Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Again, a bit since I've blogged! Ok, two months' isn't really a bit and I have been in transition from one job to another. Now that I am settled, consistency should fall into place. I am finding a routine and time to revisit the blogosphere that I have neglected. I realized I missed the K-12 Online Conference. Yikes! Luckily David Warlick's keynote is still on the site and I have download it to watch when I don't have time (have to say that these days as who really has time???).

I have also come to see that you have to be careful not to confuse pre-conceived notions about how an organization is with how it really is! Additionally, in my new position I have the opportunity to work with Ray Jorgensen and the ideas surrounding Conversational Leadership. Great stuff for someone coming new to an organization and looking for ways to structure conversation and think about systems and how they function.

As I transition, so do the people who work for me and I am hoping that along with me, they can suspend certainty (one of the principles of the learning conversation) as we move forward to develop a vision for technology...keeping in mind my theme for this blog of changing the discussion...from technology to pedagogy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gaining Perspective

Over the past month and a half (wow, has it been that long since I blogged??!!) I have had a number of experiences that have (again) brought to the forefront of my mind the NEED we have to be able to examine multiple perspectives before responding (and not reacting) to situations, events or actions.

While it would be wonderful if others in this world did the same, I will focus on myself continuing to do this, at work, at home and in all of my relationships. It seems that if I pause, even for just a moment, to do this, understanding comes and my response is thoughful.

I am currently reading Change or Die by Alan Deutschman. While I agree with the principles in the book, I think we have to be careful to make a blanket statement and expect everyone to "change or die" in the same way or at the same rate.

For examples, teachers who have never created a WebQuest before are not quite ready to create their own blog or even post so someone else's blog as they are not confident yet of their ideas (maybe haven't even really formed them yet) and feel naked posting out there to the world. As an advanced user of technology, I think it is important that we all keep this in mind. Especially if we are working with teachers who are NOT advanced users. We must remember the point that they are at and strive to move them to the next step. Sometimes pushing them too far ahead will lead to refusal. Afterall, shouldn't we differentiating our strategies for technology integration and scaffolding for teachers just as we expect them to do for their students?

I will try to get on track again with my blogging with the goal of one idea at a time and continuing to change the discussion ~ it's not about the's about the processes and pedagogy that we use for 21st Century learning.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

8 Things - Tagging, Connecting, Learning

I came back to my office this afternoon to the latest Learning & Leading with Technology. All of the articles immediately caught my eye on this one...especially the article by Tim Lauer on making your presence known as a blogger.

I was tagged by Marci Hull and Kristin Hokanson! While this may seem somewhat like an annoying meme, I am finding that as I lurk on their blogs and read their "tags" I am learning a lot from who they know. So I hope that you learn a least one thing from those that I tag.

Here are the rules:
Post these rules before you give your facts
List 8 random facts about yourself
At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

So, here are my facts:

1. I am a certified NAUI scuba diver, have been 130' deep off the Jersey Shore where visibility was about 8' but my favorite dive to date is the James Bond wreck in the Bahamas where visibility was 80'!
2. I can cook just about anything in the microwave.
3. My great grandfather immigrated from Campobasso (Molise), Italy it is the first place I will visit when I get to Europe!
4. I surround myself with positive messages...always! Casting Crowns, Skillet, Tom Boz
5. My son is the most creative child I know he knows how to play - and not with technology but with old fashioned mud, blocks and his imagination!
6. I have 3 sisters, 2 brothers and 8 nieces and nephews.
7. My dream job is to be an educational technologist and use a Mac everyday!
8. I love children!

I tag:

Happy Tagging!

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Target

I have been on vacation off and on for the last month and have been thinking about the target that I want to give to my teachers. Now its back to reality, catching up on my favorite blogs, 45 posts to read right now. In reading Marcie's blog about teaching Web 2.0 I am reminded of two quotes...
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." ~A. Einstein
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time..." ~Author Unknown

And so I am starting small while dreaming big! I am reading about Twitter as an educational tool and all sorts of cool stuff but I know that most of my teachers need to start small so I am going to ask them to try to do two things relating to technology this year:
1. Create a web presence - we have a new web tool in the district; SchoolFusion which is easy to use and simply combines a web page with some basic online classroom features and,
2. Create a new way to learn difficult material through the use of technology (WebQuest, Wiki, etc.)

