Collaborative conversations

Sun­day night I had the great oppor­tu­nity to join spe­cial guest Dr. Brad Buck, Direc­tor of Edu­ca­tion in Iowa, along with the group lead­ing Iowa ed chat (#iaed­chat).  Iowa ed chat was launched not too long ago by Jimmy Casas, Aaron Becker, and Matt Deg­ner.  This group hosts vir­tual con­ver­sa­tions each Sun­day night at 8:00 CST on Twit­ter (#iaed­chat), and once a month the group broad­casts google hang­out ses­sions with spe­cial guests.  You can find pre­vi­ous chats here, as well as Sunday’s google hang­out ses­sion with Dr. Buck and myself at this link.

These types of Twit­ter chats are obvi­ously becom­ing more and more com­mon, as evi­denced by this list of edu­ca­tional chats.  As I work with edu­ca­tors across the globe, I always encour­age them to get con­nected with other edu­ca­tors.  Although Twit­ter isn’t the only net­work I rec­om­mend, I believe it is an extremely pow­er­ful one.  The chal­lenge that I often expe­ri­ence is that indi­vid­u­als not com­fort­able with tech­nol­ogy view Twit­ter and other social net­works as sim­ply a place for technophiles — peo­ple with a strong enthu­si­asm for tech­nol­ogy.  They believe that those social net­works exist as a place for tech junkies to dis­cuss tech­nol­ogy.  The Iowa Ed chat and many oth­ers prove that is not true.  They focus on a vari­ety of top­ics such as lead­er­ship, excep­tional stu­dents, stu­dent dis­ci­pline, and other per­ti­nent top­ics. Their top­ics are broad and appro­pri­ate for edu­ca­tors across the globe. Their work also aligns with a recent study I con­ducted with Dr. Jayson Richard­son.  In that study, we ana­lyzed how school lead­ers were using Twit­ter.  We found that most tweets were not about tech­nol­ogy, but rather other edu­ca­tional top­ics.  Addi­tion­ally, we iden­ti­fied that the over­whelm­ing major­ity of tweets (84%) were either directed at other indi­vid­u­als (@) or part of a chat (#).  These find­ings as well as anec­do­tal evi­dence demon­strate that Twit­ter is an extremely pow­er­ful place for indi­vid­u­als to col­lab­o­rate and have vir­tual con­ver­sa­tions about an assort­ment of con­ver­sa­tions that aren’t nec­es­sar­ily related to tech­nol­ogy.  I applaud my Iowa friends for cre­at­ing such an envi­ron­ment, and look for­ward to many great con­ver­sa­tions in the future!

Nick Sauers

1-to-1: Starting Well

This was also posted on the Microsoft Partners-in-Learning Part­ners Hot Topic forum

I have vis­ited and con­sulted for schools in the U.S. and over­seas around 1-to-1 and also researched 1-to-1 for many years. These schools are in vary­ing stages of plan­ning, imple­men­ta­tion, roll­out, refresh and analy­sis. Most want advice on how their pro­grams are going in any of these stages. There is always the chance to return and cor­rect, but schools save them­selves the most time if they start well. Here are some point­ers for this:

  1. Involve all your stake­hold­ers in the vision­ing and plan­ning. While not every per­son can sit on your Vision­ing Com­mit­tee, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from your fac­ulty, admin­is­tra­tion, par­ents, and stu­dents will bring out ideas and per­spec­tives you need for suc­cess. And don’t for­get stu­dents – they are the sin­gle largest stake­holder in terms of num­bers and impact on their lives.
  2. Visit, attend con­fer­ences, research, ask many ques­tions. Schools embark­ing on 1-to-1 have the lux­ury that many oth­ers schools did this already. Assem­ble your ques­tions and a team and take road trips to other schools and to con­fer­ences. Be sure to ask the tough ques­tions such as:  What went wrong? What did you learn now in hindsight?
  3. Give teach­ers devices first – at least 6 months to 1 year before students.
  4. Invest in Pro­fes­sional Devel­op­ment but under­stand it should be var­ied and job-embedded. Make it rel­e­vant to each teacher in each class­room for each discipline.
  5. Include an online learn­ing com­mu­nity. With­out a uni­fy­ing sys­tem that every­one is part of (and not email) you risk class­rooms in silos that are not con­nected. Make 1-to-1 be about col­lab­o­ra­tion with a 1-stop shop­ping loca­tion every­one uses.
  6. Know that pilots don’t tell every­thing. Most schools pilot and expect the teach­ers pilot­ing to be the doc­u­menters of every­thing. How­ever, the pilot teach­ers are highly moti­vated and likely early adopters. Their workarounds and moti­va­tion might not scale to every teacher and every class­room. Expect the year after the pilot when more teach­ers come on board to be bumpy when issues are uncov­ered that didn’t come up dur­ing the pilot.
  7. Pay atten­tion to logis­tics. Spare devices, power cords, bat­ter­ies, charg­ing sta­tions, cases, insur­ance all mat­ter. Your vis­its and research will help with this.
  8. If you’re going BYOD, make sure you know what you’re get­ting into. Good news is that many schools are suc­cess­ful and you can pick their brains. A great place for BYO infor­ma­tion is Thurs­day nights 9 p.m. U.S. East­ern time to fol­low #byotchat on Twit­ter and to search their archives. The peo­ple con­tribut­ing have solved many prob­lems and are very col­le­gial and will­ing to share their material.
  9. Invest in tech. Not just devices, but infra­struc­ture so that roam­ing devices won’t choke when stu­dents bring them from math to lan­guage arts. And not just
    infra­struc­ture, but peo­ple who under­stand and can keep your net­work effec­tive. When you inter­view, try to find help­ful peo­ple who under­stand that teach­ers need to be pri­or­i­tized at the top of their list.
  10. Ques­tion, ana­lyze, fol­low up, lis­ten, revisit, refresh, check, repeat.

There’s plenty more of course. But this is a good list to start. What’s on your list? Please share. Also if you’re going next week to the Microsoft in Edu­ca­tion Global Forum in Barcelona please look for me and let’s talk.

- Pam Livingston

Iowa 1:1 Institute

On April 9 & 10, we’ll be host­ing the 5th annual Iowa 1 to 1 Insti­tute (i11i) in Des Moines, Iowa.  The con­fer­ence was orig­i­nally launched as a place for cur­rent and future 1:1 edu­ca­tors to col­lab­o­rate, share ideas, and dis­cuss chal­lenges.  That ini­tial grass­roots con­fer­ence has grown from a con­fer­ence with 500 atten­dees to last year’s con­fer­ence of over 1200 atten­dees and 100 ses­sions pre­sented through­out the day.  Although most par­tic­i­pants are from Iowa, this isn’t solely an Iowa con­fer­ence.  We’ve had atten­dees from around the coun­try, and we wel­come any­one inter­ested in 1:1 edu­ca­tion.  Much of the suc­cess of the con­fer­ence is a credit to the will­ing­ness of 1:1 edu­ca­tors to share their suc­cesses with other educators.

This year’s con­fer­ence will have many of the same fea­tures as pre­vi­ous con­fer­ences, but we’re also excited with some changes in the con­fer­ence.  The biggest change this year is the addi­tion of a Lead­er­ship Day on April 9 for those indi­vid­u­als who are in some type of lead­er­ship posi­tion with their 1:1 ini­tia­tives.  Patrick Larkin will be lead­ing that day, and we’re opti­mistic he will help lead­ers con­tinue to use 1:1 as a vehi­cle to change the learn­ing expe­ri­ence for stu­dents.  Basic fea­tures of the con­fer­ence can be found below, but please visit the i11i web­site to find out more information.

What:  Iowa 1:1 Institute

When:  April 9 and/or 10

Who:  Any edu­ca­tor inter­ested in 1:1 schools

Where: Event Cen­ter in Des Moines, IA

Cost:  $50/day for early bird registration

Pre­sen­ters:  We are cur­rently accept­ing pre­sen­ta­tion sub­mis­sions.  Lead pre­sen­ters have their reg­is­tra­tion fees waived.

