Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#EdTechBridge: Wednesday, April 30 6pm EST: Topic and Questions

Join us tonight for the 5th #EdTechBridge chat:

When: April 30, 6pm EST tweetchat (use #EdTechBridge hashtag throughout the chat)

Topic: What can we do as a community to improve EdTech PD?

Tentative Questions:

Q1:  How do we tell the difference between good PD and bad PD? #edtechbridge

Q2:  How do we measure effectiveness of PD? #edtechbridge

Q3:  What are common misconceptions people have about PD in schools? 

Q4: What are the most critical activities that all PD should include? #edtechbridge

Q5:   How can teachers and devs work together to make better PD?

Q6:   How can tools help make PD better? Any specific examples?

Q7:   Can we use #edtechbridge to make better PD? How?

Katrina Stevens from #EdTechChat and @EdSurge will be joining us as our guest moderator this evening.  Hope you can make it!

Feel free to provide your general thoughts on the topic and question here in the blog comments.

Guest Blog Post: #EdTechChat: An EdChat worth staying up for!

Guest blog post from good friend and supporter of #edtechbirdge, William Jenkins, aka @EdTech_Stories.  Visit William's blog at

An EdChat that's worth staying up for!

It's 1am in the UK when this chat is on, I know that there are lots of other great EdChats on that I would like to join but there are only so many hours in the day... But so many EdChats!

I did indeed stay up and join in the chat... despite the fact that the moderators were alternating between being very cagey with what they were up to and being downright bizarre.

 When the chat started they revealed that they would be asking the same questions as the first session while having a hangout while the chat was on.

Halfway through the chat Katrina asked if I'd join the hangout. What! Not only is it 1am and I'm in my PJs with the curlers in my hair... but I've got a face for radio and a voice for the silent movies! Man! Just when I'm get used to Tweeting and blogging I now need to get comfortable with video too?!

Will this personal development never end?! Once I got over my social phobias something struck me... I was the only person there that was not an Educator, I was an EdTech guy being invited to join the discussion. 

Tom Murray highlighted that #EdTechchat helped to establish relationships, and he's right, in a week when a damning report about EdTech suppliers (More on this in forthcoming posts... WAY MORE). I wondered what led to this invitation? 

You'd need to speak to the moderators to find out their exact reasons for selecting me over so many other fantastic educators who turn up each week but, for my part, I thought I would detail the reasons why I turn up to these EdChats each week.

There are two main reasons that I attend EdTechChat and other EdChats;

1) People who are committed to making great products listen to potential customers and what's happening in their niche sector

2) My #1 priority when I join these chats is to listen... I do offer input but only when I think that my contribution has value and adds to the discussion. 

The Teachers Know Best (Educators felt 50% of EdTech is ineffective) and Gallup research (EdTech has not saved money or improved Edu results) suggests to me that there needs to be more people in EdTech joining these chats. 

After all what better way if there for EdTech to collaborate, develop relationships and get feedback about their ideas from educators that a free service that you can participate in without needing to leave your office?

I suggest this in my "Greenwich of EdTech" post and argue that maybe some suppliers feel that #EdChats are educators' space, a place to for educators to get support from colleagues (and, from time to time, to vent frustrations), I hope that my invitation to join this #EdTechChat Google hangout dispels this idea.

I also suggest that educators and entrepreneurs could invite each other to any #EdChat and EdTech communities people are involved with. 

A note from the #edtechbridge moderators @mr_isaacs and @katyamuses

As #EdTechBridge is a community of Educators and EdTech developers we have put together a survey for anyone who is keen to actively invite any educators or EdTech entrepreneurs into their respective communities. If you take a moment to fill this out we will make sure that any relevant groups and people are aware that you're keen to hear from them;

We hope you will join us as we continue to create a community of Teachers, Students and Developers with the common goal of working together to benefit student learning and move education forward.  The #edtechbridge chat is held every Wednesday night at 6pm ET / 3pm PT / 11pm GMT.  We are planning on offering a second chat soon in order to better accommodate our global community. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

#EdTechBridge: Action Speaks Louder Than Words

During the April 26, 2014 #satchat, Tom Whitby made a great point regarding twitter chats. In education, twitter chats provide a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and knowledge.  Personally, I always feel invigorated after participating.  Don't get me wrong, the inspiration garnered from learning with and from other passionate educators has value.  I love creating relationships and growing my PLN.  I have made wonderful connections that have gone beyond just the hour long discussions.  In fact, I even enjoy the 'love fest' Whitby describes.  However, what is the value if we don't truly work toward advancing education.  We can preach about #edreform all day, but where is the action after the hour long discussion?

