Stranger Things 2. Am I going to watch it? Absolutely. I grew up going to the arcade just like in the start of season 2. I remember rummaging through the house for loose change then riding my bike downtown to join my friends at the arcade. It seems just like yesterday; yet, today is my 41st birthday. That's right, I was born on Halloween. so as you can imagine, this time of year is my favorite. The arcade is mostly a thing of the past; kids are now entertained by Netflix, iTunes Music, YouTube. None of these things were around when I celebrated my Halloween birthday growing up. So, I've decided to discuss digital citizenship this week for my blog.
I remember the first time I got a Nintendo. It was a different world. No longer did we spend all of the change we had on games here and there. We spent money on renting games - then playing as many times as possible before returning them. Consumption was increasing at a rapid rate. I was home more, but not engaged with family. In retrospect, I think this was a defining moment. We still went out and played basketball for hours, so physical play was a large section of our day after school and in the summer.
Being Introduced To Technology
I really didn't engage with computers until joining the military when I was 18. Growing up in a rural town and a small district, opportunities with personal computing at the time was scarce. It was also 1995, a time when the PC involved a large desktop and the price was still high.
Satya Nadella in his new book Hit Refresh outlines the three runtimes we have had in society today:
So the experience I would have had even exposed would have been primarily in the beginning of the first runtime. It was later that Al Gore created the Internet for all of society (cough cough) Just a joke....
If you believe that, I have some ocean front property in Arizona I can sell you.
Since then, I have adopted technology as it has been introduced to me. I have had every iPhone up until the iPhone 7 Plus. Recently I moved over to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as my primary mobile device as told in this blog.
I have seen what artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented/virtual reality can do. Kids today are exposed to these technologies at an amazing rate. That presents opportunities and challenges. On one side you see kids gain experiences outside of the classroom that could have never been done before. However, you can also see how engagement in these without guiding purpose and practice can negatively impact learning. As a parent of three teenage girls, I understand this opportunity and challenge every day. Now I want to give a picture to what my kids have experienced and what they expect.
What it has been like for my kids....
As much as I would like to discuss them all together, it is really a different experience between them. The wave of social media powered by access through mobile technology has touched each of them in a slightly different time in their life. This has caused challenges in trying to present a fair access and scaffolding model to introduce and expose my kids to these tools in an appropriate way. Here is each of them sharing what platforms they use:
First here is Bailey:
As you can see she mostly uses Instagram and Facebook for social media. For conversation, she uses Instagram Direct Messages and iMessage. Next we will hear from Aiyana. Each one of my kids are different. Aiyana is no exception to different. Please excuse her eating habits during the creation of this video.
As you can imagine, things begin to get different with our oldest, Emily. She is 19, going to college, and gaining independence from us. We begin to choose the platform that she most engages in. I think this becomes a pivotal point. Social media changes frequently, and companies come and go. What happens if the platform is different between each of them? How or can we capture those moments we want most?
Something to think about. As I have read the book Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella, I have thought about what this means not only for my kids but my grandkids. This quote from the book identifies one of the challenges we face particularly when it comes to learning. It is exciting if you approach it purposefully.
I am old but not that old....Yet.
So what about my kid's kids? What opportunities and challenges will technology bring to them? One of the particularly interesting segments from the Hit Refresh book was how industry adopts new technologies at a higher rate when it involves our comfort. Look at Netflix. The ability to binge watch without leaving your couch. Look at Uber. This is one area that I think will be disrupted by technology. Self driving cars are real. They are coming, and because of our desire to be engage with technology and the comfort of not being behind the wheel means transportation with a different experience. This could effect airline travel. Think about it, what if you could just sleep and/or watch a movie while a self driving vehicle takes you to your destination? It is closer than you think. The areas I feel like will rapidly effect my grandkids will be artificial intelligence. Their access to digital companions will change how they interact with each other, meetings, day to day work in learning and in the workplace, and just about any place they have connectivity. That connectivity increases every day. These can all be seen as opportunities and challenges depending upon how you look at it. As educators it will be important for us to focus on skill development that focuses on critical thinking so that opportunities continue for generations to come.
