Google Workshop for Administrators (in San Diego and Burlingame)

Here’s another CUE announcement I want to share here… and I hope you’ll share it with the innovative educational leaders in your life. :)

CUE produces a series of Google Workshops for Administrators based on the Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. We are happy to announce that a new Google Workshop for Administrators is now open for registration, this time in San Diego on February 27th. Read more about the workshop and register online today.

We are also excited to announce that ACSA is hosting a special Google Workshop for Educational Leaders at their office in Burlingame on March 27th. This event will include a tour of the Googleplex in Mountain View the evening before the workshop! Seats will go quickly, so sign up now.

You can also request a Google Workshop for your own site. View the information (for planners) and complete the request form to be contacted regarding your request.

The Google Teacher Academy for Administrators

This post is largely a reaction to a conversation that has developed on Twitter, in the edublogosphere, and elsewhere over the past several days. But first, I need to announce the event here! In case you haven’t seen it yet, here are the basics:

The Google Teacher Academy for Administrators is a FREE professional development experience designed to help K-12 educational leaders get the most from innovative technologies. Each Academy is an intensive, one-day event where participants get hands-on experience with Google’s free products and other technologies, learn about innovative instructional strategies, receive resources to share with colleagues, and learn how to apply examples from our innovative corporate environment. Upon completion, Academy participants become Google Certified Teachers who share what they learn with other K-12 educators in their local region – and around the world. This GTA will be held in San Antonio, Texas, right before the ASCD conference. If you’re already planning to attend ASCD, we hope you’ll also consider applying to the GTA for Administrators. Learn More and Apply Now

If you are an innovative and forward-looking educational leader, I encourage you to apply… and if you are not, but you know someone who is, I hope you’ll encourage that person to apply.

Though it’s no substitute for being there – and though this Google Teacher Academy (GTA) will be a very different event (due to the focus on administrators), if you’d like to know more about what to expect from the day, you might explore past GTA agendas and past Google Workshops for Administrators produced by CUE (particularly the most recent one). Though the GWA agendas look similar at a glance, the entire focus of the presentation (as well as many of the examples) are shifted to concerns related to leadership (and administration) in education. (More on this below.)

The Conversation

For the last few days I’ve been very busy on the home front (what with the holidays, a move, and a second baby due a week from tomorrow) and with work (making preparations and wrapping things up before the holidays and my “paternity leave”). But, I’ve followed the conversation from the beginning – and even taken some action behind the scenes. In some ways it’s been frustrating not to have the time to jump into the broader conversation earlier and to compose responses for everything I wanted to reply to. But, it’s also been illuminating to see the conversation evolve without my participation. Mostly, though, it’s been humbling (and exciting) to discover that many of my colleagues have very high expectations for this event – and that so many are passionately invested in it.

At times it’s also been frustrating, disappointing, and even embarrassing that some of my colleagues seemed to assume the GTA planning team wouldn’t be addressing the concerns they raised – or that we’d ignore the things that are really important when planning a professional development experience for educational leaders. In a few cases it’s been sad to see something that might’ve been more tactfully addressed to me rather than posted in a public form – and I’ve tried not to take any of it too personally.

It has, of course, also been thrilling (if not heartwarming) to see so many of my colleagues “leap to the defense” of the event, the Google Certified Teacher (GCT) program, and in some cases, me. Ultimately, I’m grateful for everyone who engage the conversation with a positive and constructive attitude.

In any case, I think a few responses are in order. I’ll start (of course) with David Jakes’ post, which was born out of others’ passionate responses to his (admittedly puzzling) initial reaction (on twitter) to news of the GTA for Admins:

I’m not buying the Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. At All.”

Though many people (understandably – and thankfully, from my perspective) reacted to David’s tweet’s and blog post by explaining how valuable the GTA experience and GCT community have been to them, I don’t see David’s post as an attack on the program (but I see how it might be taken that way). After all, he started his post with a big IF – “if it’s just the GTA re-purposed, I think it might miss its mark.” He’s right… it would be. But it won’t be. Of course it won’t be. Also, the issues he brings up are valid concerns for an event like this – and for the most part these are issues we are already planning to address as part of this new version of the GTA.

