Monday, December 12, 2011

Time to Play

As we reach the end of the semester… I hope all educators take a little time to play around with new tools.  And I mean PLAY… no agenda, no administration making you, no goal in mind.  Some of the best tools I’ve encountered were because I took the time to just play around to see what happens.  For example, this morning I was drinking coffee looking over my Twitter feed and saw this post

I had a moment… so I downloaded the app and tried it out.  No reason beyond it was free, I had 5 minutes and the iPad was charged.  And you know what – it’s a nice app.  I could see it being useful to some.  Maybe a little low power for high end screencasters… but for the new iPad user (perhaps one who has recently been given an iPad by their school IT department) it’s worth a look.   So, take some time to play and make your technology integration choices your own.  You'll be glad you did! 

 … and those of you at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School get ready!  I hear many students have personal electronic devices on their holiday wish lists… 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Library Space in a BYOT School

Four years ago, as faculty and students embraced the idea of collaborative experiences, I was part of a team of people trying to find space in a max’d out building for collaborative workspaces. The library was considered an ideal place to create some collaborative workspace: it was well lit, had seating conducive to collaborative work … and the necessary computers! Plus a local architectural firm analyzing our over-crowded, out-date space reported to us that a library as information commons should create “a comfortable environment where students like to meet, study and collaborate.”

Now, we are a few years in… the library is busier than ever. Two fantastic librarians are facilitating research experiences, supporting technology initiatives, constantly assessing resources in light of learning (electronic and print), experimenting with new hardware options (e-Readers, Chromebooks, tablets) and yes, checking out books. I witness students studying, collaborating or just sitting and reading. Environment where “students like to meet, study and collaborate” achieved.

Now on to the new challenges…130 high school students in one space (built for less than 100) effects both students and adults using the space. Many students prefer to work in the library because it is the one quiet space in the building dedicated to study. The library has a back wall of windows allowing for natural, soft light and a sense of natural space. The library has librarians… adults who can help navigate those days when you need a helping hand. But when so many students are in the space, the law of rising conversations applies. Table A must talk louder to be heard over Table B. Table B must then start talking a little louder to be heard over Table A. Table C talks even louder… and soon the din is comparable to the cafeteria. Students wishing for the quiet workspace are frustrated. This puts the librarians in “policing SHHHH” mode. And contrary to popular belief… no librarian really likes to spend their whole day shushing (really… I am speaking as a librarian here… I have more interesting things to do with my time).

The challenge of computer access is changing. Now, with the advent of BYOT, we are no longer tied to the library as THE space where students can access computers during the day. Wireless is throughout the building (even outside) and there are other spaces to work (cafeteria, Student Commons, lobby). Teachers and students are communicating more frequently via electronic means. This redefines the sense of a, one place to study and collaborate.

So what is the best use of the library space? This is how I have spent the last week… How to maintain a student focused workspace that respects those who need quiet space AND respects those more collaborative in nature? In what is essentially one big room! Suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh the Marketing!

This weekend, I tweeted about a K-12 educational marketing white paper that floated past my desk. The more I pondered the report, the more I realized I had more than 140 characters to say about it. The “key takeaway” that stuck with me concerned the marketing tip to innovate disruptive technology in stages… the exact wording being

The interactive whiteboard segment offers a particularly instructive example of how disruption can happen slowly, in stages, and still fuel growth (meaning marketing/sales growth – not learning growth). At a time when schools are reluctant to invest in new technologies, this market has exploded, and one key reason for the rapid growth is that the technology need not disrupt traditional classroom practices: for a teacher standing in front of a classroom, and interactive whiteboard can be functionally similar to a blackboard. Ignoring the argument about whether this is pedagogically sound, one less derived from the success of interactive whiteboards is that technology succeeds best when it disrupts least.

Let me take this apart…

1. The interactive whiteboard first hit the market in 1991. So by slowly, they apparently mean over 20 years. That’s really slow folks. Too slow for our students.

2. Let us remember market value. While many of our vendors claim to be partners in education (and some may even believe it)… the bottom line is they are for profit companies. They need schools to buy their product. Period. According to the Association of American Publishers, in 2006 educational materials was a $8.1 billion industry for publishing. I appreciate everyone needs to make a living,.. this is not a rant about costs. However, we as educators need to remember educational products electronic, print or plastic are a for profit industry.

