Saturday, August 16, 2014

It IS about the Technology

By Dr. Will

I am guessing that there isn't one teacher on Twitter who hasn't seen a Twitter chat or a blog post or a discussion about the need to focus on pedagogy over fawning over the cool gadgets. The issue I take with this debate is the notion that you can remove pedagogy from technology. In this current learning environment, you simply can't separate the two. The mere fact that these discussions are taking place on Twitter, blogs, and other social platforms are proof enough that technology isn't getting in the way, but is the catalyst for making these kinds of learning experiences possible in the first place. 

Let's go deeper...

To my naysayers or those on the "focus on the pedagogy" side, please understand that what technology does is enables a creativity, fosters a collaborative spirit, invites a world of possibility, and connects your students and your classroom to the world as never seen before. In the same way that the VCR reinvented the movie viewing experiences of people, technology, powered by the internet, has re-imagined what is possible in the classroom. For example, in the past, students would have written a research paper on the American Revolution. Now, with the aid of technology, students can use Google Docs to write a journal from the perspective from one of the key figures during the American Revolution, or use Google Tour Builder to tell their story with pictures, videos, etc. or via the use of Google Hangouts, students can talk to museum curators, historians, authors, and even collaborate with another class on a project about the American Revolution. 

You see, technology doesn't replace pedagogy no more than the movie picture camera replaced stage plays. Technology simply creates a new medium, a new way of teaching and learning that shifts the focus from the teacher to the students. 

Now isn't that what we all want?

About the author: My name is Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. I am a district instructional technologist, connected educator, and digital media learning consultant. I began teaching the educational applications of digitals as the Campus Outreach Coordinator for I also spent another two years as the Chief Social Strategist for StrengthsFactors, where I oversaw and managed the company’s social strategy, created and curated content for the company’s Ning, as well as launched multiple projects that expanded the company’s digital brand. Currently, I work with teachers in discovering how they can use a multitude of technologies, such as Google Apps, Compass Learning, ActivInspire, etc., to create an array of interactive and engaging collaborative learning experiences, with a focus on blended learning and connecting students to a global community.

USC, Twitter, and Me

By Dr. Will

If you've been to my blog, then I assume that you've read my post to folks in higher education about using Twitter. If you haven't read it, you can read it here. The same folks who inspired the post have published a guide for educators on #Edchats, and guess what? My dissertation is mentioned in the guide. 

Please check out the guide: Essential #Edchat Resource Guide.

This guide was brought to you by USC Rossier’s MAT Online

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Dr. Will Show (Go Google or Go Home!) with Christy Fennewald

Today, I hangout with Christy Fennewald and chat about Google.

Christy is a former high school English and creative writing teacher, a former technology coordinator for a K-12 school district and GAFE administrator, and a current instructional technology specialist at Round Rock ISD. She is an Authorized Google Education Trainer and Google Certified Teacher, Edmodo Certified Trainer, flipped certified teacher, an avid blogger, and an instructional technology geek--always on the lookout for new tools to improve education, enhance digital literacy and digital citizenship curricula, and change the educational framework. She is also co-founder of the RRISD Ninja Academy, co-organizer of EdTech Women-Austin, and the leader of Google Educator Group Central Texas (GEG CENTX).

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Google Hangouts in Education by Rachel Jones


What is the secret to using Google Hangouts in education?

Well, if I told you I would have to kill you. Oh actually maybe not, that would break the ‘Don’t be evil” Google code.

More technologically reliable than Skype, and being linked to the Google Plus social media network, Google Hangouts is uniquely placed to offer cooperation opportunities to staff and students alike.  If you are reading this post from a twitter link, then you need to consider using Google Plus. Two reasons, the first is that you can’t run hangouts without it, and secondly there are some really inspiring educators using it to doing amazing things with Google Apps for Education in their schools.

