Tech Integration: Are you mapping it?









By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

A few weeks ago I was on a campus, but not my campus. I was speaking with some technology teachers. They would prefer to be called tech-integrators. After a short and very succinct speech about their beliefs in the technology integration model, I ask them two questions. In both cases, the answers were not what they should have been.

Question 1: Is the integration scheduled, or do you wait for teachers to come to you? 

The answer was a very common one, teachers come to us. This model has some very defensible merits. The driving force is that a few technology integrators can focus on class projects, over longer periods of time, and use their own initiative to improve technology in the classroom.

This main issue with this model is learning accountability. The is no accountability for what students need, and no metric stating what students need.

For example, the IB Design Technology SL programme recommends 150 total teaching hours. This indicates that a group of people looked at the entire course experience and the desired outcomes can concluded that students need 150 hours.

A technology integration model needs the same discussion and it needs some metrics. Since technology integration is not a new concept, determining how many hours students need to be engaging with a differentiated curriculum in a “knowable thing”.

Read More at The International Educator

I can’t find the piece!

For a while I have been working on a book that centers around teaching robotics. One of the most import things about robotics is the “eureka moment”, when all of the frustration results in a solution.

Today, something devious and educational occurred to me. What if I found one of the most significant parts needed for a build, and removed that part from all the part bins?

So, I did. I took a part that everyone needed, and was already in short supply. Some of the kits were not exactly the same, so a few students did not have the part to begin with. The part would only then be available in the extra parts bins. I just went through the bins, and took the part out as I found it.

As usual, when reality hit, the students were going crazy. “Where is this part?”, “I cannot build without it!”, etc.  I kept saying, “Sorry. We ran out you need to improvise.”

The class dragged-on for 15-20 minutes. It seemed longer for some reason. The whole time the part was hidden in plain sight, I felt a bit guilty, but held my ground. Then all of a sudden a group of 4 girls said, “Hey look. We improvised.” All four smiling, and showing everyone they had found another way to build without the part.

Then from the cabinet, I produce two other solutions that also would work. Some students migrated up to the front to study the design, but found walking back and forth to study it tiresome. I would not let them take the robot samples off the table.

A few moments later another team sorted out a solution. At that moment, I uploaded 3 photos to Edmodo from my phone using the Edmodo App(great feature BTW). These photos showed two methods for solving the problem by simply displaying the parts, not the process.

I had six groups of students. Two had made a completely unique solution. Three were able to study the parts I sent, to make what they needed. One needed the actual parts, so I handed them over.

I always add stress to robotics, and some type of problem that is built into the core objective. Sometimes I limit the number of parts that can be used. Other times I set a building time, then after that, hands-off. There are many things you can do to create scenarios that require innovative problem solving.

Stealing pieces from the bins and hiding them, maybe not new, but new for me. It will continue, and it is going in the book.

Stress. Teamwork. Communication. Problem Solving. Confidence Building. Differentiation. Not bad for a Grade 5 class. This is why I love robotics, and think it can deliver more in a lesson, than almost any other type of class.

Tony DePrato

Podcast episode 54 – The digital fetus has arrived! – January 31, 2013

20130131_184931Gaze upon the digital fetus in all its glory! This is just a prototype, so if you are eager to get your own t-shirt you’ll have to wait a little while. Anyway, we have another awesome show and even though Omar was sick he was there toughing it out like a good educator. Check out the agenda below and remember you can find us on iTunes and Podomatic.

  1. Tony’s post – APPs are for suckers
    1. What’s your favorite useless app
    2. What’s the best app you use?
  2. Is Spradling a bad person?
    1. An excessive example of printing
    2. When should their be an intervention?
  3. Michelle Rhee PBS Frontline Report – watch it here (an hour long)
    1. What should it look like and does it need to be so extreme?
    2. Testing as a means of teacher/school evaluation?
    3. Should technology usage or knowledge be a part of teacher evaluations?
    4. If so should teachers be fired over their inability to use technology
  4. Difficulties using chat on campus for teachers
    1. Why would it be good
    2. Why it has failed
    3. What to do to make it successful
  5. Does Constant Googling Really Make You Stupider?
    1. This debate has been going on for a while
    2. What do you think?
  6. iOS app of the week – World Atlas by National Geographic
    1. Free today bu usually $1.99

As always be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes HERE!

You can find us Podomatic HERE!

You can listen to us below as well.

Get On With It!

My wife works for an airline. On a few occasions I have witnessed the complexity of the online resources she has to use for work. Not only is the security multilevel to do anything, but changes are sent in notices, not in requests.  

She has e-learnings that are “posted regularly” without notice. If she doesn’t do one, and shows-up for work, she is not allowed to work; and she can be fined. Some how she adjusts.  

In May 2011, Facebook had 138.9 million monthly unique U.S. visitors. When they switched to a new set of privacy settings and a new interface, they barely lost any users. Some how without training or warning people adjusted- even though many had personal privacy violated until they sorted it out.

