Monday, February 23, 2015
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Recently, I had an educator ask me if students collaborating together on an assignment, through a collaborative technology such as Google Docs, could be a violation of the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act, which most of us know as FERPA. Their concern was that as students work together, one student’s parent would be able to see the work done by the student their child was collaborating with on the assignment. This has never occurred to me as a concern, but it certainly begged investigation. After reviewing many websites, I did not find anything that would suggest a homework assignment in progress would at all be considered an educational record (and therefore protected by FERPA), as it is not part of a child’s permanent record at that point, nor is it in possession of the school at that point. In fact I did not find anything definitive that would suggest student work is FERPA protected at all. Graded work MAY be, as an individual grade itself might be part of the student record. But from the United States Supreme Court “Owasso Independent School District v. Falvo,” it is clear that an ungraded assignment is not an educational record, and therefore not subject to FERPA.
The above is my interpretation and not a legal opinion, but it demonstrates how delicate the topic of student privacy is becoming. Increasingly, student data and privacy are being looked at with a laser focus by places like the State of California, President Obama, and organizations like Common Sense Media and CoSN. Expect to hear many more discussions and questions about what student data is shareable to further a student’s education and what data must be protected by schools and third parties.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
It's been another fast-paced year in educational technology, with nothing more certain than change.
Friday, November 14, 2014
|Michael Dell and company judging ed tech startups at the Pitch Slam at Dell World 2014|
Last week I had the opportunity to attend Dell World 2014, an event that showcased Dell’s commitment to its education customers and continued support of education innovation. This was especially evident in Dell’s sponsorship of the “Pitch Slam,” where three chosen edtech startups pitched products to the judges, headed by Michael Dell. The three products were very different, but all had lots of potential to be used across K-12:
· BeeLine Reader helps readers use color grading of words to make it easy to follow sentences.
· EduCanon helps teachers create videos to flip their classrooms. The product includes an embedded check for understanding, which students must complete before continuing on with the video, giving teachers a great formative assessment dashboard.
· PenPal Schools, which won the Dell Pitch Slam, enables students from different parts of the world to write and learn together. The students learn new languages and cultures in a safe and secure online system, which includes pre-made assignments that make it easy for teachers to get their classes writing to peers across the world.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Our local group of K-12 technology leaders shared some interesting numbers this past week about how many devices each one of their technicians usually supports. The numbers were very telling, especially when looked at in the light of the increasing spend on educational technology, which topped out at over $13 billion this past year, up over 11% from the past year. Several districts shared that their technicians were now supporting between 1,100 and 1,300 devices each. By any measure, this is a daunting workload for one person. One district shared that its workload for each technician was more than 1,900 devices. This monumental workload is only being increased as schools increasingly turn to technology for almost all back office functions and instructional use.
Can we really expect that teachers and students are getting the attention they need and work-order turnaround times they deserve, when they rely so heavily on technology? In what other industry should a professional have to wait a week to have his or her technology operational again? Yet in K-12 this happens all the time, as schools buy more software and hardware, yet fail to fund the personnel needed to ensure high availability and quick repair times.
Many technology departments have even faced personnel cuts, as budgets have been tightened. Is this really setting K-12 up for success in implementing technology, or is this a recipe for disaster? What district would add 100 buses to its fleet without more mechanics and bus drivers? Of course this would not be done, as it is plainly ridiculous. Nonetheless, districts do this with technology every day, without assessing the real impact on teachers and students of having poorly supported technology.
This blog entry is cross posted with the great folks at SchoolCIO
Monday, August 18, 2014
With any job it’s easy to eventually find oneself in a rut, doing things the same way over and over. I know back when I was teaching, sometimes the pressures of grading, paperwork, and the real world meant that I didn’t try to teach a lesson differently or try something new with my students. Maybe I blamed it on the fact that I had four class preps, but no matter what the reason, it was always very rewarding to take time to try a new innovative lesson and see it work very well in the classroom.
As we start a new school year, there is no better time for teachers to investigate something new. And whether it is something truly transformative to teaching, or maybe just a tool to make teaching a little more efficient, any improvement is a step in the right direction.
Maybe a simple tool to motivate good student behavior is what is needed; then try ClassDojo. Or maybe increasing communication with students and parents is a pressing need. Tools like Remind or Class Messenger will help improve communication.
Want students to be more involved in class? Then give Socrative or ExitTicket a try. Is it time to find a new way to curate and synthesize web content for students or for students to do so as they learn? Then head on over and try super simple Blendspace or LessonPaths.
Sometimes it’s much easier to take baby steps to get out of the rut, rather than trying to climb the ladder and change everything at once. So make a new school year resolution for you or your staff to take a baby step or two on your path of improvement. For more info on these tools, view my blog entry and presentation about them.
This blog entry is cross posted with the great folks at SchoolCIO
Sunday, August 17, 2014
If your classroom is looking a bit too similar to this:
Image used with blog permission from tomfishburne.com
Then it's time to try something different. Check out the recommendations in the presentation below.