When Does a Project Need to Die?

When does a project need to die?

I notice things that are broken. I often see people working on projects that have gone on so long, that the project is invalid. Time and money keeps being poured into the project, but there is no end insight. In the past I had to endure a company working on a project from 2004-2009 that did not launch until 2009, and the software was still based-on a 2004 base. Sad. Annoying. Everyone hated it when it was introduced.

In the last year I witnessed a company selling software to schools based-on Microsoft Silverlight in spite of it being canceled by Microsoft (http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-shuts-down-silverlightnet-wont-talk-about-future-updates) . When schools buy solutions like this, they are buying something that is basically dead and frozen in time.

Being personally connected to projects is a mistake many people, including myself, make. The focus should always be to provide support and opportunities for teaching and learning, not to achieve a personal goal.

Keeping it simple a project needs to die if:

  1. There is no leadership or people interested in being project leaders.
  2. The support from the community is not present or they have a negative view of the solution.
  3. New solutions are available and are going to be more affordable over a 5 year period.
  4. The original plan used an outdated technology or core resource that has been deprecated.
  5. Errors and problems are taking more than 30% of the original development time to fix.

The 5th item might not sit well for many people. Consider the math. Ifyou have put one year into a project and the existing problems will take more than 4 months to fix, you need to consider that implementing a new solution might be faster, and cost the same as wasting time and money on something that is plagued with problems.

Conversely if you have only worked 30 days on a project, then putting an extra 9 days into it, is justifiable. Keep the logic reasonable and the 30% ratio will work.

Canceling and/or quitting things has a bad connotation. However remember, projects are made of ideas, and the process of working on a project creates new ideas and experiences for the future. Somethings may seem like an L now but in the future they end up being a W. Play the long game and keep the focus on teaching and learning.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Offense Wins Games, Defense Wins Championships

Richard Dent, Chicago Bears Superbowl MVP

Catchy title- but statistically not accurate. I trust the people at Freakonomics a bit more than I trust my family screaming at the TV on Thanksgiving.

So is this post about statistically irrelevant phrases? No. It is, however, about offense vs defense.

I spent a few days last week working on a “Loss and Recovery” policy for one of the schools I am working with, and if you would like a copy of it, please email me directly: tony.deprato@gmail.com .

The school seems to have been struggling for the last two or three years with students and teachers losing school owned and personal equipment. Everyone I spoke to originally said that it was not a real problem, but when I spoke to the person who manages the inventory, I found out that it was a problem.

As I wrote this policy I had to make a choice, and set my priorities. I firmly believe anyone with more than one priority, has no priorities, so I forced myself to choose: offense or defense.

This is the same decision I had to make a few months ago when redesigning the network. Did I want an offensive active monitoring solution or a defensive passive monitoring solution? In both cases I chose defense over offense.

In a defensive system, the goal is to protect the school’s assets, protect the assets actively connected to the school’s assets, and to record enough information to execute a focused offensive plan in the future. In an offensive system, the goal is to try and find potential threats coming from all clients, at all times, and to intervene as quickly as possible.

For example, in an offensive network if a student goes to a website and downloads inappropriate material- the school would have someone assigned to immediately block their network access and intervene. The student would be reprimanded, probably taken to see an administrator, and various punishments would be carried out. Systems that allow this level of control are expensive. They often require a school to employ a few people to manage them; or they require teachers to stop teaching and play police officer. Long term though, they are ineffective. When students feel they are being monitored, they stop using systems. They stop engaging. They start circumventing school resources by linking to 3G and 4G networks that no one can block.

Before you say, “Yes you can block 3G and 4G services I have seen hardware that does this!”- You need to know this is illegal in mosts parts of the world. The risk of blocking people from making contact during an emergency is always considered too high to allow 3G and 4G networks from being legally blocked.

Also remember, if you can offensively control students, you can do the same to teachers. Maybe teachers were told, “Hey don’t worry we are not watching what you are doing.” It would be more fair to tell them, “Hey we can watch what you are doing when we want to, we just are choosing not to, at least today, tomorrow it depends.” Ask yourself, are teachers who are being monitored doing the same quality of work as teachers who are not?

Offensive systems make administration seem easy, because all the bad things start happening in the shadows. The statistics flatten-out and everyone feels safe. They make teaching and learning worse, because these systems are usually setup to block first and ask questions later; or they run over the network and take-up huge amounts of bandwidth. They use the bandwidth to watch screens and control devices. The worst part is, most people running these systems have no special training. They have no guidelines for understanding privacy, or even how to detect a real threat. They may not even be aware of how much impact they are having on the network, since their priority is to be invasive.

