Introducing EducatorU

Posted February 27th, 2012 by dvillanojr with No Comments

I am very proud to announce that I am one of the founding members of a new educational partnership. EducatorU is now working with schools districts and individuals to plan, deploy, and implement educational technology. Our team is also leading professional development opportunities for all grade levels and curriculum areas based on technology devices and applications for the classroom. The EducatorU team is made up of dynamic and experienced educators and IT professionals. I am excited to work with other educators from around the country as EducatorU helps prepare them for their roles in a modern connected classroom.

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The EducatorU team will be a major sponsor for the upcoming New England 1:1 Summit. We will also be announcing some exciting educational technology sessions and courses soon.

Please visit the EducatorU website for more information.

Follow the EducatorU Team on Twitter.

Burlington Union Interview

Posted February 26th, 2012 by dvillanojr with No Comments
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Thank you to Judy Wasserman and the Burlington Union for the opportunity to talk about our 1:1 iPad initiative at Burlington High School. The recent article did a wonderful job highlighting the excitement at the school and the engagement of students using the iPads. We have been asked many questions, from many different media outlets and school systems but it is always nice being featured in our local news so that we can share the events in BPS with our community.

Read more about Burlington High School in the Burlington Union.

January Parent Tech Night

Posted January 21st, 2012 by dvillanojr with No Comments
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Burlington High School Principal Patrick Larkin and I will lead another parent technology night on Tuesday, January 24. This month’s session will feature Google Calendar. Participants will learn about how Google Calendar can help organize busy family and professional schedules. We will show how to create shared calendars and add your calendars to blogs and websites. As always, participants can also ask questions about any technology topic that they want to learn about.

Event Details
Tuesday, January 24
Burlington High School Staff Resource Center

For more information visit Patrick Larkin’s blog.

BPS EdTech Apps

Posted January 21st, 2012 by dvillanojr with No Comments
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If you haven’t checked out our Burlington Public Schools EdTech Apps blog you are now missing out on over 200 great educational apps tested by Burlington teachers and students. Burlington District Library Assistant Rose Magliozzi and I have been adding apps every week to the blog. The site has each app categorized by curriculum area and it’s easy to search for apps by content.

Click here for a link to BPS EdTech Apps

If you have an app suggestion send it our way. We will review the app and have some Burlington teachers and students give it a try. Apps that get positive reviews will be added to the site.

Dennis Villano

Rose Magliozzi

Reacting to Disappointment

Posted January 21st, 2012 by dvillanojr with No Comments

I am very disappointed with what I have read about the recent Apple digital textbook announcement. However, I am not disappointed in Apple. I am disappointed in many of the educators that I often read. Many of them are disappointed with Apple. They are upset that Apple is trying to make money off of education — no {kidding} — Apple has been trying to make money off of education since the 80s.

I love working in education. I enjoyed being a classroom teacher and now I’m having a great time working in EdTech. I appreciate every opportunity I get to help students learn and assist teachers with technology — and guess what — but don’t tell anyone — I even enjoy making money doing it.

Many people are disgusted that Apple included McGraw Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin in their plans — wow — three of the biggest publishing companies in the world want to make money too? Many have also mentioned the greed Apple has displayed in their EULA. However, the EULA isn’t all that different from many agreements in the Apple iTunes/App Store environment. I’m guessing many of the folks writing these posts have just never read one before because they aren’t in the entertainment industry or haven’t created an app before. When did all these folks become so concerned with how the textbooks they write will be managed by an Apple EULA? Come to think of it – when did all these folks become textbook writers? Has anyone even mentioned that educators or students who create new books don’t actually have to sell them?

When I followed the live blog of the Apple keynote this week I was excited about the potential ways to integrate Apple’s new application and iTunes U support system in our classrooms. I was excited about having our extraordinary teachers create their own textbooks and even having our students experience an interactive ebook creation process with iBooks Author. I actually wasn’t even considering buying the big publishing company textbooks. The power of this announcement is that there is now a new way to create and share collaborative educational content.

iBooks Author will allow our teachers AND students to create their own app style interactive products using much of their own content. Distribution of these products will also be easier than it is now. iBooks Author is a classic Apple software application. It is an easy to use Keynote meets Pages application that will help teachers and students through the creation process. Not everyone will like it – some will find the posting dashboards from WordPress or Blogger better for providing material but we need to support our teachers with whatever they feel most comfortable with.

I am also reading that many people are upset with the creation process provided through iBooks Author. They are saying that the application is not a truly collaborative tool. Well in its first installment maybe not. I think we should see how it evolves. More importantly though is the fact that we can still cultivate quality information and collaborate with each other using web tools. Now we can also create an organized product with easy to use iBooks Author and share these products with others not involved in the original collaboration.

However we support our teachers in this collaborative process it is critical that we don’t lock them down to one source or discouraging them from using these Apple applications because the company promotes corporate greed – the same corporate greed displayed by many of the other companies selling educational products.

