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  • Andrew T Schwab 8:00 am on August 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    The Meraki Sandwich 

    Our upgrade to 10Gb on the LAN is nearly complete. With the exception of one fiber run that refuses to support 10Gb (I suspect it has something to do with the 50′ fiber patch cable being used to get from the IDF to the fiber panel), we are up and running. A major relief given all of our OM1 rated multi-mode fiber (read, old and slow and 62.5nm and 10Gb = bad!).

    Thank goodness for the 10Gb LRM! Designed to make old 62.5 multi mode fiber run 10Gb out to distances of 220m, these miracle modules have done the trick. We do have a few MDF links that are +.1-.5 dbm hot on the receiving side, but no link errors to date and we are planning to add some attenuation to those links shortly. It looks like the Cisco 4500X is more sensitive than the Meraki MS320 switches.

    Speaking of which, we’re running in a configuration I’ve started calling the Meraki Sandwich. We have a Cisco 4500X core switch connected at 10Gb to the Meraki MS320 IDF switches with our previous 3750X switch stacks hanging off of the Merakis at 1Gb. Since most of our heavy use is over Wireless, relegating phones and printers to a 1Gb uplink should be fine. It’s working great now. I wish I could say that was the case last week.

    Some interesting things happen when you break the laws of nature and sandwich a Meraki switch in between two Cisco switches (and yes, I know the Meraki switch says Cisco on it, but it’s a lie!).

    First, Cisco switches require Mode Conditioning Patch (MCP) Cables with 10Gb LRM modules. Meraki switches do not. Good luck finding this in the documentation. We discovered it when we could not for the life of us get a Cisco to link up to a Meraki over 10Gb using MCP cables on both sides. That almost ended our project real quick. After much head scratching and a few days wasted troubleshooting, we decided to rotate through different module and cable combinations, and low and behold, Meraki + 10Gb LRM SFP (Meraki or Cisco brand) with a regular SC-LC fiber patch cable connected to a Cisco + 10Gb LRM SFP with a Mode Conditioning Patch Cable on the other end worked!

    The next thing we ran into was missing VLANs. Yes, missing. This problem almost sunk us. Intermittently, our staff and student VLANs would stop working. We saw this manifest as clients connecting to Wifi, pulling an IP address and DNS settings from the DHCP server and then disappearing from the network. It was happening sporadically across the district which took us a few days to identify. Thankfully, we could consistently reproduce the symptoms in one IDF and we began troubleshooting in earnest.

    At first we suspected our VLAN trunks were having issues. We reviewed them across the district, both on the switches that were “working” (or we didn’t see connectivity issues with) and those that were not. Frustratingly, we would confirm a working wing one day only to come back later and find the clients unable to connect in that wing later. After going round and round on our VLAN trunk settings, we finally decided something else had to be causing the problem and started looking deeper.

    Unfortunately, we were running up against hosting a County edtech day at one of our Middle Schools on the Friday before teachers officially came back. Since there was an expectation that the wifi would work for the event and we had narrowed the problem down to something related to the 3750X stack hanging off the Meraki, the night before the event we reconfigured the network, directly patching the Cisco stacks in the IDF through to the 4500X in the MDF. Luckily we just had enough free ports on the 4500X to cover the wings where we were hosting the event. That and using the Meraki NAT option for the event SSID got us through the day. I love the Meraki NAT option for event SSIDs. Totally awesome!

    We continued troubleshooting on Saturday. Having narrowed down the issue to the interaction between the 3750X and the Meraki MS320, we used the packet capture tools built into the Meraki to see what was going on. Actually, throughout the entire ordeal, having the visibility provided by the Meraki dashboard was invaluable.

    Our next step was to strip all the proprietary cisco protocols off of the 4500X and 3750X switches. We removed EIGRP and went to good old fashioned static routes. We removed QoS and Multi-cast routing and anything else that looked like it might cause a problem with the Meraki switches. And just when we thought that was it, the problem persisted.

