What’s wrong (and right) with “14 things…”

A post written in 2014 seems to be making its way around the interwebs again lately. The post is called “14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools.” A link has been provided at the end of this article. Let’s talk about these “14 things” and why they may or may not be obsolete and why, obsolete or not, they still exist. Note: The follow opinions are those of David Henderson (davidinark) ONLY and do not necessarily reflect those of any employer, local, state, or national agency or organization.

  1. Computer Rooms – Most tech industries, startups, etc work in “lab-like” environments where coders, UIX-ers, customer service reps, etc all work in one big room with computers at desks. On another note: it is MUCH cheaper to purchase and maintain a lab environment. Like it or not, we are responsible for the dollars we receive and how they are used for student instruction. Would many schools LIKE to be 1:1? Sure. Reality? Never gonna happen due to limited and/or even decreasing funds.
  2. Isolated Classrooms – I agree with this one. Classrooms should have access to and make use of a wide range of resources available to students. Classrooms should not be cut off from the world, but rather embrace the broader world in order to facilitate learning and conversation.
  3. Schools Without Wifi – In an ideal world, yes, all schools would have wifi. In the real world, there are many reasons why schools might not have wifi. Money is usually thrown into the mix early during any conversations about rolling out a new, second network in schools. Even with programs like e-rate, which help schools obtain equipment and services for discounted pricing, many districts still simply do have the funds to offset the portions of those programs for which the district is responsible. There are physical constraints as well. For example, many school buildings are old with thick stone walls. This means that more devices are required in order to provide the necessary coverage because signals cannot penetrate the surfaces. It also means that buildings may require costly infrastructure upgrades such as electrical outlets, increased energy service, etc. In addition to the capital outlay costs, we’re also talking about the increased monthly bills associated with power, service agreements, etc.
  4. Banning cell phones and tablets – This is a tough one. If the district is able to create, maintain and enforce rules and policies for the use of the devices, I’m all for it. These devices can be use to greatly enrich the education of students when use appropriately and within appropriate contexts. As with nearly everything in life: moderation is key. Truth is, most adults can’t handle having cell phones in their workplace. How we can expect much-less developmentally mature students to handle them? It takes education, discipline, and re-education. Do I believe the should be banned? No. But, when a district is battling videos of students having sex circulating around all the devices on campus, it makes it hard to convince administration that the devices are worthwhile educational tools.
  5. Tech directors with admin account – Okay, this header is VERY misleading to the point the author makes. In a nutshell, the author is saying the tech director is the ONLY person with admin access. Now, that I agree with. I have been in education for 20+ years and I have NEVER restricted my regular users from having admin access on their machines. Why would I? Let them make them machines their own. They want to try a new photo editor? Great! They want to change the desktop wallpaper? Great! I know, I know – what about malware, viruses, etc? Those are valid concerns. Ideally, the tech director has the network protected. Sometimes, things happen, though. Heck, in most cases, the access level of the logged in user has NOTHING to do with the infection that spreads because savvy attackers work around the limitations anyway. On top of that, for every restriction placed on a user, there is one more thing the tech director is then responsible for. No thanks. I have enough to do already.
  6. Teacher that don’t share – Agreed. Teachers should be sharing and should be ALLOWED to share what they are doing. There is a LOT of backlash against sites like Teachers-Pay-Teachers because teachers are making money from the products and projects teachers are selling. Unless there is a discrepancy regarding intellectual property (which there is in some districts), I say teachers should absolutely share. Even if you are not out to make money on your ideas, SHARE them. Get the word out about something you did that worked wonders with your students. Share the struggles you’re having with particular content in order to ask for help. Sharing means building a community and network with which one can learn and grow professionally and personally.
