Where learning, technology and community meet.
EMPOWERING STUDENT VOICE STUDENTS ARE NOW AT THE CENTER OF EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION
SCREEN TIME IN THE BALANCE IT’S WHAT YOU’RE DOING THAT MATTERS MOST
EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON THE ED TECH PURCHASING PROCESS
IT manages. Teachers teach. Students learn. Lightspeed Management Bundle for Windows Seamless, centralized control for admins. Easy classroom management for teachers. A learning experience for students that goes far beyond the limitations of other management solutions. See how Windows and Lightspeed Systems are making device integration simpler and more powerful than ever. Go to EduDeviceManagement.com to learn more. entrsekt
ÂŠ 2016 Microsoft Corporation
ÂŠ 2016 Lightspeed Systems, Inc.
LUMINARY THINKING What do a physicist, a professor and a third grade teacher have in common? Theyâ€™re all keynote speakers at ISTE 2016! Join educators from around the globe. Learn and be inspired by these leading-edge thinkers.
Professor, author, social justice advocate
for ISTE 2016 in Denver, Colorado, June 26-29.
Physicist, futurist, author
Teacher, researcher, digital influencer
be Sup W rt M por ilia t m arza ed b an no y d ot , Dy he la rs! n
LIVE ASSESSMENT REAL-TIME MONITORING OF STUDENT PROGRESS
• New mobile enabled application that allows teachers to see what is (or isn’t) working in their teaching so they can make real-time instructional decisions • Empowers users to track student progress during a lesson with minute-to-minute, day-by-day formative assessment • Provides data from multiple sources to help educators stay focused on standards-aligned instruction • Easy to set up and integrate into any classroom setting to ensure that all students are meeting their learning targets each day entrsekt
April 2016 Volume two Issue four A quarterly magazine
Where learning, technology and community meet.
John B. King Jr. Education secretary lays out his vision for U.S. schools.
Screen time in the balance Itâ€™s what youâ€™re doing that matters most.
Procurement primer Experts weigh in on the ed tech purchasing process.
24 cover Empowering student voice Students are now at the center of education transformation.
6 about us
Leading to the tipping point
Leverage technology to give students a voice, choice in their learning
16 worldwise Transforming digital users
into digital creators
39 dispatch 40 salute
Luis PĂŠrez Inclusive learning consultant brings extraordinary vision to ed tech.
Standards refresh puts focus on student-directed learning
Finding your softer side
letters Letters to the editor in response to content in entrsekt are welcomed. Email your letters to email@example.com.
Dear Editor be bold, be brave, be inspirational I am writing in response to an article published in the January 2016 issue of entrsekt titled “Be the Change” by Tim Douglas. “Be the change you wish to see in the world” is a Ghandi quote that I live my personal and professional lives by, so to see an article with that title immediately drew my attention. I, too, am a member of the dreamer, rebel, lunatic tribe. I proudly wear those labels as a result of my passion, drive and relentlessness to keep fighting for “a world where all learners thrive, achieve and contribute.” I serve as a central office leader in a system that is in the process of transforming 174 schools to 21st century learning environments through student-driven, student-centered reform. We will succeed in our efforts only through the combination of grass-roots efforts of our teachers, students and parents, supported by the leadership at the top. I urge you, iste/entrsekt community members, as I urge the educators I serve, to join the tribe of change agents. Be empowered to empower our children. Shake the shackles of systemic and societal constraints and do what is best for children day in and day out. They are ready and counting on you. Society is counting on you. Be bold, be brave, be inspirational! Jill L. Snell, Resource Teacher for Teacher Development Baltimore County Public Schools, Towson, Maryland
a tool for information, inspiration Many periodicals land on my desk and then find their way directly to the recycle bin. As a society, we have generally strayed from magazines (other than a quick look-see while in line at the grocery store). However, when entrsekt arrives, I pause. Initially, it was the look and feel of each issue that stopped me from sending it directly on its way to the bin. A quick flip through and my brain was not inundated with shiny, loud advertising. No, entrsekt wanted me to fill my coffee mug, push away from my desk and stop to visit with the bright and innovative educators featured in articles like “Inquire.” In the education technology industry, we tend to focus on the digital – video presentations, blog posts and Skype calls. All great things, all the right tools for the tasks at hand. For me, entrsekt has become the right tool for keeping me inspired and informed – a mini-iste conference in my office! Lorri Wyndham, Curriculum Coordinator Computer Explorers
on social media in the classroom Thanks for highlighting the creative ideas educators are exploring in entrsekt. I was excited to read about the ways educators are using social media to engage, enrich and enhance learning opportunities in the January 2016
issue, and was pleased to be a source for the article. Social media is a tool that can be used in meaningful ways if educators take the time to explore alongside our students and parents. Today, parents and their children are faced with many digital platforms to choose from. I think this is a unique opportunity for educators to begin to model how social media can be used in safe, kind and responsible ways. Digital citizenship is important and we all need to be able to explore this alongside our students and parents so they begin to experience the value of social media and the positive impact it can have on learning. Social media offers opportunities to connect globally as well. Students have opportunities to have conversations around a common world need to help solve a problem like the need for fresh water, less waste and hunger, to name a few. The world is a huge place. Social media is a way to make it seem close. Sharon E. Davison, Kindergarten teacher Allen Brook School, Williston, Vermont
sharing the joy, passion After reading the feature story in the July 2015 issue of entrsekt about Pencils of Promise (PoP) founder Adam Braun, I wanted to share what it’s like to be part of this for-purpose organization. Last June, I attended my first Pencils of Promise school inauguration in
Guatemala. The ceremony was filled with numerous speeches, many addressing the fact that various organizations had come and promised to help the community, but never returned. In turn (and rightfully so), this community was initially hesitant to trust PoP. At the end of the ceremony, I was handed a pair of scissors and shepherded to the door. The community wanted me to open the school. Later, I wondered why the community asked me to perform this tremendous honor. Ultimately, I realized there was no real reason, because that particular moment wasn’t about me at all. A school inauguration is so much bigger than one individual. My inclusion in the ceremony was indicative of the communal effort required to build the school in the first place. This sense of community is what makes PoP such a unique organization. PoP doesn’t just build a school and leave a community to fend for itself; from the onset of any project, we include the community in our efforts and, as I saw firsthand, the communities include us in their joy, celebration and passion for education. Pencils of Promise is a truly global organization, not because we work in other countries, but because we work with them. Olivia Wittels, Marketing Coordinator Pencils of Promise
Where learning, technology and community meet.
publisher Brian Lewis executive editor Julie Phillips Randles chief marketing officer Tracee Aliotti contributor Tim Douglas contributor Linda A. Estep contributor Gail Marshall contributor Jennifer Snelling contributor Julie Sturgeon art director Sharon Adlis ad production manager Tracy Brown advertising sales manager Cici Trino firstname.lastname@example.org 916.990.9999 iste board chair Kecia Ray, Ed.D. Executive Director Center for Digital Education iste chair-elect Mila Thomas Fuller, Ed.D. Deputy Executive Director National Council of Teachers of English
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) is the premier nonprofit organization serving educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world. ISTE serves more than 100,000 education stakeholders throughout the world. ISTE’s innovative offerings include the ISTE Conference & Expo — the world’s most comprehensive ed tech event — as well as the widely adopted ISTE Standards for learning, teaching and leading in the digital age and a robust suite of professional learning resources, including webinars, online courses, consulting services for schools and districts, books and peer-reviewed journals and publications. For additional information, please visit iste.org and isteconference.org. Our vision. The vision of ISTE is a world where all learners thrive, achieve and contribute. Our mission. As the creator and steward of the definitive education technology standards, ISTE’s mission is to empower learners to flourish in a connected world by cultivating a passionate professional learning community, linking educators and partners, leveraging knowledge and expertise, advocating for strategic policies and continually improving learning and teaching. Letters to the editor. Letters to the editor in response to content in entrsekt are welcomed. All letters will be edited for length and AP Style. Please send your 200-word letter to email@example.com. Copyright 2016 ISTE. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Published April 2016.
Editorial guidelines. entrsekt’s articles are written in accordance with the magazine’s editorial guidelines, which may be found at iste.org/submissions. Story ideas may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Articles published in entrsekt are edited for style, content and space prior to publication. Views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent ISTE policies or positions. Endorsement by ISTE of products or services advertised in entrsekt is not implied or expressed. Subscriptions. ISTE members receive entrsekt each quarter as a membership benefit. Nonmembers can subscribe to entrsekt for $49 per year. To subscribe, please visit iste.org/entrsekt or contact our customer service department by emailing email@example.com or calling 800.336.5191. About entrsekt. entrsekt ISSN 2334-2587 (print), entrsekt ISSN 2334-2595 (online) is published quarterly by the International Society for Technology in Education, 1530 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Eugene, Oregon, and at additional mailing office. Send address changes to the ISTE membership department at 180 West 8th Avenue, Suite 300, Eugene, OR 97401-2916, USA.