    The next thing we tried was the MTU setting. Since we were seeing packets leave the MS320 but not come back, we figured maybe the Cisco core switches were dropping packets for some reason. It turns out that the default MTU setting for Meraki switches is 9600. However, the default for Cisco, even on 10Gb links, is 1500. While they should play well together, with the Meraki 9600 sized packets being chopped up into 1500 sized packets (and all seemed to be working fine with most switches), we decided to play it safe and set the Meraki MTU to 1500. This required a switch reboot. Again, we let it sit overnight, came back and things looked good. Until they didn’t and the issues persisted. (Having read up on MTU and Jumbo fames, we’ve decided to leave all switches at 1500, the performance gain on regular network traffic not being enough to justify having to reconfigure every cisco switch at this time).

    After days of staring at configurations, we were getting crossed eyed. We had ruled out problems with the DHCP server, routing protocols, Access Point configs, clients, switch configs, pretty much everything, and yet we were still seeing the issue. I was ready to bypass the Meraki switches entirely while we continued to work through the issue with Cisco and Meraki support (an interesting back and forth experience to be sure).

    And then, in our darkest hour, out of the light came VTP. On Saturday, while rebooting a cisco switch for the upteenth time, one that had just been cleaned of any cisco proprietary protocols from the running config, there, staring at us on the screen was VTP. Cisco’s proprietary VLAN Trunking Protocol. Enabled, by default, but hidden from view in a show run command, VTP allows cisco switches to communicate VLAN information between each other. And apparently when there is a non-cisco switch in the middle, odd things can happen. Like in the Meraki Sandwich. As soon as we disabled VTP (put it into transparent mode) on the Cisco 4500X, no more missing VLANs.

    As it turns out, the Meraki wasn’t playing nice with the Cisco’s active VTP traffic and VLANs were intermittently being dropped. This is a known issue with Cisco VTP domains and Meraki switches. So on the Saturday night, the weekend before Teachers started the new school year, we disabled VTP on all of the Cisco switches, put the Middle School network back together and called it a day. High value, high impact 10Gb LAN upgrade project saved after a week of intense troubleshooting.

    We’re now running with the Meraki Sandwich at 10Gb to every IDF. Had we not been up against the start of school deadline, this would not have been as stressful, but our cable project got off to a late start and faced several delays along the way, which meant we weren’t in a position to discover this issue until just two weeks before the start of school. The time crunch added to our unfamiliarity with 10Gb networking (it’s slightly more involved than 1Gb) and the Meraki/Cisco interoperability configurations made for a challenging two weeks.

    And before you ask, yes, we did pilot this configuration prior to going on all in and we thought we had all the configuration issues sorted out. But when doing a complete network overhaul, you never really know what you’re going to find until you’re in the weeds.

    So that’s the Meraki Sandwich. If you are thinking about taking advantage of the affordable 10Gb options from Meraki while gaining the awesome network visibility of the Dashboard and leveraging existing Cisco switches and 62.5nm fiber in the process, read the links below. They will save you some headaches along the way.


    10Gb LR SFP –

    VLANS –

    MTU Settings –

    VTP –


  • Andrew T Schwab 8:00 am on August 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    All Tech All The Time? 


    This is in response to a question that Robert Pronovost recently asked me about how much technology should be used in the classroom. My initial answer was that technology should be used when it’s needed and that we shouldn’t expect to see technology being used all the time in classrooms. After pondering on this a bit more, I think that was a safe answer. It’s an answer that doesn’t reflect the world we live in and leaves room for some to say, we’re learning, so we don’t need technology. Well…

    We like to talk SAMR from the teacher’s perspective but I think technology in the classroom needs to start with the students. Having access to 1:1 devices has the potential to transform how students learn. Technology does not replace; technology enhances, augments, and accelerates. Technology is a disruptor, it eliminates the middle man from traditional models. In the classroom, the middle man is the textbook, the worksheet. the memorization of facts and yes, even the summative assessment.

    I am going to take a very student centered view on this answer and say that technology should be used whenever students need it. Just like we do in real life.

