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Tag Archives: Technology integration

These are the answers to all of my questions…

Because at least once a month I am trying to introduce some new technology or device to someone or a group of people, this chart is so fitting.  My latest questions were about “the Seesaw app“.  Now I know the answer.  Although I would still ask a few more questions, given it presents excellent features and could be a game changer.

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Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Technology

 

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Fitbug – Another fitness tracker?!

So, I started using the Fitbug.  It seems simple.  It works with the iPhone + It links to my PingAn insurance company.  What does this mean?  It means that if I do a certain amount of fitness each day or each week I earn points.  These points get me things like: movie tickets, or even cash back rewards when I do online shopping.  How cool is that?  I was going to work out anyway.  Now there is more incentive.  I will tell you how things go here on the blog.  Keep posted.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Technology

 

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From Tech class to Tech integration

A learning common

As a new tech integration specialist, moving to a school where they were changing from the tech class to the tech integration model there were certain things that needed to be understood beforehand.

Some of these key ideas I posted in a post called Technology Integration: a six-pronged approach.  Other ideas, however, had more to do with dealing with the emotions of colleagues and I will touch on this now.  I would liken these Kübler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief” to the emotions that many of the teachers went through when learning they were dealing with a new strategy for technology:

Denial: Most home room teachers who have been at the school for sometime, upon hearing that their school will be moving to this model will be in shock, and do not really understand what this means.  Some may decide that they do not have time to meet with or interact with the new ‘tech integrator’ assuming this stance as one where they can keep their heads in the sand as long as possible until they will have to deal with what has been given to them.

As a tech integrator it means you need to explain the process to teachers, knowing full-well that many of the words you say or write are falling on deaf ears.  It is of utmost importance that you have patience knowing that they are dealing with change, and are there to offer reassurance, help and support when they are ready to receive it.

Love

Anger: One of the biggest gripes from teachers is that they “have lost their prep. period”.  They do not see the big picture yet and feel like they have gained nothing, but definitely lost what most teachers treasure most – time.

As a tech integrator, this means that you have to be ready to act as the messenger, fully realizing that some teachers will be ready to shoot you.  Again, patience and understanding are key here.  Note that I am not saying, “push for your right to integrate tech”.  A tech integrators role, especially in the early stages, has more to do with empathizing and supporting than it does with integrating technology.  Be kind, be patient, listen, and support.

Bargaining: At this stage many teachers are still not ready to accept the role of the tech integrator and may decide that they will ‘leave for a coffee for the entire period’ while you teach the class in their classroom.  Although this may need to happen at first to ease into the transition there needs to be bargaining and compromise from both sides.  For instance, the tech integrator eventually needs to explain that his role is to be working with the teachers to integrate technology into the classroom.

The tech integrator eventually wants to work his way out of the job.  Essentially, he should be developing computer skills in all the teachers to such a degree that he can begin focussing his role more as a learning coach than a tech integrator.

Another worry from teachers is about how they will do the tech teaching themselves, how they are going to mark, who is going to mark, etc. These questions should all be explicitly focused upon over time with the tech integrator helping out along the way.  Remember, this is not a journey that will take a year.  In my experience and that of others, it takes between three and five years to fully move to tech integration.

Depression: There may be some hidden or some outright depression along the way.  Teachers may say things like, “I don’t know how to teach technology; I just don’t have the skill set; or Please, can you come and teach my class.”

As a tech integrator, the initial stage will mean getting to know all the teachers needs through regular meetings and setting up classroom visits.  However, upon you understanding the support necessary for different teachers, accommodation takes place at different levels.  For example, some teachers may want a lesson to be taught completely by the tech integrator.  Others, may want to team teach.  Other still, may want you there only as moral support or support when something gets tricky.  And finally, many may want you to teach them individually either for personal or professional purposes.  This is where the acceptance stage has started kicking in.

Acceptance: Not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a bright shiny light when everyone reaches the end of that tunnel.  Here are some reasons:

  1. The students have a higher chance they are learning technology through authentic means, and not in a separate class where the end goal is to learn technology.  The computer and it’s peripheries begin to be thought of as a tool to help a student come up with better or altogether new ways to create solutions to genuine problems.  Ideally, the teachers and tech integrators are integrating with the highest levels of the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model.
  2. Tech integration improves student learning processes and outcomes because teachers who recognize a computer’s capacity move from a Behavioral approach to a constructivist approach as noted in this article.
  3. Technology integration enables total engagement of the class with tools like Google Docs, Microsoft One-Note, Socrative, Edmodo, and one of my new favorites Todaysmeet.  Integration also allows for students to enlist the help of other classes, schools, or even experts in a field to find the answers to the questions that may be posed.  Students or teachers can post in blogs, on social networks, through ePortfolios and through so many other forms.
  4. As a tech integrator, your colleagues can learn from you in so many capacities.  As mentioned above, they can learn while you are teaching, while they are teaching, or by themselves at their own pace.
  5. Finally, another advantage for you, the tech integrator, stepping into so many classes is that you are gleaning best teaching practice.  I like to think of a tech integrator as a bumblebee pollinating flowers, or carrying best practice from one class to the next. This again is teaching teachers, but it has reciprocal advantages.

While the stages are not the same for all teachers, a technology integrator stepping into these shoes in a school where they are changing from tech classes to integration is unwittingly going to stumble across some, if not all, of the teachers in one stage or another.  He needs to mentally prepare himself for the situation and recognize that he won’t be liked by most upon arrival.  He needs to remember to support, support, support.  In two or three years he will be loved even more than the tech teacher who would take the kids off the teachers hands so they could have a break.  Eventually, he will become the most loved teacher through all the school, even more than the gym teacher!!

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Technology

 

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Connecting around the world (within Timezones)

One of the projects on the back of my mind for our school is to buddy different classes or grades with “sister school” throughout the world.  Where this most often becomes is through technology, authentic needs and projects, and through meeting synchronously at the same time.  To alleviate this last worry, I was examining the idea to limit the schools we would connect with to those within our own timezone (for now).

Time Zones

Time Zones

This would mean that we could still get a cross-cultural feel for how things are in different parts of the world, but never have mix-ups or hiccups because of timing.  I can envision it now:

“Ok, great.  We’ll Skype with your class at 2pm then.”

“Wait, 2pm your time or mine?”

“Oh, ours.”

“Oh, we will already be gone home.”

This preplanning could fix all of this hassle down the road.  Because I am in Istanbul, this gives me a wide gamut of places and schools to consider, for example, Finland, Kiev, Bucharest, Cairo, Lubumbashi, Pretoria, Cape Town, and the list goes on.

Asynchronous conversations would end this worry and could be done through ideas like: Edmodo, Wikis, Blogging, Google Docs, Twitter, Twijector, and more.  However, there is definitely something about connecting in real-time.   I am excited about the idea and will comment further about the progress and the new problems we may face.

 

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Doing a Masters or Doctorate? Tools you need

Are you planning to take more schooling, like a Master’s degree or a PhD, or are you already enrolled?  If either of these is the case, I highly recommend you invest in ALL of these tools and I will explain why.

  1. Dropbox or Google Drive Both are FREE! – First thing you do not want to do is lose any or all of your documents, readings, discussion posts and replies, or assignments.  In order to do this, you should create an online area where your files can be stored.  This means that you create an account, download a small program and move your files to this folder.  Many people are worried that this means the files will look different or they won’t be able to reach them if the internet is down – Wrong!  The files look and act exactly the same.  They are housed on your computer and BACKED UP on the internet in “the cloud”.  This means that if your computer or flash drive breaks down, which they often do, you do not need to worry because you can download the program on another computer and login.  All your files will download to that device, open, and react exactly like you are used to them doing.  Just remember to write your login and password where you will remember it.  
  2. Mendeley FREE for 2GB of cloud space! (Costs after that, but you won’t likely use it all) – Time to organize your documents and retrieve or search through them easily.
    -Did I mention it was DRAG and DROP?
    -Did I mention it auto-generates your citations and bibliographies with a plug-in in Word?

