Monday, October 20, 2014

Crazy ideas or just a different point of view?



Recently, my 8-year-old and I had a conversation about his recent trip to the school library where he was shocked to learn that there was a special section of books that he could not check out and take home. The conversation went something like this:

Son: “What is an encyclopedia and why is it so special that we can’t
borrow one?”
Me: “They are books that contain information and facts about things
you might be interested in. You go there to get started
learning about something”
Son: “Like Wikipedia”
Me: “Exactly!”
Son: “Who would be crazy enough to print out all of Wikipedia?”

After I recovered from my dumbfounded look, I was reminded how perspective and experience define our understanding of the world. From the view of a child today, a printed encyclopedia is crazy. When I was a kid, the encyclopedia was an amazing book where you could learn about “anything.” Same book, two interpretations of value based on experience. When was the last time you took a look at the world form someone else's perspective? Teachers: consider sitting in on a class as a student. Administrators: visit a staff development session and participate as a teacher. Perhaps changing our view will prevent us from doing something so crazy as printing out the Internet.




Cross Posted in the Tech and Learning Newsletter October 8th 2014

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Google Spreadsheets - What you really need to know

I have been working on the next presentation in my Technology Learning for Leaders Series and this session focuses on Google Forms and Sheets to Power Up Data

In my preparation for this session I made five documents that I am quite please with how they turned out. My goal was everything someone would need to know to really work with spreadsheets and data in schools, from basic to advanced, to make sense of data (short of Google Scripts).

Here are the initial documents

Basic Spreadsheet Terminology

Basic Google Spreadsheet Formulas Everyone Will Want Know

Text Google Spreadsheet Formulas Everyone Will Want Know

Intermediate Google Spreadsheet Formulas Everyone Should Want Know

Advanced Google Spreadsheet Formulas Someone Might Want to Know


I am sure these will grow over time. Let me know if you think I should add anything in the comments.

Hank 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Personalization starts with Person



 For Tech&Learning's Newsletter 10/8/2013


I continue to hear a lot about personalization in education and what that ultimately looks like in our classrooms. It is strange how ideas can mean such different things to different people (just watch how two separate news channels cover the same story to see a demonstration). However, personalization to me is pretty simple: it starts just as the word does, with “person.” So often we are looking for that magic piece of data to describe a student, or some rating to categorize a teacher, that we forget that each person is a unique individual. We have to learn to trust that people know more about themselves than we can ever distill from an assessment. We need to hear each person’s perspective and listen to his stories. Take the time to walk across the hall, chat up a student, start a conversation with someone new. You might find a person there waiting to be discovered.




Image From: http://blog.beliefnet.com/yourbestlifenow/files/2013/06/Who-are-you.jpg

Monday, July 29, 2013

Managing Sign Off Documents Using Google Forms and Spreadsheets

One of my tasks each year is to track who has signed off on our acceptable use agreements across the district. To do this for over 1000 people I use a google form and spreadsheet. Employees sign off on a form that automatically collects their username:


That data is cross referenced in a spreadsheet using a couple of formulas against a pre-populated list of users to "cross them off the list". A couple of pivot tables keeps everything straight. You can see it in this spreadsheet. For those wanting more features I have combined it with formMule to kick out emails as well to those that have or have not completed their requirement - which can be seen in this spreadsheet. The video below outlines the whole process.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Living Chrome

As the person in our district that is ultimately responsible for technology I often end up making the decision for what devices a student or staff member will be using on a daily basis. One of my common practices is to live with a device before purchasing it or recommending it for someone else.  With the lead up to 1:1 and chromebooks in our district this year I have been "living chrome" for the past year and have been primarily chrome since September 2012. This is what my desk looks like:


The chromebox is my primary desktop device. I have it rocking dual 24" monitors with a webcam, speakers, and a wireless keyboard and mouse. It is awesome to just sit down and work each day when the day starts or to come back in from being out and about and jumping right back into whatever I was doing. I use cloud printing (when I must print) that allows me to access multiple copier/printers in the office.

