Archive for April, 2011

Are you graciously willing to give me your Twitter Handle?

April 26, 2011 2 comments

I first learned about Twitter at DevLearn 2008, when I walked by one of the monitors displaying all these tweets related to the conference. It was definitely new and I had a difficult time understanding what it really provided as a tool. But when I attended a session on Twitter and other social media tools at DevLearn, it dawned on my quickly on its potential. But at the time, I was still leery in using it as a professional medium, so I made up a digital pen name called @socratech. The name was obviously not arbitrarily chosen, as the name was a play on the Socratic method and Technology. However, my point of choosing a digital pen name was to hide my real name, Howard Chan. So I didn’t bother registering the Twitter handle of @hchan or @howardchan. While I like my @socratech Twitter handle, I would prefer to have one of the two handles mentioned instead.

After looking at the two accounts, @howardchan has not tweeted since April 2010 and @hchan has not tweeted since September 2009. Both accounts don’t appear to be used much and have a combined 57 tweets. I remember reading somewhere on Twitter policy, that you could request for those Twitter handles if they find the accounts not being used. However, I am not sure what constitutes not being used. Nevertheless, I am writing this post to ask the following question to @howardchan and @hchan: Are you graciously willing to give me your Twitter Handle? If you are out there or if you are reading this and know one of them, I would be eternally grateful if you could fulfill my request, thank you!

*Thanks to @classroom_tech for inspiring this post from your tweet: hmm… wonder if I could get either the @garnerg or @greggarner handles. those guys have a combined four tweets… maybe if I’m REALLY nice?


To Google or To Tweet?

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

During technology professional development this week, I facilitated a session on how educators are using social media for professional growth and learning. I showed the group many of the valuable resources and media regularly shared such as Classroom 2.0, EduPLN, and Tom Barrett’s Interesting Ways Series (Thanks @davidwees for sharing). I also shared many articles and blog posts related to social media in education such as the following:

In my efforts to promote using social media tools such as Twitter, I often field thoughtful questions when approached with something new. Usually, the why questions? In this particular case, why would I use a medium such as Twitter when I can Google what I am looking for? It was a fair question that I had to pause to think about. My immediate answer was that Twitter provides a human two-way element to sharing information that Google cannot provide. And that Twitter allows you to connect with educators on a deeper level by exchanging thoughts and comments to grow as a professional. Naturally, I thought, why not demonstrate the power of Twitter and ask this question to my PLN. And just for kicks I Googled the same question I posed on Twitter and this is what I got back from Google.

Here are the responses from Twitter:

  • @techforschools Twitter is where I discover what I don’t know. Google is where I search for answers to an known problem. #edtech
  • @mpondu Twitter information & searches are vetted by trusted communities, which can be refined to common interests.
  • @george_haines Information is a small piece. Cultivating relationships for collabs, connections is a huge value. #edchat
  • @thedippyhippy Because Google will not provide you with the accompanying advice and professional experience that a twitter PLN offers. #edchat
  • @matt_arguello Google searches everything. If you have a good PLN, getting info is much faster and relevant. More personal too.
  • @jcorippo Twitter answers back in conversation and discussion in a way a search cannot… #edchat #edtech
  • @dmchugh675 you usual get a better quality of reply from your PLN. Specific links, advice, things to avoid etc. #edchat #edtech
  • @kelalford Because Twitter is like having 100 people search Google for you and test our the site before they recommend it with ideas
  • @ugaodawg Real conversations with real people.
  • @franze98 pln can be a more trustworthy, up-to-date, real life situations source. #edtech #eduit
  • @carptracy Twitter is the ultimate edtech filter. All the best resources in one, easily accessible place.
  • @seanjcl Googling info works well when you know what you want. Twitter can provide you value you didn’t know you wanted.
  • @mrblakelylhs because your #PLN on #Twitter does the work. #Google search means you have to sort through the millions of sites out there.
  • @inquirebook With Google, you find what you look for. With Twitter as a PLN, you find what you didn’t even know to look for. #edchat #edtech
  • @samgliksman Often the most valuable information isn’t what you knew you wanted…the value of Twitter is in the knowledge you “stumble upon”
  • @teacha Twitter provides you with food for thought to develop a ? or ?s to discuss and ponder some more.… (cont)
  • @megormi Your tweeple are a passion focused PLN ready 2 help
  • @becky_ellis_ twitter = curated search by an expert in yr field, whereas google ans. must conform to algorithmic formula not always recent
  • @lcarroll94 when you google you get everyone’s answers… twitter customizes your PLN with ppl YOU select and trust. #edtech #edchat
  • @jasonschmidt123 Twitter helps me find stuff I didn’t know I was looking for!
  • @shighley can get info from people I know/trust vs. paid and popular placements on Google.
  • @magistram I rely more on personal opinions/experience than on Google’s measure of importance. #edchat
  • @heidisiwak Google or Tweet? Tweet. Google is too inefficient and only shows what it thinks I want to see.
  • @millerg6 I’m new to Twitter. It is offering a real time, rich two way conversation that Google simply can’t offer.

