Tech Savvy, Are Your Sure?

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

There are many uncomfortable situations people in technology leadership have to endure annually. Normally, uncomfortable situations are created because someone did not understand the far reaching ramifications of a single bad decision. Often, these are not isolated incidents. Too often, in meeting rooms or private conferences, these words hang in the air when such uncomfortable situations occur, “Tech Savvy”.

What Does it Mean to be Savvy?

savvier; savviest
: having or showing perception, comprehension, or shrewdness especially in practical matters

shrewd·ness
the quality of having or showing good powers of judgement.

I think something often ignored in a definition, is how it connects to other concepts. If savvy has a relationship with shrewdness, then a savvy person needs to be shrewd in order to be savvy.

Being savvy does not simply mean being informed, it means being able to make decisions (often tactical decisions) in very difficult circumstances.

Defining Tech Savvy

I have been working in some type of technology field, or technology skill related job, since I was 19 years old. In 24 years, I do think I have ever said I am tech savvy. I would need to review many thousands of words I have published, but I am certain that day-to-day I avoid using the term.

I have tried many times to define what Tech Savvy means. I have often thought having a “Tech Savvy” certification for teachers would be an interesting idea.

Unfortunately, every time I try to define the term, outline the metrics, and make a public statement for people to comment on, I pause.

Technology is a generic term for a massively diverse universe of things, concepts, solutions, and industries.

Educational Technology, EdTech, would seem to be an area of technology that is easy to define. Being Tech Savvy in EdTech should be easy to define, and T-shirts should be printed in mass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even EdTech, is hard to define. Some core areas of EdTech many teachers and administrators do not fully or completely understand:

  • Data standardization
  • Assessment Data Collection and Analysis
  • Data Privacy
  • Transcription
  • Scheduling
  • Network Security to align with Child Protection and Academic Honesty Enforcement
  • Admissions Processes and Withdrawal Processes

In international education each one of the above is more complex, and they often need to meet multiple language and governmental requirements.

To not completely understand, means, there is a lack of shrewdness. So, who should be making these decisions? Sitting in these meetings? And, who knows everything?

No One is Tech Savvy

There is a Japanese proverb I studied many years ago. It states: Even the Monkey can Fall from the Tree.

Even though I spend hundreds of hours a month working on multiple EdTech projects, I take time to pause and plan each project. I do make mistakes. I also take steps so I can revert my mistakes. I expect to make mistakes. Maybe I am Mistake Savvy?

I research projects, even if I have done similar projects multiple times. I look for new models, and methods. I consult dozens of professionals, and open the door so they can easily consult me. Writing a consultation for a third-party, is one of the best ways to measure knowledge, and ignorance. Can you make a plan, that someone else can follow, but you cannot direct? 

I am never going to be confident enough to say that I am universally Tech Savvy.

I would rate myself as an expert in some areas of EdTech. However, for each of those areas I continue to study. The more I study, the more I realize there is to learn. Maybe I am a Savvy Student?

To have a good culture in a school, or any organization, I believe in avoiding labels. No one should be left making decisions alone, especially when student data and learning is at risk. Being shrewd and tactical is powerful in a leader, but it is even more powerful in a team.

Fix Your Mission Statement

I firmly believe in good mission statements. I have seen many mission statements, but have seen very few good ones. Leaders need missions statements. Everyone in leadership feels isolated at times, and, they often believe they need to be shrewd to stay relevant.

To avoid bad decisions, and to neutralize bad labels, add this to your mission statement: Do No Harm, Now and in the Future.

Students leave. They move on. That is the purpose of education. All present decisions, impact students after they leave. I have found no better way to plan long term than to plan to support students after they leave, and never to impeded them.

Planning only for now, or until a student moves from grade-to-grade (or class to class), will do harm.

A long term view of students, and their academic and professional lives, is a defense against the short term bad decisions individuals and teams can make.

A person can be Tech Savvy right now, but rarely, as Tech Savvy in the near future. Take the long term view.  Do not try and be savvy in something that is always changing, and often filled with false promises and overstated features.