The Source of The Confusion

I think the root of his concern (as well as others’ concerns) regarding the value of this event stems from the fact that the already sparse description of the GTA was only slightly rewritten to promote this new event. This is a factor of three things:

  1. As with all GTA’s the funding was made available only a short time before the event needed to be announced, we were coming off of the GTA in DC – and into the holidays, and we needed to get the announcement and description live as soon as possible.
  2. When we did put our heads together to re-write it, we discovered that almost all of the language still applied to our vision of the GTA for Admins (though it certainly isn’t an exhaustive description of it… it was never even a very complete description of the GTA), and we felt we didn’t need to re-write it much to get the ball rolling.
  3. It’s the first GTA for Admins and we won’t really know what it looks like until we’re done with it. :)

So, admittedly we could’ve spent a bit more time on rewriting the description, but I think we’ll be able to attract the right people anyway (more on this below, too). The description and agenda from CUE’s Google Workshop for Administrators (GWA) might serve as something of a preview of what it might be like, though this too only scratches the surface of what happens in a GWA – and it certainly doesn’t represent the much higher-octane GTA-level event we have planned for March!

The name of the event might also be a source of some confusion. The name “Google Teacher Academy” is problematic to begin with, because we’ve had many “Google Certified Teachers” who were not classroom teachers. We’ve had administrators as well as professors, professional developers, educational technology coordinators, IT personnel, and others apply for and complete the program. This time, Google has decided to focus on “administrators” (educational leaders and decision makers primarily)… because this will be a very different event with a very different (and possibly even greater) potential for effecting change when the participants return to their own institutions. We debated calling it the Google Administrator Academy (and a half-dozen other variations) but settled on sticking with the GTA for Adminstrators instead, for a few reasons:

  1. There is already a certain recognition and prestige associated with the GTA and the GCT community (and we want the new cohort to be a part of this same community).
  2. There are GCTs from previous events who are also administrators already (so there’s precedence – and we didn’t want to deal with “reclassifying” anybody.
  3. We couldn’t image any administrators (who would want to come to this anyway) who wouldn’t also consider themselves teachers, especially since we are explicitly seeking applicants who are also providing professional development.

I don’t know that we could’ve done any better with this. The name is what it is at this point.

Replies to David’s Questions

I can reply to a few other of David’s specific concerns in brief:

1. Will the academy help administrators understand why teachers in their schools could benefit from being part of the GTA program?

Absolutely… but it’s definitely not an explicit goal of the program… and I’m a little surprised that you would want that.

2. Will the academy help administrators understand why they should adopt Google Apps for Education in their schools? Will the academy demonstrate to administrators, clearly, the affordances that the use of such a system brings, and demonstrate how they know?

Absolutely! This is very much an explicit goal of the program, especially now that it is funded by the Google Apps: Education Edition team. Some of the administrators from the case study schools will be speaking, as will GCTs like Kyle Brumbaugh and Kern Kelley who serve in an administrative role, or help to train administrators – and have had a significant impact on their schools or school systems. There will be a lot of first-hand evidence on hand. Again, though, I’m sort of surprised that this would be important to you.

3. Will the academy help administrators understand the necessary policies that need to be developed to effectively scaffold the use of Google tools in schools?

Absolutely! See above.

4. Will the academy help administrators understand how they can meet mandated legal requirements (such as email archiving) when using various Google tools?

Yes. As you can imagine, getting this right is a very high priority for Google. That being said, there is a limit to how Google can advise districts in this matter, because Google is not in the business of giving legal advice. ;)

5. Will the academy address strategies for the systemic application of Google technology to support increased student achievement?

Yes, of course. But I would caution (and will help build the event in such a way) that “student achievement” (which is often equated with a narrow range of academic pursiuts – or at worst standardized test scores) is not the end goal of our efforts. I think I speak for everyone involved when I say that we’re much more interested in student development in many dimensions, including: innovation, creativity, problem solving, self-expression, and contributions to society (in addition to other elements of “the whole child”). And I know you value these things too – and they may well be part of your concept of “student achievement.” I’m just being explicit here so that people know what I’m after.

6. Will the academy address initiatives such as Response to Intervention and how Google technology can be used to address the student support required by such programs?