Leading to the tipping point
photo by hope harris
Brian Lewis ISTE CEO @BLewisISTE
I’ve had some inspiring conv e r s at i o n s l at e ly w i t h a range of folks that, as I began to put the pieces together, indicate we may just be reaching a tipping point on a couple of critical issues related to the meaningful engagement of technology in learning worldwide. As I’ve replayed these conversations in my mind, a common thread seems to be emerging, and it’s a thread that’s been part of the iste mantra for many years: the critical nature of leadership and the foundational role of initial and ongoing professional learning when it comes to education technology. In the last several months, education leaders, corporate heads, ministers of education and more have all shared with me – at a noticeable frequency and intensity – their recognition of the fact that leadership and professional learning are critical to transforming learning and teaching with technology. There is no question that the single most critical player in all this is the teacher. But, as the iste Essential Conditions tell us, there are a host of other environmental realities that increase our chances of success. Corporate folks tell me their businesses can’t be just about making
sales, but instead must include a commitment to ensuring the success of their product in transforming learning. Their business models increasingly recognize this reality. As I’ve heard it said: “Sale No. 2 isn’t going to happen unless sale No. 1 is successful in meeting the education goals of the buyers.” Ministries of education recognize that massive device purchases in the absence of effective leadership and ongoing professional learning for educators are not likely to lead to success. As a result, they’re seeking support in developing programs that ensure successful integration of technology in learning, one thoughtful step at a time. Educators in every role are singing off the same song sheet when it comes to rallying around the critical nature of leadership and professional learning. One of the most wonderful aspects of our proximity to this tipping point is that iste stands ready to assist. And, I’m pleased to say that iste saw this coming. It’s why there are iste Standards for Administrators. It’s why our board of directors named Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance as a board member in 2014. It’s why we provide a range of free resources year-round on iste. org, such as the Lead & Transform
Diagnostic Tool that provides a snapshot of a school or district’s progress toward building a digital learning environment. Used by leaders and other educators across the implementation spectrum, the diagnostic tool provides insights for data-driven decisions. It’s why we collaborate with other education nonprofits that are also focused on the role of leadership in education transformation. On the professional learning front, we also deliver the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy – a free, 10-week course to help educators improve student learning with mobile devices. iste is positioned to be an influential partner at this critical juncture. And the voice of iste is saying, “Let us help you embrace the critical role of education leaders and professional learning as you reimagine learning and teaching. Let us collaborate with you in putting students at the center of learning. And let us deliver the professional learning necessary for all of these efforts to be effective.” It’s what we do. It’s our passion. And we’re so grateful that so many, because of the dedicated work of so many others, are ready to jump in with both feet.
Leverage technology to give students a voice, choice in their learning
photo by christopher coe
By Jennifer L. Scheffer
The second students walk into my classroom, they know they’re about to embark on a unique experience. First, they notice the unusual design of the classroom. There are no rows of desks. There is no teacher desk. In fact, the classroom doesn’t look like a classroom at all. Instead, students enter a sleek office environment. The focal point is two modern desks large enough to accommodate four people. Students sit in black leather, executive-style chairs and collaborate on group projects. Visitors make themselves comfortable in our soft-seating area that features two bright-red club chairs, a coffee table and two end tables, and can browse through technologyrelated publications. The far left wall features six computers for students pursuing individual projects. When students need to brainstorm, they map out their ideas on a large whiteboard in the center of the room or project their laptop or tablet through one of our two TVs.
This classroom is home to our student-run help desk at Burlington High School in Burlington, Massachusetts. It emulates Apple’s Genius Bar and provides technical support and ideas for integrating technology in our 1:1 iPad high school. The course taught in this classroom is Student Technology Integration and Innovation and it provides students with meaningful, authentic learning opportunities. Help desk students never wonder, “When am I ever going to use this information again?” Instead, they recognize the connection between their learning and potential career paths, and they leave having developed the 21st century technical and soft skills employers seek. Students gain practical experience in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, goal setting and time management. They are taught the fundamentals of customer service and entrepreneurship. They take initiative and strategic risks and are encouraged to explore and experiment with technology.
Rather than practice their skills through simulations and case studies, students work with real people – peers, teachers and community members – and offer solutions to real problems, whether that be creating a digital workflow or selecting the best applications for instruction and assessment. Students publish to the globally recognized help desk blog, with readership across six continents and over 150 countries. They develop digital brands through their personal blogs and network with professionals through social media. The structure of the help desk program can and should be replicated across all disciplines. Students succeed in learning environments like help desk because they are given freedom and flexibility to shape their own learning; failure is an opportunity to grow, and students emerge as confident leaders within their school. Teachers of all content areas can create authentic learning experiences similar to help desk. Becoming
a facilitator of learning, versus sticking to a traditional approach to instruction, can create exciting, self-directed learning opportunities for students and transform classroom culture. Technology can be leveraged to give students voice and choice in their learning. Students can go beyond the textbook by utilizing social media tools to learn from industry experts across the globe. They can connect course content to the real world by employing service- and communitybased learning opportunities. Rather than deliver a presentation to their teacher and classmates, students can present to local business partners in person or virtually. Students can develop digital portfolios of their best work through blogs, websites and YouTube
channels. They can showcase their understanding of social media through a professional presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Adhering to the confines of a prepackaged curriculum and blocking access to the global, digital world is a major disservice to our students. Itâ€™s time teachers rethink pedagogy and create a culture where students have a say in how and what they learn.
TECHNOLOGY CAN BE LEVERAGED TO GIVE STUDENTS VOICE AND CHOICE IN THEIR LEARNING.
Jennifer L. Scheffer is the instructional technology specialist/mobile learning coach for Burlington Public Schools in Burlington, Massachusetts. She has been an iste member since 2013 and is a member of the Digital Citizenship and 1:1 PLNs.
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John B. King Jr. Education secretary lays out his vision for U.S. schools By Julie Phillips Randles
Time is fleeting. Life is short. And neither of those clichés matters one jot to u.s. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. True, he has less than a year of guaranteed tenure in the position. The calendar alone is a recipe to get caught between the education world and political agendas, with no space to mediate the two. But never, ever make the mistake of labeling King a lame duck. An orphan by age 12, he followed in the footsteps of his father, John B. King Sr., who was Brooklyn’s first black principal and New York City’s executive deputy superintendent of schools, making him the highest-ranking AfricanAmerican educator in the country at one point. It’s clear King has the credentials to head this federal department. He earned four Ivy League degrees, founded a school and led a state department of education before age 41. Secretary King began his career in a classroom teaching high school social studies in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Boston, Massachusetts. He jumped at a chance to co-found and co-direct curriculum and instruction at Roxbury Pre-
paratory Charter School in Boston. Under his leadership, Roxbury Prep became one of the highest performing urban middle schools in the state, closed the racial achievement gap and outperformed not only the Boston district schools but also schools in the city’s affluent suburbs. By 2011, he was appointed the first African-American commissioner of education for the state of New York and president of the University of the State of New York, which meant overseeing that state’s elementary and secondary schools (3.1 million students); public, independent and proprietary colleges and universities; libraries; museums and numerous other educational institutions. It’s no wonder he landed a role as the second in command at the Department of Education in 2015, where he oversaw all preschool – 12th-grade education policies, programs and strategic initiatives, as well as the department’s operations. Needless to say, large organizations and big ideas don’t faze King. But it’s King’s ability to forge independent conclusions that will make the difference for u.s. school districts in 2016. He can take the political heat – after all, parents
Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. says one of the most important aspects of ed tech is its ability to level the field of opportunity for students. entrsekt
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? From whom?
I have been fortunate to have a number of great mentors over the years who have given me advice on my educational journey, my career and my personal life. The best advice I have ever received came not through words, but through example. As a kid, my mother worked as a school counselor in the elementary school I attended in Brooklyn and at the junior high school across the street. I watched the relationships she built with students, their families and her colleagues. I was very young, but I could see the warmth, the love and the entrsekt
deep commitment that characterized those interactions. My mother believed in the incredible potential of every child – no matter their circumstances and no matter the mistakes they made – and the importance of communicating that faith to young people so that they might draw hope and inspiration from it. As an educator and as a parent, I think every day about the example she set.
King says helping states and districts find a better balance on assessment is a priority for his term as education secretary.
You’ve publicly shared a compelling story about your youth and how your experiences led to your involvement in education. Can you tell our readers a little bit about your background and what drove you to try to make a difference for kids?