Be a savvy planner. Be a savvy researcher.

 

 

Posted in Educational Technology, Opinion, Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Episode 155 – Gamechanger

Tony and Patrick are back in another awesome episode of IT Babble. The big news here is Amazon Workspaces and the game changing opportunities it offers education. Check out all the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. In 2018, Windows died at home and nobody cared by Jason Perlow of ZDNET
    1. https://www.zdnet.com/article/in-2018-windows-died-at-home-and-nobody-cared/
      1. K-12 and Higher education still uses laptops/desktops
  2. Your Smartphone is the Best Computer You Own by David Pierce NO 🙂
      1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/your-phone-is-the-best-computer-you-ownso-use-it-more-1527084001
    1. Schools typically follow business
    2. Should schools ditch laptops for “mobile” devices
  3. iPads vs. Chromebooks: Part 2 by Patrick Cauley
    1. https://itbabble.com/2018/06/04/ipads-vs-chromebooks-part-2-2018/
    2. Chromebooks it is!
    3. Interesting results of the student survey
  4. The accidental BYOD solution by Tony DePrato
    1. https://itbabble.com/2018/06/06/the-accidental-byod-solution/
    2. Amazon Workspaces
    3. Amazon Education – https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?&docId=1000412651
    4. WINE for Ubuntu – https://wiki.winehq.org/Ubuntu

As always you can download the episode here

Or listen below.

 

 

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

The Accidental BYOD Solution

byod2

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

After reading Patrick’s recent post about iPads and Chromebooks, I decided to wrap-up an article that follows along those same lines.

The problem is, right now, (and how do I put this) our options for EdTech SUCK!

In 2008, I would have said Apple is the best solution for any school or family that could afford the platform. Then Apple started to change. I think it could be argued, they quietly have abandoned the education market.
rings

iPads are awful devices. Aside from oddly developed apps like Swift Playgrounds, iPad learning falls into two categories:

  1. Consumer Consumption
  2. Make it the way the App Says

There is no ability for students to go beyond the rules of the iPad, to change the rules of the iPad, or to create anything that was not predicted.

Microsoft has made amazing strides recently, and I do like their products. Not laptops running Windows. Specifically, I like Microsoft products such as the Surface.  However, the Surface products are too expensive, and there is still massive security issues involved in running Microsoft products. The Microsoft hardware does not reflect the actual cost of ownership, when much of that cost is used for defending the organizational ecosystem.

The rest of the market is too fragmented to build a stable platform. Unless a school directs students to only by a specific make a model every year (and every year it will change) there is no hope to establish a level playing field with BYOD students.

But. Maybe there is hope. An unplanned, and possibly accidental partnership. Chromebook + Amazon.

Google has been a big education player for some time. Overall, their services and branded hardware are dependable and flexible. The hardware changes often, but the Chrome OS is consistent.

Chrome OS is a solution for any school that has reliable internet access. Therefore, Chromebooks make a great hardware platform for such schools. Chromebooks have some reasonable opposition among many EdTech leaders:

  1. The platform cannot run powerful applications like Photoshop, Video Editing Packages, Etc.
  2. The platform is slow when working outside the core Google products
  3. Chromebooks have one official browser, and are not fully compatible with all websites/applications
  4. Although it is possible to code and create software on a Chromebook, the development options are lacking those of a traditional laptop (This is important for schools developing computer science and/or app development curricula.)

What if these four issues, were eliminated? Would the Chromebook be a better choice for most BYOD families or for schools buying hardware for students?

Enter Amazon Workspaces.

I tested Amazon Windows 10 Workspaces last year. I liked the experience, but had no reason to use the service. However, it occurred to me if Amazon Workspaces supported Chrome OS, then I could create a flexible platform for BYOD that used Chromebooks.

Guess what? There is a Workspaces Client and App for Chrome OS.