3. Educational resource companies do not teach your class. Bad pedagogy is on us.

4. The industry surrounding education is marketing to the lowest common denominator. If we sit back and allow manufactures to dictate our teaching by dictating our resources… then nothing is going to change. They do not think we want a disruptive force affecting daily classroom practices.

No one is creating magic in a box for $29.99, $599.99 or even $3999.99. The time, the talent and disruptive change is going to have to start with the classroom teacher. Daunting, yes… but rather exciting.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


JD has been more prolific at posting on the topic than I at but here's my two cents...

We began a voluntary BYOT program this semester in our private, 9-12 college preparatory school. I tend to use the term (or acronym as the case may be) BYOT as I see student choice evident not only in device, but in all the various tools student use.

Our goal in BYOT is critical in understanding why we chose this model:

Brebeuf Jesuit IT focuses on the learning needs of the students, creating an environment where students, faculty and staff:

• have the ACCESS to all the resources necessary for teaching and learning;

• develop EVALUATION literacies (skills) to discern appropriateness of their tools, their actions and their behavior;


• are supported in the USE of technology tools personalized to the learner.

I approached our faculty and staff with Marc Prensky’s “nouns vs verbs” argument. It’s not important to get hung up on the nouns (Mac, PC, tablet, desktop, Word, Pages) in education. What we need to focus on are the verbs – what we DO to illustrate mastery. For example, with BYOT, our teachers are still confident that they can teach persuasive writing techniques. How students evidence learning can be done on a Mac, PC, mobile tablet… heck a cell phone (which will happen once and lesson will be learned). What matters is not the device or word processing program used. What matters is the academic learning objective of the persuasive essay. We are finding that students are more engaged in determining the best tool for the job when they are held responsible for demonstrating the learning objective. Learning how to access, evaluate and use technology to meet one’s objective is critical and oh, so valuable for the future.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why I Need to Stop Watching Educational YouTube Videos While Eating Lunch

Nothing like expanding one’s job scope to… I don’t know… Director of Faculty Development… to wipe out blogging time!  I am really going to try and get back on the wagon.

So I am watching a YouTube video from the Hunt Institute introducing the Common Core State Standards.  Seemed like something a Director of Faculty Development would do while she eats her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  About 17 seconds in, I put down my PB & J at the line “…our students need better knowledge and tools to compete in the global economy…” And there it is folks, the commoditization of education.  We no longer educate to create informed electorate, to create life-long learners, for the growth of humankind… we educate to compete.   We educate to make more money than our neighbor.  We have our commodity to create: men and women who compete in the global marketplace!  I guess this is why mainline educational arguments surround improving test scores, value-add accountability matrixes for teachers and the predilection of social media forming the bullies of tomorrow.  We can count those things!  We can make more, do more, score more than our neighbors.

Silly me – I thought it was about cultivating God-given talents to live in the fullness of creation.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Frustrations at the Curve

I find it annoying that I am thwarted at every turn this summer testing new tools. Not by my non-Digital Native status. Not by my lack of formal education in the computer sciences. Not by gender, age, ethnicity, location… or any of the other demographics usually surveyed to determine computer comfort and proficiency. No, I am thwarted by the fact that I update my browser.

Yes, I run IE9, Firefox 4.0.1 and Chrome. This is apparently odd amongst educators as currently I am 2 for 12 on web-based products working on my computer. I am not even going to start on my mobile devices (Blackberry and iPad). No, today’s rant is simply an open request to educational vendors. Contrary to what you appear to think, schools are not in the dark ages. We do upgrade our operating systems. We do upgrade our production tools. And we do upgrade our browsers. I will not buy your product if I have to wander the building looking for an old machine running an outdated browser (and now that re-imaging is complete I can’t even do that as every machine here is running either IE9 or Firefox 4.0.1).

I spend a great deal of time with curriculum and technology integration. The annoyance of having to roll back browsers in order to run outdated vendor created products does nothing for student learning. In fact, I would have to hinder student learning (Firefox 4.0.1 has some wicked web developer tools) in order to run web-based learning environments which refuse to keep up with the times. Brebeuf is going to a BYOT model. Our students will learn on a multitude of devices running all sorts of operating systems, apps, software and browsers. The days of platform uniformity are slowly but surely ending. I believe those vendors who embrace flexibility and fluidity will survive. The rest of you will not.

BTW: Firefox 5 is on the horizon... Just saying.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Test upload from iPad

This is a sample test using Blog Press app to blog from the iPad. Now to try and upload a photo of the birthday present the guys gave me in April.

