My school district has a parcel tax renewal on the ballot this November and I gladly volunteered to do the web page for the campaign on my personal time. I started by building out a site in wordpress but quickly realized that while wordpress was a great blogging platform, for the uninitiated web designer, it was probably not the best website platform. In all fairness to WordPress, my html coding days pre-date CSS and I haven’t exactly kept my skills current. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that after switching to Squarespace I had a great mix of GUI WYSIWYG editor with all the codey bits underneath just a few clicks away. Here is the site that I built over the course of a few late nights and weekends. The content and pictures were provided, which was a big relief because with the tools available, it really was all about the content. I think it all came together rather nicely and the site really looks nice on mobile. Now if only the wife would let me pay the $10 a month to host my blog on Squarespace, “There is no box” might actually look presentable.
Updates from August, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts
Just when I thought I was done, they pull me back in. To the LEC Admin Boot Camp course that is. But that’s the wrong movie reference. More on that later. After having received an email titled Final Grade Update with all 3’s (the highest possible score) for my portfolio assignments, I was dutifully informed today that my final reflection did not actually meet the requirements of the assignment. Something about rubrics and missing standards. In response I posted this follow up reflection to my portfolio:
Despite receiving a passing grade on the final assignment, apparently I did not fully comply with the 7.2 reflection instructions because I did not reference each and every NETS-A Standard in relation to my readiness to support digital learning. This has left some people in a quandary as to how to pass my portfolio when it does not fully comply to the three metrics on the rubric. I would argue this is the problem with Rubrics when used to evaluate anything. Once a rubric enters the picture, people know how far they need to go and they stop trying. I guess I’m with Alfie Khon on this one. Actually I’m probably beyond even his position, since there is actually no learning value proposition for me in completing the assignment per the rubric.
But enough about rubrics, even though I’m pretty sure I did actually provide an honest reflection that had value to me versus simpy making up some association of feigned learning mapped to a set of technology standards that for the majority of school administrators is esoteric at best and a series of potential budget line items they can’t afford at worst (was the whole point of this module to change that perhaps?).
There are 5 NETS-A big standards with 21 little sub standards. You can read all about them here. There is some interesting information. Like how the latest revision was published in 2009. You know, 2 years after I started using twitter, implementing Google Apps with students and began bringing teachers together across subjects to talk about teaching in a 1:1 netbook environment. Through this course I did not learn anything ground breaking or even slightly eye-opening that would compel me to list all 26 standards and how they relate to me. If you read my real reflection I explain why this is not a negative reflection on the course but rather on me as a learner and the purpose for taking the course in the first place. I’m not taking it to learn the content, I’m taking it to become certified to teach the course. Even teachers aren’t made to sit through a year of Intro To Science before they can teach the class. I’m not sure why we were made to do basically the same thing for this leading edge course.
Turning a critical eye on the standards and this course for a moment, I would say the course failed standards 2c. These learning resources did not meet my diverse needs.
2. Digital Age Learning Culture
c. Provide learner-centered environments equipped with technology and learning resources to meet the individual, diverse needs of all learners
Maybe this is why I am not a big standards fan*, because you can’t standardize creativity. Unfortunately the NETS-A standards don’t address this critical element directly and yet it is creativity we need more than anything in our schools. Technology has the power to enable students and teachers to create in ways never before seen in the classroom. We can now create for near zero cost, at scale. We are all the next Spielberg. Prior to this course I had been actively engaged in support of all of the big and little standards (with the exception of 4b as it deals with data, see my reflection on Data Driven Decision Making for why) and I intend to continue to be actively engaged after this course but not because I will tailor my actions to the standards but rather because my actions and beliefs can be found in the standards.
I was also supposed to reference the “Essential Conditions: Necessary conditions to effectively leverage technology for learning“. While I would agree that organizations should have all of these conditions to successfully leverage technology for learning, we have to start somewhere and for many that means being able to provide equatable access to modern technology for teachers and administrators. Without this basic system in place I think it is difficult to promote technology integrated learning, develop a shared vision for technology integration, empower leaders, provide technical support, retain skilled personel or provide professional development. So give every teacher and administrator a MacBook (and I say MacBook for a very specific reason) and see what happens. I’m thinking a lot of the other conditions sort themselves out. Asking the community to fund technology is scapegoating the real issue, districts need to step up and recognize that technology is an essential element to the 21st Century classroom and stop asking teachers to teach on twelve year old computers running 10 year old operating systems.
*Reference Yong Zhao if you want to know why pursuing stricter math standards might be counter productive and Sir Ken Robinson’s wonderful RSA Animate talk about where we should be heading so our kids have the best possible futures.
Could I have just beamed down to the planet in my red shirt and assessed my readiness to support digital age learning in relation to each of the standards as the assignment and rubric demanded? Sure. Would there have been any point to me doing so? Not really. It’s the no win scenario students face all the time. Complete an assignment that holds no learning value or turn something in that is good enough to pass the rubric test but doesn’t have any personal value. I never saw Captain Kirk use a rubric to save a planet. In fact when faced with the no-win scenario he chose to re-write the assignment so that he could win rather than worry about the rubric or a set of standards he was supposed to meet. He mastered the scenario by thinking outside the box. The rest of the red shirted cadets accepted their fate, learned the lesson they were told they needed to learn and beamed down to the planet to die. I think that just about sums up the problem with education today. We have a system that produces red shirts instead of Captain Kirks.
My LEC Admin portfolio in it’s entirety can be found here.
We still don’t have an official web page for the new podcast but we’ve got episodes. Here’s the latest.
I ask Dr. V what the heck this quote means:
“Devolution of authority over student learning” — hmm, now there’s a thought. The wording piqued my interest – Tweet from @Dowbiggin
And then we dive into Prisoners of Time – http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/PrisonersOfTime/index.html and Caterpillars
So here is a prime example of why publishing student work to the web is such a powerful motivator to do well. Below is a link to my Leading Edge Certification Admin class portfolio. This is the final assessment for an online class designed to introduce school administrators to social media and online learning. Those of you that know me might be asking yourselves, “but Andrew, aren’t you all over that stuff already?” and the answer would be yes. You see, thanks to my pal Danny Silva (iteachag) I thought I was signing up to become certified to teach the class. I didn’t realize I was going to actually have to take and pass an eight (8) week online class.
So being that I’m all over it, it should have been easy for me, right? Well yes and no and I’m going to tell you why. You see, I’m an adult learner (thank you Career Tech Ed credential classes!) and I value my time more than anything. Repeating things that I already do, know how to do or have done is not very high on my priority list. Unfortunately the majority of the course work was just that for me. Repedition and repeats. Now, I’m not knocking the coursework in any way. I think it is all incredibly important, valuable information and the exercises I found barely tolerable would be excellent (dare I say necessary) for Administrators that haven’t got a clue about online learning, web 2.0 or social media. For me, I was just trying to get through it without gouging my eyeballs out to punch the ticket and get the certification.
Since we were ostensibly going to be future trainers for the class, I really wish they could have tested us out somehow. Have a blog with a recent post, check. Co-host a podcast, check. Active on twitter, check. Developed Online Learning modules, check. Google Certified, check. Learning about how to use online tools, developing a vision for how technology and web 2.0 can influence and affect your organization, opening lines of communication, developing a professional development strategy that incorporates all these elements, it’s all great stuff. I’ve just been there, done that and honestly, I now find myself starting all over again at my new District. So my heart just wasn’t in the class. I wonder how many students feel the same way in their classes. The ones they didn’t get to opt into. Had we been tasked with discussing the course curriculum and run through each module with the task of commenting, suggesting and improving I think I would have found the whole process more relevant and meaningful.
Anyway, back to my portfolio. You see, it isn’t very good. I know how much, or how little, time I spent on each assignment. How frustrated I was with each piece. How unmotivated I was to complete things when Swimming or Gymnastics or even BMX Olympic coverage was on. (note to self: Don’t sign up for an online class when the Olympics are on.) (second note to self: Don’t offer an online course when the Olympics are on) For all of the assignments that I did complete I received passing grades. Am I proud of the work that I submitted? Not really. Do I want to publish my portfolio? Not really. If I was invested in the class, I’d want to spend another eight to ten hours minimum on it redoing some of the portfolio pieces. Am I going to? No. I haven’t even completed the reflection pieces yet because I was having such a very hard time honestly reflecting on the entire process. Which led me to start writing this blog post instead.
So I’m not sure where I stand with the LECAdmin Certification but I know that my heart wasn’t in it and that is reflected in my portfolio which I turned in just a bit ago. This entire experience makes me believe even more strongly that one of the best ways to assess student engagement and make learning authentic is to make them publish. Perhaps if I have been publishing my work all long in the process, I would have taken more care. Ok, probably not in this case but then again I was never very good in school. Maybe if it was just a bit more relevant…
You can view my LECAdmin Portfolio here.