512nmkgumll

I have tested this platform for 6 weeks now using the new Samsung Chromebook and an Apple Laptop. I wanted to compare the performance of the Workspace’s Client service on two hardware platforms. Here is what I have found:

All four issues above were resolved. I even installed Photoshop and used it at the office.

Google + Amazon is a great concept for BYOD for education. The problem is, no one at Google or Amazon has realized it yet. This means the concept is not easy to implement at scale.

Although Chrome OS is free, Workspaces is not free. They do have a very affordable educational package. However, the entire process of getting signed-up, and calculating the price, is very convoluted. Amazon for Business is mature. Amazon for education seems like a discount coupon, not a well directed initiative.

The next issue is setting up management for the Workspaces. The cost of doing this at scale is currently not clear. The cost is clear online, but the actual bills do not match the flat rates. I constantly ask for my costs to be explained. I send scenarios to people at Amazon to get pricing, and then I wait for the bill. The bill never matches the predictions.

This is only part one of this research and possible new BYOD model. I am close to having what I would consider an affordable and reasonable deployment model for Workspaces with Chromebooks.

Keep in mind with Amazon you pay for what you use. Imagine having the ability to enable 60 Workspaces for one semester for students doing an Introduction to Graphic Design. Then paying only for a limited number of licenses for all the software. After the semester, students who are keen to grow and develop their skills retain access, those who want to move onto a new topic lose their access.

How many schools pay for a campus level license for Adobe Creative Cloud, yet only use a fraction of the licenses in any concurrent period?

How many schools give all students a license for Windows 10, just in case they take one or two courses where Windows is required for the curriculum?

If this concept can become reasonable and predictable, then we get much closer to the goal of being able to create equal access and opportunity without over burdening families and budgets.

Part two of this topic is pending until July, when I receive my next bill.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

iPads vs Chromebooks: Part 2 – 2018

In the Part 1 I surveyed teacher to see how they feel about the 1:1 program. overall the teachers are still very enthusiastic about it, but when asked if the iPad was the best device based on what and how they teach many felt that it wasn’t. They thought that Chromebooks may be a better option.

So I sat down with the division heads (or principals if you like) and let them take a peek at the results. We discussed them and I got some of their opinions and then we talked about what the next step should be. I wanted to survey the parents and gather how they feel about this possible switch. The middle school division head spoke up and she thought that surveying the students may yield better results. I believe she is right. These students are the ones using the devices each and every day. The parents on the other hand most likely rarely know the devices as well as their children and probably (not in all cases of course) are unaware of the differences between an iPad, Chromebook, Windows S and so on.

Instead of surveying the entire middle school (5th – 8th grade). We decided on just the 8th graders. They are leaving us this year and had used their iPads for four years. Since they were leaving us we figured they would be far more honest and be able to draw upon their experiences. So here we go!

The survey

The survey itself has four sections of questions:
1) Section 1 – 1:1 program and the use of the iPad
2) Section 2 – Technology offerings
3) Section 3 – Student printing
4) Section 4 – In general

The results

We had nearly 80% of our 8th graders respond to the survey which I was very pleased with and their results were pretty enlightening as well. I will not go through each question and dissect the results but hit the highlights. For your information 1 = Yes and a 4 = No

The first question was about having the device.

As you can see just over half feel that a device to take home is important. Perhaps the indifference is due to teachers not leveraging the iPad or maybe that students wanted a different type of device.

Another highlight was about how well students felt they could research on an iPad. This was surprising. I did not expect this answer to be so positive. I really thought that a mobile browser would hinder or slow this down, but students did not seem to mind.

I did ask about typing on the iPad. As you might guess more than 70% of the students felt that the iPad was not easy to type on.

However, the next question did surprise. In fact of all the questions about the iPad this one made me really pause. I asked if they felt the iPad is good at taking photos and/or videos. Check out the results (remember 1 is very good and 4 is very bad).

Now here comes the million dollar question. If you were an incoming 5th grader which device would you prefer?

As you can see, Chromebooks and (WOW) Windows S machines make up 88% of the responses! Three people typed in MacBooks and one person (2.9%) voted for a new iPad.