Untrained people will also react quickly to false flags.When a school responds to a false flag, their response resources are tied-up and focused. This means if an event is happening that is significantly worse, the school will not be able to respond in time. Having a great response time is not significant if a pattern of events is occurring and the pattern is unseen.

I recently attended a meeting with 15 other schools. About 50% of them had offensive systems in place or had them in place. One school had spent $60,000 USD on hardware in less than a year, and since, had abandoned their offensive strategy. The 50% that were attempting to be offensive, had poor results, and were looking to either spend more money or hire more people.

The largest school in attendance had completly abandoned monitoring and simply moved resources to teaching and learning and servers. They said that it was impossible to maintain security and teaching and learning if the budget was not infinite. They chose teaching and learning and increased their server/network defense. This school went further, and stated that 3G and 4G devices made it possible for 3-4 kids to hotspot outside the network. Again – they found no point in fighting a losing battle when more than 80% of the students had the ability to be online without being on the school’s network.

In 2011-2012 I was in Hong Kong. At that time I met with 5 different schools, all with a variety of IT configurations and budgets. All of these schools, however, were delivering good education. That statement is based-on test scores and university placement, but I can also state the learning environments I saw were engaging and well supported. None of these schools had made an investment in offensive systems. All of them but one had the budget to execute any type of security plan, and yet, none chose this course of action. Why? Maybe because their schools were doing a good job at being a school and they didn’t want to impact teaching and learning? Just a question and a thought.

Ranting and Raving aside, here is how I see a defensive policy working at a school:

  1. The first step is to creating V-LANS for everything. Make sure the network is organized so that people can clearly see where people are when they are online.
  2. The next step is to pay close attention to user-groups, or organizational units. These can be easily audited by a normal non-IT person. Each group of students and teachers should be in a group. For example, year 6 students should all be in a year 6 group; and middle-school teachers should all be in a middle-school group. This allows rules to be applied to people who have commonalities. Often groups are neglected because no-one makes sure that each year IT updates and audits the users.
  3. Servers and network equipment need to be defended like NORAD. If no-one at the school has completed a Certified Ethical Hacking course, then someone should. The network and servers need to be attacked, exploited, and re-adjusted until the most common exploits are removed. This includes all printers, switches, and peripherals.
  4. All WiFi and LAN connections should require a username and password to sign-in. Everyday, people should have to sign-in when they connect. This creates a very transparent view of who is online, and where they are accessing the network from.
  5. Wifi networks should have a common community password on the SSID. This adds a layer of defense between the school and the outside.
  6. Users should be restricted to a fixed number of devices. This is a simple way to keep people from accessing accounts after stealing someone’s password.
  7. Password policies need to be real and enforced at least twice a year if not more. This means forcing people to change their passwords, and preventing them from using the same passwords all time. People who write down their passwords and leave them out in the open, should be spoken to in a firm and alarming manner :)
  8. An accurate map of the campus should display all access points using the access points IP address. An image file of a map can be overlaid with XML to allow for real-time updating of this data. Having a map of Wifi activity gives IT the ability to narrow down patterns and to hunt for lost devices still connected to the wifi.
  9. Usage reports should be ran weekly to look for trends among groups of users. This level of data collection requires some type of firewall or other access control system. These reports should be shared with the administration and any anomalies or potential risks should be highlighted.
  10. All AUPs need to include the phrase, “No Expectation of Privacy.” Make it clear that data is being collected and studied, and this data will be checked if anything is irregular. The data connects to the user or group, and only data that is alarming will be followed. In other words, we are not watching your screens or reading your emails, we are just watching you online activity. 

In this environment technology can be used to protect resources, help people find things they have lost, and help identify trends in what people are using and needing for their teaching and learning. All of these things are positive, and most people in the community will appreciate the functionality.  However, users will also be very aware that this type of network allows for a history of activity to be flagged as a threat or a violation. The system provides the tools needed to track locations as well as online interactions. Thus, allowing the school to narrow down the time, place, and population in any given scenario.

Most people do things in groups. Monitoring the group and trying understand the group’s goals is more important than apprehending a single student or teacher for breaking the rules.