So – if you don’t have GAfE (Google Apps for Education) in your school, set yourself up a teacher gmail account, and go to your G+ account and set up your professional identity there. I would advise you use a headshot and make sure you add your credentials so you can be identified as a professional educator.
Account all done? Excellent. Aside from the fact that you now have access to all the wonderful GAfE tools (the best being Google Drive by a clear country mile) you are now good to go with trying your first Google Hang Out (GHO) I think that there are many opportunities for teachers and students.
The main opportunity for students is to use GHO to become independent of their teacher. I know statements like this are not uncontroversial – but for me one of the main roles as a teacher is to prepare students not just for exams, but for life after school. Being able to work out problems and being creative is an important part of this. Teachers can help by setting up Google+ circles for your class. Many schools are nervous about using social media – however Google+ gives your class a public and accountable way to communicate and learn together. I have set up circles for my own students. I used it to post reminders and links to resources, but I soon saw the students use it to ask for help from each other – and especially using GHO as a way of asking questions of each other rather than asking me for help.  Before I knew it, or had provided any training on it, students were posting work to the circle, getting peer feedback, sharing resources and even finding ideas for trips. It created a virtual classroom, which everyone (including me, the teacher) had equal access and ownership. I have no doubt that this contributed towards the excellent results of the class.

As a teacher I love using GHOs – and it has really become one of the main ways that I communicate with teachers. I am dyslexic, and I am more comfortable with face-to-face conversation than by working using email. It’s a personal preference, but I also feel that using GHOs builds a more personal relationship and sets a very positive tone for collaboration.

I have used GHOs in a number of ways. One of the most inspiring was meeting my team for the Google Teacher Academy (UK) in 2013. This was the first time I spoke with educators from around the globe, and was an excellent start to building a long lasting working relationship. Since then I have used G+ more extensively to join discussion groups based on certain topics – such as using technology in education. This has been a similarly positive experience and I have had the opportunity to speak to many pedagogy experts from around the world that I would not otherwise had access too. I have also been part of some GHOs that are then relayed live on Air to YouTube. The main one of these was the App-Smashing sessions, which were attended and watched by educators from across the globe. I have also used GHOs to join live CPD sessions in America, Australia and Japan, and benefitted from the wisdom of professional development from thousands of miles away. The final way which I have used GHO is to organise educational events. It made such a difference being able to chat with others (some of which I had never met in person) prior to the event – and used in combination with Trello or G-drive made the whole process of organising an event much less painful.
The benefits of GHOs are that you as a teacher are no longer bound to your school to provide professional development – you can go out and find some of the best quality guidance and inspiration for yourself. A classroom without walls is not just beneficial for students – it can give a new lease of life to teachers and requires a minimum of tech skills. The only thing you need is a device that connects to decent wifi and a willingness to learn. So – what’s stopping you? Get out there – it’s a big wide world beyond your classroom, and one that will have a positive impact for your students and your own practice.

Rachel Jones @rlj1981
e-Learning coordinator at King Edward VI School, Southampton UK.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Dr. Will Show (Episode 23 - Keeping it Real on Twitter) with Sarah Thomas

By Dr. Will

Sarah Thomas is the Technology Liaison at John Hanson French Immersion School in Oxon Hill, MD.  In addition to this role, she also teaches Technology Integration and English Language Arts at the middle school level.  She has served on the School Leadership Team, advising administrators and teachers on technology-related matters.  

Outside of her work at John Hanson, she also conducts professional development for teacher recertification hours at the county level, on topics such as Google Drive, Google Sites, and Using PowerPoint in the Teaching and Learning Process.  Sarah has presented on various technology topics at the local, regional, and state level.  She also presents free interactive tutorials for teachers on various educational technology topics.

Sarah holds a Masters degree from Howard University in the field of Curriculum and Instruction.  She is currently a doctoral candidate at George Mason University, with a major in Education.  Her upcoming dissertation, Using Technology to Facilitate Language Acquisition of English Language Learners, is rooted heavily in student-created artifacts through the use of project-based learning.  