My parents were both New York City public school educators, and their faith in education is one of many things that inspire me every day. Unfortunately – while their influence is deep – it can’t be measured in length of years. My mother passed away from a heart attack when I was 8. I then lived alone with my father, who suffered from undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease, until his death when I was 12. Because no one knew he was sick, my home life was unpredictable and often scary. School became my refuge, and my teacher in fourth through sixth grade at P.S. 276, Alan Osterweil, was like a surrogate father to me. He was an amazing teacher, challenging us to read the New York Times every day. In his classroom, I felt engaged, challenged, safe and nurtured. Mr. Osterweil and my other nyc public school teachers saved my life. They are the reason I became a teacher and a principal. If not for them, I certainly would not be where I am today. Their work inspires me to do more, do better, and do right by our nation’s students.
photos by u.s. department of education
shouted him off the stage at a pta meeting three years ago when he was the New York education commissioner for adopting the Common Core State Standards. Instead of eliminating the town halls with parents, he overhauled the format and continued holding public meetings with communities across the state. King has pushed for equity for all students throughout his career, and he has said that is among his top priorities for his time as secretary, particularly as states work to create new accountability systems to track achievement gaps under the newly adopted Every Student Succeeds Act (essa): “As we support states in implementing this new law, we will work to create guardrails to enforce its critical civil rights protections for all students in k-12,” and “We will continue to uphold our civil rights laws across the board, to protect the students who have too often gotten the least.” In an interview with entrsekt, King lays out his vision for u.s. school districts:
My childhood experiences are part of the reason I’m so excited to continue working hard to support the work our nation’s educators are doing each day to close achievement gaps between low-income students of color and their more affluent peers. It’s why I’m excited to continue working on behalf of our nation’s teachers, so that a diverse cohort of new teachers are well-prepared for today’s diverse classrooms and so that all teachers have the support they need to prepare all students for success in college, careers and life. It’s why I’m working toward college access and completion for all of our nation’s aspiring graduates. My childhood showed me how fundamentally important education can be – it showed me that education can truly change lives. There is tremendous urgency to our work, and I approach my job every day with the resolve passed down to me from my parents, my teachers and my family. You became the education secretary with one year to go in the Obama administration, and you’re following Education Secretary Arne Duncan who was very high profile. In your wildest dreams, what do you hope to accomplish in the coming months?
We’ve made great progress as a nation: our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, dropout rates are at historic lows, and college enrollment for black and Hispanic students is up by more than a million since 2008. Thanks to the hard work of principals, teachers, students and families across the country, we’re well on our way to providing a world-class education for more of our students. But we still need to go further. That’s why, in the next year, I’ll focus on three main areas: equity and excellence; lifting up the teaching profession; and access, affordability and completion in higher education. In the first area – increasing equity and excellence, from preschool through college – we have a tremendous opportunity as we support states and districts in implementing essa (ed.gov/essa), our nation’s new education law. essa provides new tools that have the potential to expand opportunity and improve education for all of our nation’s young people, including an important national commitment to expanding access to high quality early learning. It maintains the civil rights legacy of the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act – signed in 1965 – while including new flexibilities for states and districts that expand equity and excellence. And, as every student and parent knows, opportunity would not be possible without the tireless work of our teachers and school leaders. That’s why, this year, I want to elevate the teaching profession and ensure our educators have the
preparation and support they need for the realities of today’s classrooms. I am also deeply committed to the department’s work to invest in teacher leadership and to mobilize the insights and creativity of our teacher leaders to strengthen educational outcomes. Finally, I want to focus on access, affordability and completion in higher education this year. We’ve made so much progress over this administration – reforming our student loan system to improve college affordability, increasing Pell funding for students with the greatest need, simplifying the process of applying for financial aid, and increasing transparency around higher education costs and outcomes to better inform students’ decisions. We need to build on that momentum by helping even more traditionally under-represented students access and afford college in the next year; but beyond that, I want to help more students – from all walks of life – complete college and graduate with a meaningful degree. One of Duncan’s legacies is the revival of a federal role in educational technology, including the modernization of E-Rate and the new ed tech provisions in Title IV of ESSA. Do you anticipate ed tech will play a significant role in your tenure and, if so, where in the ed tech field do you hope to leave your mark?
“My childhood showed me how fundamentally important education can be – it showed me that education can truly change lives.”
I was very pleased that our recently issued National Education Technology Plan (tech.ed.gov/netp) focuses on advancing educational equity through technology. One of the most important aspects of technology in education is its ability to level the field of opportunity for students. With connectivity, access and accessibility, students across the country who have traditionally not had access to the larger world – from rural Appalachia to American Indian reservations to the most impoverished neighborhoods in every city – can connect with experts, experiences and programs that would otherwise be entirely out of reach. It can make a huge difference in what they are able to accomplish at their schools and what possibilities students are able to envision for themselves. And with that connectivity, we also need to make sure our teachers have everything they need to know to ask students to build, create and solve using new tools. Protecting student data privacy is an issue of global concern. Several U.S. states have passed or are considering legislation, and numerous federal legislative initiatives are underway. ISTE continues to spotlight the need for educators to learn about the various privacy laws and regulations and best practices to ensure that they don’t entrsekt
inadvertently divulge student data. Can you tell us about your own experiences in New York with student data privacy and any plans you have for the department to address privacy issues in the U.S.?
New learning technologies are quickly being embraced by teachers across the country. Many of these technologies use data to make instruction more personalized for students and help teachers and students use their time more efficiently. There are major benefits here, especially for teachers, who can use this data to be alerted to students who are struggling before they fall significantly behind. We no longer need to wait until the end of the unit or the end of the semester to see if students are on track. Whenever student data is involved, there are important privacy and security issues to be addressed – and we will continue to put out guidance to help states and districts navigate those issues. It’s not an either or. We have to do both. We have to use data effectively and we have to protect student privacy. We also have a Privacy Technical Assistance Center (ptac.ed.gov) where schools or parents can go to address questions or concerns they may have about how to protect privacy while using student data to help students succeed. President Obama has weighed in on student assessment, saying no more than 3 percent of school time should be spent on testing. In some ways, this is a radical shift in the federal stance on standardized testing. What do you think the proper balance is and how do you think states should approach reducing the time spent on standardized testing? entrsekt
In my experience as both a classroom teacher and as a principal, it’s about balance. You need good information about your students’ progress – so that you can tailor instruction to their needs, understand which lessons are most effective, and support teacher and student growth. At the same time, you want as much instructional time with your kids as you can get. Good assessments can actually be a positive part of the learning experience, but simplistic or poorly constructed ones just subtract from learning time. Too often, I hear from educators that assessments are long on quantity and short on usefulness, and that’s just frustrating for them. That’s why the president’s Testing Action Plan is so important, and why we’ve taken new and meaningful steps to help schools deal with excessive and unnecessary tests. We recently issued guidance to states and districts on how they can use federal funds to support efforts both to eliminate unnecessary tests and to improve the quality of their assessments, particularly by making them more performancebased and emphasizing writing, problem-solving and critical thinking. We want to help spread the examples of states that are leading in this area – states like North Carolina, New Mexico, Delaware, and elsewhere – and to provide all the tools, resources and help that we can. Helping states and districts find a better balance on assessment is absolutely a priority in the year ahead. I look forward to working with our partners across the country to get this right. Under your leadership in New York, the Department of Education developed the EngageNY curriculum that has
been used for free by schools and teachers across the country based on Creative Commons Licensing. How will you encourage the use of open education resources and shared resource development in your new role?
I’m very proud of the work that New York teachers and other educators from around the country did to develop the high quality resources on EngageNY. Those materials have been downloaded tens of millions of times by educators across the nation, and it’s exciting to see the enthusiasm for using these materials to help all students meet college- and careerready standards. Openly licensed educational resources have enormous potential to increase access to high quality education opportunities for all students, no matter their zip code. Because they can be modified without violating copyright laws, openly licensed educational resources support teachers as creative professionals by giving them the ability to adapt and customize learning materials to meet the needs of their students. With the launch of our #GoOpen campaign (goo.gl/GrCpUf) we hope that school districts and states can connect, collaborate and share high quality instructional materials across district and state lines. With the support of new technologies, robust infrastructure and professional development, school districts can begin to transition from static, traditional textbooks to openly licensed educational materials and can repurpose funding for other pressing needs, such as investing in the transition to digital learning and professional development for teachers. President Obama’s ConnectED initiative seeks to make better use of existing federal funds to get internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages. At ISTE, we often say ed tech can do two things: change learning and teaching and make it more equitably available to learners. What is your philosophy on digital equity and what are the two or three changes or policy decisions you think are needed?
All students deserve equal access to a public education that prepares them to be thoughtful, engaged citizens. Equitable access to technological resources is a key component of that citizenship, as we’ve seen across the world. We need to make sure students have access to the tools whether they are in school or at home. We need district leaders to set an expectation of equitable access to technology and connectivity and to think in innovative ways about how to leverage funds to help all students connect outside of schools. But access alone, while essential, is not enough. For these tools to transform learning, we need all educators to
have the knowledge, skills and support to take full advantage of technology-rich learning environments. This means redesigning teacher preparation programs and personalizing professional development to empower teachers to design learning experiences that ask students to use technology to solve problems, create new tools and produce artifacts of their learning. It’s also important to put the best information in students’ and families’ hands through the expansion of tools like our College Scorecard (collegescorecard.ed.gov) and streamlining of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (fafsa) process so that they can make the most informed decisions possible about their future when it comes to choosing a college that matches their dreams and their budget. ISTE values digital citizenship skills and includes a digital citizenship indicator in all five sets of the ISTE Standards. In today’s digital world, it’s critical that all students gain the digital literacy skills they need to be productive, ethical and responsible digital citizens. How can educators work with students to be good digital citizens and what role can federal, state and local authorities play to ensure appropriate use of today’s technology at school and at home?