We can change that with a slight paradigm shift.  Let's not throw away any of the value of the connections we make as these relationships have value on their own merit for sure.  However, let's take this energy and create something real.

Our next #edtechbridge (sorry about the long hashtag, Tom) chat will take a look at Professional Development and how we as a community can impact that area in a way that is in line with the changing ways that people seek PD.  In my last post I referred to the @EdSurge infographic which takes a look our preferences in terms of approach to learning.

I have a few ideas and am confident that others will emerge from our next chat.  Let me share a few of my thoughts.

  1. PD must be accessible.  We do not need to complicate matters by creating an intricate system to share knowledge, but we must provide an accessible point of entry.
  2. Let's capitalize on the possibilities of 'just in time learning'. 
  3. Let's not get caught up in spending our time building an infrastructure when we can utilize what we have (back to making it accessible).
So, what do I envision? 

We have spent the past few months developing a wonderful community of #EdTech developers and Teachers who truly share the goal of collaborating to create better EdTech products in order to move education forward.  

We can leverage our shared expertise to take this mission a step further.  During our discussions an interesting idea came up regarding 'office hours' using google hangouts.

We have a google+ community for #edtechbridge.  Perhaps we can use that existing infrastructure to offer sessions as mentioned by @DaveMcCollom by developers and teachers where we share our expertise on a topic or product with instruction combined with this drop in 'office hours' idea which would enable personalized Professional Development combined with focused learning. I have to believe that opportunities like this will help to increase usage of many of the great tools out there while also providing opportunities for authentic feedback.  This would further develop the relationships we are speaking of through #edtechbridge.  As mentioned earlier, this approach would be accessible and sessions would be archived.  This could grow as our community sees fit.  Some people might offer 'office hours' on a regular basis while others may be interested in sharing their expertise in one session.  As a community effort, members of the google+ community could create their own events and the calendar would grow automatically.  This may sound ambitious, but maybe that's the point :)  I do believe that as a group, each taking a small part, we could develop something pretty great and move beyond chat and into action.  

We are very interested in your thoughts and perhaps this idea can serve as a starting point and through input it could change form to incorporate the ideas of others in the community.  

See you Wednesday, April 30 at 6pm ET/3pm PT/11pm GMT for our next #edtechbridge chat when we discuss possibilities for What we can do as a community to improve #EdTech PD.

Friday, April 25, 2014

#EdTechBridge: What can we do as a community to improve #EdTech Professional Development?

I'm continually amazed at the synergy and parallels, not to mention intersections, between the #edtechbridge community and what EdSurge is up to.  Clearly, this is an exciting time to be thinking about EdTech and the importance of including all stakeholders in the process.  The EdTechBridge Mission is
"to build an authentic community of EdTech Entrepreneurs (developers), Teachers, and Students with the shared goal of working together to create great EdTech products that will ultimately move education forward."
EdSurge has continued to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the same ideals through their newsletter, blog posts, and really making the rubber meet the road through the series of EdTech Summits which physically bring educators together with developers to connect and share ideas.

During our most recent #EdTechBridge chat on Wednesday night, April 23, 2014 our topic was what works well (and not so well) with EdTech in the classroom.  At the end of our chats, we ask for suggestions for future chats.  This week there was a resounding call for a chat dedicated to the discussion of Professional Development with regards to EdTech.  Wouldn't you know... On Thursday morning, our twitter hashtag #edtechbridge had a flurry of activity of members excited to share a new post from EdSurge titled, "How Teachers are Learning: Professional Development Remix"  Much attention was drawn to the very cool infographic provided...

