Thursday, June 30, 2016

Privacy Tool fr @CommonSenseEd Pushes Companies to Make Safer Sites

If you’re an innovative educator the question of student data and privacy comes up frequently. I’ve written about the privacy policies of some of the popular players in classrooms such as Microsoft, Google, Class Dojo, and Edmodo which you can read about at this link. In many cases it is parents who have been the force behind pushing this important conversation. For innovative educators it is hard to navigate these waters.  

We know what tools support great pedagogy, but it gets murky when we lift the hood to see what is underneath in terms of safety, privacy, security, and compliance.  And, no wonder. In many cases that privacy policy you have to click to get access to the site takes more than an hour read. Without a law degree, understand what you’ve just read is a whole other story.  

The other issue here is that being compliant on all fronts is REALLY hard and takes a lot of money and human capital. It is likely that a well-meaning startup could never get on the market with all the hoops required. Additionally, we all know innovative educators love trying out the latest new product. We also are pretty good at uncovering bad intentions as well as pushing the market.  It is the innovative educators who are trying the newest tools and pushing the companies to update their platform in terms of privacy and pedagogy.  

But what about the mainstream teachers who want to use tech? They can encounter paralyzing fear when trying to determine if this latest resource is one they are allowed to use. And, how do the chief technology officers even figure it out? Do they bring a legal team together to decipher the policy and an educational team of users together to determine if there are issues? When you think about how many resources there are, this is not only overwhelming, it is an impossible mission.  

Until now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Face Off: Should Teachers Pay Teachers Or Share Freely?

Summer is the time that innovative educators reflect on their practice and begin putting in place plans to make their upcoming year better than ever. The big debate at #ISTE2016 this year is which materials they'll use to do that.  

Sparking this debate is @AmazonEdu's Inspire (click here for early access). Amazon announced yesterday that they would use their familiar marketplace look and feel with a search bar, ratings, and reviews to offer teachers a platform where they can access tens of thousands of lesson plans, worksheets, and other instructional materials just in time for the back to school season this August. 
But what does this mean for the more than 2 million teachers who are already paying other teachers for this type of content on the popular Teachers Pay Teachers website where teachers earn money for the materials they've created for the classroom?

If you are Tom Whitby or Steve Anderson, authors of The Relevant Educator Amazon Inspire is on the right track. In their recent talk at #ISTE2016 they shared that they believe relevant educators don't pay each other they share with each other freely. 
On the other side of the debate are educators like Angela Maiers and Vicki Davis.  They believe that when teachers are compensated, they are motivated to create materials that surpass the quality of anything processed by the textbook industry muddle machine. Angela and Vicki explain that when teachers enter the freelance marketplace they work on their own time to transform what they use for the classroom into quality materials with instructions that can be used in the world.  
Note: This image has been updated to comply with accessibility guidelines as outlined at

So, what do you think?  Should educators pay each other or share their genius freely?


Update: It seems it may be a little harder than Amazon anticipated to make teacher materials free on a popular site. The New York Times reports that some of the content was pegged as being for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. As a result it can not be given away freely. Similarly, Teachers Pay Teachers has had ongoing issues of teachers selling works they don’t have to the rights to. It is understandable, that there may be times that sites have material that violates copyright. Both companies are working on an efficient process to identify and remove such content.

Ultimately, as the dust settles and these industries emerge, copyright will become more clear, fall into place, and in the end teachers will win with a more vetted, higher quality of materials where sources are cited and permissions are granted.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Being a #RelevanEdu cator in a Digital World: #ISTE2016 Insights fr @TomWhitby + @Web20Classroom

How do teachers maintain relevance in an ever-changing digital world? Tom Whitby and Steve Anderson shared ideas with a room full of educators at #ISTE2016.  One big idea is that relevant educators share freely with the world. There were several others. 

Below is a recap of what they shared that stood out for me.  Take a look and consider how this can impact the work you do.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Future of Education Highlights from Dr @MichioKaku at #ISTE2016

The #ISTE2016 opening keynote was Dr Michio Kaku who had powerful insights impacting the future of education.  Here is a recap of what he shared that stood out for me.  Take a look and consider how this can impact teaching and learning where you work.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

14 #EdTech Blogs to Make Up Your Summer Reading List

Blogs are a great choice for summer reading because not only are they current, but they also invite you to connect with others and join the conversation that is of interest to you. EdTech: Focus K-12 makes choosing those blogs easy with their 2016 honor roll featuring the 50 top K-12 ed tech blogs.

This year the blogs are divided into four categories:  Tech Gurus, Community Corner, Classroom Leaders, and Admin-All Stars.

To help you get started I am sharing the blogs and people I connect with and read most often in each category.

There are 14 with which I connect regularly. Each selection is a valued member of my personal learning network. Take a look and see how my picks stack up with your current or future favs.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Hottest Post Ever That Everybody’s Reading

This week’s hottest post is the hottest post ever on The Innovative Educator garnering more than 17,000 views in one week.  The post shares secrets to success for getting your principal to say yes from former @NYCSchools Principal Jason Levy (@Levy_Jason), who now advises principals and superintendents on how to develop a compelling vision and strategies to succeed with educational technology. It’s no wonder that this post is so popular with the innovative educators who read this blog. You are the ones who are often excited about trying out new resources and strategies and usually need the principal's thumbs up to do so.

There are several other posts that round out the top including one that explains why reading may not be as important as you think and another that shares some good ideas for saving time.  If any of these posts look of interest, check em out below and share with others.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

4 Steps to Apply to World #MakerFaire NYC & Attend for Free!

If you've ever had the opportunity to attend a Maker Faire, you understand what a fantastic experience it is. Last year when I attended many teachers lamented that the ticket price put attendance out of reach for them and their students. Don't let them happen again this year. Don't just visit the Maker Faire. Be a part of the experience and apply within the next month (application closes July 17th) to participate in one of many ways.

Read on for details!

The Important Stuff...

How To Apply:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Protected Tweets? 8 Messages You're Sending

What makes Twitter unique is that unlike some other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, which are generally designed to stay connected with those you know face-to-face, Twitter is a place where one goes to connect with others with whom you may have never met, but share an idea, passion, or interest.  

People on Twitter, or Tweeps, can find each other using a specific hashtag, or perhaps they are all fans of a celebrity or a product. Followers of that celebrity or product can find one another. You can also be added to a list of others like you, for example, I am included on lists of #EdTech bloggers. You can experience the magic of the global connections and network Twitter provides only if your Tweets are unprotected. Protecting Tweets is just not something you do on Twitter. Even this guy who wrote a piece for PC Magazine on why he protects his Tweets doesn't do so any longer. 

Since connecting over ideas, passions, and interests is the primary purpose of Twitter, when someone has an account preventing them from doing so, some red flags go up to those who come across your account. 

What People Are Thinking When You Protect Tweets?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

4 Tools to Stay Connected with Families this Summer

The end of the school year doesn't have to mean a disconnect between schools and families. Use social media and cell phones to keep the conversation going.  My fav four tools for doing this are:
  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook
  3. Remind
  4. Instagram 
Remember that if you go this route, send home a reminder to parents with how they can stay connected. Ideally you will give them one place to visit which links to rest.  

Wonder how these tools can help you and the families of your students? Here are some of ideas:
  • Twitter
    • Tweet summer book or game recommendations.
    • Tweet a question families can reply to so you can get to know them or their children better i.e. favorite book or game.
  • Facebook
    • Post back to school supply list.
    • Recognize student accomplishments in summer programs.
  • Remind
    • Remind families when school starts.
    • Remind families of first day of school tips.
  • Instagram Whether or not families speak English, they can understand a picture. 
    • Share a picture of something you are reading.
    • Share a video of you trying to learn something. The sillier the better.  
If this is of interest to you, you may enjoy watching a recording of my June 16th webinar moderated by Common Sense Education. 

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In the webinar I give real examples from real teachers who are using these tools to stay connected with families. I also get great ideas from the nearly 200 participants who joined us from around the globe. You can view the webinar at:  You can access the presentation I created for the webinar at