Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May Technology Update from the director

Technology Update from the director 

Technology planning is shifting into high gear within the DMTS department. As we wrap up this year, we have shifted much of our efforts to summer and 2012-2013 projects. Here is a quick update.

Technology refresh and renew:

Since January we have been having great discussions at the building about what technology isneeded in order to achieve our mission. Specifically, the discussion has been focused on what is our building standard level of classroom technology. This has been defined as your classroom digital(Login to Edina Apps required) standard. In the last month an inventory has been completed that identified rooms that currently meet thisstandard and beginning this summer we will be begin addressing any identified gaps.

In addition tothis foundation is a recognition that there is a need for instructional technology that enables our educators to unleash a passion in learning or empower great teaching. To address this need, DMTS has created the iSquared initiative. iSquared application process ends May 18th, so please get your applications in soon.

I understand that even with the development of the digital standards and the opportunities ofiSquared, there is a feeling that we still do not have enough student centric technology. Indeed, content areas are increasingly identifying digital content and instructional delivery that is digital.

Unfortunately,even with the increased resources the technology levy is bringing to the district, the reality is we are constrained on our ability to provide everystudent a digital device. On top of that, our experience has proven that student technology initiatives that promote personal responsibility, choice, and anytime learning have a greater level of success and lower cost of ownership. For these reasons, Edina Public Schools has adopted Bring Your Own Device(BYOD )in order to address student used digital devices. Recently the district has been highlighted in national press for our work in promoting the use of personal digital devices in the classroom. The theory behind Bring Your OwnDevice is that within the next couple of years, content will be delivered in a digital format, and that more and more of our students will have a digital device that they use not only for personal interaction but also for information access. Though this world does not currently exist, we are beginning to lay the foundation for this world today. Specifically, DMTS is working on the following issues in preparation for this eventuality:
?         Developing a web based platform for delivery of our content
?         Ensuring our curriculum material is in a digital format
?         Empowering our teachers by providing professional development and time to develop instruction and content for a digital world
?         Creating the infrastructure and support models to sustain this digital world
We are not there yet, but in the coming year the district will begin to aggressively address these needs.

Our digitalpresence and communicating with our families and student:

Communication is vital to the success of our students. As a district we have decided to standardize digital communication between families and schools.
We have created this document(login to Edina Apps Required) to articulate these standards. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with these changes.

What does thismean for teachers?

All Teachers
Communication expectations. Teachers should inform families and post their communication expectations as it relates to responding to calls and emails. The recommended time to respond to a parent is within 24 hours.

Secondary teachers:
Are asked to post and update once a year or changes for the following info:
?         How to contact you: Your name, email and phone number on your web page
?         What you teach: Your syllabus and any homework/class policies on your web page
From time to time you may need to provide your parents and students with timely information such as:
?         Announcements
?         Important dates via the iCue Gradebook or using a Google calendar
Most important is the desire for your parents and students to know how they are doing academically, so twice a month you are asked to:
?         Update your TIES i-Cue gradebook.
Elementary teachers:

Are asked to post and update once a year the following info:
?         How to contact you; Your name, email and phone number on your web page
?         What you teach: Your classroom schedule and any homework/class policies on your web page
From time to time you may need to provide your parents and students with timely information such as:
?         Announcements
?         Important dates via a Google calendar
?         Newsletters. These should be posted on your website and emailed to your parents.
To help facilitate the creation and maintenance of teacher digital and communication expectations there are these tools:
?         Main website: Starting July 1, 2012, in addition to hosting district and school web pages, there will be added ability for staff to create and maintain their own web presence.
?         Edina Apps Website. Some teachers currently are using Edina Apps to host their website. They can continue to do so but must link this website to their schools main website.
?         i-Cue/SchoolView. The iCue grade book is the official grade book and is required use in the secondary schools. Grade reporting should be updated on a bi-weekly basis. In addition to grade reporting, iCue is to be used by the secondary teachers to display in a calendar view all homework, testing, and important class dates.
?         Moodle: Moodle is our online learning environment and can be used as an online venue for continued instruction.
?         Email: Teachers are encouraged to use the advanced features within outlook such as the “Out of Office Assistant” to notify parents of response commitment.
?         Phone: Teachers are encouraged to use the advanced features within the phone system such as the standard voicemail greeting to notify parents of response commitment.
Not familiar with these options? Don’t worry, we will be conducting drop in work sessions in your building next fall during the back to school week. Keep an eye for the dates and time for your building.