Yes. We’ve addressed this in CUE’s Google Workshops for Administrators and plan to include it in the GTA for Admins as well. However, it certainly won’t be a major focus of the day. See above. ;)

7. Will the academy address the negotiation of the uses of learning environments featuring Google tools and how that can be balanced against high stakes testing regimes and NCLB?

Yes, but only indirectly. We will share ways that Google’s tools (and Google’s organizational culture) can be applied for supporting student achievement (in the traditional sense of scoring well on tests) and in more important ways, such as helping students to build their own learning environments (and personal learning networks). Again, see above.

8. Given the focus on the role of Google tools, and that they should be used by teachers to help students learn, will the academy address, or offer suggestions and strategies, on how schools might address the technology gaps that exist in under-served populations in schools (defined here as those without home technology) so that access is equitable?

Perhaps. This is certainly relevant to the goals of the event, but we will likely not be planning for it explicitly. It may be a bit outside the scope of the event, but some of the administrators who will be speaking (such as Kyle Brumbaugh for instance) have made heroic efforts to get computers into the hands of students who need them. And, I would argue that even though Google isn’t in the business of giving away hardware to students in need, they are certainly in the business of providing free software to anyone with a computer that can browse the Internet. (And yes, closing the gap of students who don’t have that sort of access at home is important, but it is not an explicit goal of the GTA. Other programs are much better suited to that cause. But perhaps we can make an effort to highlight the work that Kyle and other GCTs have done to address this issue.)

9. Is the academy taught by fellow administrators or is it taught by the same teachers that instruct at GTA? If teachers, do they have the requisite systemic experience to understand the larger context of schools that administrators operate within?

A little of both. As I’ve mentioned, we plan to have administrators from the existing GCT community speak (there are many) as well as administrators of the case study schools. Some of the Lead Learners will be drawn from past GTA events, too, as many of them are already experienced with providing professional development for administrators. In any case, the team of Lead Learners varies significantly with each GTA (it was a 50/50 split between veterans and first timers in DC) and this one will be no different. We will put together the best team possible based on the unique needs of the event (pulling from the GCT community wherever appropriate). Like the agenda, this will also evolve until relatively late in the planning process. Incidentally, many people in this conversation mentioned inviting Chris Lehmann… and I’d love it if he could come, but I haven’t even asked – he’s already scheduled to speak at CUE’s annual conference in Palm Springs that day! As a member of the conference planning committee I’m thrilled he’ll be in California… but now that my time has been diverted to the GTA in San Antonio, I’m sorry I’ll miss him (yet again!) in California, and I’m sorry he won’t be able to make it to Texas. I’ve invited him to previous GTAs, but his schedule also didn’t allow it – I think this marks the third GTA I would’ve liked to have had him at. Sorry, Chris. Someday… if you’re still up for it. :)

10. Do the presenters, if administrators, have school-based examples to share, in the context of what Google offers, of what works, and can they explain how they know it works?

Of course. See above. And that being said, we’ll also be sharing many innovative and inspirational ideas that we can’t prove work. I think this is a very important freedom for a program focused on innovation and change. :)

Incidentally, now that more than a few of us have replied to your questions, I suppose I should say, “well done.” You’ve obviously asked some effective questions if they motivated so many people to respond in so much depth and with such passion. :)

Note: Anyone who’s interested can read GCT Kevin Jarrett’s in-depth responses to these questions too.

It Is About The Tools

David closes his post by saying (among other things) that while “a lot of administrators aren’t there yet in their understanding of…tools…well, I might suggest that there is a different place where that can occur. In my opinion, the day should be learning more than tools, and realizing that we can connect to each other digitally.”

Increasingly, the people who apply to the GTA come in well versed in Google’s tools… and still, when they leave, many of them have realized how much they didn’t know they didn’t know – it’s a very common comment on the evaluations. So, while we have been able to skip over more and more of the basics and jump right into advanced uses and real-world examples, it is still very much all about the tools. This isn’t an appropriate approach for every professional development effort (and not even all “educational technology” professional development), but it is an appropriate approach much of the time – and it is particularly appropriate for the Google Teacher Academy.

Consider this… if I were to show you (David or the reader) a new tool, would I need to explain to you how it could be used to support RtI, PLCs, Universal Design for Learning, good constructivist learning, or even just plain old good teaching? No. I’d just have to show you the tool and what it does… briefly. You’d get it. You’d make the leap. And you’d apply it in new and ingenious ways based on your experience as an effective, innovative, and often inspired educator. You’d apply the tool – and you’d apply your own brand of “good pedagogy.”