Sarah has an amazing blog: You can also connect with her on Twitter: @sarahdateechur .

The Dr. Will Show (Episode 22 - Education Publishing) with Angela Watson

By Dr. Will

Today on The Dr. Will Show, I chat with Angela Watson.

Angela Watson was a classroom teacher for 11 years and has turned her passion for helping other teachers into a career as an educational consultant and instructional coach. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services in Brooklyn, NY, she has published 3 books, launched a blog and webinar series, designs curriculum support materials, and conducts seminars in schools around the world. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Dr. Will Show (Episode 21 - PD via iTunes U) with Sabba Quidai

By Dr. Will

Today, I chat with Sabba Quidwai about delivering professional development via iTunes U. 

Sabba Quidwai is a passionate educator with a love for creating innovative student-centered learning experiences.  What Sabba loves most about the creation of technology-enhanced curriculum is its potential to empower all learners and is driven by the following philosophy:

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." ~ Confucius.

Sabba currently serves as the Director of Innovative Learning for the University of Southern California - Keck School of Medicine where she works with faculty to create innovative learning experiences for students.  Sabba specializes in creating professional learning programs to motivate and empower educators as they create 21st century learning environments.

She is the author of iLearn. iTeach. iLead - a professional learning course for educators.

Prior to joining USC, Sabba successfully led the technology-enhanced curriculum initiative at Fairmont Private Schools in Orange County, California where she developed a three year plan that put mobile devices in the hands of every student.  It is here that she also taught Social Science.  Prior to joining Fairmont, Sabba taught at Northwood High School in Irvine, CA, Mayfair High School in Lakewood, CA and Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach, CA

True to her philosophy to, "Discover, Innovate and Share," Sabba has presented at several conferences including EdTechTeacher, OCCUE and iPads in Higher Education. Sabba shares her experiences and ideas as a featured writer for

Sabba holds a Master’s in Education, Social Science Teaching Credential and a B.A. in Social Science from the University of California, Irvine. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Educational Technology Leadership at George Washington University.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Dr. Will Show (Episode 20 - Coding and Mobile Technology) with Alefiyah Bhatia

By Dr. Will

In this episode, I hung out with Alefiyah Bhatia from Cresecerance. We talked about coding and mobile technology in schools.

Alefiya believes that involved communities result in higher academic and social outcomes, stronger values, and increased future success for students. Her degree in psychology and education from Emory University, along with her training and experience as a Montessori teacher, power her passion for wide-scale education improvement. It is this passion that led her to start her company Crescerance (cris-seer-unce) in 2011.
In Crescerance’s short lifespan of just over 3 years, Alefiya has enabled over 150 educational institutions in America and throughout the world to better communicate with and engage their communities through the growing power of mobile. Alefiya is passionate about making mobile an easily available and powerful channel to thousands of schools worldwide. She is now focussing on brining the concepts and tools of app development to students as young as the 3rd grade by enabling them to build mobile apps with the newly launched MAD-learn program. In her spare time, she enjoys touring the world, meeting new people, learning new languages, and experiencing new cultures. She is also a closet adrenaline junkie who loves the occasional sky or sea dive expedition.

Crescerance began its journey in 2011 with the simple idea of wanting to make it easier for schools to connect and truly engage with their parents, staff, students, alumni, and community at large. Through working with schools in creating their school apps (so that everyone could be connected through Mobile and have quick, easy access to the information they needed), we met students that had a keen interest in not just using the app that we created for their school, but in wanting to learn about the creation process of that app. 

"How did you make our app?" was a question that we got asked through numerous in person or Skype calls from teachers wanting to bring an App Developer perspective to their students. This is where MAD-learn was born. It was born from the curiosity of our students. From their quest to know more and absorb more. From our passion to feed that curiosity.

MAD stands for Mobile App Development and MAD-learn is a program that is teaching students how to be Creators of Technology, instead of just Consumers of it. To learn more about MAD-learn, watch this video: