Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Stop Sending Attachments. How To Create Links Instead.

In the days of email, attachments were all the rage. Those days are gone. It's time to say RIP to old-school attachments and start using links instead.

Wondering why? Here's a comparison. 

Place on webpage
Share in form or application
Add to document
Use up storage space
Send in any text messaging / chat service
Make you seem out of touch
Device agnostic

Need more convincing? Here's another scenario:

You are at a meeting or class and the person running things asked if everyone got the old-school email with some important information. Some did. Some didn't. The email with attachments and other info is sent again. It goes to some people's spam. Some have the wrong email and never got it. Next thing you know, you've wasted 20 minutes.  You could have avoided all that, by just having a link on your agenda with the information and materials. 

So, what are you waiting for? Here's how you can turn any file into a link in less than a minute.

4 Steps to Turning Attachments Into Links

Step 1: 

Go to Google Drive and select upload file. 

Step 2: 

Right click on file and select "Get shareable link."

Step 3: 

Copy link.

Step 4: 

Select text to hyperlink. Select Ctrl +K. Paste link. Select apply.
That's it!  You now have a link that can be accessed from any device that you can use and copy / paste into any website, document, email, blog. 

The next time someone asks you to share, pause before you attach and send a link instead. Your friends will thank you.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

How To Measure Tech's Success in Schools

How should we measure the benefits of technology in schools?

For the most part questions revolve around asking if technology will:
  • increase student achievement
  • make students smarter
  • result in better test scores

No. It won't.

Innovative educators understand that those are the wrong questions to ask.  

A better question to ask when looking at the advantages of technology in school is this:

“How is technology helping students make the world a better place?”

When we look at and assess that question, we can start to tell stories that matter as well as cultivate buy in and support from the students, staff, families, community, and partners.

What could this look like?
  • Students create an app that helps their peers find free internet access throughout their neighborhood.
  • The robotics team creates cars for youth in the community who are unable to walk.
  • Students use technology to grow edible classrooms, raise funds for their school, and help themselves and the community become healthier.

When we start measuring success with metrics that matter, we can start empowering educators to support students in using technology to do the work that improves the lives of themselves and others.

This is an approach supported by how the International Society of Technology for Education defines “The New Digital Citizenship.” While it is important to support youth in becoming safe and responsible, it is not until we move from digital citizenship to digital leadership that we are really able to focus on helping to develop empowered digital learners. Here is a poster from ISTE that outlines this perspective.

So, what do you think? How are you and/or others using tech to support students in doing work that improves the lives of themselves and others?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The 3 Hottest Posts on The Innovative Educator

Haven’t been keeping up with The Innovative Educator? Don’t worry. That’s what this wrap up is for. 

What’s hot? Developing your Personal Learning Network (PLN).

At the top is a post from the past that takes us back to the basics with five ways to develop your PLN.  Next up is a checklist for effective professional learning opportunities where I outline those things that you want to ensure you do or experience at a learning event. These are things that are all too often forgotten like properly greeting participants, posting important info i.e. wireless code, instructor name, hashtags, agenda url, etc. 

Rounding out the top is a post that looks at whether or not we should allow students to use messaging in schools. Find out the verdict by reading: Messaging – Tool of Engagement or Weapon of Mass Distraction.

So what are you waiting for? Now's your chance. Take a look at the posts below and click the link to read one(s) that looks of interest to you.

Oct 12, 2008, 23 comments
Oct 15, 2017, 1 comment
Oct 11, 2017, 1 comment

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New Infographic: Empowered Digital Citizens Guide for Educators

New York City Schools are paving the way toward addressing what has long been an issue for low income students:

The filter divide.

Children's Internet Protection Act

Because the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires filtering for schools receiving funding for low-income students to access the internet, many districts have simply gone too far. While their privileged peers whose schools don’t have such restrictions imposed upon them have freedom to roam the internet, many low income students don’t have the same access. They are unable to access sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and are censored from information affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people and educational resources.