On the desk you will notice two chromebooks. One is the Samsung 550, which became my primary computing device last summer. I can make it though a full day's work on a single charge - and I push my computers. It has also become the computer I use when presenting outside of school. The other device is the $249 Samsung Chromebook, which is the computer nearly 4,000 freshman and sophomore students will be using next year in Maine 207. As I said, I try to live like I expect others will have to in the future.

Why not pick one of the two chromebooks and live with it? I have been proving the fact that it doesn't matter which chrome device you use. I randomly pick one and run with it and have the same computing experience no matter what.  Next year when a student has an issue we will "hot swap" a spare and expect them to keep working. I do that everyday.

There are obviously some differences in the devices. The 550 is the fastest of the three, but you really don't notice until you are working with a massive spreadsheet or have dozens (yes dozens) of tabs open. The chromebox has the advantage of the dual monitor set-up, which makes me much more productive. The $249 model is actually my favorite. It is lightweight and is perfect for taking off throughout the buildings.

I do still have a windows laptop available, but I rarely use it now. Sometimes I have a legacy office document to retrieve (although I am moving most of my documents to drive now) or if I want to make a quality screencast (an area where chromebooks are still lacking) that causes me to fire up the laptop. I usually have to do this several times, because as it is starting up I go back to work on a chromebook. By the time I remember the laptop was starting up it has already gone back to sleep.  Just as my students will next year I am living chrome. If someone in my role and running a technology department can live chrome, I am confident my students can thrive in this environment as well.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

It is Springtime - Take a Stroll

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend and discuss changes in teaching and learning while at the Chicago Tech Forum and a Google at School Event. Over the course of two days, we discussed changes in how students are learning, including hot topics related to collaboration, shifting time, and open access to resources. I was able to share some of our plans for next year around 1:1 in our schools and reaffirmed that we are headed in the right direction. I then had the chance to put my learning in action yesterday when I taught an earth science class in one of our 1:1 pilot classrooms. It was incredible to build and structure a lesson where the world of resources were at my students’ fingertips. I was able to use online formative assessment tools to monitor student progress and pace activities. Getting into a classroom and teaching with the tools was an exciting way to jump into the changes that are coming to our classrooms next year. We should all take the time to step out of our usual roles as administrators, and remind ourselves what it means to be a teacher and a student. We can learn a lot from walking down another person’s path and observing their environment and experience. I encourage you to take a stroll to reflect on a different perspective before the year is out.

Cross Posted at http://www.techlearning.com

Friday, November 16, 2012

Google+ for K-12 Edu is Now Available

Google announced yesterday that Google Plus (Google+) is now available for edu domains.

The announcement I received said:

Today, November 15th, we announced that Google+ is available to be enabled as an additional service for all Google Apps for Education domains, including K12 (primary/secondary).  

By default Google+ is set to off for all EDU domains.You can enable Google+ for all or some of your organizational units by following the instructions in our Google Help Center article on how to turn on/off services. Please review important considerations before enabling Google+ in our Google Help Center. Please note that as Google+ is an additional service (like Blogger and Reader) it is not subject to the same terms and conditions as core services such as Gmail and Google Drive. Please review the Google Apps for Education Agreement which includes a link to the Additional Terms for Use of Additional Services.

This is  great news but with it came a bunch of questions. Here are some answers to FAQ's from Google:

  • As stated in the admin panel when you try to turn it on: "Users must meet the minimum age requirements for a Google Account (13 years old in most countries) to use Google+. Underaged users will have their entire account suspended. Learn more"
  • Anyone under 13 that attempts to use Google+ will have their Google Apps account will be suspended. If a student account is suspended, please file a ticket through your administrator control panel and someone from the team will get back to you to help you recover the account.


I had been working on training materials and videos on Google+ for the Midwest Google Apps Summit and I have put together a Google Site on Google+ here: Google+ for Professional Development and Collaboration

My favorite video that I made was on how to use "On the Air" hangouts to record demos or even flip your classroom.


What are you doing with Google Plus? How do you see it impacting the classroom and schools?