Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tech committee meeting 10/26/11

We had our first Tech Team meeting yesterday to discuss the future of the technology program at our school.  Here are some questions and concerns that popped up during our talk. 

Apparently, some of our high school students are using their iPads for non-educational use during class.  You know... goofing off.  Of course, like passing notes in class, it's not exactly easy to monitor such things while doing everything that a teacher needs to do in class.  Right now the mindset with the teachers is that students will learn to sink or swim with the technology: learn to use it as a toy or a tool, but learn the hard way.  However this all begs a question.  Is there a way to monitor these things?  What techniques are there to "catch students red-handed"?  

More and more teachers at our school are building their own web sites, using whatever platform they want to build it from.  Personally, I use Google Sites, which I find incredibly easy to use.  Some of my colleagues use Weebly, which they claim is incredibly easy to use.  The problem is that parents find themselves having to check multiple web sites for various things.  We are starting the search for a program/web site/app that will handle as much as possible of the following things -- administrative tasks, lesson plans, grade, classroom web sites, parent notices, teacher emails, etc.  What's out there that's good?  What does your school use?

What is the best method for turning work in paperlessly?  If we created a school-wide consistent method what would it be?  Have you played with iCloud enough to know if it works well?  Would you use Dropbox?  My colleague likes SugarSync.  Are you familiar with that?

We're also looking at creating a three year technology plan.  Where does one start with that?  It seems hard to make a plan when we don't know what technology we'll be looking at in three years or what teachers and students will be able to do in three years.  Of course, creating a plan is a whole lot better than letting each teacher decide what cool project they are going to do with the kids.  This isn't entertainment.  It's training our students to be lifelong learners and technology users.  

How do we convince teachers who are overworked and undertrained to use their iPads to the fullest so the students use their iPads?  

Finally, what is one site that needs to be unblocked at school so I can be the best technology collaborator possible?  I'm thinking it's Twitter, but believe it or not, there are some Blogger pages I can't open.  I'm going to fight battles one at a time.  What should be my first one? 

I'm sending out my questions, hoping that some collaboration can happen with tech leaders outside these walls.  Maybe you can't answer them all, but I'd love to hear anything you have on the topics.

Thanks for your help.


  1. Very simple solution to start: What about a wiki page with links to each teacher's page? The parents only need to know the Wiki page and the teachers can keep using their favorite platform?
    For paperless homework: what about evernote? Kevin Buran has a lot of good tips!
    I'm also going to implement evernote into my courses.

  2. Has anyone used Edmodo, the free micro blogging site for students and teachers?

  3. My district uses Schoolcenter as a content management system, as a technology coordinator, I like it because everything is easy to manage. It is not free, you have to renew your subscription to their service every year.
    We are trying to go paperless in a few of classrooms and we are use Gaggle. I like Gaggle because it is CIPA compliant and it has several "apps" that an administrator can turn on for students to use. Gaggle has an annual fee too.
    I prefer to have a one year tech plan for my school, but if you are forced to go with a three year plan - who says you can't update it? A tech plan should be a living document.

  4. For filtering, Untangle is a great way to set different filtering levels depending on the student account. Users log in with their account, and then filtering is applied. Every site they visit is logged under the account, giving you a history of all web activity. has more details.

    Although, I think more and more filtering is a losing battle - fighting the symptom and not the actual problem. Classroom management and holding students accountable is the only real cure. There will always be a way around any filter, but having students not try in the first place should be the goal.

    A technology plan will be out of date in 1 year, let alone 3 or 5. iPads didn't exist 18 months ago! But I understand the need for planning, espeically budgeting. I'm trying to walk the balance with a plan that is as specific as it can be while still giving us the freedom to adapt to what the technology of 2 or 3 years will present.