This isn’t true of all educators… and in many professional development workshops there needs to be more of a hands-on element, more explicit connections to good pedagogy, and more real-world examples. In CUE’s Google Workshops for Educators (which are open to the public and do not require an application), this is the approach we take. Also, this is the approach that many of the GCTs take in their own work with their colleagues. (Of course, admittedly, for some teachers there needs to be a good deal more professional development on how learning works and how good teachers can support it before even a workshop like this can be effective in changing practice.)

But, in the case of the Google Teacher Academy… hundreds of tech-savvy highly-effective educators apply to each event – and only the most impressive applicants are chosen to attend. These are people with whom we can “go full speed” – and they’re people we can trust to apply the tools in new and innovative ways – in fact, we count on it! For this event, we also fully expect that the administrators who apply (and are chosen) will also be well versed in Google’s tools (as well as many others). So we won’t be starting with the basics for them either. :)

In short, good professional development depends very much on the context. And at the Google Teacher Academy, the context is ideal for a day that is all about the tools (though “all” might be a bit of an overstatement). That being said, as you can see from my other responses, the day we have planned will be filled to the brim with good pedagogy and effective practices for educational leaders (and change agents)… with a healthy dose of inspiration to boot.

Also, as others have pointed out elsewhere, the GTA has continued to evolve since your involvement, David. One of the main goals of the last event was to make it “the most interactive GTA ever” and I think we succeeded, though of course we can continue to improve. Every segment included an expectation for the participants to make or do something. The entire event was enriched by back channels (official and unofficial), and a second day in an unconference format was added for continued networking, planning, and in-depth learning.

Oh, in addition to being about the tools, it’s also very much about the Google culture… and how that too might be a good model for schools. But that discussion would be another post entirely.

Incidentally, I’d personally be happy to correspond with you (or chat with you) more about this, David. Thank you for the offer. In case anyone is wondering, I’ve also sent David an email about this, but that’s between us. I just wanted to be sure to publicly acknowledge his public offer. ;)

The Age of Google

Another interesting post in this conversation was Nathan Wagner’s (no relation) post about The Age of Google. This was brought to my attention by a Google Alert (of course, right?) before Alec Couros posted to twitter that it was one of his undergraduate students. Not knowing the source of the post, I read it on it’s own merits (not that I wouldn’t have anyway)… it moved me, and I acted on it immediately. Here’s an abridged version of what I sent to the other planning committee members about it:

The GTA for Admins picked up some flack from the edublogosphere. Some of it is undeserved, but much of it is well-intentioned concerns that we fully intend to address (in most cases, we’ve already addressed them, actually). I intend to respond to some of my colleagues that I know personally… in an effort to share what we have in mind, make the process transparent, and take advantage of their input.

There is one criticism, though, which came from someone I don’t know (ironically, since his name is Nathan Wagner), that I think revealed a flaw in the application – and it’s entirely my fault.

I introduced the phrase “in the age of Google” into our planning conversation, and while that is meaningful to me (and perhaps all of us) as a way to describe the state of the world (rather than a loyalty to a brand), it can be easily misconstrued by others. Here’s one example of how others might misinterpret it:

Now, I’m never interested in changing something good just because others might misinterpret it, but I also think the phrase might actually skew the content of the applications because applicants might only focus on their achievements using Google tools… where what we’re looking for are innovative (or in Ryan Bretag’s words, transformative) educational leaders. I took one look at the “describe your role as an educational leader” question and the video prompt about “innovative educational leadership” and realized both items were better without “in the age of Google” tacked onto the end.

The message goes on from there, and suffice to say the phrase has been removed, though there was/is still some debate about how to capture “the age of Google” in a non-branded phrase… but labels like “in the 21st century” or “in the age of Web 2.0” or “in the age of instant information and always on technology” (and other similar mouthfulls) don’t seem to capture it.

