quality apps is good
  • e-reader capabilities are strong
  • overall, lots of potential
  • the only drawback I have found to date, is that the wifi connection process seems a bit clunky as stored known networks do not always auto-connect

With all of these good qualities, I can’t help but think about the possibilities ….  iPads for classrooms, staff development, library learning commons, moving the e-books agenda forward all would link nicely to our key initiatives.

Currently, the following iPad plans are in place for the 2010/2011 school year:

  • some will be available for staff to try at CATC Camp, our summer teacher PD session
  • a number of units will be available for use by elementary classroom teachers
  • iPads will be used in our secondary school Futures Forum project, developed as our PLP project
  • units will be purchased for our central elementary teacher librarian group for September

Other plans under discussion include:

  • iPads preloaded with staff development reading material that could be loaned out
  • additional expansion of the iPad program as it relates to our Library Learning Commons project

I am looking forward to supporting these new initiatives!

~ Mark

iPad iBook iRead

I began my day by reading @dougpete‘s blog post about David Warlick‘s new book, A Gardener’s Approach to Learning. Based on Doug’s comments about the book, I thought I would enjoy reading it too. The book is available in a print version as well as a downloadable pdf file. Immediately, I started to think about reading the publication on my iPad, so the buy online and read now process was appealing.

This was an easy decision – get the book now, enjoy reading it and take advantage of the opportunity to read on my iPad and learn something new today. I visited Lulu’s online publishing site, updated my credit card credentials, made my purchase and downloaded the file. Next, I used Calibre ebook management software to convert the downloaded file to the epub format. After attaching my iPad to my laptop I chose the ‘send to device’ option in the Calibre software to send the file to the iBooks app on my iPad and presto – my new book is ready to read on the go.

I look forward to reading David’s new book, perhaps sitting on the back porch later today.

Related Resources:

The Gardener’s Approach to Learning wiki
Sharing with David Warlick

~ Mark