Digital Learning Update

Once a year I get about 30 minutes to try and share with our Board of Education all that’s happening with digital learning in our schools. I call it the State of the Union address. I created this 7 minute video that touches on a few things happening locally. I find that this is a much more powerful way to communicate learning than a standard report which I also provided.

After the video, I talked for a few minutes about trends I see and what where we need to be headed. The Board members responded with some great comments and questions. One Board member recognized that while he might not have the understanding of how learning and education is changing, he knows we have to do a better job sharing this with parents. Another mentioned his excitement for a virtual school project that’s currently on hold. Still another shared a story about his granddaughter who asked him about bio-diesel fuel and when he didn’t give her the answer she wanted said she’d ask Mr. Google. It’s clear they embrace the future.

I was clear to tell them we don’t have all the answers. I told them that many schools can’t figure out how to handle cellphones but they need to begin involving students and understanding its power. To demonstrate I asked if they knew the population of China. While they debated I texted 466453 and “population China” and had the answer set to me before they could come up with an answer. I emphasized that it requires shifts for our teachers and while we have some great examples of those that are on their way, we have a long way to go.

I came across this video from Susan Young after I presented. I wished I had it earlier. I think it would have told them even more.

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  • LangLabCindy

    Thanks for sharing what you shared and for the video clips! Will be helpful as I prepare for a short meeting with alumni board and trustee’s council (fund raising helpers) about our 1-to-1 plans. They want to know how it will impact the students and I hope to share a message of big ideas – relevance, equitable access, 21st century skills, and leveraging students tech gadgets for learning (not just entertainment). And your cell phone example shows clearly that they can be learning tools, not just distractions from learning. Won’t have time to share the Susan Young clip, but maybe a good follow-up item.

  • I discovered the second video on your site recently as well and also found it a powerful message to share. But I’m sure your Board found even more value in seeing and hearing from your own teachers and students. It sounds like you had a supportive audience, and they were ready to listen. Like Cindy, I want to try my own version of this. Thanks for sharing yours.

  • Anne

    I am so happy when I can see what other schools are doing! It used to be so easy to get stuck in a rut, not able to see what the next step in using technology might be. Thank yous are due to inspiring folks like Dean, who share their best ideas and spread the wealth!

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  • Dean, the Susan Young video wasn’t available tonight from your blog, Lorna’s blog or YouTube. But I can’t imagine that it would have been better than your own video, as you suggest. Rich with real examples from your own school district, your video captures the major components of 21st century learning – connectedness, globalization, teachers and students in the presence of content, challenges to pedantic learning models, collaborative learning. Kudos!

  • @Cindy and @LanglabCindy

    I meant to say that I wished I showed that video as opposed to the one I did show which was K-12 a Vision of Students Today.

  • Hi Dean, Im in a computers in education class at the U of R and we were pointed towards your video. I was wondering if you could give me some more information about how cell phones were used in the classroom; that part particularly intrigued me. Thanks a lot!

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  • Ashley205

    I’m a student in an ed tech class and while I was searching for ed tech blogs, I came across yours. I watched your video and I have to say that I am definitely impressed with the amount of technology used in your school district. The thing that struck me the most was the use of video conferencing to communicate with a class in the US. It reminded me of my days in school writing to pen pals. I loved hearing about their experiences but I hated physically writing letters. I think that the use of cell phones and PDAs not only helps the student in the present, but will also help them in the future. Many kids I know are keeping track of assignments in a written agenda- something most adults I work with have done stopped doing years ago. By introducing technology at an early age, it sets students up for success in the “real world.”

    I do have a couple of questions for you regarding some of the things shown in your video. First of all, I was curious of the number of kids who actually own their own cell phone. Coming from a district that sees a large range in the socio-economic status of students, I’m used to maybe only 25% of students in high school having their own phone. Does this affect the lesson when the student cant directly apply it? Also, I’ve been reading about technology used in special education classrooms and wondered if/what your district has implemented in those settings.

    Thanks for the interesting info- its great to see some of the things I’m learning be put into practice in the classroom.

  • Thanks for your comments Ashley,

    The school that implemented the cellphones had about 16 of 21 students with cellphones. Equity is an issue but it shouldn’t stop using simply because not everyone has access. That is an important but separate issue. The teacher simply used group leaders in most cases that used their cellphone to communicate for the group. It’s simply one way of addressing the issue.

    In terms of special needs, I haven’t been directly involved with that but do know there is much interest in this area. I presume I’ll be having these conversations in the near future.

    Dean Shareskis last blog post..Inside K12 online

  • standres

    I am in total agreement with the video by Susan Young. These days are all about technology for young children. I see children all the time carrying cell phones, ipods/mp3 players, video games, etc around with them everywhere. What are we as teachers and administrators saying to these children if we don’t allow them the same type of technology in the classroom? As students get older the use of technology is just going to increase so they need to be prepared for that. Isn’t that what schooling is all about, teaching children and preparing them for the future? The future is technology.

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  • Dear Dean

    At the risk of joining an echo chamber — outstanding! I’m sure putting this together gave you the chance to reflect on and feed back into your ICT integration plans as well as providing a very watchable, informative brief to administrators. Well done!

    I’d very much like to show this video to educators here in Australia, but YouTube is blocked in every state and territory. Do you have a link to a downloadable version of it? I’d like to upload it to our media server (which isn’t blocked) and make it available in a few different formats.

    ph 61 8 8334 3218
    email kjohnson (at)

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