    The challenge is, what does that really mean for the classroom? I think it means that whenever a student needs information they should be able to use technology to access resources to look it up. Those resources might be the Internet, a social network or their friend in the next classroom. I also think it means teachers need to model this behavior for their students. 

    Artificially restricting a student’s access to information, their social network or their peers is a purely 20th century concept of learning. Providing a sheet of paper (or text book, digital or otherwise) that students then use to “find” and copy information into a worksheet is tantamount to teaching malpractice in the digital age. Students need real skills if they are going to develop fundamental digital literacy. Nobody outside of a classroom looks for answers in a textbook. Today, online information search, acquisition and retrieval is critical for college, career and life long learning. In every 1:1 classroom, how students access information should be radically different.

    The same can be said for creating content. While paper and pencil shouldn’t necessarily disappear, the power of a 1:1 classroom to create content for a broader audience, beyond the teacher and the classroom is another critical literacy in the digital economy of today. No matter how student work is created, whether online or on paper, technology should be leveraged in the classroom to share with the outside world. Technology should be used to expand student audience to other classes on campus, to parents and community, and across the globe. A picture is worth a thousand words, sharing a picture of a student project with a broader audience, on a regular basis, in a safe classroom environment, will prepare students for the world of online sharing that awaits them outside of school.

    Using online tools instead of traditional paper/pencil activities lends itself to fostering collaboration especially if students are using a collaboration suite like Google Docs where the teacher can provide feedback in real time. Students can easily work collaboratively on projects across time and space as they learn to navigate the anytime, anywhere learning that is another fundamental literacy of today’s digital age.

    The more I think about it, the more I believe that the core backbone of instruction should be built around a digital ecosystem with digital workflows using the technology we have available today to access information and create content across the “curriculum”. I think students need fundamental digital literacy skills to be successful, self sufficient, lifelong learners and those sills cannot be learned without ubiquitous access to technology.

    Why education chooses to focus so much on content vs. learning has always puzzled me. Facts are free, ideas cost money. We spend so much money on facts (curriculum) instead of ideas (pedagogy, professional development, learning to learn) and then we spend even more money assessing content knowledge over the knowledge to learn. It’s kind of crazy actually.

    In every 1:1 classroom, the expectation should be that students use technology to access information through online resources and social networks, to collaborate with their peers and content experts, to create and share their ideas, thoughts and projects with the world. And all of this requires that we teach kids how to do this, responsibly, safely and effectively which means, we need teachers to model and teach these skills as well.

    To make this happen, Teachers need digital workflows, frameworks and scaffolding. I believe this is where the focus of teacher professional development should be, instructional practice with technology infused into the process. Districts that still separate content area instruction from educational technology are missing the point. It’s all about good instruction, and today, that means technology infused instruction, where students choose when and how to use technology to empower their learning.

    Thanks to Robert for making me think about this because it’s certainly a timely topic and as we push more technology into classrooms and have discussions about what that technology use should look like, I think it’s important that we take on these big questions.

  • Andrew T Schwab 11:10 am on July 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    MIE Application 

    I’ve decided to apply for Microsoft Innovative Educator. If you’ve followed me for a while, you might think that strange however, long ago and far away, I started out life as a Microsoft guy. I had more Microsoft certifications than would fit on a business card and I ran Windows servers at home for fun.

    When the iPad, and then the Chromebook came out, I dropped Microsoft from my professional repertoire of primary platforms for classrooms. But something has changed. With Windows 10, HoloLens and a more open platform strategy, Microsoft is starting to look interesting again.

    I am applying to the MIE program, not because I’m an expert in the use of Microsoft products in the classroom, but because I’d really like to see what Microsoft’s vision for education is and more importantly, hear from current educators that are using Microsoft products in their classrooms to do innovative things. I also feel that I have a responsibility to seek out possibilities and learn how I might apply them to my district. So, it’s time to start paying attention to Microsoft again.

  • Andrew T Schwab 8:00 am on July 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Meraki Top Of Stack 

    Last year, I walked into the tail end of a network infrastructure upgrade. It was the standard fair for school districts in my part of the country. Cisco 3750X switch stacks everywhere. I always felt going with a full layer 3 enterprise class switch in building IDFs was a bit of overkill for schools. Really, only the MDF needs to be layer 3. In a simple (and elegant) school campus network design, the rest of the switches on campus only need to be layer 2. But, we were almost done with the upgrade and at that point there didn’t seem to be a reason to think too hard about what we were putting in or why.

    Fast forward to a few months ago and we started seriously looking at going 10Gb on the LAN backbone. The main reason was to keep pace with the aggregation of 1Gb wireless access points. We’ve installed 1 AP per classroom, which now have the potential to drive upwards of 6-10Gbs of backbone traffic per building. We started off with Cisco 4500X 10Gb core switches to support our 10Gb fiber WAN. With those in place, we considered installing 10Gb modules and GBICs in the existing 3750X stacks, however, we also realized that we wanted more port density and POE capacity in our IDFs. After taking all of these issues into account, we decided to take a step back and look at options.

    Around the same time, we were having issues with our existing wireless solution. As part of working towards a resolution to those issues, we initiated a trial of Meraki wireless access points and just happened to check the boxes for the switches too. I had familiarity with the Meraki UI and the amazing visibility Meraki access points provided into the wireless network from my last district. I was interested to see if we could get the same benefits on the wired network from their switches. So, we plugged a Meraki MS320 into the top of an existing IDF 3750X stack to find out.

    Immediately, we started to see the dashboard populating with client and traffic information from that school. Our Meraki support engineer had to tweak our settings to prevent VLAN interfaces from reporting aggregate client traffic, but after that, it was very powerful stuff for us. Having been basically blind to what was going on with the network before that, seeing the traffic flowing in real time was very impressive.

    Just to see what would happen, we briefly ran a Meraki switch between our district core switch and the hosted firewall at the county office. Lo and behold, we saw all our district traffic populating in the dashboard. Yes, we could see all that traffic in the Palo Alto Network firewall but really, the Meraki dashboard UI is so much faster and easier to use (although the latest update to the navigation menus is taking some of us a bit to get used to). After our testing, we made the decision to go with Meraki for our 10Gb LAN upgrade (and wireless too, but that is another story).

    It’s not all perfect. We’re going to have to give up EIGRP in favor of static routes, but really, we don’t have that many routes to contend with. We have a class B for each school site. Also, Merkai doesn’t have a 10Gb capable layer 2 switch, so we’ve had to go layer 3 for the IDFs. And because the MS320 won’t stack with the 3750X, we’re doing old school patch cables into the existing stacks. With the majority of our traffic being wireless and all of the wireless access points connecting directly to the Meraki switches, I’m not too worried about the 1Gb uplink capacity to the existing stack. Printers and AppleTVs are the primary users on the wired network and we can always add another uplink port if need be.

    “Real” Network Admins give Meraki a hard time for their simple UI and lack of direct console access. I on the other hand welcome it. In the old days, you had to be a magician (aka, trained network admin) to work magic at the command line. Over the years, more and more tasks have been made accessible through graphical user interfaces (GUIs). In my opinion, Meraki has perfected the network admin GUI. In a world of limited staff and jack-of-all trade skill sets with exponential demands for technology, simple and effective is a good thing.

    I’ve often argued that the majority of school networks should not require a complex understanding of network topology, esoteric routing protocols or advanced sub-netting. A simple Star topology with a few key subnets and you should be good to go. Would I recommend this strategy for LAUSD or SFUSD? Probably not. But for a district our size, with 10 sites, it makes perfect sense.

    We’re on our way with our top of stack 10Gb Meraki LAN upgrade. What’s your 10Gb LAN strategy?


  • Andrew T Schwab 6:01 am on July 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    So That’s What Rain Looks Like #ISTE2015 


    I was reminded what rain is this week at ISTE. Visiting Pennsylvania from drought stricken California, I had forgotten that rain can go horizontal. Even when it rains in California, it generally doesn’t defy gravity to whip underneath umbrellas like it did here in Philadelphia this week. In driving to and from the airport, I was also reminded that droughts are regional. There is an abundance of water, it’s just not evenly distributed!