Of course these two things are not small ideas but will start discussions that may change classroom instruction, that is my hope anyway!

As Will Rogers said, "why not go out on a limb - that is where the fruit is."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Stuck and Paralyzed

I was struck by the video that a colleague of mine posted on her blog as it illustrates just how stuck some educators are in their traditional ways of doing things and solving problems. When presented with a problem, instead of working together to find an answer, we call for help as if we are a victim of our situation, paralyzed by our circumstances.

The truth is, we have a choice to stay put or to move. To allow others to keep us hostage or to move around the system in a way that we build our own power and unstick ourselves so that we can continue to grow and for the purposes of education, continue to make a difference for the lives of those we teach. We have to learn how to empower ourselves and take risks. How do we do that if we feel as though we are in an unsafe environment to experiment and sometimes fail??

We have to hope that there are brave administrators our there who are willing to put on their sheilds and fight the good fight for teachers to feel safe in changing pedagogy, embracing Web 2.0 tools and changing teaching and learning! And, as my colleague Marcie says, "Negativity is not cool!!"

For those of us out there trying to make a difference, keep going!! Think of yourself in a swimming pool, wherever you are, as in a system, when you move you will cause ripples. As for my target for teachers...still trying to figure that out. I'm not sure we can set one target for all if we can not support it system wide.

I am reminded of a Sesame Street book that illustrates similar principles to Kristin's video mentioned above...where Big Bird has a wagon that just won't go (doesn't have wheels) and then asks "who has something good for wagons" and EVERYONE comes running with something different to help fix his the end of the book Grover says..."every day you need a helper, every day I need one too, there's so much we can do together, you help me and I'll help you!"

These simple messages make sense to children...why don't we try them on educators?!

Monday, July 2, 2007

How Do You Hit a Moving Bulls-Eye with a Blindfold On?

...well, with ESP of course!! :) Having just come back from NECC, I find that my head is spinning with so many new ideas and it is now time to write the goals of technology integration for next year. As I think about them, I am reminded of a few quotes from my dissertation research:
  • Technology alone is only one piece of the puzzle that can support educational change, but technology will have little impact without accompanying reform at all levels (Barnett, 2003; Ely, 2000).
  • The success of a system wide change model depends on a coordinated “bundle” of innovations affecting many groups of stakeholders those results in a coherent system after its implementation (Ellsworth, 2000, ¶ 11).
  • Further investigation into how teacher pedagogy and teacher technology knowledge affect general teaching practice found that teachers who are exemplary in pedagogy are able to integrate technology as an effective tool, even if their technological expertise is not at an advanced level (Pierson, 2001).
What do we start with and how do we move (or continue to move) forward? I find that people who have a hard time with structure, have a hard time with the vision of implementing technology, or with the idea that sometimes, the change you want to see cannot be "measured" when it comes to technology integration and student acheivement. Don't get me wrong, I believe we do need measures of success. Sometimes, however, they may come in the form of anectdotal records instead of statistical scores. Those wishing to use an instrument should take a look at the featured research paper at NECC, "Cross-Validating Measures of Technology Integration." Definitely worth a read if you are looking for a tool to measure teacher technology use and integration. Copies of the instruments reviewed can be found here

In the meantime, I am going to try to create a target that my teachers can see (topic for a future blog), so that they can try to hit it with their eyes open and tell their stories about the challenges and successes along the way!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Telling Stories

At NECC 2007 I had the opportunity to sit at the Drexel Online Booth to promote the new Learning Technologies Masters program. It was interesting to me how many people came up to the booth just to share their Drexel story. The more questions you asked, the more you could learn about them. It is a good example of how people just want to connect to other people.

I think we need to think of more ways for people to share their stories...maybe that should be my ning. For right now, I will just quietly think about it and listen to others tell their stories and watch the Classroom 2.0 ning. I am currently multi-tasking, blogging while I am attending a Birds-Of-A-Feather Open Source/Web 2.0 session at NECC. People are sharing lots of great stories here. It is great stuff but almost information overload at the same time. For some of the best Web 2.0 tools, check out the Classroom wiki website. I'm off to go explore some of these tools and listen to the stories!

Have you connected with someone and told a story to today?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let them Bring It!

I am an avid reader of the GLEF website and newsletter. The newsletter I got today had two great articles in it. One of them reminded me of an idea that I have about how to change the funding for technology in schools. I have shared it with a few of my colleagues (most who say it will never work) and it sounds a bit crazy, but it just might get us moving ahead at a faster pace with technology.

What if... we let the students who "have" bring the technology in...and then focus our efforts as a school district on funding technology for those who "have not." In my past experience of being a Palm Education Training Coordinator, I remember hearing Elliott Soloway talk at a conference about the fact that the reason handhelds in education work so well with students is because students take personal ownership of them. I believe he mentioned that in his Detroit Inner-City Handheld Project he only had 5% loss. Amazing!! GLEF asked students what they wanted to see in the classroom and they listed the following; laptops, blue tooth technology, cell phones, digital cameras, graphing calculators, Nintendo DS, video cameras, flash drives, universal remotes, iPods and SIMS (full article). Don't students have many of these items at home, probably even their own? How many of you work in places where these items have been banned?!

Of course, this idea would take some planning and policy setting, however, I think sometimes we make it more complicated than it needs to be. I would like to quote a colleague of mine, a high school principal, on the topic of allowing iPods and cell phones in school, "there are 150 ways students can do damage with a pencil, but we seem to have be able to get that under control so why not technology?!"

The difference with technology is that it is changing all the time...changes make people uneasy. Compared to technology, the changes a pencil has seen in the last 100+ years are relatively simple. Why we don't limit students to only yellow #2 pencils anymore? More importantly, don't we let students bring pencils to school?

To appreciate the difficulty that teachers face when presented with the idea of changing their pedagogy to be problem-based, student centered with technology infused as a tool, take a minute and read Jim Moulton's blog entry about change! It should humble you and help you appreciate what we are asking teachers to do, and if nothing else, it should make you chuckle!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Going Outside to Get In...

I have learned that in closed systems, people become frustrated and hungry to the point of starving for connections and for information! I think the true definition of a closed system should also somehow involve the word insanity! If we are not willing to let new ideas *IN* or let people *OUT* to have new experiences, how will we ever grow? If the only reinforcement of ideas is from within, the message doesn't change and most likely, those in the having the conversation won't change either.

Today I started a new conversation in our district between librarians, technology teachers , technology coordinators and some who also fulfill the role of webmaster. We brainstormed about the cross overs, specialties and the potential for collaboration. Unfortunately, due to summer scheduling, the groups will barely cross paths in person due to the nature of trying to get busy people together. Fortunately, we will be able to use Moodle to create a virtual conversation. The challenge of all of the groups will be to open their minds to new ideas about working together. It will begin by communicating with the groups about the scope and seqence of each other's curriculum, something they have never seen. It also involves appreciating the perspecitve of two very different mind sets, the digital natives and the digital immigrants, however, should'd we also add the digital refugee??!! Interesting and mind steps...but, baby steps are still steps!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Before you can change it...

It occurred to me that before you can change a discussion, you first have to have one to change! Seems simple. In preparing for my upcoming presentations at NECC I have been going back to my research on change. One of my favorite writers on this subject is Margaret Wheatley. In her 2002 book entitled Turning to One Another, she talks about starting conversations. Specifically, "if we want to change the conversation, we have to change who's in the conversation" (Wheatley, 2002). In one of her most recent articles, she talks about large scale change happening as emergence and beginning with local actions.

Locally, next week Drexel's School of Education is holding their First Annual Leadership Conference entitled"Collaborative and Sustainable Leadership: From ONE of us to ALL of us." I believe it is places like this that local conversations, discussions and networks can start! I will be starting a conversation with two of my colleagues on system-oriented leadership at that conference. If you don't have anything to do on Saturday, June 23 at 2 pm, why don't you join our conversation!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Changing the Discussion

Today I joined my first ning. I have not yet started a blog or a wiki because until today, I had not figured out what to focus on or what cool title to use. Having finished my dissertation research last year, I wanted to take a year off to read and observe others but not necessarily write. In thinking about how to introduce myself on the ning I realized what I really want to focus on (at least for now) is changing the discussion about educational other words, changing the WAY we talk about technology integration. Others are starting to talk about it also. Not talking about the STUFF (hardware) but the PROCESS of utilizing tools to create more student-centered learning environments. Those of you who know me know that I embrace change as well as discussion so it seemed only fitting that I would create a blog combining the two! : )