We are very excited about our next chat.  We have been in touch with EdSurge and believe they will be joining us for the chat and hopefully they will provide insight related to the report they are about to publish on PD.  We are working on our list of questions right now, but also plan to reach out to our wonderful community to take action beyond the chat.  We are looking to create an avenue for high quality and easily accessible Professional Development provided by members of our community of educators and developers.  Are you interested in sharing your expertise and passion about EdTech with us?  We sure hope so :)

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

#EdTechBridge chat #4: Wednesday, April 23, 6pm ET: What is working (or not) with edtech in the classroom?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation published a report recently that focused on research with teachers in terms of what they are looking from with regard to EdTech Tools.  I encourage everyone, especially EdTech developers to read the report as it will provide great insight as to what Teachers are looking for in order to enhance student learning through the use of digital tools.

The timing couldn't be better in regard to tonight's #edtechbridge chat.

Tonight, we will be discussing What is working (and not working) with #edtech in the classroom.

#edtechbridge chat
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
6pm EDT, 3pm PST, 11pm GMT
Please join us by following and tweeting to #edtechbridge

Our tentative questions include:

  1. Where is #edtech effective for schools/teachers/students?  Where is it ineffective?
  2. What specific types of #edtech (content delivery, student tracking / assessment, communication) are working / not working in your environment.
  3. What #edtech do you wish existed?
  4. Where do teachers and developers differ in thoughts on what #edtech is doing well in the classroom?
  5. What do you feel is the MOST urgent need #edtech should address with today's technology capabilities (content, tools, assessments, analytics, growth measures, other)?
  6. Which needs are being overlooked by #edtech devs? (lack of digital literacy among teachers, learning curve, teacher time constraints, etc.
  7. How difficult is it to get colleagues to embrace the use of #edtech in the classroom?
  8. How can #edtechbridge help #edtech work better in the classroom?

The following chart illustrates the findings from the 'Teachers Know Best' study in terms of how teachers use and value #edtech in the classroom.

We invite you to share your thoughts on our topic and posed questions as comments to the blog post as well as through your contribution in the #edtechbridge chat.

Monday, April 21, 2014

#EdTechBridge: Taking suggestions for topic / questions for next chat!

Are you a Teacher or EdTech developer interested in collaborating to create better EdTech products to facilitate student learning and move education forward?  If so, we invite you to join us.  EdTechBridge was born out of several sessions at #SXSWEdu that explored the need to develop a true community based on authentic relationships that could bring educators and developers together.  Since SXSWEdu we have had 3 successful tweetchats to develop and nurture this community.  If you missed our chats, you can find the full archives:

The chats have been quite engaging and we are so pleased to see such a great turnout and such enthusiasm for the community.  We have had an even mix of educators and developers and relationships extending outside of the chat have been forming.  We plan to highlight those relationships as we move forward.

It's time to plan for this week's chat and we want to hear from you as this is a community effort.  There have been a few ideas tossed around regarding topics for this week's chat, but we are still open to other ideas for this week or future weeks.

Current topic ideas:
  • Building the Infrastructure for Connecting Educators and Developers
  • What is EdTech doing well and not doing well in your classroom?

We are eager to hear your thoughts regarding these topics as well as other topic suggestions.  Also, please indicate questions that would guide the discussion based on your topic choice.  We typically pose 4 - 6 questions per chat.  Thanks for your contributions!

Please post your ideas as comments here and also tweet out any ideas to #edtechbridge.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#EdTechBridge: Strategies for Nurturing Relationships btwn EdTech Developers (Entrepreneurs) and Teachers

Week 3 EdTechBridge Chat: 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6pm - 7pm EDT

Strategies for Nurturing Relationships btwn EdTech Developers (Entrepreneurs) and Teachers

Don't forget to follow and tweet to the hashtag #edtechbridge

Tonight marks our third #edtechbridge chat and we will be talking about specific approaches to building and nurturing relationships.  This topic came from a suggestion made by Dave McCollom from TechSmith at least week's chat.