Where do I start. I remember the first time I met Keegan, it was at a Microsoft Innovative Educator training that we were having at the Microsoft facility in Aksarben. I introduced myself and we had a great conversation about her current role at Bryan High School. Later she would apply for a position that would help shape the way our district approaches and values technology. Just in the course of the last year, she has enabled through the help of our MIE Program, to lead our efforts to complete Common Sense District Level Certification. This week, she will be speaking at TEDx Omaha. These things take talent, and below I want to highlight the talents that I see in Keegan.
Passion & Empathy
If you know Keegan, you know she has a passion for students. Just hearing some of her stories when she was an English teacher, you can tell she was engaging and provided a high level of interactivity with her students. That energy transfers into her current role of Lead Teacher for Digital Citizenship here at Omaha Public Schools. While not a new role for the district, her contribution to it has been transformative. She uses empathy in a way that challenges me and gives voice to initiatives that we have adopted. This week I have been reading the book Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella. In it he describes the role of empathy in his leadership and Keegan shows this in her everyday practice.
Keegan believes in Omaha Public Schools. She believes in the role technology plays in student's learning. She even has confidence in my ideas, sometimes far fetched. That belief mentality allows her to take on initiatives like the Common Sense District Certification, our new Mobile Learning Unit, the construction of our App Approval Tool, and co-leading our District Technology Standards Team.
As educators know, relationships is what makes learning happen. Strong relationships build trust and commitment. Our external relationships in the district are unique. We have a great relationship with Microsoft as well as Common Sense Media. Keegan does a great job of connecting the dots. Our App Approval Tool is a great example of connecting these dots. Here is a picture of what it looked like as we brainstormed this idea.
That has now turned into a great systemic process that vets Apps for data privacy, then through instructional strategies, and outputs to a PowerBi Dashboard for transparency.
This week, she is speaking at TEDx Omaha. I don't know what the title is, or what exactly she will be sharing, but I know it will be impactful. Keegan, you are an incredible person and I am super proud of you. Here are some of your Common Sense folks sharing:
Thanks for what you do for students, Keegs.
The last couple of weeks have been so fun. Kids are engaged, parents are engaged. Our society has a craving for accessing the Internet for a variety of purposes and now possesses the means to connect in many ways. This is one way we have engaged the community with a high technology purpose. But it is not new. In fact this bus was purchased well before I graduated High School. A 1992 Bluebird. Purchased originally through Title I some 25 years ago, it's initial purpose was to provide reading opportunities. Now, it focuses on digital citizenship and literacy. Many of today's classrooms have amazing 21st century tools being used in 20th century learning environments. It was important for us to give this space a make over so that it isn't the same.
As the saying goes, if opportunity doesn't knock, then build a door. The digital world allows us to build and open doors like never before. 2 Years. I didn't think it would take this long, but it was worth it. Everyone that contributed did an amazing job. I can't thank enough our Schoolhouse Planning team led by Kim Thompson. They are amazing, and took our thoughts and placed it into actionable results. I originally posted about the mobile learning unit at the bottom of one of my first blog posts.
Leo A. Daly was the design firm that took our ideas, many of them about flexible and innovative learning spaces and put them onto paper. As you can see much of what they designed above became reality as seen in the 360 view below.
Enough about the bus... Let's talk about students
Many of you may know Common Sense as a resource for digital citizenship related curriculum and resources. If this is new to you, I strongly suggest you check out the easy to use resources from Common Sense Education. We are fortunate to partner with them and have Keegan full time as our Lead Teacher for Digital Citizenship. Our model for transforming schools has an emphasis on technology. Because Common Sense Education provides digital citizenship related resources for teachers, students and parents, we wanted to make sure a focus around the proper use was implemented. This past year we were fortunate to gain District Certification. Keegan's hard work and dedication has been incredible. I couldn't be prouder of her. This next weekend she is giving a TED Talk on the importance of a digital footprint. Her role in the mobile learning unit is crucial when we discuss community engagement. Even in my role as a technology leader, I don't have a great handle on my own parenting. My three daughters challenge my thoughts on social media and require me to engage in the same methods and platforms that they communicate in. Here is her perspective on her role for the mobile learning unit.
