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July 21, 2010

Conference Wrap Up-ISTE 2010 by Sara Martin, Adobe Education Leader

The premiere educational technology conference, ISTE 2010 (formerly called NECC) took place In Denver Colorado this summer from June 27 – 30. The conference was THE place to be for anyone who is serious about improving teaching and learning to meet the needs of our students in this 21st century. Over 18,000 people participated in the conference. As common with large trade shows, the event was filled with workshops, speakers, virtual events utilizing things like webcasts and social media sites and of course, the exhibit hall with vendors galore.

My role at the conference was two-fold. First, I presented a 3 hour workshop on Video Production using my favorite editing software, Premiere Elements. Second, I hung out in the Adobe booth in my capacity of Adobe Education Leader, meeting and greeting educators from all over the world. Sharing our experiences is always enriching and leaves me energized and eager to get back to the classroom and try out the new ideas!

If you were unable to attend the conference in person, you can still experience some of the conference, as your own time schedule permits, in these ways:
Virtual webcasts from Denver, Colorado including other videos from other events such as last February’s HP Innovations in Education Worldwide Summit can be found here:
Online Community:
ISTE has created a NING community online for the conference. Just go to to read what’s being shared – or join and participate. It’s free and an easy way to connect with other educators who share common interests.
Tweets from the conference will include the “hasthtag” #ISTE10 (note: some people are also using the unofficial hasthtag #ISTE2010). Then point your browser to either You can also use a website that refreshes itself like or
Next year’s ISTE Conference “Unlocking Potential” will be held in Philadelphia from June 26 – 29 at the Pennsyvania Convention Center. More information about participation and everything else concerning the conference can be found at: If you have never attended this major conference, or if you have been thinking about presenting, now is the time to start planning!

11:18 PM Permalink
May 1, 2010

Digital Learning Environment Events Update – Denver

The eighth Digital Learning Environment Event was held in downtown Denver, Colorado on April 29, 2010. The day started off with a keynote by William R. Kurts, Chief Executive Officer, Denver School of Science and Technology Public Schools.
Bill currently serves as the CEO of Denver School of Science and Technology Public Schools (DSST), a charter school management organization that oversees 3 secondary schools with plans to open 2 more in the next 5 years. They plan to eventually service 4,000 students. Bill was the Founding Head of DSST, the flagship schools of Denver Public Schools. He was named one of 25 champions of public education in Denver over the last 25 years by the Public Education Business Coalition. He also serves on the Advisory Council of the University of Southern California’s Rossier Schoo0lo of Education MAT program.
The first DSST school was founded in 2004. It started out as a school with a technology emphasis. There are now 3 schools with an emphasis on STEM. All schools are public with open enrollment-these are not magnet schools. One seventh of all DPS 8th graders applied for the program. Students are selected through lottery only so the selection is completely random. Campuses are generally 6-12th grade. The plan is to have 5 campuses in Denver by 2014.
The students are an accurate representation of all students in the urban Denver area, with 45% in the free and reduced category and 67% minority. The philosophy is inclusive, with an emphasis on the idea that everyone should be served well by the public school system. A video showed students that now take pride is being categorized as “a nerd” and proclaim that “we affirm who you are-you have important gifts and we will challenge you and hold you accountable”. Another student noted in the video that, “Teachers let me know my own strength”.
Here are some amazing facts about DSST that were shared:
• 100% of the students that graduated for the last 3 years were accepted into a 4 year college!
• The District is of 6 finalists for the White House Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.
• The District has the highest results in Colorado in both growth and achievement
• The Districts low performing kids are outperforming all the subgroups of all students in Colorado
• The percentage of college bound graduates that have to take remediation classes are only 7%. Contrast this with 56% of DPS and 32% of Colorado State graduates.
The vision of the district is a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. Bill emphasizes that every kids should have the choice to go to college. When kids have the choice to go to college, according to Bill, most DO chose to go. Right now only 1 in 4 has the choice in Denver. Only 1 in 10 students go on to get a college degree and only 1 in 20 low income students earn a degree. The goal of DSST is to get 64% of their students to earn their degrees.
Can DSST transform DPS? Is it hopelessly naïve or realistically achievable? Bill’s enthusiasm, passion and devotion to the cause are amazing and admirable. It will be interesting to watch the district in the next few years.
Bill also noted that the move toward 1:1 computing is inevitable. It is a core principal in the districts design. Mobile, multi-media based learning will supplement traditional classroom instruction eventually. We need to make a commitment to get to 1:1. It will be an integral part of everything that we do at school. He explained that every student, regardless of race or background, has better technology in their pockets than most students have in their computer labs. Further, it is his observation that everyone uses cell phones regardless of the income level.
Bill also emphasized that technology is not the only way to deliver instruction but it can support traditional approaches and make them much better.
DSST has hp laptops for every student. The program was birthed with generous grants from hp and overtime has transitioned to being funded by the district’s general fund. Students are charged a tech fee of $150 per year with allowances made for those students who are not able to pay. There is a self insurance program in place with student deductibles and fees if loss or damage occurs.
These were noted as pre-conditions for success:
• Clear measurable goals
• Strong school culture (embrace change, get adults to see the power of the changes and be willing to be learners, a learning culture is alive in the school, the vision that supports the overall goals and vision of the school)
• Teachers and staff are learners first
• An organizational vision that incorporates technology, but doe not make the technology the “end”
The program creates a personalized learning environment. On a daily basis technology is used as needed to achieve the goals for the day. That might mean 100% of the time or less. It is powerfully used in both the educational and administrative processes. Individualized instruction through data collection and analysis is used to drive instruction. Classes are projects based and electives include film, bridge building, simulations in physics and other powerful STEM learning activities. The technology in the hands of the students allows them to drive their own instruction. The district also uses Camtasia software to record lessons so that students can replay instructions as needed.
Bill ended his presentation with some questions. 1:1-what is it? What does is look like? What will it look like in the future? Tablets, cell phones, readers, etc are all changing so rapidly that we can’t know for sure what they will look like in the near future. What we do know that we have to make this work; we have to rise to the challenge, because our kid’s futures depend on it.
There are two FREE remaining DLE events coming to a city near you:
Minneapolis – May 5, 2010
Raleigh-Durham – May 11, 2010
Find out more and to register for the events, visit:

1:02 PM Permalink
March 22, 2010

Digital Learning Environment Events Update – San Diego

The third Digital Learning Environment Event was held in beautiful San Diego, California on March 11, 2010. The day started off with a keynote by Tom Greaves the Chairman of The Greaves Group.
Tom Greaves has a long history in pioneering technology. His interest in technology started at the young age of 7 when he built his own prize-winning mechanical computer. He worked for years for IBM where he developed and marketed many innovative products. Tom is a well-known speaker and panelist at national and state educational conferences and speaks often on the future of technology in education. He has written many articles related to the future of technology trends and strategic planning.
Tom describes 3 major challenges facing education today. The first challenge he calls, “Education Hits the Perfect Storm”. The storm is the result of several things, including:
• The world is changing rapidly.
• The amount of information available is doubling every 18 months.
• Technology is rapidly evolving.
• The dilemma is the world around us is changing, jobs are changing, and yet schools, where change is slow to happen, lags behind, change.
The second challenge, according to Tom is, “Pressure for Results are Intensifying”.
• Regulations are not going away and are likely to get stricter rather than easier.
• NCLB may be revised but it is not going away.
Third, “Finances Have Hit the Cliff”.
• During the years from 1965 to 2000, education funding rose at twice the rate of inflation.
• We have seen no increase since 2000.
• We have to figure out how to do more with less.
Is there a way out? Check out the National Education Technology Plan 2010 at The purpose of the plan is to, “To help states and districts prepare today’s students for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow, a set of seven action steps and accompanying recommendations have been developed:
1. Strengthen Leadership
2. Consider Innovative Budgeting
3. Improve Teacher Training
4. Support E-Learning and Virtual Schools
5. Encourage Broadband Access
6. Move Toward Digital Content
7. Integrate Data Systems
Tom issued a final conundrum: Why aren’t 1:1 programs working better? His answer-improper implementation. It isn’t about the technology, it is about the implementation. To assist those who are planning a 1:1 implementation, Tom recommended Project Red, which was also referenced at the last DLE in Las Vegas by keynote Leslie Wilson. Project Red’s mission includes, “We believe that technology can help us re-engineer our educational system. Through the efforts of Project RED and our partners we believe that technology will transform learning, just as it has transformed homes and offices in almost every other segment of our society.” This organization offers support to schools as they navigate through the planning and implementation of 1:1 programs.
Tom left us with this final thought, “What we need to remember is that 1:1 beats 1:2 or greater every time but proper implementation trumps student computer ratios any time.”
Following Tom’s keynote the participants broke into groups a cycled through 4 classrooms where one group was treated to presentations in several disciplines that highlighted how technology can be integrated into the curriculum in powerful ways that propel students toward learning 21st century skills with Instructional 2 and 3 techniques and another group of IT decision makers looked at solutions and ideas for cloud computing, wired and wireless networking, as well as network security.
Please join us at one of the FREE remaining DLE events coming to a city near you:
Atlanta – March 19, 2010
Boston – April 8, 2010
Washington DC – April 14, 2010
Indianapolis – April 20, 2010
Denver – April 29, 2010
Minneapolis – May 5, 2010
Raleigh-Durham – May 11, 2010
Find out more and to register for the events, visit:

9:49 PM Permalink
February 28, 2010

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Las Vegas

The second DLE was held February 25 at beautiful Lake Las Vegas, 7 miles off the famous Las Vegas strip. The keynote speaker for the event was Leslie Wilson, President and founding member of the non profit One-to-One Institute.
The mission of the One-to-One Institute is to “increase student achievement through the development of learner-centered 1:1 programs that to serve as an international information clearinghouse for those interested or engaged in technology rich education programs. engage personal, portable technology. Our goals are to facilitate the personalization of learned and
Leslie began her message by stressing that 1:1 programs are NOT just laptops for kids but are about teaching and learning-transforming the learning environment from teacher centered to student centered. She shared pictures from classrooms that covered the decades of the 50s until the present that showed how teaching and learning have changed little over that time. Much of the instructional time in classrooms in spent like the decades of the past in what she terms, “Instructional approach 1″ where the teacher is the master and students are organized, usually in rows, to perform tasks assigned and directed by the teacher.
In “Instructional Approach 2″ a more personalized and student-centered educational experience is offered to students. Teachers facilitate and provide “just in time” instruction that support the standards and objectives of the lessons. Technology tools are used when appropriate and are also used for feedback and assessment. Class environments are flexible and can appear chaotic to outsiders as students collaborate and are engaged in a variety of tasks.
The ultimate goal to provide students the ideal environment for developing 21st century skills is “Instructional Approach 3″-an approach that finds student in complete control of their learning. In this environment individualized long term projects are the norm. Students find themselves immersed in virtual realities such as Second Life and other augmented realities. Teachers act as advisors and provide personalized direction. This is a true mobile environment that projects outside the 4 walls of the classroom via the power of technological connections and environments.
Instructional Approach 2 and 3 are major paradigm shifts that empower students to take responsibility for their own learning. They are encouraged to take risks. Practioners of this method note that students are motivated learners when they have choices in HOW they learn.
Leslie concluded her address by outlining the keys to successful 1:1 teaching and learning programs including a reference to “Project Red” a national research and advocacy plan that promotes the need to “revolutionize the way the U.S. looks at technology as part of teaching and learning. We believe that technology can help us re-engineer our educational system. Through the efforts of Project Red and our partners we believe that technology will transform learning, just as it has transformed homes and offices in almost every other segment of our society.”
Following Leslie’s keynote the participants broke into groups and cycled through classrooms. One group was treated to presentations in several disciplines that highlighted how technology can be integrated into the curriculum in powerful ways that propel students toward learning 21st century skills with Instructional 2 and 3 techniques and another group of IT decision makers looked at solutions and ideas for cloud computing, wired and wireless networking, as well as network security.
I’m looking forward to my next Digital Learning Environment adventure in San Diego on March 11, 2010. If you are in that area, or if you live near Atlanta, Boston, Washington DC, Indianapolis, Denver, Minneapolis, or Raleigh, please think about joining us at the DLE event in your city. These are amazing, FREE event. Find out more and to register for the events, visit:

8:12 PM Permalink
May 28, 2009

Teachers to Tech Support-We are Not the Enemy!