Bits and Bytes:

Email is going social! We want to give you a heads up on a new socialization feature of Outlook 2010. Within Outlook 2010 is the ability to associate staff pictures with their email sent and received emails. This feature displays the picture of a staff member who sends or receives an email within district Outlook. Though, on face value, this does not seem like a big deal, it helps foster a sense of connection between email and the real person who sent it. Don’t worry the pictures only show up in our email system and do not show on emails sent outside the district. Also, don’t like your photo? The HR department will be offering a couple of opportunities for staff to stop by and get their picture updated.

Spring cleaning on your computer files! Again all computers will be re-imaged to Windows 7 thissummer so I wanted to remind you that all of your files need to be removed from your computer before the end of the school year. Also, any software above and beyond the standard software will need to be reinstalled on your computer. Contact your tech para for assistance.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any comments or concerns.

Steve Buettner
Director of Media and Technology

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Edina's Teaching & Technology Cohort

Over the past year 29 teachers from Edina Public Schools participated in a Teaching and Technology Cohort. Because of a grant from the Edina Education Fund, the teachers were able to participate in the cohort for a reduced price.

The certificate consisted of four courses:
  • Collaboration and Community with a Global Perspective
  • Curriculum in the Cloud - Integrating Curriculum with Technology
  • Authentic Assessment using Technology
  • Emerging Technology and Trends

After completing the four courses, each Edina teacher earne
d a Teaching and Technology certificate from Hamline University. The teachers participated in these courses in a blended learning format. Once a month the teachers met face to face and then throughout the month they engaged in learning online using Moodle and Google Apps for Education.

The two Edina Technology Integration Specialists, Mike Walker and myself, taught the courses and were able to tailor the courses to enhance Edina's curriculum. Teachers were able to develop lessons, projects and assessments that they could use directly in their classroom. This was a great opportunty to really enage Edina teachers in transforming learning in the 21st Century.

We took a pre assessment of how the teachers in the cohort were using technology and how they felt about their skill level implementing technology into the classroom. We did the same survey at the conclusion of the cohort and were very excited to see growth in the level of confidence that teachers flet as they now could integrate technology into the classroom and curriculum.

Some of the areas that teachers grew the most in were incorporating digital images and digital stories into their curriculum, using Moodle for a blended or online learning experience in their classroom, using Google Docs, blogs, Google Sites, and other Edina Apps in their classroom, and using web tools and resources to enhance learning in the classroom. A highlight of the course was lear
ning about screencasting and how to video lessons and instructions so that they could post these lessons to the web for students to watch and relearn or practice concepts. Teachers found that as a result of the cohort they were posting more information and student work to the web. They found themselves participating in global learning networks and promoting digital literacy and citizenship more frequently. At the end of the cohort, 90% of the teachers felt confident in integrating technology into their classroom and curriculum...the other 10% simply said they have so much more to learn. Overall, teachers grew immensely in their understanding, in their tool set, and in integrating technology into the classroom and curriculum. Teachers increase
d their Personal Learning Network by using twitter and other social networks to collaborate and share with professionals outside of their district and building walls.

When asked what technology tools would help them to engage students in learning, the top tools were laptops, iPads, iTouches and Smart Phones. The teachers reported that technology has greatly impacted the way that they teach and the way that the students learn.

At the end of the cohort each teacher created an e-Portfolio showcasing their work. View Kristy's Portfolio to see a sample of all the projects and work each teacher completed.

You can view a list of all of the ePortfolios off of the Edina Teaching and Technology website.

Each teacher was asked to share an "ah-ha" moment or a reflection of the chohort. They could write about it, blog about it, create a podcast, or find any other creative way of sharing their ideas. Here are a few reflections from the Edina Teaching and Technology Cohort.

Reflections and Ahha Moments

Kristy's Reflection

Kalea's Storyjumper Reflection- See the website version here

Here are a few other written reflections...

SueWhen I started the CoHort my computer was something I used to do office tasks and social planning. I didn’t know how to go to a coffee shop and find a Network. To me a Tab Bar was the thing that moved the cursor to the left and right and I couldn’t figure out why Mike wanted us to open a Tab (pop?). My hardest obstacle at first was overcoming my anxiety at being such a low-ability user. Learning through Moodle took time at first, but it’s practical and now I will use it with the kids. It’s a good way to organize, post and find information. Some skills we learned in CoHort are more helpful in my field than others but the year of course work has altered the way I teach. We learned a lot of new presentation methods like Prezi, Jing and Screencast that will update my lectures and can be downloaded on Moodle so students can listen at home. I’ll focus on the technologies that help kids produce spoken language (Screen Cast, Voki, Go Animate, and the many language Apps out there). Finally GASP! I’ll allow mobile devices in my classroom. Things will change but I’m open to the idea that not everything is going to work. I’m just giving it a try. It’s time....
Finally, a cool part to the CoHort was looking at what other K-12 teachers are doing with technology. Wow! We have outstanding teachers here in Edina schools.