Rebecca Chambers serves as an Instructional Technology Coach for the Omaha Public Schools by supporting the district’s Turnaround buildings in their instructional technology initiatives, emphasizing on this mobile learning unit initiative.
Rebecca has a passion for students in the North Omaha community. It shows in how she organizes their activities, providing relevancy to students no matter what age they are. These students has no basis for understanding information that isn't readily and immediately available. Rebecca understands this and scaffolds activities appropriately. These students have come to expect high-quality content—on demand, anytime, and anywhere, and through her work with the mobile learning unit this has become a reality.
This is a whole-community effort
Just as the Mobile Learning Unit blog says below: The goal: to use a whole-community approach to bring high-technology learning and digital citizenship skills to students and their families. We want more than merely high-quality access and devices for our students - we want to build the knowledge and skills necessary to address the complex community challenges in today’s digital age. Every Student. Every Day. Prepared for Success. We can't wait to share with ride with you!
You might call me crazy. In the past month I switched to Android after more than 8 years as an iPhone user. I have had every iPhone up to the iPhone 7 Plus. My strategy through the years involved shifting the latest device of the year from me down through the family. It worked well for quite some time. Now my kids are transitioning. My oldest is in college and is now about to shift to her own plan. I am so proud of her for taking on this responsibility. With this in mind, I wanted to learn something new. A new platform. A new experience. Why you might ask?
My Evolution In Computing
So if you have been reading my blogs, you know that I had transitioned from a Mac person for some time to an avid Surface Pro user. You can read this post below.
After reading the blog post above you might realize that my reason for moving from iOS to Android was not based upon the platform, but on the importance of digital inking. OneNote has become an application that I utilize for major project documentation, team collaboration, and my personal and professional notes. As I work through my day, my primary device isn't my Surface. It is my smartphone. Yes, when I am at a desk, participating in a meeting, or engaging in a Skype session, I am on my Surface Pro. But if you took the time spent, my smartphone has my attention to information when I am on the go.
Why Did I Pick The Samsung Note 8?
The power is in the pen. A staple of the Note line has always been a big screen and the S-Pen. The Note 8's S-Pen is waterproof, more sensitive, and has a smaller tip for easier writing. This would actually be my second Note. Last year I got to briefly experience the Note 7 before trading it in for the iPhone 7 Plus due to the risk of the battery exploding. But that didn't stop me from wanting to move forward with the Note 8 as it was released. The need for authentic input to bring context to content, especially in my current role here in Omaha Public Schools is high. The Note 8 gives this ability with access to the whole Office 365 offerings. Writing notes by hand is definitely the way to go, and OneNote is one of the best note-taking apps around. You can hand write your notes with the S Pen, and save them to the cloud. Once your notes are in the cloud, you can access them on any device that has OneNote onboard, whether it be your PC, tablet, or Note. There’s even a highlighter to mark up the most important things. OneNote includes an option to pin specific notes to your home screen, too, for when you need quick access to your notes.
While waiting for the next iPhone, I kept watching what Samsung would entice us with. Initially, it was the choice of a Samsung Gear 360 or a DEX station. As time progressed, I watched other deals. I think it was when AT&T, of whom we have been customers forever, came up with pre-order a Note 8, get a Gear 3 Frontier watch, and Samsung VR led me to this switch of platforms. The Gear 3 Frontier was a one time cost of $50. Then I used the Samsung Store App to register for the Samsung Gear 360. This gave me a complete experience of a wearable, virtual reality, and 360 camera. I have to say I am surprised by the Gear 3 Frontier watch. It lasts around 2 days on a charge for me and looks more like a watch than my Apple Watch does. Also the Gear 360 Camera makes pretty good 360 shots as well, check it out.
In the end, will I stay with the Note 8. Yes for this year. Only time will tell if I stay. I can say that if Apple were to make the iPhone X with the Apple pencil compatible, I might reconsider. I do miss the apps that I used to use with my iPhone. However most of the apps that are frequently used are cross platform. The biggest reason I moved was the desire to engage with my smartphone the same way I engage with my Surface Pro tablet. That has mostly been driven by OneNote.
These posts are personal. They are not reflective of the Omaha Public Schools District.