That last bit of information coupled with the teacher results tell us that iPads aren’t really working for us. Who knows, iPads may be the best choice in a few years or even Windows S but right now it seems or teachers and students are of a similar mind and we will be exploring Chromebooks starting in the fall for our fifth graders.

Posted in chromebook, iPad | 2 Comments

Episode 154 – Poop on the Desk

Tony and Patrick are back and what an episode! Check out the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or on your favorite podcasting app.

  1. The best gadgets are the ones you know how to use by Dieter Bohn
    1. https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/2/17302680/best-gadgets-tech-gear-liveblog-bag
    2. This applies to schools: hardware, software, SIS, gradebooks, etc.
    3. When is it good to make those changes?
  2. Access Denied: Controlling What Students Can Access by Tony DePrato
    1. https://itbabble.com/2018/05/05/controlling-what-students-can-access/
  3. iPads vs. Chromebooks update
    1. Student survey
  4. Tony’s testing with Amazon Work Spaces
    1. Tony tested Windows 10 with Amazon Work Spaces on a Chromebook
    2. It works
  5. End OF YEAR Process

You can download the episode here.

You can listen to it below.

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

Google Forms and Sheets – Olympic Scoring – Reflection

Alright! The day of the big event has happened and here is how it shook out. Overall the day was great due to the awesome planning from the PE department. So the day went well but how did the Google Form and Google Sheet hold up? In short it did fine but there are still some issues so let’s get into it.

The set up

We do not have WiFi outside at my school. Originally I envisioned that teachers who were manning the station would open up the form on their phone and enter the results. The organizers weren’t thrilled with this idea. First, we are asking teachers to use their personal phone and their own data which is admirable but maybe not the fairest thing to do. Then there is the possibility that their phone could be damaged and well … that is not a fun scenario. Then there is the possibility that the teacher will enter the information incorrectly causing problems.

So we have the organizers putting inputting all the results. The people running the event scored everything on a score sheet and then turned it in at the end. The problem is that the form was meant for individuals to input the results for a single team per event. For one person inputting all these at once is a problem. It just takes too long. It got done but it was a bit of a rush.

In the future I will make the Google Form so the organizer can input all results for an event at one time. The spreadsheet part will not change too much. The math will still work the same way.

Damn ties

I mentioned before that ties are a problem with the spreadsheet. The vlookup function does handle ties well. Check out the image below to see what I mean.

Now the problem here isn’t that Denmark got all of those points because they did not. Check out the image below for proof.

The problem is the other teams get the shaft a little. Even though the four other teams did just as well as Denmark they receive progressively less points.

I need to figure this out and if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments below.

Overall

This is a fun event and really the winner(s) is not the most important thing. We have two weeks until school is out and everyone is stressed and this is a great way to help get some of that energy out and forget about your worries for a day.

The Google Form and the Google Sheet did hold up very well. It seemed to have no issues recording and then handling the data. Overall, it worked and worked fairly well. I just need to tweak it and try to make it better.

The good news is I have 12 months to work on it 🙂

Posted in Google Apps, Helpful Tips, Patrick Cauley | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Episode 153 – Go for Gold

Tony and Patrick are back for another great post. We all wish Tony a quick recovery with his knee surgery. Check out the talking points below. As always please subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Tony’s knee surgery
    1. http://www.davincisurgery.com/da-vinci-surgery/da-vinci-surgical-system/
  2. Apple’s MacBook Pro recall
    1. Battery Recall
      1. https://www.apple.com/support/13inch-macbookpro-battery-replacement/
    2. Keyboard
      1. https://apple.slashdot.org/story/17/10/18/1530202/maybe-its-a-piece-of-dust
  3. Google Forms & Sheets – Olympic Scoring series – by Patrick Cauley
    1. https://itbabble.com/olympic-scoring-with-google-forms-sheets/
    2. Schools and spreadsheets – is this more important than coding?
      1. A good starting point for programming
      2. Spreadsheets have limits
      3. Office 365 – Sharepoint – https://products.office.com/en-us/sharepoint/sharepoint-online-collaboration-software
  4. How to Increase Pay – No More Summers Off! By Ronnie Burt
    1. https://www.theedublogger.com/2018/04/30/how-to-increase-teacher-pay-no-more-summers-off/
    2. Comments are good in the post
    3. Pay vs Working Conditions
    4. Is pay really the talking point or a distraction

Download this episode here!

