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EdTech Update





BFTP: Do you have groupies?

Groupie [noun] 1: a fan of a rock group who usually follows the group around on concert tours; 2: an admirer of a celebrity who attends as many of his or her public appearances as possible; 3: enthusiast, aficionado <a political groupie> from

Groupies just aren't for rock stars. Librarians and tech integration specialists need them too.

This was sent to me by a classroom teacher in our district:

Dear Mr. Johnson,

The week before Christmas, four students from my classroom were selected to spend a week studying any topic they chose. They were excused from Reading and Grammar for one week and allowed to work on their project. They also had access to the library and the internet.

Yesterday, the first child presented her report on Popcorn. I have attached her presentation to this email. I want to draw your attention to the professional look, pictures that reflect the text, the citation, grammar and spelling of this piece.

I wish to thank the media curriculum team and my media specialist for teaching Powerpoint to my students. I also want to express my appreciation to my media specialist for allowing my students to present their power point presentations to their classmates. This procedure allowed my student to successfully complete a very enjoyable and informative lesson 
on her own. I did not assist with anything. She knew what to do.

Please consider me an advocate for the importance of having a media specialist within a school. 

MAPS Elementary Teacher

This library media specialist has a groupie - some one who is an ardent fan of her work, her abilities, and her vision. Someone who is so appreciative of the librarian's work that she will have an ally when the next round of budget cuts come. 

We all need groupies. How do you cultivate them? How do you keep them? How many do you need?

What do you do that makes you a rock star in the eyes of your students or staff?

Original post January 6, 2011


New student data privacy rules


Our district's change in student information systems has served as a reminder to me just how damn much  data we as a school district collect on our students. Demographics and attendance and credits and health and discipline and evaluations galore, oh my!

Our intent in the move from the old SIS to the new was to maintain the same data access privileges among all our system users. I believe we are accomplishing this. Were we to change data access permissions at the same time as we changed SIS systems, the new system would be held responsible for the change, not we humans who assign the rights.

At some point in time, however, it will be imperative to reexamine our data privacy rules, especially in light of some new work being done by COSN. In New Data Principles Help to Guard Student Privacy, COSN links to the 10 Foundational Principles for Using and Safeguarding Students’ Personal Information - that help educators "move beyond compliance to toward aspirational pratices" that are designed to build trust between schools and parents. These principles include:
move beyond compliance toward aspirational practices. - See more at:

We believe:

  1.  Student data should be used to further and support student learning and success. 
  2.  Student data are most powerful when used for continuous improvement and personalizing student learning. 
  3.  Student data should be used as a tool for informing, engaging, and empowering students, families, teachers, and school system leaders.
  4.  Students, families, and educators should have timely access to information collected about the student.*
  5. Student data should be used to inform and not replace the professional judgment of educators.
  6. Students’ personal information should only be shared, under terms or agreement, with service providers for legitimate educational purposes; otherwise the consent to share must be given by a parent, guardian, or a student, if that student is over 18. School systems should have policies for overseeing this process, which include support and guidance for teachers.
  7. Educational institutions, and their contracted service providers with access to student data, including researchers, should have clear, publicly available rules and guidelines for how they collect, use, safeguard, and destroy those data.
  8. Educators and their contracted service providers should only have access to the minimum student data required to support student success.
  9. Everyone who has access to students’ personal information should be trained and know how to effectively and ethically use, protect, and secure it.
  10. Any educational institution with the authority to collect and maintain student personal information should
    • have a system of governance that designates rules, procedures, and the individual or group responsible for decisionmaking regarding data collection, use, access, sharing, and security, and use of online educational programs;
    • have a policy for notification of any misuse or breach of information and available remedies;
    • maintain a security process that follows widely accepted industry best practices;
    • provide a designated place or contact where students and families can go to learn of their rights and have their questions about student data collection, use, and security answered.

I've often been critical about how student data, especially test score data, has been used in schools, viewing it as more politics than good educational practice (See Test data - for kids or politicians?) But perhaps schools are moving to actually help students by using data - especially that created through formative rather than summative assessments - to build individualized learning plans. But as that happens, paying attention to who has access to the data, how the data is used, and how the data is secured, will become an increasingly important role of schools - and especially their tech departments.

Thank you COSN and other organizations for these fine new principles that will inform and guide our practice.

* I would add "along with information that provides context and meaning to the data being shared.


Digital equity and home access - it's complicated

Digital equity is easier to define than it is to solve. It’s about making sure students have equal access to technology like devices, software and the internet, and that they have trained educators to help them navigate those tools. 7 things every educator should know about digital equity. ISTE Connects, January 25, 2016

Kids who don’t have reliable Internet access at home (which includes the use of a laptop or desktop for connecting to the Internet) are “less likely to go online to look up information about things that they are interested in,” according to the report. While mobile devices do provide Internet access, kids don’t seem to use them for the deeper type of informal learning championed by tech advocates: 35 percent of children with mobile-only access look up information often, as compared with 52 percent of kids with Internet at home. What's Lost When Kids Are Underconnected to the Internet? Mind/Shift, February 3, 2016

... what nearly every study of 1:1 programs reveals is that unless students takes devices home, there is little demonstrable impact on learning (Sauers & McLeod, 2012). My sense is that this is true largely because these machines allow students to continue learning outside school. Many learning opportunities, however, depend on home Internet connectivity. Helping to Close the Digital Divide: Connecting Students at Home. Educational Leadership, February, 2015

I am happy to see home Internet connectivity being addressed in educational media on a more frequent basis. And that "home Internet access" is being more broadly defined. Home Internet access to be useful for educational purposes needs to be more than a phone with data services shared by an entire family.

Given both my district's goal of equitable access to resources (part of our cultural proficiency efforts) and its increasing use of digital resources (including replacing textbooks with a learning management system), addressing home Internet connectivity disparities is a high priority - and we have barely begun.

But we have begun. We must.