“ A ll students deserve equal access to a public education that prepares them to be thoughtful, engaged citizens.”
The first thing we can do is lead by example. More than 2,000 Future Ready districts (tech.ed.gov/futureready) are taking leadership on this issue, and iste has been a fantastic Future Ready coalition partner in helping leaders transform digital learning in their districts. For educators, it starts with teacher preparation programs. We need to make sure that ed tech isn’t just a one-time class. Leading and teaching with technology should be infused throughout teacher prep programs so it is second nature to a new educator to use technology wisely and effectively at school. It’s also key to work with families. As schools across the country are asking students to take digital devices home with them, conversations around responsible use are even more important and should include schools, students and families. It’s why I’m excited by our Future Ready work that helps schools and districts connect with partner organizations like iste and Common Sense Education that have free resources to help with this and to benefit from experts who have been doing this work for a long time.
Transforming digital users into digital creators Sumitra Nair
sumitr a nair is direc tor of youth development at multimedia development corporation. her job is to ensure that mal aysian youth are equipped with relevant digital competencies for the future workforce. nair is also a doctoral candidate at monash universit y (mal aysia campus) and the mother of t wo digital natives.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) or digital technology has long been part of education systems across the globe. Its efficacy in igniting a student’s interest and ability to learn and explore new knowledge cannot be denied. However, consistent with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) recent call for a more effective integration of ICT into education, the time has come to evolve and expand the role of technology in schools. Digital technologies are affecting all sectors, be it education, agriculture, health care or entertainment. These changes are impacting all aspects of people’s lives, including jobs. Employment of the future will require strong digital competencies not only to use technology, but more importantly to create new digital technologies. It’s no longer enough to equip schools with just ICT infrastructure or to use ICT for learning and teaching. Students must be taught to harness the power of computing to create their own digital solutions that address real-world challenges. Recognizing this, Malaysia’s Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and Ministry of Education is jointly working to integrate digital competency and computational thinking into the country’s primary and secondary schools starting in 2017. The key objectives of this initiative are to equip students with digital competencies and to enhance students’ higher-order thinking skills via computational thinking, consistent with the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025. In the longer term, the initiative is expected to create a steady talent pool for digitaleconomy jobs. Computational thinking is increasingly being recognized globally to be as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. Essentially, it involves a set of problem-solving skills and techniques based on computer science concepts that provide a structured approach for teaching students how to think in the digital age and lead to higher-order thinking skills. Computa-
tional thinking is useful for solving problems in both ICT and non-ICT domains and to understand and solve environmental problems, geographical issues and socio-economic challenges, therefore making it applicable to any discipline. In preparation for its new curriculum, MDeC launched a pilot project in August 2015 as a test run of this national initiative. The pilot comprises 24 schools in nine states in Malaysia as well as one teachers’ training institute. The key components of the pilot project, which concluded in February, were: > Digital Competency Standards – a set of standards jointly developed by MDeC and the Ministry of Education to assess the digital competency level of K-12 students. The standards are based on the ISTE Standards and local requirements. > Professional development for preservice and inservice teachers using a blended approach comprising face-to-face training and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). > In-class support to ICT teachers by computer science undergraduate volunteers from local universities. > Expert community support via industry and academia advisers. As part of its efforts to strengthen the capabilities of Malaysian educators in technology integration, MDeC signed a memorandum of understanding with ISTE in December 2015. The memorandum facilitates the collaboration of both organizations in advancing excellence in learning and teaching through innovative and effective uses of technology, focusing initially on driving effective leadership and pedagogical approaches amongst educators. The memorandum will also provide a platform for Malaysian educators to be part of the 100,000-strong global network of educators who are already benefiting from the ISTE Standards.
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By Linda A. Estep
hereâ€™s never been a better time to be a k-12 student. Take, for instance, iste member Douglas Kiangâ€™s high school computer science class in Hawaii, where he challenged a team of 20 students to design an underwater office using the popular online game Minecraft. The exercise required collaboration, planning, online research, problem-solving and teamwork. The studentsâ€™ final plan was brilliant, according to Kiang, and in the process, students with natural leadership skills emerged, as did those comfortable in putting the pieces in place. The students learned firsthand the importance of having both types on a team.
photo by steve smith
Then there’s The Ellis School, an all-girls school in Pittsburgh, where the former director of its Learning Innovation Institute, Lisa Abel-Palmieri, Ph.D., said remixing class space and class time with blended learning and the flipped classroom approach created a whole new world. After using the Gallop StrengthsFinder tool to pinpoint individuals’ skills, students are paired up with real clients in the city to deliver on projects. The result goes far beyond reports and some tweaks to places of business. “They build empathy for each other, learn how to fail fast and take calculated risks, and they gain the skills to be innovators and change agents,” described Abel-Palmieri. iste member Pam Simon, who co-founded a stem-based after-school program in Portland and Eugene,
Oregon, called Fidgets2Widgets, incorporates technology in a fun and fast-paced environment for children ages 9-14. Simon and her business partner, Sydney Ashland, felt that a child’s creative spark diminished as they progressed through school. They decided that instead of complaining to the schools, they would develop an after-school environment that would reignite the flame of creativity and curiosity. “As an educational tool, Minecraft is a wonderful platform for learning while having fun,” she says. “You have to have mathematical understanding to build sound structures. Architecture and design features allow for innovation…Minecraft affords myriad opportunities to do just that. A child who is motivated and challenged, allowing the innate curiosity to fuel their interests, will most certainly use these skills in a future career.”
Of course, to achieve each of these milestones, education relies on a screen.
Time to chill out Screens, the chestnut goes, are not good for children. Today’s students spend too much time staring at computers, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and televisions and not enough time participating in physical activity. Concerned parents are often the first group to bring up this objection, but teachers and even some students will argue against “excessive” screen time at school board meetings and on social media. In some places, the debate is jeopardizing technology initiatives in education.
The good news is, research is refining that stance. In May 2015, the r a n d Corporation and p nc Bank’s program pnc Grow Up Great hosted a one-day forum for advocates, educators, researchers, policymakers, funders and parents to discuss this notion of screen time. Their conclusion: the narrow focus on screen time should give way to a more comprehensive definition of developmentally appropriate technology use by young children, one that considers what technology and content are being used, how they are used, and why they are used.
After all, the original screen time research was built around watching television, not interactive devices like tablets. So the fact that these devices are this generation’s learning tools is, perhaps, the most powerful argument. Karen Richardson is an education technology specialist and an iste member active with the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, iste’s affiliate in Virginia. She also is the owner of Ivy Run, a company dedicated to showing educators how
to integrate digital technologies in the classroom. In a blog published by iste in 2014, she wrote, “While I will defend reading to my dying day as a wonderful way to learn and engage with the author, it is not a particularly interactive or hands-on way of learning. When I was introduced to a new interest via a book, pursuing that topic meant dragging out the encyclopedia or a trip to the library.” Today, such pursuit can be handled with a search engine and a mouse click or touchscreen. “I do worry about kids on an iPad all day long who never look up,”
“The fact that these devices are this generation’s learning tools is, perhaps, the most powerful argument.”
ISTE Standards fit
photos this page by steve smith
Richardson notes. She believes teachers and parents must be models for their students and teach the tenets of digital citizenship. She also stresses to teachers that just because a certain technology is present in the classroom doesn’t mean it must be used every day. Peter Gray, a research professor emeritus at Boston College and the author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant and Better Students for Life, has spent much of his career studying child behavior. He contends that, when asked what they liked about playing video games, most children talk about freedom, self-direction and competence. Indeed, a study commissioned by ibm concluded that the leadership skills exercised in many interactive, role-playing video games mirror those
required to run a modern company in the real world, just as Kiang’s students demonstrated in their project-based assignment. “It doesn’t surprise me that children are attracted to computers,” Gray adds. “Kids play obsessively with the tools of their own culture, whatever is available to them, whether it is a computer or bow and arrow.” Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (aap) has softened its guidelines regarding screen time. Their original guidelines recommended no screen exposure for children younger than 2 and a limit of two hours a day for children over the age of 2. Today, aap recognizes that while media can have both positive and negative effects, children are doing what they have always done, only in another environment. As a result, they no longer advise age-specific screen time limitations and acknowledge that content is more important than the platform or time spent with media.