In my role at my tiny school district in the central valley of California I find myself in a rather unique position. I wear the hats of classroom teacher (computer lit) and tech support and coordinator. I am also an Adobe Education Leader and in that role I have the opportunity to travel throughout the United States as a trainer and presenter. Whenever I am out of my district training I am often engaged in a discussion about one of the most basic frustrations teachers have around the country (these are teachers trying like mad to integrate technology into their curriculum.) Their frustration source-none other than their own district and school technology administrators and tech support personnel!
Why is it that we have become enemies? Teachers all over the United States tell me that they are constantly locked out and filtered out from most, or all, of the fantastic new free web 2.0 tools that are currently available. Not only are the newest and greatest unavailable, they are frustrated because they can’t even install a simple Flash or Java upgrade themselves. In their efforts to regulate and “keep safe” their networks, administrators have made decisions that often ignore many of the very reasons their networks exist-to facilitate learning and prepare our students for their future. Today’s digital natives are already exploring and using Web 2.0 tools outside schools. Isolating them from these tools at school not only sends them the message that we are outdated and irrelevant, it give them further excuses to tune out, or as they tell me often, to power down, when they enter a traditional classroom.
As a person who also is responsible for most of the tech support for our district I also understand the need to protect the network’s integrity as well as filter inappropriate websites at our district. I’ve had a few issues to deal with over the years that have cost me some time and been frustrating. But I view my job as a facilitator; in a position to use technology as a real innovator that can move our education system toward a student centered, collaborative and participatory environment that supports authentic, real world learning. All my teachers have administrative rights on their “teacher” computers, and you know what, they handle that responsibly, because they are professionals. Instead of locking down their computers, I spend time educating and guiding them so they know what and how to download safely and avoid problems.
According to “Leadership for Web 2.0 in Education: Promise and Reality” published in 2009 and sponsored by CoSN “In order to be competitive and responsible economically, politically, environmentally, and socially, U.S. youth must graduate from school ready to thrive in those realities, one of which is the participatory culture of Web 2.0 technology”*. The current findings suggest that we aren’t even close to having the educational mindset to affect our school cultures to align teaching and learning to the needs of 21st century learners. In President Obama’s inaugural speech he said, “…everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth…we will transform our schools and college and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And this we will do.” I’m glad that our President is so optimistic and I try to stay optimistic too, but until all the stakeholders that support education embrace the need to utilize technology in new ways no real change has a chance.
This issue came to light again this week when the list serv that I belong to (tech administrators for our county) started a new thread concerning Facebook and communicating with students outside of “work”. The implication was that this was immediately a bad thing, and should be monitored, banned, blocked, etc. I found it incredible that no one on the list expressed any value in using Facebook as an educational tool. The originator of the thread expressed his plan of action to issue an “Official recommendation that the district discourage the use of Facebook or any other social networking site to communicate with students out side of work”. His main concern was the hypothetical case that someone might post something that did not positively reflect the teacher or the district. Wouldn’t that be great, if we could prevent all criticism of our districts? Educators everywhere are using blogs and other tools to communicate with their students and avoid the roadblocks the tech guys have laid down-are we going to ban those too? I argue that, again, instead of banning, we educate our professional teachers to use the new tools with caution, embracing their positive potential with careful respect for possible misuse.
Perhaps the cause of this enormous rift in mind set between the techies and the teachers has to do with the fact that most tech support and tech administrators are not educators. I find it interesting in my list serv that the tech personnel refer to our environment as “work”, not school. I know I am at work everyday that I teach students, but I always refer to my workplace as “school”-where teaching and learning is taking place and where I am doing my best everyday to meet the complex needs of my clients, my precious students. The stakes are too high for us to continue down this road. We must ensure communication and respect between teachers and tech administrators. We must work toward the same goals because, as our Presidents so eloquently expressed during he inauguration speech, “we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” I just hope we don’t have to fight the tech administrators the whole way toward this goal…
Come on tech guys, can’t we all just get along?

