Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Connected Universe

Just how connected are we becoming?

I spent last Friday driving across the state of Minnesota, on an all too familiar trek from Thief River Falls to Grand Rapids to Princeton. Friday night, I went to the Wild game and was able to be in contact with our Business Manager, Apple Rep and Purchaser to finish off a $1.4 million 1:! purchase. I'd say intertwined is a better word for it.

As much as I'd like to say I was able to do everything on my iPhone, comparing spreadsheets required a little wifi time and rather than burn up the data plan on my iPhone hotspot, my daughter and I stopped off at the first available MickeyDee's on our journey. The deal had several logistical issues and a plethora of paperwork policies prudently placed by both parties, perpetrated a prolonged passage of posts with properly placed pieces to perfect the plan. Proudly the product of this pursuit was put to bed over a very HAPPY meal (not to be confused with the Happy Meal that no longer comes in a box apparently). PO's were emailed and acknowledgements were sent. Coordinated between four different location in near real-time and pushing us forward and one step closer to 1:! for the kids of our community.

There was more...as I was chauffeured to the game by #2 (2nd son Carl) and got to know the backseat of my Mazda (not as small as some have said...but rush hour traffic and my admittedly poor riding skills didn't help the relaxation from the backseat) I was able to check email and find that the order was put on hold for some delivery questions. Which, I was able to reply to and keep the process rolling all while backseat driving and delivering Siri inspired navigation instructions to the X.

How would this have been accomplished 5 years ago? It would have waited 4 days before emails could have been answered and replies sent and phone calls made between meetings...I like the connected universe...do you?

I think it's safe to say the largest purchase ever made at the Aitkin McDonald's was the product of our connected universe and a committed community, district, administration, staff, teachers and students that deserve the best educational opportunities regardless of location, demographic or economic status. Keep Pushing Forward....Our Kids Are!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Everyone Needs a Push...thanks #sunchat

As most know I'm more of an evening person...but I was pulled towards some early Sunday conversation via the Twitter hashtag #sunchat and @sjunkins.

It's worth your time to take a listen and participate in a "no such thing as a bad post" forum filled with free thought and amazing exchange of ideas. And for me, a little push to share more and expand my reach.

So thank you to the #sunchat peeps for the follows, the favorites, and the retweets! Time now keep you interested, not because you will always agree with what I say, but because passionate people bring passion to all that they do.

Our kids are important, and our job is to help them and each other to do our best...Challenge Accepted!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fantabulous Finish to Friday!

With due respect to the events in Boston the Fantabulous Friday Blog Post was postponed until a more appropriate time...that time has come.

To see the commitment by authorities to protect the community members and capture the second bomber provides hope that this tragedy may end with some questions answered. Amen.

Friday, April 12, 2013

1:! Community Meeting Recap

Thanks to all that came out to the LHS Commons on 4/9/13 for the first of several community informational meetings about our 1:! Program.

About 40 people representing parents, students, staff, administration and school board were in attendance. We gave a 30 minute re-cap of how we got to this point in our journey to transforming our use of technology with the students of Thief River Falls. A 30 minute Q&A period followed that lasted closer to an hour (not my fault...well mostly my fault) with questions ranging from "Why Apple and not a Windows/Android device?" to "How will insurance of the device be handled?"(see the FAQ tab for the answer for this question).

The next presentation and forum for asking questions about 1:! will be at the Thief River Falls Community Expo on April 25, 2013 from 4:00 - 7:00 @ the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls.

We will be setting up a sample classroom from each of our buildings at the TRF Public Schools end of the arena. Stop by each classroom and the kids will show you what they do daily and maybe even teach you a few things about the device.

Administrators and Staff will be available to answer your questions and tell you all about the wonderful things happening at Thief River Falls Public Schools.

Keep Pushing Forward....Our Kids Are the Swinter Version

For those of you who usually escape the wonderful winters we have in Minnesota I'm certainly glad that you are able to experience a nostalgic trip back in time to see what winter is like while you're snow-birding in Arizona, Texas, Florida or any other place than here. 