  7. Schools without Facebook and/or Twitter – I agree 100%. How does your school NOT have a tool that allows community outreach, a celebration platform, and a way to share the things happening at your school!? No way. Don’t have one? Get one. Set it up with appropriate posting restrictions, shared administrative duties, and tools (like Tweetdeck)  to schedule and maintain your content. EduTechGuys can help you get going!
  8. Unhealthy cafeteria food – I agree with this one, right down to students putting their own food on their own trays and cleaning up after themselves. But, I also believe students should have access to snacks which aren’t so healthy as treats or desserts. Look, I ate plenty of fried donuts in grade school. We had to buy them as extra, which made them even more of a treat. We don’t have to go balls-to-the-wall nuts over some of this stuff. It’s called moderation. (See #4 above).
  9. Starting school at 8 o’clock for teens – Oh boy. I disagree with this one. The author says schools should have flexible starting/stopping times. No. Welcome to 99% of the real world. People have to be in certain places at certain times. Period. Look at this from an adult perspective. You are going to a conference. Maybe you are keynoting that conference. Keynote starts at 8am. But, nah, some people would rather come in at noon because they aren’t really “morning” people. Is that acceptable? Would you adjust your keynote and/or give it 6-, 8-, 10 times per day in order to accommodate your learners? What about staff meetings? Sure, the boss says they start at 10am, but that doesn’t work for you, so you just show up at 2pm and that should be fine, right? Your client needs that app you’re developing delivered by 10am for a presentation to their venture capital partners. But, nah, thats’s okay. The developer would rather bring it the next day. I know, many folks will say, “That’s not the same…” Yes, yes it is.
  10. Buying design work – Generally, I agree with this. Why hire some outside firm to design graphics, pamphlets, posters, etc for YOUR district!? Who knows your district better than the teachers and students *IN* the district!? No one – er, hopefully. My take on this: have students/teachers design the product and present their concept. If not acceptable, then work with them to get it right. If that still doesn’t work, then perhaps look at external development. I have seen some crazy talented work from students that easily rivals that which comes from high-paid graphic design agencies.
  11. Traditional Libraries – Again, I agree with this one. Libraries have evolved. In fact, many have become the “makerspace” location for schools. Be open to offering much more than printed books – but, don’t get rid of all those printed books! Many students love the tangible interaction of reading words on the page, hold the book in their hands, turning the pages with their fingers.
  12. All students get the same – I agree. Perhaps at the elementary levels, individualized choices are limited, but as students show mastery, they should be allowed to grow and choose what they want to learn. Working in groups based on what they are learning and not necessarily because they are the same age leads to robust learning. Of course, there are certain age-related appropriateness issues that need to be addressed as well. But, if you have students showing incredible proficiency in certain subjects, why should they be restricted simply because of their age?
  13. One-PD-fits-all – I agree. How many times have you gone to a professional development opportunity only to realize you could have been better served if they just given you the slides and let you learn the material on your own? How many times have you been to PD where you were required to sit for 6 hours because the content doesn’t matter, just the fact that you had your butt in a chair for the required length of time? Those days should be long, long gone by now.
  14. Standardized Tests Measure Quality of Education – I agree. I wish we could do away with standardized testing. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, so much federal funding is tied to these tests. As much as we love to say, “keep your fed money, we don’t want it,” the truth is that those monies are tied to programs that are vital for schools and which could not function without those monies – special education, certain federal programs, etc. What we need is to disconnect those funds from the tests. I remember taking a standardized test in 5th grade and then another in 8th grade. I think it might have been the IOWA test, maybe? I dunno. But, that’s my point: I don’t know because I don’t remember. I don’t remember because it was never made into a big deal. We didn’t have “test parties” and all that. It was treated as no big deal, no pressure. Kids are WAY over tested. Period. Not just standardized, but in general. The real world doesn’t work that way. If you were tested every three days, how much work could get done? How much learning could you get done?

While the article does raise some valid points, there are certainly some aspects which seem to indicate that the author lives in some perfect, money-rich world. That would be nice.

Original article: http://ingvihrannar.com/14-things-that-are-obsolete-in-21st-century-schools/


It’s the little things – 5 ideas for EdTech Micro-Lessons

Isn’t it always? The little things usually make the biggest impression. From just a simple thank you to a yes ma’am, the little things help define a person, a situation, an event, etc.  So why are we always shooting for the big win in the classroom setting?  Shouldn’t we make more memorable, meaningful small ones?

That’s where the Micro-Lesson comes in. Small, fun, impactful lessons that you can think up over coffee in the morning or discussion in the teacher’s lounge. Set a goal in your PLC meeting to leave with 5 EdTech Micro-Lessons in your bag of tricks.  To help you get started, here are 5 ideas to add some fun and excitement to your classroom and lessons:

  1. PODCAST – You know us and podcasts, we love them! And, so do many others. Who doesn’t like to put on their own “show?” This is easily accomplished by creating small 90-second podcasts covering whatever the current topic is during that day’s lesson. Use your laptop, iPad, etc. to allow the students to come to the “recording booth” and record their opinions, views, assigned topic, etc. Share with parents and students and watch the engagement bloom.
  2. CLASS-CREATED PRESENTATION – Let students create a group presentation using your multimedia projector or television and add an app like Buncee. Critical thinking and creativity are addressed in an open, comfortable environment where students can learn from each other and explore their creative avenues by sharing ideas.
  3. PHOTO ALBUM – This one is an easy one and can be accomplished almost every day. We recommend at least once a week, but possibly on the same day, use any digital camera in the room and document the work of the students individually and as a group. Cover that day’s work or the work from the week. Short and simple wins here. Make the creation a group event using Google Slides, Prezi, Buncee or other presentation apps. Once again: sharing excites the parents (And keeps the refrigerator less cluttered)!
  4. NEWSCAST – It’s video time! Get creative with writing: 3 to 4 topics, 3 to 4 groups. Each group has 10 minutes to pick a newscaster(s), write their summary and design their scene. Their final “report” should be no longer than 60 seconds of air time. Encourage students to get each member in the video and use props if possible. Use your device of choice, record the video (we recommend a Padcaster Setup) and put it on the class/school/district YouTube channel. This can be very informative for your parents and lots of fun for your students!
  5. GAMIFICATION – This one is a tried and true friend. Gamification has been around since the poster board and sticky stars (and yes, way before that). Several websites and apps (such as ClassDojo) help to bring the fun of achieving goals and attaining badges for a job well done. This helps increase student engagement across the board. Every student needs a “win,” and this helps to create that. Gamification can be a classroom experience or a personal one. Over time, the feedback the student receives will help foster a growth mindset, propelling them throughout their educational journey.

3 Ways to Look Beyond the Spotlight: Student Careers in Sports, Music/Film, and Education #education #edtech #studentvoice

Ask a student what he or she wants to be when they grow up. What answers do you generally get? Fireman, police officer, etc, sure. Often, though, we hear things like: singer, rapper, President, actor, athlete… While there is nothing wrong with any of these professions, we need to encourage students to look beyond those which are the “limelight” careers.


Perhaps you have students who love sports, but who are just not destined for the field, rink, court, etc. Teachers can help them see that there are all kinds of related jobs to sports that don’t necessarily thrust them into the spotlight nor threaten their physical being. For example, sports medicine is related and covers a variety of jobs: sports doctors and nurses, medical techs, assistants, and more. What about artists in sports? Absolutely! Graphic design for logos, stadium signs, banners of heroes from days gone by and the stars of the current team. What about writers? There are sports writers that work for news and sports outlets, sure. But, did you know sports teams (professional, college, amateur, etc) need writers? Think about media programs that are handed out at games or the biographies that are handed out to sportscasters, etc. How about the person who writes the words and puts up the graphics on the big screens over the field? What about music in sports? Theme songs, walk-off tunes, etc. How about finances: team, player, concession, stadium, etc – all need money and they need people to manage that money… And to manage the people who make it all run – HR personnel, etc.

And, that was JUST sports and we still didn’t cover a sliver of what’s out there!


What about the music industry? People have to write the songs. People have to manage the singers. It takes people to book gigs, create album covers, produce the music, make the videos, and everything else that goes with each of THOSE types of jobs. The film industry needs writers, graphic artists, make-up artists, assistants, caterers, and a host of other positions vital to the production of what we all see on the big screen.


What about education? Teachers, administrators, writers, artists… People from all walks of life with varying backgrounds are needed in education (at all levels, too!). Your students might not want to be teachers, but what about participating in other capacities? Administrators help shape and guide the direction of a district, campus, or building. Counselors help students in need. Technology Directors help teachers and students use and implement various technologies to help with education. Don’t forget some of the vital roles played in the school environment: Food services, custodial services, transportation, maintenance, and more.

There are all kinds of ancillary opportunities waiting for people to fill them. We just have to help our students see the potential and the availability. We have to expose students to thinking differently about using their talents in ways they may not have realized were waiting.

Make Most of Your #Twitter with #Tweetdeck!

Keeping up with the never-ending stream of consciousness that is Twitter can be challenging. Whether you are trying to keep up with the latest trending hashtag or you’re trying to generate the latest trend, using Twitter by itself makes the task difficult. Enter TweetDeck: The organizer and scheduler that will make your Twitter life MUCH simpler. We use it at EduTechGuys and wanted share how it helps us so that it can help you, too.

Though this article is not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial, hopefully it will give you an overview as to why TweetDeck should definitely be in your arsenal.

TweetDeck organizes your Twitter feed, info, followed tags, etc into columns. The site allows you to create tweets and send them as yourself and/or as any other account that you are a member. You can also schedule tweets to go out when YOU want them to. This comes in handy when you are building anticipation for an upcoming event. This way, you can write and schedule your posts in one sitting if you like, but they won’t go out until the date(s) and time(s) that YOU say!

After you have scheduled your tweet, it shows up in the “Scheduled” column, so you can always know what you’ve got coming up.

As we mentioned, you can also create or join groups (teams)! This means you can have several people sending out tweets as your company/organization. It also means you might be on several teams and tweet out ONE post to each of those accounts in one swift click. In the image below, see where I can be “myself,” “EduTechGuys,” or “SWAEC?” I can send out a post as any or all of those!

TweetDeck also makes it very easy to follow your favorite people, topics, trends, or Twitterchats! Just use the “Add Column” feature and select from several options:

So, if I chose the “Search” and typed #education, I could add that as a column (far right in image below):

There are a LOT of things you can do with TweetDeck! In fact, one of the workshops/trainings we offer is how to get the most out of your total social media outreach program and TweetDeck is just a piece of that over all experience! Reach out to us today to find out how you can bring the EduTechGuys to your school, business, or organization!

Send your inquiry to: contact@edutechguys.com

Feb 26, 2017 #iaedchat EduTechGuys Recap

On February 26, 2017, the EduTechGuys took part in the Twitter portion of the YouTube Live #iaedchat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBBByEg5bQo). Here are some of the responses, ideas, and suggestions we contributed to the conversation about hacking PBL.

Prepare yourself to take it easy. Let it organically move itself forward. Once the Students take control it will.

The buy in is the key. But that is also the beauty of “Problem” 😉based learning. Watch, adapt, overcome.

With services like @Seesaw @Google apps, @Twitter, @Snapchat,etc. (student) feedback is super easy!

Finding “projects” that will entice your students is a task. @EASTinitiative has been tackling this for years. There’s one resource.

Grading is passe. Look at art & music to to find alternate assessment options. They have been doing it for years.

Let that poster project be the elevator pitch and push the semester/year forward with the “project” encompassing the “startup”

Problem, product, open-ended= edupreneur! PBL is the incubator for our student (and teacher) startups!

All projects must become personal at some point. S engagement will bust the ceiling once it becomes part of their story.

Homework can transfer to students sharing their adventures through the “projects.” Let their creativity shine & “likes” grade.

Feb 26, 2017 #txeduchat EduTechGuys Recap

We took part in the #txeduchat on February 26, 2017. Here is a recap of the questions and our responses:

Q1: How important is it that we help kids develop as student leaders?
A1: Helping kids develop as student leaders is the number one way to increase life long learning in the community!

Q2: How can we best assist learners in growing their leadership skills/abilities?
A2: Provide SS with chances to grow and find themselves as leaders in the classroom and community as a whole

Q3: What part does student voice play in empowering students as future leaders?
A3: SS #voice gives them ownership of their choices and develops their leadership skills! Every voice should be heard!

Q4: Share something you do (or are planning) that empowers students to lead.
A4: Give Ss a voice via #podcasting give them a way to empower themselves and grow a voice in the digital age!

Q5: What roles do student leaders play in your classroom, campus, or district?
A5: The best role our Ss play is that of educational leader. As soon as they “win” they teach and we all learn. Their story grows!

Q6: Have your student leaders impacted your community? Share an example.
A6: When we see students take control of their digital citizenship and social media, the community wins! @GoEnnounce is a great fit! They have integrated the community into the classroom, the community is able to see a new side of the classroom. They gave the classroom a new face in the digital age with their voice! #txeduchat via #podcasting

Q7: Which educators/schools are “getting it right” in helping students develop leadership? Give them a shout out!
A7: @DrKMattson is helping students develop leadership on the #digcit front and everyone in #txeduchat seems to be on track!

Q8: What will you do this week to help your students become leaders in school, the community, & in life?
A8: It’s we all do each day. Step 1: SHOW UP. Step 2: help Ss tell their story. Step 3: Grow leaders, even if only in their lives.


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