Celebrating Connections – Ed Tech In Schools

November 20, 2013
by ncara

An Idea with Wheels – Notre Dame’s ACE Bus

Recently, the ACE bus made a stop in Philadelphia at St. Francis de Sales school. Accompanying the many guests were representatives from local Archdiocesan schools and from Camden Catholic Schools. I had first learned about the project via Ricky Austin from ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education, University of Notre Dame). He shared the story of the ACE bus via the online discussion, #catholicedchat which meets every Saturday morning on twitter. I hoped that when the bus came to Philadelphia, I might be able to attend.

An Idea with Wheels

When first I heard about Notre Dame University’s ACE bus, the idea struck me as an ingenious one.
A bus traveling from school to school would put a spotlight on Catholic education from coast to coast. Genius! A bus traveling round and round and celebrating … then it struck me.

When I first started working as Director of Technology in the central office for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2006, I spoke with Bishop McFadden who was at the time overseeing of Office of Catholic Education. He said it would be a great idea to get a bus and go from school to school showcasing all of the great teaching and learning with technology. As there were many other programs operating full speed at the time, the bus idea never did come to fruition. The idea remained in my mind. I think this is why the ACE bus struck a cord in me. The idea of going around the country highlighting Catholic Education was a great one!

Bishop McFadden, a great champion for Catholic Education , went from being Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia to Bishop of Harrisburg. He also headed the Catholic Education committee for USCCB. When I first got to the school, the first familiar face I saw was Sister Jane McFadden, IHM Vice Principal at St. Francis de Sales. She also is Bishop McFadden’s sister. Though Bishop McFadden passed away in May of this year, it seems he would have been quite happy to see this bus spotlighting Catholic Education rolling into his hometown of Philadelphia to music, cheers and smiles!


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Like an Orchestra

As students at the school waited and guests arrived at St. Francis de Sales in Philadelphia, there was much excitement in the autumn air. Big smiles were evident as children either carried flags, waved excitedly or prepared their instruments for play. The student orchestra played as the bus rolled down the street to cheers and applause from the crowd.

Visitors and students then gathered in the school hall. Sister Constance Marie, IHM talked about the founding of their school in 1904 by Irish immigrants and it’s history of serving area students. Sister Jane McFadden, IHM greeted guests from Philadelphia Archdiocesan schools and Camden Catholic Schools. Students processed in with flags representing many nations. In fact, St. Francis de Sales School welcomes students from 47 different nations. She also mentioned two Philadelphia saints –  St. John Neumann the founder of many Catholic Schools and St. Katherine Drexel who dedicated her life and resources to serving children and schools. Students sang a beautiful song in both Swahili and English with a chorus ringing – ‘We are marching in the light of God’.

Fr. Timothy Scully, founder of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), presented awards. Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford was given a Champion of Education award for his inspirational work and service. Christine Healy was given the University of Notre Dame’s Sorin Award for her service in sustaining and transforming Catholic Schools. Christine Healy is the Chairman of the Board for the Catholic Partnership Schools of Camden and founder of the Catholic School Development Program.

Fr. Louis DelFra currently working at ACE hails from the Philadelphia area. In attributing the benefits of Catholic education, he said that ‘Catholic Schools changed the trajectory is his life. He told the audience that the ACE gathers each and every Monday morning and prays for all Catholic Schools.

‘The sky is the limit in achieving your dreams.’ Jim Coyne graduate of St. Francis de Sales, Notre Dame University and Theology teacher at Cardinal O’Hara High School, Springfield, Pa.

Catholic schools like orchestras are made up of many different people playing various roles- teachers, students, parents, parishioners, priests and bishops and more! Each does their part to contribute to the success of each school. They work daily to keep in tune with one another to make a wonderful sound! It is surely one worth listening to and continuing to develop!

The ACE bus tour touting Catholic schools and its visit to Philadelphia was quite an uplifting event. For those present, the happy sound of students cheering along with musical accompaniment was music to our ears. It seems pretty certain that Bishop McFadden would have liked it too!



November 19, 2013
by ncara

Google Classroom Links

Google continues to roll out resources for classrooms making connections easier, learning faster and teaching more collaborative. Here are some recent favorites:


1. Google Classrooms

Google collaborates with museums, NASA and other organizations to provide virtual fieldtrips via hangout

2. Watch Going Google Video from TechForum

Great advice for implementation and in classroom use examples are provided here.

