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Archive for July 2011


Fail Better

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy

For the past decade, we have been teaching with the idea of only one right answer. Failure was and is not an option. But the real way to learn is to try, fail, and try again. We learn from our failures. We also predict the future based on our past. However, we can learn from the past and all the failed predictions.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time, more intelligently.” Henry Ford


7 Questions for Bringing Your Own Device to School

Smartphones and mobile devices are changing the business world. Instead of IT departments being able to force a particular set of mobile solutions on the workforce, employees now expect to be able to use the smartphones — and increasingly, iPads or other mobile devices — they bought for personal use. According to data from Aberdeen Group (via ZDNet), about 75% of enterprises now have “bring your own device” policies in place. Read more

So “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is making sense for companies. Is BYOD going to work for schools?

Think about your school and trying to set up a 1:1 program. Look at your students. Look at your staff. Consider how you are currently maintaining and managing your technology. All or most of your teachers and students have smartphones or some type of mobile device. Before your school decides to implement BYOD, ask your teachers, students, and parents these questions:

  1. Is your school looking to cut costs?

    Let’s be real. Every school no matter if public or private is having financial issues. The cost of maintaining technology is very high. Much of your costs are for people. If you are a public school, the district has an IT department that management the network, images the laptops on the 1:1 program, controls what programs are added to the image, and oversees the firewall and what websites are accessible to students. This will change.

  2. Do you have tech-savvy teachers who are creative and are more the “guide on the side” type of people?

    Sometimes we forget that many teachers already know how to use technology. Most or all have a cell phone. Almost all teachers now are creating their lessons on the computer. What I found is that teachers need their own guide or coach to support them as they lead the way. Like I’ve said in past posts, teachers only know what they were taught. Teachers were taught to teach in isolation and to provide direct instruction. They were the keepers of knowledge who fed information to their students. In designing a program that uses any type of device means that teachers need to move to a different type of entity. This will take time. This is where schools need to put their resources and money. The teacher is the one that matters in the classroom. Learning to “Let Go” is not easy. Everything changes. The relationship between teacher and administration is one of trust where teachers are allowed to take risks. Students take risks and learn from failure. That’s a big jump. I say let’s value this type of teacher or guide and give them the support they need to have students succeed.

  3. How many of your teachers and students own a mobile device?

    Do a survey with the different types of mobile devices. Find out if they use the device at school and at home. It really doesn’t matter what type of device if the owner of the device takes responsibility for the maintenance of the device.

  4. What types of projects or lessons are teachers doing that includes technology?

    At a Birds of a Feather session moderated by Scott Meech ( there were loads of people with iPads sharing the next big App with the group. It seemed like everyone had an iPad or some type of mobile device at ISTE. Many of the Apps that were shared were free like Science360 hosted by the National Science Foundation along with online free libraries like the Khan Academy ( with over 2100 video lectures. I plan to post again with loads of examples of apps for schools and strategies on how to use those apps in the classroom.

  5. What does professional development look like when everyone is using different mobile devices?

    Professional development is changing. It is no longer a stand-up and deliver one shot one day deal. You can use a one day or one hour session to introduce an idea, method, strategy, or to empower teachers to move in a specific direction. I’d like to think professional development is more like professional growth that builds on personal learning goals. If you drive everything around your passion, you want it and own it. Most teachers became a teacher to make a difference. For the past 8 or so years, it has been about accountability, test scores, and keeping the school open. Many teachers have burnt out. Some really good teachers have retired early. Some new teachers are in the profession for the wrong reasons. What if we change what professional development looks like? How about an ILP (Individual Learning Plan) for teachers where they are supported by a coach and are part of several professional learning communities? Every teacher and their situation is different than every other teacher. Just like students. Now with BYOD, they have a different role.

  6. What is the different role of the teacher in a BYOD school?

    The teacher is a co-learner with their students and not the sole expert of the content and/or technology any more. No one can be. The world is a different place with Google. You can google any term or phrase. The problem now is for students to know what is authentic and valid and how to think critically on their own. Teachers have to reinvent what teaching is. The school needs to support their experimenting and risk-taking. The teacher is more of a practicing researcher with real people. Each student brings something interesting and special to the class. Now they are bringing their own device.