In her iste blog, Richardson describes the importance of having a “balanced approach to the world,” noting that time with technology, nature and tools is one way to achieve balance. For instance, if she wanted to teach someone about the life of a beekeeper, she could use her phone as a camera for demonstrations, a paper and pen for personal journaling and then a digital journal to share with others also interested in beekeeping. “The iste Standards focus on teaching and learning in the digital age and how digital tools can support that work, and I think it is essential that students are given opportunities to engage with those tools in meaningful ways,” she explains.“If you are going to have a phone in your pocket at all times, you should know how to use it to learn, create and share. Rather than focusing on doing research or completing assignments, they should see how to use them to support creativity and productivity.” For example, Nannette McMurtry, an ed tech specialist with the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado and an iste member, uses nature and technology to foster creativity in children. Her own young daughter hones her storytelling skills by hiking with a mobile device and documenting her adventure using background music and narration in a video to share with faraway grandparents. “It allows her to tell a story in a way she couldn’t tell otherwise. The filming adds another layer. To me, it is not about screen time as much as it is about using a tool to accomplish
or create something,” McMurtry explains. “It’s what you are doing with screen time that matters.” McMurtry’s role in her district is to coach and mentor teachers and district personnel, but she also taught high school students and used technology as a way of bringing her classroom closer together. She created an online forum for students to discuss assignments that would be covered the next day in class. Students who showed shyness in class found it more comfortable to disagree with posted opinions online. It was empowering, and those students began to engage more comfortably in face-to-face discussions the next day. “It was a confidence builder,” she says. She believes parents and teachers must establish a relationship with children and their use of technology. As Richardson puts it, “Just giving kids an iPad and not interacting is not helpful. Maybe the secret is, it is too early to blame technology for everything.”
we talk about how screen time impacts family. At the dinner table and traveling in the car, there is no phone usage at all.” There are occasional exceptions such as when someone in that environment wants to look something up. The family votes to decide if it is permissible, and the vote must be unanimous. Lim is the father of 13-year-old twin daughters and a son, 11. Lim sees technology falling into three distinct categories: creational
Allows a student to meet a goal of creating something original and consequently gives the student creative confidence.
A practical use, like writing a letter or conducting research. It is the modern version of going to the library. recreational
Activities such as reading sports scores on espn or playing a video game for relaxation. “There is value here, too. The challenge is when this piece of the pie becomes the whole pie,” Lim adds.
“To me, it is not about screen time as much as it is about using a tool to accomplish or create something. It’s what you are doing with screen time that matters.”
linda estep is a former reporter for mccl atchy newspapers and was the public information officer for a l arge school district in california. today, she works as a freel ance writer covering education policy.
Screens and family time Dion Lim is the founder and chief executive officer of NextLesson, a company he describes as “engaging students in problem-solving through topics they love.” Here, a team of teachers develops lessons and projects for k-12 classroom use, serving more than 50,000 teachers and 2 million students nationwide. Lim refuses to believe screen time is an evil force. At the same time, he views technology as a privilege rather than an entitlement. “I think of myself as an educator, not a policeman. When my daughter got a smartphone I told her, ‘Convince me it will be beneficial.’ In our family
U.S. Patent No. 8,508,751 and others. All rights reserved.
EMPOWERING STUDENT VOICE
Students are now at the center of education transformation By Jennifer Snelling
Four years ago, while a senior in high school, Zak Malamed noticed that the education community had one of the most active conversations on Twitter. Since students were not allowed to use social media while at school, he decided to engage in the conversation on his own time. Malamed tweeted a thought about school equity and awoke the next morning to find former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, debating his tweet. At least they were listening. Turns out, there were lots of adults listening. As students from around the world participated in the #StuVoice Twitter chats, politicians, education corporations, reporters, teachers and parents all joined the conversation. From a hashtag, a new nonprofit organization called Student Voice (stuvoice.org) emerged, the main purpose of which is to integrate student voices into the conversation about education. entrsekt
In this new age, it’s important to remember the potential young people have always had to create change.
Other organizations, education leaders and individuals – both students and adults – have joined Student Voice in its efforts, and the result has been an outright social movement. Last March, Student Voice held the first-ever national conversation about student rights in Austin, Texas. In November, the White House held a summit on Next Generation High Schools and asked Student Voice’s National Field Director Andrew Brennen, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and Dawnya Johnson, a freshman at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, to speak. The nation seems ready to listen. A novel idea?
Giving students a voice in their education seems like a no-brainer. After all, who spends more time in school than students? Of course, there are some traditional places where students are given representation, such as student councils. And some school boards include a student representative. But most of the time, these opportunities are symbolic and while a student may be at the table, they are rarely given a vote. The founder of another studentcreated organization, TakingITGlobal (tigweb.org), Michael Furdyk, says the problem is partly cultural. As a society, we believe that adolescents need structure and instruction. We are accustomed to seeing the teacher as the holder of knowledge. entrsekt
Furdyk, an iste member who created TakingITGlobal in 1999 when he was a senior in high school, turned that idea on its head. He found himself concerned about many of the world’s problems at a time when technology was just entering the classroom and decided to use that technology to create a student-led global response to these problems. “It struck me when you connect people together, they feel like they’re part of something much bigger,” says Furdyk. Through connecting students online who are passionate about a particular problem, TakingITGlobal empowers students to understand and act on the issues. Furdyk says that thanks to the internet, knowledge has been decentralized. Now, a resourceful student can gather just as much as the teacher. Fifteen years ago it was more difficult for a student to become an authority on a subject. This makes for a relatively recent cultural shift. In this new age, it’s important to remember the potential young people have always had to create change. Some of our biggest inventions have come from youth (including television, which was invented by a 14-yearold, and the grain reaper, invented by 15-year-old), yet the traditional educational system still places caps on students by limiting their power over their own education. “How are we going to create the next Google, YouTube or other economic engine,” he says. “Not from structure, but from creativity. Give
students the opportunity to dream and explore and create the next big ideas.” Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, is one example of a student who was a powerful agent of change, says Student Voice’s Malamed. “We don’t expect enough of our young people,” he says. “Even though there’s evidence across the world and the course of history that students have a great ability to impact global issues.” Why student voices matter
There’s a reason, continues Malamed, that so many education policies don’t work. “We’re not engaging a major stakeholder,” he says. “If students know what’s working and what’s not working before anyone else, why aren’t we at the table?” Angela Maiers has spent her career listening to students. She started out as a kindergarten teacher and says 5-year-olds taught her a lot about the human need to be heard. “We are born to make an impact,” she says, “to be a 5 year old who says, ‘Hi, I’m Jack and I’m a dinosaur expert.’” She is the author of a Ted Talk, “You Matter,” and the founder of Choose2Matter (choose2matter.org), a group that promotes the idea that when people believe they are counted on, their actions and consequently, their lives, change. Choose2Matter has developed a curriculum that helps schools instill a culture of mattering and presents live events in school
districts all over the country. Maier’s free ebook, Liberating Genius in the Classroom (choose2matter.org/liberatinggenius), is a toolkit for teachers who want to empower students. “The greatest gap in American education,” says Maiers. “is the underestimation of student genius and their capacity to contribute. We don’t see students as agents of impact.” When Maiers works with students, she asks them to remember what it was that made them run to school when they were younger. “They don’t say, ‘I would run to school if they had iPads.’ They say, ‘I used to run to school because someone noticed me,
said my name, challenged me.’ This is not about self-esteem. This is about a deep human need to be recognized.” Tamir Harper, a sophomore at the Science Leadership Academy (sla) in Philadelphia (led by founding principal and longtime iste member Chris Lehmann), agrees. “Whenever lawmakers are discussing education, they should have a seat at the table for the youth,” says Tamir. “The decisions don’t affect the lawmakers, they affect the students in the classroom. Tamir and his fellow sla classmate, senior Stephanie Dyson, attended the Lead & Transform Town Hall, a leadership forum at iste 2015. When
another debater fell ill, Stephanie was pulled in to represent the student viewpoint in a debate about including computer science in schools. She says the room was “ginormous” and at first she was, “Mic’d up and freaked out!” But she rose to the challenge and left feeling that she had been part of an important event. “It was monumental that [iste] included students in a discussion about students,” she says. “We are told and asked to do so many things. Expectations are created for us, but we don’t get to weigh in.” Stephanie points out that students have firsthand knowledge about what entrsekt
Maiers reminds us that listening to students doesn’t have to be a big deal.
they need in school. Data can tell you some things, she says, “but when you hear a personal voice about how students feel about their own curriculum, teachers and adults get a very different picture.” TakingITGlobal’s Furdyk says his own research has shown that if students feel shared ownership over learning, they are more likely to pursue it vigorously. “When we see education
systems fail, it’s where that system hasn’t been developed in consultation with people,” he says. “The best systems foster a sense of purpose and ownership.” Promoting student voice
Maiers reminds us that listening to students doesn’t have to be a big deal. In fact, it’s better if it’s just standard
operating procedure in big ways and small ways. For instance, give students a say in how the classroom desks are arranged or truly listen and respond to student feedback. “It doesn’t have to be some big White House-level thing,” she says. “The possibility for revolution already exists in our classroom.” For schools who want to actively promote their commitment to student
Standards refresh recognizes student voice
voice, Furdyk and TakingITGlobal have created a certification program called Future Friendly Schools (futurefriendlyschools.org). The program, which offers e-courses (goo.gl/OquURM) for educators, asks schools to demonstrate their commitment to global citizenship, environmental stewardship and student voice. The student voice portion requires demonstration in five areas: Learning Environment. Do students have a voice in shaping and designing the environment they learn in? School Culture. How do students evolve the school’s culture? School Policy. Are students at the table and allowed a vote on policy? Student Leadership. Are students given leadership opportunities? Student-Directed Learning. How does the average educator in the school allow the student to shape what they’re learning?
Furdyk is working with almost 20 schools all over the world, including in Canada, Uzbekistan and Mexico, and hopes to grow to more than 100 schools this year.
In the u.s., Student Voice has launched a tour to coincide with the presidential election. Representatives are visiting schools across the country to promote a Student Bill of Rights (sturights.org). sla’s Tamir Harper was part of the Philadelphia event in February. Students are asked to vote online for their top three choices out of eight rights, including free expression, right to technology, right to safety and wellbeing, due process and more. Schools will certify the results of their students’ votes and will set goals based on those results. In cooperation with Student Voice, the administrators, teachers and students will work together to implement the goals. Student Voice is currently looking for schools to visit and engage during the tour. “The power of this project,” says Malamed, “is that we’re building the student voice narrative while also helping schools figure out how they can involve students. Ideally, this platform won’t be needed in 10 years because students will be a part of every single committee that makes decisions regarding schools and learning environment.”
Student voice is also impacting the refresh of the iste Standards for Students. For the first time, students were asked to provide input as part of the public comment period that ended March 31. The refreshed student standards, which will be unveiled during iste 2016 in Denver, will reflect student viewpoints.
“ W hat’s emerging in the new standards is an empowered learner,” notes Carolyn Sykora, senior director, iste Standards. “For a very long time, knowledge was filtered through teachers and textbooks. Now students have access to experts, data, others who share their passions and ways to engage. Learning and opportunity are at their fingertips. The refreshed standards give students the skills to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Looking For Inspiration? Support? The K-12 Instructional Resource Center is focused on interdisciplinary learning, best-of-breed resources, and educator support. With no government or corporate funding, We are an independent voice for the K-12 community. Check out our over 2,300 indexed and annotated web and video resources.
Resources – lesson ideas, videos & activities for the classroom,
Development – professional development opportunities and resources,
Tools – everything from classroom automation and creating class web sites to inexpensive video production and 3D printing,
Support – find your affinity group or a good laugh,
Partners – ideas to engage students, parents and the community.
K12IRC.org/iste Ideas and inspiration for the K-12 community K12IRC.org is an independent resource, maintained by Dr. Bonnie Tenenbaum.
Students need the skills, knowledge and dispositions to enable them to process and properly capitalize on the vast amount of information they have access to, Sykora adds. “With great opportunity comes a need for skills and the responsibility to take advantage of it.” Leaders of today
Activism and social justice have always inspired students to take on leader-
ship roles. Furdyk sees this every day through TakingITGlobal. Likewise, sla’s Stephanie Dyson has been using her voice for change since she was a freshman in high school. She and other students at sla got together to protest budget cuts in their district. During a school day, they walked to the district to strike in support of their teachers. The district listened and a budget was approved. Stephanie’s experience at the iste conference reinforced her belief that
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students deserve to be heard. “While our voice is often dampened, it’s important we continue to speak up,” she says. “iste has people from ... all over the world who want the same goal, a better future for people my age. iste builds a pathway for that kind of change to happen.” Through Choose2Matter, Maiers sees students take up the call to leadership with great success. The organization offers opportunities for students to participate in community board meetings so constituencies can see old problems with new eyes. Recently, students participated in a hospital board meeting and listened to some of the issues doctors and nurses were struggling with. The students came up with four pages of insights and ideas in an hour, whereas the board had been asking these questions for years. Students are not just leaders in waiting, she says. They are ready to lead. “The underlying success of student voice is that it changes the way people think about students,” she says. “So many people, including teachers, think students are future problem-solvers. This diminishes their full capacity to contribute today. Kids know the difference when they’re being treated as token voices. I see them as leaders, innovators, makers of impact. ‘You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.’ When that is an actionable statement, not an inspirational statement, it is profound what students are able to accomplish.”
jennifer snelling is a freel ance writer who writes for a variet y of publications and institutions, including the universit y of oregon. as a mother to elementary and middle school-aged children, she’s a frequent cl assroom volunteer and is active in oregon schools.
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EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON THE ED TECH PURCHASING PROCESS
By Gail Marshall
Th e f i f t h g r a d e t e ach e r s rallied around Lenny Schad, inspired by how their roles were changing since the rollout of a 1:1 mobile learning initiative when Schad was chief information officer at Katy Independent School District in Katy, Texas. The rollout was a modern-day ed tech success story with lasting results. No longer are the teachers spending all of their class time in front of their classes lecturing in the typical “sit-and-get” mode. The dynamics of their classrooms are transforming, and the teacher’s role is no longer to be the expert on everything. Students are thrilled at the realization that the devices they’ve received as part of the pilot program actually go…home…with…them. They’re taking leadership roles with their mobile learning devices and what can be accomplished using them. In some cases, students are leading portions of
lessons. More important, the students sharing with the class are often not the students typically willing to get up and speak. Discipline issues decrease, attendance goes up. Ah, the promise of learning and teaching with technology, as recounted by Schad in his iste book, Bring Your Own Learning: Transform Instruction with Any Device. If only those successful snapshots told the whole story. Schad, now the chief technology information officer for the Houston Independent School District, would be the first one to say there is a very complex backstory to these happy endings. PROCUREMENT SOLUTIONS
The state of procurement in schools – and how to improve what can be an arduous process – has been the source of ongoing debate and a subject of research. entrsekt
“ MY PASSION FOR EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY IS DRIVEN BY WATCHING MY CHILDREN BEGIN TO LEARN IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF UNPRECEDENTED DIGITAL TOOLS.”
Procurement reform has been all but ignored in policy discussions and procurement policies have remained virtually untouched, according to recent research by Tricia Maas and Robin Lake from the Center on Reinventing Public Education titled, “A Blueprint for Effective and Adaptable School District Procurement.” But the price for ignoring procurement is coming home to roost as those trying to transform education with the effective use of education technology continue to run into roadblocks to streamlining the process – impeding timely decision-making and stymying potential partnerships “Emerging technological solutions and the need for school redesign demand that school systems bring procurement practices into the 21st century to make them agile, adaptable and innovation-friendly,” write Maas and Lake. The report details gritty complaints about the current state of procurement in schools, including “death by a thousand cuts,” “slow, frustrating, maddeningly mired, filled with bureaucrats, unspoken code, lawyers and bidders’ conferences, nonsense, so much staff time” and “sometimes 10 people are each reviewing proposals that are required to be 110-180 pages long.” What emerges is a procurement process that can cause paralysis. Buyers and sellers often are at odds, all trying to mitigate risk and uncertainty. As a senior manager in the standards department at iste, Mindy Frisbee is well acquainted with the procurement challenges educators face. entrsekt
“I think that the biggest takeaway with this procurement process is the disconnect between knowledge and expectations, between education decision-makers and non-decisionmakers and product developers,” Frisbee explains. Product developers need to have meaningful conversations with educators and tech decision-makers to ensure they are creating the types of products that serve students and teachers. On the flip side, their clients in education operate within a very specific framework. They must not only consider the quality of the product, but also the education code, the procurement processes and time constraints of their districts and their schools that must be followed. “These [considerations] govern what they are able to purchase, how they are able to quantify it, what they are able to get approval for,” Frisbee says. “There is not a whole lot of communication between the two about how product developers can better meet the educators’ needs and vice versa.” One guy with a lot of experience helping out with these conversations is Pete Koczera, manager of business development for k-12 education at CDW-G, an iste corporate member that provides technology services and solutions to education, government and healthcare. Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it is his job to stay ahead of trends in the k-12 education mar-
ketplace. He is focusing his attention on the connected classroom, converged infrastructure, student access and services for education. His motivation for making the process work begins before he ever leaves for work each day. “My passion for educational technology is driven by watching my children begin to learn in an environment of unprecedented digital tools,” he says. He has led successful projects at the state and local levels, including the delivery and installation of more than 100,000 customized laptops, 4,500 interactive whiteboards and peripherals, as well as teacher professional development services, to thousands of 21st century classrooms in a statewide program. THREE KEY QUESTIONS
Koczera’s advice to school districts is to ask three key questions and require vendors to demonstrate how their product or service supports these ideas in advance of a purchase. This information helps schools cut through the maze of options and zero in on products that will accelerate the vision: Are the products designed to put the user first? Technology should em-
ploy a people-centric design. Within 30 seconds of picking up a new piece of technology, a teacher or student should find it to be intuitive, friendly and easy to use. A district can buy the latest, greatest technology, but if a teacher turns it on, feels the confusion
of a poorly designed interface and can’t easily incorporate it into his or her lesson plan, adoption will be a struggle from day one.
for the entire district, with the ability to share authority to schools and teachers.