HeatherWhen we started the cohort, we were asked to share what we were looking forward to during our year. I said I was looking forward to “having permission to spend lots of time playing!” Play we did…with tons of really useful tools! I can’t count the number of instantly applicable tech application we learned about during the cohort, and have found great value not only while trying them out with my students, but also in learning how my colleagues are embedding them in their classrooms. I’ve been AMAZED at the thoughtful and creative ways other teachers have approached using technology in the classroom. I’m grateful for the new ideas! This has proven that the properly chosen tech tool is useful in any grade level and any content area.
I appreciate the fact that Mike and Molly really supported us in our efforts to try new things out in the classroom. Knowing their expertise was just a phone call or email away at any point during a project was exactly what I needed to jump right in with different technologies as we learned about them.

I acquired really valuable information and gained valuable skills during the cohort. The information was very timely – technological advances are totally changing the world, and the cohort gave a solid overview of many of the current trends. I think that if we are going to properly prepare students for the future, we need to model the skills and tools presented in the cohort. Along with these tools, we need to make sure students know how to use them effectively, ethically and safely. The four cohort classes did a really nice job preparing me to do my part in making sure that happens.

Heather- About Google Apps for Education a.k.a. Edina AppsThe list of tech tools that I incorporated into my classes this year is long, and I can’t think of any that I won’t try again in the future. If I had to choose only one tool to highlight here, I’d say that the arrival of Google Apps for Education has made the largest impact on my teaching. The sharing functions of Google Docs greatly facilitated collaborative work. In my classroom, students used this format for collaborate in partners, small groups, and with a classroom at Normandale! Google Forms allows for the creation of really quick progress monitoring and visual overviews of student mastery. Picasa’s photo storage options allowed us to keep our class photo albums updated and easily stored uploaded illustrations for 100 students! On the practical side, Google Docs and Google Forms have kept me organized and have greatly simplified homework procedures. They’ve allowed me to easily share templates with students instead of making needless photocopies, and the options they offer for correcting student work have allowed me to give almost instant feedback on many activities AND make informed decisions about student learning needs.

Chad S
I believe that the biggest impact to my professional learning was through the use of Twitter. Twitter has put me in contact with numerous other PE teachers that integrate technology on a regular basis. It helps knowing that there are professionals out there that are willing to help when you want to bounce ideas around. Just like in the actual building I teach, teachers always say we could use more time to meet, that it would help our teaching. Twitter does that without needing the actual facetime. My life and teaching won't be the same becasue of Twitter.

Now I see technology as a powerful learning tool not just a cool thing to add to lessons and projects. During the cohort, I had my students use most of the new tools I was learning. It truly empowered them and they always wanted more. They wanted to know about the new tools that I learned. I thought that it was very empowering for them to know that they were learning and using the same tools I was learning in my classes.

What have you gained?I have gained knowledge of tools, resources and ideas. I have gained an appreciation for collaboration and assessment. I have gained confidence in my own technological abilities. But most of all, I have gained an excitement for showing my students how technology can enhance their music making!

Mary Z
Before the cohort, I had a pretty healthy attitude towards technology in education. I did not, however, see the benefits of truly integrating technology into the curriculum. I always held the notion that the teacher was responsible for utilizing technology in her lesson plans. I did not see how the student could take advantage of the myriad of technology in order to better his or her own learning. My perspective on technology prior to the cohort was that I, the teacher would teach with it, rather than actually teaching it. I never had seen myself as a technology instructor, whereas now, I see myself as responsible for introducing and cultivating technological skills.
It is so amazing to work with this talented group of teachers who are ready to transform learning using the new technology skills and tools they learned from the cohort. They are our new leaders in technology education and they will be showcasing their work at the District Kick Off on August 29th. They will also be sharing their projects, tool set and learnings in staff meetings, team meetings and other various opportunities throughout the year.

We all know that behind all learning is great teaching. The teachers have a new tool box to transform their classroom, projects and learning space. Congrats to a great cohort of Edina teachers in the Teaching and Technology Cohort! Your dedication, hard work and example of life long learning is inspiring to all.

We hope to offer the Teaching and Technology Cohort again staring in the fall of 2012.