My “Loss and Recovery” policy includes the defensive use of security cameras, and defensive methods for searching lockers and dorm rooms. It was hard not be aggressive and threatening when writing it, because I wanted to be aggressive. I wanted to be blunt and exercise the school’s right to protect property. Then I realized that being aggressive and blunt against a bunch of middle school kids looking to pull pranks all day really was not the best way to teach them about balancing private and public spaces and understanding the difficulties in managing personal and private property in an organization.

Students are not the enemy, unless you give them something to hate.

Tony DePrato

www.tonydeprato.com

 

Posted in Educational Technology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Should schools manage student devices?

wpid-hal-2014-04-3-09-48.jpg

That sure sounds like a loaded question so let me give you so more details to help you decide one way or another. I’m talking about a BYOD program where students are bringing their own mobile phones and tablets to school. So the question I am posing is should schools have direct access to those devices at all times and have the ability to manage them even when they are not on campus?

That is what some South Korean schools are doing according to an article on The Verge. Some schools (eleven according to the article) are using this system called iSmartKeeper so it is not huge initiative yet. Anyway, here are its capabilities:

  • Block apps at certain times
  • Only allow calls (no SMS) at certain times
  • Only allow emergency calls at certain times
  • Schedule when some apps can be accessed

The system only works with Android phones (no iPhone, Windows Phone or BlackBerrys) and I am assuming is controlled by a central control panel somewhere (probably cloud based).

I know a lot of people that would find this system very appealing – I mean who wouldn’t. You can turn off everyone’s Facebook access with a click of the mouse, or disable all their games with another click. That way you are ensuring that they are more focused, less distracted, even at home. Heck, I bet parents would like that. It sounds great on paper – taking a device and then turning it into a powerful learning tool during certain hours and then letting the user have use it as their personal smart phone on others.

OK, by now I am sure you can hear the skepticism in my tone. This is a huge waste of money and time. Here are the problems.

One, it won’t work as advertised. This is a huge system and huge systems have bugs – no two ways around it. Those bugs will invariably leave students with messed up settings, apps completely locked out or worse – reducing their expensive smart phone down to nothing. It also seems like it takes a lot of time not just to set up but to monitor which is probably another staff member. Honestly, I’d rather hire an integration specialist as opposed to a person who just monitors and manages this system.

Then there starts the game of cat and mouse. We’ve all seen it or heard about it. A school blocks Facebook and then students find ways around it. Then the school fixes that hole and students find another. It sounds like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. Now an Android phone gives you lots of choices. You can root your phone or get to the core and find ways around various security systems. It is a smörgåsbord of choices and options.

Then there is the obvious limitation that it only works with Android phones. So students with other platforms are free to do whatever causing inequality within the school itself. If you’re an administrator reading this, a concerned parent or teacher please don’t go down this alley. Instead ask other questions that question instead of finding a system to avoid such questions. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Is a mobile device a good learning tool for your school.
  • How do we educate our staff on new classroom management techniques to deal with these new devices?
  • How can such a device be leveraged to enhance education?
  • How to handle students on non educational apps?

I think you get the picture.

Patrick Cauley
http://www.thetechjonsey.com

Posted in Opinion, Patrick Cauley | Leave a comment

Podcast 79 – Bill Clinton is boring

itbabble_podcast

 

Man this was another great show. We had Jilene and Cara back and Steve Kellett joined us for the first time. To make things even more special we were at the Global Education Skills Forum (GESF) with some big, big names.  Check out the agenda below and as always, you can listen to us right here on IT Babble, download the podcast from PodOmatic or subscribe to us on iTunes.


Show Notes:

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Edmodo – A guide to explain it all

It is no secret that I love Edmodo. I personally think it is the best online learning management system out there. I mean it’s free, easy to use, pretty darn powerful and can be easily be deployed in elementary schools all the way up to universities. At any rate, I’ve made this guide quite a few times before and here is the latest and greatest one yet. It contains 50+ pages of pure Edmodo goodness. Feel free to download, distribute it and use it as you like.

You can download it from Scribd or from right HERE.

Posted in Edmodo, Patrick Cauley | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

No Youtube… No Problem

In mainland China Youtube is blocked. Some people and schools pay for VPNs to have a slow and throttled Youtube experience. I suppose if core curriculum content is coming from a third-party source that is being hosted on Youtube,  there are not many options – VPN is the only solution.

