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"Apply directly to the Forehead!" My eTech Ohio Conference 2011 Reflections

I had the opportunity to attend the eTech Ohio Conference (#oetch11) on Monday, January 31, 2011. It’s a three day event, but with budget and time constraints, I was only able to attend one day. I am excited to attend each year, hoping to take away at least one new idea I can share with my staff. This year, I heard two presentations that were inspiring, encouraging, and practical. However, I will only reflect one the first one in this post.
The keynote presenter was Peter Sheahan and his message was Change Unleashed: From Acquisition to Application of Technology. Not only was his presentation style engaging, but he modeled the application of technology to increase learning. Peter’s comments are in the bold face italicized font and the bullet points represent my reflections:

There is not an access problem, but a culture problem. We have to change the culture of technology use, not just focus on acquiring technology.”

• We strongly encourage teachers to try something new in the classroom. We sent over 45 teachers from across the   district to KipCamp, which is a three-day intense social media training. Not only did we walk away with awareness of all the tools available, but enthusiasm to use them right away. As a result, several teachers in my building have integrated Prezi, Glogster, student choice, more alternative ways for students to demonstrate their learning, Wikispaces, etc.
• I have privately and publicly recognized teachers who have taken risks to try something new by nominating teachers for our monthly staff recognition, sending them a text message, and/or sharing their experience with other teachers.

“A survey that was conducted in 2009 asked what people couldn’t live without. Food didn’t even make the list! The list was full of technology. In 2009, the results were the same: flat screens, iPods, cell phone, etc. This was the list for adults, not students.”

• Re-educating the adults of the school community (teachers, parents, and administrators) will help create a school culture of that embraces and maximizes the potential of technology integration. We now allow students to use mobile devices in between classes, during lunch, before school and after school. Teachers have the choice of allowing students to use them in their classes.

“We judge ourselves by our INTENT and we judge others by their “IMPACT.”

• I have made this mistake way too many times to count, so to hear it this way was like a punch in the face! To overcome this mistake, at our next staff meeting I plan to apologize for being judgmental and for being insensitive to the heavy load many are feeling due to a number of factors. Then, I will continue to recognize and celebrate the IMPACT that individual teachers have on our students by sharing their stories publicly at staff meetings, in a blog, and/or through Twitter. I will spend time, like during my No Office Day, to see for myself the impact and then praise the teachers in front of their students.

“How can you create a culture of technology use in your school?” Peter provided some excellent practical ideas that can be implemented right away:

• Provide weekly, monthly, regularly scheduled time for people to share stories about the vision in action.
• Use technology to remind teachers how effective the use of technology is in classroom in terms of engaging students.
• Unblock sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Glogster, Wikipedia, etc.
• Have “technology only” days in the classroom, which will encourage both students and teachers to use it for learning.

“The number one challenge we have to break is thinking that the educator has to control the room.”

• I think about a number of teachers in my building who have gained control by relinquishing control. By that, I mean they have controlled the outcome of the class, which is learning, but establishing clear expectations upfront, showing students how to learn, and then providing them many opportunities to do it. They also provide ongoing feedback, both formally and informally.

Change is difficult, but change is also necessary. If you not us, then who? If not now, then when? After all, we have a moral obligation to prepare our students for their future, not our present.

Be Great,


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Comment by Doug Parker on February 15, 2011 at 9:10pm


This PLN was created with a service called NING.  NING is partnered with Pearson to provide its services to educators for free, though there are some restrictions i.e. membership limits of 150 and no Twitter integration. A district or State based PLN could easily be created using this service.  If it takes off the free educators package can be upgraded allowing larger membership numbers and making other various features available.  If you are interested in exploring this option further, I've included a link to the NING for educators information/application page and a package pricing comparison page.

NING-mini for Educators

NING Networks Packages & Pricing

Hope you find this to be useful,


Comment by Dwight Carter on February 12, 2011 at 1:33pm

Hi Brian,

Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate your thoughts and I your suggestion to create some on-demand experiences for us Ohioan. I haven't, but I'm intrigued by the thoght. What did you have in mind? Maybe we can put our heads together and come up with a pratical and FREE way for OH educators to share their PD reflections. There are a number of tools available, we just have to get the word out. New Jersey has Teachmeets on Twittter on a regular basis. Is theret  a way to create an Ohio Educators PLN? I'm sure there is.


Be Great,


Comment by Brian Thomas on February 8, 2011 at 9:38am
Dwight, excellent post!  I taught in Lakota (near Cincinnati) for 12 years and now work as a consultant.  In my current travels I see a lot of teachers who could benefit from this information.  It's a shame Ohio does not place the level of importance on PD for teachers to allow them enough release time for these conferences.  I wonder if you've thought about creating some on-demand experiences for people to get information like this?  Something more quaint than a crowded twitter chat, something that builds community.  (God knows we need that in OH).  Thanks again!


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