3:28 PM Permalink
May 4, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Pittsburgh

The fifth and final Digital Learning Environment Event was held on April 28 in beautiful downtown Pittsburg at the City Center Doubletree Hotel. The keynote speaker for the event was Holly Jobe, the Project Manager for Classrooms for the Future (CFF), Pennsylvania’s high school reform program. Holly Jobe has been involved in all levels of education. Her interests include how education technology can reform education and fully engage student in taking responsibility for learning; and educational leadership. She has served in her current position with the Pennsylvania Department of Education since 2006.
Pennsylvania’s initiative goals are to transform the way high school teacher teach and how student learn. With 20 million dollars budget the plan was to equip classrooms in all curricular areas with enhanced technology, laptop computers, and other state-of-the-art resources. CFF provided funds over three years so that all Pennsylvania high schools could participate. Now in the 3rd year of the initiative, 143,000 laptops have been distributed for 500,000 students.
The important component of professional development is being addressed as well. $6 million in state and federal funds was earmarked for teachers and other staff to receive extensive training. Training includes methods that use technology to increase student achievement and ensure that students are ready for college and other demands of the 21st century. In order to support the teachers as they learn the new technologies and attempt integration into their curriculum, the CCF initiative has initiated on-site instructional coaches in each participating school. These coaches provide support and training to ensure that all school staff acquires the understanding and skills to integrate technology into their classroom instruction, use data to make informed decisions, and promote more individualized instruction.
The specific goals of CFF are;
• Improve teaching and learning in English, math, science, and social studies.
• Change classroom practice.
• Change student-teacher relationships.
• Increase student engagement.
• Students responsible for learning.
• Students developing 21st century skills.
• Increase Academic achievement
More specific information regarding the state’s CFF program can be found at:
As the 5 city DLE events come to a close, it is clear that the goals of Pennsylvania’s CFF are in line with the regional goals for education that we have seen demonstrated and discussed all around the country. It is encouraging to see so many committed educators embracing the need for systemic change in education. Together we can make change happen as we continue to move from the instructor centric towards the student centric model. The events have been opportunities to look at how a digital leaning environment can be the catalyst for teaching and learning in the 21st century. The hands-on opportunities have demonstrated to attendees how technology-rich learning environments not only enrich students’ learning experiences but also help them achieve their goals. Many thanks to all the partners and individuals who made this year’s DLE Events such a success!

7:50 PM Permalink
April 21, 2009

The fourth Digital Learning Environment Event was held on April 16 in Scottsdale at the beautiful Paradise Valley Resort. The event kicked off with a post breakfast keynote delivered by the inspiring superintendent Dr. Manuel Isquierdo, from Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Isquierdo shared how his district has developed an innovative plan to increase the graduation rate. Partnering with local businesses, the school district is issuing laptop computers to students who achieve predetermined goals for academic achievement.
Dr. Isquierdo shared the critical need to intervene and support students in their 9th grade. Freshman who fail or repeat 9th grade tend to fall into all or some of these categories:
1. Failing Algebra
2. Have poor reading comprehension and fluency
3. Lack intermediate academic skills-they are failing
4. Poor attendance
5. Lack of connections
Isquierdo also noted that compared to other grade levels, 9th grade dropouts tend to have more discipline problems. Faced with the highest dropout rate in the nation, Isquierdo moved with an intense sense of urgency to address the problem.
SUSD came up with a solution that involved the insurgence of technology as a reward for positive behavior. The initiative was called, “Project Graduation”. The plan was for freshman students in SUSD to earn the laptops after their first semester if they met the criteria that they call the 4 A’s: Academics, Attendance, School Activity and Attitude.
Here are the specific requirements:
• Academics:2.5 or higher grade point average
• Attendance: 95% or better attendance rate — no more than four excused absences, no unexcused, and must attend on the first day of school
• Activity: regular participation in a school-sponsored extracurricular activity
• Attitude: no out-of-school suspensions
The first year has been a tremendous success and has resulted in dramatic results in both student grades and attendance. The entire school culture has been positively affected by the program. Additional data with specific results can be viewed at the district website:
The laptops are awarded with great fanfare at a local college where parents and community supporters are invited to attend and cheer the efforts of the laptop recipients as they trade in their golden laptop tickets for the real deal. Efforts to involve the families and community in the initiative have also proved positive. The “Digital Advantage” is being extended to include after-school activities and other efforts to integrate technology into all core curriculums and classes.
Sunnyside’s’ community responded to the commitment and the vision of the school district. Isquierdo stressed that without vision, nothing of value can happen. He shared this old proverb to stress that point:
A vision without a plan is just a dream.
A plan without a vision is just drudgery.
But a vision with a plan can change the world.
Dr. Isquierdo closed his presentation by sharing a video of the student’s ceremony as they received their new laptops. Especially touching was the testimony of a parent regarding the positive change in behavior and attitude of her son. It was very apparent that this program is life-changing for everyone involved. Getting those laptops sends a very direct message to the recipients-that message is. “You can go to college-you can do it!”
More programs involving older students, (called “Digital Scholars”) parents and community are extending the success and continuing to bridge the digital divide for everyone involved.
Cost efficiencies are making the goal of one to one computing a reality, not just a dream. Improved software and applications that fit the curricular goals are getting more effective and more affordable. Companies such as Intel, hp and Microsoft provide support and resources to help make the dream a reality. For more support and ideas for integrating technology visit these sites:
Hp’s site: and
Microsoft’s site:

7:39 PM Permalink
April 15, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Boston

The third Digital learning Environment Event, held on April 2 in Boston, had the most participants of any DLE event so far this year. The day began with a review of Intel’s k12 Blueprint for success website: This site is an essential planning and implementation blueprint for any district considering one to one computing.
The jobs of tomorrow are here today. Future industries with high expected growth include:
• Renewable energy
• On-line Entertainment
• Medical Research
And employers say the skills essential for our future workers include:
• Science and math
• Critical thinking
• Self direction
• Communication
• Creativity
• Innovativeness
• Life long learners
The conversation then, is how do we instill these necessary 21st century skills in our students today? This is especially critical when all of the above, with the exception of science and math skills, are virtually impossible to test. Our traditional high-stakes standardized testing techniques can’t possibly test self-direction, creativity or innovativeness. In this era of No Child Left Behind, our focus as educators, for sheer survival, is on testable skills, and these are not necessarily the skills our students need for the 21st century. Our vision must be to educate our students with 21st century skills by providing them access to engaging technologies in collaborative, inquiry-based learning environments with teachers who are equiped and able to use technology’s power to assist them in transforming knowledge and skills into products, solutions and new information.
Here is where the rationale for full integration of technology begins. Technology can be the bridge that gets us to the goal of providing what our students need for the 21st century. And it isn’t just the success of the individual students that is at stake, the future of our country is at stake as well. President Obama, in his speech on March 10, 2009, stressed the danger in letting U.S. Education fall behind, saying the nation’s place as a global economic leader is at risk if we do not do a better job preparing and educating our students. Obama lists four major areas for education reform:
1. Early childhood programs
2. Tougher standards, assessments and accountability
3. Recruiting, rewarding, and supporting outstanding teachers
4. Promoting excellence and innovation in U.S. Schools
Creating the learning environment for the 21st century student requires a major shift from Instructor Centric to Student Centric teaching and learning. Student Centric environments will include tools that will extend learning beyond the school day and beyond the wall of our traditional schools. These tools include learning portals, online libraries, online classes, access to other educational institutions and online learning communities.
Cost efficiencies are making the goal of one to one computing a reality, not just a dream. Improved software and applications that fit the curricular goals are getting mo re effective and more affordable. Companies such as Intel, hp and Microsoft provide support and resources to help make the dream a reality. For more support and ideas for integrating technology visit these sites:
hp’s site: and
Microsoft’s site:

9:46 AM Permalink
March 29, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update-Seattle