3. Google Drive Preview – by Amy Mayer

Nice overview of how to use Google Drive

4. Google Search Lessons

5. Google+ signup




September 26, 2013
by ncara

40 Apps for the 4C’s of 21st Century Learning


  1. Facetime
  2. Skype
  3. Google+
  4. Podcasts
  5. Audioboo
  6. Twitter
  7. Lino
  8. Linkedin
  9. EasyBib
  10. Resume Builder


  1. Flickr
  2. Haiku Deck
  3. SonicPics
  4. Showme
  5. Educreations
  6. FontArt
  7. Fotobabble
  8. Animoto
  9. 3 Minute Retreat
  10. Doceri


  1. Dropbox
  2. Edmodo
  3. Ted Talks
  4. Groupboard
  5. Screenchomp
  6. Lecture Tools
  7. Socrative
  8. QuickOffice
  9. My Big Campus
  10. Cloud On

Critical Thinking

  1. Khan Academy
  2. Mind Meister
  3. Scoopit
  4. Flipboard
  5. Digg
  6. Audiobooks Free
  7. Common Core Standards
  8. Kindle Reader
  9. ItunesU
  10. Ibooks


June 26, 2013
by ncara

9 Resources for Attending ISTE13 Virtually

For the second time in 10 years, I will not be attending one of my favorite conferences –  the ISTE conference.

Like many others though, I’ll be learning about ISTE from afar. ISTE attendees are by nature prolific tweeters and love to collaborate and share.

In exploring ways to connect and learn along with passionate educators far away at ISTE you may ask:

What are the best ways to follow? How can I connect virtually? What resources can be shared with my colleagues so that they can connect with some of the ideas at ISTE13? How can this learning benefit my students?

7 Resources for Attending ISTE Virtually

  1. Hashtag #ISTE13 – Follow the hashtag for the conference. You will see results from anyone using the hashtag.  If you use the application Tweetdeck to access Twitter, you can create easy to follow columns for any list, search term or hashtag. To connect with others attending virtually use the hashtags #iste13 N.B. Hashtags are not just for twitter Check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram for the #iste13 hashtag
  2. Hashtag #notatiste – A new hashtag has cropped up this year for talking about not being there. Those following virtually are sharing, posting and adding some humor too
  3. ISTE SocialFacebookTwitterNing
  4. Pinterest: Pinterest added regularly
  5. Full Program Guide – Go to the conference website. Read about the sessions, posters and events. Shared presentation materials are linked too. At the main site, you will also find news feeds, video clips and other updates. Be sure to stop back later as many sessions are video archived for later viewing.
  6. ISTE Unplugged – View the ISTE Unplugged site. It is the unconference or unplugged version of ISTE gatherings and view resources
  7. Rss/Blog Reader – Set up a Feedly RSS reader account to follow bloggers at ISTE. By following via twitter you will be able to find blogs to add to your reader. ISTE has a blogger list you can access or join too.
  8. Mobile Apps – ISTE Mobile App has a list of standards and the ISTE Connects Blog, ISTE Conference App lists sessions and more.
  9. ISTE Remote - ISTE has a pay option which provides access to certain sessions – Schedule

About the ISTE Conference

Sponsored by the International Society of Technology in Education, the ISTE Conference draws close to 20,000 people and is the gathering place for scores of educational technology enthusiasts. Every possible  vendor is there so if you have questions or want to see demos you can connect with them. The vendor floor is full of product samples and representatives ready to answer your every question.

Educators gather to discuss challenges, trends and solutions. Sessions explore successful practice and new ideas.

Connecting with the people though is the real charm of ISTE. That is what makes it great. ISTE is about the people – the passionate educators who bring the best of innovative and tech supported learning to students and willingly collaborate with other educators is what it is all about.

Happily you can explore it before, during and after virtually! Taking advantage of virtual learning is more doable than ever before. As you explore resources and make connections virtually, you are experiencing that connected learning for yourself as well. Here are a few resources. What other resources would you add?

This is cross posted on School CIO – a division of Techlearning

June 15, 2013
by ncara

Emerging Technologies to Watch 2013

The newly released 2013 Horizon Report gives us a glimpse into the classrooms of the near future. If you are not familiar with this report, take a close look! How can our schools benefit from this report? All school leaders who focus sharply on emerging technology trends can effectively plan for what students need and how schools can prepare.

By taking the time to look at the information presented, school or organizational leaders will note how quickly these changes are impacting our world and indeed our own lives on a daily basis. As our schools are also greatly affected, action is needed to ready our schools and organizations for the changes ahead.

The Horizon Report has been published since 2002 and is the result of collaborative effort fostered by NMC (New Media Consortium). Released in January, it highlights emerging technology which impact teaching, research, learning and creative inquiry in higher education. A timeline is created which details when these technologies are set to have the most impact in those areas. A K-12 version was recently released in June of 2013. In researching the report international educational leaders across many sectors come together with technologists, business leaders and others. The structure of the report is a compelling one which gives us clear insight into means for implementation.  It is a must read for educators.


This video discussed the summary of the higher ed edition of the report

Main Areas of the Horizon Report

  1. Technology Trends with Timeline
  2. Key Trends
  3. Challenges

Key Trends Identified in the Horizon Report

  • Paradigm shift to online programs, hybrid learning and collaborative models
  • Social Media is changing the way people interact, communicate and share or present ideas
  • Openness is becoming valued – via transparency and access to data and information
  • Students are more often bringing their own technology devices to schools due to adjusted school policies and mobile pricing models
  • Abundance of online resources and relationships are contributing to the discussions of a changing role for educators

Emerging Technologies List

  • Cloud Computing – One Year or Less
  • Mobile Learning – One Year or Less
  • Open Content – Two to Three Years
  • Learning Analytics – Two to Three Years
  • 3D Printing – Four to Five Years
  • Virtual and Remote Laboratories – Four to Five Years

Critical Challenges

  • Ongoing professional development must be made part of the culture of schools be applied
  • Educator innovative practice is very important and should be fostered by both policy and attitude
  • New viable virtual and online models of education are available and are challenging traditional models
  • Attention must by paid by K-12 to the increasing blending of both formal and informal learning
  • Personalized learning support needs to be expanded in schools

Tips for Applying the Horizon Report

  1. Distribute to Stakeholders; Parents, Teachers, Board Members and Students (pdf)
  2. Involve curriculum leaders to forge connections to academic aims
  3. Foster ongoing professional development both offered to and delivered by teachers
  4. Form an Innovations Team. Plan regular followup meetings. Share results with school community.
  5. Discuss Trends and Challenges. Share the Communique developed for use with the Horizon Report
  6. Explore Technologies to Watch. View Supporting data, articles and examples
  7. Seek Supporting technologies for academic and organizational goals
  8. Connect with success – Plan to visit or connect with schools applying these technologies
  9. Plan to pilot new technologies. Plan for ongoing evaluation.
  10. Review technology plans and budgets.  As technology evolves our plans and policies must follow suit.
  11. Keep an eye on the horizon. Continue to evaluate new developments. Follow developments and news on the Horizon Report 2013 via Facebook, Twitter #NMchz, Wiki and NMC app.

“In every work of genius, we recognize our once rejected thoughts.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

This yearly report is one I always look forward to. What I find most validates the importance of this study is their past reporting. Take a look back at reports from past years and you will see how on target these reports have been. School and organizational leaders are advised to take a close look at the results of this report and to take action on behalf of the population or the students they serve.

Our students depend on their educational leaders to foster a relevant, engaging learning environment in tune with today’s world. Keeping eyes tuned to the horizon’ will be an essential part of a transformation in tune with what is to come.


Related Links

Emerging Technologies to Watch – 2012 on TechConnects

Horizon Retreat Wiki

Horizon Project Main Page

Horizon Project Navigator

COSN – Consortium for School Networking  

This post is crossposted on SchoolCIO a division of TechLearning

March 16, 2013
by ncara

5 Classrooms Hearing News on the New Pope

Washington Post via Michael Sohn/AP








As news unfolded recently about the newly elected pope, people around the world were in close touch with the news. Whether via tweets, television, live stream, text or other means, the word traveled fast! This Washington Post article discusses some means of media access and how it has changed over time.

In talking with my son, he recalled being in his 8th grade classroom when Pope Benedict was elected. This memory stayed with him as I am sure thememory of this week’s new papal election will stay with many for years to come.

On the east coast, schools had let out by the time the identity of Pope Francis was announced. They did however, watch prior coverage such as news of the white smoke.  Below are some responses shared on twitter on how classrooms learned this news.







Mike Rogers school in St. Paul, MN had a chance to learn about the conclave in advance.They were on break when the pope was announced but the surely felt connected to the process because of all of the work they had done in advance.