That being said, since I have been here I have found many content creators like Khan Academy have legal methods for schools to download and serve their content on private servers. It takes time to confirm that it is legal to download and re-distribute, but those developing for education usually do not mind.

The other reason people need Youtube, or think they need Youtube, to host their own videos is because they found some shortcuts in their software that resulted in subtle brainwashing. Here is an example of this clever menu design in the Quicktime image below.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 11.04.35 AM

I firmly believe when users see built-in options like this, they shutdown, stop thinking, and simply start clicking. Since the rise of services like Youtube people have lost the skills to maintain their own media. And for those out there who are sick of Ads and other annoyances with services like Youtube, it is time to consider doing something that people have been able to do since the 1990′s- serve your own media.

Not only can you do it, but you can do it better and faster than you can with most of the popular services.

That voice forming in your head that would like to argue with me is saying, “Wait! What about storage, we can’t afford to store all our videos.” Really? Are you sure? How much video do you have..have you really added it up? Did you inventory your video the correct way?

Before I was in education, I was in video production. The real stuff. TV, documentaries, etc. I was putting video online when most people reading this were learning how to spell I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T.  I know a thing or two about managing a large digital library that has to be used to create original content. Think about it, videos indexed by scenes, so you can find a 10 second segment you need for a large piece to be used in a political smear campaign. It seems time consuming because it is. It is hard work, and forces organization.

Schools need to separate their content into three types:

  1. Instructional content and entertainment you own and have created.
  2. Instructional content and entertainment content you have purchased from a third-party.
  3. Student created content, public and private.

The next step is to make a decision as to how long you will keep media from categories 1-3. I would say every year the student content needs to be purged, except for some very excellent exemplars. Students can keep their own copies. Instructional materials owned by the school should be kept for 2-3 years, but then, it needs to be updated and even deleted.

Keeping those parameters in mind, how much storage will you need? Remember you will be serving either FLV files or some form of MP4. Not only can you create these easily on Mac and Windows, you can BATCH convert them with programs like Mpeg Streamclip. You can take the files created in programs like iMovie, and make them 60% smaller without hurting the quality.

Add-up the total amount of data you are using on Youtube, reduce the size by 30% to be conservative, and now ask yourself can you afford to host your own videos. Most hosting plans have huge amounts of storage, but might limit you on your monthly bandwidth. Most allow you to add additional bandwidth if you need it. Having 2-3 accounts on the same hosting service, is an easy way to off-set bandwidth limitations for very little money.

Five gigabytes of monthly bandwidth is about 15 hours of standard definition movies. If you figure the average instructional video is 5-10 minutes long, that means 90 instructional videos @ 10 minutes at standard definition Netflix style playback. Most of the videos you can easily compress will be significantly less than that.

If one hosting account was 100 USD a year, you would be able to serve over 900 videos based-on the limitations above, even though the number would probably be closer to 1200-1500. Add two additional accounts, for a total of 300 USD a year, and you can serve 2700 videos a year or 270 videos per month. (I am not counting the summer/holidays in the estimate).  I am using a cheap account for this math as well, there are others designed for media hosting that are cheaper for larger amounts of monthly bandwidth.

Many schools have their own internal hosting, and probably have what it takes to serve Youtube quality video without any additional cost. Schools paying for a VPN to host their own content on Youtube are losing money, because VPNs are expensive and the performance is horrible. Most schools pay for some kind of hosting anyway, so the expenses listed above are most likely already in the operational budget.

Schools that can use Youtube for free are losing valuable time and control over the user experience.  The reason schools lose time, is because uploading you own videos using FTP is significantly faster than doing uploading using the built in services in software, or the web-based uploaders.

Ask yourself, how many times have you sat and let your computer work to convert and upload a video? It can take 30 minutes or it can take hours. The failure rate for uploading without FTP is also significantly higher.  Time is a currency in education, and wasting it, should be avoided.

Even students can get videos off iPads and laptops onto a private server faster than using the student Wifi to sync 30 videos within a class period. Time wasted on uploading, is time wasted on learning.

Finally, when free services are used, control of intellectual property is lost. Rules for usage and ads can be changed with little or no notice. Exposure to content can only be assured on paper, not really guaranteed. Privately hosted content can be fully controlled, and delivered in many creative ways.

That other type of media content I mentioned, Instructional content and entertainment content you have purchased from a third-party, that can be managed in some very interesting ways as well. It is amazing what one can do with a complete understanding of protocols that make podcasting work. However, that is more of a private conversation.

