Archive for Nick Sauers

Working in the cloud

I’m not sure if there is a more appro­pri­ate name for this post which I’m writ­ing at 11,652 meters some­where over south­east­ern Canada.  I’ve recently been con­tacted by mul­ti­ple schools that are mov­ing to 1:1 with Chrome­books and oth­ers who are con­sid­er­ing the move.  As I’ve noted before, I gen­er­ally hes­i­tate rec­om­mend­ing a device to schools.  I want schools to select the device that best aligns with the needs of their ini­tia­tive, and I do not believe there is one generic best device for all schools.  With that said, I’ve really become quite impressed with the pos­si­bil­i­ties of using a cloud based device such as the Chrome­book.  One obvi­ous change with a cloud based device is that edu­ca­tors will need to use cloud based soft­ware.  I believe this change can lead to real changes in the ways that edu­ca­tors use tech­nol­ogy and push them out of their com­fort zones.  The most excit­ing part of those changes for me is that most cloud based soft­ware is much more col­lab­o­ra­tive in nature.  Rather than using a com­puter as a fancy pen and paper or ency­clo­pe­dia set, edu­ca­tors will need to rethink how they can use the tech­nol­ogy to impact stu­dent learn­ing.  Col­lab­o­ra­tion is a major piece of most tools they will be using on a cloud based device.

I have recently been explor­ing much more with my Chrome­book with a recent pre­sen­ta­tion and trip to Europe.  Here are some exam­ples of how I’ve used cloud based software.

  • Pre­pared a pre­sen­ta­tion on Google Pre­sen­ta­tion for a group of 1:1 edu­ca­tors imple­ment­ing a Chrome­book initiative.

  • Used Google Hang­out to deliver the pre­sen­ta­tion, and recorded that pre­sen­ta­tion with Google Hang­outs on Air.  This ensured that I wouldn’t have con­nec­tiv­ity prob­lems when deliv­er­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion.  The pre­sen­ta­tion was uploaded to YouTube.

  • Used Google Drive to pro­vide feed­back (com­ments)  to stu­dents in my class while work­ing offline on an airplane.

  • Answered ques­tions in a Google Hang­out with a group of approx­i­mately 150 administrators.

  • Trav­eled for nearly an entire month with only my Chrome­book.  I was able to do all of my work with­out any problems.

  • Wrote this blog post on Google Drive at 11,652 meters!

I am very excited for the poten­tial with these cloud based devices, and cer­tainly believe they are worth seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion for 1:1 schools!
Nick Sauers

Leadership matters-Part 2

My last post focused on how impor­tant lead­er­ship is in a 1:1 ini­tia­tive.  The fol­low­ing video is my vir­tual con­ver­sa­tion about lead­er­ship to a group of lead­ers who are imple­ment­ing a large 1:1 deploy­ment in their district.


Nick Sauers

Leadership matters

Photo Credit: Scott McLeod on Flickr

The more I work with 1:1 schools, the more I am con­vinced of the absolute impor­tance of lead­er­ship with the tran­si­tion to a 1:1 envi­ron­ment.  With­out solid lead­er­ship, great teach­ers are forced to con­nect with oth­ers out­side of the school walls to improve their skills.  That isn’t a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be the only way they can improve as edu­ca­tors.  Other less ambi­tious edu­ca­tors are left mud­dling around try­ing to use these “new” devices to do old things.  So what can lead­ers do to make the tran­si­tion more successful?