Ironically, I think most of the comments on Nathan’s post came after the phrase was removed. Now, it’s time for me to head over there and let him know the impact his reflection had. ;)

Incidentally, regarding his other concerns, I don’t think the YouTube requirement is terribly draconian. Most applications need to be formated or transmitted in a particular way… think MLA or APA style, double spaced, etc… or sent registered mail by a particular deadline, or whatever. In more modern terms, if we asked for the videos to be in .wmv, .mov, or, say, flv format, that wouldn’t be weird. It would be a normal expectation to facilitate the scoring process. Our scoring process is built around being able to view an online video in a predictable format. Plus, at Google they have a philosophy about “eating your own dogfood” that we try to put into practice with the GTA as much as possible. The application form is now a Google Docs Form, the video is submitted by YouTube, the Agenda is on a Google Site, and our slides are shared on Google Docs. Incidentally, we’ve never enforced the “must” be posted on YouTube bit… some people submit TeacherTube files, links to .mov files on their own server, and other URLs. As long as we can watch it and it meets the requirements, we’ve considered it. But, if it comes in in a different format (or it’s marked private) or in some other way is unwatchable, then at least we said it had to be YouTube. ;)

More of the Conversation

Wow. I spent too long on this already, and hopefully it addressed many of the questions and concerns that have surrounded this conversation elsewhere. I wish I could respond to more. A few other posts have caught my eye and brought up points I’d like to respond to here. It might’ve been obvious here already, but Jen Wagner’s (again, no relation) point about the packaging being all wrong to get administrators to take notice brings up an important distinction about this event: it’s not meant for most administrators – it’s meant for a very select few who are also tech-savvy innovative professional developers and change agents. They will receive materials they can use to help effect change in other administrators who don’t posses those qualities in quite the same over-abundance, but the event itself is meant for a very special type of administrator. So, don’t worry if your admin wouldn’t take notice or wouldn’t do well there. Just encourage the admins that would do well and would want to be there to apply! Incidentally, CUE’s Google Workshops for Administrators are meant for other administrators and that’s a very different professional development context.

Similarly, regarding the video requirement… we’re looking for administrators who will excel at that and pleasantly surprise us, even if they have to delegate some of the actual cinematography or editing. ;)

Wow, there are just many many more posts I want to reply to – particularly the more negative ones… and even the questions I’ve answered a hundred times already – but I’m not sure it would be productive… and I’m certain I need to move on to other work. And I’m sure I need to just let some of them go.

Let me conclude by saying that in most cases, your concerns (and curiosity) might be better satisfied by contacting the people you know are in charge than by making public presumptions. The planning team is made up of real people that many of you know (myself from CUE, Cristin Frodella and Dana Nguyen from Google, and Allison Merrick from WestEd – plus all of the GCTs that have been involved)… and at least you know where to find me. That being said, I also want to say a big thank you to all the GCTs and others who have stepped in and helped to answer questions, set mis-perceptions right, and make a true conversation of this.

Now to go fret about how you all will tear apart this post. ;)

Note: I’m suggesting the character-economical tag of #gtadmin for this event. :)

Google Workshop for Administrators in Silicon Valley

CUE runs a series of Google Workshops for Educators based on the Google Teacher Academy, and there has been considerable interest in a workshop focused specifically on school administrators. We are happy to announce that the second Google Workshop for Administrators is now open for registration, this time in Silicon Valley on October 2nd and 3rd. This event is produced in partnership with Google and with the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). Friday’s program includes a tour of the Googleplex in Mountain View and Saturday’s program is hosted at the ACSA offices in Burlingame. More…

Leadership 3.0 Conference: Call for Proposals

CUE, ACSA, and Tical are partnering for the second year in a row to put together a premier educational technology conference – designed exclusively for administrators. The call for submissions is now open (but only until October 1st). So if you are an administrator who is implementing or supporting educational technology at your site, consider sharing your successes and solutions with your colleagues at this elite event. Here’s the official announcement from CUE:

The second annual Leadership 3.0 Symposium will take place April 2–4, 2009 in San Diego’s beautiful Mission Valley.  This is the premier technology leadership event for administrators, by administrators, and we encourage the administrators among you to consider submitting a proposal to present a 75 minute breakout session. If you’re not an administrator, encourage one of the visionary administrators you know to present!

Visit the Leadership 3.0 web site for full details. Important: October 1 is the proposal deadline, so don’t delay!


