International EdTech

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Craig Kemp – Global Conversations – Building EdTech Capacity

In this episode of the Global Conversations series, we talk with Craig Kemp from Ignite EdTech. Craig is an international EdTech consultant who focuses on the learning side of technology in schools. In this interview, we talk about ways to engage teachers in building their EdTech capacity both in tools and teaching approaches.

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Technology is the Circulatory System of the School

Technology is the Circulatory System of a School

People often ask Tech Directors, “What exactly do you do?” The answer is of course incredibly complex, but in essence they keep the blood flowing to all the parts of the school.

Let’s think of a school as a living organism (which in many ways it is). This organism is a community of people working towards a common mission of student learning. They work together an interconnected set of systems, workflows, and dependencies much like the human body.

In the human body, each system serves a purpose towards the greater goal of keeping the body alive. Some of these systems are quite visible to use (the consumption of food, our ability to move, our senses, etc.) while others work in the background (the nervous system, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, etc.).

In schools, technology serves as the circulatory system.

In the human body, the circulatory is vital system that branches to every part of the body exchanging blood to ensure continued life. It contains a collection of mechanisms and parts that ensure the blood continues to be oxygenated and distributed, while prepared for emergencies should there be a problem.

The same is true of technology in a school. Technology’s purpose in a school is to distribute the life blood of the organization: information. Whether it’s network cable and wifi serving as the arteries and veins or maintaining access to the most updated information as the oxygenation of blood, technology helps ensure that every part of the school that needs it. Technology has backups and protective measures to handle issues and emergencies similar to the circulatory system. And just like the circulatory system, technology works about 97% of the time and people rarely notice it unless there is a major problem.

Of course, we have to address a key thought you might be having: with this analogy, does he think technology is the heart of the school? Well, yes…and no. From a functional standpoint, yes, technology runs the heart of the school. The servers and systems that pump information everywhere its needed acts as the four-chamber heart of the school. It needs to be well maintained, protected, and free of clogging. A breakdown of this system is akin to a heart attack with the same potential severity. From a metaphoric standpoint, no, technology is not the emotional heart and purpose that drives a school. It is not the reason the school operates or the school’s driving force. Nor should it ever be…though I think we all know tech people who might disagree.

Technology as the functional heart and circulatory system, but not the emotional heart of a school is key concept for all stakeholders as it sets clear expectations and culture.

If leaders, teachers, parents, students, and technology personnel understand the critical role technology holds in all academic and operational areas of the school then expectations can be appropriately set. Uptime requirements and communications from the tech department will be more in line with the reliance all others place on their work. The need for institutional support and appropriate funding will help ensure system health. The need for clear protective measures and operational procedures will be understood by all stakeholders. And realistic expectations around technology capacity, functionality, and reliability will be held by all. Further, when everyone in a school understands the circulatory system role of technology a culture of better communication and efficient technology usage tends to arise.

This begs the question: how do leaders, teachers, and parents better engage the technology department to build this understanding?

First, a technology roadmap for the school should be co-created to outline the current state of technology across the organization. This will outline the veins, arteries, and (functional) heart of the system. Such a roadmap will allow for greater clarity of decision making and serve as a backup of institutional knowledge.

Next, the process and data flows should be mapped by the tech team. This outline of the blood will allow the school to better understand what data it has, how it is used, and how teams work together to ensure consistent flow.

Last, an exercise program and healthy eating program should be put in place. The goal of better data flow, protected technology, and systemic improvement should be treated the same way we aim to exercise and eat well. The school should do this through strategic planning, cybersecurity auditing, and data flow and protection procedures.

By understanding that technology is the circulatory system of the school and treating it as such, the functional aspect of the organization can be maintained and improved in a healthy manner. This will allow everyone to focus on the true heart of the institution.

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Tara Linney – Global Conversations – Girls in Coding

In this episode of the Global Conversations series, we talk with Tara Linney about her book Code Equity: Keying Girls Into Coding. Code Equity is an EdTech book talking about Girls in Coding. We talk about empower girls in coding and computer science, from clubs to support to activities to encouragement. An inspiring discussion for helping girls become more involved in EdTech.

Buy the book here:
https://www.amazon.com/Code-Equity-Keying-girls-coding-ebook/dp/B07B9HN6YB/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=code+equity&qid=1587372291&sr=8-1

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YOLO – You’re Only in Lockdown Once, SO HAVE FUN!!!

During COVID19, most of the rules and social norms are out the window. So, now is a time to experiment, goof off, try new things, dress up, tell stories, make videos…do things you couldn’t normally do in school.

In short, YOLO – You’re Only in Lockdown Once…SO HAVE FUN!!!

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Go for Creativity, Not Complexity

As teachers are thrust into using technology for learning, they tend to slip back into a common pitfall of more, more, more. We see more tasks to do, more questions to answer, and more complexity in our tasks. However, more isn’t always best…in this COVID19 time, I suggest we give more control to students and ask them to be creative in their work. Have them show their learning through their creative ideas. This will take up time, increase engagement, and make learning more meaningful.

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Digital Hygiene during COVID19

Cyberattacks, data breaches, and privacy issues have been all over the news during our stint of force remote learning. In this video, I talk about Digital Hygiene for cybersafety and cybersecurity. We should take the same approach as we do with Physical Hygiene during COVID19 – Social Distancing, Wearing Face Masks, and Quarantines.

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Try Something New If Not Now, When?

In these unique times, we have a huge opportunity to experiment and try things we have never done before. Whether professionally or personally, the time is now. We don’t know when this will end and the stakes are different. No exams, fewer grades, and students ripe for new experiences. So whether you a teacher or a parent, try something new…maybe even shave your head!

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Teachers, Please Give Actionable Feedback

We are still in the middle of the COVID19 crisis, but home learning seems to be going well. Teachers are doing a great job of connecting with students while managing their own crazy lives. In this vlog post, I recommend that reachers avoid “Good Job” or “Well Done” when giving feedback to students. Instead giving them actionable and specific feedback to encourage them, be constructively critical, and give them items to work on with a timeline for review.

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Sean Thompson – Global Conversation – Writing an EdTech Book

In this episode of the Global Conversations series, we talk with Sean Thompson about his new book, Creativity is Everything: Rethinking Technology, Schools & Humanity. Sean talks about the process of ideating, writing, editing, and publishing an EdTech (Educational Technology) book. This inspiring interview give tons of tips and tricks for aspiring educational authors.

Buy his book here:
https://www.amazon.com/Creativity-Everything-Rethinking-Technology-Humanity-ebook/dp/B082QSTXTC/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=creativity+is+everything&qid=1587371590&sr=8-1

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Parents, You Don’t Need To Be a Teacher At Home

A message for parents during #RemoteLearning: You Don’t Need To Be a Teacher at Home. Home learning is a tough time for all parents, having other responsibilities, and little experience with teaching. Don’t worry about. Don’t feel like you need to be a teacher at home. Just be supportive and present with your kids. The emotional part of learning is just as important as the content and by you being there, as much as you can, you will fill that need and have a lasting impact.

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