  1. Clearly estab­lish and com­mu­ni­cate the rea­son that the school has become 1:1.
    • If there isn’t a clear and con­vinc­ing vision, many edu­ca­tors will become frus­trated with the first road­block (Bad con­nec­tiv­ity, bro­ken device, etc.) they encounter.
    • Par­ents, teach­ers, and stu­dents should all under­stand why this large invest­ment was made!
  2. Pro­vide resources to all teachers.
    • Pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment should not be one size fits all.  Both the high fly­ers and those who strug­gle with tech­nol­ogy need per­son­al­ized PD.
    • Con­sider that dif­fer­ent teach­ers and depart­ments may have unique needs in regards to their soft­ware and hardware.
  3. Pro­vide feed­back about the ways that tech­nol­ogy is being used.
    • As the say­ing goes, “what mat­ters gets mea­sured”.  Pro­vide teach­ers with feed­back about the ways they are using technology.
    • Allow teach­ers to observe other teach­ers using tech­nol­ogy in pow­er­ful ways.
  4. Estab­lish a com­mon lan­guage about how tech­nol­ogy can enhance learning.
    • This point aligns closely with vision, but I think it is very impor­tant.  Per­son­ally, I like using this frame­work to dis­cuss the ways tech­nol­ogy is being used.
    • Estab­lish core com­pe­ten­cies for teach­ers around the use of tech­nol­ogy.  Lead­ers can then oper­ate with the assump­tion that all teach­ers know how to use and can dis­cuss empow­er­ing uses with those tech­nol­ogy skills.
  5. Cre­ate poli­cies that empower rather than hin­der the use of technology.
    • Be extremely thought­ful about the poli­cies you enact!  Too often poli­cies are put in place as a reac­tionary mea­sure to one incident.
    • Con­sider the pros and cons before mak­ing poli­cies, pro­ce­dures, and rules regard­ing the use of technology.
  6. Give teach­ers and stu­dents a voice!
    • If you want true sup­port, your best allies will be your stu­dents and teach­ers.  Let them pro­vide mean­ing­ful direc­tion to your 1:1 program.
    • You can’t suc­cess­fully lead a 1:1 ini­tia­tive with­out sup­port from oth­ers.  Use the experts in your building!

As you read this list, you may rec­og­nize that many of these things aren’t unique to a 1:1 ini­tia­tive.  Many of these rec­om­men­da­tions are sim­ply good lead­er­ship!  How­ever, they are over­looked way too often.

Nick Sauers

The gift of time


Photo credit Kobiz7 on Flickr

Over the past four years I’ve had the oppor­tu­nity to work with teams of admin­is­tra­tors and teach­ers from around the coun­try.  I’ve heard about many of the chal­lenges they face inte­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy as well as many of their suc­cesses.  One of the sim­plest lessons I’ve learned in that work is in the value of time to col­lab­o­rate on a focused topic.  Unfor­tu­nately, if teams do have time to col­lab­o­rate, that time is often used to address the burn­ing issue of the day or week. Although those issues are cer­tainly impor­tant and may keep the ship from sink­ing, they don’t always move things forward.

How can your school cre­ate time that focuses specif­i­cally on ways to use tech­nol­ogy to enhance the edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence for your stu­dents?  I’ve heard some great rec­om­men­da­tions from col­leagues around the globe.  The most com­mon theme that has come out of those ses­sions is a ded­i­cated time slot with a focused theme.  Schools often do a poor job rec­og­niz­ing all of the experts that work within the school walls.  Hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions locally also cer­tainly increases the like­li­hood that the pre­sen­ter will under­stand the con­text of the school!  A cou­ple of the more cre­ative meet­ings I’ve heard described are:

Mug­gers meeting-A vol­un­tary meet­ing with cof­fee and donuts pro­vided where teach­ers share a tech­nol­ogy tool that is work­ing well for them.

Appy hour-A vol­un­tary meet up of teach­ers to dis­cuss apps that they use.

Happy col­lab­o­rat­ing!

Nick Sauers


How is your customer service?

I’m teach­ing a course this semes­ter that includes com­po­nents related to data dri­ven decision-making and learn­ing man­age­ment sys­tems.  The stu­dents enrolled in the class are part of our school tech­nol­ogy lead­er­ship Ph.D. cohort.  The stu­dents are school admin­is­tra­tors, teach­ers, and uni­ver­sity staff.  I’ve been try­ing to recruit LMS providers to speak to my class this Sat­ur­day and have been some­what amazed by the responses.  After cold call­ing mul­ti­ple ven­dors, I cer­tainly get a sense of the dif­fer­ences in cus­tomer ser­vice at the var­i­ous com­pa­nies.  Some are extremely help­ful and seem happy to chat and there were oth­ers who sim­ply failed to respond to a call.