Do the math, and have the conversations. Learning to really manage media is a great educational process for teachers, IT administrators, and students. In the end, the learning happens within the process, so it worth beta testing and exploring.

Tony DePrato
www.tonydeprato.com

Posted in Educational Technology | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Podcast Episode 78 – That was fast!

itbabble_podcast

Well we had a very small agenda and somehow dragged it out to an hour! That got out of hand fast. This should have been posted last week. We are joined by Preston, myself, Cara and her husband Phil!

Listen here or you can find it on iTunes or PodOmatic.


Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The problem’s not the app . . .

wpid-yikyak-2014-03-12-12-17.jpg

The other day my wife showed me this article on CNN. It was about a particular app called Yik Yak. You can read all about it from there website here or read about the Android app here. The basic premise is that Yik Yak uses your location, and lets you post whatever you want anonymously and the people around you can see those posts and then everyone vote them up and down. If a post gets voted down enough it disappears. The app is free and available on iOS and Android. The article on CNN talks about how students are using this app to bully and bash people online. Since there is no account/sign up there is no way to track down who said what. This type of article usually brings about such questions as . . .

  • WHAT WILL WE DO?
  • HOW CAN WE STOP STUDENTS FROM USING THE APP?
  • SHOULD WE BAN DEVICES?
  • HOW CAN WE BLOCK THIS WEBSITE/APP?
  • IS IT THE END OF DAYS?

OK, that last one is a bit of an exaggeration but it all boils down to the same thing – fear. This is not new nor is it an original idea/article. Let me show you some examples.

I have seen this article before with Facebook.

wpid-screenshot2014-03-12at12-27-54pm-2014-03-12-12-17.png

I saw it before with Twitter.

wpid-screenshot2014-03-12at12-28-04pm-2014-03-12-12-17.png

I’ve also seen it written about FormSpring.

wpid-edmodo_a045-2014-03-12-12-17.png

I’ve seen it written about SnapChat too.

wpid-edmodo_a046-2014-03-12-12-17.png

Let me tell you people, the problem here isn’t Yik Yak. The problem is how our students are treating each other. It is the actions of the individual or groups of students that need to change, not Facebook, Twitter, Yik Yak or any other app or website.

Think about a time when there were no apps, no smartphone, and no widespread wifi. Even without these tools bullying was around and schools were battling it. It is true, these apps can make it easier for students to bully but let’s put it in perspective. The app didn’t teach this behavior or condone the student’s action. The app didn’t tell them how to do it. The app developers weren’t wringing their hands together evilly and hoping to bring about the end to the modern world. So how is banning the app or putting it under a microscope going to stop bullying? The short answer is it won’t. At best it will drive it underground for a bit and then it’ll come back-maybe in the form of a different that app but the bullying will continue.

I’m not saying changing a person’s behavior or getting a child to see and understand the harmful effects of bullying is easy because it’s obviously not. If it were, bullying wouldn’t be a problem and we would have taken care of years ago. However, attacking the app and banning it isn’t the long term solution. I would even say that it is a poor solution. Start by education yourself. Here are some very good websites to get started:

There are plenty more out there – just search for them.

Then get your counselors involved – they are the real experts here and ignore those fear mongers at CNN and other websites that tell you to beware of certain apps. Don’t be afraid of technology, embrace it, learn about it and then teach our students the appropriate ways to use it or at the very least know how to walk away from something that isn’t healthy for them and how to seek out help if they need it. This method will yield better results than just banning and talking about an app.

Patrick Cauley
http://www.thetechjonsey.com

Posted in cyber awareness, Opinion, Patrick Cauley | 2 Comments

Required Professional Development, That You Do Not Have to Attend

forest_trees

The Forest for the Trees

The title is a bit misleading, this is about PD, but it mostly about people not actually believing in people.  This post will summarize a solution to a problem I have been struggling with for the last few years. When the solution came to me, my mind began to fill with phrases like:

Many years ago when I was working on my masters, I remember having a very detailed discussion with my professor about motivating teachers to do professional development (PD). Obviously, people can be bought. There is no other way to say that. If you have money and pay people, they will attend PD. Most schools cannot afford this type of model, and many types of PD are required for people to do their jobs well- so schools should not pay people to meet requirements. The other things you can offer teachers is time. Time-off for doing something or a removal of a normal duty.

