Monday, June 30, 2008


Enjoyed the inspiring talk and learning more first hand about the wisdom of crowds today at the Keynote for NECC.  Everyone received their very own cowboy souvenir hat.  Well, who couldn't resist the leftovers to bring home for the family.  I put them to good use for this family mugshot.  

Tomorrow will be a long busy day. I'm looking forward to taking it all in.

Friday, June 27, 2008

#NECC - Icing on the Twitter Cake

I am so excited to be at NECC this year.  I moved from a global company in their IT department to K12 Education exactly 5 years ago.  It's been an eye opener and a wild ride that I wouldn't trade in for anything.  I walked into a position where there was no turnover and a sole person who had the keys to the kingdom….and I replaced him.  I knew nothing about technology in education.  I knew that I was thrilled to be working in a position where I could help teach teachers how to use technology in the classrooms and where I could feel like I could make a difference.  I didn't realize it would be five years to get to a point in my career where I would begin to have time to do what I had envisioned.

My first month in I saw the importance of NECC and signed up.  I had NO idea what I was getting into.  I flew to Seattle and blindly started my immersion into the educational technology arena.  I left there feeling even more geeked than when I decided to take the job.  I came back thinking I would be able to work closely with our curriculum coordinator in creating programming for our students.  I later learned that there is a distinct difference in what our curriculum coordinator sees as curriculum and what I see as curriculum.  I've since accepted the fact that if it has anything to do with a computer or the Internet or anything you plug in that it falls under the Technology department, thus me.  I'm okay with this.  Fortunately, for our students and programming, I am excited about education, educational theory, educational reform, and just plain old education for kids.  All decisions that I make that relate to the technology and underlying infrastructure, I make with student success in mind first.

I've spent a lot of time working on the infrastructure, building my team, and creating an environment where technology can thrive. I don’t know that we’ll ever be there completely….who is? It is a constant work in progress where I will always seek more and better. I have attended NECC each year since that first year. Every year it brings a level of excitement and renewal in the feelings that brought me to my job. However this year, I see the value more than any other year. And I must say I think Twitter is the reason why. I have gotten to read and know so many educators through twitter. I still do not have the time to fully participate in the edublogger community the way I would love to but the time I do spend has been invaluable. I have learned so much from all of you.

My eyes have been opened and they are wide. I am giddy with excitement in what I can do next in my job. I’m thrilled to be in a position where I know my decisions can and do make a difference in the lives of kids every day. I know that I am seeking out ideas and thoughts to help promote and implement with our teachers and administrators. So, even though I feel like an outsider with many of the conversations taking place….I’m okay with that. I know that relationships will be built in time. I know I have had a few conversations that I hope will build into a lasting professional relationship.  

Having the opportunity to attend NECC again this year is icing on the twitter cake. So if you read this and have the chance to meet me or I come up and say hello, please give me a big Texan howdy!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Admin Access for Teachers or Not?

Should teachers have administrative access on their school-owned computers? In our district we have a mixed environment of Windows and Apples for teacher laptops. Years ago we revoked all administrative access on teacher laptops. Life from a tech-support perspective got much better!

All teachers were then using Window machines. There weren't clear guidelines on what was allowed to be installed. Teacher laptops were full of viruses, spyware, and software (personal versions of finance programs, Peer to peer sharing programs) that should never have been installed. Admin access was revoked and the support issues releated to these rogue applications were eliminated. We have since then brought on Apple laptops of which I have allowed administrator access. Teachers have the freedom to update and install educational software as needed. This has not caused problems like we saw earlier when access was open on the Windows laptops.

Now I am at a new era, where I would like to open this option back up for our teachers using Windows laptops. (We run both.) I can already hear our technicians telling me what a bad idea this is going to be. I will be arguing on the side of giving teachers the flexibility to use their laptops to its fullest extent which includes running an update when needed to iTunes, or Firefox, or whatever, or installing a great open source application they have found. I am considering the security risk and the support time involved if there are problems. However there are also support costs incurred when we have touch each machine to fix or add another application we'd like them to use.

Do I turn on the flood gates on teacher Window laptops and give them Administrative access despite what I know our technicians will tell me when I bring it up??? Do I allow this freedom for teachers to explore, update and install so they can use their laptops more fully, risking the added security breaches and support issues that will likely also occur? I can hear them arguing with me already.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

Here I am trying out embedding a youtube video directly to my blog from youtube.