Does the technology manage
state and school standards, as well
remotely? In order to scale effectively,
as address privacy concerns? Almost
the technology should be easy to manage remotely. A district’s it team will need to manage hundreds or even thousands of new devices – tablets, displays, access points, etc. Enterprise manageability ensures the it team can handle this influx of technology. Ask for a demonstration of cloud-based management capabilities. Ideally this will be through a single dashboard
every piece of hardware and software released in the k-12 market is connected to the cloud in some way, which means it is also important to ask the vendor what data it is collecting and how it plans to keep that data safe. “Determining these elements will smooth the path to successful adoption and use,” he says. “Ensuring a district’s technology is user-friendly, easy to manage and scale, and aligned with standards and regulatory concerns will
allow the district to move quickly past implementation and on to supporting educational outcomes.”
Does the technology align with
THE ISTE VISION
iste, too, has a vision for what a successful procurement process should look like. The starting point – meaningful, appropriate planning guided by the iste Standards and the 14 Essential Conditions that provide a systemwide lens for ed tech planning. This approach will increase the likelihood that schools have established the criteria to create a plan that
drives local learning objectives, notes iste Chief Learning Services Officer Jim Flanagan. “Procurement success should always be defined by educational outcomes. Procurement should not be separate from thoughtful planning, but should be driven by planning that includes clear communication with stakeholders about educational objectives and the effective and appropriate integration of technology to advance learning and teaching.” SECRETS OF A ROCKIN’ ROLLOUT
In CDW-G’s experience with districts, Koczera says purchases that are well-planned and well-handled always have clear leadership and are driven by a well-communicated vision. Schools, teachers, students and the surrounding community all are able to articulate how the purchase will support educational outcomes. “It can’t be about buying the latest, cool technology and figuring out the vision after the fact,” he says. “It must be about how to use the technology as a tool to drive a school’s mission and vision.” The most successful programs also have a plan for sustainable funding. Beyond the budget for the initial purchase, districts should prepare for upkeep and maintenance throughout the expected lifespan of a product. entrsekt
“A trusted vendor should be a partner you are comfortable will be around to support planning for the total life cycle of a product or service,” he explains. A district should discuss with the community how its new technology is going to benefit students and teachers, facilitating a conversation that will help bring to the surface and address any issues and concerns that might cause hesitation or stalled adoption in the future. “Yes, more inclusive conversations take longer, but they can go way beyond just identifying stumbling blocks and lead to technology purchases the entire community can support both on and off campus,” Koczera says. DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE ADVICE: START SMALL
Daniel Owens is a partner with The Learning Accelerator (tla), a nonprofit that’s working to bring blended learning to scale in the u.s. He is a co-author of tla’s learning series on ed tech procurement that helps school districts make wise decisions about purchasing devices for blended learning. He also is a leader of The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools’ blended learning implementation.
In a recent article he wrote for T.H.E. Journal (thejournal.com), Owens concedes that even after good strategic planning, a large tech rollout is daunting. He suggests this “deceptively simple” advice: start small. “The information you gain by piloting devices for a couple of weeks will far outweigh several months of crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ of a large-scale plan,” he says. “Spending too much time in the strategy and planning phase is nearly as wasteful as buying higher-priced devices. Lessons learned from the pilot will help you figure out whether the device is the right one, and, if so, how to build the program in a way that works for schools’ and districts’ students, teachers, leaders and it systems.” He goes on to emphasize Koczera’s point: Ask good questions. “By asking the right questions in the right sequence,” Owens says, “a district can realign its priorities to ensure that it is spending the right amount of resources on education technology devices. At the most fundamental level, time and money are our schools’ main resources, and there is a great deal of each to be saved when dealing with devices. When choosing hardware, a mediocre device implemented well will always beat out top-of-the-line devices implemented poorly.
“ THE INFORMATION YOU GAIN BY PILOTING DEVICES FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS WILL FAR OUTWEIGH SEVERAL MONTHS OF CROSSING EVERY ‘T’ AND DOTTING EVERY ‘I’ OF A LARGE-SCALE PLAN.”
“With the right framing and approach, schools and districts should be able to minimize the time and money they spend on devices and focus their attention where it matters most. The more our schools and districts can prioritize the education element of educational technology, the greater the chance that technology will improve education in the United States.” DISTRICTS TAKE THE WHEEL
Marguerite Roza is the founder and director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University in Washington, d.c. The lab is a research center focused on exploring and modeling complex education finance decisions. Her team studies and designs sustainable fiscal practices for districts and states. When the time comes to make technology purchases, Roza advises districts to plant themselves firmly in the driver’s seat when drafting contracts for technology. Again, the simple advice is the wisest. “Many districts sign standard contracts,” she says. “They don’t know they can negotiate with providers.” Negotiate, for example, the cost of software based on how many teachers or students are actively using it rather than paying a set rate of, say, $1,000 every year. If the enrollment goes down or the number of teachers and students who are using it
declines, the school is not paying the same cost. It is also important to ask the tough questions when developers are bidding, claiming their products will “save” the district money. Does the product allow the district to increase class sizes? Will it require hiring additional staff? Can the software be used by the district in another way? How much will it increase the overall spending in the district? These are all pieces of a big puzzle that will reflect the true costs far beyond the sticker price.
Roza suggests districts make sure the schools using the purchases are encouraged to weigh in on the selections. Engage teachers in identifying the providers they prefer. WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
Procurement is a challenge all schools face, and one that many in the field feel could be handled more strategically and more uniformly. The Bill
“ MANY DISTRICTS SIGN STANDARD CONTRACTS. THEY DON’T KNOW THEY CAN NEGOTIATE WITH PROVIDERS.”
and Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes the problem and provided a $75,000 grant to help the new Technology for Education Consortium tackle the issue. The nonprofit is led by Hal Friedlander, former chief information officer for the New York Department of Education, who left the department in January to lead the consortium. The Technology for Education Consortium will provide no-charge analysis and consultation to school dis-
tricts to help them execute a procurement quickly, and will create checklists and tools to help school leaders choose technology that matches their district’s instructional goals. The group will collaborate with schools and other organizations like Edtech Concierge, Noodle Markets and LearnTrials that are already assisting schools with procurement issues.
SHAPING THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION WORLD LEADING EDUCATION EXHIBITIONS AND CONFERENCES
GLOBAL EDUCATIONAL SUPPLIES & SOLUTIONS
1 - 3 MARCH 2016
W W W . G E S S E D U C A T I O N . C O M email: firstname.lastname@example.org Organised by:
ED TECH MARKETPLACES
Marketplaces – one-stop shops for vendors, products and services – have been tried for years with little success, but advances in technology are making the idea a hot topic again in the education industry. Nicole Neal is chief executive officer for Noodle Markets, a newly launched online market platform where educators and vendors can do transparent “speed dating” to determine if there is a good match. Neal and her team plan “to streamline the search and bid process and the way products get into the hands of students and teachers as quickly and efficiently as possible.” She’s getting positive feedback and says “The districts are really, really excited about the possibility of having a place to go where they can research vendors and the products and services they offer. Vendors are really excited because there are a lot of great companies out there doing great things in k-12. They just don’t have the sales power that allows them to get those good products in front of the districts.” Ultimately, Neal hopes that users will think of Noodle Markets as a network where districts and sellers can make connections and conversations that weren’t possible before. gail marshall is a writer and editor for the fresno bee, a major metropolitan newspaper in california. she also owns and operates a freelance business, marshall arts communications consultants.