Please be sure to reg­is­ter soon if you’d like to attend the con­fer­ence.  Unfor­tu­nately, we’ve had to cap reg­is­tra­tion each year.  We hope that this year’s con­fer­ence will pro­vide the same rich expe­ri­ences as past con­fer­ences along with addi­tional fea­tures and oppor­tu­ni­ties for learning.

Nick Sauers

1:1 change process

This past week I attended the Inter­na­tional 1:1 Con­fer­ence in Atlanta.  Although the con­fer­ence was small in size, I was very impressed with the ses­sions I attended.  There was one ses­sion in par­tic­u­lar that I thought was very help­ful for atten­dees.  That pre­sen­ta­tion by Neil Schroeder and Kathy Bot­taro focused on the change process for the Sioux City, Iowa schools as they made the tran­si­tion to 1:1 three years ago.  Although they cer­tainly couldn’t describe all of the things they did in their short pre­sen­ta­tion, the five points they high­lighted are fan­tas­tic ideas.  What fol­lows is a brief descrip­tion of those items.

  1. Over­hauled role of teacher librar­ian and recre­ated the library spaces.
  2. Built a stu­dent help desk that fields 125 tickets/day and 20,000 each year!
    • They also cre­ated a phys­i­cal space in the remod­eled media center.
    • They recruit stu­dents at dif­fer­ent grades to cre­ate a tal­ent pipeline.
    • This is another idea I’ve blogged about pre­vi­ously.
  3. Changed the role of media cen­ter associate.
    • Asso­ciates became 1:1 stu­dent help desk manager.
    • They now over­see all fixes and and tech­ni­cal sup­port for the entire high school.
    • Tech­ni­cians now spend NO time work­ing with the help desk.
  4. Built stu­dent intern­ship program.
    • One stu­dent who par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gram couldn’t hide his excite­ment about the pro­gram. He had his own office along with responsibilities.
  5. Over­hauled stu­dent and staff training.
    • Rebuilt mid­dle school tech­nol­ogy curriculum.
    • Cre­ated a week-by-week multi-year PD sched­ule and fol­lowed it.
    • Recruited top tier teach­ers to cre­ate model 1:1 courses.
    • Cre­ated vir­tual pro­fes­sional development.

I’m cer­tain I didn’t do their pre­sen­ta­tion jus­tice in this short blog post, but hope­fully their main ideas help you gen­er­ate some ideas for your school.  The fol­low­ing video dis­cusses Sioux City’s 1:1 lap­top program.

Nick Sauers


Student participation in professional development

I recently lead a pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment ses­sion for a school that was pilot­ing a chrome­book pro­gram.   I was extremely pleased when the super­in­ten­dent asked me if it would be OK if stu­dents attended the train­ing.  After cre­at­ing what I hoped would be a mean­ing­ful day of PD, I headed out for the train­ing.  I was a bit sur­prised and con­cerned when I arrived on site and saw the par­tic­i­pants.  The group of stu­dents was larger than I expected and also quite a bit younger.  The stu­dents out­num­bered the teach­ers and the largest num­ber of stu­dents were in fifth grade.  Although I taught fifth grade, I was a bit appre­hen­sive about how the day would go with the group.  My appre­hen­sions proved to be totally unfounded, and I absolutely enjoyed the time I spent with the group.  Accord­ing to their feed­back, the group was also pleased with the day.  As I reflected back on the day and com­pared it to other ses­sions I’ve led, I really believe the stu­dents had a large impact on the suc­cess of the day.  So what were some of the dif­fer­ences I noticed…

All par­tic­i­pants stayed extremely pos­i­tive and ener­getic for the entire day.  It is tough for adults or stu­dents to sit in the same room and lis­ten to the same per­son for an entire day.  As I left the room at the end of the train­ing, the energy level seemed to be as high as when I began.