I actually think the best part of the announcement is the ability to use iTunes U in K-12 as a learning management system. I read some say that teachers should just use a wiki instead. I think wikis are a great way to share content as well but they are not for everyone – neither are blogs or Twitter. Learning management systems sold by other companies are often extremely clunky and incredibly overpriced. iTunes U is an outstanding platform to be used as an alternative to current LMS products. The higher ed courses available in the iTunes U library are awesome. They are well organized and easy to navigate. They are cetainly far better than any paper syllabus I have ever seen.

Remember the days following the first iPad announcement? The same posts and tweets were evident all over the Internet. Educators, consumers, and experts said the iPad wasn’t right for this or that and it lacked certain qualities like Flash. Many said the iPad couldn’t ever compete with laptops and lacked educational value. I even remember reading several posts about how it would fail within its first year. Why don’t we give this some time? Maybe we should give teachers the chance to explore and create. We may look back and see that this was the start of something great.

Although I was excited about the announcement, I didn’t think Apple was going to revolutionize education. I have never thought that any corporation could revolutionize education. We should always believe that any real educational revolution could only come from educators.

New England 1:1 Summit

Posted January 20th, 2012 by dvillanojr with No Comments
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The Burlington Public Schools EdTech Team is hosting a great free event on March 10, 2012. The New England 1:1 Summit will feature information and sessions about 1:1 learning environments for schools administrators, teachers, and IT professionals. Burlington High School Instructional Technology Specialist Andy Marcinek, Burlington Systems Administrator Bob Cunha, and I are planning the event which will be held at Burlington High School. We have great presenters and several industry leading vendors scheduled for the summit.

The New England 1:1 Summit will be an important event for anyone currently working in a 1:1 school or planning for an upcoming initiative. The event sessions will also be very beneficial for any teacher interested in educational technology professional development.

For more information visit the New England 1:1 Summit blog.

Apple Education Keynote

Posted January 20th, 2012 by dvillanojr with No Comments
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It was great to be a part of the Apple Education Keynote video on January 19, 2012. The video features comments from educators about the challenges facing students and schools today. Several members of Burlington Public Schools were part of two videos played during the keynote. The second video featured the use of iPads at Burlington High School. During the keynote, Apple announced the new iBooks Author application and enhanced course management system for iTunesU.

I am very proud of the students and staff of BHS for their efforts integrating the iPads into the school. They have been an inspiration and helped many other schools with their development of 1:1 technology environments.


Burlington Opening PD Conference

Posted September 3rd, 2011 by dvillanojr with No Comments
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The first annual Burlington Public Schools Opening Professional Development Conference was held this week. The three day conference at Burlington High School was attended by nearly 500 BPS staff members making it one of the largest educational conferences of the year. The event had almost 90 different sessions featuring topics in educational technology, special education, student assessment, and wellness activities. From iPads to yoga, the conference had something for everyone and almost all sessions were led by Burlington teachers. Most sessions were optional and teachers were able to choose what they felt was most valuable to them. The event even featured a closing session with prizes and swag provided by local business and vendors from across the country.

Thank you to all the session leaders and participants. Thank you as well to BHS Instructional Technology Specialist Andy Marcinek for all his help with the planning of the conference. We spent many summer hours trying to put together a beneficial and enjoyable three days for our staff. I hope that the conference provided everyone with new ideas and knowledge in preparation for the new school year. I hope you had some fun as well.

For more information about the conference and a look at the sessions that were provided please visit the conference blog.

Scholastic Administrators Article

Posted June 15th, 2011 by dvillanojr with No Comments
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Thank you to Ken Royal from Scholastic for including me in a recent Scholastic Administrators Best In Tech Today article. The article first appeared on the Scholastic Administrators blog and later was published in their magazine. Ken asked me to speak about the initial plans for the 1:1 iPad initiative at Burlington High School. This was a great opportunity to discuss the initiative and also how my first experiences with iPads in classrooms throughout Burlington Public Schools made me a believer in the power of the device in education. Whether it was the first time we brought iPads into a middle school classroom and students cheered or the when I witnessed first graders completely engaged in educational apps, I knew that the iPad would be a great device for distributing content to our students.

Click here to read the full post: Sstudents Cheer 1:1Dennis Villano from Scholastic Administrators

Ken Royal is a outstanding journalist and passionate about educational technology. Please check out more from Ken on his blog or follow him on Twitter.

The Royal Treatment

Ken Royal on Twitter

Review: Socrative Student Response

Posted June 7th, 2011 by dvillanojr with No Comments

I was recently introduced to the Socrative student response application. Socrative is a rapidly evolving web application that provides the easiest and most user friendly experience I have seen from any student response system. Socrative will ultimately provide full featured apps for iOS and Android devices. The system was developed by MIT graduates and is just starting its private beta testing for installed applications.

Socrative provides a similar end user experience to that of the SMART Response System or Promethean Activote. The difference with Socrative is that students can use web enabled devices as their buzzers. We tested the system with iPads, iPod Touches, and iPhones. The interaction between the teacher created questions and student responses was fast and clean.

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