Standards refresh puts focus on student-directed learning
photo by steve smith
Carolyn Sykora Senior Director, ISTE Standards
Today’s 5-year-olds will graduate from high school in 2028. It seems a long way off and it feels nearly impossible to plan now for the future these kinders face. That said, stakeholders in dozens of countries have joined with iste to take up that challenge as we embarked on an effort to update the iste Standards for Students. These standards have evolved over time – from learning how to use technology to using technology to learn. They have served the field in many ways: classroom teachers use them for lesson planning; school and district leaders use them to guide their school improvement plans; universities use them in their teacher preparation programs; and ministries of education codify them in their national policy documents. In the u.s., more than 30 states have adopted, adapted or embedded the standards that were first established in 2007. Much has changed since then. More students than ever have devices in their hands throughout the day. More schools have reliable and robust infrastructure to support digital learning. And teachers are redesigning learning activities to leverage learning with technology. Envisioning the promise technology holds for deep, authentic learning, thousands of individuals have been inspired to participate in the iste Standards refresh process that launched at iste 2015. Through the lens of future innovations in learning environments, digital resources and delivery systems, over the past 10 months, iste led educators through discussions where they predicted how learning would be transformed. These educators deliberated and debated the skills and knowledge that would prepare students for the world of work, and they distilled key concepts to be prioritized in the 2016 iste Standards for Students. The sheer volume of public comment demonstrated a keen interest among educators in how the standards can
support them. iste called on educators, researchers and advisers to help analyze the data, categorize and curate priority skills and establish the draft framework for the refreshed standards. These questions helped to distinguish skills that would be included in the standards: Does technology amplify that skill? Which learning concepts are best amplified by technology? Self-directed learning has emerged as an organizing theme in the 2016 standards. Did this become a focal point because the u.s. Department of Education focused on personalization in the National Education Technology Plan? Was it that most of us recognize how technology has made personalization possible in other areas of our lives? Or is it that we now have a better understanding that our children’s future prospects depend on them being adaptable, lifelong learners? For whatever reason, crowdsourcing the standards pushed this theme front and center. According to the federal Office of Educational Technology, personalization is “instruction that is paced to learning needs and tailored to both learning preferences and specific interests of different learners. In an environment that is fully personalized, the learning objectives and content as well as the method and pace may all vary.” The new standards are intended to prepare for the transition to personalization where students have more meaningful control and greater choice in their learning. The new standards will be updated again long before today’s kindergarteners graduate, but let’s throw our cap into the air for the class of 2028 for inspiring us to refresh the standards today! The 2016 iste Standards for Students will be released at iste 2016 in Denver with resources to help educators understand, implement and adopt them.
Luis PĂŠrez describes himself as an inclusive learning evangelist and says his goal is to help all educators help all students.
Luis Pérez Inclusive learning consultant brings extraordinary vision to ed tech
photos by brian james
By Tim Douglas
When most of us see a “boot” on our car, we see only bad news. A boot, also known as a wheel clamp, is a device designed to make sure vehicles stay where they are. More than 10 years ago, Luis Pérez was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of genetic disorders that affect the retina’s ability to respond to light. This disease progresses slowly, beginning with decreased night vision and then loss of peripheral vision. Eventually, blindness results, and there is no cure. The day he received his diagnosis, he left the doctor’s office and immediately faced another problem. His 3-yearold daughter informed him that, “Daddy, daddy, we got the boot.” They parked in the wrong spot, but this wasn’t going to stop Pérez from moving forward, either that day or in the future. “I was confronted right away with the challenges that my diagnosis will bring,” said Pérez. “My daughter and I needed to find a way home – taxi, bus, train – and it wasn’t easy. It was across town. I then realized that my disability wasn’t the issue. It is the design of the environment.” Luis Pérez may be losing his sight, but his vision is extraordinary. He’s now an inclusive learning consultant based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He has more than a decade of experience working with preservice and inservice educators to help them integrate technology in ways that empower all
learners via universal design principles – designing products and spaces so that more people can use them. Universal design makes an assortment of tasks, jobs and activities safer, easier and more convenient. “I consider myself an inclusive learning evangelist,” Pérez said. “I want to help educators help all students – and I emphasize all – and technology plays a big role. There are great features on mainstream devices that educators don’t know about… Siri, for instance, is based on technology that people with disabilities have used for years.” Before he set out to improve the environment for learning, he first needed to educate himself. The diagnosis threw him for a loop, and Pérez knew he had to figure out how he was going to make a living. Already tech savvy, Pérez turned his attention to the other it – instructional tech, not information tech – and went back to school to reevaluate his life. For Pérez, what happened next permanently fused the connection between universal design and technology. “I walked into a computer lab and heard a Mac speak for the first time, and it blew me away,” he said.“The quality was impressive, but the message was even more powerful. Hope is the first thing you need. Now I had hope. This spoke to my soul, not just my ears. It turned my life around. It was a magical moment.” entrsekt
“I want to help educators help all students – and I emphasize all – and technology plays a big role.”
He went on to earn a master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of South Florida and a doctorate in special education. But his transformation transcends degrees. In recognition of his work in educational technology, Pérez was named an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2009, one of only 52 educators in the u.s. selected to join this class, and he served on the advisory board for this program in the u.s. Pérez is also a Google for Education Certified Innovator and the author of Mobile Learning for All: Supporting Accessibility with the iPad. Lastly, and fittingly, he is the professional learning chair of the iste Inclusive Learning Network. Pérez brings one other skill to his work as an inclusive learning evangelist: He’s is an avid photographer, primarily as a hobby, although he also uses it in his field because “photography is engaging to learners. Pictures are powerful.” His camera is an iPhone because of the accessibility features, and he is quick to note that he has a unique approach to his hobby. “I don’t take photographs, I make photographs,” he explains. “I can’t really see them when I’m shooting, but I review and edit them later.” Apparently, he “makes” good pictures. His work has appeared in The New York Times Bits Blog, the Sydney Morning Herald and Better Photography magazine. Beyond the fulfillment that photography provides, an added benefit is bending peoples’ views. “I use a white cane, but when I take out my iPhone, I can see some people are forced to confront their misperceptions about what it means to be visually impaired,” Pérez said. “A little over a year ago, I was in Australia, near the Sydney Opera House, which is near the water. Yes, I started navigating close to the water, and the reactions of some of the people…you knew what they were thinking. But I know what I’m doing.” He also knows where he’s going. That’s easy to see.
tim dougl as is a former television news producer who also served as a senior media consultant for several speakers of the california state assembly. today, dougl as is a freel ance writer who covers a wide range of topics.
Where learning, technology and community meet.
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Learn it today. Teach it tomorrow. Need inspiration for tomorrow’s class? Visit the ISTE EdTekHub, where you’ll find content and resources full of ideas for implementing ed tech to help students excel. New content added daily and it’s absolutely free. Visit iste.org/EdTekHub
Finding your softer side It’s important for students to learn soft skills — interpersonal relationship skills, collaboration genius and communication successes all fall under this definition as internalized behaviors that build social skills and character attributes. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so educators should practice what they teach. Here are the top skills the job market says every adult needs, along with practical explanations of what these ”soft skills“ look like in real life.
LEARNING ABILITY PERCEPTION: You are proud of your IQ score. REALITY: You show an ability to pull together disparate bits of information on the fly to create a solution or make a point.
COMMUNICATION PERCEPTION: You belong to Toastmasters and spell all the words in a memo correctly. REALITY: Communication ivolves supporting your point and exchanging feedback, some of it negative, with different groups of people without inciting World War III.
SELF-CONFIDENCE PERCEPTION: You go your own way and don’t care what anyone thinks. REALITY: You strive to impress yourself with your performance before seeking others’ praise, and don’t hesitate to take the first step even if you don’t have it all figured out.
ACTIVE LISTENING PERCEPTION: “I heard you without interrupting.” REALITY: “I understand what you said because I asked questions to pinpoint your message.”
ACCEPT CRITICISM PERCEPTION: You don’t get angry when someone points out your flaws. REALITY: You ask people to pick apart your performance and then actively seek to improve.
HUMILITY PERCEPTION: You don’t brag about yourself. REALITY: It’s all about having a sense of responsibility to solve a problem and learn from others.
TIME MANAGEMENT PERCEPTION: You aren’t late to work. REALITY: You master time in all its 3D glory by prioritizing projects well into the future and anticipating the unknown on your calendar.
STRONG WORK ETHIC PERCEPTION: You don’t call in sick the day before Spring Break. REALITY: You take initiative, follow up on requests and questions, and no one nags you to contribute.
FLEXIBILITY PERCEPTION: You can change rooms for the year without a fuss. REALITY: You can change anything about your teaching approach to reach a student.
By Julie Sturgeon
PROBLEM-SOLVING PERCEPTION: You ensure everything runs smoothly in the classroom. REALITY: Educators must be able to grapple with issues that don’t start or end in the classroom, but still affect their students.
LEADERSHIP PERCEPTION: You were president of your sorority. REALITY: When the team has a challenge, you know when to step in and keep things on a positive, forward track – and you know when to step back.
POSITIVE ATTITUDE PERCEPTION: You never complain or have a disagreement with a co-worker. REALITY: You stay focused on the big-picture goal and encourage others not to lose sight of it as well.
Increase efficiency by flipping your writing workshop • Provides writers independent access to minilessons • Allows students to work at their own pace • Creates more time for one-onone instruction Grades 3–8 • 978-0-325-07674-4 $15.50 est
It’s not the tech—it’s what you do with it • Lessons on effective digital reading and thinking • Support for closely reading images, infographics, and videos • Emphasis on student ownership and creativity Grades K–6 • 978-0-325-07473-3 $20.00
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