  7. So what does the BYOD classroom look like?

    Students group themselves by topic. There is a lot of noise going on in some parts of the room where other parts of the room there is quiet and intense research going on. The teacher is walking around observing, answering questions, doing research themselves, and letting go. Students may be texting each other and maybe sharing with each other. This is more like the real world. Rules will probably change. Students will own more of their learning. The learning environment will be more creative and innovative. There will probably be open doors or classes held outside. More projects. Less lecturing.

I can think of more questions. Can you? Do you have any for me? I am excited about this direction.


Unplugged and What Happened?

I went away last weekend with some women friends and there was no Internet or cell reception. I handled it but didn’t think I could. I actually enjoyed not being connected and played games. I played scrabble face-to-face and not on Facebook. I learned a new game called Quiddler. Then sprinkled in Upwords. We played as soon as we got up and all the way until the wee hours of the night. A marathon of games. While I was gone, I received over a thousand email messages, was added to 35 Google+ circles, was mentioned and linked in several blog posts, missed 3265 tweets, and not sure what else.

So this morning I just saw this Inforgraphic by Kelly Hodgkins on “what happens in 60 seconds on The Internet.”


— Shut down your Internet for sixty seconds and here’s a sampling of what you will miss:

  • 1500+ blog posts
  • 98,000 new tweets
  • 12,000 new ads on Craigslist
  • 20,000 new posts on Tumblr
  • 600 new videos (25+ hours worth) on YouTube

I bet most of this is spam. I received a lot of spam. I think we are so connected that we almost go through the shakes if we realize we are not connected. A few weeks ago, I answered a poll about which technology can you not live without — Internet, cell phone, TV, Laptop. I chose cell phone. Then when I didn’t have cell reception, I didn’t know what to do. I was thinking “who is writing me? what if I miss something? Did I get a text?”

Barbara Riding the Tricycle


After a few hours of playing games, going for a walk, eating a nice dinner, I just enjoyed myself. While we were out at dinner, two of us pulled our phones out to see if we had any bars. We did and quickly checked our email. Does this sound like an addiction? I do have to say I was more relaxed than I had been in a long time. We slept in the next day all the way until 9am. Maybe I need to rethink my life and get a balance so I unplug more. I’m a digital pioneer who’s been plugged in for a long time. I wonder how the digital natives will do without texting. How long would they be able to go? I did use my phone to take pictures.

Thank you Marilyn for taking me away to Aptos and letting me just be. I even rode her tricycle.


The Flipped Classroom

One thing I heard at ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia that stood out for me was Flipping the Classroom. This is where the teacher publishes their lectures via screen captures using programs like Camtasia, Jing, and Screenr and then posts them on streaming servers like YouTube, SchoolTube, Vimeo, or TeacherTube. Then the teacher grabs the embed code and embeds it into their website or blog. The teacher can also upload documents or other materials that normally are shared during the class time. The classroom is then flipped and used to do the authentic work about the content. Here’s a video of a Chemistry teacher who flipped his classroom.

This means your students have access to laptops or devices that can view the videos at home and in school to refer to the lectures or notes while applying the information. I like the term “Flipped the Classroom” because it helps teachers conceptualize what they are doing.

This could be the first step to blended learning for teachers that may not feel comfortable jumping into the online learning venue. Most students especially high school students have access to the Internet from home or their mobile device. Why not take advantage of these tools and make the learning environment challenging and rigorous? The other thing that is cool about uploading your lessons and content you want your students to learn before class is that you don’t have to reinvent the lesson for each of your classes — it’s up there in the clouds waiting for you. All you have to do is give the link to your students.

How have you Flipped your Classroom? Want to share something cool you saw at ISTE 2011?

Kickstart our discussion on what stood out at ISTE 2011 by adding toSigilt’s Google Form.

For a deeper discussion, use the comment box below.


Let Go and Let Learning Happen

Barbara Bray writes about teaching and learning. It is about kids, their lives and letting go so they can learn. Stop teaching tools and testing them about facts.

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