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

5 Educational Sites for Learning about the Papal Election

As the Papal Conclave gets underway, the web is rich with sites and resources for teaching about the process.  Sorting through the sites for the most accurate and education ones can be quite a challenge. A number of good sites were shared recently in the weekly twitter chat #CatholicEDchat. In this post, I explore some sites and offer a few suggestions for those looking to use them in the classroom.

I recently worked with teachers from a local Catholic school on a professional development day. We explored the of the links below.

How Do They Choose the Pope

This video from Busted Halo explains both the tradition and the process involved in the papal conclave. It tells process succinctly and in an engagingly, interesting way.


Adopt a Cardinal

www.adoptacardinal.org – This site allows visitors to randomly generate the name of or ‘adopt’ a Cardinal. It gives facts about the selected Cardinal such as age, location and more. Thanks to @barbinnebraska for this one!

Visual Papal Conclave

http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/come-si-elegge-il-papa/ -This interactive by the Vatican Insider provides a visual tour of the Vatican along with the conclave process included. It is beautifully done, concise and informational.

 Electing a Pope

http://electingthepope.net/ – This is an educational site created by a group of bloggers, writers and educators. This site is both comprehensive and informative and is a valuable resource for those exploring the topic.

Cardinals Active on Twitter

This list of Cardinals on Twitter is set up by Fr. Roderick. It is an easy to ‘follow’ list which is broken down by country.

Sadlier Prayer Cards –

Classes can download these prayer cards and use them in prayers supporting the Cardinals in the conclave.

As we explored the sites, teachers creatively shared many ideas on how they could use these sites. Also, thanks to Dave M for telling us about the video above!

Ways to Use Papal Conclave Resources in the Classroom

1. Younger Students – Share the Visual Papal Conclave on a large screen or smartboard. Students can listen and learn visually. They can generate questions and explore answers as a class.

2. Teachers can work with a classroom students or groups of students ‘adopt’ a cardinal. They can then do further research on that cardinal and the area he is from. Students can pray for their selected cardinal.

3. Teachers can use the How To Choose video or the comprehensive www.electingthepope.net to use as a springboard for further research. Students can fill out a KWHL chart to check their knowledge and explore questions they may have.

4. Students can role play or re-enact the process to form a deeper understanding and connection. Any of the above resources can inform their work.

5. Students and teachers can follow twitter accounts of cardinals. Although media updates may be at a minimum during the conclave itself, these tweets can prove a valuable resource going forward as the new pope is elected and takes his place in Rome.

I hope these sites are helpful. Please share any sites or lessons that you have found for this purpose.


Connected Educators A to Z: G is for Grants and Funding

Many of today’s resources available to connected educators are free. They are a gift that educators use to learn, grow and connect. Twitter, Facebook, Blogger and Skype to name just a few – are free! Connected learning support can incur expenses though. Money for things such as hardware, connectivity, software, assessment systems and professional development are needed.

12 Tips for School Technology Funding

  1. Heed The Research – Stay on top of the ever changing learning environment  http://ncara.edublogs.org/2012/02/09/emerging -technologies-to-watch-2012/
  2. Tune in to Digital Learning Needs – Find out about the latest strategies and tools for learning. How are they being used successfully?
  3. Build a Team – Tap teachers, parents, students and members of the school and local community
  4. Make a Plan –Technology plans and Curriculum plans should work hand in hand
  5. Create Smart Goals – Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time trackable
  6. Dig In to Grant Resources  – Explore funding options online. From shopping rewards to larger grants, there are many untapped resources available to schools
  7. Aim For Quality, Free Access to grant databases 
  8. Jog the Web Funding Sources – The web is replete with resources to boost funding. Find ones that meet your needs and pursue the support you need
  9. Tell Your Compelling Story – Let your school community know about the school goals and the learning that is happening. They will love to be a part of the success story.
  10. Get Social – Use social media to connect with the larger school and local community. They are on Facebook, Twitter. Your school should be too!
  11. Meet Supporters Where They Are – Blend face to face and online communications to reach out. Realize that people have varying connections preferences.
  12. Evaluate and Begin Anew – Set regular times to assess and gauge progress. Adopt an ongoing schedule for seeking new funding and support for your programs

12 Links for School Grants and Funding

  1. The Foundation Center – Site and Newsletter
  2. Grant Space via Foundation Center (Search areas for free Foundation Center access) – Find Us
  3. Guidestar – Funder Resources
  4. Technology Grants- News and Resources
  5. K-12 Grants – K12Grants.org
  6. E-School News – Funding Page
  7. Specific Tech Companies have offerings – Acer
  8. Tech and Learning Grants Directory – 2012-2013
  9. Non Profit Technology Network
  10. US Government – Funding Pages
  11. Full Collection of Resources – Sheryl Abshire
  12. All #TechFunding Links in presentation – Diigo

Recently I had the honor of presenting to a the Educational Technology Committee at the Diocese of Harrisburg. Below are the resources shared that day.