Okay... I am optimistic this will work. Used the camera connection kit to get photos from camera SD card to iPad.

And for my vanity... No, I was not born in 1965!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ed Lingo Bingo

Because professional development webinars need a little "fun"... feel free to use at your next department viewing of your favorite education reform movie/webinar/network expose or article/book discussion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pondering Presentations (and bad blog post titles) Part 2

When we last visited our intrepid rant, we uncovered feelings of anxiety that seemed interrelated with the use of technology by those crazy kids to quickly create presentations using tools that are much more natural to them than they are to the educators (please Google “digital natives” for the 5 million blog entries, books, and YouTube videos on this subject).

But rather than continue to pick apart some of the flaws in presentations-as-assessments, let’s see if there is a correlation between the assessment tool and the tendency to foster an environment that promotes critical thinking skills in students. In fact, let’s just compare presentations to one other tool:

Traditional papers, especially those with multiple drafts, seem to have this call to critical thinking built into the process. First, it is apparent when someone is not saying anything of relevance for paragraph after paragraph (the irony of this multi-post blog is not lost on me). Second, the drafting process itself forces the reflection on both the content (is this really what I want to say?) and writing style (is that the best way to say it?). Finally, the traditional written paper has set modes of attribution and citation that encourages the use of outside resources to broaden the scope of the individual mind.

In summary:
· Built-in checks to validate the presence of thought
· Built-in reflection on content and style through drafting
· Built-in assumptions and methods for incorporating the thoughts of others into your own

Conversely, while the typical presentation is made better when these things are present, they are not necessary. Presentation assessments typically (and frankly ideally) have fewer words so that lack-of-thought can remain hidden. Use of multimedia, pictures, sounds, clever (and not-so-clever) transitions tend to compound the issue, particularly when educators are liable to be impressed by things that have nothing to do with the content of the presentation (but a lot to do with the presentation mechanics).

Informally, there seems to be less of a drafting process with presentation-based assessments. Where formal papers may typically have one-on-one meetings with a teacher, peer reviews, work-shopping strategies, etc., the typical project timeline for presentations often consists of a combined research-and-preparation period (individually or in groups) followed by a class presentation. Feedback by the class is limited and feedback/assessment by the teacher is done in the form of written comments given afterward. There is little presumption that a presentation is “drafted” or will be refined throughout a creation process.

Furthermore, the growing tradition of “borrowed” photos without citation and a lack of feedback from teachers about attributing ideas properly also feed the trend to use other ideas and claims as one’s own thoughts. Not only does this reinforce a cultural trend of plagiarism, but it eliminates the critical process required to properly present the ideas of another and critically compare them with one’s own.

Unfortunately this issue is happening at all levels of education; thus we as secondary educators find ourselves encountering students who have less and less exposure to the assessment strategies that most naturally call for the upper levels of Bloom’s famed taxonomy and more and more experience with assessments that can be done quickly, without drafting, and with minimal critical feedback to evaluate proof of accuracy or originality of thought.

So what is the solution?
1. Let’s isolate the problem from its apparent technological origins. This has very little to do with the mechanics of Keynote or the tendency for teenagers to tweet in 140 characters rather than handwrite letters. Technology is an emphasizer of trends, seldom a trendsetter in its own right.

2. Design assessments timelines that build in the critical thinking process and identify when that process has not been followed. Two examples:

a. The teacher from the illustration in the last blog modified his assignment to require a written paper (with traditional citations, page length, drafting etc.) as a preface to the presentation. Thus the teacher engages with students during the “thinking” portion of the education and the presentation becomes a distillation of the thought that has gone before.

b. Embed another process for showing critical thinking into the presentation assessment. This might include a question and answer period used by both teachers and students after the presentation, formal reflection writing afterward on a prompt of the instructor’s choosing based on the presentation, or a separate analysis of literature about a research topic as pre-work.

c. Require drafting and peer-review of PowerPoint presentations.

It is easy to blame the trends of society at large or the looming media-consumption tablet explosion on our lack of student’s willingness to engage in critical thought. But if we have fallen into the all-too-comfortable trap of lowering expectations due to the lure of the shiny and pretty, we may need to take time to identify our ultimate learning objectives, reflect on our experiences, and match our assessments and activities with our desired outcomes. It is the same bar to which we should hold our students, whether they are thumb-typing a book report at the elementary level, researching for term papers in high school, or presenting with Keynote in middle school.

PS: Yes, this is a long multi-post blog. But according to Mark Bauerlein’s article “Too Dumb for Complex Texts?” (Educational Leadership, February 2011), we need to encourage reading of complex texts for at least one hour a day (we’d link to it but we don’t think he’d like that… oh whatever…click away). Consider today complete for you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pondering Presentions: Part 1

It has been an interesting week in the world of technology and #edtech and, as is often the case, a number of seemingly isolated incidents have begun to swirl around in my head enough for me to draft a blog-entry. Luckily, I have @40ishoracle to look over the writing to make sure that it makes sense when all is said and done (if you haven’t had the opportunity, you should take time to read her profile in “School CIO”).

Incident #1: My nine-year-old (for those of you who follow me on twitter, Daughter Prime) came into the living room where I was diligently working on the RIO version of Angry Birds and her mom was typing on a laptop. She asked “can I use the (Google)TV? I need to type a reading log.” Now this question could be worth a blog entry in and of itself, but I watched in fascination as she accessed her school’s learning management system, brought up a blank report template, thumb-typed three solidly written paragraphs about The Mysterious Benedict Society, and posted it for teacher review to a virtual homework dropbox.

Incident #2: I had the opportunity to play with the ASUS Transformer brought in by @brebeufjesuit alum @kcklippel. As I played with the device (an Android Honeycomb tablet with widescreen that docks with a larger-than-netbook keyboard for fast typing and 7hrs additional battery life), I began to see how useful it could be in the post-pc world that Steve Jobs declared with the release of the iPad 2.

Incident #3: (stolen from fellow parent, @40ishoracle): Her daughter has had an increasing number of assignments taking the form of “presentations” created in Keynote for assessment and evaluation in place of traditional papers at the middle-school level.

The discussion that swirled around these incidents began with typing.

For a number of years, I have been saying as part of the precursor to Bring-Your-Own-Tech language @40ishoracle introduced me to, that the role of tablets/phones will be as personal productivity enhancers…That a computer will be necessary for “full production” – papers over a certain length, multi-tasking or multi-window or multi-screen research, etc. After watching my nine-year-old comfortably manipulate a thumb keyboard at a decent rate and speed indistinguishable from a nine-year-old at a standard size qwerty keyboard, I opened myself up to the idea that home-row typing vs. thumb-typing alone is not a distinguishing element from critical thinking and productivity.

So if students can be as productive typing (or swyping), what does this say about the types of assignments that we offer?

Rant Begins Here:

When @40ishoracle and I offer a presentation, it is backed up by hours of work. This work ranges from formal and informal discussions, conversations with other educators, background research on the topic, examples in the lab environment that is our Jesuit High School, etc. The presentation is a distillation or interpretation of the thinking that went before it. This combination of context (the work that has been done by others), experience (trying and interpreting lessons in the classroom), reflection (the conversations), is the heart of the Jesuit educational system and parallels with critical thinking that is so beloved of everyone from the ASCD to legislators to *gasp* teachers.

But (and it is a big one): It is absolutely possible to create a presentation that does not benefit from this level of prep work.

Last year, as part of our preparation for addressing issues of information literacy and research rigor that the school wanted to address, we had the opportunity to review a number of student presentations created by our junior class. A common trend that became apparent in our evaluation was that the presentations, while for the most part factually accurate and in most cases properly, if loosely, sourced, lacked the depth of thought that we would have hoped to see (that critical thinking piece again).

In our year on the social-media and research presentation circuit, we found that we are not alone with our assessments. Teachers have noted and agreed that:

• The number of presentation based assessments are growing and in some cases replacing traditional writing.

• There is a general feeling that students are not thinking as hard about the subjects on which they are being assessed.

• There is a malaise of inevitability about this that is wrapped up with “info-whelm” and technology anxiety.

Ultimately, the call for educators, and the educational technologists that support them, is to help craft lessons, including assessments, that will challenge students to think and then demonstrate in some way the level, accuracy, and intensity of that thought process either publicly (presentations) or interpersonally (papers, tests).
If our anxiety level is increasing and we lack confidence in the student-created presentation as an assessment tool, then we owe it to ourselves and our students to analyze the assessment and figure out how to make it fit our critical thinking needs.