-Molly Schroeder
Edina Elementary Technology Integration Specialist
@followmolly on Twitter

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Technology: assisting students with special needs in Edina

 Edina’s Special Services department continues to serve our students with special needs.  One method for helping these students is through the use of technology.  Indeed, for these students, technology may provide opportunities for expanded participation in our school district.  In Edina, the district has an assistive technology person who is dedicated to identifying these opportunities.  Assistive Technology is defined as “promoting greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to or changed methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks
Nichole Krier, is the districts Assistive Technology specialist and has been doing some outstanding work.  Specifically in Edina, the following activities have been recently undertaken
In the spring of 2011, the Special Services department increased the number of iPads, produced by Apple, in various programs across the district after being awarded grant funding from the Edina Education Fund.  Over the years, people with disabilities and other special needs have seen an improvement in quality of life due to new technology tools. These fast technology moves continue to open many doors for people with disabilities in education, employment, and social interaction.  As we all know, Apple continues to increase the number of applications (commonly known as "apps") available for individuals with special needs.  The Special Services department has experienced tremendous success in the piloted programs at Cornelia and Creek Valley Elementary.  The students are engaged in the learning activities, as well as being motivated with the innovative tool.

Other tools, including interactive whiteboards, Alphasmarts and various software programs continue to help level the playing field for our students.  Edina’s online applications labeled EdinaApps, primarily made up of Google Apps for education and Moodle strive to provide universal access by reaching people who are blind or low vision and deaf or hard of hearing.  Though both products show great potential, they also have identified assess issues and potential work arounds.  Here is some additional information surrounding access,:
Both organizations are committed to continue to work to improve these tools to provide greater access.

In Edina we will continue to identify and promote technology tools that provide universal access for all students to the world of life long learning

Monday, August 15, 2011

Blogged posting on Edina Teaching and Technology Cohort 2010-2011

Molly Schroeder has blogged a recap of the year long technology certificate program she and Mike Walker delivered last year for Edina Public Schools.  The technology certificate program has been a huge success and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mike and Molly and all the participants.  You all are creating the critical mass for change!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Technology Plan video

We have just created a short video of our recently approved technology plan.  This video discusses the following aspects of the Edina Public Schools technology plan

  • Technology Philosophy Statement
  • Goals
  • Benefits/Objectives
  • Key Initiatives

To read more about the technology plan and the process please visit the planning website

Friday, May 13, 2011

The role of Library Media in Edina Public Schools

The Edina Public School schools media specialists have put together this year in review video.  I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank them for all of the hard work they do for our children.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Technology Change in Today's School

The Times They Are a-Changin'

Have you seen the new commercial from Best Buy about how fast technology moves? The commercial shows a series of people realizing that their technology is now outdated with the release of a newer version. Though the idea behind this commercial is to sell us insurance on technology innovation, it speaks volumes to the rate of change that technology continues to undergo.

As a district we are not immune from this technological change. Technology tools, including iPads, interactive whiteboards, Google, social networking sites, Web sites and cloud computing, continue to provide opportunities for our students and teachers to empower and enhance learning. Our challenge is: how do we quickly identify, deploy and train our organization so that these advances add value to our students and teachers?

I would like to share two examples of how we are building the capacity for change.

Professional Development
A certainty is that any technology without proper training does not have the same impact on student learning. Throughout this year the Technology Integration Specialists are providing professional development though our Ed Fund sponsored "Teaching and Technology Cohort" program. The goal of this 12-month program is to provide educators with the tools and skills they need to integrate technology into their classrooms and curriculum.  In the most recent course, participants were asked to spend 20 percent of their time on a personal learning project, integrating what they learned into their classrooms and then share their experience. Teachers shared that this type of professional development was exactly the time and space they needed to engage in technology and how it can impact student learning.

Technology Vision
To help us navigate this constant change, Edina Public Schools has been actively defining a vision for how technology will impact our work. After meeting with students, parents, teachers, staff, and other community members, four goals emerged from the conversations.
They are:

1. Unleash students' passion for lifelong learning
2. Empower and enhance excellent teaching
3. Engage families in a partnership for education
4. Demonstrate excellence in service, operations and    

For each or these goals we will define key initiatives that, when accomplished in the upcoming year, will harness the power of technology to move our district forward. Yes, technology will continue to evolve and change the way we teach and learn. These are just two examples of how District Media and Technology Services (DMTS) will continue to adapt and prepare for change so our students will be successful in an increasingly technology-rich world.

Stay tuned.

Steve Buettner
Director of District Media and Technology Services (DMTS)