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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.

Administrators' Digest

April 2018 (Vol. 9, No.4)

Keys to Creating the Ultimate School Culture

The best administrators know that a positive school culture is based upon the overall satisfaction and safety of the students, staff, and community members–and they also know that if they don’t intentionally lead the shaping of the school culture, others will! So how can you build a culture where everyone is beating down the doors to get in?

There Is No “I” in Team 
Build a team of people who are committed to upholding the set norms and values of your school. Administrators should be part of the excellence happening everywhere in your school.

Let Them Shine 
Great leaders know that the secret to their success is helping others to become leaders.

The Fabric of Your School 
Intentionally plan to honor diversity in your school.

Judge a Book by Its Cover 
Your campus should reflect the pride that you have in your school.

Community Connections 
Develop strong ties to people who are outside of the school.

Create a School Nation 
Encourage all parties to share positive and public praise for the incredible things happening in your school.

Source: ASCD

Four Ways to Get More for Your EdTech Dollar

Finding the budget and time to do large technology refreshes will always be stressful, but there are a few ways IT directors can lessen the burden and get more for available dollars.

  1. Use current technology to buy down the new fleet. 
    When it’s time to refresh devices, first look to your current technology fleet to determine its value. By making smart technology purchases and timing refreshes right, schools can use the residual value of their current devices to reduce the cost of purchasing the next fleet.
  2. Don’t pay cash. 
    For those of us who grew up being taught that “cash is king,” this can be a hard concept to understand. However, financing your technology purchases can end up costing less in the long run and can provide a better learning experience for students.
  3. Avoid the summer doldrums. 
    IT directors often like to refresh devices when students are not in the classroom. Unfortunately, many other schools have this same idea and the market becomes flooded with used devices. A better idea is to carefully plan refreshes during school breaks, working with a device trade-up partner with experience doing this.
  4. Refresh in intervals. 
    If the thought of doing a complete technology refresh over spring or fall break is overwhelming, break it down into four monthly intervals, such as December through March. This strategy allows IT directors to avoid the summer buy-back doldrums and realize a higher residual value for devices, while minimizing the impact on IT.

With a little creative planning, school districts can stretch their technology budgets. And what school couldn’t use more money to fund technology?


Tips for Launching OER in Schools

It has been almost three years since the launch of the United States Department of Education’s #GoOpen movement - the commitment to expand and accelerate the use of openly-licensed educational resources in schools across the country.

The commitment is to replace at least one textbook with open educational resources (OER) within one year, share in a community of practice with other school districts, and share the resources created with a Creative Commons license.

In the words of Simon Sinek, if you “start with the why” when thinking about #GoOpen, the answer is easy: “To provide equitable access of educational materials that are modifiable and shareable no matter the zip code of each school.”

The how and the what can be tricky when thinking about scaling OER in your school or district, however. Here are five recommended steps to getting started.

  1. Assemble your crew.

    Scaling OER requires a dedicated team of educators, instructional leaders, librarians, and technology leaders. In addition to these members, seek feedback from all education community stakeholders.

  2. Find your why.

    The nuance will vary for every school. No two schools are alike, and all schools will encounter different hurdles and roadblocks along the way. Start with a few attainable, measurable goals when setting out on this journey.

  3. Assess your assets.

    Examine current instructional materials and ask why you are using those and what the cost is to the district. This is an opportunity to find the gaps in your instructional materials, to see where you can do better, and to use that information as an entry point for scaling OER.

  4. Set your GPS coordinates.

    Once you have assembled your crew, found your why, and assessed your assets, you will want to work backwards from your goal and develop a roadmap of benchmarks and milestones.

  5. Select the right tools.

    Regardless of the course you chart with OER, keep in mind that OER is about ensuring that all students have access to high-quality, relevant educational materials.

Source: eSchool News

How is Technology Changing the Role of the Teacher?

Advances in technology have meant a world of change in schools. Yes, proponents of “disruption” tend to argue that students are basically sitting in time capsules from the industrial era, but technology has made schools look and run very differently, both on the operations side and the instructional side.

Computers, laptops and other digital devices have become commonplace in most schools nationwide, changing the way students get instruction and complete assignments. Computers have also digitized student records and taken a whole host of school processes to the cloud. This has created new risks and led to the founding of new departments focused on the safety and security of all this data. It has also created new efficiencies for schools.

Phil Dunn, the chief information officer of Greenwich Public Schools in Connecticut, said during a panel at the NY Edtech Week global innovation festival last month that the cloud has made a big difference in his workflow.

In discussions about increasing the role of technology in schools, questions are often raised about the long-term role of teachers. While some worry that ed tech proponents advocate for sidelining teachers, panel advocates disagreed, saying teacher skills will just need to change. For example, Jonathan Supovitz, director of the Consortium for Policy Research I education at the University of Pennsylvania, said there will be demand for teachers who are more sophisticated about looking at and responding to student performance data.

Satya Nitta, an inventor and program leader in IBM’s cognitive computing for education division, said professional development will have to support this additional responsibility for teachers in the future, but he said the responsibility isn’t theirs alone.

“Simple software engineering principles about how we present information and insights can go a long way toward making the technology seamless,” Nitta said.

Many districts have been focusing on exactly that. They want teachers to be teachers, while data analysts do the extra work to support them. And that balance may be just what schools need for the classrooms of the future.

Source: The Hechinger Report

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.