10 Resources for Assessing School Technology








Needs Assessments

In bringing the benefits of technology to education and indeed to any organization, needs assessments and surveys are a valuable tool for School CIOs and school leaders. These can work hand in hand with your school plans and technology plans. Both in the planning stages and during implementation, surveys can provide you with valuable feedback which can lead you to the goals you envision.

Seeking input and feed back is essential to the success of any initiative. This survey feedback can act as a ‘GPS’ telling you where you are currently and what you need to do to get to your destination. Your school or district technology plan is your map. Needs assessments and surveys can get you on the right path and keep you there.

These assessments can look at both classroom technology and overall technology needs in your school or district. Below are some resources for this purpose

Topics for Assessment – Consider Survey Topics

  • Technology Integration
  • Tech Support and Equipment
  • Communications
  • Professional Development
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Digital Learning and Skills
  • Lesson Planning for 21st Century Learning
  • Emerging Technology, New Ideas

Framework & Assessment Instruments – Below are some existing Surveying Guides and Instruments

Create Your Own – Ways to Customize to Your School/District Needs

  • TIMTechnology Integration Matrix created by the University of Southern Florida – Matrix which has been a model for other states and schools
  • Framework – Base it on given frameworks such as ISTE’s Nets, P21 or other frameworks
  • Local Vision – Base it on current school/district vision and other existing plans such as Technology plans

Tools to Use – Sampling of Available Online Tools

  • ZoomerangSurvey Tool – Free version or get additional features by subscription
  • Survey MonkeySurvey Tool – Free version or get additional features by subscription
  • Google Docs – Google Forms – Free. Includes many options. Data imports into spreadsheet format
  • Loti – Loti Survey – Administrative and Teacher Available

Related Posts

This post is cross posted by Nancy Caramanico on School CIO 
Image Flickr CC





Web Filtering Checklist

Tide takes dunes



When schools make web filtering and blocking decisions, they need to be sure that they are not also blocking learning, blocking productivity, blocking progress.  Shifts have occurred widely over the last couple of years in schools regarding the filtering question. Security still remains a top priority. However, the question of what content to block and not block is one where the winds of change are continually blowing.

Fighting the tide

Take the story of new dunes installed at a beach. I remember when new dunes were added at a beach near my home. They were tall and mighty. Surely they would serve their purpose. Two months and one very big storm later, something happened. The dunes were washed away to a great extend. Two full blocks worth were gone.  The powerful ocean overtook them.

I think in many ways this is what is happening with filters and web content. Though many schools and organizations block and carefully keep the web at bay, web technology and its ever changing nature continues to command attention. Nature takes it’s course. People find new ways to access web content. Students use proxy sites or their smartphone.  Teachers become frustrated in their attempts to access content. Valuable time can be spent working on solutions.

The topic of filtering is an important one. The web offers more and more educational content.   Having a proactive and collaborative strategy is essential when making decisions on filtering today. It will equip our students better in the long run.

Natural Shifts

Blocking was once a simple issue. Block inappropriate content such as hate sites, chat sites, instant messaging functions, inappropriate images and more and you were all set. Then came the proliferation of web 2.0 sites, the growth of collaborative technologies and impact of social tools.

What were once easy decisions have become sticky ones.  What was once black and white has become many shades of gray like the changing tides of the ocean. What should schools consider? View this checklist for evaluating your strategy.

Checklist for Evaluating Filtering Strategies


  • Look at laws and government guidelines to be followed – Consider CIPA. Often their requirements are misconstrued to be more strict that they actually are.
  • Look at district and local rules – Are there standards that our district has put forth? What prior policies exist?
  • Look at security concerns – Consider viruses, malware, bandwidth, access and more. What priorities exist?
  • Look at existing feedback – What do admins, teachers and students report about the filter? Does it meet educational needs?
  • Look at the existing filter – Is it flexible? Does it allow for multiple filtering levels for administrators, teachers and students? If not, when can we upgrade to add more functionality?
  • Look at current processes – How easily can teachers and students get access to sites for educational use?
  • Look at your decision making team – Who determines which sites are blocked? CIOs and IT are needed. Educational leaders and teachers should also be involved in this decision making.
  • Look at current educational initiatives – Are current initiatives requiring expanded access. If so, are the best web communication and collaboration tools available for this purpose?
  • Consider Options that are Win/Win – Is a walled garden approach an approach that might work for your school? With sites such as this, social and collaborative technologies coexist with more tightened security.
  • Look at the Policies in place – How often does your school or district evaluate your approach to filtering? The web evolves daily as do educational means for using web content.
  • Look at Digital Literacy supports – Are you teaching all parties how to use the web safely and appropriately?  Education is essential. Given appropriate education in place, we are equipping educators and students with the decision making skills that will serve them long after they have left us.

