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EdTech Update





The cost of awards

Over 20 years ago, I was given this plaque that still hangs on my office wall:

The inscription reads:



Presented to

Douglas A Johnson



Minnesota Educational Media Organization

My friend and colleague Jane Prestebak (who received the same award that same year) and I joke about how those plaques bought MEMO thousands of hours of free labor from us over the next two decades. Very clever, MEMO. Guilt-induced labor is still labor.

So yesterday I received this at ISTE in Philadelphia:

So my suspicious nature asks if this is just a cheap ploy by ISTE to get a bunch more work out of me? Yes, ISTE, I will volunteer. You already got four years of board membership. Assistance writing ISTE Standards. Presentations at conferences. Articles in Leading & Learning. Leadership in the SIGMS group. You know I am easy - and a bit dim so I can be manipulated.

All kidding aside, I am honored and humbled to be given this award. I am in august company! Check the list of award winners over the past 20 years and you will recognize a lot of heavy hitters in education.

So thank you. I feel my professional work has been an award in and of itself. Each time someone thanks me for something I've presented or written is an award in and of itself. But this nice. It will make my mother proud and our district public relations director happy.

Photos from the luncheon:

Chicago school library director and friend Lisa Perez was kind enough to sit by me. Here is she is thinking back on getting her own Making IT Happen award a couple years ago.

A full house in a large banquet hall. Live band. Only an open bar could have made it better. Hint, hint.

Lovely tables. Vegetarian entree and cheesecake for dessert. No icecaps were melted creating this meal.

This was a very good day for Minnesotans. My library friend Laurie Conzemius won the award as well. (I think MN and PA were tied in award winners, two for two, but who was keeping track?) Library media specialists sort of ruled the event, getting lots of mentions and praise from none other than ISTE President Kecia Ray. Wow!

Anyway, ISTE, thank you. Let me know if you have a job for me.


BFTP: Upstream costs, downstream savings

According to this blog post, I have now been using an iPad for about five years. Had you asked me, I would have said three. I remember being shocked at the 2010 ISTE (first year name changed from NECC) conference how many attendees were already using this new and different device. From 2010...

Finding Time
Each time I pass the picture I take a few seconds to straighten it. On its single nail, heavy tread makes it tilt. I always have the extra seconds to make it straight, but I never have the precious minute needed to get the second nail to straighten it permanently. In 50 Words

One argument for teachers spending time to learn a complex technology is that once mastered, the technology will eventually result in time savings. As Zach commented on this blog, "I usually try and use the sales pitch - climb the learning curve and you save a ton of time later on."

And I too have preached this sermon for years: upstream costs = downstream savings.

But I am not sure there is any time cost/benefit formula that can be applied across the board to "technology." Taking the time to learn and create a macro for keyboarding a long and often used address seems to have an immediate and direct time savings. Learning to use Moodle to supplement a F2F class that still meets five days a week, I wonder? Or learning to use a digital camera and to edit video using iMovie and to upload the videos to server to create a source for students to watch or rewatch a lesson? Hmmmmmm, the pay back time seems pretty long to me. Value = time learning/time saved (and figure in a variable for the length of time to reach the savings).

I have two learning tasks this weekend: to figure out as much as I can about my new iPad 3G that arrived on schedule yesterday (thank you FedEx) and to experiment with GoogleWave* that we just turned on as a part of GoogleApps for Education. Will either the iPad or Wave make me** and, more importantly, my librarians and teachers more productive - short or long term? Any district technology leader ought to make these sorts of evaluations a high priority.

And, yes, I know it doesn't always have to be about productivity. I learned quickly to stream Netflix videos and find NPR broadcasts on the iPad. Nothing wrong with having fun with a new toy as well.

* Does anyone even remember what GoogleWave was about?

* I think one can make the case that the "pointy-haired" boss (like me) has some value leading a tech department. Tech "enthusiasts" may overestimate the time/value quotient. I worry when schools place professional CTOs instead of former teachers in charge of a district's tech. Good security, I'm sure, but ...

Original post May 22, 2010.


Culture on my mind


: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

What is the difference between Iowa and yogurt? Yogurt has an active culture (old Minnesota joke)

The term culture has been much on my mind recently. As a part of my district's administrative team, I participated in two more days of cultural proficiency training - practicing viewing the cultural diversity richness of our students and community as an asset rather than a problem. A very good thing for students and adults alike.

The news has been full of culturallly significant events - the legalization of gay marriage, the upholding of the Affordable Care Act, the removal of the Confederate flag from not just the government grounds in Charlotte, but from Amazon, Target, and Apple marketplaces. Gee, the goverment can work on behalf of groups other than the 1%ers.

I can't remember a week that I felt that both our school and national cultures were actually moving, changing in a positive way. Cultural change moves at the rate of the second hand on the clock. It happens but most often it is imperceptible. And that very imperceptibility can be discouraging.

Libraries and technology can and do have a direct impact on a school's culture - both intentionally and unintentionally. In addition to the happenings I listed above, I also attended a workshop on FERPA and student data privacy, that morphed into a boogeyman lecture on online security. Somehow the dots that were being connected were that if your district policy was to let teachers independently download apps or sign up for services without district technology security approval, the next day Iranian hackers would penetrate your firewall through spoofing and steal all your employee social security numbers and student's test score data. I am a little surprised that the man giving the lecture was not wearing a helmet just because you never know when a brick will fall from the sky. (It has happened, you know.)

I am wondering how many of the hundred or so educators in attendance now will go back and try enforce draconian security policies - and thus move the school's culture to one that fears rather than embraces and uses technology to improve learning.

It's important for each of us to remember that through our actions, inactions, and statements each of us does impact the cultures in which we live and work. It's probably dangerous to forget that.

Happy week! 

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