Saturday, August 28, 2010

An Innovation Paradox

I work with an amazing community of technology innovators. Students are early adaptors of technology and most show up with new tools asking me how they can integrate this technology into learning. Faculty member are as energized and curious as the students. By far, the most prevalent technology of the year revolves around “apps”. These small applications sit on smartphones and iPads allow the user to quickly run a single focus program to meet a social, informational or recreational need.

Great! As an educational technology geek I would love to encourage this enthusiasm for apps. But I ran into a snag piloting the iPad… network security. I ran into a snag with my new Android smartphone… network security. Because apps communicate back and forth with their developer site, our proxy server would need to whitelist every single developer site. With roughly 1000 users in the building carrying at least one mobile device… well, the math is a little beyond me but at the least it would be a full time job to keep up with those sites.

And this is the innovation paradox; schools are charged with keeping children safe in electronic environments while creating innovative 21st century experiences. I wish I had the answer for this one. I can say that for now – it doesn’t include apps.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thinking About MultiChannel Learners

The line between casual use of technology and professional/educational use has blurred. We are not longer as compartmentalized as in past generations. We carry one Blackberry to both communication with business colleagues and play Mp3 music and audio books. We are enamored of netbooks which keep us connected to family, friends and the workplace while sitting in airport lounges. Some of us even use even Skype with our grandparents!

The school day no longer ends at 3:15. Our students are posting online assignments at all hours of the day and night. They are blogging, video conferencing, file sharing, collaborating, and creating at home, at school, in the car (hopefully not when driving!). Those of us in IT departments are on call 24/7 thanks to smartphones. Our world is no longer home - school - practice - home. We are connected to all elements at all times.

I am not addressing the moral implications of this connectivity. Whether it is “good” or “bad” to be so multi-channel connected is not my purpose. I argue that it’s happened so we as educators might as well make the best of things. If we are to engage our students and prepare them for the world of their future, we must meet them in their multi-channeled world. This does not mean sacrificing academic rigor. This does not mean abandoning the past 500 years of educational theory. This does mean being willing to release some of our patrician control of the process. This does mean engaging students within the context of their world - whether we fully understand it or not!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Class is over! Now on to life...

As many of you are realizing this week, Edublogs disabled the embedding features in their free accounts. Since paying for a campus or pro account is not in the ole budget for 2010-11... I am going to work a bit more in this platform. Let's try embedding video....

This is our favorite test video for Brebeuf IT. I think you all might enjoy as well.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reflections on My Participation in an Online Learning Community

At the beginning of this course, I joined the Global Education Collaborative. As a community of educators looking to work past geographic boundaries, cross-cultural student learning is the emphasis. Beginning is easy. I lurked in this group for several months and enjoying the passive learning experience. In order to branch into developing level of engagement, my plan required me to post to discussion groups at least 4 times a month. I also hoped to find a project to participate in. I am pleased to report I did succeed with my plan (well, most of it at least).

The original plan is below with reflection of my actual activity:

January 2010:
• Refresh account and review new elements to the community
Done – simple enough

February 2010:
• Contribute to at least 4 discussion threads.

Contributed to thread Synchronous Collaboration:

Contributed to the thread Becoming a Tech Coach:

Contributed to conversations on the Kids for Haiti global web conference. Communicated via the Ning group, Twitter and email.

• Check site once a week for new information.


March 2010:
• Identify, evaluate and contact one collaborative project leader.

Participated in the Kids for Haiti web conference (actually happened in March)

• Contribute to at least 4 discussions threads.

Teens Talk Facebook

And then I rather dropped off the discussion map… I got busy and with no one responding to the threads I had already participate in, I moved on. I do follow the GEC on Twitter

• Check site once a week for new information.
I did do this

As for local learning community, I am an active member in Central Indiana TEAM. Created by the Central Indiana Educational Service Center, this group is made up of mostly district IT professionals with a few of us independent schools floating in and out. We meet 4 times a year in person. We also maintain a wiki at We stay in touch via the wiki and listserv. I attend all meetings and actively post to the wiki. I missed the February meeting as I was presenting at the Indiana Association of Independent Schools – but I have been asked to upload my handouts and presentation materials. I am hosting the meeting on April 23 here at Brebeuf. TEAM discussed best practices for training and development, cost-saving tools, and Indiana Department of Education statutes. We support each other and laugh a great deal about our day jobs. I enjoy the network of like-minded individuals.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Give It a Ponder" Campaign

For me, any conversations on public service announcements must include the new LG annoucements staring James Lipton. I do not know if these work for younger viewers but this 40 year old thinks they are hilarious! I especially like that the psa does not use fear but simply asks young people to think before they act. Not a bad lesson in general.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tools for Adult Practice in Schools

This is an interesting session for me. To be frank, I am more administrator these days (and that role continues to grow). I use the P21 Framework constantly. In particular, the Communication and Collaboration elements.

A little context to my use of this part of P21 recently. Brebeuf is revamping it's Student Handbook and AUP. The lines are appearing between those ready to embrace collaborative tools and those who are still reluctant. A recent event is being used as the example of both camps. Two students were working on a collaborative product. One student plagiarised content. The other student pleads ignorance of the activity. On one hand, Student A must be held responsible for their actions as defined by the current Student Handbook (zero on assignment). But what about Student B? Is Student B telling the truth? As the product was collaborative, is Student B accountable for all Student A's decisions?

As I have said before, I really think it comes down to control. In the case above, do we want to control "crime and punishment" and student behavior? Or can we let go and let the grey areas of life play out? If students are allowed to access collaborative tools (electronic or not) the teacher is no longer the center of the process - the students are creating content and directing the learning for good and bad. This is a scary turn of events and one that flies in the face of how most of us were educated and taught to be educators.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reflection on Ken Robinson TED Presentation

Just sat and watched Ken Robinson’s TED presentation on creativity. I will admit to reluctantly watching the talk. I have read some of Ken Robinson’s interviews and was not particularly impressed. I did find this presentation interesting, and not just because I am married to a college professor and found the part on the body being a method of transport for the brain HILARIOUS.

What’s not to agree with the premise “educating the whole person”… how Jesuit! I work in an environment which espouses this daily. The reality I find a little harder. With pressure for higher test scores and more prestigious college entrance, our school is on the front lines of what Robinson was discussing. How do you explain to parents (with scores and college as the measure of success) that a child’s development may lead away from their concept of success? I even sense this as a parent myself. When my child brings home a “C”, I pause... that is not the sign of success I want to see. But then I stop, what is important in this child’s development? A “C” on homework, or the bright, happy child I am watching grow into a social advocate? It’s still hard though. Success is defined by “A’s”.

I am concerned with Robinson’s definition of creativity. He defines creativity as, “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Value to whom? As we just discussed, ideals of success may not be the industrial driven focus that our education system was built on. So what value are we to put on original thought? Financial? Knowledge? Problem Solving? I am concerned that putting any value definition on original thought brings us right back to Robison’s supposed premise – that we educate the whole person. How do you put value on a person?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Research Study

Taking part in a research study through connections made on Global Education Collaborative site. Fun to be part of the future.

Check out this video on the site from Tracey Lee and Student Speak Webisodes Refreshing to see students self-produce on topics of the day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Technology Enhanced Reflection Practices

How Ignatian!

In our reading assignment, How can teachers help students reflect on and
communicate their own learning?
, the author discusses the need for students to reflect on their learning. The discussion of metacognition is appreciated. It's interesting to read articles advocating blogging for reflective purposed when recent data from the Pew Internet and American Family Project ("Social Media and Teens" Feb. 3, 2010) found that teens are blogging less these days.

Brebeuf uses blogging for multiple reflective processes. Students going on overseas exchange programs or mission trips blog while away from school. They share their experiences, thoughts, and insights on encountering new cultures. Students blog in science classes about PBL assignments. They reflect on discoveries made during lab processes. Students blog in their English classes to reflect on readings and characterizations. We blog in Social Studies, Religious Studies, and Computer Applications. We do a lot of blogging.