I always encour­age par­tic­i­pants to help one another when I teach them how to use var­i­ous tools.  The cul­ture of help­ing one another dur­ing this train­ing may have been higher than I have ever seen pre­vi­ously.  Con­trary to the belief of many, the stu­dents didn’t have all of the answers and some weren’t as tech savvy as oth­ers.  The teach­ers helped the stu­dents and the stu­dents also cer­tainly helped the teacher.  I’d be curi­ous to know how that impacted the cul­ture of their class­rooms in the future.

I  believe the group being extremely will­ing to explore can be attrib­uted to the pres­ence of the stu­dents. Their curios­ity and inquis­i­tive nature were contagious.

I don’t want to over­sim­plify the many com­po­nents that went into a suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment ses­sion.  I’m cer­tain that one suc­cess fac­tor was that the teach­ers in atten­dance were a group who were excited and will­ing to learn about ways they could use tech­nol­ogy to change their class­rooms.  How­ever, I gen­uinely believe that the stu­dents in atten­dance helped cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that isn’t typ­i­cal of pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment at schools.  Are your stu­dents involved in pro­fes­sional development?

Nick Sauers

Leaders using technology

I’ve recently given a cou­ple of pre­sen­ta­tions on the ways school lead­ers can enhance their skills through the use of tech­nol­ogy.  Dur­ing these pre­sen­ta­tions, I’m very delib­er­ate about not just show­ing a cool tool.  Instead, I begin by focus­ing on some skills that are impor­tant to effec­tive school lead­ers.  For exam­ple, rather than just shar­ing a social book­mark­ing site, we dis­cuss ways it could be used to sup­port teach­ers.  Although those cat­e­gories vary a bit depend­ing on the group, I typ­i­cally include the cat­e­gories that are described below.  I also try to high­light each tool with an exam­ple from a school or leader who is using the tool effectively.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Stake­hold­ers–Whether it is through a newslet­ter, face-to-face, or a host of other ways, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with stake­hold­ers may be the most impor­tant job of school leaders.

Blogs-I rec­og­nize the time con­straints of most admin­is­tra­tors.  With that in mind, I tell admin­is­tra­tors they need to be very delib­er­ate if they decide to begin a blog.  My rec­om­men­da­tion for most is to start a group blog for the school with shared respon­si­bil­ity between many indi­vid­u­als.  This is one exam­ple of a school that has done just that.

YouTube-As we know, our stu­dents and com­mu­ni­ties are extremely active on YouTube.  I encour­age schools to cre­ate YouTube chan­nels for their schools that serve a vari­ety of pur­poses.  Here is one exam­ple of an inter­na­tional school and their YouTube Channel.

Cre­at­ing a Per­sonal Learn­ing Net­work–Con­tin­u­ously learn­ing is one of the most impor­tant jobs of a school leader who wants to stay relevant.

Twitter-Many edu­ca­tors are fear­ful of twit­ter and don’t see the pur­pose.  I try to share exam­ples of admin­is­tra­tors who are using twit­ter in pow­er­ful ways.  I also dis­cuss how twit­ter chats are a great way to jump into the twit­ter world.

Sup­port­ing Teach­ers–Research has indi­cated the impor­tance that class­room teach­ers have on stu­dent learn­ing.  School lead­ers can greatly impact stu­dent learn­ing by sup­port­ing teachers.

Diigo-After explain­ing the basics of what Diigo can do, I like to share exam­ples of schools who are using diigo to sup­port pro­fes­sional learn­ing com­mu­ni­ties.  This exam­ple is from a 1:1 school who has cre­ated groups for dif­fer­ent con­tent areas.

Google forms-As sim­ple as they are, google forms are a great way to cre­ate a walk-through form that can be per­son­al­ized for your school.  Here is an exam­ple of a very sim­ple one that I have created.

 The things that I shared cer­tainly aren’t overly com­pli­cated, and many of you who read this blog are prob­a­bly using many of these tools.  Unfor­tu­nately, it seems fairly appar­ent that most school lead­ers aren’t embrac­ing most of these tools.