Not offering people anything is very common. Trying to appeal to people by explaining how important learning X  is, is the strategy most schools employ. The fact is though, doing this does not ensure anyone is learning. It does not mean people will arrive prepared and ready to learn. This strategy cannot predict who will pay attention and who will simply hang-out until the end of the required time.

Your mind is now generating this statement, “But in a few weeks the ones who did not pay attention will have trouble with ‘X’ and the school will know who they are.”  No. That is also not going to happen. The reason being, the school probably setup PD sessions that were overcrowded, on a short time constraint, or both. So those who were sitting in the PD on their Facebook can simple say that there was not enough time for them to ask questions, and they will claim they need to be heavily differentiated.

That was the past. That was the wrong way to do things. This is the correct way. This is the future.

Time is a currency, and for an overworked staff, or a staff that believes they are overworked, time is often worth more than money.

First off, for this to work, the PD needs to be organized. All PD needs to have a lesson plan that links to some type of instructional material and the lesson plan should have learning goals. These goals have to connect to activities that can be measured or monitored.


Sample Partial Lesson Plan

Lesson : Office 365 Calendar

  • All participants will understand the concept of sharing a link vs sending an attachment.
  • All participants will be able to access their web calendar.
  • All participants will be able to add a new event to the calendar and invite people.
  • All participants will be able to view their calendar in weekly, monthly and daily layouts;
    and they will be able to print the calendar if needed.

Activity 2:

Everyone need to create a new event.

They should create a start and stop time during the PD time. We want them to all get a notification before the PD is over. For example: a 4:45 start – 5:00 end

They need to PASTE the link to their shared document in the event body. They need to invite two people to the event.

Once someone receives and invite, they need to accept it. 


Once the lesson plan is complete it needs to be distributed. Yes, email is an option, but using Moodle, iTunes U, Edmodo, etc. would be better. When it is distributed, tutorials need to be include. Tutorials like this: http://go.myykps.cn/?q=offcie365training

Do you need PDFs, Videos, Audio, or a celebrity guest to help differentiate the material? No. All you need is a good source that covers all the topics that will help people achieve the goals. Time is important for everyone, including the people running the PD. Powerpoint is probably the worst option though. People who want to do things on their own, want to be able to move around easily and find topics. Unless you are one of those people who use Powerpoint to write small novellas, then your talking points and notes will not be very useful to the audience. If you are one of those people, please stop and seek help. No one can read that much on a Powerpoint slide.

Now that the lesson is made and training materials are connected to the lesson plan, the final step is to contact the audience and include:

1. The goals of the upcoming PD
2. The lesson plan
3. The link to the materials
4. And this sentence: “If you can complete all the goals in the lesson plan, and notify [name/person] when you are complete, you do not need to attend the PD session(s) today. You are free to do whatever you want to do. If you want to help other participants instead of being a participant, let [name/person] know.”

In the lesson sample above, I would have added instructions for people wanting to opt-out to include me on their calendar invites and other sharing activities. This allows me to monitor their progress, and add them to a list of people who do not need to come to the PD session.

This strategy allows me to remove about 20%-30% of the population from the training, and gain some extra help for those people looking for uber-differentiation.
I would call this a win-win. Teachers, even if they hate all PD, will realize they have a choice. Anyone who values their time and has a bit of confidence will be able to take some control of their day and schedule. Those who choose to come to the PD, will be in smaller groups and have more support.

The first time I did this, I had one teacher email me and say, “I have finished. I am helping others in my department so we can all skip the session.” I thought this was amazing. The department did not just walk out early, they all met on their own and worked on their projects. They actually used the time to save time in the future.

For me, there is no turning back. I am going to encourage everyone at school to not go to PD. I am going to focus on making it easier and easier for people to do their own learning. The data collection on who is doing what is easy and includes a record of achievement. I want PD session to be EMPTY!

I firmly believe most people can handle most of the PD topics on their own, at least the ones geared towards the classroom teachers. I also believe paying people with time and control over their schedules will prove this theory to any school who has doubts.

I spent the last few years trying to structure the end-of-day sessions to be more appealing, and to find clever ways to get people to follow-up on training. This approach used more of their time. I was focused so hard on the PD sessions, that I lost the point of the exercise. Learning is the point. Motivating people to learn is what I needed to focus on. Motivation requires most people to perceive some kind of gain. I was only giving them loss. No more.

