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EdTech Update





The presenter's rule

If you as the presenter aren't having fun, neither is your audience. Blue Skunk

I adopted the expression above from my supervising teacher back in 1976 who admonished my 24 year old self that if I was not having fun as a teacher, my students weren't having fun either.  Happily, as a teacher or a presenter or a workshop facilitator or a board report giver or a panelist or whatever, I've always had some degree of fun when speaking to a group.

I've been thinking about this quite a bit this week as I prepare to give a workshop and two presentations over the next five days. The workshop and one presentation is for TIES, our state technology conference. The workshop is tomorrow afternoon on creativity and the presentation is on the librarian's role in 1:1 schools. I'm looking forward to both teaching and learning in both these sessions.

On a more recreational note, I will giving a presentation to the Minnesota Rovers Outdoors Club on Tuesday evening in St. Paul. The Rovers are a large, active group of folks who enjoy camping, hiking, biking, skiing, canoeing, etc and hold weekly presentations on topics of interest to members. Here is the description of my talk:

December 13: Vacationing by Bicycle: a Puffer’s Guide

A “puffer” is a bicyclist who doesn’t have an expensive bike or equipment but still enjoys taking multi-day biking trips. Having been a “puffer” since 1980, I will show photos and speak about a variety of bicycling vacations I have taken and offer tips on getting the most from them. ​Please join ​me in a conversation about what makes longer bicycling adventures a pleasure for YOU!

This talk is an update of one I gave a few years ago that seemed to be well-received. This new version will include my most recent biking trips but also, in keeping with the "fun" adage, a few of my Lessons Learned from Bicycling illustrated.


If you are in the neighborhood of either the TIES conference or the Rovers' meeting, please drop in (you don't have to be a Rovers member to attend the presentations).

I plan on having fun and will make sure I do my best to make sure you do as well.


The firewall problem

In computing, a firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. A firewall typically establishes a barrier between a trusted, secure internal network and another outside network, such as the Internet, that is assumed not to be secure or trusted. Wikipedia

By adding 2500 Chromebooks to our schools this fall, we increased the total number of computers on our network by less than 25%. (Probably far less since we had no idea how many personal devices were being used on the network last year.) So we I anticipated a 25% increase in bandwidth.

Big mistake.

Our bandwidth utilization more than doubled. Who'd have thought kids with devices in hand use more bandwidth than kids using computers in labs now and then. Oh, kids whose teachers all use a learning management system use more bandwidth than kids whose teachers push paper? Kids are using more video resources, more digital textbooks, and more digital collaboration and productivity tools. And, yes, Snapchat and Instagram are now more readily available to students as well.

Now this old English major was not caught completely unaware of the need for greater capacity. We increased our Internet bandwidth from 1G to 10G this summer. We've upgraded the quality and number of wireless access points throughout the district over the past couple years in anticipation of the need for more access. But I thought we could push off an expensive upgrade to our firewall and content filter for another year.

For those who enjoy an analogy to the analog world, an Internet firewall is comparable to the security line at the airport. Everything goes through an inspection process to make sure nothing dangerous in being transported into the secure areas. So while we improved the highways to the airport and we increased the number of jets taking off, we pulled a TSA and didn't add any security lines to our metaphorical terminal.

This has caused some bumps and hiccoughs and dismay for both teachers and staff in our otherwise smooth 1:1 roll out - and caused major pain in an expansion of using some math and reading intervention software in our middle schools. But we are fixing it.

So why am I telling you this? Education writers need to share both successes and mistakes if we are to be fully helpful to our peers. I've written a few times about failed technology implementations (There isn't a train I wouldn't take January 2000 and The PSLA (Probibility of Large Scale Adoption) Predictors May 2008) and should probably have shared more.

We celebrate grit in our kids. We cling to lovely adages like "Those who make no mistakes usually make nothing at all." And we love to celebrate our successes. But it is the road's bumps and potholes and detours we and our peers encounter that teach us to be better drivers.


BFTP: The forgetters' table - a horror story

I heard a frightening story the other dsay and it really made my skin crawl. Not the tale a Stephen King or RL Stine or Shirley Jackson tells, but the scariest kind - non-fiction.

It seems some elementary school librarians create something called the "Forgetters' Table" - a place children must sit in shame if they've forgotten to return their library book while the rest of class get new books. One child who lost a book in kindergarten was still sitting every week at the Forgetters' Table in third grade.

It's tempting to rant here. To condemn a profession. To construct a moral. But the horror can simply speak for itself.

I just hope the kid from the Forgetters' Table runs for school board or becomes a principal at this librarian's school as an adult. And that s/he hasn't forgotten.




Original post October 31, 2011

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