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

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I’m excited to be partnering with Becky Berg, Superintendent of Marysville School District #25 (MSD25) and Scott Beebe, MSD25’s, Chief Technology Officer, as we are submitting a case study proposal to South by Southwest EDU conference (SXSWedu).

I have wrote occasionally here about the work the Eduro Learning team and I are doing in partnership with Marysville as they roll out over 5000 Chromebooks to students 6-12 in their district. I use the term “rollout” loosely, as what Becky, Scott and the Board decided to do was not so much a rollout as a leapfrog. In the video below, created and produced in partnership with a Marysville student, you hear Becky talk about what the technology was like in the district before they passed their tech levy in 2014.

What the Marysville School Board and the leadership understood was that “rolling out” devices over a long period of time will not help their students tomorrow. If we wanted to help them tomorrow, we needed them to have the devices today. So they “leapfrogged”, skipping the laptop/Chromebook in carts phase, skipping trying to figure out what is the most equal way of getting devices in the hands of kids, and they just did it. Here is a quick rundown of their timeline (though Scott has made a way cooler one here).

  • February 2014: The community of Marysville passes the Tech Levy and infrastructure work begins
  • February 2015: Working WiFi is deployed in all schools for the first time
  • May 2015: Every teacher receives a new laptop. The district makes the jump from desktops to laptops for educators
  • May 2015: Rollout a 3 year, 12 full-day training program for teachers partnering with Eduro Learning
  • November 2015: Deploy over 5000 Chromebooks to every 6-12 student
  • August 2015 – June 2019: A total of 180 training days equalling 1260 hours of training for roughly 480 educators

In under two years, MSD leapfrogged their existing education model to something completely new and different. I have worked with many schools both here in the US and overseas and have never seen a school district commit to changing the teaching and learning landscape as quickly and as fully supported as Marysville has. At SXSWedu, I want Becky and Scott to be able to share their district’s story of how they did it, bringing the community along with them, supporting teachers and most importantly doing right by students.

As for my part….Marysville chose Eduro Learning from a host of Professional Development partners to oversee the teacher training commitment that they made to their community, students and teachers. Why did they choose use? You’ll have to come to SXSW to find out. 🙂

Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas
Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas

One thing we believe at Eduro Learning is that there is no need to hide what we are doing. If anyone else can learn from us and it helps students, then part of being a teacher is helping others. That is why all our materials that we use in our trainings can be found here, on our PD site. Through the trainings you will see how we balance helping teachers understand and use the technology tools that are now in the hands of every student, and the pedagogical shift that needs to take place to change the teaching and learning culture of a school district.

Kim Cofino and Chrissy Hellyer, both career educators, are our curriculum writers, not just for the teacher training but the six administrator trainings that administrators will go through in this process as well. The entire Eduro Team runs the trainings face to face and supports teachers from afar in between the face to face trainings. If we expect teachers to teach in a blended classroom, then we must give them the opportunity to learn in one as well. So we created a blended learning system that allows for learning to take place between the face to face sessions. A truly blended  PD experience as we change the teaching and learning culture within the district.

Has it been smooth? Nope….and that’s what makes it exciting. It’s education after all and we’re trying to build the airplane as we fly it! You can’t pause education, the kids keep showing up as we work through the transition. The Board continues to support the teachers’ efforts by creating a Social Media Policy, one of the first in the State of Washington, and by coming to some of the trainings themselves to show their support for their teachers. I cannot tell you how fantastic it is to work with a Board and Leadership team that understands this is a journey, not a destination we’re trying to get to.

The work continues into this year of course, as we continue to build understanding with teachers, change paradigms within the community and most importantly support students in preparing them for their future not our past. I felt the need to write about this, not only because I think it is important work, work that needs to be shared so others can benefit, but this is also the information that doesn’t fit on the SXSWedu application.

Please help us by taking a few minutes (SXSW doesn’t make it easy…you do need to register an account) and vote for our Case Study session at SXSW so that we can share the Marysville Story with an even larger audience. Thank You!

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I haven’t made much time to blog this semester…..OK….this year. But what a year it has been!

I am currently writing this sitting at Rialto Beach on the coast of Washington. One of our favorite ‘get off the grid’ places to go. We hike in about a mile, no Internet, no cell service. Just the waves, nature and prana.

