Confessions of A Digital Leader: 6 Things I Learned While Implementing Digital Learning

1. Google Apps Aren’t Really “Free”  Through the course of our implementation and relaunch of Google Apps, I’ve definitely learned that the word “free” is such a myth. When we decided to move forward with creating our student Google Apps accounts, I started to hear all about monitoring of teacher and student accounts. I learned that kids will type terrible things and change ink to white in order to make pages appear blank. Adults and kids may sometimes even share personal identifiable data via Google Drive Kids and/or adults may write/post threatening content. Pretty much every horrible, terrible, very bad …

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Confessions of a Digital Leader: Rome Wasn’t Built in A Day

Everyday when I walk into my building, I feel as if the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Correction…I feel this whether I am in my building or not. My mind races a million directions…constantly refreshing ideas faster than I can blink sometimes. Every step or conversation stimulates internal thoughts about how we can be better…small, subtle changes here and there. Confession: It’s hard for me to focus when every ounce of my being is internally screaming…”Nooooooooo”…at the celebration of things that we should be doing differently. I cringe at the phrase, “this is how we’ve always done …

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Confessions of a Digital Leader: My Lifeline is the Classroom

Yesterday, I spent my morning at our high school and at one elementary school. As eye-opening as those experiences were, especially concerning much needed digital learning upgrades, it was exactly what I needed. As a matter of fact, I was in such a great mood the rest of the day that I could not even explain why…other than being high on life and the responsibility of serving kids. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be on a couple of campuses at some point today too. When you’re the person in the district responsible for how we use technology, everyone wants you to …

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Confessions of a Digital Leader: Connectedness is a Part of This Work

There was a time in my academic career that I thought that every classroom should have an interactive whiteboard. As a matter of fact, I was my school district’s in-house “expert” on all things SMART. I trained every teacher in our district at some point and even conducted outside trainings and conferences. I had clickers, a slate and a mindset that I could not and would not teach in a classroom without it. And then…everything changed… 1. The ipad released and my school bought some. 2. I found twitter, Edcamp and connected to teachers. 3. I changed the way that …

Confessions of a Digital Leader: The Balance of Content and Creativity

If you ask any technology integration specialist/coach about “test prep technology” programs, you are more than likely inclined to receive looks of disapproval over excitement. In a climate where schools dedicate entire labs or carts to the use of such programs, we absolutely despise them because they get in the way of what students need when it comes to digital learning. Dear Teachers…With all of my heart, please stop thinking that the use of programs such as istation, Think Through Math, Accelerated Reader or (insert program name here) fulfills appropriate access to tools for learning. With that said, those that live in …

Confessions of a Digital Leader: Thinking About Privacy and Passwords

The other day we were looking at several different blogging platforms to be utilized with our students and teachers. The goto idea seems to be to find what is free and teacher-controllable. The problem with free is that it is often void of the ability to export data and this is such a critical feature to have…especially when we consider that each person should have ownership of their own. These are conversations that we will have with every platform that we roll out with our students and teachers. It is unacceptable for students to not have access to their own …

Confessions of a Digital Leader: Migrating Back to A Digital Life

By all accounts, my school district is new to implementing Google Apps for Education. It’ll be a slow and interesting implementation but one that is so necessary, especially in a climate where printed documents are important to so many areas operationally. It felt good to blow the minds of an entire room of district leaders by placing documents online in a Google Site versus handing them all a folder/binder. It felt even more amazing to quickly create a form to capture data for our Campus principals and have them in awe that such information could be captured so fast. I …

The Best Part of ISTE2015…YOU! (Also Minecraft…Always)

There was a moment in Stephen Reid‘s session when he described what it felt to walk the streets of Philadelphia…moments of thought common to minecrafters. He said that as he looked at buildings, he saw beyond their stature and literally saw himself through the lens of building them. His words… “I can build that”…formed the phrase that lasted beyond any other moment at ISTE. The power of knowing what you are capable of is empowering. More on that later… For me, the best parts of ISTE weren’t the moments that people may think. It was amazing to nervously give an ignite …

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Dear Edtech, You Still Have A Race Problem

When “diversity in edtech” is mentioned, the conversation almost always materializes as one about women. We talk about it often and there are plenty of initiatives created to “change the ratio”. I get it. There is a disparity and we certainly need it. However, when it comes to race…people will barely even admit that there is a problem. Let me rephrase that. We refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem. We still have non-diverse “thought groups” speaking on panels in rooms full of decision makers…also non-diverse. Have we really gotten so comfortable with our silos that all white rooms aren’t …

The Audacity of Growth

Earlier today, one of my former principals shared this quote… “When a seed is planted, the creative urge is to grow. It never stops trying… The audacious hope of rooted things…” From the novel “Ruby” by Cynthia Bond.   The beauty of this quote is in its direct relationship to the art and science of being a learner. If we get education right, we will in essence be creating a culture of growth just like a seed…all types of seeds that grow in their own way…their own purpose. Over the course of my career, I have had many great mentors, experiences …