Archive for May, 2011

The “Almost” Blog Posts

Recently, I have been experiencing writer’s block and have five blog posts in the queue waiting to be completed. However, with a plethora of activity around work combined with some vacation, NBA playoffs, and family time, my focus on writing has swayed. It is unfortunate because the blog posts I have started are worth going in depth. In attempt to finally wrap up these entries, I am hoping to get some folks in my PLN to provide some guidance. Below are the several blog entries I have started, but have yet to coherently pull together a full post. Any insight, comments, and questions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Almost Blog Post #1: Maximizing Learning Opportunities, Mitigating Risk

I have been doing some self reflection on how I make technology decisions, it has always gone back to this philosophy of supporting 21st century learning opportunities, while strategically asking the tough questions to mitigate organizational risk. There are many technologies, 21st century ideas and programs out there, but…

Almost Blog Post #2: About My Path

There are a myriad of reasons and paths I went through to comfortably say Education Information Technology has become more of a lifestyle than just work. My path has taken me through three distinct job characteristics over the years, and I would categorize them in engineering, sales, and education.

Almost Blog Post #3: Innovation in Education

There are many brilliant educators who are dedicating their profession to making systematic changes to the current education system. As Christensen describes his book Disrupting Class, it is those who are redesigning education from the traditional monolithic approach to a more student centric model of learning. The book left me wanting to dig deeper with people who are championing change in the educational model. This post will serve as a compilation of people, schools, blogs, videos, articles, and research resources that have influenced my thinking towards education innovation. All, btw, had me ask more questions than answers.

Almost Blog Post #4: Thoughts on Disrupting Class

I finally got around to reading Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen, and it left me wanting to dig deeper into “student-centric” learning. It felt like a precursor to another book or chapter that would provide a framework for “student-centric” technologies and case studies of what it l0oks like. What I did find inspiring about the book was the

While I enjoyed the business and technology angle in the book, I felt Clayton didn’t completely capture what it means to have “student-centric” learning. He does point out that online learning will play an important role in…

Almost Blog Post #5: Keep the Flame Burning

A colleague of mine provided some words of wisdom in the often challenging world of promoting educational technology. As I have written in previous posts such as “The Boiling Frog” EdTech Metaphor, sharing your passion for edtech can leave some jumping out of the pot real quickly if not carefully simmered amongst the culture. While that can be frustrating for some of us in this profession, we have to remind ourselves that our philosophy of teaching…

At some point, I will get around to finishing what I started…

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Will the Google CR-48 $20/month deal be a game changer for K12?

Google is planning to launch a $20/month CR-48 netbook package for students. If it is what I am reading on the web, the CR-48 netbook will include a 2 year contract of 100MB/month Verizon 3G service. So if you were to total the 2 years, you would get a 12.1 inch Atom processor with 2GB RAM netbook loaded with ChromeOS (instant web in 8 seconds) + 3G internet (100MB/month limitation) for about $480. For schools strapped with cash flow, this could be an intriguing option instead of purchasing a netbook up front without any 3G service. So instead of paying $400-$600 up front, a school can spread the cost over 2 years. With 30 Chromebooks at $20/month, the bill would be around $7200, versus purchasing a class set of netbooks up front, say around $600 (after taxes, shipping, and 3 year warranty), which will be roughly $18,000. You also have to provide a wireless infrastructure to support the devices, versus a limited 100MB/month 3G coverage. Many administrators will have to way the cost of owning the device versus leasing a device. If you purchased the equipment, you more than likely extend the life cycle of it another couple years. However, to provide an option for students to receive 3G service at that rate, it could potentially be the better option. Nevertheless, before we dive into any contracts, I would need to answer the following questions:

  • What happens to the device after the two years? Does Google take it back?
  • Could you lease the device for only 9-10 months and return it for the summer?
  • Could the student or school purchase the device after the contract is up?
  • What does the tech support policy look like from both Google and Verizon?
  • What happens if a student goes over the 100MB/month cap? Is it automatically blocked?
  • Is 100MB enough? Will there be options to upgrade?
  • Can ERate be applied to the contract?
  • What is the warranty on the device?
  • Is the offer only for students, or could K12 faculty have this option?
  • Will the CR-48 ship with new specs? Or will it still have the N455 Atom Processor?
  • What are the student privacy policies on these contracts/equipment?
  • Will Google be installing any tracking software on these devices?
  • Will they offer a 4G version?
  • How customizable will you allow the device to be? Will administrators or students be allowed to make system changes?
  • In a K12 environment, will there be security and filtering capabilities built into the device?
  • Will the contracts be managed individually, or centralized with school/district?

