Monday, December 17, 2007

The First 6 Months

I have been at the new job for about 6 months and the Superintendent asked for a mid-year recap. Here is an overview of what we have don in the last 6 months. There is more coming soon too!

Updates in Educational Technology since July 1st include:

  • · Blackberry roll-out to all District administrators, principals, assistant principals, athletic directors, deans, and technology staff. This has increased the ability to communicate via e-mail and has increased productivity.
  • · Currently, we are half-way through a new technology planning process which has involved students, teachers, staff, and community members.
  • · Department chairs all have new laptops this year and have been using them for staff development and evaluations.
  • · Each building is now running i-Tech sessions, which provide for staff development opportunities for integrating technology into the curriculum. Nearly 150 teachers, administrators, and staff are participating throughout the district this year. Topics covered have included use of network resources, PowerPoint, podcasting, image editing, and digital storytelling.
  • · Gradebook Training took place at the first two institute days and was well received. The technology staff followed up with individual instruction where required and support was provided by Al Michalik, Linda Rutchke, and Mike Smith who have been working on the development of the gradebook program and enhancement of the student information system. All teachers are using the gradebook program to maintain and post grades.
  • · In late October ten members of 207 attended the National School Board Association’s Technology and Learning Conference in Nashville, TN. This conference has sparked a great deal of creativity and energy in the area of technology development in our district.
  • · New Language Labs were outfitted this summer allowing for greater functionality and interaction in Foreign Language classes.
  • · Parent and Student Portals were opened in October. There are approximately 9000 users signed up. 67% of portal users are students and 33% are parents. We average 4000 visits to the portal each school day.
  • · Teachers and Staff have been trained on how to use the new Xerox copiers to scan documents to PDF files which should allow greater flexibility in digital information.
  • · The district purchased Adobe’s Master Suite, which will allow us to deploy all 22 of Adobe’s products throughout our schools over the next year. Teachers also can take the software home for their home computers.
  • · The network team has enabled a guest wireless network that allows visitors to the Maine schools filtered access to the Internet.
  • · The process has begun for creating a formal timeline of events for the new web environment, which will be deployed next year.
  • · There is now an emergency alert system up and running in the case of inclement weather or other school cancellations.
  • · We are in the process of connecting all three buildings with fiber optics. When completed in early January we will be able to support 154mbps of data traffic between the buildings (100mbps via fiber and 54mbps via wireless) and 50mbps out to the Internet.
  • · Within the next week we will be putting in place a new Internet filter that will allow more access to the Internet while providing better tracking of Internet use.

Tech Planning Process - Continuing...

Here is what went out Friday as the next step in the tech planning process. I have linked to the planning graphic organizer. I am not releasing the actual requests to the public though. The process is starting to gather some steam...

Suggestions or ideas are always welcome!

We are reaching the cut-off point for all of the tech requests. I wanted to describe what will happen during the next step and outline the schedule from here.
After the window for tech requests closes department chairs have a couple of weeks to review and revise submissions. I will then organize and group the items while adding some supplemental information. I will use all of that information to create a technology "wishbook" that will have all of the requests in it. That book will be circulated to all of the technology planning committee members and the department chairs. I am attaching a pdf of the requests that have come in to this point and excel spreadsheet that summarizes that same information.
On January 29th Maine South will meet to prioritize the requests in the "wishbook". Maine West meets on January 30th (after collaboration) and Maine East meets on January 31st. I will be sending an agenda for this meeting after break.
If you need sub coverage for the day your school is meeting you must request it by December 21st.
When we meet to prioritize we are not giving each proposed resource a numerical rank. We are placing it on a map that visually represents how each building feels how important each need is and when in the 3 year time frame it should fall. I have attached a pdf of the graphic organizer we will be using for this. When you open the pdf you will see how it will work for prioritizing the resources. Each building's recommendations will be brought to the district planning committee.
Thanks for all that you have done so far. We are getting close to seeing this process through. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


Hank


Here is the Time line:
December 21st - Tech Request Window Closes
December 22nd-January 11th - Department Chairs review/revise submissions
January 16th - "Wish Books" are forwarded to all technology planning committee members and department chairs. (Wish books are a collection of all of the requests with ancillary information)
January 29th - Maine South Planning Committee and department chairs meet for prioritization meeting
January 30th-Maine West Planning Committee and department chairs meet for prioritization meeting (after collaboration)
January 31st-Maine East Planning Committee and department chairs meet for prioritization meeting

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tech Tip 12/5 -Tech Tip 12/5 - Looking for some educational blogs to read?


Well the snow has arrived and we are reaching that point in the year where it is good to curl up on the couch with a good book - or maybe a good blog :) I will talk about the following things below - skip to what you might find interesting
1 - What is a blog
2- Where can I find good blogs to read?
3 - How can I keep track of all of this stuff? Will RSS help? Do I need an Aggregator? Where do I get that stuff anyway?
1. What exactly is a blog? (from Wikipedia)

A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) and are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.

As of September 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 106 million blogs.[1]

2. What are some good blogs to read?
This one depends on your interest. There is a great list of educational blogs at http://movingforward.wikispaces.com/Blogs and you can see what I read at http://www.bloglines.com/public/henrythiele
There are a lot of good (and bad) content out there. I have found mine over the years by finding someone I like to read and then looking at what they read. This way I have built a selection of things that meet my interest.
Another great spot to find good educational blogs is through the Edublog Awards - this is like the Pulitzers of Educational Blogs. You can find this year's nominations and prior year winners at http://edublogawards.com/2007/
3. How can I keep track of all of this stuff? Will RSS help? Do I need an Aggregator? Where do I get that stuff anyway?
The great thing about the web today is that you don't always have to go out looking for things to read. Once you find something you like you can tell the web to send newly updated articles to you. It is like subscribing to a magazine you like to read. There is a tool built into many websites called an RSS feed. RSS (really simple syndication) is a feature that sends out an alert everytime someone updates a blog or webpage you are reading. You don't just have to use it for blogs, I also use it to tell me when the White Sox make a player move (not much of that happening right now though). You know a webpage supports RSS when you see this symbol in the address bar or on the page. That means you can use an Aggregator to keep track of changes on these pages.
The two most popular Aggregators right now are Bloglines and Google Reader you can go to either site and sign up for an aggregator where all of your articles come directly to (they have great step-bystep directions on their sites). Once you read an article it is marked as read and dissapears from your reading list.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Approved! New Maine 207 "Web Environment"

Last night was a huge day for our district. Our board of education approved us to move forward on a project that will revolutionize our web presence and what we can do on the web.

Here are the main parts:

A main site for each school in the district governed by a CMS.
A branch in the site for each activity/sport/teacher/etc... with the same CMS tools
Each teacher will have a portal page that will bring their customized content to them

Here is the real kicker -

Each student will have their own portal page that will populate with important information from around the school - and they will have the ability to post content to it - AND SHARE that content with other teachers and students

This will be a collaborative web 2.0 environment that gives our teachers and students the power to change the way they work in a classroom.

American Eagle has given me permission to post part of the proposal so anyone who is interested can get a better idea of the direction we are heading in.

When we started this process my goal was to create a web presence that had the power influence change what we do in the classroom - I think we are on the way to that goal.