This expe­ri­ence has me think­ing about the type of cus­tomer ser­vice that schools pro­vide to teach­ers, par­ents, and stu­dents.  In par­tic­u­lar, I won­der what type of cus­tomer ser­vice your tech­nol­ogy depart­ment pro­vides.  I’ve worked and chat­ted with many teach­ers and stu­dents who avoid their tech­nol­ogy depart­ment at all costs.  They fear the belit­tling atti­tudes or being put down for not know­ing some­thing “sim­ple”.  These tech­nol­ogy depart­ments actu­ally hin­der teach­ers’ exper­i­men­ta­tion with tech­nol­ogy.  How­ever, there are other tech­nol­ogy direc­tors and depart­ments that cre­ate a totally pos­i­tive envi­ron­ment.  As a teacher, I was brave enough to exper­i­ment with tech­nol­ogy and that often led to prob­lems with tech­nol­ogy that I wasn’t able to solve by myself.  I was for­tu­nate to have a tech direc­tor who was always very respon­sive to my tech prob­lems.  He seemed to appre­ci­ate the fact that I was explor­ing new ter­ri­tory, and he actu­ally encour­aged me.  His atti­tude cer­tainly led to con­tin­ued tech inte­gra­tion in my class­room.  I won­der how dif­fer­ent my approach to tech­nol­ogy may have been had he responded dif­fer­ently.  How is the cus­tomer ser­vice in your tech­nol­ogy depart­ment?  How is the cus­tomer ser­vice at your school?

Nick Sauers



Using technology to transform learning

On Mon­day I hosted a webi­nar for the Uni­ver­sity of Kentucky’s Next Gen­er­a­tion Lead­er­ship Acad­emy.  Tracy Watan­abe led the one hour ses­sion which was titled Using Tech­nol­ogy to Trans­form Learn­ing.  You can view the entire ses­sion here.  I had the oppor­tu­nity to meet and work with Tracy and her col­league Jon Castel­hano a few years ago prior to their imple­men­ta­tion of a 1:1 pro­gram.  Since that time, I’ve mon­i­tored their tran­si­tion from afar and have been very impressed with the changes that have taken place.  The webi­nar was a great way for me to learn about many of the things they have put in place to max­i­mize the results of their 1:1 pro­gram.  Below I’ve described some of the major things that stood out from Tracy’s pre­sen­ta­tion.  How­ever, I’d still encour­age you to take the time to lis­ten and learn from the webi­nar yourself.

Lead­er­ship:  Tracy was part of a very strong lead­er­ship team who were very com­mit­ted to trans­form­ing the learn­ing expe­ri­ence for their school.  How­ever, this doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily set their school apart from other schools.  What did make them dif­fer­ent is that they also cre­ated a for­mal net­work for devel­op­ing other lead­ers.  They cre­ated a team of col­lab­o­ra­tive coaches (teach­ers) based on a Peer-Ed model.  The train­ing for the coaches was very sys­tem­atic.  By cre­at­ing this much larger lead­er­ship team, it appears that true changes could reach a “crit­i­cal mass” much easier.

Ped­a­gogy:  Rather than focus­ing just on the tech­nol­ogy, Tracy’s school really focused on effec­tive instruc­tion.  It appeared that even their PD was very inte­grated.  Tracy talked about how they would first talk about ped­a­gogy and then think about ways tech­nol­ogy could enhance or enrich teacher’s meth­ods.  Although this may seem appar­ent to many of us, few schools seem to be doing this well.  Does all PD in your school con­sider ways tech­nol­ogy can enhance a teach­ing strategy?

Mod­el­ing:  Tracy has truly been a model learner for oth­ers in her school.  She has cre­ated a blog that goes beyond just tech­nol­ogy.  She also has used tech­nol­ogy to enhance learn­ing groups with tools such as diigo where she has cre­ated mul­ti­ple groups.  Groups then share valu­able resources with other group members.

It is cer­tainly worth your time to watch this webi­nar.  You can also view resources from the webi­nar at this link.  There are take-aways that can help impact 1:1 schools at var­i­ous lev­els of imple­men­ta­tion.  Happy viewing!