Beyond Safety First

Too often district decisions were guided by one thing: safety. While that is certainly important, our students deserve more. They deserve to be prepared for the connected world in which they live. Fortunately, now in NYC, schools will have a much easier time bridging the divide and providing students with access to the resources their more affluent peers have long embraced.

In an article on the topic, Mary Beth Hertz, the art/tech teacher/coordinator at the Science Leadership Academy told the Atlantic:

“We sometimes think too much about the content that we block, and we forget that when we cut kids off from social media we limit their opportunities to succeed, explore their passions, and discover their strengths and talents.”

New York City schools will give students the opportunity to move beyond the basics of safety and responsibility and upward and onward to becoming what the International Society for Technology Educators calls empowered and proactive digital citizens.  

The American Library Association Agrees

The American Library Association supports the move to rethink filtering. They have this to say about web filtering:
They sweep too broadly, blocking only some sites with indecent materials while restricting access to thousands of legal and useful resources, and failing to block communications sent through e-mail, chat rooms, non-Web sources, peer-to-peer exchanges, and streaming video—now popular modes for distributing pornography. Filters are cumbersome to disable and to override. They do not reflect library selection criteria, nor do they block the images cited by CIPA as obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors. They are costly to purchase and maintain.

What’s more, filters cannot protect children from other dangers and concerns they might encounter, such as potential predators, gambling, or fraud. These are all issues better addressed through education than by pinning one’s hopes to a simple technological fix.

To support schools in this work, the NYC DOE has created social media guidelines, guides for parents and teachers, infographics and activity books for students, related learning opportunities throughout the year, and an online community.

Educator Guide / Infographic

There is also the infographic below which provides educators with a guide to developing empowered digital citizens by outlining the advantages, challenges, and considerations around filtering decisions.  

The guiding principal behind this is stated in the infographic:

"If we want to prepare students for the world in which they live, then life inside school should resemble life outside of school. The role of the modern educator is to ensure students understand how to use digital resources responsibly and effectively for college, career, and citizenship success."

Check it out. Share it. Use it to help convince your school or district to stop banning and blocking and start teaching and preparing our students to become empowered citizens.  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

From Banning to Embracing Social Media: #GovTechLive Names #NYCSchoolsTech Facebook Group & Twitter Chat Best in NYC

Visit the article here.
The New York City Department of Education has come a long way since 2012 when I took a risk and criticized the city's conservative approach to social media. It wasn't long after that I was brought on to help New York City schools embrace social media for teaching and learning. We started by developing guidelines "with" students and staff and offered related learning opportunities throughout the year.

Fast forward to 2017 and the NYC DOE was honored as the Best in NYC for its innovative use of social media to engage citizens for the work happening via our #NYCSchoolsTech Facebook group and Twitter Chat moderated by tech teacher Eileen Lennon.

You can see photos and our acceptance speeches, which were about 5 minutes total, at this link. (Notice how nicely Google Photos allows you to display photos, video, and text.)

You can read our speeches below.

Best of NYC Schools for the #NYCSchoolsTechChat
(Eileen Lennon)

Over the course of this past year, whenever you hear the word “tweet” in the news, it ends up dividing our nation a little more.

I’m here to say that not all tweets do that.

We here at the NYC Department of Education use tweets to engage, enlighten, and encourage.

We run a twitter chat once a month for teachers to discuss various topics from parent engagement to tomorrow’s topic; tech tools that embrace diversity in the classroom.

The Division of Instructional and Information Technology knows that engaging teachers in relevant topics is the foundation of the work in ensuring our students are prepared for success in the 21st century. They also know that if we want our teachers to be prepared we must move from digital citizenship to digital leadership. That is why we give educators across New York City an opportunity to share ideas and connect not only with each other, but also with experts and authors around the globe.  

I stand here with my co-moderator Lisa Nielsen, and some of our rock star contributors to each month’s chat, JoJo Farrell, and Clemencia Acevedo to say thank you for recognizing this important work.  