Most reports of blog integration are positive. The level of discussion in the classroom has increased. Students keep in touch beyond geographic boundaries. Ideas and passions are shared and developed. The downside has been the authenticity of the product (as the article also mentions). Students will not full engage in blogging if it's over monitored, over-programed and over-structured. I think teachers sometimes show reluctance in letting go control of the process. Authentic blogging (or any social media enterprise) requires us the adults to step out of the process. Reflection is very personal. It can not be forced. I would argue for more student-centric blogging. Let the students control the parameters and more authentic reflection will take place.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Using Electronic Portfolios for Assessment

The conversation about electronic portfolios has been heating up over the years. Yolanda Abrencia from San Diego State University argues that e-portfolios are easy to store, easy to share, and easily enhanced with sound or video. I would agree this is true. This fall I helped my husband create his online tenure portfolio. This was the first tenure portfolio for Marian University done online. We thought the same thing as Professor Abrencia, especially the use of digital content. So we spent the fall uploading documents, evaluations, videos of classroom presentations and podcasts. Most of the committee appreciated the effort – especially the enhanced digital content.

Brebeuf Jesuit has casually dabbled in e-portfolios. The English Department is the main push for the technology. They wish to create documentation portfolios to hold student work as they progress through the semester. Some teachers are using our LMS to create documentation portfolios. The teacher creates a “folder” which only the teacher and student can see. The student uploads works in progress, the teacher comments using tablet inking features, the student reflects and modifies work. What we do not like about this system is twofold: one, only the student and the teacher can see the portfolio and two, no digital content can be added (only text).

In light of the AP Comparative Government class I am working with for this Capstone, what kind of portfolio would work? Interesting question. The class is completely focused on the summative assessment of the AP exam. Sadly, this exam is still a traditional paper and pencil event. That said, students still need practice in creating essays that synthesize content learned into cohesive argument. Dr. Helen Barrett discussed two types of portfolios, formative and summative. She writes that summative portfolios contain strictly dictated elements with clear learning objective used for end of course assessment. I don’t think that’s what I am looking for with this class – we already have a summative assessment looming!

Dr. Barrett continues with a more interesting thought – the formative portfolio. She defines a formative portfolio as student driven. The student chooses what elements to incorporate to showcase what they’ve succeed in learning. The assessments are based on the reflective properties of the portfolio, not to the exclusion of specific content, but open to all learned elements. This is the type of portfolio I would like to see for an AP Comparative Government class. This also fits with the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm which calls us as Jesuit educators to look at teaching and knowing the whole person – not just the state standards. A formative portfolio would allow students to share a part of themselves and highlight their individual strengths.


Abrenica, Yolanda. Electronic Portfolios. Retrieved from

Barrett, Helen C. Using Electronic Portfolios for Classroom Assessment. Connected Newsletter, October 2006. Vol 13, No 2, pp. 4-6. Retrieved from via TeacherTap: Electronic Portfolios: Students, Teachers, and LifeLong Learners. Retrieved from

Friday, February 19, 2010

Haiti Webcast

Watching the MAGPI web conference on Haiti. Just saw students from Portugal discuss their relief efforts. Very impressive!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Global Event

Looking forward to participating in this global event, posted on the Global Education Collaborative site:

If anyone else is interested, it is taking place February 19th. Hosted by MAGPI (mid-Atlantic Gigapop in Philidelphia)

Screencasting and Multiple Intelligences

Thanks to a snow day I had time to clear my head. In thinking about how to give visually and auditorily inclined students another way to experience the wiki instructions I thought of screencasting. So this morning, again thanks to Mother Nature and a continued Winter Storm Warning, I used CamStudio to create a screencast of how to log-in, access and post to the wiki. I will upload it to our learning management system (Edline) so students can access 24/7. Later this afternoon, I will present it in person. Coupled with print instructions and I think I have caught most learning styles! Here's the screencast in case anyone is interested...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Universal Design and Multiple Intelligences

Reflecting on US AP Comparative Government Wiki Project and Universal Design/Multiple Intelligences

These are notes on the readings as they might relate to a wiki project for AP Comparative Government. Students are charged with defining terms as identified by the College Board and posting one example of the term in real world action.

• Flexible Methods of Presentation
o Project was presented to large group with use of computer cart (one laptop
per student).
o SMARTBoard set up for visual directions.
o Oral directions from me and teacher.
o Print directions on handout that was then posted to online portal for later

• Flexible Method of Expression
o Students have rigid posting requirements (enter requirements).
o Students can add any link, photo, podcast, embedded video they wish

• Flexible Methods of Engagement
o Students can access the wiki 24/7 from any computer
o Students can add any link, photo, podcast, embedded video they wish
o Students are to articulate an example of each vocabulary term. They are
struggling but accepting the challenge!

Multiple Intelligences

The wiki does allow for learners to manage the learning process and value their individual strengths. It will appeal more to Verbal-Linguistic, Mathematical- Logical and Intrapersonal intelligences. The project will appeal less to Bodily-Kinesthetic and Interpersonal intelligences.

Thoughts for the project- Increase Universal Design implementation

1. Giving visually inclined (Artistic) students the option to use inserted
pictures as evidence/example of vocabulary.
2. Giving auditory inclined (Verbal-Linguistic) students the option to use
podcasting upload for evidence/example of vocabulary.
3. Giving kinesthetic inclined (Bodily) students the option to use original
video to create evidence/example of vocabulary.

Resources Outside of PBS Teacherline materials:
National Center on Universal Design on Learning

Concept to Classroom: Tapping into Multiple Intelligences

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On a roll, second post at I guess I can do this!
Just made my first post to an online learning community, Global Education Collaborative ( Kept it safe but it's a beginning.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Social Bookmarking

I found this social bookmarking site on the TechCrunch blog. It's a beta product out of France. I am hooked.

Main URL is

My user name is 40ishoracle

This is a web-mapping style bookmark. Users create "pearls" by topic and then bookmark specific webpages. You can connect to other users pearls and even have conversations regarding the pearls. You can post to Twitter and Facebook directly out of the pearls. I receive an email when another user pearls the same thing as I have so I can check out their pearltree.


1. As a visual learner, I can not live without this product.

2. It's a global product so the community is really interesting.

3. Receiving emails when someone pearls the same thing as me has really helped me connect with other Ed Tech professionals. I love seeing what others find on the web.


1. The toolbar required to pearl pages occasionally crashed IE.

2. It's a beta so it could disappear or go to "pay to play" at any point.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reflection on Constructivism and the IPP

I work for a Jesuit high school. Therefore, all I do as an educator is done through the lens of the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP). The Jesuit order was created as a teaching order. From its inception, the IPP was different from other paradigms because it acknowledged, welcomed, and strived to develop individuals.

As I proceed with this Capstone, I wish to look at all concepts through the lens of the IPP. The table below shows the IPP and the Legacy Model of Constructivism side-by-side. I am struck by how personal the learning experience is in both models. Both assume a learner committed to his or her personal growth. Each takes into consideration prior knowledge and experience before moving forward. Each allows the learner to “play” with new knowledge before moving into public dialogue. And finally, each requires an element of reflection. I am also struck by the absence of any conversation of the teacher in these paradigms. All focus is on the learner.

Currently, I am reading the book “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns” by Clayton M. Christensen. The book’s premise is that US public education must move to a “student-centric approach”. As every learner is unique, so should learning experiences. The need to wedge all public education into one standardized test and set of standards is counter productive. I would argue either the IPP or Constructivism would give satisfy Mr. Christensen’s need for student-centric learning.

1. Context
The teacher must include care and knowledge of the student. The learning environment must conducive to the learners needs.
2. Experience
Cognitive activity with knowledge that leads the learner to “heart, mind, and hand” understanding of the concepts.
3. Reflection
A key feature of the IPP. A learner must have time to reflect on knowledge to make it hers or his own.
4. Action
The student’s outpouring of attitude, values, ideals all pointing outward to service to others. Taking knowledge out to the world in service.
5. Evaluation
Taking learning beyond mastery of skills. Focus on the learner as a whole person, a whole creation of God.

Constructivism: Legacy Model
1. Look Ahead
Learners assess and set their own learning goals.
2. Challenge
A new experience is put before the learner
3. Generate Ideas
Learners work with prior knowledge to assess need for new knowledge.
4. Multiple Perspectives
Students gather information from video, print, audio primary and secondary sources.
5. Research and Revise
Learners work with multiple activities to work with the new knowledge to make it their own.
6. Test Your Mettle
Learners test and assess their work to date before going public.
7. Go Public
Learners share knowledge by presenting, publishing, printing or otherwise publishing their work.
8. Reflect Back
Learners look back on initial learning goals and assess need for further inquiry for investigation


Christensen, Clayton M. (2008) Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Loyola Jesuit College Retrieved from

The Legacy Model. Retrieved from