But enough is enough...I've long since passed the cabin fever of most winters and am now oblivious to whatever form of coldy, rainy, snowy, sleety, gray-y, browny, dirty, frozeny, slippery, shivery, gloomy day greets me as I head to the car.

So today marks the start of Fantabulous Friday's...each Friday from now on, my blog post will be nothing but a positive, pontification of perfectly, pleasing pleasantries to the point of almost...(insert losing your lunch phrase of choice here).

What else can one do...complaining only seems to bring down more wrath from the weather gods. Grumbling about it only makes me Google the grumpy cat to find solace in surliness. Planning anything of outdoor significance leads to disappointment, and an ugly form of shiver dancing (which did get me on TV at the 4/3 Twins Game). So, I will be greeting every Friday from here on out with weather blinders on. If it's raining cats and dogs, I'll whip out my iPhone and take pictures that someone somewhere on Twitter, Facebook, or the Interweb will find almost as amazing as I do.

So welcome to Fantabulous Friday's! Read the blog on Friday as the gospel truth...or as a sarcastic salute to Minnesota Swinter (spring and winter combined for those in Hawaii) how you choose to take it is up to you!

Keep Pushing Forward....Our Kids Are (and it's a good thing because who else is gonna push you out of the ditch when you slide off the ice covered roadways)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

1:! - a Definition

What started out as a harmless "lazy shift key" typo has grown to define our effort to bring the best educational opportunity to the kids of Thief River Falls Public Schools.
1:1 is every student having access to a device (computer, laptop,tablet).

1:! provides students and staff with the device and the passion/expectation of great things being done with the device...this isn't a 3 year pilot/trial...it's a commitment!

The community of Thief River Falls is unique not only for the greatest school nickname, Prowlers, but for it's progressive businesses, community leaders and schools.

Spend any extended time in the community and you can't help but feel Prowler Proud!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thief River Falls Goes 1:!

On Monday March 11, 2013 the Board of Education of Thief River Falls Public Schools voted unanimously to move forward with a 1:! program that will provide every full-time student grades K-12 with a digital device. These devices will transform their educational experience and prepare them to be active participants in the global world they will live and lead in.

The Board and administrative team needs to be commended for finding and executing a financing plan that funds the building projects and 1:! for 6 years (with a district wide refresh of devices after 3 years) while still returning dollars to the taxpayers.

Here's a brief overview of the 1:! Program:

K-3 Students  -  iPad Mini for each full time student

4-8 Students  -  iPad for each full time student

9-12 Students - 11" MacBook Air for each full time student

Devices will be refreshed after 3 years.

More details of the plan will be available here on the blog as we move forward.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What the heck is a TechSpectation?

Welcome to TechSpectations...a collection of thoughts gleaned from 22 years of working with schools and technology.

At some point or other I've probably been where you are right now, as a parent/student/teacher/coach/administrator and hope to shed some light on where we need to be as information technology (IT) staff in K-12 schools.

Protecting data and students and the network and spam and viruses and printers and the budget is a daunting task. That's a lot of "and's".

I hate to admit it but...I was the over-controlling, lock-everything-down- to-"protect" things Tech Coordinator. At the beginning of the digital revolution, this was needed to get our heads around the globalization and freedom of information.

Then I ran across this post on dangerously!irrelevant and it hit home...who am I working for? How can we educate kids if we aren't exposing them to the temptations they will be faced with when they head off to college, or the workforce? How can we teach them to manage those situations? Isn't it our job to prepare them for what they will face? 5 years ago a student spent more time trying to proxy past the firewall/content filter than they did on their research paper. Were we teaching how to get around the rules or how to manage the temptation of being pinged (or Dinged by those who have been trained by First Class like Pavlov's dog) via email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Notifications from Magic Piano/Subway Surfer and every app written from now on?

In the real world of our kids generation, dealing with these distractions may well be the best skill we can TEACH today. Hence the birth of TechSpectations, a change in my way of thinking about things. Hopefully you will find some things worthwhile or at the least semi-humorous.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog...