Category Archives: Technology

Public Online Charter School Students

I’m a fan for the use of technology. For those of you who know me and/or follow my twitter feed, @DrVicGonzalez, this comes as no surprise. However, I don’t consider myself a “technovangalist” because I do not believe that technology in the classroom is the salvation of public education. I firmly believe in the use of technology where it can be leveraged increase student learning. In, Public Online Charter School Students, the authors provide some additional insights regarding the effectiveness of online classes for students. Also, not surprisingly, students who do not do well in a “traditional” setting are not necessarily more likely to fare any better in an online environment.  Students who struggle tend to struggle in class and online. Students still require additional supports for success in either environment. One area that an online course may have an advantage is supporting the monitoring of students by parents. Automated updates to parents were seen as a key factor in why parents selected an online school for their respective child. I am currently working on an online pilot which emphasizes those “other supports” to be provided by a “case manager”. We hope to see increased student success with those additional support provided. Stay tuned!


The Downside of Giving Every Student a Laptop – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society

In The Downside of Giving Every Student a Laptop – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society, the author suggests that providing some students with technology may actually lower student achievement. A simple read of the summary will lead some to suggest that we shouldn’t spend money on technology in education. This argument might actually be bolstered by the finding that it is the poor and disenfranchised that actually “suffer” the most when provided technology.

However, further reading provides additional insight and response to this reactionary suggestion: “The researchers found that the Internet was the most productive, in terms of student achievement, in homes where students had effective parental supervision of their computer activities” (Ash, 2009). Yes, when you allow children unsupervised time they will not always choose to use it to further their academics; I believe this is true of many students, not just any single group of students. Moreover, you couple this with hard working families where parent(s) are working to survive and may not have time to provide the type of support students need then you do have the setting for the type of findings originally described.

Let’s stop blaming the poor for being poor and provide support to all parents so they have the tools needed to make smart decisions about how to best support their children. Let’s also expand after school programming so that all students can have access  to supervised and appropriate access to technology. Access to and familiarity with technology is no longer “optional”; it is a necessity. Unless you are looking to create a permanent underclass that simply performs manual labor all students need ready access to tools that will develop their minds to their fullest potential.

Tech Resources

January/February 2012 Leadership has some great web resources for administrators. Some of which I use and recommend:

  • Facebook: I post work related items on a group page.
  • Twitter: to update myself and others on relevant educational info
  • Hightail (was Yousendit): You will always need way to send a large file.
  • Slideshare: One way to share a presentation you worked hard on that others might appreciate after your done with it.
  • Livebinders: My newest find. A little clunky but is working well.
  • Dropbox: Been using it for years. A great way to keep files and to share with others.
  • Evernote: Not as handy as it would seem but I do use it occasionally. Mostly, it seems when I’m out in the field and need to take a quick picture with a note attached.
  • RSS: Use this in hootsuite as an easy way to stay up to date with webpages with an RSS feed.
  • Tripit (I’m not sure how “administrator” specific it is but I use it when I travel.)

Some resources I haven’t tried but looking forward to trying them based on the article:


What do you use?

The Answer to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in teaching: Virtual Coaching

ASCD had a thought provoking article on virtual coaching. The idea is basically that the coach would use technology do “drop in” to a classroom to conduct classroom observations. It suggest the following equipment for teachers a) wide angle webcam b)bluetooth adapter c) bluetooth headset and for the coach a)external HD b)headset with microphone c) webcam and microphone. The idea being that the teacher could recieve real time feedback as the coach watches the classroom in action. I like this idea because it addresses one of the basic problems with current classroom observations i.e., that the observer can often change the behavior of the classroom by the simple fact of being in the room. With a Virtual Coach the drops in via a webcam the visit becomes truly unobtrusive. I think this would also lead to increased productivity by the coach and teachers as the coach can easily visit multiple classrooms in the same time it would take the coach to visit one classroom and then walk to the next classroom.

However, I would not advocate dropping in without the teachers prior knowledge. If this were to be used to “spy” on teachers, I think that the program would be counter-productive as any advantage would be eliminated by creating an unhealthy school environment.

Use Social Media at Schools and Districts.

The use of social media in schools should be greatly expanded. I know there are privacy issues because students are involved but those can be addressed. For example, I would love if every school had their own twitter account that was an extension of the school districts’ twitter account. For example, @District and @District_School. Whenever one tweeted the others would retweet. The sharing of information would be exponential! Imagine an @district tweet about upcoming open house dates which all the @District_School accounts would retweet. It would instantly increase the breadth and depth of the message. And if @District_School could advocate for parents of the school to follow, then the message goes even deeper into the community which is part of what we want between schools and the community. The relationship would also work in the other direction. For example, let’s say @district_school was having a local production of a play. @district_school could tweet it and @District would retweet; increasing the spread that @district_school could have by itself. Schools could truly be the model in the use of social media but instead we’re caught up in thinking of reason to not implement new technologies.

Twitter for Schools?

I recently finished Twitter for Good by by Diaz-Ortiz. There were many great ideas that I thought we could use so I approached my “go to” people to help me. These are a group of people who I have a great deal of admiration for and who often are ready to “jump in” when there is something to be done.

So I was surprised when none of them wanted to use twitter. Perhaps more than surprised. Of the six people I was talking to, all of them well respected and educated, none of them wanted to “jump in” to twitter. Moreover, none of them had ever used Twitter. They had a vague or rudimentary understanding of twitter. This, however, was enough to dissuade them from helping spread the use of twitter in our own work. There was a general fear of how twitter might be misused. How would possible communications between staff and students be monitored? Would staff need a principals permission to tweet about events at specific schools?

I don’t write this to “bad mouth” a group of people I honesty respect or air “dirty laundry ; I write this because I wonder “Are they overly cautious or am I naive”? I thought I was a late adopter of twitter; am I off base or cavalier about the use of twitter?

What are your concerns about using twitter in education?

Going digital

Getting access to textbooks and instructional materials should become standard. Now with new legislation online access to textbooks may be in California. I would love to send kids home with an e-reader instead of 25 pounds of books.

Online Course Approvals

Because of my interest in technology my list of duties includes  “online” learning. With budget cuts to programming and the ubiquitousness of technology more and more people are asking about online learning, especially for the summer. A baseline, at least in California, should be that courses be approved by the University of  California system. “University of California – a-g Guide offers some guidance in selecting online schools. Students interested in this option do need to read the fine print. For example, while there is a list of “approved” programs/companies not all the course offered by the program are approved. You will need to do that research but hopefully this can be a start. What are your thoughts? Since online courses can be offered anywhere should there be a national standard/approval for online courses? Who would do it? How? I have some ideas but I’d like to hear yours!

ACSA Region 16 Annual Administrator Awards Banquet 2012

One of my follies is that I like to join groups. I’m in Toasmasters, PDK, AERA, I really could go on for a while. I’ve also run for school board, task forces, and volunteer for other community events. There’s something in me that says, “Hey! I want to know more about that” or “Hey! I can help with that”.  I always seems to think that I have more time than I do and my wife has started to roll her eyes and mutter as she walks away about me being to busy. One of the things I’m currently working on is the ACSA Region 16 Annual Administrator Awards Banquet 2012. I’m currently the President-Elect for the Association of California School Administrators Region 16 and I am responsible for putting together our annual awards banquet.

So why am I blogging about this? How is this useful to you? In doing this event I learned how to create a Paypal account for my organization, used Eventbrite to create a page for it and MailChimp to send out invitations. If you ever want to have an event for your school or organization where you collect money, these three websites seem to be the trifecta. With Paypal you can take credit cards and people can purchase online. With Eventbrite you can provide all the information people need about your event. With MailChimp you can send out a mass email (our server will only let me send out to 50 emails at a time). Hope this helps and if it does let me know (and maybe even invite me…)

JPL Challenge Manual Arts High School, Northop Grumman – YouTube

JPL Challenge Manual Arts High School, Northop Grumman – YouTube.