The second Digital Learning Environment Event, held on March 26 in Seattle, was kicked off with an inspiring keynote address by Dr. Barbara Grohe. Dr. Grohe is Superintendent of Kent School District in Kent Washington. Her dynamic address included highlights of the amazing things her district is doing in the area of technology.
Grohe began her address on the subject of 1:1 computing: Private schools are implementing this much better than public schools where leaders are still debating 1:1 adoption. Dr. Grohe says most of the world has passed up that conversation and already realize we need to have 1:1 initiatives. It’s happening now in India and Africa with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project.
Dr. Grohe’s vision and leadership have brought her district into national distinction as leaders of technology implementation and 1:1 computing. (In 1998 Dr. Grohe was honored as the National Superintendent of the Year) Kent educators believe that preparing students for future success means making technology an integral part of K-12 education. Funding for several projects (classroom presentation stations in every classroom, replacement of outdated student computers, teacher laptops, and one-to-one initiatives) was secured through the passage of a Technology Levy in 2006. Voters were promised; that with the passage of the levy, the projects funded would be focused on helping student achieve 21st Century skill sets such as digital-age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication and high productivity.
Planning and implementing such an enormous task has been quite a tremendous undertaking. Dr. Grohe shared with the audience a few things that they have learned through the implementation process so far:
• Grohe says, “In times of crisis, you have to narrow the focus”
• If you don’t focus on the learning the best teachers won’t come along with you. Those teachers are concerned about how kids learn-they need to know how these new ways of teaching with the aid of technology will change teaching and learning to make it better.
• Focus on the curriculum. Curriculum becomes the beginning of the discussion as a result of having the technology available to them. Look at the way technology can change the very nature of curriculum to help you teach better, not just different
• It’s not about the “stuff”; it’s about how to make the teaching and learning more effective.
• Talk quietly, do everything step by step.
• Optimize the teachers you have on staff. Help them understand what strengths they bring to technology.
• Identify your “maniacs”. These are the incredible people with a mission. Get out of their way and they will help you get where you need to be.
• Identify the others who are determined that your plans will NEVER succeed. Having an enemy is a true asset because they, as Grohe put it, “will ask the question your friends won’t” They will be great assets when they are brought into the decision making process.
• Chart your course. Know where you want to end up. Staying the course is the hardest part. The job of the administrators and the boards is to keep moving forward-never go back.
• Understand your obstacles. The administrators’ job is to get those out of the way. Grohe refers to this as “rubble removal” – so the “maniacs” can complete the mission
• And finally, Dr. Grohe suggested that you then have an obligation to share with your colleagues your lessons learned and she directed us all to the Kent School District website for more information on their technology program and implementation.
The rest of the day included more classes for participants to cycle through four 50 minute “classes” which included Science, Math/ Language Arts and Professional development. The day culminated with a wrap up presented by representatives from Smart and a drawing for some amazing prize which included a Smartboard and an hp tablet laptop!
I’m looking forward to my next Digital Learning Environment adventure in Boston next week. If you are in that area, or if you live near Boston, Phoenix or Pittsburg, consider joining us at the DLE event in your city. Find out more here:

9:38 PM Permalink
March 22, 2009

Digital Learning Environments Events Series Update

The keynote speaker at the first Digital Learning Environments Event in Chicago on March 19 was Superintendent Steve Baule from District 201 in Westmont Illinois. Baule began his address by asking what we can do more effectively with technology. Answers included extending the school day with things like online encyclopedias and virtual courses, and using standardized testing like MAPS (Measures of Academic Progress) for higher reliability and faster results.
He mentioned these keys to successful technology use and planning:
• Focus on student learning and the districts strategic needs
• Create robust infrastructure
• Train everyone with adequate ongoing multi-level training and support
• Constantly Review/Revise/Supervise/Inspect
• Support your decision with data
In the area of data, Baule stressed that quantitative data is important for technology planning as well as new technology adoptions. He mentioned gathering data on the following:
• How often or long technology is used
• Changes in test scores or attendance rates
• Impact on family contacts
• Changes in graduation rate and grades
After the keynote address, participants left their “homeroom” and cycled through four 5o minute “classes” which included Science, Math/ Language Arts and Professional development. With 5 minutes passing time these participants stepped into our students’ shoes for the day. In my class, Language Arts, their behavior was good-I had no referrals for the day!
Lunch was a nice sit down meal at the hotel’s restaurant. I enjoyed dining with a high school teacher from northern Wisconsin. Although we teach in geographically different parts of the country, she in Wisconsin and I in California, we discovered our school districts had much in common and shared many of the same challenges including declining enrollment, shrinking state resources, rising transportation costs (we are both in rural environments) increased difficulty in meeting the rising requirements of NCLB. Although we were both feeling more challenged in our teaching careers than ever, we were both optimistic that in spite of these challenges our students will still learn and grow and that we and our colleagues will continue to give our all to help our students succeed.
I came away inspired, just like I am every time I have the opportunity to connect with professional, dedicated and talented educators around the country. I look forward to my next Digital Learning Environment adventure in Seattle next week. If you are in that area, or if you live near Boston, Phoenix or Pittsburg, consider joining us at the DLE event in your city. Find out more here:

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