Thursday, June 16, 2011

Walking the Talk of #Edtech

Pop quiz: You get invited to teach a class as an acting superintendent to principals who want to be superintendents. You are a huge #edtech advocate. What do you do? My answer is to walk the talk. For those of you who have been inspired by Scott McLeod like I have, this is an interesting case study. Here's what I tried to do:

  • I started with a Google Site and embedded the syllabus as a Google Doc. (It's my first time teaching the course so the syllabus is still a bit raw.)

  • I then used David Warlick's method of incorporating backchannel class dialogue, capturing an entire different element to the class, including aggregated class notes, idea processing, informal Q and A between classmates, and the real-time documentation of a hype-local personal learning network. It's much like a fused class journal documenting the learning  After each class, I copy and paste the dialogue into a Google Doc, answer questions and respond to interesting exchanges. 

    • Next, I mimicked Michael Wesch and had each student in the class set up a blog, collected the RSS feeds for the each blog's posts and comments, used Yahoo Pipes to consolidate the feeds into one pipe output, which I embedded into the Google Site. 

    • To provide an integrated environment for threaded discussion, I used Google Groups to post questions and allow students to thoughtfully exchange ideas and responses. 

    • In order to provide primary sources and other materials from which to build constructivist/project-based learning experiences, I have uploaded all the class resources to a "file cabinet" webpage. 

    • Finally, I've embedded the RSS feed from a Diigo social bookmarking group, allowing for "current events" discussions and opportunities for real-life case studies. This is also a Michael Wesch specialty. 

    The class has met once so far, and it is going well, but not without problems. Introducing prospective district-level leaders to the complexities of the superintendency is a large enough task on its own. The challenge of  #edtech integration is admittedly still more characteristic of experiment than of full amplification. I sense that basic digitally-oriented skills such as tab management and password organization are hurdles on which we'll have to continue to work. And I don't even want to talk about access to electrical outlets or adequate access to WiFi.

    I'd love feedback on my effort to walk the talk. How have all of you walked the talk? How have you navigated through the assessment puzzle of content standards, technology, and project-based assessment?


    1. WOW! What a lot of differentiated tech integration. To think you are teaching how to be a superintendent and integrating tech too is quite an accomplishment. Sounds like you are using some great tools though. Keep it up.

    2. Dang! When I tried to select a profile, I lost my comment. So here's an abbreviated version.

      Two observations:

      1 -- Since some of your administrators are having problems remembering their passwords and do not immediately see the benefits of browser tabs, it might be useful to case study some of the applications. For instance, rather than asking them to backchannel in class, engage in a backchannel exchange with your PLN and bring the transcript of that into class, making available a video tutorial on how they might set up their own backchannel.

      2 -- I know how vexing lack of WiFi and even electricity can be. But I think that we have to approach this as a strictly temporary situation. Your future superintendents need to be prepared for their future functions in a learning environment where information and communication technologies are ubiquitous.

      Thanks for sharing and great luck to you!

      -- dave --

    3. Brad,

      Really good stuff. I agree with Dave on the backchannel though. I think you need to demo it, show some application, and allow time for them to explore. I'm not sure if you are using Warlick's PLN article from Leading & Learning a few years ago but it's always a must for me when discussing PLN with anyone. We actually have teachers or admins map out what they want their PLN to be using inspiration or whatever mind mapping tool they are comfortable with.

      I have used the Diigo group to help facilitate investigation of learning and dialoge in between sessions as well. It's perfect and something easy for them to learn.

      You may want to show them a few tools to help their efficiency as well. I always show evernote and Google Docs (mainly forms) to help attract leaders to edtech. Many can see the relevance in their profession to those tools right away. After that, I move into the more social learning concepts.

      Great stuff! Viterbo, huh? I got my masters from there. They do a lot in Iowa. Maybe we should team teach a class sometime? :-)

    4. Brad,

      I am constantly amazed by your inner drive and passion to make substantial and productive change in western WI with educational administrative leadership. I am intrigued by your "Big Picture" thinking and sound structure you are providing your learners, while infusing robust digital tools into meaningful tasks to improve their technology skill sets.

      "Transformative Personal and Professional Empowerment" are the words that come to mind of the collaborative and communicative learning environment you are modeling with your learners. This type of environment is exactly what our 21st century administrators need to improve their collective intelligence skill sets to "walk the talk" in their school districts. Thank you for providing this necessary educational journey to empower educational leaders in our tri-state area to challenge their thinking, allow them to take risks, and provide them a safe environment to improve their technology skill sets.

      Hope to catch up with you soon. Keep doing the great things you are doing everyday to make continued positive educational impacts with students, educators, community members and your PLN!

      I appreciate all you do!

      Naomi Harm

    5. Brad,

      You are clearly giving them a glimpse of everything that is possible. I would poll them as what is most useful and focus it. I have found that online groups intended for discussion never work for beginning audiences and view the role of groups as fodder for tech leaders. The ideas you gain in groups translate to the people you work with but you don't necessarily have to have them all participate in one. They often view it as one more thing or another login they need to remember.

      I would also streamline the backchannel into a collaborative doc that everyone can take notes on and then embed that in a site for easy viewing. The active participants can guide the process and the others will see it play out in real time. It will model how they can use the collaboration in their admin roles and how collaboration is transforming how things are done.

      Just a few ideas....