For a thorough review of the Google CR-48 netbook, check out Jason Bedell’s blog post: Review Google ChromeOS

Valuable Chromebook webinar hosted by @discostew: Chromebook Pilot Program

Here are also a few valuable articles written recently about the Chromebook:

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Should we even call it the Technology Department anymore?

May 4, 2011 2 comments

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry called The Evolving Role of the Technology Department, and detailed how the department plays an integral role in school/district organizations. No longer is the department treated separately as a “geek squad,” but rather shared decision makers on various aspects of education such as curriculum, professional development, and data assessment strategies. As schools continue to evolve programs and infrastructures to support 21st learning, the technology department is playing a more crucial role in rolling out these changes.

As I stated in a previous post It’s Changing Culture, Not Technology: We are not simply introducing technology changes in schools, but rather making cultural changes of how schools instruct, operate & function. And it is because of these cultural changes which is driving the thought of changing the technology department name. We are not simply dealing with just technology tools anymore, but the culture of our organization, and that requires more than technical proficiency. Our technologists are now required to posses leadership qualities in areas of professional development, marketing, collaboration, problem solving, and creative innovation in regards to what is best for school organizations. So why not call it the 21st century learning department, or perhaps the organizational efficiency department? What would you call this evolving technology department? Or should we stick the nerds back into their IT cubicles?

The Alternative EdTech Job…Rapidly Growing Industry!

While districts and school continue to hand out pink slips due to budget cuts, a rapidly growing industry is providing an alternative path for education technologists. It is well established that 21st century learning is ubiquitously tied to digital and information communication technologies. And the specialists that are leading the next generation of learning are the education specialists with focus on technology integration. This niche of experts are coaching, facilitating, and modeling what it means to use technology in a 21st century learning environment. Although this specialty has been around for decades, the industry that is supporting this methodology is exploding in areas of professional development, product development, and systems integration.

According to Christensen’s book Disrupting Class, “about 80 percent of courses taken in 2024 will have been taught online in a student-centric way.” This is in reference to secondary schools in the United States. Moreover, schools are moving in directions of 1:1 and teachers are exponentially moving towards technology solutions to support their curriculum. Some schools are investing heavily in hardware and personnel, while other schools are figuring their budget to support these critical initiatives. For educational technologists, the jobs are burgeoning in many avenues and teaching is not just the ONLY option anymore.

I have always said that the next big industry will be education. With the growing need of more tools to support the new paradigm in learning, companies are scrambling to produce solutions for the next generation educational program. Companies are looking in many curriculum and infrastructure needs to capture dominance in this evolving sector. Here are few sectors that are quickly developing products for schools and examples of solutions:

  • Online Curriculum – Aleks, Adaptive Curriculum, Achieve 3000
  • Web-based Learning tied to Traditional Curriculum – Pearson, McGraw-Hill
  • Single-Sign Solutions – EduTone, MyOneLogin
  • Data Assessment Management Systems – Illuminate, Data Director
  • Student Information Systems – Genesis, PowerSchool
  • Learning Management Systems – BrainHoney, Angel, Desire2Learn
  • Content Management Systems – Moodle, Drupal
  • Web 2.0 Tools – Edmodo, VoiceThread
  • Human Resources Information Systems – Helios
  • Game-based Learning Tools – Gamestar Mechanic
  • Interactive Technologies – SMARTBoards, Promethean
  • Mobile Technologies – iPads, Xoom
  • Security and Cybersafety – LightSpeed Systems
  • Audio Visual Systems – Calypso, Cisco Unified Messaging
  • Communication, Collaboration & Document Management – Google Apps, Microsoft Live 365

In all these various technology sectors, there is a growing need for technical specialists with background in education. Ideally, it would be edtech specialists who have taught in the classroom before, and have facilitated professional development for teachers. Yes, it will require a new skill set of business marketing, salesmanship, and technical support, but it is a viable option for our teachers looking for an alternate path from working in schools. If these companies were strategic, I would hire edtech specialists as the field people representing the products. Time to get your resumes in order…

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