Will students notice if we replace traditional keyboard with thumb boards?
Is there an inherent flaw in electronically assisted presentations?
Do these rhetorical questions raise feelings of nostalgia for 60s syndicated super hero TV shows? Stay tuned to the blog for your answer…Same #edtech time, Same #edtech URL!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Open Letter to iPad 2 (it was one of those days in IT)

Dear iPad 2,

Look, I know that we have done this dance so many times over the last year. When I heard about you, I thought you would be the answer to my fondest wishes. Slim, functional, ready to replace once and for all the many utilitarian zealots who had come before you with their obsessive need to be productive and only support me in my work.

And when you and I finally met, I will admit, you were very pretty - sleek yet subtle; urbane yet simple. And while we did not hook up right away, I kept my eye on you. Frankly, there was a period of time where you were the measuring stick for everyone else who came along.
Now, in just a short period of time, you have transformed yourself. Well…sort of. But I have to admit, as much as you have changed, you just aren’t the one for me, but I think I owe it to you to let you know why.

Let me start with the positive. I am SO happy for you that you have decided to open up your eyes and see the world around you. Frankly, I couldn’t understand why you were so blind from the beginning. And the fact that now you see the world in all directions is a delight to behold. But honestly, I don’t have to look very far to find others who do that and they have better eyesight than you. Also, when I see myself, or anything else, in your face you have the same dogged view you have always had; maybe you are jealous of your cousin with her bright resolution and clear retina.

And I also feel like there can be nothing but good news with you being willing to talk to other people, but isn’t it a little rude that you will only allow yourself a little facetime with your friends and family? There are lots of people who might want to get together with us and it seems a little closed off for you to only want your smile to go as far as your clique.
Maybe that is my issue. Maybe it’s my hang-up.

I know that you keep telling me how much thinner you are, but I don’t care about that! It’s what is inside that counts and more importantly for me it is how you play with others. I don’t want to shop in the same shops every day. I don’t want to only see the movies that you choose. . I don’t want to be limited to the music you discover. I want to be able to be more open. And yes, if someone sends me a link with a flash of inspiration, I want to be able to see it and discuss it without having to sneak out to have that conversation with someone, anyone who is more open than you are.

You can certainly keep up with me, especially after all the work you have had done. But the fact that your memory is tied to how much money I put into you is a little offensive. And you are so one-track minded. Sometimes I like to do a couple of different things at once. With you I feel like I am constantly starting over.

Also, you can be a little thin-skinned. Face it, the world can be a little cruel sometimes and you shouldn’t be able to crack at the drop of a hat. I know that your new wardrobe makes you more polished and refined, but a little gorilla in your backbone would go a long way to you being able to take a few well-placed blows.


I guess this is it. You are the right shape (although a little larger than I normally go for, but I know that is not your fault. You are the way you are made). But you only seem to work on those parts of yourself that everyone else already takes for granted. And you seem unable, nay unwilling, to fix the flaws that drive me absolutely batty. I would like to work this out, but try to discuss these things with you, and either you switch between one set point of view or simply refuse to make any sound whatsoever…and you know this is nothing new!

I know that you’ll find someone else; indeed millions of people are lining up to be with you. But my heart must find another. One who compliments me in both my work and my play. One who can function normally without being tied to her computer day after day. One who can be held gently in one hand and conveniently allow herself to be carried without feeling like extra baggage.

…and a stylus would be nice.

With regret,

JD Ferries-Rowe (Galaxy Tab user) and Jen LaMaster (a hypocritical iPad user)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Arguments Against Standardization

JD and I have been sitting around the past couple of months planning, plotting and evangelizing the idea of a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) program for Brebeuf Jesuit. Our educational passion playing out in terms of equipping students with the critical skills to access, evaluate and use technology tools based on personal learning style and needs. Then Ed Tech Magazine comes along and publishes an article entitled “Standard Issue” by Heather B. Hayes ( – touting the benefits of standardizing technology tools across classrooms. Well did this get us heated up! And so we blog…

From our educational point of view, while we appreciate that standardization can make life easier for IT departments, and to some extent may lower tech anxiety among teachers, we think standardization is a great disservice to our students (…and to any teachers who prefers a Macintosh computer, or the newest processor, or an Android device). With the rise of mobile technologies geared to individualized needs, the earlier we can facilitate access and evaluation of unique tools by our students, the better prepared they will be to make their own technology decisions. Students need to develop the ability to process their information/productivity need, access tools which might meet the need, evaluate the tools to meet that need and analyze the success or failure of the outcomes (say it with me “critical thinking skills”). Handing them a uniform technology platform does not encourage or facilitate this process. The world is not standardized. The world is fluid and the tools students will use every changing. Developing flexibility of technology skills will allow our students to navigate any technology tool.

