#CEduAD 2016

A year ago, one Skype call (and two months of hustle) led to the planning of the DigCitSummitUK.

This time last year, I spent the day after Thanksgiving celebrating and honoring connected educators as part of Connected Educator Appreciation Day, #CEduAD. The idea was formed in collaboration with William Jenkins as he adapted the idea from Community Manager Appreciation Day. The #CEduAD was about appreciation and also included a challenge.

For the past year, I’ve worked closely with William and his “pitch in as and when you can” motto is something I’ve observed in action whether he’s supporting EdChat moderators, educators and suppliers, events like the DigCitSummitUK, AGU GSV Summit, ISTE, or projects involving Pokémon Go or Microsoft In Education Experts. This year, his #CEduAD challenge is in support of the upcoming #SkypeAThon and encourages educators and suppliers to connect via Skype.

Why use Skype for this? Well, for one thing it will help educators who are thinking about taking part in the #SkypeAThon on November 29th & 30th to login and have a 1:1 test call before the event. Secondly, it will help improve the relationship between educators and suppliers and most importantly, without Skype, the DigCitSummitUK wouldn’t have happened and this is my way to pay it back and show my gratitude.

Personally, a year ago I would have said, “I don’t get it?” Why should I connect with a supplier? What’s the point of the “why” of the business? Either the tech works or it doesn’t, either I’m a fan or I’m not. Why should I take time out of my busy schedule to discuss this with suppliers?

A year ago, I didn’t get it at all, but a year later, I can share my journey. The why shares the story of the product and the company. The why is why users keep coming back. This past year, I have spent a significant amount of time talking to a variety of companies, learning about the why, participating in demos and ultimately viewing this relationship as essential for both parties.

digcitinstituteToday, I took the #CEduAD 2016 challenge and Skyped with Paul Moss, founder of Degrumbler, a tool to help teachers solve the oldest homework problem in the world — homework overload. I was especially happy to take this challenge with Paul because he was one of our DigCitSummitUK speakers last January.

What I took away about the why behind Degrumbler was an understanding of the problem from the perspective of both an educator and a parent. Out of frustration, Paul created Degrumbler as a way for teachers to better plan and assign work from a student perspective. Our conversation reminded me of my own frustrations as an educator and how students would be overloaded with assignments and that tests always seemed to fall on the same day.

Glad that my year has been full of learning and growth and that it began and ended with a Skype call.

So, whether you are a supplier or educator, take the Connected Educator Appreciation Challenge. It is the perfect excuse to connect over the next few days in preparation for the SkypeAThon and why not put in a call or two? I’m pretty confident that one Skype call could end up being the best decision you could make.

Why Is Boring An Acceptable Response?

Just this weekend, I listened as a bunch of elementary students described how boring school is because of the amount of seat time and worksheets that occupy their day. The response I heard back from the kids? “Well, that’s just how school is.” Why is this acceptable?

I have also been listening to how adults react and the response is always same, “That’s life, get used to it.” Again, why is this acceptable?

Why do we allow learning to be boring? I just don’t understand. Why do we accept this as just the way it is, the way it’s always been, the status quo, a challenge that we must all endure?

What I see posted on Twitter about connected learning gives me hope, but the reality is that this is not the case for all students and until it is, I’m going to do whatever it takes to ensure all students everywhere have the opportunity to be creators, inventors and innovators every single day.

img_9814A huge thanks to Dan McCabe for tweeting out this quote because I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m officially breaking up with boring, conformity and status quo (and while I’m at it, I’m breaking up with worksheets and students sitting idly at desks in rows too). I’ve had enough. It is an unhealthy relationship and the results are damaging the future for our students.

We have a responsibility to get this right. Our students are counting us. Tomorrow when our students arrive at our classroom doors full of curiosity, wonder and awe, let’s embrace it, foster it and make this type of learning the norm for all students.


On The Record

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 8.24.38 PMAs we are finishing up this massive and totally awesome collaborative Pokémon Go project, I want to publicly go on the record and I’ve asked others to join me.

First, I have known William Jenkins for years. How many, I’m not exactly sure, but I’ve been moderating the #digcit chat since 2011 and prior to this tweet in November 2015, I always seemed too busy to respond to any of his email invitations to collaborate. What a big mistake.

The tweet with the link above was not only a jackpot site of digital citizenship resources via Malcolm Wilson, but it represents how William is always sharing resources with educators.