Students come to school everyday and are bombarded with new information and requirements. They are expected to adjust and comply; or create an alternative solution that meets the set goals. Most of them seem to complain and then get on with their work. A week later the change is just normal. 

Whenever I have meetings with people about changing policies, IT procedures, educational technology strategies, etc.  The first thing that comes up is that we have to train the teachers. We have to make a plan to slowly bring the teachers into the new scheme. We have to…we have to….

Why? My question to people who read this blog is why? 

Could we be making a huge mistake in slowing things down? Are we sending the wrong message by not simply saying – Get On With It! 

If all our time and resources were put into creating materials and methods for distributing learning instead of trying to group people together and walk them step-by-step through a process, would be be better off?

Do we expect enough out of a group of people, who expect others to adjust and learning daily? 

I am hoping for some feedback …and I will write a post highlighting the comments and my opinions. 


Tony DePrato

Change & the 50%

“There were no easy answers and whatever road you took be it high, low, or more likely somewhere in between, half the people would hate the result and half would applaud and the hell of the thing was in a way they’d both be right.” ~David Baldacci, Divine Justice

I read often, and I prefer paper. The funny thing is I know I need to adjust to reading on a device. I am trying the iPad, I have done 6 books so far including the Cryptonomicon (more than 3000 pages). 

When I tell people I am reading on the iPad, half of them say the Kindle is better. Twenty percent say reading on a device is bad. The rest love the iPad and want to talk about Apps. And then there is the 20% of the planet that does not even have clean water to drink, and I am sure they would say in a collective voice~ “We don’t give a damn!”

In Educational Technology Administration we make choices. They affect people. They make some people change. They can destroy existing processes. They can forcefully push out a solution that works, but has a limited future. 

These choices can also improve efficiency, workflow, communication, student relations, and the overall atmosphere on campus. 

The truth is, any big change, will accomplish all of the above. You can justify decisions from a budgetary standpoint, a philosophical point of view, or with pedagogical research. Even if all three areas of justification supported your decision, about half of the people affected are going to be angry about something. About the change. About the confusion. About the unknown.

Maybe mostly the unknown.

As an administrator you cannot ignore your responsibility to study the financial, philosophical, and pedagogical. You also cannot ignore the evidence even if it makes you fear the change that is coming. The burden and responsibility of knowing what is coming, is part of the job and sometimes the worst part.

If you doing nothing the results are the same as doing something. At least in doing something you have made a plan, hopefully accounted for various problems, and are ready and waiting in the trenches for the first volley to hit. 

I think it is better to be facing change and shining light on the unknown, than to be ignorant when the unknown is surrounding you and all the questions are answered with ~”I don’t know.”  

I am reading books just as much as I use to. I am reading them in different ways. The stories are still inspiring. The words are still jumping off the “page” when they are written with genius. I will never prefer the touch of an iPad or Kindle to the feel of a book. I will never enjoy annotating with sticky notes as much as I enjoy scribbling between the pages of a novel and then handing it to someone to experience. 

What can I do, the change is here. I can learn to master it, or let my resentment master me. I can suffer and stress over HOW I WANT TO READ, or I can just read. I have the options and the opportunities do keep reading in new ways and doing new things. Options and Opportunities.

Most importantly I have clean water to drink, and so really I don’t have anything to complain about.


Tony DePrato

iPhone App of the Week – Mad Libs


Man do I remember these! Mad Libs were a favorite past time for us in the fifth grade. We would laugh hilariously as we dropped in ridiculous nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. blindly into a short story and then read the account aloud. It was awesome. Now you can have that same fun right on your iPhone. If you are familiar with Mad Libs then using the app should be of no surprise to you. If you’ve never used Mad Libs they ask you for words based on their part of speech (noun, verb, adverb, etc.) then it takes those words and drops them into a story. the results are usually pretty funny. The app itself is free and the includes four Mad Libs to complete. To get more you can purchase them within the app. The free ones were able to make me chuckle (yeah, I’m 36 years old). Get it here from the iTunes store. To get a better idea check out the pictures below.

img_1052-2012-03-20-19-54.png    img_1054-2012-03-20-19-54.png


img_1056-2012-03-20-19-54.png    img_1053-2012-03-20-19-54.png

img_1057-2012-03-20-19-54.png – A review


I luuurrv technology. You know why I love technology? It brings something new to a classroom that was more or less impossible before. Sometimes this technology can make no difference, be helpful, sometimes it can be transformative and in other cases it can make you tear out your frickin’ hair. So when I heard about a student response system called I was pretty curious. I mean students can use any device to log onto a website and respond (in real time) to questions.

So which is it? What category does fall into? Only one way to find out, click on past the break to see all the cool screen shots, a how to and a verdict.

Continue reading “ – A review”