Nick Sauers

BYOD, Communities — and a 1-to-1 Webinar

When invited to visit 1-to-1 schools, I pose two over­ar­ch­ing ques­tions – How are stu­dents involved in 1-to-1 here? How is 1-to-1 grow­ing your learn­ing community?

These ques­tions become impor­tant with a pro­gram with school-supplied or school-recommended dig­i­tal devices – and even more so with BYOD pro­grams. Because if you are expect­ing every­one to sup­ply their own device for learn­ing, you need to:

  1. Make sure stu­dents are fully involved and onboard right away. Bring stu­dents into com­mit­tees and have them part of sur­veys and the plan­ning, ask their opin­ions as experts.  They reside in the dig­i­tal world and are your most impacted stake­hold­ers in terms of their cur­rent and future aca­d­e­mic, career, pro­fes­sional and per­sonal lives. And keep ask­ing them, many times – for­mally and infor­mally. Fol­low up on their ideas and sug­ges­tions. If BYOD is bought in as a strat­egy by the stu­dents who under­stand your respect and under­stand­ing of them and who real­ize the entire pro­gram was built with their buy-in and feed­back — you will have tee’ed up your pro­gram for success.
  2. Schools needs to be brought together with tech­nol­ogy not seg­mented into class­room silos of tech­nol­ogy. Teach­ers need to choose class­room tools – but the school should have an over­ar­ch­ing online com­mu­nity for social learn­ing where every­one can com­mu­ni­cate and col­lab­o­rate in whole-school groups, in whole-grade groups, in whole class­room groups, and in project-based groups. This should be the same social com­mu­nity not a dif­fer­ent one in each class­room, grade level, divi­sion, or school. Build and grow your online social learn­ing com­mu­nity with your stu­dents so they have uni­for­mity and con­nec­tiv­ity as they move through your edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tion – and so that teach­ers can have a place for their PLCs and adult pro­fes­sional dis­cus­sion forums year-after-year.

I’d like to invite you to join Lord Knight, Neus Lorenzo, Leslie Wil­son and myself to hear our thoughts on 1-to-1 The Next Wave and why we think we’re poised at this very moment for some excit­ing things on the 1-to-1 front. Sign up here:

- Pamela Livingston

Preparing for a 1:1 school visit

A good friend and col­league is cur­rently part of a com­mit­tee that is prepar­ing for her schools tran­si­tion to a 1:1 envi­ron­ment.  Part of that process includes vis­its to vet­eran 1:1 schools.  In prepa­ra­tion for those vis­its, she has asked how she can pre­pare for that visit.  Here are some of my thoughts and rec­om­men­da­tions for her vis­its.  I also want to men­tion that vet­eran 1:1 schools should also con­sider mak­ing vis­its to other schools to share and gather great ideas.

Who should go on the visit?

Of course, you should include all of the reg­u­lar stake­hold­ers in your visit. That should include stu­dents!  I’ve heard many schools remark that they didn’t bring stu­dents on their vis­its, and they really regret­ted that.  You should also con­sider bring­ing some edu­ca­tors who are a bit appre­hen­sive about 1:1.  They may look at the school you visit with a very crit­i­cal eye, and that cer­tainly isn’t bad.  Hope­fully, they will also see some great exam­ples of how the 1:1 envi­ron­ment is trans­form­ing the learn­ing envi­ron­ment.  Obvi­ously, you’ll also need to be good guests and that may mean you need to limit the size of your group vis­it­ing the school.  Instead of vis­it­ing a school with 20 team mem­bers, you could split into two teams and visit two schools.  That strat­egy may also pro­vide a larger vari­ety of ideas to share.

What things should you look for?

Your group will cer­tainly focus on the teach­ing and the learn­ing.  My sole rec­om­men­da­tion in that area would be to focus more on what the stu­dents are doing than what the teach­ers are doing.  When you leave, talk about classes where stu­dents were doing things that you couldn’t do in a non-1:1 envi­ron­ment.  You should also look for those things that didn’t change.  It is also impor­tant to look at the phys­i­cal envi­ron­ment.  Unless you have an unlim­ited bud­get, it is likely you’ll have to make due with the phys­i­cal resources you cur­rently have at your school.  Try to iden­tify how your host school deals with power issues, desk issues, and storage/security issues.