DigCitSummitUK TweetAfter this tweet, I responded and asked if he would like to Skype or GHO to talk about the possibility about bringing the Digital Citizenship Summit to the UK. We arranged a time to Skype and the rest is history.

Do you know what this picture below represents? It is a sextant, known as the most essential instrument for navigation. Since that first Skype call in November, William has been just that for me. Over the past ten months, I have been lucky enough to be part of two pirate crews with him (#DigCitSummitUK pirates and #ISTEPirates16) and most recently, I’ve been part of a Niantic crew with him collaborating on a #digcit Pokémon Go project.

cmgrWhat William brings to any project is vision and execution. His attention to detail is exquisite. William is like a conductor and he anticipates and prepares meticulously. What distinguishes William from the rest? His core values. He does not compromise. His core values and work ethic are beyond anything I have every witnessed before. One PLN member shared, “His work ethic is unsurpassed.” Others used terms like visionary leader, selfless giver and influencer. All agreed that no one should ever pass up an opportunity to collaborate with William in the future.

I reached out to some PLN members and they echoed my thoughts:

Best New Community Manager

5 Minute Favor For William Jenkins: A Selfless Giver

As a mother and educator, my last acknowledgment comes from the bottom of my heart.

William, thank you for inspiring Curran. As a nine year old, his connected learning journey began with your DigCitSummitUK Thunderclap which was the beginning of his @CurranCentral Twitter handle. That thunderclap has led to him moderating multiple chats on Twitter, speaking and live tweeting at the DigCitSummitUK and TEDxYouth, becoming a student Buncee ambassador and now CKO of DigCitKids. Thank you for also continuing to inspire him to think outside of the box and create homework assignments like the Pokémon Go Homework Challenge and most recently, the 9 #digcit elements in relation to Poké Balls.

So, on the record, I am so grateful to call you a friend, a colleague and my favorite community manager.

Pokemon Go #DigCitPLN Update

As I write this post, I am singing along with the Scottish duo, The Proclaimers, “I would walk 500 miles…” Although I haven’t quite walked 500 miles in search of Pokemons, I certainly have joined in on the excitement that has captured the attention of all ages across the globe.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 4.33.45 PMMy previous post, Pokemon Go…Catch Some #DigCit Advice #DigCitPLN, has led me to further examine the role of digital citizenship in regards to Pokemon Go and has had me outside and playing with my son. In fact, he has recently recognized educator, Ryan Read as the DigCitKids #DigCitAward recipient for embedding all nine digital citizenship elements into Pokemon Go!

This post is an update and further looks at the potential of Pokemon Go in Education, an idea that the ISTE DigCit PLN is going to be exploring to see if the project can help play a role in helping schools and educators assess the educational value of the game.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been collaborating with the organizer of the UK Digital Citizenship Summit, William Jenkins, and Ramona Pierson and her team at Declara to curate articles about Pokemon Go in education.

We will be producing a DigCit PLN Pokemon Go Safety Advice document as well as a report that looks at how the game was adopted so quickly and what educators can learn from those methods, how universities, libraries and museums are using the game, the health benefits and the social impact the game is having on people around the world.

Our research and the articles we’ve read suggest that this is something worth exploring. The reactions have included a full range from skepticism to complete adoption.

Collaborating with William during #DigCitSummitUK and Ramona and the Declara team on this project, I have a better appreciation of things like the “The Technology Adoption Cycle,” and how ideas and technology get adopted.

Can anything be done to test this game before bringing it into the classroom? We think there is.

Here are some of the extracts and insights that we’ve read about for students to write stories about Pokemon Go:

Currently, Pokémon Go doesn’t have much storytelling built in about the places people are going to; players simply find their Pokémon and head to the next location

Since students already have their phone in their hands, have them use the Google Street View app to take a 360° spherical panoramic image of the Pokestop

Have students write a short piece about their personal reflection of the game.

Perhaps players visit a location, and then see archival news stories related to that location

perhaps players notice something in that location that’s worthy of a news story in and of itself.

Right now, Pokémon Go doesn’t have much storytelling built in about the places people are going to; players simply find their Pokémon and head to the next location

Get learners to create a digital poster, presentation, comic, or video of what makes a good trainer.

Your students can then create presentations or digital posters about their top three favorite Pokémon.

Ask your learners to work in pairs or small groups and come up with a list of five to ten safety tips and good practices for players. Some ideas include having an non-playing adult present, not playing in the streets, practicing good judgment, and exhibiting good manners

Once your learners play the game, have them write a digital story of their experiences battling or capturing a Pokémon

When playing the game with my son, we have found some really interesting Pokestops and have been disappointed when there has been little or no description of the Pokestop:

It would be nice to have a detailed history of the places you visit and may want to revisit or research more on.

Unfortunately, the app’s “journal” tracks only the time and date of each Pokéstop, but does not identify the place by name.

In Putting Education in “Educational” Apps: Lessons From the Science of Learning the article highlights that:

Apps that encourage children to connect new information to their daily lives, for example, by learning about triangles by taking pictures of triangles they see in their home, will provide a more effective learning experience than an app that in which children simply pick a triangle out of a line-up of different shapes.”

We further explored how the Pokestops were created and that a description was one of the ways to increase the chances of getting a portal accepted but was not compulsory (See the Ingress Candidate Portal criteria post for more details).

The DigCit PLN Pokemon Go report that we are working on will highlight what Kipp Founder, Mike Fienberg argues that great Edtech facilitates “Great teaching… and more of it.” By this, he means that great EdTech tools either free up educators time by removing administrative tasks to ensure that teachers can spend longer in the classroom, or it facilitates learning outside of school hours.

If we add some of the things that we’ve explored about Pokemon Go so far, these are our observations:

  • Understanding educators desire to explore Pokemon Go
  • Realizing the need to test with some pilots before “scaling”
  • Appreciating that there is hesitancy as some educators may be thinking “here we go again…the new next big thing in education”
  • Kids will be playing Pokemon Go whether educators like it or not…whether the game is banned or not
  • We agree with some of the comments from the blogs above that we should be using all learning opportunities
  • Anything that facilitates “Great teaching and more of it” is what good EdTech should do, so Pokemon Go has potential
  • That not all the Ingress Portals/Pokestops have a description

This is the idea that we’ve come up with, that we hope will allow any educators who are advocate of Pokemon Go to test the games potential and hopefully establish some evidence and case studies before taking this into the classroom.

Pokemon Go Homework Challenge
The DigCit PLN and DigCitKids have come up with an idea.  Here’s something we can all easily do to amplify student voice in this conversation.

Let’s ask our students to assess if Pokemon Go has any educational value. Let’s have our students write a description about local Pokestops. For example, ask students to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the Pokestop?
  2. When was the Pokestop created?
  3. Why was the Pokestop created?
  4. Who was the architect/designer/artist?
  5. Did you notice the Pokestop before you played Pokemon Go
  6. How many stories and articles did you find about the Pokestop
  7. What did you know about the Pokestop before you researched the Pokestop?
  8. What did you know about the Pokestop after you researched it?
  9. Write the description that you’d like to see about the Pokestop on Pokemon Go

Have a competition between Team Instinct, Mystic and Valour to see which team in your school supplies the most and /or best descriptions.

Post the student responses at schools/libraries and museums that you know welcome Pokemon players and/or who have Pokemon Go noticeboard…promoting student work while doing some school community outreach and educating other players: A real win-win scenario, all outside of school time!

We would welcome educators and students to also record these details on the following link:

Pokemon Go Homework Challenge

We will then ensure that these stories are shared with the DigCit PLN and DigCitKids and others in our network who subscribe to our Pokemon Go updates.

To receive these updates and/or to join our DigCit Pokemon Go Steering Committee please complete the details on the following link: DigCit Pokemon Go Contact Form.

We’d like to thank William Jenkins at Tech Stories and Ramona Peirson at Declara for all their help with developing our Pokemon Go Digital Citizenship resources.

Here is a link to the Pokemon Go Collection on Declara that we have curated to date, and which will for the basis of the DigCit PLN’s Pokemon Go back to school advice.declaratechstories

Pokemon Go… Catch some #DigCit Advice #digcitPLN

pokeisteJust as I’m catching my breath from all the resources that were shared during ISTE, this whole Pokemon Go thing comes along.

My first thought with this global phenomenon is that with all the edtech tools that have been around for a while but have struggled to gain traction…you’ve got to wonder about what the Pokemon Go development team have done differently? All the sales calls and emails that we receive from the vendors after ISTE, but here comes a game that’s probably never made a sales call, emailed a school or gave a 2 hour presentation… but educators are writing more articles about the role it can play in education than I can keep up with?!?

I know that my friend and colleague William Jenkins (@EdTech_Stories) will have a few things to say about what we can learn from this.

