Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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Kim Cofino

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There has been a lot going on with my new adventure that is Eduro Learning. Kim Cofino and I, along with 5 others, founded the company last May. The idea behind the company was that there were many conferences, summits, and PD opportunities to learn about technology tools however very few focused on the change in classroom culture that needs to happen or the change in the mindset of educators that needs to happen to truly take advantage of what technology has to offer.

It’s 2015 if you hadn’t noticed, and we’re still in a place where very rarely is technology replacing learning in the classroom in meaningful ways. I believe that’s because “integrate” is the wrong word…the wrong mindset. In 2015 we need to start thinking about replacing

What skills need to be replaced in our curriculum because of technology?

You see replacing is a different mindset. It’s a different way of looking at technology. We don’t have a lesson created already and try and integrate technology into it. No…we need to start replacing the whole lesson with something different because of the technology we have available to us.

We’re not talking about small changes here….we’re talking about shifting the way technology is viewed. Shifting the way technology is used and thought about.

Of course this culture shift needs to be understood by the administration. It needs to be more than we’re giving every student a laptop and move into a deeper question of how do we change the culture of our school?

MSD Logo_Only_MSOfficeI’m excited that we found a school district, an administrative team, and a staff hungry for a new way of looking at learning in 2015 and beyond. Eduro Learning has entered into a five year contract with Marysville School District in Washington State to do just that….to take 450+ educators through a program that changes the culture of the way learning happens (Press Release).

This goes beyond conferences, summits and institutes. Beyond one-off PD days and looks at long term embedded learning. Each educator who teaches 4th – 12th grade in Marysville will spend three years with the Eduro Team. This is the type of long term professional development that truly can change the culture of a school or district. Very few school boards and school leaders are willing to invest this type of money and resources into changing the culture of their school. Even fewer are willing to sell it to their community and make it happen. We’re looking for those type of schools, school boards, school leaders. Ones that truly understand that it’s 2015 and we need to start thinking differently about the tools available to us and look at how society operates with technology today and bring the education of students inline with the way technology is being utilized in our global society.

I have no doubt you’ll be hearing more about this project here and across the web as we get started in May.

Of course not every educator is lucky enough to work at a school district like this, so professional development opportunities in the form of institutes, conferences and summits is still the default way that schools support educator professionally.

Because of that we have been thinking how we take those opportunities and make them the best they possibly can be within the time frame we have.

How do we make institutes social, collaborative and in-depth?

It means moving away from a model of learning a lot of stuff and learning something really well. It’s moving away from 45 minute or 90 minute sit-and-get conference sessions to a full day of in-depth, interactive learning in a single strand.

Eduro Learning is launching four events starting this summer focused on in-depth, interactive professional development.

google-plus-profileSeattle, WA One-Day Institute:

The first thing you’ll notice when you head over to the event page is that you sign up for a strand within the institute. Yes…we make you chose what you want to spend a full day learning about. You do not go to this session or that session….you go to a full day, in-depth, interactive learning session on a given topic. The three strands will interact with each other and overlap their learning as social is a key component of learning for all ages.

Secondly you’ll notice that these are not big events. We’re keeping them at 150 people. Small, focused, intense learning sessions that allow us to differentiate the learning for the participants. When’s the last time you went to a conference or summit that tried to meet your specific needs as a professional learner?

Wired with Wine in Walla Walla Two-Day Institute:

This is my brainchild (OK….I give my wife 51% of the credit) and I’m excited to see if we can make this work. Why can’t educational professional development be fun? Be is beautiful locations and treat educators like adults and provide a little responsible fun with the learning?

The idea here is we spend two days going in-depth in learning while mixing in wine tasting in one of the great wine regions of Washington State. Learning is still the focus however, we’re infusing some fund wine tasting and wine knowledge into the learning experience. What if…for example we talk about how you can use a Google Form to collect data and get instantly results and then use that same approach in a blind wine tasting test to see which wine is viewed best by the participants. Not only do we talk about what you can do, we’ll actually do it…with wine of course. Once again making the institute interactive and learning focused in a fun and….OK….we’ll just stop at a really fun way.

Online Courses:

Of course if you don’t work at a school district likes Marysville or you can’t join us for a face-to-face institute we also offer online courses. These are six week courses that we are continuing to tweak and create moving forward. We have bigger plans of how these courses will all come together in the future to create something a bit different. For now…they are one off courses that you can use for recertification credit or if you are an International Educator (outside the US) you can take for graduate credit from SUNY-Buffalo State. Keep an eye here for more information and more ideas around these classes and learning experiences.

It’s amazing how far Eduro Learning has come in less than a year. What can happen when you bring together people who are passionate about what they do, about education and about providing the best professional development we can for educators. We’re off to a great start….and this is only the beginning.

If you follow baseball than you know that there have been two perfect games thrown this year. These are games in which the pitcher only pitches to 27 batters (3outs x 9innings). It’s a rare thing, in fact it’s only happening 20 times to date in all of baseball history. It’s called the perfect game. Where everything just works, just is….well…..perfect.

As this year comes to an end (3.5 days and counting) I’m put into reflection mode. Thinking about all the things that have made this year fun, frustrating, amazing, and special. All my memories come back to this being the perfect year with the perfect team.

It’s not every year that you get to go to work every day and sit in a large open no-walls office with 3 of educational technologies finest to learn from. But like all things perfect they must come to an end. I’ll always remember this year as “The Perfect Team”.

Two things are happening that are breaking up this perfect team.
 
First is the fact that both of my colleagues (maybe that says something about me 😉 ) are moving on to bigger and better things. I wrote a post April of last year on why every school needs a Kim Cofino. I’m kicking myself now, as Yokohama International School, in Japan must have been reading and decided to offer Kim and her husband a fantastic opportunity to do something different. The International teaching cycle hits again as we all continue to move on to new adventures in new countries, travel the world, and enjoy life. YIS is lucky to be getting such an amazing ed tech leader, a true “get stuff done” person who is focused and understands how to use technology in authentic ways like nobody I’ve ever met. Kim can brainstorm a lesson, write it up, get buy in, and have it implemented in no time flat. The girl is a workaholic, tech embedded lesson creation machine. Perfect for YIS as they move to the MYP program next year and need a leader to help them get the program off the ground. YIS is also a 1:1 Mac school which I know Kim is excited about as well. She was an amazing colleague before we worked together here, and I know we’ll remain close working colleagues in the future (in fact we have a little something up our selves already….stay tuned! 😉 )

Then there is Dennis Harter. He’s been the corner stone in the Ed Tech department for the past five years. His insight, thought provoking discussions, and humor will be missed. At least he’s not going to far and I have to say I’m excited about his move. Dennis will be the high school V.P. next year and with me taking his place in Ed Tech as the high school Technology & Learning Coordinator (TLC), it’s going to be fun having that kind of tech support in the admin office. He’s already secured me a room to start “ISB Radio” next year (more on that next year). He understands where we are headed as a technology department, and how teaching and learning are changing. You could not ask for a better administrator to support you than one that’s coming from your own technology department.

So that’s the first thing…..that I’m loosing two amazing colleagues that I’ve learned so much from these past two years. The second thing is the actual breaking up of the tech office. At the moment all four of us (Chad Bates (IT Director), Dennis, Kim, and I) all sit in the same office. We hardly ever hold an official meeting as our day is full of constant learning, throwing around ideas, and supporting each other and our teachers as a whole. We agreed early on that we did not care what division a teacher was in, if they came to use for support we’d support them and nobody’s toes would get stepped on. It’s worked great and I believe we have supported ISB as a whole to the best of our ability, because we were able to pull from our strengths as a team to support.

Next year the administration decided that we could better support teachers if our office was in the divisional area rather than in a central location. So next year the office space that we now all share will be left to only Chad. Chrissy Hellyer who will be taking my spot in the elementary school will have an office space in the ES. I will have an office space in the high school and the new middle school TLC will have an office in the middle school. I understand that the administration wants us to be more “visible” in our assigned divisions, but what we are giving up for visibility is unconditional support.

Yesterday was a perfect example. Dennis was in a meeting and his phone rang. I picked it up and ran to a high school classroom to help a teacher with student blogs. I walked in today and Chad is helping a middle school teacher with a Moodle issue. Our support for teachers across the school is unconditional and timely as we can help as the need arises. I worry that next year if I’m out of my office helping a teacher or in a meeting that if my phone rings nobody will be there to answer it, nobody there to help a teacher just-in-time learn something to teach students just-in-time.

We will also need to meet as an Ed Tech team at least once a week to bounce ideas and solve issues together. The same ideas and solutions that are common conversation now will become a meeting, taking us out of our supporting role at that time. Yes, teachers had to walk a bit farther to seek us out for help, but I think we put on many more miles than they did supporting them as a school.

For me it was the perfect office. Three other colleagues who all had a common vision and beliefs about the impact of technology on education and where it is leading us. Daily conversations that made me think, blog, and be creative. And fun…..we had some great laughs! I’ll be thinking of this team as I sit in my office next year with Kim on Skype, Dennis on Twitter and Chad on the phone. 🙂

So here’s to the perfect team and the perfect ed tech setup that allowed us to be creative, take risks, and learn from each other. Here’s hoping that we all find that perfect team again in the future.