The Evolving Role of the Technology Department

April 17, 2011 3 comments

There was a time when technology departments were just seen as technical support, district compliance (also known as “control”) and managers of information. It was the office filled with “geeks” who knew very little about teaching and preferred to speak in bits and bytes. It was often treated as a separate entity responsible for making sure equipment was working properly and protecting the data in the network. The thought of the technology department making decisions on any academic curriculum was as far fetch as teachers making decisions on technology infrastructure. How times have changed…

In recent years, those ideas above have quickly merged into what I call Education Information Technology, the concept of blending technology with education to build next generation schools and classrooms. The thought of separate entities are rapidly becoming the old model, where nowadays, decisions have to be jointly made between academics and technologists. In my humble opinion, the technology decision makers have one of the most critical roles in evolving the educational model for our schools and districts. With the proliferation of educational software and integration of technologies in the classroom, technology decision makers are dealing with far more implications than switches and routers. Not only are network considerations critical to support the classrooms, but the tools that teachers are using are sliding towards the technology pendulum at exponential rates.

The architecture now has multiple layers to evaluate and requires a more comprehensive systems perspective from our technologists. Technologists are now asked to understand how instructional technologies such as interactive whiteboards, online content, social media, and video cameras are integrating with information data systems and network infrastructure. Technologists are now asked to balance a fair acceptable use policy to answer security and safety concerns while providing teachers access to web 2.0 tools and other social networks. Technologists are now asked to understand student data points to build integrated systems to provide teachers dashboards of information. Technologists are now asked to evaluate tools and online curriculum to make decisions on blended learning models. Technologists are now asked to understand student and teacher needs for end-user devices to support 21st century learning. Technologists are now asked to facilitate professional development and developed a culture around 21st century learning. It almost begs the question…

Do our technology decision makers need an education background to support the next generation school? From my point of view, I have seen some amazing teachers handle all services in the technology department, and I have also seen amazing IT folks with compassion and understanding of educator needs. At the end of the day the head of technology needs a new set of skills to tackle the rapidly evolving 21st century schools.

I have written many posts in the past about what skills technologists need to be successful in the next generation K12 school environment, but recently I have came upon a framework that encapsulated many of my thoughts on Education Information Technology. CoSN has established a new framework called Essential Skills of the K12 CTO, which provides a comprehensive list of skills the next generation technologists need to be a “viable” decision maker for schools. I was very happy to see a framework parallel what I have been thinking these past few years and excited to learn more about the program. The framework breaks down into four categories of Leadership and Vision, Understanding Educational Environment, Managing Technology & Support Resources, and Core Values & Skills. Within each category, there are subcategories that CTO and technology decision makers will need to be a successful and critical member of the district/school. While I am envious that I didn’t come up with this framework, I am excited that my ideas matched with a major organization’s idea of a successful technologists.

PostScript: This entry is inspiring to write a post about why we should no longer call it The Technology Department?

5/4/11 – Here is the post Should we even call it the Technology Department anymore?

High School Technology Teacher Opening 2011-2012

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

High School Technology Teacher position now open for applications 2011-2012

Desired Skills:

  • Experienced teaching multimedia graphic design software in a project-based learning environment.
  • Successfully integrated various technologies to engage students in 21st century learning.
  • Uses social media and web 2.0 tools to collaborate, share and practice in professional development with other educators.
  • Demonstrated the use of technology to differentiate, personalize, and accelerate instruction.
  • Experienced delivering instruction using a wide variety of multimedia. (i.e. podcasts, videos, screencasts)
  • Demonstrated classroom management skills blending computer-based technologies with traditional classroom teaching strategies.
  • Has a basic knowledge of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and has the ability to troubleshoot basic computer operations.
  • Proficient with Adobe Creative Suite, Maya 3D modeling software, AutoCad, Google Sketchup and Open Source Multimedia Software a plus.
  • Knowledge of programming languages and modeling software such Scratch, Alice, Kodu Labs and Blender a plus.
  • Shows interest in personal technologies.

Dilemma of an #edtech Dad

Does my professional practice mix with my personal life? Do I push my lifestyle onto my children? Are my tech-driven influences a detriment or benefit to my children? Am I creating zombies out of my kids with digital media content? With access to a wide variety of digital tools in my house, am I giving my kids too much “tech?” All fair questions…and I am not sure I have answers to all of them with complete clarity, but I am a believer in balancing what I give my children even though I am swarmed with technology as a career, personal learning network and 21st century constant learner.

Throughout my professional career, I have been dedicated in blending education with technology as a catalyst for transformation. I have combined experiences in systems engineering, information technology, professional development and teaching to build next generation school infrastructures and educational programs. I live and breathe information communications technologies as the key driver to my life-long learning.

Moreover, my lifestyle is clearly influencing how my daughters are growing up with instant access to multimedia tools and resources at such a young age. Many will argue that it is too early for such use, but I am a believer in its ability to engage my daughters in next generation learning. As much as I encourage my kids to use the iPhone for educational apps, use the computer to Skype with grandparents, and play interactive games on Starfall, I am NOT quite sure sending my kids to a “technology” driven school or virtual school would add to their education experience. Technology is embedded into our family’s everyday lifestyle, that IMHO, a school with this focus will add very little value.

Whenever I speak of technology, I speak of it in cultural change to support the broader 21st century skills and overall educational model. Unfortunately, too much attention is put on the technology tools and “coolness” factor of ICT devices, that we forget that 21st century learning can occur in many capacities. Technology should be a transparent tool within the school and not treated as  a separate novelty. Knowing full well that my daughters will naturally be engaged with ICT multimedia web 2.0 tools on regular basis (with or without school), I hope to find a school that focuses more on subjects that engage my kids in a variety of modalities (with or without technology embedded). When the day comes to search for a school for my children, I hope to find a school that will deliver on the following:

Speech and Debate – Learning the art of academic oral debating will far more provide an avenue for my daughters to gain a voice than any Voicethread or Edmodo.

Foreign Languages – The one subject area America consistently struggles with is providing an integrated foreign language education for our students. I always wished I learned my parents’ language, but I was raised to focus on English. My daughters’ are learning Mandarin at their daycare, and I value that experience so highly that I am constantly looking for preschools that can deliver a bilingual education in Mandarin. I want the experience to be authentic and not be delivered through a Rosetta Stone type product.

Applied Sciences and Mathematics – The foundation of formulas and facts are key here, but ultimately applying those concepts in applied models is where the authentic learning really takes place. I want my daughters engaged in hands-on projects that delivers on the engineering innovation process. While multimedia tools are fun to virtually model, I would rather I have my daughters take it a step further and build it.

Drama Theatre – This is one aspect of education that I have always been intimated with as a child and I feel this form of creative expression is a 21st century skill worth investing time for my daughters. While making videos is fun and creative as a student, I think the live team performance of drama is a rare opportunity to experience.

Athletics – Developing the body is just as important to a healthy education as is developing the mind. While Wii and other interactive sports tools are coming out, I would still prefer to have my daughters’ outside developing their athletic skills.

VAPA – Visual and performing arts is another form of creative expression that nurtures the soulful spirit. Providing opportunities to engage in a variety of hands-on VAPA projects touches on multiple modalities than just working on photoshop multimedia tools.

Community Service – When I went to school, the motto “men for others” help influence my path in becoming a teacher and instilling community service early will drive home the importance of helping others.

Culinary Arts – They use to call it home economics, but today it has evolved to an artistic form of creative expression. They don’t call it “feeding the soul” for nothing.

Music – This form of artistic expression captures moods and the soulful spirit in my kids. I always enjoy watching my kids sing and dance with music.

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My #edtech Video Links

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