 What things should you ask?

Ask every­thing!  I am extremely for­tu­nate that I’ve been able to talk with hun­dreds of 1:1 edu­ca­tors across the globe.  They all have valu­able insight related to 1:1.  Most edu­ca­tors will be able to answer your ques­tions and many will offer resources as well.  It is quite pos­si­ble that you will form bonds in these vis­its that will help you once you’ve imple­mented 1:1.

As impor­tant as your vis­its are, the most impor­tant step may take place once the vis­its are over.  Take time with your team to debrief.  Every envi­ron­ment in edu­ca­tion is unique.  Some things you see may not work at your school, and other things will work quite well.  Good luck and enjoy your visits!

Nick Sauers

Empowering uses of technology

I just watched this Ted Talk from Scott McLeod which does a great job high­light­ing some of the empow­er­ing ways that stu­dents are using tech­nol­ogy.  It seems that too often our schools, the media, and com­mu­nity mem­bers focus on only the neg­a­tive ways that tech­nol­ogy can be used.  Although we can’t ignore those things, we really need to begin to also embrace all of the pos­i­tive ways stu­dents are using technology!



Nick Sauers

An effective school leader…

This post is writ­ten as part of Scott McLeod’s Lead­er­ship Day chal­lenge that he posted on Dan­ger­ously Irrel­e­vant.  He asks blog­gers to:

blog about what­ever you like related to effec­tive school tech­nol­ogy lead­er­ship: suc­cesses, chal­lenges, reflec­tions, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc.”

As I was con­tem­plat­ing my topic, my ini­tial instinct was to write a post crit­i­cal of most lead­ers in rela­tion to how they deal with tech­nol­ogy issues.  In my work with schools, I’ve observed that inad­e­quate lead­er­ship around tech­nol­ogy issues is the top bar­rier to suc­cess­ful tech­nol­ogy inte­gra­tion.  How­ever, I decided to spin this post a bit dif­fer­ently because there are also admin­is­tra­tors who are doing a good job in this arena.  The remain­der of this posts high­lights those things that I’ve observed these lead admin­is­tra­tors doing, and things I think an effec­tive lead­ers should do.

An effec­tive school leader…

1)  Actively serves on a com­mit­tee to for­mu­late a school vision, and CLEARLY under­stands and can artic­u­late how tech­nol­ogy is part of that vision.

2)  Mod­els the use of tech­nol­ogy to:

  • com­mu­ni­cate with par­ents, teach­ers, stu­dents and the community.

  • find infor­ma­tion to become a bet­ter informed leader.

  • share infor­ma­tion with other edu­ca­tors in the district.

  • cre­ate a per­sonal learn­ing net­work out­side of the school walls.

3)  Pro­vides resources that allow teach­ers to increase their skills.  Those resources could include:

  • time for teach­ers to observe other classes.

  • mean­ing­ful in-house pro­fes­sional development.

  • dif­fer­en­ti­ated pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment by con­tent as well as skill level.

  • learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties out­side the school for select teachers.

4)  Gives feed­back to teach­ers about their use of tech­nol­ogy.  This isn’t solely for­mal eval­u­a­tions, but fre­quent walk-through feed­back and infor­mal con­ver­sa­tions with teachers.

5)  Doesn’t pass off all tech­nol­ogy related deci­sions to some­one else in the school who hap­pens to have the word “tech­nol­ogy” in their title!

The effec­tive leader around tech­nol­ogy issues does not need to be an all know­ing tech­nol­ogy guru.  How­ever, they do need to be an active par­tic­i­pant when deal­ing with the pow­er­ful tools we define as tech­nol­ogy.  This no longer can be an extra add-on to the job, but rather an essen­tial com­po­nent of suc­cess­ful leadership!

Nick Sauers