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

Controlling What Students Can Access

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

Recently I have been discussing multiple new security measures for academic networks. From these discussions with other schools, engineers, and suppliers, I have created set of goals to help keep the development of network security on track and within budget.

Physical Access

Physical access can be managed without a great deal of expense. The goals to reach for are:

  • We allow only the devices we have confirmed and labeled
  • We can control the number of concurrent devices a user is using on the network
  • We can identify by IP, Serial Number, or MAC Address (or a combination of the three) the owner of a device
  • We can remove a user from network access, and restrict their devices, with minimal effort
  • We have processes and procedures to register devices; users can switch devices through these processes
  • Users can only circumvent the processes by giving their login IDs, passwords, and hardware to another person

These goals do not imply the direct management of equipment; nor do they capture user data. These goals ensure that devices on the network are approved, registered, and can be clearly identified.

Achieving these goals is the first step towards the concept that accessing the network is a privilege not a right. Privileges can be revoked. If revocation is not possible, then the concept/policy cannot be enforced.

 

Read More @ The International Educator

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, TIEONLINE, Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Google Forms & Sheets – Olympic Scoring – Part 5

It has been a long road and we are finally at the finish line. This post will talk about how to total everything so you can see who wins without calculating anything! We will also talk about limitations to this form and how it is not perfect. If you are new to this series please check the first 4 parts.

Now open up your worksheet and let’s get into the fun!

Make a new worksheet

We are going to make a new worksheet. To do this click the )+ button in the bottom left hand corner of your Google Sheet.

It will make a new tab and a blank worksheet. If the tab is not where you would like it to be simply click and drag it to the desired location. I am naming this worksheet totals

The first thing I will do is set up the worksheet. So there will be no functions (yet) just typing some text into some cells.

Now I left Column D empty for aesthetic reasons – no other reasons. The other columns are set up for a specific reasons which we will soon see.

Referencing the points

In column E we will be referencing the total points. You could just type them in, but I like referencing them back to their original cell. Here is how we do that.

  • Type in the = sign
  • Click to the Team 1 worksheet
  • Click on the link with their total points
  • Then hit the Enter key

Check out the video below.

Named range

Now that we have all the teams and their total points we need to name a range. I will highlight from E2 to F5. Then I will select Data from the menu bar and click on Named ranges…

I will call this data totalpts. Remember when naming data you cannot use spaces.

Large function

Now that we have that done it is time to start using some functions to rank the teams. In cell B2 we will be using the large function. This does the opposite of the small function we used in Part 2. So basically this will show us the largest value in a set of data. Here is what we type in cell B2:

=large(totalpts,1)

  • The totalpts is the set of data we just named
  • The 1 means to show the largest of the set of data

Now we will repeat this function for cell B3 and type this:

=large(totalpts,2)

And so on all the way dow to cell B5. When you’re done here is what you should have.

vlookup

We are nearly done. Now we will utilize the vlookup function again and we will be using this in column C. What this will do is to look at the number in column B and then match that number up with the team name.

In cell C2 here is what we will type:
=vlookup(B2,totalpts,2,0)

  • B2 is the value vlookup is looking for
  • totalpts is the set of data where vlookup is looking
  • 2 refers to the second column of the data, in this case column F
  • 0 Means we want an exact match.

In cell C3 here is what I need to type:

=vlookup(B3,totalpts,2,0)

Here is what mine looks like.

Uh? Patrick? What happened to second and third place?