    2015-06-26 12.51.14

    Speaking of evenly distributed, Philadelphia is the birthplace of our nation and as such it is steeped in rich history that I’ve had the good fortune to visit during conference downtime this week. Historical sites like Old Town are also not evenly distributed. As I was walking through Independence Hall contemplating the formation of the United States in a stuffy, hot, impossibly small room for the birthing of a nation, I wondered how many Americans will every get to see this place? I mean, it’s kind of historically important, right? I bet school kids in Philly get to visit it. Which got me thinking, how cool would it be for students around the US to connect with students in Philadelphia to discuss the founding our our Nation? Technology makes this kind of connecting stupid easy. Flat Connections, Global Read Aloud, One World Classroom and Skype in the Classroom are communities built around connecting classrooms to one another. Connections should be woven into as many curriculum maps, projects and learning outcomes as possible. It is 2015. No more pictures of the Liberty Bell in a book. Live Skype with a class or a park ranger at the Liberty Bell!

    Liberty Bell

    Enter PORTS, ubiquitous bandwidth and Virtual Reality.

    In California we have a virtual field-trip program run by the state parks called PORTS. I know there are other organizations doing similar things across the world. Several classrooms in my district have experienced these virtual field trips. Requiring only an iPad or laptop with a video camera, decent bandwidth and a teacher willing to give it a go, the technical barrier to entry for this is effectively zero. Usually consisting of a live facilitator and a multimedia presentation, I see these types of “presentations” as very early days for this technology in education.

    With the ability to stream live video via LTE, experiencing the actual historical site doesn’t need to be dependent on a recorded video or a canned slide show. Visits can be live, dynamic and interactive. Additionally, Virtual Reality like Google Cardboard, which was on the exhibit floor at ISTE this week, can be added to extend the learning experience either before, after or during a live video stream. Telepresence is an untapped technology for Museums and historical sites to connect classrooms to their experiences. With something like Double Robotics, organizations could offer virtual tours of existing physical spaces, without having to program unique “online” experiences. In other words, the Liberty Bell could be accessible to any classroom today if we wanted it to be.

    Google Cardboard

    Technology is changing our world. We can choose to actively shape that change or we can let the change shape us. Embracing technology in education is an imperative, not for technology’s sake but for the sake of learning. We learn through experiences, technology can connect us to those experiences.

    Now, to get a PO for Double Robotics and Google Cardboard through the purchasing process…

  • Andrew T Schwab 7:00 am on June 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    The Missing Literacies – Networking to Learn #iste2015 

    The Missing Literacies – Networking to Learn

    Kids sitting in rows of desk. Silent classrooms. Individual worksheets. This is not how we learn in the real world. It was my experience in school, as it still is for many. But I went to school BT (Before Twitter) and BGHO (Before Google Hangouts). The extent of networking to learn, if we were lucky, was putting four desks together and working in groups. And if you asked a peer a question during a test or worked on a homework problem in a group and came back with the same answer, watch out!

    In college, some of my best learning experiences were working on group projects. We also used study groups to self organize around a specific course, topic or test. Both those group learning experiences were constrained by proximity and time. Enter Twitter and the rise of social media. Have you checked out an #caedchat lately?

    Networking tools like twitter and Google Hangouts (GHO) now allow the formation of groups of peers and experts to assemble around themes, topics and interests. These groups (or Personal Learning Networks) allow for just in time information requests, asynchronous collaboration and archived knowledge bases. If Google is the card catalog for the world’s information, then twitter and GHO are the university hallways and the study halls that make global personal learning networks possible.

    The world has changed. If we do not teach children how to build online networks to access learning resources, then we are failing to empower them as learners. If we don’t embrace technology to build personal networks of our own for learning, then we risk being left behind in a world of ubiquitous access to information and just in time learning.

    Why then do we not move into an era of learning to network and networking to learn? Why do we not teach building personal learning networks as a fundamental literacy of learning?