The concept of office hours received a lot of attention during the chat.  In fact, it would be great if our community could come up with a list of developers that already offer (or are willing to) office hours so the members of this community can utilize this great communication channel.

We are expanding on the idea and looking at a variety of approaches to building authentic sustainable relationships.  

Our tentative list of questions is as follows:

Q1: What are specific examples of methods you have used to collaborate with teachers / developers? (i.e. skype, google hangout, in person meetings, field testing, etc.)

Q2: How should a teacher reach out to developers to initiate a relationship and vice versa?

Q3: How do you maintain a relationship between developers and teachers after the initial interaction?

Q4: What are the practices that you would encourage Educators / Developers to avoid if they want to establish a positive relationship with you?

Q5: When working with technology things sometimes go wrong.  What would be your expectations to resolve this and maintain a good relationship?

Hope to see you tonight at 6pm EDT chatting with the hashtag #edtechbridge.

If you would like, feel free to start the discussion right here by posting some of your responses to the questions in the blog comments.  

Thanks for continuing to support and help grow this great community.  Remember our mission, 

“to build an authentic community of EdTech Entrepreneurs (developers) and teachers with the ultimate goal of working together to create great EdTech products that will ultimately benefit students and move education forward.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

#EdTechBridge April 9 Chat Recap: Myths and Misconceptions about Teachers and EdTech Developers

Thanks to all who came out to support our second #edtechbridge chat.  Last night we discussed Myths regarding EdTech developers / Entrepreneurs and Teachers.  You can find the complete transcript here, but below is a synopsis of the chat.

Q1: What are the common myths and misconceptions about teachers and edtech developers??

Let's go to the transcript for the responses:

Myth or Truth?  We'd love to hear from you. Can you help dispel any of the myths? Can you provide insight to determine that they myths have truth to them?  We'd love your input.

We hope you can join us this Wednesday, April 16, 2014 as our topic will be: 

Strategies for Nurturing Relationships Between Developers and Teachers
April 16, 2014
6pm - 7pm EDT
tweet chat: remember to tweet using the hashtag #edtechbridge

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

#EdTechBridge Buzz

The #edtechbridge 'movement' is getting some attention.  I wanted to use this blog post to share some of the online mentions as it seems that we are gaining traction with our mission,

“to build an authentic community of EdTech Entrepreneurs (developers) and teachers with the ultimate goal of working together to create great EdTech products that will ultimately benefit students and move education forward.”

EdTechBridge was born out of the observation of many that there can be a cultural gap between Entrepreneurs and Educators, despite the fact that the goal of serving our students with high quality EdTech is certainly shared.  South by Southwest EDU (#SXSWEdu) started a few years ago and many noted that it was an entrepreneur heavy conference where the teacher voice was missing.  I commend SXSWEdu as they acknowledged this issue and worked to change it.  This year, there were several sessions intended to address this issue:

Katya Hott (@katyamuses) and I offered a 'problem solving' session (a new format for SXSWEdu).  Our topic, "Bridging the Teacher-Entrepreneur Divide" was meant to be a discussion starter that would not end after the conference. Hence the birth of the #edtechbridge chat (and more community building tools to follow)

Lindsey Own (@lindseyown) and Stephanie Sandifer (@ssandifer) are educators who teamed up with entrepreneurs, Dion Lim (@dionlim) CEO of NextLesson and Jay Goyal, CEO of Actively Learn for their panel discussion, "Win-Win! Strategies for EdTech / Educator Engagement"  In their session, they looked at some of the common misconceptions and shared their success stories.

Mike Kleba (@mikekleba) asked "Where the hell are all of the teachers?" in his presentation, "Teachers: Undiscovered Entrepreneurial Rock Stars".  His session focused on encouraging educators to lead innovation.

There certainly were other sessions that focused on or at least touched upon the topic.

Since our first chat, there has been some buzz around twitter, the blogosphere, and even the podcast scene.  I'd like to highlight those that I am aware of.  Please feel free to add any that I missed through the comment section.