Nick Sauers

Iowa 1:1 Institute wrap-up

On April 4, nearly 1300 edu­ca­tors attended the Iowa 1:1 Insti­tute in Des Moines, Iowa.  Through­out the day there were approx­i­mately 100 dif­fer­ent ses­sions focused on a wide vari­ety of top­ics.  As I made my rounds dur­ing the con­fer­ence, I was able to pop my head in and lis­ten briefly to many of the ses­sions.  One thing that truly astounded me was the col­lec­tive wis­dom of the group.  At any given time there were a very diverse set of pre­sen­ta­tions tak­ing place cov­er­ing very dif­fer­ent top­ics.  Although I am a big fan of cre­at­ing vir­tual pro­fes­sional learn­ing net­works, the value of a con­fer­ence such as this is also appar­ent to me.  For some, the day is a great way to become immersed in the world of 1:1 schools.  For other vet­eran 1:1 edu­ca­tors, it is a great way to con­nect with oth­ers in a sim­i­lar place and dis­cuss ways to keep mov­ing forward.

If you were unable to attend, please check-out our wiki where pre­sen­ters posted their resources.  You can also fol­low the con­ver­sa­tions that took place with our twit­ter hash­tag (#i11i).  There are also a cou­ple of addi­tional 1:1 con­fer­ences that would be great ways to con­tinue to move your ini­tia­tive forward.

Nick Sauers

Iowa 1:1 Institute

The Iowa 1:1 Insti­tute is now just over one week away!  We have released our ses­sion sched­ule, and are excited to have 100 ses­sions through­out the day.  Once again, we have had a great reg­is­tra­tion and we expect approx­i­mately 1000 atten­dees.  How­ever, there is still time to reg­is­ter if you’d like to attend.  We’re also pleased to have a large num­ber of ven­dors who allow us to keep the reg­is­tra­tion cost to only $50/participant.  There are two major changes to the con­fer­ence for­mat that we hope will strengthen the conference.

  1. Through­out the day, we will offer five “mini-keynote” ses­sions.  Check-out those ses­sion  pre­sen­ters and titles!
  2. We will now offer role-alike ses­sions through­out the day.  Those ses­sions will have facil­i­ta­tors who will direct the con­ver­sa­tion in each role-alike. Role-alike ses­sions are designed as a place for edu­ca­tors with sim­i­lar job respon­si­bil­i­ties to dis­cuss the suc­cesses and chal­lenges they’ve had with their 1:1 program.

Thanks to those of you who have helped to make this con­fer­ence pos­si­ble once again!  We hope that it can be a great learn­ing expe­ri­ence for those edu­ca­tors who are novice or vet­eran 1:1 educators.

Nick Sauers

Implementing a 1:1 Program

I was recently asked by a friend to rec­om­mend some major steps as their school begins the process of decid­ing if and how they will become a 1:1 school.  My rec­om­men­da­tions follow:

  1. Cre­ate a lead­er­ship team
    • Include mul­ti­ple stake­hold­ers on the team, and not just technophiles!  
    • Include stu­dents in the process.
    • Con­sider hav­ing sub­com­mit­tees that address var­i­ous topics.
    • Involve admin­is­tra­tors in the lead­er­ship team and the entire process.  They are key play­ers who will need to sup­port the initiative.
  2. Iden­tify the rea­son you are going to imple­ment 1:1
    • This may be the biggest prob­lem I see with 1:1 ini­tia­tives.  Con­vert­ing to 1:1 should not be your goal.  Iden­tify a change you want to see in your school that 1:1 can support.
    • That goal should align with your school’s mis­sion and vision, and not be some­thing that acts as a stand alone.
  3. Visit other schools
    • Iden­tify model schools and send teams to those schools.
    • Rather than send­ing a larger group to one school, send smaller groups to mul­ti­ple schools.
    • Include edu­ca­tors as well as stu­dents, board mem­bers, and com­mu­nity mem­bers in these visits.
  4. Ini­ti­ate pilot programs
    • Iden­tify a strong team that can imple­ment a pilot pro­gram to become the 1:1 pio­neers in your school.
    • Pro­vide that small group of edu­ca­tors with addi­tional train­ing resources.  Allow them to attend con­fer­ences or par­tic­i­pate in other workshops.
    • Study the suc­cesses and chal­lenges of those pilot programs.
    • Use those edu­ca­tors to lead pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment for other staff members.
  5. Study the change process
    • Tran­si­tion­ing to 1:1 is a major change!  Don’t ignore the lit­er­a­ture on change.
    • Kotter’s book Lead­ing Change is one of my favorites around the stages of the change process.
  6. Develop a plan for imple­men­ta­tion of your initiative
    • Cre­ate a clear plan that lays out your 1:1 plan and includes com­po­nents for required steps for imple­men­ta­tion and evaluation.
    • This tool cre­ated by John Nash is an extremely use­ful tool for any major change in a school!
  7. Cre­ate and deliver pro­fes­sional development
    • Pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment ses­sions need to begin PRIOR to launch­ing your initiative.
    • Dif­fer­en­ti­ate pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment for educators.
    • Cre­ate the capac­ity of edu­ca­tors in your school to deliver pro­fes­sional development.
    • Iden­tify a core set of com­pe­ten­cies around tech­nol­ogy that all teach­ers should have and help them gain those com­pe­ten­cies!  It may be help­ful to iden­tify a core set of tech­nol­ogy tools that EVERY edu­ca­tor could use fluently.
    • It seems absolutely crazy that schools invest hun­dreds of thou­sands or even mil­lions of dol­lars in tech­nol­ogy, but refuse to spend any sub­stan­tial amount on pro­fes­sional development.
You may also want to con­sider vis­it­ing this blog focused on one school’s jour­ney through the process.
Update:  This form was cre­ated by @tracywatanabe, and it may help you with this process.
Nick Sauers



Student agency

In my work with the Next Gen­er­a­tion Lead­er­ship Acad­emy, we focus on six “crit­i­cal attrib­utes” which were iden­ti­fied by the Chief Coun­cil of State School Offi­cers.  Stu­dent Agency is one of those attrib­utes, and it is defined as follows:

The expec­ta­tion that stu­dents will develop to direct and own their learn­ing and assume respon­si­bil­ity for them­selves and their com­mu­ni­ties.  Stu­dent agency is both a means to col­lege and career readi­ness and a com­pe­tency that is part of being a col­lege and career ready individual.

Stu­dent choice and voice are cer­tainly part of stu­dent agency, but this def­i­n­i­tion includes stu­dent respon­si­bil­ity as a key com­po­nent.  When think­ing about stu­dent agency, the amount of stu­dent own­er­ship could cer­tainly vary widely.  I’ve cat­e­go­rized a cou­ple of pos­si­ble exam­ples of stu­dent agency from mild to wild.  The wild ideas are cer­tainly a bit more chal­leng­ing to implement!


  • Let stu­dents take respon­si­bil­ity for how they will share their learn­ing with you.  Cre­ate a rubric that clearly iden­ti­fies learn­ing goals and guide­lines.  Stu­dents can then choose the medium to demon­strate their knowl­edge.  That might be a report, blog, video, pod­cast, prezi, song, or pre­sen­ta­tion.  It could also be a medium unfa­mil­iar to you.  The suc­cess of this project will be depen­dent on your rubric!
  • Have stu­dents cre­ate a plan for cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive dig­i­tal pres­ence for your school.  Allow stu­dents to imple­ment that plan!


  • Share end of unit objec­tives with stu­dents.  Allow stu­dents to cre­ate their own learn­ing plan that must include a demon­stra­tion show­ing that they have mas­tered the con­tent. The plan should also include the steps stu­dents will use to gain that knowl­edge. This would cer­tainly be eas­ier in some courses than others!
  • Give stu­dents free­dom each week to explore a topic of their choos­ing.  I recently fin­ished Daniel Pink’s book Drive which high­lighted the suc­cesses many com­pa­nies have had with allow­ing employ­ees to explore a topic of their own choosing.

Nick  Sauers