  • Andrew T Schwab 7:00 am on June 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    The Missing Literacies – Learning to Search #iste2015 

    The Missing Literacies – Learning to Search

    Back in the day it was reading, righting and rythmatic. Thinking about it, being able to read well to make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn made sense when content was primarily accessed in a structured and sequenced finite resource, aka the textbook. Being able to use a table of contents and an index were a critical part of the content access experience.

    How times have changed. When was the last time you used an index to look up something in a book? I can’t remember. The last time I looked up something, I used Google. My reading now is primarily done online, as is my research, but I remember long ago, the initial trip to the school library where we all sat through the lesson on using the card catalog. In college, I remember dreading having to use the much larger and more intimidating University library to lookup and find information for my class reports. Must have three references!

    I had what was probably a fairly typical experience of learning information access and retrieval during my formal education. That world no longer exists except in our schools. The University library is no longer the pinnacle of information repository. The ancient Library of Alexandria has been reborn in the Web. Information is now ubiquitous, dependent only on access from a sub $200 device and wifi. Google has become the card catalog to the world’s global library.

    Why then do we not move into an era of learning to search and searching to learn? Why do we not teach search as a fundamental literacy of learning?

    • Michael Simkins 3:12 pm on June 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Good point, Andrew. And guess what? I teach an online course at Foothill College titled, “Search and Research on the Internet!”

    • Lisa Waxman 3:40 pm on June 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      So true! Learning to search is a part of web literacy in many classrooms that require students to research. If you haven’t yet, you must read Alan November’s book about web literacy in the classroom. Thanks for bringing awareness to this undeveloped literacy.

    • Lisa Waxman 3:42 pm on June 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on the neoantiquated pedagogue and commented:
      This missing literacy was painfully evident when beginning a research unit in my grade 7 ELA class 3 years ago.

  • Andrew T Schwab 9:00 am on May 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    2 Pairs to Nowhere 

    4 Pair or only 2?2-Pair Cat5

    The above picture came from a recent visit to an undisclosed school district. What you are looking at are perfectly good Cat5 Cables and RJ-45 jacks where 2 pair of wires were cut back at the patch panel and the remaining 2 pair of wires were terminated in the jacks. Why would anyone do such a thing, you ask? Apparently because the installer couldn’t imagine a world where anyone would ever need to use more than 2 pairs or go faster than 100Mbps. I guess Gigabit and PoE were just inklings of someone’s imagination when these cables were installed but still, I’m thinking it would have taken just as much time to terminate the extra 2 pair than to carefully cut them back from the end of the cables.

    Upon trying to run Gigabit and PoE over the existing cables, the district’s newly hired IT guy discovered the problem and has had to go back, cut the cables from the patch panels and re-terminate them properly using all four pairs. For both sides of each cable run. Makes me want to go check all my patch panels. Immediately.

    There is something to be said for thinking ahead. Just because we don’t see a use for something now, doesn’t mean down the road it won’t come in handy for some unforeseen purpose. I’m thinking about that second Cat6a cable we’re running to every classroom. Who knows when 10Gb to the classroom will be needed.

    I’ll put this one in the “hope to never run into this in my district” category.


  • Andrew T Schwab 9:00 am on April 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    How Many Days Out Of The Classroom Is Too Many? 

    In my teacher life, I spent a considerable amount of time out of the classroom. Well, classrooms, actually. I didn’t have my own classroom. I shared two classrooms with two other teachers. But it wasn’t all sad face, I did have a closet of an office for when I was wearing my IT hat. Got to love the small school districts.

    I was out of the classroom at least once a month for County Office edtech meetings. I also attended CUE and CETPA conferences as well as had to put out the odd IT fire during class time every once in a while. All in all, I’d say I averaged around 20 days a year out of the classroom (including sick days and Jury duty). Now, this was high school, I had the luxury of being in computer labs for all my classes so I taught 100% blended online with very little paper. Often I would be online checking in on my students even if I was out sick or at a conference. Thanks to Moodle and Google Docs for that.