Scott Freschet (@scottfreschet) from Actively Learn joined our chat and this was his first twitter chat.  His blog post shares some great insight about tweet chats in general and we are pleased that this was a positive experience for him.  In fact, his topic has become our theme for this week's chat!

The Brainpop Educators' blog published a post by Katya about our community including a recap of our first week and an invitation to join us as we continue with the Wednesday chats.  Katya points out,

"There is a lot of buzz about teachers and EdTech entrepreneurs working together to build great tools for students and schools, but it still can be a struggle to figure out how exactly to collaborate. After spending the past four years working in educational technology, I can say that it is a dream to be able to get teacher and student advice on every decision you make, but the dream isn’t always attainable. Logistical and cultural barriers exist; EdTech developers’ schedules and goals don’t necessarily jive with teachers’ schedules and goals. And, often, the most common barrier is simply finding the right people to connect with."  She follows up with, "But luckily we have twitter..."
William Jenkins, perhaps our biggest supporter, has contributed numerous blog posts.  Check them out if you haven't already!

Many of William's other posts on his blog cover topics closely related to #edtechbridge as well.  Clearly, William had many of thoughts before we entered the scene :)

Zack Gilbert, the host of the EdGamer podcast shared what we were doing and even answered our week 1 questions on the air during episode 133: International Table Top Day.  The whole episode was great, but the shoutout to #edtechbridge came at around 32:00 into the broadcast.  In fact, Zack even indicated that he would like to have us on his show, so keep a lookout for a feature on #edtechbridge on an upcoming episode of the podcast!

We certainly appreciate all of the attention.  It certainly shows that our mission is one that many believe in and stand behind.  Once again, in closing I will re-post Jerry (@cybrarman1) Blumengarten's comment from our first chat...

Thanks, Jerry.  Sums it up perfectly!

Hope you will join us tonight for our second #edtechbridge tweetchat at 6pm EST as we continue to 'keep together and continue to work toward working together'  Plans are in the work for adding a second time slot in the upcoming weeks in order to accommodate other time zones.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

#EdTechBridge: What an Opening Night!

Principals, an Associate Professor, a group of educators, Technology and Tech Integration Specialists, a Digital Curriculum Editor, EdTech company Presidents/VPs, Founders and Serial Entrepreneurs, Directors of Educator Experience, Creative Directors and Social Media ManagerWhat does the group above all have in common? No, its not the start of some random education joke. 

This is the diverse list of participants at the inaugural #EdTechBridge chat on Wednesday. The aim of this chat is to bring educators and EdTech developers / entrepreneurs together to collaborate to co-create better EdTech to meet the needs of our most important consumer, our students.

The diverse mix of this group is fantastic news for myself and co-moderator Katya Hott as we were not sure who was going to turn up... if anyone! As it turns out not only was it a good mix, but everyone also mixed well together.

Among my favorite job titles that individuals had who participated in the session were "Playful Storyteller" 
Hanna Clemmons, "Chief Geek" Aisha Taylor and "Director of Growth" Scott Freschet... who was living up to his title as this was his first experience of joining a Twitter EdChat.

The organizations who participated was almost a 50/50 split with Educators and EdTech organizations:

Educators - There were educators at every level including Principal, admins, IT Directors and teachers representing every kind of institution, from primary schools all the way through to college and university staff.

EdTech - Batting for the Entrepreneurs were organizations that many educators will be familiar with because they are renowned for the good work and their collaborative cultures they have with educators. This included companies like Boundless Learning, BrainPOP, ClassDojo, Launchpad Toys, Remind101 & Zombie-Based Learning. 

We even had a policy maker, 
Alison Hall from the Jamaican Ministry of Education.  There were even people from the press who checked the chat out with Clara Galan tuning in... fortunately there were no scandals or Edu/EdTech Twitter bustups... just a meeting of minds coming together to discuss collaboration with great EdTech. 

To give you a flavour of this meeting of minds I have included a selection of Tweets from educators & edtech entrepreneurs throughout this post.

