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Monday, July 20, 2015

The hardest part of change

I started cleaning some items out for our annual curbside trash pickup yesterday. As I grabbed a lawn mower grass bag that had been in the garage for at least five years, never touched once during that time, I had to stop myself from the “but you might need this argument.” We are all guilty of hanging on to items that we don’t need, ideas that are outdated, systems that don't work, and practices that have little to no positive
effect. Whether it is rows in the classroom facing a teacher, textbooks sitting idly on a shelf, software that shows little instructional value, or the venerable “we have always done it this way”, the start of the school year brings the perfect opportunity for all of us to choose some items that need to be cleaned out of our instructional arsenals. Why don’t we? Because change almost always produces some resistance in us, resistance to the uneasy feelings we get when things are different. But like the first time we sat on a bicycle when we felt very unsure and a little bit scared, the end result is often an amazing ride, bringing benefits we could never have predicted. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Judson ISD Parent Center wins a Best in Texas Award from the Center for Digital Government


Technology is a growing industry with an impact in virtually every walk of our modern life.  Education has certainly been affected and Judson ISD's Technology Services has proven to be a leader in innovation among not just public education, but in general public sector applications as well. Judson ISD's Technology Services Department recently was awarded a Best in Texas technology award by the Center For Digital Government. It was a selection as "Best In-House Developed Application," for the district's Parent Center. The Parent Center is an application that keeps parents informed about important areas such as grades, assignments, attendance, library books, discipline, lunch accounts and more.  And it's all in one place that's accessible from multiple devices. 

The popularity of this tool has been growing with usage up across the board for administrators, parents and especially students.  All this was developed in house by the innovative folks from the JISD Technology Services Department. 

This is excerpted from the original blog post by Steve Linscomb at http://www.judsonisd.org/jblog/post.cfm/jisd-techies-earn-best-in-texas-award 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

CoSN 2015 Texas CTO Clinic Supports K-12 Technology Leadership Growth

Missed the 2015 CoSN Texas CTO Clinic?  Check out some missed highlights at Technology & Learning Magazine's web site at http://www.techlearning.com/blogentry/9469 


Can Schools Become Future Ready When Families Aren’t Connected?

One of the most vexing challenges for schools trying to convert to becoming Future Ready by transitioning to digital learning, is the persistently large number of students from families that do not have Internet access

Internet access alone will not bring about a change in learning, but it can support reshaping classrooms and schools that are embracing flipped classrooms, student-based discovery, and personalization of learning. For schools looking to put devices in the hands of students, the lack of Internet access in many homes is a major stumbling block. Schools and some Internet service providers have tried to address this access gap with varying degrees of success and creativity. Coachella Valley Unified School District parked Wi-Fi equipped buses in neighborhoods of greatest need, while Forsyth County Schools partnered with local business who would offer students free Wi-Fi and a safe place to work on homework. Comcast has offered a basic Internet plan to families in its markets for $9.95 a month. Pasadena ISD near Houston, Texas is going so far as to build their own LTE broadband network, but for most school this type of build out has far too many technical and financial hurdles.

 Will the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) come to the rescue? It very well might, as last week the FCC voted to change its Lifeline program, which subsidizes telephones for low income families. The change would subsidize just under $10 a month for broadband Internet for low income families. The FCC already transformed e-Rate this year. Will the Lifeline program change be another shift in policy that can really help schools bridge the access divide? This could be a huge opportunity for schools to encourage families to sign up for low- or no-cost Internet and have the same learning opportunities that other families with Internet access have.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Data Privacy Fervor

The activity around student data privacy has reached a new level of fervor, with state and federal legislators locked and loaded, ready to take aim at vendors, districts, and teachers alike. There are an amazing number of parties and organizations weighing in on this very important topic, from parent groups, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), to many educational organizations like the National School Board Association (NSBA) and the National Education Association (NEA). 

There are literally tens of bills pending at the state and federal levels, with assorted rules for companies, districts, and school staff members. California was early to the game with its landmark SOPIPA legislation, which passed in September of last year. Others that joined, like Louisiana, passed laws that place teachers in the crosshairs, with looming large fines and possible jail time for each student data privacy violation. Yes, teachers do need to take protecting student data much more seriously, but are fines or jail time really the answer? We all need to start focusing on the basics, starting with policies, procedures, and staff and student training. 

Regardless of the pending laws affecting us in each of our states, the need to inform staff and students of the dangers of data over sharing and the responsibility to protect it have never been greater. If you are just starting your student data privacy journey, I suggest downloading the excellent Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning toolkit from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), which can serve as a privacy roadmap for districts. Also try visiting the Student Data Principles site, Stay Safe Online, and the Privacy Technical Assistance Center, which will give you the ammo needed to start moving your school forward with becoming a student data privacy advocate. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Check out - The Right Connections - how to keep school communities informed

Judson ISD and it's fantastic home grown Parent Center app were featured in Technology & Learning's May 2015 cover story, Now Hear This: The Right Connections - how to keep school communities informed - from  

Friday, May 15, 2015

What keeps CTOs up at night?

Judson ISD along with two of my great counterparts at Tyler ISD and Calcasieu Parish Public Schools are featured in the eSchoolNews May 2015 cover story, “What keeps CTOs up at night?” which I have attached and can also be viewed online at http://www.eschoolnews.com/current-issue/