OK, here is the time we will talk about imperfections. Obviously ties are not handled very well with the vlookup function. I have no idea how to solve this simply (or even complexly). If you are well versed with spreadsheets please leave solutions below! 🙂

Ties are a problem with this set up that is obvious.

Another issue here is testing the form. You could build this entire spreadsheet, all the worksheets without any data. It is possible, but I prefer to add a bunch of bogus data, build the form so I can see that it is all working properly and then wipe the data out. Not ideal but you want to make sure your hardwork has been done correctly and that once real data gets in there you know it will be handled properly.

Well that is the scoreboard in all its glory. If you have ideas on where it can be improved or what can be added let me know by adding in the comments below!

Posted in Google Apps, Helpful Tips, Patrick Cauley | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Google Forms & Sheets – Olympic Scoring – Part 4

Please check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 to get caught up. If you are just jumping in now and have little spreadsheet experience you may feel a little lost.

Last post we made all the worksheets for all the eventa. In this post we are going to make worksheets for each country or team. Lucky for us, there is a lot less “moving parts” here. These sheets will simply compile all the results for all the events for each team and then total those points up.

Named Ranges

Before we start making worksheets for each team or country we need to name some ranges and we will do that back in the event worksheets. So I will open up my spreadsheet and go to the Event 1 worksheet.

I am not going to add or change anything. I am simply going to highlight some data and then give it a name. So on the Event 1 worksheet I will highlight G2 to I5.

Now I will click on Data from the top menu and select Named ranges….

Now I will call these range event1fnl which stands for Event 1 final but you can call it whatever you want just remember to have no spaces.

Now I will do it again for the Event 2, Event 3 and Event 4 worksheets.

Make a new worksheet

Just like in Part 3, we will make one worksheet and then duplicate it for the other teams making the amount of work we have to do a lot less.

To make a new worksheet click on the + icon in the bottom left hand corner.

This will create a new sheet and to rename it just double click the tab.

Now we are going to simply type in a bunch of information. No functions yet. So here is how I set up my sheet.

Again, I just typed this information directly into each cell. Now we are ready for some functions. We are only going to use two today: vlookup and sum.

In cell B3 of the Team 1 worksheet we will type this function:

  • =vlookup(A1,event1fnl,3,0)
  • Here is what is happening in this function.
  • vlookup(A1 is looking into cell A1 (which is the team name)
  • event1fnl is where it will look for the team name
  • 3 means it will look in the third column of the event1fnl data which is how many points were awarded and display that in the cell.
  • 0 means that we want an exact match.

So now in cell B4 we will write this formula:
=vlookup(A1,event2fnl,3,0)

We use event2fnl to show that we want data from Event 2

Then we go on down the list and this is what it should look like.

Believe it or not we are almost done with this post!

sum

No we want to add all those points up. We only have 4 teams and 4 events but imagine you have 7 teams and 14 events! Calculating the totals can take a lot of time. So we will let Google Sheets do the heavy lifting.

In cell E1 I am going to write this formula – it’s very simple.
=sum(B3+B4+B5+B6)

Now there is another, shorter way to type this formula which is:
=sum(B3:B6)

It does the exact same thing. Some people like the longer way that way they can see exactly what it looks like, but it is totally up to you.

Guess what my friendly reader, we are done with this worksheet!

Duplicate

Now we just need to duplicate for each team and then change data in one cell per worksheet. To do this go down to the Team 1 tab at the bottom of the worksheet. Right click the Team 1 tab and then select Duplicate.

Now rename that worksheet to Team 2.

Now you have to make one change, just one and it is easy. In cell A1 on the Team 2 worksheet is the name of the team. Change it from Team 1 to Team 2. That’s it! That’s all that needs to happen and the rest of the worksheet should update.

Now go ahead and duplicate that sheet for teams 3 and 4 and make that one change and you’re done!

In Part 5 we will work with the Totals Worksheet where it will collect the total points for each team and rank them.

Posted in Google Apps, Helpful Tips, Patrick Cauley | Tagged , , | 1 Comment