Presenting at ISTE 2014

iste2014badgeHurrah! Presenting at ISTE 2014!

 

Once again I have the opportunity to present at ISTE this year. Last year was San Antonio and this year is Atlanta Georgia….a bit sweltering after 2012 in San Diego but I have a blast irregardless.

This year I am working with a colleague at Portland State University on faculty technological professional development. We are using the ISTE NETS*T as our guide and 3DGameLab as our portal. At the conference come by our poster session and we’ll let you know how it goes. Right now we are in the midst of promoting NETS*T IV amongst the university faculty!

While there I also hope to spend some quality time with the Young Educators Network, the games for learning people, and several SIGs. I am especially excited to reconnect with SIGML! I feel completely out of touch this year and desperately want to reconnect with folks. Doctoral work seems to magically sneak my time whenever I am not looking.

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Emerging Leader Award is Popular at my School…

A screenshot of the article.The emerging leader award is popular at my school. They decided to feature the award in the school of ed’s blog. While the interview was fun and strange emails I am getting scare me just a titch!

Despite my embarrassment regarding the attention I am excited about the opportunity to go to Washington DC. If I can leverage this visit towards grants for my research in games for education and general leverage for curriculum design I will be happy. There is also a secondary set of interests. I have joined Portland State University’s School of Ed’s Curriculum and Instruction’s LGBTQ Advocacy Task Force. We are looking for ways to support teacher candidates, students and others in the schools who identify somewhere along the LGBT (and QIA) spectrum. Personally this is very satisfying work and I hope to hear other’s perspectives in DC and throughout the year.

 

ISTE – Monday Morning

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Morning!

Today I am heading off to ISTE. Actually I have been here for the last few days. Today is the first full official conference day. The events of the weekend got me to reflecting a bit. Reflecting on games in education.

During the Saturday activities we were rehashing old topics and I was feeling fearful that I was not going to experience the inspiration I have felt at prior ISTE conferences. Then I got a call/email from someone I’ve worked with regarding Google Apps for Education asking for some help with Google Voice. Sherry Bosch wanted to make sure the system worked for the Epic Leadership program Monday morning. Since I was attending she wanted to keep thing quiet and not reveal why she needed this to work. Nothing like a mystery, right?

Since I know the facilitator, Peggy Sheehy, and had already completed the online quests (amazing!), I already had a strong sense of what the Google Voice was for. Still…I decided my best course of action was to beard Peggy in her lair (hotel) and offer to help. At the end of a couple hours getting components of one massively fun Alternative Reality Game (ARG), which was the backbone of the Epic Leadership experience, I was inspired!

It is amazing the kind of work and collaboration a small group of enthusiastic professionals can do when they put their minds to it. Peggy is a maestro of orchestrating games for learning. Kae Novak was instrumental in pumping up the crowd and organizing. The bricoleurs drove excitement and facilitation to levels I would not have dreamt up.

So I am back to inspired – just in time for my presentation this morning.

PS: My Jane Mcgonigal video mash-up will come soon. Probably after the conference.

Editing Cyberbullying Out of Our Schools

First a definition:

[notice]Cyber bullying or cyberbullying: The use of the Internet and related technologies (mobile devices ie texting) to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.[/notice]

Another definition:

[notice]Cyberbullying is when one or more people repeatedly harm, harass, intimidate, or exclude another person using technology.[/notice]

 

Why am I talking about this on Ed Thought?

Every year I am asked to do some sort of presentation on cyberbullying, the internet and safety, and other discussions for parents, students, and teachers. Each year I try to stress the importance of parental and educator involvement in, and coaching of, students in their online explorations.

Inevitably one parent or teacher stands up and announces that we should just switch it all off. Switch off the internet. Take away student’s mobile devices. Remove the tempting objects and throw them out the window. Each time I want to ask the technology defenestration (throwing things our a window but much cooler word) expert what they plan to do about the rest of the world. And I am serious. Follow my thoughts on this:

 
A student receives harassing wall posts on their Facebook page from another student. The reaction above would be to delete the Facebook account. Okay. The other student still has Facebook up and the comment likely already circulated to a portion of the student body before the account deletion occurred. Due to this the beleaguered student receives a taunting text about their Facebook account deletion. This continues until the parent or teacher removes the cell phone. Even if they took this a step further and removed the offender’s phone from their possession and somehow they were never able to obtain a replacement (and with $20 pay-as-you-go phones this is unlikely) the abuse can still continue behind the curtain of a thousand firewalls.
 

So removal of accounts and phones does not work. At least not for the persistent abuser.

 

In general – at this time I share stories of cyberbullying that horrify and draw pity. At the third story or sometimes the fourth for the emotionally stolid, someone invariably asks where the situations started, or more commonly, how it ended.

Megan Taylor Meier 1992 – 2006
Ryan Patrick Halligan 1989 – 2003
What really works to deal with cyberbullying?

Believe it or not – there is a government website with useful tips. The foremost among them – BE INVOLVED!

Check out StopBullying.gov for full details – here I am going to go over my interpretation of a school’s role in cyberbullying. Yes – they have one.

The School’s Role: and if they are not doing this they are failing.

Assess Bullying – Schools should survey students, faculty, and community member continuously on cyberbullying. The information help inform school’s of widely recognized acts of aggression and also help school authorities understand where students, faculty and community members may be “unschooled” in recognizing bullying behaviors. Informed by these surveys, administrators and counselors can help narrow the focus for school climate campaigns and staff development tremendously.

[important]One last note – these surveys fail when they are a one-shot deal. Polls on different aspects of bullying should occur frequently to stay on top of issues and to broaden awareness.[/important]

 

Involve Community, Parents, and Students – This is perhaps the hardest part of an anti-bullying campaign. The benefits are tremendous however. By involving students schools make them feel safer. Involving the community and parents extends that by helping the school with awareness of broader issues, potential resources for help, and extending the blanket of safety beyond the school grounds. As long as the participants all feel valued and productive things like a school safety committee provides a powerful ally to school principals. In fact – they tend to be the group I speak with most often.

A safety committee does not serve as a forum for specific students or their activities as this violates FERPA and other statutes and policies.

 

Rules and Policies – Rules and policies help staff and community members (including students) understand how they should treat each other. Most schools already have effectively worded policies in place such as “Be Safe, Be Respectful” and other short – easy to remember student rights. The simplicity of these statements makes them effective.

There are several additional things that can be done to extend the effectiveness of these rules. Educating staff and faculty on how to recognize and respond to violations of these rules helps. Giving students an active role in protecting and upholding these rules increases student adherence as well. The final piece that I find the most influential however is the way in which cyberbullying is reported.

There are a variety of methods but the one that I see the most often and feel is the least effective is the student complaint form. Usually this form allows students to “report” incidents “anonymously” yet these forms are typically located in the counseling center or front office – highly visible places – and the turn in is usually a person – often the same person who follows up on the reports. I would encourage schools to try an online form accessible from a computer, mobile phone, or other device. Post the QR code or shortened URL conspicuously and in areas where bullying happens more often. The chances for reporting increase both with the perceived anonymity ease of access.

 

Finally a Safe Environment and Education – Wait – A safe environment? Education? When schools block or lock down social sites and prohibit students from using them during the school day they seem to think they can also avoid teaching students about these resources. Like reading – technology literacy and even more to the point – teaching positive behavioral norms for life online is an often neglected responsibility of the school. It should be integrated into every classroom!

WAIT!!! What do you mean the school’s responsibility – integrated into every classroom?

Well – yeah. You don’t expect students to magically know how to behave online? Their parents? Who wants to lay odds on the parents knowing more about teen culture and online social media than the teens and teachers who deal with it everyday?

 

Too Simple?

Does all this seem too simple? If it does you have been overthinking it. And honestly it is not all that simple. Implementing this takes time, dedication, and involvement from many different groups and areas. Actually – defenestration seems much simpler – it just does not solve the problem.

 

 

PTSA – Parent-Teacher-Student Association

The PTSA and Social Networking

I recently worked with the PTSA as the Grants Pass School District (where I am student teaching) by presenting a short workshop on internet use and children. My audience added a new dimension to the presentation – though I did not discuss any new ideas (as compared to previous iterations. A PTSA is similar to a PTA (Parent Teacher Association). The difference lies in the third letter – “S” – for students!

The presentation did not truly change except for my embarrassment level. There are things I talk about to parents (like sexting) that I had a hard time saying with students there. Despite my verbal stumbling things went well and my HTML5 based presentation looked great on a big screen. In fact, the students provided me with the most critical and useful feedback of the night – asking for the animations to slow down or have more lead time – things I am happy to accomodate.

A PTSA is a new concept for me and one that I really believe in. Getting the students involved sets a different tone to the body of parents, and, at the middle school level, parent involvement in the school seems to drop. By involving students the group appeared to have a higher level of engagement and focus – students and their learning. Wherever I end up as a teacher I hope to involve myself in the PTSA connected to my institution – if for nothing more than to connect with the community in one more fashion.

PLN Article

Last fall I wrote an opinion piece where I played devils advocate in ISTE’s “Point/Counterpoint” article for Leading and Learning. You can check out the article here.

Ever since writing that article I have laughed at myself. Here I am, someone who loves collaborative, ad hoc professional learning networks, and I write a piece that someone will eventually use as a reference to refute my claims that networking in educational chats on twitter or other social networking tools, should count as professional development. If we reap what we sow I am hoping for a hard freeze. Given that many of the presentations I attended during the ASCD conference referenced the high degree of value derived from these networks I think that freeze may already have occurred. If so I wipe my brow and plan to forge ahead with encouraging these networks of advanced collegiality.