It’s here that I find time to finally sit and reflect on this year’s journey into amazing new educational adventures with more on the way.

Eduro: Marysville School District

eduro logo 800x300I wrote last year about the 5 year contract we signed with Marysville School District and the work the team and I would be doing there. The first year has been simply amazing. From August when we started training 150ish teachers in Cohort 1, to deploying over 8000 Chromebooks to students 6-12 grade in October and November. Then “Doing the Work” to start changing teaching practice to understand how to make the most of this new tool and connected classrooms…it’s been tough but exciting.

Last week at a training that Kim and I were facilitating for Cohort 2 (the next 150 teachers) a math teacher said to me, “I’ve started using Google Forms and ‘Flipping’ my class, but other than that I’m not doing much.”

Let’s see, you made a transition from a PC to Mac operating system, you are learning and are continuing to learn the power of Google Apps for Education. You also have started to change lessons, units and overall pedagogical approaches you use in the classroom. Yeah…..I think you’re doing plenty for a 7 month roll out.

So often as teachers, we don’t take time to step back and reflect on the journey we have come on in a year with our students and with ourselves. The changes are so small at the time that we don’t often see that they add up to something much larger. If this is where we are at in 7 months. I can’t wait to see where we are in 2018 and beyond.

Cohort 1 is on training 7 of 12. Cohort 2 is on training 5 of 12 and Cohort 3 starts their training the end of June. Soon we will be changing learning for students from 3-12 grade across a district. Impacting the learning of roughly 11,000 students. What an honor!

COETAIL: Another Cohort in the Books!

COETAIL

Who would have thought a program started in 2009 to help the teachers at one school (International School Bangkok) would 7 years later have over 1000 educators going through this learning journey……not us.

A couple weeks ago our 6th online COETAIL Cohort completed their 18 month learning journey with some amazing final projects. You can view them here (link to blog) or follow COETAIL on Facebook or Twitter as we release them once a week over the summer.

The program continues to get rave reviews from educators who complete it. Full disclosure our dropout rate is roughly 15%. This is not just some courses that you do to learn. This is a community you join to truly reflect on your teaching practice and make the most of the technology you have available to you in your classroom. Our instructors and coaches (COETAIL graduates who want to continue supporting the community) are what make this program work. The program continues to focus on being reflective in our practice while learning together to better ourselves as educators. A simple approach with an amazing impact. Our next Online Cohort starts in September. If you want to be a part of this amazing community of dedicated, learning focused educators please join us.

Learning2: Expanding Globally

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It’s been a big year for Learning2. Our 8th successful Asia conference was incredible in Manila this past October. Then off to South Africa for our 2nd Learning2 Africa conference. Then it was on to our first ever Learning2 Europe in Milan, Italy where Stephen Riech and Carrie Zimmer helped to pull off an incredible start to Learning2 in Europe. This conference does not have a big keynote speaker but rather teachers doing “Learn2Talks” or 5 minute inspirational talks on their ideas, passions and thoughts. Follow Learning2 on Facebook and Twitter to get a weekly talk sent to you, or subscribe to the Learning2 YouTube channel to get all the Learn2Talks past, present and future.

Next year not only can you find us in Asia (Saigon) in Europe (Warsaw) but we expand to South America (Quito) in October. With flights from the US being around $800 I hope to see some American teachers expanding their PLNs and making connections in South America this coming school year.

Personal Consulting: Enumclaw School District

Doing the work in Enumclaw #esdimagine
Doing the work in Enumclaw #esdimagine

This past year I had the honor to lead the Connected Classroom Teacher (CCT) in Enumclaw on their learning journey to 1:1. This group of 15 teachers not only did the work. They did it in a humbling fashion. Taking failures (First Attempt In Learning) in stride, learning not only a new OS (Chromebooks) but also thinking differently about teaching and learning in a connected classroom. Chris Beals, IT Director in Enumclaw and myself put together a case study of our work and partnership together here. The work continues with three more CCT Cohorts this coming year. Work once again that I am honored to be apart of. There is nothing like a 6am drive towards Mt. Rainer on a clear morning to remind you to be humble and be present.

Personal Consulting: Auburn School District

As Auburn School District prepares for their 1:1 rollout they have put together ATLA Cohorts (Auburn Teacher Leaders Academy). Cohorts of teachers to go through a series of trainings to think about teaching and learning in a 1:1 environment. Our work continues next year with a new group of ALTA teachers.

