Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You Should Read... About Technology

As Centerburg continues to explore how to leverage technology to support student learning I thought it would be helpful to share some thoughts from another administrator who gets it right. Chris Lehmann, Principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia often states that,

"Technology in schools must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary and invisible." 

He recently wrote a series of blog posts explaining what he means by this statement. I have had the opportunity to see presentations by Chris regarding this topic and see it in action in his school. That is why I believe you should read:

Ubiquitous - "But when it is ubiquitous, it becomes a part of who we are and how we learn."

Necessary - "Technology becomes necessary when students see it as vital to the way they learn, when they cannot imagine doing the work without it."

Invisible - "The idea that technology must be invisible in school is simply this: Using technology to inquire, to create, to share, to research, to learn is not and should not be notable anymore. It should simply be a matter of course."

If you look closely at his words his vision for what school should is very clear. As we plan for the future, technology will play an important role but creating the best learning opportunities will always be our focus. 

Do you agree? 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why Technology?

For those of us that are frequent users of technology and social media, we have a pretty good understanding of why we use it. Many educators, Twitter users, and edu-bloggers regularly discuss and debate technology use in schools. There is this massive echo chamber of educators discussing the benefits, tools, and debating what works best. Within the social media world of educators we regularly discuss where, when and why technology should be used in school. We get it. We see it. And we know the transformational effect it can have on the quality of education schools can provide to their students.

If you are not a Twitter user, if you do not read educational blogs you may have missed the "why". If you are a parent you may be wondering why the school is expanding their wifi capabilities. You may be wondering why schools would want to allow students to bring their own devices to school. As a tax payer you may be wondering why schools need more computers.

I hope to provide you with the "why".

Our students are growing up in a different world than when you and I went to school. Twenty years ago you could graduate from high school and enter the work force with a variety of job options. Decent paying factory jobs were available then, not so much now. Students are competing for jobs with not only members of their senior class, seniors from neighboring schools, but also the rest of the world. Technology has created a global job market where our kids will have to fight for jobs. For the first time in history more people in the world will be graduating with high school and college degrees due to the explosion of population and transformational effect technology has had on learning.

Students expect to use technology. They expect to use the tools they feel comfortable and confident using for education. Students also need direction with their digital footprint, the history of everything they do online.

Today's job market will require workers to use a vast array of digital tools. Students need to enter the job market with experience using digital tools professionally. They need to have experience collaborating with peers on a single project using tools that allow team members to be anywhere. We can create real world opportunities for students at school through the use of technology. A few examples of this could be: publishing an ebook then selling it on Amazon, collaborating with other students in other parts of the world, remixing music and video,  and building apps.

Technology use in schools is not about setting in front of a computer all day or replacing teachers. It can be so much more. Using technology in schools is about creating the best learning environment and creating opportunities for our kids. Using technology in school is about taking the great things we have always done and transforming them into something so much better.

At Centerburg, we are expanding our wifi capabilities, we have created Google Apps for Education accounts for our students, we are searching for ways to provide students with computers, and we are sharing ideas as a staff. This is a long and involved process. A lot of time and professional development is needed for our staff but we are headed in the right direction. Transformation will not happen overnight but you will begin to see new opportunities very soon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Reaching out to the Community...

Centerburg Community,

I am excited to announce that I recently completed a small grant application to the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County. requesting $3,000.00. The grant is written as a partnership between the Centerburg School District, the Community Foundation and local members of the Centerburg Community. The goal is to raise $10,000.00 to transform a traditional classroom into a 21st century classroom. The funds will be used to purchase twenty-five Google Chromebooks and to provide professional development for the teachers involved in the project. We will also need to purchase a cart to store the computers as well.

The goals of the project also include:
  1. Increase students access to cutting-edge texts, news and primary sources
  2. Promote interactive, digital methods of collecting real-time feedback from students.
  3. Enhance opportunities for students to publish media for authentic audiences.  
I would also like to create a Community University where opportunities will be created and scheduled for the community to come in and learn how to use the tools our students will be using daily. An example of this could be an evening dedicated to Google documents or G-mail. I would like to utilize  volunteers and students within the Community University concept.

What I need:

I am seeking funding for this project and I need your help. Currently Heartland has committed $2,000.00 to this idea and want to be a partner with the school. As you can see If you open the Chromebook link the computers are relatively inexpensive as compared to other devices. If you, your family, or your business would like to support this initiative by purchasing one computer or just making a donation please contact me in the HS/MS office by calling 740-625-6055. You can always leave comments or questions in the comment feature of this blog. I encourage you to comment. Positive comments are contagious and provide fuel for projects like this.

I have not hidden the fact that I am a fan of technology. Our students are growing up in a different world and have easier access to information. We need to provide them with the tools to mange the information and learn how to apply it to solve real world  problems. Technology will never replace a great teacher but it certainly can transform a child's education.

Let's Do This!

In service to children,

Ryan Gallwitz
MS/HS Principal Centerburg Local Schools