Like many other educators, I am excited to explore what the implications of Pokemon Go in education are, both in general and from the perspective of digital citizenship? I will be consulting with and working on this with the ISTE DigCitPLN  as we explore the risks and opportunities… stay tuned for updates.

If anyone in my PLN would be interested in contributing to any Pokemon Go DigCit advice that the ISTE DigCitPLN will be working on, please let me know.

Red Alert: The App is Not the Problem

the app is not the problem (2)I can no longer remain silent about this.

I’ve seen posts warning parents about the dangers of this app and that app with all sorts of sensational headlines. But, I have a spoiler alert for you: The app is not the problem.

We are so afraid that we can’t control or monitor what our teens are doing that we’ve labeled certain apps as “RED ALERT” when that red alert should really be placed on us. I get it though, it is easier to place blame on the app than to acknowledge or address the source of the problem.

Blocking and banning certain apps or sites will not change behaviors. Look at all the violence happening around our world. Somehow, we have forgotten that we are all members of the human race and what happens to one of us — happens to all of us. To quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, the Dead Poet Society, “That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

So, the solution begins with each of us. It’s time to contribute our verse to this critical conversation. We need to engage, educate and mentor our society on the choices and consequences of being human. We need to model what respect for ourselves and others really looks like and to invest in building community wherever we go.

I think the hack needed for education really begins and ends with the ability to humanize the person next to us, as well as across the screen. When we can do this, we can change culture and build communities at the local, global and digital level simultaneously.

Let’s stop the blame game, address the underlying problem and celebrate what makes us human.  

Lessons Learned Going Device Free #digcit

My Fenway Park History 

The world has changed drastically since I was a kid growing up in the bleachers at Fenway Park. Yesterday, I decided to take a step back in time and enjoy the game without any devices or electronic distractions, Be in the Moment: Going Device Free to Fenway Park.

Yesterday was a walk down memory lane as I remembered every game, all the players I’ve cheered on and most importantly, the people I’ve been with. Maybe you have to be from Boston to understand that baseball is like a religion here and the Park is just magical. Bart Giamatti, the Baseball Commissioner once said, “As I grew up, I knew that as a building (Fenway Park) was on the level of Mount Olympus, the Pyramids at Giza, the nation’s capitol, the czar’s Winter Palace, and the Louvre – except, of course, that is better than all those inconsequential places.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself and Jimmy Fallon’s character in Fever Pitch could have been just about anyone I grew up with. We might be called a little obsessive when it comes to our home team, but as Bostonians, we are known for our unwavering loyalty whether we are winning or losing and above all, we love our team.

Lessons Learned from #Unplugging4TheDay

So, yesterday I went to the Park device free with only a baseball glove in hand and let me tell you, I felt some serious JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) as I relived my childhood through the eyes of my nine-year-old son. We took a picture at home before the game and then I went silent on all my social media feeds.

Maybe it’s because Fenway Park is my favorite place in the world, but yesterday, everything was more vibrant. The colors were popping, the smells were more aromatic, and the atmosphere was just simply electric. I felt myself snapping mental images, so I could revisit them in my memory like the pictures I have in my head sitting in the bleachers with my dad.

I realized how much I was taking in details like the lovely couple sitting in front of us who also appeared as if they came to the game device free. When I mentioned it, they said, “We took our pictures before the game started. We don’t need our phones, we enjoy being together.” Next to them was a woman scoring the game (on paper, not an app) and sitting behind us was a hockey family who had devices, but they were nowhere to be seen.

Is it important to go to the game device free? Absolutely not. Take your barfing rainbow snaps and selfies. Capture the moment, but please be mindful that you are at a live event and that you don’t have to watch the event through your device. This happens to be the Big Papi’s last season and although it would have been great to snap a picture or two, I have all the images I could possibly need, tucked neatly away in my memory bank. Yesterday, I loved singing the National Anthem, the 7th inning stretch (and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”), being part of the rally at the bottom of the ninth, and most importantly, I loved being at the game with my son.

What was my big take away yesterday being device free? I should do it more often. Yesterday, I was not a prisoner to my device. No one virtually owned my attention or my time. I didn’t feel pulled in a million directions nor did I feel compelled that I “had to” check my phone, answer my email, upload my status, etc. I’ll end with a fabulous message from Adele who recently reminded a concert goer to stop recording her and to just enjoy the live concert.

I hope the next time someone asks me if I left my device at home on purpose that I’ll respond just as the couple did sitting in front of us yesterday.


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