These are my notes from the panel session “21st-Century Learning: The New Visionary Administrator Speaks Up!” at NECC 2009, facilitated by Julie Evans of Project Tomorrow. This session is being audio recorded and will be posted/shared on the Project Tomorrow website after the conference. The official session description was:

A new breed of visionary administrator is transforming education through technology. Learn about their visions and strategies for 21st-century education.

MY THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Project Tomorrow is on Facebook.

Panelists include:

  1. Paul from North Schuylkill SD (Ashland, Pennysylvania
  2. Ryan from Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts (Baltimore, Maryland)
  3. Gerry from Chicago Public Schools
  4. Brian from Digital Harbor High School (Baltimore, Maryland)

Intro from Julie Evans
– Nick Nicholson from Chicago PS: “We want technology to be almost a thoughtless, seamless process. When you go to a classroom, you pick up a piece of chalk…”

Going to talk about “Speak Up” project, review national data findings, intro report findings, hear from panel of experts, discuss new report on visionary administrators

What is Speak Up?
– polling effort for constituents on use of technology in and out of school
– started in fall 2003 because of seeing a disconnect with how schools were using technology and kids were using tech outside schools
– Oct 12 – Dec 18 is open dates for survey this year (2009)
– will have a new survey for preservice teachers this year

THIS IS THE SAME AS WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY CALLED “NET DAY”

with a new edtech plan, we’re asking for student’s ideas about designing the ideal school of the future
– received over 150,000 responses from kids
– video responses available on our website

Using Senteo clickers to get audience responses in the session

Many people are surprised by the ubiquity of access to technology to even young students, access to gaming, young girls too, not just teen boys

Kids look at technology as a productivity tool, they are constantly looking at being more productive and using tech for productivity

We hypothesize our kids are functioning as a “digital advance team” and can give us a guide about where tech in schools should be
– we are watching US K-12 students, adopting/adapting technologies for learning
– students first use it in their personal lives and bring it into the classroom

Now we are going to look at stats

Digital disconnect is alive and well at many levels

I WISH I HAD THAT SLIDE SHE JUST SHOWED, GIVEN THE “BRIDGING THE DIVIDE” THEME FOR THE 2009 K-12 ONLINE CONFERENCE, THIS INFO IS VERY RELEVANT FOR ME!

Most of our adult respondents consider their tech skills “average”

What percentage of 9th graders consider themselves “advanced tech users?”
– most people say a majority, real answer is between 22-24% do
– vast majority consider their tech skills to be average

Our paradigms for “advanced users” as adults is very different from the kids

This presentation will be fully available online!

What are kids doing to use technology for schoolwork?
– taking online tests
– using online textbooks
– taking online classes
– playing educational games
– more…

Kids are generally not very happy with technology use and access at school

top responses
– school filters and firewalls block websites I need
– teachers limit our technology use
– too many rules

Many kids report they had better access to technology BEFORE professional development was provided for teachers

Biggest things kids want
– let me bring my own laptop, mobile device, cell phone at school

Digital advance team trends
– the mobile learner
– it’s a web 2.0 world

WOW, JULIE IS WHIPPING THROUGH THESE SLIDES WITH LOTS OF TEXT AND NOT PROVIDING SUFFICIENT TIME FOR AUDIENCE MEMBERS TO PROCESS THE CONTENT. NO PRESENTATION ZEN APPROACH HERE.

Question: What are the behaviors, values and aspirations of our nations ADMINISTRATORS regarding tech use and 21st century skills?
– key finding: there is a new cohort of emerging visionary administrators who share common behaviors, values and aspirations for 21st century learning
– this is very interesting and new (these perspectives are closer to those of students than to many parents or teachers)

Beliefs of this group of admins:
– believe tech can help student achievement
– model and use tech personally
– doing lots of communications
– also doing videos and podcasts
– downloading more music, similar to how students do
– are doing some game playing

Almost 100% say tech use within instruction is a “wake up issue” for them at night about something they need to address better
– they have higher expectation for incoming teachers
– are more interested in new teachers using digital aides, incorporating digital resources
– are looking for incoming teachers to have created podcasts, have taken an online class
– they have greater intense interest: mix of operating systems and hardware is not as big an issue
– spending a ton of time on school or district websites is not as important

Visionary admins are working on:
– funding
– PD
– evaluating emerging technologies, seeing how those fit into their instructional plan
– very interested in the assessment of tech skills (most say this should be looked at from a 21st century skill focus)

We ask all participants, if you could design the ultimate school what tools or elements would you include:
– K-12 students for past 6 years response has not changed for urban and rural, across the nation: “Give me a laptop for my personal use at school and at home”

THIS SHOULD NOT BE A SURPRISE: KIDS WANT 1:1 LEARNING. WE NEED TO GIVE IT TO THEM.

students with this response are looking for control over their learning environment
– they see us having control to contacts, resources, our work destination

ISN’T IT INTERESTING HOW MANY OF THESE CONVERSATIONS COME DOWN TO CONTROL?

Visionary administrators believe their vision sets their school apart from other schools
– parents and teachers are not as supportive of the role of technology in helping prepare students for the future

Students are looking for:
– untethered learning
– new learnign spaces
– social based learning
digital resources add relevancy
– …more
– learning that is enabled, engaging, and empowered

So how do we get to that, and meet these expectations? We are going to turn to our panel for answers

From Ryan:
– we are trying to build a culture of experimentation
– I have been at Perry Hall
– we recognized we were NOT listening to our students
– we pulled together a student forum

Brian at Digital Harbor
– we select students by lottery to come to our high school
– we have 4 media pathways, like a tech-based votech
– students are in their track for 90 min per day in grades 10-12
– vision of our school began in 2002
– we wanted to give kids both the honors/AP classes as well as technology exposure, so they can have a choice about whether they wanted to go to college or enter a technology career fields
– reading skills are a big challenge for many students, reading at a college level
– tech integration skills for teachers are a big challenge
– we are one of the most popular lottery schools in the district, about 1200 students in 9th grade compete for 250 slots, as a result next year we are restructuring to a school-within-a-school model, each tech pathway will be on tis own floor, collaboration is encouraged heavily between teachers
– another challenge is state industry test, we haven’t been very successful there in the past but are working on that

Now going up to the district level

Paul at mid-level sized PA district, 2100 students
– our economy has been in decline for the past several decades
– our focus is to afford our students the opportunities they could have anywhere else in the world
– we are struggling economically, and view technology as a way to level the playing field

I AM HAVING TO LEAVE THIS SESSION FOR A BLOGGER CAFE MEETING. THIS WAS A GREAT SESSION, I’LL TRY AND LINK UP THE PODCAST WHICH WILL BE POSTED LATER BY PROJECT TOMORROW.

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On this day..

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  • Control.

    Control. Control. Control.

    As a colleague of mine says, “People don’t like being told what to do.” That pretty much sums up his approach to classroom management (of course, he’s a psychologist, so classroom management mostly involves him in his chair and his one student talking to him from another chair). But it’s an approach I try to emulate.

    The difficulty comes when I try to avoid controlling my students, and then an administrator comes in to try to control my method of controlling students….

  • Pingback: A new world of digital choices | ISTE Connects - Educational Technology()

  • Thank you for sharing your notes, Wes. These will help me to set my goals for the coming year as an elementary principal. Your sharing of NECC learning helped me to energize my thinking even though I could not be there.

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