From our techie point of view, draw-backs to standardization jumped out at us from the article. The economic benefits of standardization espoused by the article only work in a significant way for large school districts. Economy of scale does not kick in for building specific infrastructure. Small schools like Brebeuf Jesuit do not generate sales large enough to make standardization a truly cost saving venture. Furthermore, even for large districts (who admittedly might save money buying 500 interactive whiteboards at once), why would you standardize if you recognize the technology will change in 2 years (note: how silly will these administrators feel if they find out that a computer and wireless projector with 90% of the functionality of an IWB can be purchased for LESS money than a computer, projector, and keep-the-teacher-at-the-front-of-the-room-like-the-good-old-days SMARTBoard)? If you truly commit to standardization, say on laptops, they will all need to be replaced at the same time. Most schools, for financial reasons will make a 20% replacement rotation … this is not standardization. You may have up to 5 generations of technology rotating at any time. Any school district that purchases one large blast of technology will pay for it down the road when replacement hits all at once. Seems short sighted.

At Brebeuf Jesuit, our general approach is a 3-4 year rotation cycle. We replace 1/3 of X with whatever cutting edge is ... it doesn’t give us standardization but it does give us the ability to have 1/3 of our building be state of the art* while the other 2/3rds simply feels a little old. Finally, we can experiment with new technologies** without fear of taking a bath on those that don’t work***. Flexible purchasing not only meets the needs of unique teaching and learning experiences, but allows us to innovate and respond to learner needs in a much more fluid manner. Locking in to a standard platform or device negatively impacts this fluidity (much of the decision making process might be outlined in another post, but when the teachers and students drive the decision making, the conversation becomes more about universal accessibility to programs, data, and hardware…and occasionally Adobe Flash).

We agree that standardization can make life much easier for the hardware techs. For example, we have universal projector mounts in our classrooms. We can change projectors to meet the needs of teachers, the budget, and the network as a whole without changing the mounts each year. But we chose to buy universal mounts to provide the flexibility to buy projectors that meet the needs of the classroom that grows and expands.

The needs of teaching and learning must be the paramount decision maker – not comfort level of the IT department.

* This year’s “State of the Art” were the Lenovo touchscreen tablets with stylus and/or finger input
** Independent pilots are being run with iPad, GalaxyTab, cloud-based online solutions (Microsoft Live@edu), etc.
*** The last classroom based IWB was purchased by the school seven years ago. Currently 2 of the 15 whiteboards are used as anything more than a screen, clicker, and rough note taker. Microsoft OneNote and stylus based tablet computing is the standard in most classrooms.

IWB - Interactive White Board

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cura Personalis : A New Year Reflection

So my plan was to start blogging again on Ed Tech sorts of things. I had all kinds of ideas jotted in my iPad Notetaker app and was ready to pontificate on topics of integration, strategies for determining technology needs, classroom trends... the usual for this type of blog. But then, a colleague lost a fast and furious battle with cancer and suddenly my little world of integration seemed very little after all.

Sunday evening, during an impromptu prayer service held for the school community, the gathered were invited to reflect on the life of this educator. Reflection is a key process in Ignatian education. Upon reflection of new experience, the learner is invited to step back and discern where God is leading her/him, what action this new experience may generate, and how this new experience will fit with established values, morays, and actions (I am greatly generalizing the process here). On my personal reflection, one element of Sunday night's process stands out. Only students, past and present, were moved to speak. Every student addressed this educator's ability to focus on the individual in front of him. They mentioned feeling like the most important person in the world at that precise moment. The ability to listen, to care, to advocate for were the qualities of this man's being students (with raw grief) spoke aloud.

As technology education specialists, I think we often miss the point these students illuminated. It's not about who has the glitziest tools. It's not encouraging a flood of online activities. It's about students. It's about shaping and guiding and advocating for young people to grow into the most successful "them" possible. Ignatian education strives for cura personalis, generally interpreted to mean "care of the whole person". Listening to our students Sunday evening, I witnessed that process in action. They praised a life for the care given to every individual student.

So in this new year, I invite us all to reflect on our integration decisions. Are they made with students in care? Take time to talk to students as individuals. Take time to focus on them as if they are the most important people in the world. Because quite frankly - they are.