Auburn SD this year also launched #techconnect a one day conference for their teachers to come together and share their learning, their classroom practice and have conversations around teaching and learning with devices. I was honored to be this year’s keynote and look forward to continuing our work over the next year.

Keynote: Washington State School Directors Association

A true highlight and memorable moment of this past school year was being asked to be a keynote speaker at the Washington State Schools Directors’ Association (WSSDA) Conference. To be asked to keyonte, inspire and push the school board directors’ in the state that I was educated in, love and call home was simply an honor.

Selfie with students after Keynote
Selfie with students after Keynote

I have now had the pleasure of working with over 25 school districts in my own state and was able to bring my knowledge of what I’m seeing, hearing and thinking about to those ultimately responsible for leading the change in our schools. It was great to be able to talk about the above mentioned school districts, to highlight the great work I have seen being done on behalf of students across the state and at the same time to push for a future of schools within Washington State that will prepare students here for a future that is continually evolving.

Whatever I said must have hit home as I will be keynoting this year’s conference as well. This time in the town where I grew up Spokane, WA.

Then there were the countless other experiences. Keynoting the WCTSMA student conference in Kennewick, WA. The State of Education address to parents and community in Enumclaw. The work with Everett School District’s Leadership Team over the past year in preparation for their Tech Levy passing, which it did, this April, and starting our work together to bring 22,000 students and 1,100 teachers into a 1:1 teaching and learning environment.

It has been an incredible year. Full of learning, of meeting new people, and most importantly helping schools help students prepare for their future not our past.

If learning something new was easy everyone would do it.

One of the reasons I love working with school districts and teachers over a long term basis is that you get to really dig in and do the work.

I have started many presentations over the past year with this:

“Raise your hand if you were ever taught in your pre-service program what learning looked like in a 1:1 environment?”

“Raise your hand if you were ever taught classroom management strategies in a 1:1 environment?”

“Raise your hand if in your Master’s degree you learned teaching and learning strategies for a 1:1 environment?”

“Raise your hand if the curriculum you have to teach from was created for a 1:1 teaching and learning environment?”

In the past year I’ve asked these questions to hundreds of educators. The only question that ever sees a hand go up is the Master’s degree and even then we’re talking 1 or 2 in a staff of 300+.

Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas
Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas

Here’s the thing….once your school or district decides to go 1:1 everything changes. The curriculum in a moments notice needs upgrading. Your classroom management changes, and what we can do, know that we need to do, and how learning happens all changes. It changes in ways that most educators were never taught to teach in.

These are the reasons long-term focused PD sessions need to be implemented once a school decides to go 1:1. No one-off conference or one-off PD day is going to be able to address the deep pedagogical shifts that happen once every student has access to the Internet the moment they want to learn something. It changes everything.

School leaders need to understand that investing in this type of long-term, pedagogically focused PD is the difference between devices becoming replacement for paper and pencil and becoming something transformational in the classroom.

It’s not a teacher’s fault that they don’t know how things change, because chances are they were never taught to be prepared for this change. So for better or worse we have to “go back to school” and learn how to adapt our teaching methods, ideas, and understandings to a new connected classroom where we have leveled the content knowledge playing field.

We have to “do the work” to be OK with this and to become learners again ourselves. To open our minds and understand we’re not saying any one is a bad teacher-there isn’t judgement. We’re saying we changed the landscape on you and with that comes a new way to approach learning.

Schools need to understand when they decide to go 1:1 they must make sure to invest pedagogically in their teachers as well. Not PD focused on devices and software but focused on new ways of learning and understanding what the 4 C’s really mean in today’s connected world.

I wanted to share this documentary that I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a part of. Nate Becker, a high school student in Marysville, WA, asked me to sit down one day while I was there doing work as part of our Eduro Learning contract with the district, to talk about technology and education. I had no idea what the questions were going to be or where he was going with his line of questioning. Below is the documentary he created based on his own knowledge and research and how he views the use of technology in his own school system and life.

When we talk about creating meaningful stuff to share with the world. This is the type of stuff we are talking about. This isn’t an assignment that can be done in a class period or even a week. This type of learning and creative works takes time and a lot of energy.  Kudo’s Nate….I hope this is the first of many documentaries in your future.

300px eduro

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.