    WATCH VIDEOS or Get guide here: https://www.mendeley.com/guides

    [Read my more detailed directions about Mendeley at the bottom of this article]

  3. Perrla for APA or MLA ($34.95 USD) – 
    Perrla

    Perrla

    Perrla will generate citations in APA and MLA, but use it to set the proper margins, headers, title pages, spacing, and so much more.  They auto set tables and figures in APA proper formatting.  When you read the APA (and I am sure the MLA, but I haven’t read it) manual you find these details are very tedious and time-consuming to apply.  Perrla guides you through 200+ citation types and explains every detail along the way – if you want to know more about what is happening with your Mendeley citations or how to do those weird, super esoteric ones.  

  4. SPSS (Approx. $90 USD) – You’re going to need to do some data crunching and analysis, even if you think, “No, I will just do a qualitative dissertation or thesis.”  Nonetheless, you will probably end up doing some predictive analytics after you gather all of your interview and case study material.  SPSS is one of the most widely used statistics softwares.  It is relatively cheap, is relatively simple to use (when you know what you are doing – Watch some Youtube videos about the specific types of analysis you plan to do and type “SPSS” in the search), and it is versatile.  
  5. Atlas.ti (Approx $99 USD – with Student ID) – If you are going to delve into qualitative research, this is the cheaper way to go and still has almost all the functionality of Nvivo.  It allows you to analyze and find patterns in documents, recordings, PDFs, quotes, and memos.  From there you can code, organize, develop nodes, and visually represent your data in many unassuming forms.  
  6. Evernote FREE! – Get started with this early! Use it to embed and tag articles, websites, clippings and even import text through Livescribe pen scanning ($69.95+).  Search through every item you have collected to realize information you have accumulated for your comprehensive exams and your dissertations.  It is an excellent and necessary way to stay organized.
  7. Free Natural Reader (PC) or Speech (MAC) Both are FREE! – When you are ready to turn in an assignment or submit a discussion post, you need to review it.  The best way to do this is to hear it out loud.  On a PC, there is no software built-in so the Natural Reader is an awesome download you need to get.  Macs have an advantage in this area because they have this built-in.  Go to the APPLE (in the top left corner), go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES, a dialogue box will appear, go to SPEECH, check “Speak selected text when the key is pressed”, SET KEY (I would choose OPTION + S) – Highlight some text and try out either of these options to hear it read back to you.  You will notice mistakes so much easier.
  8. Harzing’s Publish or Perish FREE! – If you need to find the seminal articles written around a 
    Harzing's Publish or Perish

    Harzing’s Publish or Perish

    subject, this is the software for you.  Search for any subject and voilà, you have found the most cited, the highest ranked, the number of citations of the article per year, and more.  Download this into Windows or a parallel system that enables Windows on a Mac, like Parallels ($79.99 USD).  

  9. Windows and Microsoft Word for Windows – The reason I recommend using the Windows environment for post-graduate work is because many of the products listed above work naturally in this operating system.  I also enjoy that Microsoft Word on PC allows for click editing of words to bold, italicize, underline and change other attributes without moving your cursor all the way to the menu bar across the top.  Plus, if you opt not to buy Perrla, which I highly recommend that you do, Word on a PC has more up-to-date APA and MLA citations.

Bookmark these sites:

  1. Crossref – If you are using APA 6, you need to find DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers).  This website allows you to reverse look up journal articles and sites to find if there is one available.
  2. Thesaurus.com – You are going to need to use ‘the other word’ often.  When writing a paper, Microsoft Word has a bult in thesaurus, but Thesaurus.com offers, furnishes, grants, and presents more and better options.
  3. Smartthinking – I hope your school offers this services free of charge.  They have online tutoring, essay submission and editing, APA editing, math help and so much more.  It is awesome but I just examined the pricing – not so cheap.  It depends upon what you need, so have a look.  Well worth it for major essay editing help.
  4. Turnitin – Again, I hope that your University uses this service.  To make sure that you are not plagiarizing, this site locates all the information that turns up from other sources.  Remember, as a rule, your essays should not have more than 20% of other people’s work.  After submitting an assignment, Turnitin highlights areas and determines where it has come from.  Your profs may use it.  You should too!

If you have other software, hardware, websites, or tricks that you use, please tell me in the comments.  Finally, remember to thank me in your Dedication. Good luck with everything.

Mendeley details:

  1. Create an account
  2. Download the desktop version – install
    • Drag and Drop your downloaded PDF articles into the Mendeley interface
    • IMPORTANT – Double check newly imported article’s details are correct – 80% – 90% reliable – be especially careful that the DOI didn’t get truncated because of a forward slash: /
      • (This will add completely different details for articles with the other DOI number)
      • If you lose the article because of incorrect DOI auto-fill – search “Recently Added”
    • Ensure correct “Type” is chosen (e.g. Journal Article, Thesis, Book)
      • For chapters of a book, select “Book Section”
    • IMPORTANT – “Sync” often (2 GB of free space in cloud – paid for extra space: ability to install Mendeley on multiple computers and keep up-to-date)
    • Create Folders with terms that are useful (e.g. Dissertations, Recommendations, Case studies) – drag and drop articles into folder
    • Add notes where applicable to articles
    • TIME SAVER – Have notes tab open and click through “My library” articles to quickly see notes you have written
    • RECOMMENDATION – Use Stars to delineate articles that are 3 years or newer for easy reference
      • In “My Library” “All Documents”, click “Year” header to sort column
      • Star all documents that are within the 3 year date range – deselect others
    • RECOMMENDATION – Use Green / Grey dots to delineate which articles have been cited in dissertation or paper
    • TIME SAVER – With article open and selected, click “Contents” to jump to areas in articles
    • Search to get an overview of where this query can be found in every article
      • Double click an article to open it in a new tab
  3. Download the Mendeley plug-in for Microsoft Word – install
    • Find Mendeley auto-references under “References” tab
      • Click to insert –> Type name of first author of document
      • If needed, type into reference in paper to edit –> Select “Keep Manual Edit”
    • Insert Bibliography into paper (Note – this auto-updates upon insertion of new reference)
  4. Yay!!
 
 

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Tech Integration Response to Email Questions

brass_integrator

brass_integrator (Photo credit: xmatt)

A recent group of colleagues, tech integrators from around the world, have recently connected through email contact.  One of the cohort posed a few questions, “[I am} interested in Tech lesson ideas for PK – Grade 5.  Also how you’re day is spent integrating technology in your schools. If you teach classes or are full time integration.”

I thought I would share my response here:

Hello,

I am going to try to get back to you about specific tech ideas because there are so many.  Our team is presently developing a website to showcase tech integration ideas using 3 New Literacies: Community, Tools, and Information.  This is being developed for PYP, MYP, and DP.  When it is populated I am eager to share it.  For now, I will point you to the Florida Tech Matrix: http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/

Concerning how the day spent as a tech integrator, it is interesting to compare this year to others.  Essentially as a tech integrator, and as John D’Arcy puts it, we are working our way out of a job and into a learning coach role who spends more time researching and promoting learning theory and practices.  However, teachers will usually need help learning new tools.  Jeff Utecht states, “We are in perpetual beta”.  The way he explains this idea is that online and offline programs and operating systems are continually updating and upgrading.  This means that we never really become experts because a version with all new bells and whistles keeps us and other teachers on their toes.  This is the reason I know we will always have a job as researchers, testers, implementers, and promoters.

As a tech integrator, originally I was working in classes in the capacity as a lead-teacher, co-teacher, or support teacher depending upon what the teacher needed and specified.  More recently I am finding that I am working much more with teachers individually who have lists of questions they would like answered.  I work with them on a weekly basis and help them with everything from blogging, to email and Google Drive organization, to SMARTboarding, to iPad app exploration, and so much more.  They are figuring out and adapting lessons from previous years but still ask for my help once in a while.  I write more about the idea of tech integration here: https://ict-design.org/2011/09/02/technology-integration-a-six-pronged-approach/ and share Keengwe, J., & Onchwari, G.’s (2009) tech integration rubric here: https://ict-design.org/2011/10/25/technology-integration-rubric

With regards to your last query, I am a full-time tech integrator with an open schedule.  I use and share my Google Calendar with staff here: https://ict-design.org/make-appointment  I found that if teachers were able to edit my calendar I would have some of them coming up to me at the end of the day saying, “You didn’t come visit my class” because I missed an appointment they made minutes before the due time.  Therefore, I make my calendar read-only, which means they need confirmation from me about appointment details.  It seems to work much better.

Hope that helps.
Thomas Johnson
Technology Integration Specialist | Learning Coach

 
 

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Technology Integration Specialist – job descriptions

International Conference for the Integration o...

As a technology integration specialist (TIS) my job description is all over the place.  I was in a meeting today where the principal of the school, who has been doing interviews with teachers to find their needs, has come to the conclusion that teachers have very specific needs, and so do their classes.  I agree and am glad he gathered this evidence to support what I was thinking.

What does this mean then for a TIS?

The first thing that it seems to mean is communication is needed on the part of the TIS.  As a TIS, we need to explain:  What is it that we are doing?  Where are we?  How can we be contacted or booked?  What types of things can we bring to the class?  What types of systems are we putting in to place? and the list goes on…

What kinds of strategies can we put into place?

  • Walking from classroom to classroom – trying to drop in to the classrooms that have the computers out with their kids.  And dropping in to the classrooms where SMARTboards are being used…or dropping in to classrooms where no tech is being offered, to get a sense of the units.
  • Being available at certain times in specific locations – this could rotate through the week.  For example, Week 1: Mon – Fri 12:30 – 1:00 in an available room, like a Science room or computer lab, Week 2: Mon – Fri 9:00 – 9:30 in an available room, and so on.
  • Offering as much PD as possible – lunches, after school.
  • Being at everyone’s beck and call – Offering phone numbers to teachers who can call when it is necessary to come down to trouble shoot a problem.
  • Offering kids available times to meet – lunches or after school should suffice.
  • Designing new policies – For example, Facebook and online social policies.
  • Setting up infrastructures.  For example, Google Docs and Dropbox for communication and collaboration, Netvibes for organizing life, booking systems, saving and cloud systems, infrastructures for instruction online and more.
  • Tweeting great sites and strategies.
  • Blogging about what we are doing.
  • Creating websites or resources for teachers who need it.
  • Researching and learning about all the latest trends or immediate tech that is necessary.
  • Being friendly and approachable by everyone.

But is this enough?

As a TIS, this probably means that many hats are to be worn.  For example, TISers might be on committees about websites, or technology in general.  They might be trying to do overarching projects, like developing larger PD or workshops, or building community relations with other schools and their tech and media departments.  They might be inundated with emails every day, but it is their job to set an example, to reply to each and every question, query, statement, request, reply, and quandary.

They should realize they are lucky. This is because they have the opportunity to continually better themselves while they are helping others.  In walking into every classroom, they get to see what other teachers and classes are doing and glean or appropriate (read: steal) ideas from their coworkers and friends.  Because of this, they are continually learning and growing and able to offer more to their fellow workers and student body.

As a TIS, its great to be loved and needed.  It is just too bad there aren’t more ways we can split our time or add more hours to the day.  I am sure as an educator or a human I am not the only one who feels this, but it would be great.  Maybe this is one more system we need to design. 🙂

 
 

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