#EdChat Diversity
As you may have noticed William Jenkins has been helping to spread the word about this session and has blogged about #EdTechBridge to make people aware of the session. 

In a recent post "
The Greenwich Village of EdTech" he discusses what online education and EdTech communities could learn from Jane Jacobs diverse city spaces. This article is worth a look and highlights quite well why are so delighted with this turnout. 

William attends a number of EdChats and I wanted to find out his experiences of being on the entrepreneur side of the fence and discovered that he's done quite a bit of research with this.

Here are some posts which includes some of his experiences and data on Twitter chats and some ideas that he's had as a result of joining EdChats - The Death of an EdTech Salesman#EdChatModerator, Mining Data and How can we help). 

As you can see from these posts the dataset William has compiled includes a list of the accounts of people who have Tweeted using the 150+ EdChats and conferences that he was a aware of at the time (21st Apr-10th June).

The intention was to create an online directory so people could see whose chatting, where they are based, age groups and subject areas they teach etc. One reason for trawling through this data is related to what #EdTechBridge session is trying to do, and what Jane Jacobs advocates... because he wanted to assess how diverse the audience of #EdChat participants tends to be.

Obviously peoples' profile information is included in their Twitter bio, but it sure would take a bit of time to go through over 
26,000 Twitter accounts... and that's only for a 6 week period! If you wanted to help William out with this and crowdsource the work please feel free to fill out the survey on the following link; Twitter EdChat Directory

In Sync but Out of Time
We think the turn out for our first session was really encouraging and look forward to building on this first session. We might have had more people attend the session if it were not for the issue of time zones.  We do plan to add another time slot to accommodate other time zones.  Please be patient as that might take us a little time.

It's great to see that #EdTechBridge has some international appeal but there were Tweets on the hashtag from people would said that they would like to attend, but the time wasn't good for them. After all it's 2am in Israel which has a vibrant EdTech startup community... So a big shout out to the UK night owls William Jenkins, Bryan Mathers, Kriss Baird and Immerse Learning.  Thank you for staying up with us!

When discussing this issues with Katya she did what entrepreneurs do very well... she turned a problem into an opportunity…

"Why not allow the discussion to continue throughout the week so that people from other time zones could still get involved? All that would be needed to make this happen is for the questions to be readily available throughout the week, then for people to answer the Tweet in the same way that they do during the chat i.e. #edtechbridge A1, A2, A3 etc. This would also mean that people who did attend the chat could contribute to the discussion" 

What a great idea! Let's keep the discussion going all week, as well as enabling people who attend "live" they will be able to engage with educators and EdTech in other time zones... And even for people who do turn up for the "live" show sometimes an hour just isn't enough!  
For those interested, here's a link to a blog post highlighting this week's chat.  Feel free to comment directly in the post or on twitter with the #edtechbridge hashtag.  

But as the same time... Twitter isn't for everyone, and we don't want #EdTechBridge to be missing an extremely important, but often neglected voice in any EdTech discussions 

Not on Twitter yet? No Problem...
Because of the nature of this Twitter chat it is most likely going to be a community of Tech enthusiasts who are comfortable with social media and Tech evangelists, but may be missing the voice of people who are not comfortable with social media... or may even be uncomfortable with technology in general.

As Tech enthusiasts we know that the best technology in the classroom are tools that everyone can use so... the views and voice of all educators is important to us.

Therefore each week we have decided that we will make the archives available so people who are not on Twitter can access them. In addition to this we will also provide a private forum for people to contribute to the discussion. Please find this on the following link; #Edtechbridge - Not on Twitter?

We are providing the questions in this format in the hope that anyone who is unfamiliar with Twitter, or who would rather not make their views public, can still contribute to the discussion... we want to hear from the Tech detractors because it's only through listening to, and finding solutions to any issues you have that we will be able to co-create truly great EdTech. 

In closing, I would like to thank everyone for joining us in this venture.  As Jerry Blumengarten said during the 1st chat, "Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is a progress.  Working together is success." If I could follow that up with a quote from the Carpenters, "We've only just begun".