April 2018

Coming Soon: Edcamp EdPrep, OK

The idea for Edcamp EdPrep blossomed recently at a large teacher education. I was talking with a number of teacher educators from the University of Central Oklahoma. We were sharing how the conference just did not offer enough opportunities to learn from and with each other about our current passions, challenges, and issues. Having attended and started many edcamps, I suggested the edcamp model might be what we were looking for. There was quick agreement and the first edcamp for teacher educators was born: Edcamp EdPrep. 

  • Teacher educators need to learn too!: Teacher educators from education professors and lecturers to professional development coordinators are regularly tasked with helping prepare and grow teachers, but they rarely have an opportunity to learn themselves. Edcamp EdPrep is dedicated to teacher educator learning!
  • Edcamp EdPrep is about YOUR learning!: Have you ever been stuck in a boring conference session where half the room is staring at their phones? That doesn't happen at edcamps because YOU choose the topics for the day and the RULE OF TWO FEET means you should leave a session if you're not learning. It's designed for the way adults learn! 
  • Oklahoma City is a hidden gem to visit!: Many people are unaware of the renaissance of Oklahoma City over the last 20 years! The OKC metro has a population of 1.4 million people with booming urban districts like Bricktown (http://www.bricktownokc.com/) and the Plaza District (http://www.plazadistrict.org/). Go white water rafting where U.S. Olympians in canoe/kayak athletes train (https://www.riversportokc.org/boathouse-district/adventures/whitewater-r...) or visit historic Stockyards City for a Western experience. The beautiful UCO campus is located just north of Oklahoma City. Learn more at https://www.visitokc.com/.
  • Edcamp EdPrep is FREE!: Not only is there no registration fees, but there will be free food and more! You can't beat that price!
  • Edcamp EdPrep is the first of its kind!: Teacher education has never seen anything like Edcamp EdPrep! You can help shape this event going forward, meet and learn with expert teacher educators, and take ideas with you back to your institution!
  • Bonus: Order a great t-shirt and tell others about your experience at EdCamp EdPrep!

You can find more information on Twitter @EdcampEdPrep (twitter.com/EdcampEdPrep) and on their Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/edcampedprep. See you there!

Activity: Learning About Privacy and Security

In this post, we share this activity from Bill Fitzgerald which can be used as a jumping off point for discussions of data privacy and security for teachers and students alike. 

Privacy and Security Exercise

Do this exercise with your phone, tablet, and/or any computer you use regularly.
Imagine that someone has accessed your device and can log in and access all information on the device.

  • If they were a thief, what information could they access about you?
  • If they were a blackmailer, what information could they access about you?
  • What information could they access about your friends, family, or professional contacts?
  • If you work as a teacher, counselor, consultant, or other type of advisor: what information could someone glean about the people you work with?

As you do this exercise, be sure to look at all apps (on a phone or tablet), online accounts accessible via a web browser, address books, and ways that any of this information could be cross referenced or combined. For example, what information could be accessed about people you "know" via social media accounts?

  • What steps can you take to protect this information?
  • Assuming that someone you know has comparable information about you, what steps would you want them to take?

Are there differences between the steps you could take, and the steps you would want someone else to take? What accounts for those differences?

When it comes to protecting information, we are connected. At some level, we are as private and secure as our least private and secure friend.

Bill Fitzgerald directs the Privacy Evaluation Initiative, a program designed to evaluate privacy policies and practices of vendors building educational technology. Bill also runs FunnyMonkey, an open-source development shop focused on education, open educational resources, and peer-based learning. 

Wait but Why: Students at the Center of Classroom Technology

What is your why?  Why do you use technology or support teachers in an effort to use it with students?