Mike Lawrence
Executive Director, CUE

The Leadership 3.0 Symposium is a
collaboration of ACSA, CUE, and TICAL.
Visit for more info!

Leave a comment if you’re planning to attend, if you have any questions about the event, or if you have testimonials from last year to share. I hope to see some of you in San Diego!

Ed Tech Conferences for Administrators

When I started leading AB 75 workshops for administrators in January 2005, I wasn’t exactly excited that I wasn’t training teachers… but I quickly learned that if there’s one person’s fire you want to light at a campus, it’s the administrator. This is of course doubly true at the district level or higher. Now I’m thrilled to be involved with two upcoming educational technology conferences focused on administrators.

Computer Using Educators (CUE) has partnered with the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership (TICAL) to present the Leadership 3.0 symposium (Lead3), an event that focuses on leadership, technology, and innovation:

Are you a busy superintendent, principal, or other K-12 administrator who must provide informed leadership in how technology is deployed? Are you an educational administrator who wants to use technology more effectively yourself? Would you like to hear how other administrators are using technology in their work? If so, this symposium is for you!

Lead3 is happening April 10-12, 2008 at the Westin Hotel, San Francisco Airport. Download the program and registration form and keep track of the latest news at the Leadership 3.0 blog. Oh, and one more thing… Sir Ken Robinson is the keynote speaker. :)

The Fresno County Office of Education Instructional Technology Department is also producing an exciting event for administrators on May 15 & 16 at Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite. You can’t ask for a better location, and they’ve brought in speakers such as Dr. David Thornburg (the keynote), Chris Walsh, and Steve Hargadon – so there promises to be some innovative content and hands-on workshops. Participants will “discover how leadership, innovation, and the latest web technologies can transform teaching and support student achievement.” View the conference flyer here and register online.

If you are an administrator, I hope you’ll consider attending these events, and if you are a teacher or tech coordinator who would like your administrator to understand more about the tools and pedagogies you’re advocating, pass this information on to your administrators – and convince them to go. ;)

A Message From The Future (For The Principals of Today)

Last Monday I led a technology workshop for administrators. Specifically, this was the Orange County Department of Education’s AB 430, Module 3, Day 2. Among other things, this day now includes an introduction to the read/write web for administrators. This was added when I re-wrote the OCDE version of the curriculum in early 2006. Last week was the first time I significantly updated the segment since that time. Day 1 with this cohort was my favorite administrator training yet, so I needed to step up day two to match.

As in day 1, I moved the introductory slides into a Google Docs presentation and invited folks from around the world to participate (via a post on twitter). In order to engage any potential visitors I created a “discussion prompt” based on one of the introductory anecdotes I usually tell on Day 2. One of the anecdotes is based on excerpts from Lary Cuban’s (2001) “Over Sold and Over Used” – but that tends to generate some negative responses and is beginning to be a bit dated. So, I turned to the other segment, “A Message From the Future.”

And it’s time I tell this story here on the blog…

I begin by telling the participants that I’m a big U2 fan and that back in 2004 the band released the song Miracle Drug on their latest album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. I explain the history of the song in person, but the wikipedia article captures it well:

It was written about Irish writer Christopher Nolan, with whom the band attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School. Bono said of Nolan:

“We all went to the same school and just as we were leaving, a fellow called Christopher Nolan arrived. He had been deprived of oxygen for two hours when he was born, so he was paraplegic. But his mother believed he could understand what was going on and used to teach him at home. Eventually, they discovered a drug that allowed him to move one muscle in his neck. So they attached this unicorn device to his forehead and he learned to type. And out of him came all these poems that he’d been storing up in his head. Then he put out a collection called Dam-Burst of Dreams, which won a load of awards and he went off to university and became a genius. All because of a mother’s love and a medical breakthrough.”

There’s a line in the song that says “with science and the human heart, there is no limit.” That line, and the suggestion that positive social good can come of the marriage between these two things, captures much of the reason behind why I am involved in educational technology.

But the following story captures it even better…

I saw several of the shows from the following Vertigo Tour, and I was lucky enough to hear bootlegged recordings of a few others. In many of the shows Bono would use the introduction of this song (while Edge, the guitarist, played a beautiful and echoing guitar riff) to express his appreciation for doctors, nurses, and others in the medical field. In one particular show (in Toronto, if memory serves), he told a story instead. He said that the beautiful riff was the sound that Edge’s spaceship made when they first met him over 20 years ago. Bono seemed to make up the story as he went along, sort of chuckling along the way. In the story, Edge descended from the sky and stepped out of the space ship. Larry Mullen, the drummer, asked him where he was from and he said “the future.” Adam Clayton, the basist, asked him what it was like there, and he said “it’s better.” At that moment the band launched into the anthemic song about science and the human heart.

It was an emotional goose bump raising moment for me. And it also perfectly captured why I’m in educational technology. I believe that brining new technologies to bear on education can make the future a better place for our students.

This segment was much better fodder for inspiring edubloggers to share with principals! I decided to ask them to share “a message from the future… for the principals of today.” I was thrilled to have a few edubloggers drop in and give thoughtful responses to the question. David Warlick gave his two cents, as did Darren Draper, Chris (Betcher I believe), and Susan from Virginia (I didn’t catch her last name). A few others popped in and out. The messages really had an effect on the principals and inspired their own answers when I turned the question to them next. After the fact I went back and used Jing to capture the Google chat in the side bar. Click here or on the picture to watch the screencast.

We usually spent our discussion time on the Larry Cuban material, but this turned out to be a much more moving discussion. I plan to focus more on this segment in future AB 430 Module 3 Day 2 workshops… and I expect I’ll use it in other workshops as well. I’ve told the story often, but never asked for others’ “messages from the future.”

So… if you had a message from the future for the school principals of today, what would that be?

My Favorite Administrator Training Yet

Yesterday Ted Lai and I led an AB 430 Module 3 training, which is focused on developing school administrators’ technology proficiency. I started leading these sessions back in January 2005 (with Jackie Francoeur at the time – in the wake of Mike Lawrence’s departure to CUE). I inherited a curriculum that was only a few years old, but naturally already in need of revision and updating. Over the next six months or so the presentations evolved gradually and when it came time to resubmit the curriculum to the state I prepared a complete re-write based on the new material. Ted and I have continued to introduce incremental updates, but yesterday included the most exciting enhancements in well over a year – and it was by far the most exciting day of AB 430 training I’ve been involved with. (Though the participants were not a terribly excitable group themselves, they seemed to get a lot out of it and the evaluation responses were very positive.)

For me, the following enhancements really added to the day… by generating all new experiences for the participants, and for Ted and I.

A Google Docs Presentation

Google Docs only recently added the presentation element and even when Ted and I were planning last week we hadn’t yet thought of including it. However, this morning before the training I uploaded the AB 430 slides to Google Docs. The slides are very bare bones so this worked extremely well. I had any formating issues fixed in about two minutes. During the morning portion of the day the participants don’t have access to computers (it’s discussion driven), so we could really only demo the online nature of it, including the chat (which we did from two different laptops). The breakthrough came when I realized that even though the face-to-face audience couldn’t access the chat, others out in the world could… so I posted a simple invitation on Twitter.

I was thrilled when a few minutes later (as the participants introduced themselves and a technology success at their sites) David Jakes and Sharon Peters showed up. I asked what words of wisdom they might want to share with administrators learning about technology. Jakes talked about the importance of his online personal learning network, and Sharon promoted the Women of Web 2.0 talk that was to be happening that night. I could see lights go on for some of the participants when they experienced the world brought into their workshop – and several jotted down the WoW2 show info, so I wonder if any attended tonight. (I hear it was a great episode with Bud Hunt, who if I’m not mistaken also popped into our presentation chat for a minute, followed by Chris Craft some time later.)

It was an amazing experience (for me) to be able to apply this new tool in a teaching context so soon after discovering and becoming excited about it. I’m grateful to everyone who piped in.

A Thinkature Mindmap

We usually run an (Alan November inspired) exercise called “Worst Fears, Best Hopes” on a white board, chalk board, or chart paper (the participants have a handout, too). We’ve tried to move it into an electronic medium in the past, but Word and other tools have been awkward (the training labs usually don’t have Inspiration or anything like it). Today, though, we used Thinkature (a web based collaborative mindmapping application) for the first time, and it was a fantastic experience, for two reasons.

First, it was easy for the participants to use, and it just worked. At this point we had moved in the lab earlier than usual to complete this exercise. We’d already introduced the new wiki (see below), so participants clicked on the link for the mindmap… then all they had to do was input a nickname for themselves and they were in. There was no need for participants to create an account! Then as I lead the discussion from the front I could see the mindmap growing behind me… in fact it was growing out of control… the best hopes side filled up even as I was just beginning to lead the discussion on Worst fears.

This was the second reason it was so fantastic. Ted and I were modeling not only the new tool, but some risk taking as teachers. We’d never done the exercise that way before and it was ok that there were some unexpected results. More importantly, the power to lead the conversation more or less passed from me… to the participants. They were creating like mad, and I really didn’t need to say anything. When we reflected on the process I think they got at least as much out of that experience as the actual worst fears and best hopes. At least I know I did.

Ultimately, the process needed more structure. We allowed time to clean up the messy and redundant map and ended up with something somewhat functional… with connectors between fears and hopes that that they saw as different sides of the same coin. Ted also suggested using small groups (instead of a facilitator lead discussion) so that the groups could brainstorm and then post their more polished ideas on the class space. We’ll have to try something like that next time.

Incidentally, I posted the mindmap URL on twitter, it generated some questions from others and I believe some edubloggers may have popped in as well, though as near as I can tell no one added anything to the discussion.

Here’s a link to the worst fears, best hopes mindmap (note, many of the cards look like they were created by me, but I didn’t type any of them… I believe Ted completed much of the final clean up using my account).

A Wikispaces Wiki

Now, using a wiki is not nearly as new to me as using the tools above, but I had only just begun using wikis for workshops before I left the OCDE in June 2006, and we’d always continued using the official binders. Now, though, Ted has recently moved the binders online, so here was a new opportunity to use a wiki with the participants. The really new thing for me was somewhat accidental… since the use of the wiki wasn’t planned ahead of time, Ted and I created it as we went. Then anytime we, our guest speaker (Steve Glyer), or a participant mentioned any tool, resource, or book… we added it to the wiki and linked to it – as we went! This was a really great experience because the wiki became not an official curriculum, but rather notes for that particular day. I’ve added bits on the fly during workshops before (and had participants – and even visitors – add them, too, but this was very different). Part of me wants to archive this page by date (in the navigation to the left) and then recreate the experience in the future, at least to some degree. On the other hand, it would be nice to have all these references at the ready next time – and then to build upon them as with a normal workshop wiki.

We weren’t perfect note takers of course and thinking back on the day there were many things mentioned that still didn’t make the wiki. Next time I want to get the participants more involved from the start.

In any case, if you’re interested in what we talked about with site administrators for six hours today, check out the (unofficial) principals’ wiki and feel free to contribute other resources… like Lucy Gray did. ;)


I’ve never experienced such a powerful (and effective) intersection of leading a workshop (my “teaching”) and tapping into experts in the field (my “learning”). There’s no question that this was facilitated by using twitter. The Google presentation was cool, but without visitors in the sidechat, it was really only a run of the mill presentation for the participants; and it was twitter that gave me synchronous access to a network of possible visitors (IMing a few individuals to demo on the fly has never worked as well). And though the participants really got to experience Thinkature themselves, the experience was definitely extended for me due to the interest on Twitter (I noticed Bernie Dodge was using it with his doc students tonight, too). And it was an added bonus that Lucy came over from twitter to check out (and join) the wiki. To boot I actually learned a bit about twitter today – from one of the folks I added last night, Sherry Crofut.

In any case, I haven’t written such a long post in a while. It’s safe to say this was my favorite administrator training yet (in almost three years)… there were many other small successes throughout the day in addition to these. Also, this just might be my favorite blog post of the new school year – so far. :)

Live Demo With AB 430 Administrators

I’m at National University leading a session with AB 430 Administrators from around Orange County… and I’m asking them these three familiar questions:

  1. What is a blog? Interactive Website… a place to throw up comments or discuss an issue… an easy way to get information… your personal thoughts… people can actually comment.
  2. What is the read/write web? You read something and make a comment… you read and write… online classes… chat rooms… blackboard…
  3. What do these technologies mean for you and your students? They could be dangerous… instant information and feedback… better communication… or false information… actually interacting, reflecting, and writing about something allows deeper learning. So we’re off…