Mock on, mock on,’tis all in vain! You throw the sand against the wind, And the wind blows it back again. Voltaire Rousseau

Filter Fitness Guidelines

  • Know the rules. Don’t interpret them so that your implementation is more strict that the law
  • Upgrade your filter and build in flexibility
  • Involve Educators
  • Focus on educational purpose
  • Be aware of the changing landscape
  • Educate your community as to your approach
  • Balance network security needs with educational needs
  • Go for win win. Work to benefit all parties involved.
  • Reassess often
  • Make Digital literacy and citizenship education a priority

Given the wide range of content out there which has sound educational value, this can no longer be strictly an IT level decision.  Schools and organizations can’t  continue to block strictly and expect to reap the benefits of today’s web. If we want to provide
the most relevant education for the 21st Century, we need to have a filtering strategy that is informed and flexible.

This is cross posted on School CIO http://www.schoolcio.com/

Related Resources

CIPA – Children’s Internet Protection Act http://www.fcc.gov/guides/childrens-internet-protection-act
Digital Citizenship Resources for SchoolsTechConnects
Speak Up Survey – Input on Filtering Listed http://ncara.edublogs.org/2011/04/21/students-speak-up-on-technology/
EdWeek – Filtering Debate http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2010/10/20/01filtering.h04.html

Educational Technology Lessons from Steve Jobs

A New Teacher’s Classroom Walls

When I first entered the classroom as an elementary school technology teacher in 1997, I was given a set of posters. As any new teacher would be, I was happy to have some posters to decorate my classroom.

Would they be pictures of computers? of technology? Great!
Would they be instructions? Directions for students? Wonderful!

The posters I found in the box were none of those things.
Instead they were photos of various innovators, thinkers, doers. Einstein, Ghandi,  Jim Henson. It was not what was expecting but I selected some and put them on my classroom walls. Over time, during that first year of teaching,  I got the message.

Think Different.

As it turned out, the posters were part of Apple’s 1997 campaign called Think Different. Posters were sent to schools everywhere.

As a leader in the technology industry, Jobs pushed for more, for better.  With normal market competition in place, innovation was the goal for not just Apple but for all.

It could be said that this drive impacted the whole industry.

New discoveries come from many companies, and many sectors each and every day. Netbooks, tablets, smart phones all have arisen from a drive for improvement that each of us benefits from in some way.

Below is a checklist of lessons for Educational Technology. This is the list I created. What would you add?

Checklist for EdTech from Steve Jobs

  1. Plan far ahead – Think beyond what is needed now. Be creative. Imagine what is possible. Plan. Dream.
  2. Make the technology matter – Figure out how to use the power of technology to truly make a difference in the lives of children, teachers. Research and apply.
  3. Keep it simple – Technology does not have to be complex to advance the work your students do.
  4. Focus – Adding more and more technology intensive initiatives can be counterproductive. Focus on what is best for teachers and students and implement it well. Don’t skimp on professional learning time and collaboration time for teachers.
  5. Gather Input – Ask people what they need.  Find out how can you help them.  Use the feedback to improve what is offered. Better still – anticipate their needs.
  6. Get your best people involved – Find out who is interested in exploring new uses of technology for learning, for connecting. Empower them with the time and tools to share and do more. Encourage positive teamwork.
  7. Persevere – You may not see the results you expect right away. Stick with it. We are preparing students for their future. Technology is interwoven in much of what we do today and our students need to be prepared to learn and work with the right tools and the right mindset for connected learning.
  8. Believe – In a world of rapid change, we can’t predict exactly where we are going or what change will be brought into our classrooms via technology. Believe that by teaching our children to critically explore and evaluate new forms of learning, we are preparing them for an enlightening future which is unwritten as of yet.

That first computer classroom of mine had a hodge podge of different computers and operating systems. Eventually it had all new pcs with cdroms!

Use the technology you have to do the best you can, advocate strongly for more and above all do use the power of technology with a deliberate and dedicated purpose – to make a difference in the education, the lives of your teachers and students.


This is cross posted on School CIO published by Tech and Learning Magazine