For the past year or so, I have been privileged to serve teachers and students in my district by assisting them with all things digital teaching and learning.  Long before this position, I was in love with technology tools to help my life easier.  The thought of using devices to reach the needs of students at a much faster rate than I could on my own drew me in and lead me to explore and experiment in my classroom.  When I was afforded the opportunity to help open the first STEM campus in my district as a sixth grade math teacher in 2011, I jumped at the opportunity.  I can remember our principal's excitement at receiving a cart of netbooks and a case of iPods.  Many teachers were apprehensive to use them, and looking back, I can't say that I was using them in the best way.  However, I knew we were on the cusp of something, and I was eager to bring technology into my classroom every single chance that I could.  My students would light up at the opportunity to complete their work on tiny screens, work that traditionally was completed with pencil and paper.  I found myself adapting activities to enable students to use technology more and more simply because their interest and engagement was so much higher when they were given a device.

Students must be at the center of it all.  Teaching and learning should be the center of all that we do in this space because the students we serve are depending on us to put them first.

Fast forward to today.  Now, I see myself as a technology evangelist, traveling from campus to campus spreading the good news of the power of technology for teaching and learning.  However, I can say it often comes with what feels like opposition.  While I love all things tech and surround myself with tools that make my life easier both at work and at home, I have found myself going back to connect with the why.  Why do students need devices?  Why am I pushing teachers and students to use technology?  

In reconnecting with my why, I have also spent time thinking about all of the ins and outs of the edtech space.  While I have only been in this space for a short amount of time, there are many observations I have made that have helped to reconnect with my why.  In education, there are so many superstars, people who, good or bad, have contributed to the educational space in ways that have helped teachers and students both teach and learn in amazingly innovative ways.  However, I have also noticed the drive, or almost a need for some, to be "the next edu-superstar".  From quotes to tshirts to hashtags, there are so many people jocking to have their name in lights as the person who has THE next momentary big thing in education. However, students must be at the center of it all.  Teaching and learning should be the center of all that we do in this space because the students we serve are depending on us to put them first.

This is my why!  I want better for students.  I want to give them tools, lessons, and strategies to connect with the curriculum in powerful ways.  Students should see technology as a means to construct their own paths to demonstrate learning and share their knowledge with others. 

....so why?  Why do I want teachers to embrace the power of teaching with technology?  Why does any of this even matter?  Technology is a tool, an amazingly POWERFUL one, but it's simply a tool.   Technology gives students options to not only do work, but to truly create and share their learning with others.  How many worksheets go viral?  How many times have your students connected each other outside of school or met virtually through the power of a worksheet or lecture?  You get my point, huh?  Technology opens so many doors for students and truly brings a level of excitement and connectivity to learning.  This is my why!  I want better for students.  I want to give them tools, lessons, and strategies to connect with the curriculum in powerful ways.  Students should see technology as a means to construct their own paths to demonstrate learning and share their knowledge with others. What is your why?  Why do you use technology or support teachers in an effort to use it with students?  For the remainder of this school year, we should strive to remain connected with "The Why", and it should be our driving force as we support teachers in embracing technology for teaching and learning.  

Knikole Taylor is a passionate servant leader who began her career as an educator in 2002. Knikole currently serves as a district Blended Learning Specialist with Lancaster ISD, a suburb of Dallas, TX. In this role, she supports the growth and development of teachers and students through the seamless integration of innovative technology usage for student success. Through personalized coaching, Mrs. Taylor works with teachers and teacher leaders to craft professional goals to extend their scope of instruction and meet the needs of all learners.

Interview with new Office Administrator, Melissa Stewart

1) What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Besides living in my head I enjoy learning endlessly by finding new projects to craft in jewelry making and crocheting. When I’m ready to at least try turning off my brain I’m an avid movie watcher.

2) Tell us about your experience at an Edcamp: 

The Edcamp model is fantastic since one of the best ways to learn is from others in your field. Going in with the knowledge that teaching isn’t remotely the easiest profession, seeing the enthusiasm, character and drive of educators to constantly improve their methods is an overwhelming inspiration.

3) What's one of your favorite moments from being in a classroom or a teacher that left a lasting influence on you? 

A teacher that left a lasting influence on me was my geometry teacher from sophomore year at the Philadelphia High School for Girls, Mr. Van Horn. At the time math was something I didn’t struggle with but he made me love it using color-coding techniques that instructed us exactly what parts of the shape we were plugging into formulas as well as assigning craft projects like Pointillism and popsicle stick construction to explain mathematical theorems.
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