Tony DePrato

www.tonydeprato.com

Posted in Helpful Tips, Opinion | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Google Sites – Let’s get started

wpid-pastedgraphic-2014-03-5-20-40.png

No, no, no this is not the review you’re looking for. That is coming soon. This is just a resource I’ve thrown together for a Google Site workshop I have coming up. I thought I’d give you guys a sneak peek. It’s nothing flashy, but it will get you started with creating your first Google Site. I won’t get into the good/bad conversation but I will give you two great features that make Google Site worth while for schools who use Google Apps for Education.

  1. You can have multiple collaborators working on one site. This means one site per subject/grade level which will help bring more synergy and horizontal alignment.
  2. You can copy the site. Meaning if you leave your school, you can take a copy of that site with you to your new position – very helpful.

So without much more fan fare, check out the guide below. If you want a PDF copy of the guide click HERE!

Patrick Cauley
www.thetechjonsey.com

Google Sites – Getting started

What is Google Sites?

What is Google Sites?

Google Sites is a service freely offered by Google that allows anyone to easily create and share a website. It has many features such as:

  • Adding images
  • Adding video
  • Powerful customization tools
  • Google Drive integration
  • Collaborative features
  • Easy to use tools

Step 1 – Creating your site

To get started make sure you are using and logged into Chrome.

Then go to http://sites.google.com

From here click the Create button.

Step 1 - Creating your site

A new window will appear. From here you can do many things:

  • Select a template – You can chose from Google’s own or others people have submitted.
  • Name your site – This will also affect the URL or web address of the site
  • Select a theme – What you want your stie to look like

The good news here is that all of these choices can be changed later on, so feel free to experiment and play around with whatever you want.

806ec1ed-94bb-4136-8e1e-407c32b57dc6.png

Step 2 – Let’s edit

Once that is all done, it will take you to your site. It will look pretty bare but that’s OK.

To start editing click on the Pencil icon in the top right hand corner of your browser.

When you do, the editor will load which is just a toolbar full of formatting options.

Most of these options are pretty straightforward such as font size, color, justification, etc.

So go nuts here and add all the content you want.

cfdfac87-95c6-4f5d-b4ba-48f9e97fb049.png

Step 3 – Inserting media

Click on Insert in the top menu will give you a large amount of options. Here you can insert Images, Links to other websites, YouTube videos and more.

Your choices are broken into three categories. Common and Google are pretty straight forward. Gadgets on the other hand give you lots of interesting features such as games, RSS feeds and more

Step 3 - Inserting media

There are well over a hundred gadgets to chose from. They are

f824451c-8e14-46c4-9fb3-fbc1d325b433.png

When you add a gadget this is how it will look while you are editing the page.

When you are done editing or want to see what you’ve done click on the Save button in the top right hand corner of your browser.

e13b24f6-b244-4c78-91b3-dccd00c2e6fe.png

Here is what it looks like on the website

*NOTE: DUE TO THE EVER CHANGING NATURE OF THE INTERNET SOME GADGETS MAY NOT WORK WITH NEWER BROWSERS*

6371ae7a-7a4a-46a8-90eb-99b06ac86352.png

Step 4 – Layout

By default your page has one giant column but you can change that here.

Step 4 - Layout

Step 5 – Add a new page

Chances are you will need to add more than one page.

To do this make sure you are not editing any pages.

Then click on the New Page icon in the top right hand corner of your web browser.

Step 5 - Add a new page

A new window will appear that will allow you to name your page.

Leave everything else alone and click Create.

Don’t worry about adding it to the navigation bar, this will happen automatically.

d7bfb5c3-b9de-430c-ab59-97b08d86903d.png

Step 6 – Sharing your site

Again, make sure you are not editing any pages.

Click on the Share button in the top right hand corner of the screen.

Step 6 - Sharing your site

Sharing and Permissions – blah blah

A familiar window will appear.

Type the person’s Google Apps for Education email address in this box and click Send.

Sharing and Permissions - blah blah

*NOTE: ONLY ONE PERSON CAN EDIT A PAGE AT A TIME*

Step 7 – Make it public

By default, your website will be private which means only you (or anyone you’ve shared it with) can view it.

To change this come back to the Share page and click on Change…

Step 7 - Make it public

Sharing and Permissions – blah blah

Sharing and Permissions - blah blah

CONGRATULATIONS!

Posted in Patrick Cauley, tutorial | Tagged , | Leave a comment