ADVIS Workshop: Tech Leadership

This past Thursday I represented Archmere at a tech leadership workshop at The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square hosted by the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS). The day-long retreat, which featured speakers David Warlick and Felix Jacomino, focused on the integration and promotion of technology within the classroom.

I took away the following points from the workshop:

  • We as teachers need to model ourselves as lifelong learners.
  • The 21st century school is one without limits – “schools without walls.”
  • We need to use digital content effectively to prepare students for their futures, not ours.
  • Our students face an unpredictable future as we move from an industrial age to a creative age. Students need to possess the skills to teach themselves.
  • Students are immersed in a new information landscape where a critical skill must be vetting the accuracy of a website. What does literacy mean?
  • Students are wired to learn. We need to re-think pedagogies.

Below, I share each speakers’ presentation topics and my thoughts about each.

Warlick, an education consultant, offered a great deal of insight into the future development of integrative educational technologies. Warlick’s first presentation, “Harnessing The Perfect Storm,” posed the fundamental question:

Can computers be creative?


In his second presentation, Warlick discussed the “native information experience” of younger generations that have only known a world of computers. He said this millennial experience “ignores barriers” and “empowers accomplishment.”


Warlick’s final presentation focused on the dual task of both “telling the story” of data while simultaneously quantifying it. He began the lecture with a powerful quote from Dr. Dennis Sumara:

The human brain is not logical …it is analogical.

In other words, the human brain is designed to take sensory input and construct useful patterns with it.


Thoughts on Warlick’s presentations:

  • He was very engaging, but how can we make his ideas/observations relevant to Archmere’s specific academic program?
  • Technology is no longer novel. Therefore it needs to be seamless and reliable. I like the cliche: Technology needs to be like air – ubiquitous and invisible. Obviously, this is easier said than done.

Jacomino, Director of Technology at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School, shared insight into the social dynamics of IT departments and tech specialists in an educational setting. He attributed successful implementation of technology initiatives to meaningful professional development,the ratio of tech integrators to educators/students, and the reduction of software management.


Thoughts on Jacomino’s presentation:

  • Archmere has made the correct move in paring down locally-housed technology infrastructure. Examples include Google Apps and fewer sever. This keeps the tech budget low.
  • Nobody wins when schools filter web content. It is better to put energy toward educating students about appropriate use of the web, social media channels, etc.
  • Many of the schools at the workshop clearly delineate Academic Tech from IT departments. It is critical that both communicate frequently and effectively. I have worked to keep Archmere’s single Tech department focused on the academic program.

Technology Is Not Always Disruptive

Technology is neither good nor bad. It is a reflection of us.
– Henry Alex Rubin

It happens to students, teachers, even John McCain – pretty much every human being experiences distraction.

You can only pay attention in class or during a meeting for so long before before your mind first begins to wander. Then, your hand reaches into your pocket for your iPhone.

Not a gamer?

Perhaps, then you find yourself scrolling your Facebook and Twitter timelines, or you begin surfing your go-to news websites like ESPN, CNN, , Yahoo – linked for your browsing leisure.

As Henry Alex Rubin’s film Disconnect shows, distractibility depends upon one’s personality more than the disruptive forms technology can take. But as much as technology can be disruptive, some kinds of technology actually offer ways to focus better.

Jeff Dunn from Edudemic posted a great article the other day, wherein he lists the top Mac applications that help you avoid distraction and remain focused while trying to get work done.

Dunn writes, “Hopefully, they’ll help students study a bit better, teachers focus a bit more, and everyone else get a little bit more accomplished. It won’t be easy though.”

As intelligent as humans are, we often times have difficulty staying focused – especially in class or during meetings. Some argue that the “invasion” of technology into every aspect of our lives has only exacerbated the brevity of the younger generation’s attention span.

Technology, it seems, has given ADD two legs to stand on. Most notably with the Internet, technological advances over the past 50 years have provided humans with virtually limitless ways to find overwhelming amounts of information, accessible at any time of the day from any place around the world – as long as you can get Wi-Fi or a cellular signal.

The resulting cultural trends of immediacy and constant-connectivity are quite obvious in the younger generation’s social interactions and behavior.

But technology has undeniably and profoundly changed the way we learn in class and work at our jobs (most of the time more efficiently with the implementation of technology – most). It is plain impossible to go an entire day without looking at an LCD screen of some kind.

So instead of putting on the blinders while condemning the inevitably approaching day when technology will become as crucial to our existence as one of our vital organs, embrace it.

Don’t think of iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macbooks (or any brand other than Apple that sell similar devices) as distractions. Rather, view them as convenient access points that have the capability of assisting you in your academic and/or professional pursuits where ever and whenever you choose.

Check out Dunn’s article, “The Best Free Mac Apps To Help You Stay Focused.”

You just might find something to curb your procrastinative nature.

Multimedia In The Classroom: 100 Best Video Sites For Educators

Notice the copyright of this Randy Glasbergen cartoon – 1996. Technology began to drastically change the landscape of the American educational system more than 15 years ago.

Can you imagine a classroom setting 15 years before 1996?

In 1981, the IBM “personal computer,” or IBM PC, was introduced to the public. Educators were just beginning to realize and accept technology’s potential to change the classroom.

Can you imagine a classroom setting 15 years into the future?

Whatever technological advances will shape the classroom experience of 2028, educators will be faced with the same challenge – how do you “harness” the potential of technology to create an interactive, engaging, and dynamic learning experience?

Edudemic provides a great article that lists resources for educators looking to integrate multimedia into their present-day classrooms:

The 100 Best Video Sites For Educators

Add it to your bookmarks. You will thank yourself.

The websites feature content across several subject areas and different purposes. Documentaries, lectures, speeches, educational channels, professional development – you name it, you can probably find it here.

The article conveniently groups the 102 websites into 11 categories:

  • Educational Video Collections
  • General Video Collections
  • Teacher Education
  • Lesson Planning
  • Science, Math, and Technology
  • History, Art, and Social Sciences
  • Video Tools
  • Network and Program Videos
  • Free Movies and Clips
  • How Tos
  • Government and Organizations

Happy integrating!