Some times being in the educational technology business can be a thankless job. The phone call or the e-mail that is a panicked teacher that sends you sprinting down the hallway. We get to play the hero a lot of times….swooshing in to unmute a computer who’s audio is not working before a presentation or other times more complicated matters arise. Nobody ever complains when the Internet is working, when the e-mail chugs along or every student laptop connects to the wireless Internet flawlessly.

So here is my shout out when everything works and everything is amazing (see video).

Kim Cofino has been working with three of our 5th grade teachers here at ISB to create podcasts. But not just any podcasts….Students Teaching Students podcast. Chrissy, Robin and Ali have been working with Kim all year on a Reader’s Workshop project. Today I got to listen to one of the podcasts the students made…and I have to tell ya….they are on to something here. If you click on the image to the right you’ll be taken to the iTunes store where you can download the 3 minute or less podcasts the students have started to create…and don’t worry there are more to come. Kim outlines the whole process here in a blog post.

This is just one of many projects that Kim has helped teachers with this year. I’m sure many of you reading this blog have either worked with Kim on a project or will in the future.

Kim knows how to create a network for learning, she knows how to create projects that span space and time. She uses the technology and her personal network to her advantage. Take the 1001 Flat World Tales Project that she is helping to head up with Jeff Whipple. Organizing some 33 Elementary Schools on 5 continents.

Kim has amazing organizational skills that makes sure things get done in and out of school. Being the only female on a Ed Tech team of five she keeps us boys in line and focused…which we all agree we need. 🙂

I was excited to work with Kim when I moved here this year….only really knowing her through the blogosphere and I have to say she’s helped me learn a ton this year. This is probably the only blog post this year that wasn’t first bounced around in a conversation with her. It’s great to have an equal to help you out with everything. Two full time Ed Tech people for 70 teachers in the Elementary School…I’m not sure ISB knows just how amazing that is…and then to have Kim be one of those two and some other slacker tagging along is just unheard of. It truly is unfair that one school gets that must Ed Tech power.

So here’s to you Kim. You are amazing whether people are happy or not!

My wife left early this morning for Hawaii. I know…completely lost on her. From Bangkok to Hawaii…..

She’s off to visit a friend, one of the benefits of taking a year off from working and having frequent flier miles to spend.

So that leaves me with a week of no school and time to myself to prepare for what has shaped up to be one heck of a busy November.

Nov. 1-4: EARCOS Admin Conference

Nov. 7-9: Jakarta Weekend Workshop: Learning in a Digital World

Nov. 21-22: United Nations International School of Hanoi

This week I’ll be creating my presentations and focusing in on what my message will be.


I’ll be pulling a lot from Presentation Zen. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. It just might change the way you teach. Also, make sure you subscribe to the Presentation Zen blog. It’s one of those books that simplifies the process down to something that just works. In fact Garr Reynold’s simple idea of going off line to plan your presentation has completely focused my presentations the way I want. I spent about 3 hours on Sunday sitting outside on the balcony outlining the four presentations for EARCOS in my notebook. It took me 2 hours to outline the four presentations. Now the fun part of just putting them together.

This book has quickly made the rounds at our school. I loaned it to Kim Cofino after I finished reading it right before Learning 2.008. She got such great feedback on her presentations that she ended up holding a whole unconference session around Presentation Zen.

The book has made the rounds at school as well, and our school just ordered four more copies of it. The best use by far has been watching a couple teachers use the technique as a way to present information in their classes and have all given feedback on how well the students liked the format, were engaged, and attentive.

It’s not a hard format, actually….it’s quite simple, and Garr does a great job of explaining the process that one should follow. A process I now use.

As I’ve been working through my presentations I keep coming back to a common theme of communication. On how technology and the Internet really boils down to allowing us to communicate in new ways. As I was doing some research yesterday I found this article from Wired.

Home Sweet Office: Telecommute Good for Business, Employees, and Planet

Last year, researchers from Penn State analyzed 46 studies of telecommuting conducted over two decades and covering almost 13,000 employees. Their sweeping inquiry concluded that working from home has “favorable effects on perceived autonomy, work-family conflict, job satisfaction, performance, turnover intent, and stress.” The only demonstrable drawback is a slight fraying of the relationships between telecommuters and their colleagues back at headquarters — largely because of jealousy on the part of the latter group.

It’s a great article and as I read it I kept coming back to the same question:

How does this change the way we communicate?

Are we preparing students to communicate and work in this way?

Is this the future/solution to smog, oil prices, commute times?

I have a feeling this research will be making an appearance somewhere in November. 🙂