    While a part of me missed being at school (and not because I didn’t want to make lesson plans for subs, I didn’t need to with Moodle!), getting out allowed me the opportunity to connect with other educators, be inspired by innovative schools and grow as a professional. All of my out of classroom experiences helped to make me a better teacher in the classroom when I got back. My experiences out of the classroom are probably why I’m such a big believer in getting teachers, administrators and my tech staff out to conferences and visiting other districts and classrooms now.

    A Balancing Act

    Lately I’ve been reflecting on the question of how much time out of the classroom is too much. The topic has come up a few times in discussions. I’m in a position now where developing a high quality continuous professional development program is becoming a balancing act between the need for teacher release days and a state wide sub shortage. Trying to minimize pulling large groups of teachers out on the same day while still being able to bring in outside presenters in an economical manner and allow time for teacher collaboration is getting harder and harder as the qualified sub pool shrinks. However, I strongly believe in giving teachers time to learn and collaborate. With Common Core and ubiquitous student mobile device access, we are asking teachers to transform their pedagogy, to explore and adapt to new possibilities for teaching and learning. That takes time and support and requires a balance between meeting the needs of students in the classroom today and preparing for the future needs of tomorrow’s students. We are literally rebuilding the airplane while flying at 30,000 feet. Exactly what the appropriate balance should be is still up for debate.

    Another scenario I’ve been thinking about is a core group of Technology Teacher Leaders, many of whom have expressed an interest in coaching part time, who could leave their classrooms for several days to work with teachers at their schools. The demand for edTech PD is there. The concept of coaching part time and maintaining the connection to the classroom is a compelling one. I’m several years out of the classroom now and even though I was fairy cutting edge in my day, I’ve definitely lost the connection to students that you get from working with them day in and day out. Nothing can replace the feedback from introducing technology into a classroom quite the way a room full of students and trial and error can. I do miss the interaction with kids.

    Regardless of the situation, the question remains, especially for elementary classrooms, how many days should a teacher be out of the classroom? At what point does a teacher’s absence jeopardize the learning experience for students? How many days is too many probably is more dependent on the teacher and the students than we’d like to think. Class dynamics change from year to year and some teachers are better able to prepare their classes to function without them than others. At some point, there has to be a diminishing return. What that point is and how to measure it, I’d love to hear people’s thoughts and ideas.


  • Andrew T Schwab 8:45 am on April 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    From unCon to edCamp for #CUE16? 


    This year, CUE brought back the unConference with #cueUnCon. I spent Friday morning of the conference over at the Hard Rock talking pedagogy, curriculum adoption and Google Apps. That was a big win for me personally because the CUE annual conference can sometimes feel overwhelming with all the tech tools. It was great to just sit down and have a conversation for a bit. Which begs the question, is there a place for an un-conference during a traditional conference? Attendance at the UnCon wasn’t great but every edcamp (another uncon) I’ve ever attended started small and built over time. Not helping cueUnCon was the location, being a bit of a hike away from the main venue and hidden behind a corner. Although this could also be a good thing. The unCon was also announced rather late, which may have further contributed to the sparse attendance. Being that it was held in one big room, it was probably a good thing to not have had a lot of people. Lack of breakout rooms to run different sessions in would have been problematic had a ton of people showed up.

    I love the edcamp model of unCon. To me, a free event, participant driven and organized with minimal sponsors present, makes for great discussion. The CUE unCon had great facilitators and I really enjoyed the time I spent over there. I’m hoping to see unCon return to CUE 2016, perhaps in a friendlier location with more advance notice. I’d really like to see CUE explore the idea of opening the unCon up to anyone, maybe on the Saturday, which was light on attendance anyway. Personally, I wouldn’t mind it being a full blown edCamp. Given time and proper stewardship, I think it could grow into a gem of an event within an event.

    Otherwise, their will always be the Renaissance Hotel #LobbyCon and a bazillion edCamps across California. In fact, there’s one this weekend (April 25) in San Jose.

    • elizabeth 8:53 am on April 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am not familiar with CUE and am amazed that I can’t find the full title anywhere on their conference site or in your article…what does CUE mean?

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