Thursday, November 12, 2015

LOA Diaries -Ed Tech

Almost as soon as I got the gig at Edmodo, I, along with my cohort of iPad Academy

4/5 of the Original iPaddians
members received an email from our former fearless leader, +Kirby Fell. He had moved down to a school district in the central coast area of California as the Chief Technical Officer of Orcutt School District  where he joined our former superintendent, Dr. Debra Blow. We were invited to kick off their iPad Academy, all 5 of us, with a one day training at their district office. We would have done it for free but they were even going to pay us! We stayed at our colleague, Lorena's, second home near Paso Robles, and made a fun weekend of it. It was great to share our experiences with a receptive and enthusiastic group of educators, quite different than the reception we'd received in our own district when we first started out on our iPad adventure four years ago. As my friend and colleague, +sheila monger was quoted in The Orcutt Pioneer, "It was an honor to work with the Orcutt teachers...It takes a brave educator to take the initiative and risk to learn so much so quickly...each one ...will take back an idea that will immediately and positively impact their students' educational experience."

One of the benefits of not being tied to a classroom is the ability to attend conferences, workshops and classes just because they interest me. Of course, the downside is, I have to pay for them, but often such activities targeted to the education community are free or at least reasonably priced.  Within the span of a week I attended Looking at Learning, Common Sense Education Teacher Institute at +Twitter headquarters in SF, and the SVEF iHub Pitch Games.  

Looking at Learning was hosted by and at the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College. After a lovely catered dinner, with wine made from founder Gay Krause's own grapes, there were three TED style talks to inspire and ignite educators. +Diane Main  presented her ideas on using gaming to goive students more control in the classroom. +Kyle Brumbaugh spoke about constructive friction. During his presentation his wife, +Elizabeth Calhoon, tweeted out from Dallas how she wished she was there to see him speak, so in less than 3 minutes I learned how to Periscope and she was able to watch her husband's presentation, and even catch a glimpse of her mom in the audience. The last presentation was +Esther Wojcicki sharing her teaching adventure with James Franco, first as her student years ago and more recently as her co-teacher, inspiring us to go for the moonshot in education.

+Common Sense Education teacher institute on digital citizenship was held at Twitter HQ in SF. If I thought +Edmodo has great perks, Twitter is over the top! They treated us very well and again the presentations and activities were inspiring and informative. The institute was all day on a Friday, something I could not justify if I were in the classroom. It was a great opportunity to network and learn from not just the presenters but my table mates. Plus it was a beautiful day if the city. What caught me off guard was, driving I'm into the city I realized it was the exact route, exit and intersection where I used to drop off Jim in those years when we commuted to work together. The memory took my breath away and I wiped away tears as I entered Twitter's lobby. Even on a beautiful day, focused on edtech. I can still be overcome with grief. 

About two weeks after school started I was approached by a former colleague and invited to participate as a teacher team in SVEF iHub. I explained that I wasn't in a classroom and she invited me to be on the short list selection committee. They met on a Tuesday at lunchtime at some Palo Alto office building, again, something I could never do if I was teaching. We were evaluating up and coming Ed tech companies who would then compete shark tank style, in Pitch Games. The winners would go on to work with selected teacher teams who would use their products in real life classrooms. The Pitch games themselves were fascinating. I'd been asked by Arati to be the Twitter moderator, a role I completely enjoyed. They even asked me to join in the judging process to add insights gained from monitoring the Twitter feed. 

I attended MERIT at the Krause Center for Innovation (KCI) in 2009 and have kept in touch with Maestro +Steven McGriff, professor-in-residence, ever since. We run into each other at various edtech events and I am always so impressed with his positive energy and outlook. He really is a breath of fresh air.  He's talked about me coming on board to teach for KCI but due to my schedule and dealing with my husband's illness and death, the timing has never been right.  After attending Looking at Learning, Twitter and iHub in the span of a week, and seeing some faces in common at each event, I was approached by Kyle Brumhaugh, who is now also working at KCI with Steve. He asked if I'd be interested in teaching a few of the sessions at an upcoming mini-MERIT program.  Of course I would! So finally, is will be a part of this amazing program from the delivery side. I am so honored to be asked and thrilled that the time is finally right!

Last week I was honored to teach two (of 5) days for a mini-MERIT program at local school district. It was a great experience to work with teachers so eager to learn. Mini-MERIT is a very hands-on, minds-on learning for teachers, TOSAs and administrators to develop knowledge and technical skill as well as work on real-life projects they will take back into their schools. I am hoping I will get to do more of these. I felt like I was making a difference, and the very part time, flexible nature of it fits my needs right now. 

Since I started working in education in 2005 I strive to integrate my experience and skills from my hi-tech career within the education system. It has been so exciting and rewarding to not only get to do so on a grand, fun scale, but also have time to share what I know, and learn from, like minded professionals. In addition, I am allowing myself time to personally learn, grow, grieve and redefine my life.

And it is only November!


  1. Sandy- You are an inspiration to many. Thank you for ALL that you do.


    1. Thank you, Arati! It has been great to reconnect with you. And thank you for all YOU do!