Best Use of Social Media to Engage Citizens:  #NYCSchoolsTech Group on Facebook (Lisa Nielsen)

That man was Mayor Bill DeBlasio

He was right. When I started my career back in the 90s as a library and tech teacher at the New York City Department of education, I felt completely alone. My voice wasn’t heard and I couldn’t hear the voices of anyone else. The only approved way to communicate was via snail mail, that first made a pit stop at the principal's office. By the time information got to us teachers, usually it was no longer relevant.

Working in isolation benefits no one. Not the teachers or students we serve and protect. Those days as a media specialist have impacted my practice today as Director of Digital Engagement & Learning. As a beginning teacher I knew how powerful it would have been to be able to connect with expert peers. As an experienced educator I understand the value of sharing insights and practices about innovative techniques and technologies.

When I began working in the digital communication group at the DOE one of my priorities was: To help other innovative educators connect, engage, interact and grow stronger together. I tried a lot of different things: Ning, Yammer, Edmodo, Google+... but what took off is one of the principles right out of the mayor’s “Digital Playbook” which advises government employees to build upon what works and reach people where they are.

For us that was Facebook.

Despite the fact that Facebook was blocked in many schools in the past, this is where our teachers were and still are. Fortunately, I have a supervisor who understands the importance of that and encouraged me to follow the mayor’s advice and reach educators where they are using what works. Because of that we have connected more than 2500 tech-loving teachers with each other as well as with the experts and vendors whose products, platforms, and resources, they know and love.

Today we’ve moved past the good ol days, that really weren’t so great, and upward and onward into the digital age where innovative educators across NYC are sharing, connecting, and inspiring one another to do what is the very best for students.

I am honored and excited that Gov Tech is recognizing this important work. I am thrilled to accept this award on behalf of an amazing group of more than 2500 educators and five passionate and dedicated moderators JoJo Farrell and Eileen Lennon who join me here on stage, along with Darlynn Alfalla, Jackie Patanio, and Andrew Liebowitz who are watching this on Facebook Live.Hi friends!

I'd also like to share a special thank you to my forward-thinking supervisor who has provided unwavering support and guidance along the way: Jane Pook.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#NYCSchoolsTechChat: Diversity Matters Nov 2nd at 7pm

The New York City Department of Education is committed to Equity & Excellence for All: Diversity in NYC Schools. This means a commitment to supporting learning environments that reflect the diversity of New York City. Educators across New York City will come together on November 7th for the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit on Diversity Matters. In advance of that event, we are hosing this Twitter chat to get the conversation going.

#NYCSchoolTech teacher Eileen Lennon (@eileen_lennon) moderates with me throwing in my two cents.

You can prepare for the conversation by thinking about answers to these questions:

Q1. Why is the topic of #NYCSchoolsDiversity important to you, your students, and families? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q2 What are some ways tech can be used to tell the diverse stories of the students in your school? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q3 What are some ways ed tech companies can address the needs of diverse learners? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q4 What translation tools can students & parents use to communicate with speakers of other languages? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q5 What are considerations we should have around diversity & accessibility for school websites? #NYCSchoolsTechChat
Q6 What are some ways ed tech companies can do a better job of employing underrepresented groups? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Chat details are below:
  • Meeting date/time: November 2nd at 7:00 pm
  • Topic: #NYCSchoolsDiversity
  • Your Host: @eileen_lennon (@NYCSchools)
  • Co-Host: @InnovativeEdu (@NYCSchools)
Remember to respond using the hashtag #NYCSchoolsTechChat and include the number of the question you are answering in your response i.e. A1 and your answer.
We hope you can view the chat live, but if you are unable, please visit our archive at
https://www.participate.com/chats/nycschoolstechchat. You can also participate in the chat at that link or if you have an iPhone download the app at https://www.participate.com/apps (coming to Android soon).