Sunday, March 15, 2015

7 Innovative #EdTech Practices You Can Implement at No Cost

The Americas Society and Council of the Americas invited me to discuss scalable innovative practices for education with experts and leaders dedicated to advancing and shaping the political, economic, social and cultural agendas of the Western Hemisphere. The purpose was to take what works in New York City and bring it to other education systems.  
Here are some ideas I shared that global leaders can bring back to their countries.
1) Online Learning Communities for Education Resources  
It is no longer okay for companies to provide teachers with just a product. Today we ask companies whose products we use, like Google, PBS, and Common Sense Media to develop online learning networks comprised of their staff and NYCDOE educators who use the product. Communities on sites like Google, Facebook, and Edmodo allow educators to connect with one another to share ideas, best practices, troubleshoot issues, and more.  A member from the NYCDOE and from the company participate in the group to provide appropriate support as needed.

Teachers love it.

Alone, exhausted, and unseen become connected, energized, and recognized.

2) Partnering with Companies to Develop Expertise within The System
Have you ever been to a classroom and seen a SMARTboard serving as a bulletin board or known that teachers were barely scratching the surface when it comes to using certain technologies? Technology without pedagogy is a waste of money.


Today companies must be held accountable to do more than just sell tools and resources to schools. They must come with an important additional component to grow capacity across the district. That component is a no-cost program that creates and connects teachers across the district who are power-users of the same resources so they can become area experts supporting others back in their school and districts.


Participants become experts and share their skills and knowledge by:
  • Supporting colleagues in their schools and districts
  • Modeling and speaking about best practices in effective technology integration
  • Providing professional learning
  • Offering feedback to companies that help to ensure resources meet student needs
  • Building the external profile of the DOE by contributing to blogs, websites, and other media
  • Developing innovative classrooms for inter-visitations
  • Presenting at conferences and workshops


Products are no longer stand alone. They come with training and support that helps ensure their successful use.  You can learn more about this program here.


3) Technology Single Point of Contacts (Tech SPOC)
Every school designates a single point of contact for technology who can participate in professional learning opportunities, receive information about technology (i.e. via a newsletter and website), and join an online community for anytime/anywhere support.


4) One Stop for Technology Professional Learning Opportunities
Sounds simple, but until recently we didn’t have a central place on our website where all learning opportunities were placed. Now there is one online place to find both internal and external opportunities such as workshops, institutes, conferences, meet ups, and webinars.


5) Incorporate Student, Educator and Parent Voice
One of the most important scalable practices that can be effectively implemented in any school system is to incorporate the voice of students, staff, and parents. Do this not only by speaking with all stakeholders, but also asking them to be a part of the rules, policies, guidelines, curriculum, and learning that takes place in your school or district. For example, our professional learning opportunities are created with and reviewed by a professional development team of educators who test the work and materials with their students then provide us with feedback.  
Our Social Media Guidelines for students were created by interviewing more than one hundred students and numerous educators and parents. We then reached out to the stakeholders to help us create the guidelines in a format they choose.  In this case infographics. Once created, we go back to the stakeholders and get feedback then update. We created guides for parents and teachers and professional development. You can see them at schools.nyc.gov/socialmedia.


6) Partner with Students for Learning
While educators are expected to be experts in pedagogy, it is smart to tap into the intelligence of students when it comes to technology. Invite students to be creative with technology. Make a chart of favorite tech tools and indicate who your class experts are. If educators want to be in the know, there is a great free site from Common Sense Media called Graphite.org that rates and reviews digital resources.


If we want to run for office, run a business, or change how things are run where we work, live, or play we must be savvy in the use of social media. It is crucial for college, career, and life success. Stay tuned for my next post, to learn some ways to do this right.  

So, what do you think? Could some of these practices be put into place where you work? Are there challenges or concerns that are in the way of you implementing these practices? What are some scalable practices that are successful where you work?
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