Everything that’s given away for free costs you bandwidth

This is what one of the network admins stated at the NJETI Network Administrators Roundtable last Thursday. I was taking notes in the published Google Doc that Darryl Ensminger , Associate Director of Professional Development for the NJEA and I had set up as a guideline for the discussion. We set four questions for our four break-out groups to each have three (short) minutes to discuss and then to come back and discuss with the larger group:

  1. What exactly do we need to maintain the integrity of the network?
  2. How do we plan to maintain the network’s infrastructure?
  3. How do you allocate your technology budget?
  4. What communication vehicles does your district utilize? We never got to this one.

Speaking of never getting to the fourth question. Darryl and I agreed that if we were to coordinate this type of conversation at next year’s conference, we would request the two-hour block of time in the morning as 50 minutes was not enough time. I think we all left the room wanting to continue our conversation.

I’d also like to add that I may have missed valuable information from side conversations, and I have reworded much of the list so that it is written in my own voice.

1. What exactly do we need to maintain the integrity of the network?

Of course there is no one answer to what a school or district needs to maintain the integrity of their network, but in the short time we all spoke about it, it was suggested that network admins should have the following implemented:

  • group policies to control access
  • a good filter for specific file extensions (Squid, an open source alternative was suggested)
  • decent physical cabling and structure
  • staff buy-in to the AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)

How do we plan to maintain the network’s infrastructure?

  • The concept of hosting wikis, course management systems, videos,  etc inside the network seemed quite popular among the group
  • One participant brought up the very interesting topic of Internet 2 and how to put together a large group of districts to approach this network to help maintain connectivity
  • It was also agreed on that no matter how much bandwidth the district had, it would be saturated
  • One network admin proposed building networks in the building that supported cells

How do you allocate your technology budget?

  • First response to the whole group – How do you allocate nothing? (fair enough)
  • The priorities were to pay for filtering, subscriptions, and licensing renewals
  • It is always necessary to set money aside for replacement parts
  • It was agreed that the offices take precedence over the classrooms
  • It was also agreed on that the teacher’s computers takes precedence over student computers

As I mentioned above, we needed more time. But it was a great beginning to a conversation that needs to be had. We gave everyone a Tinyurl to the Google Doc and suggested that they go back to their districts with the concept I had spoke about in my Keynote earlier that day – No decision about technology should be made in isolation. There’s a trio that needs to gather in order to make informed decisions regarding using technology to improve teaching and learning for children. This trio includes teachers, IT staff and district administrators. The trio should be involved in all technology decisions regarding software applications, hardware purchases and what information needs to be filtered in. These decisions made by only one third of the group, might not be optimum for the good of the students and the good of the school.

I welcome comments and suggestions.

Budgets, Filters and Students – Oh My!

Tomorrow I’ll be presenting at the annual New Jersey Educational Technology Institute (NJETI)  conference. With the way politics has been going in New Jersey and the percentage of districts whose budgets were defeated, I chose my words carefully, yet passionately. I’ve linked below to my deck and here are the resources that I will be sharing:

I’ll be Tweeting from the conference, I’m sure, so if you are there follow the hashtag #NJETI and even if you aren’t, join in on the conversation.

YouTube Has No Educational Value? Phooey!

My first-grader came home from school yesterday and said she had homework from music class. She knows I love the Black Eyed Peas and I think she just wanted to show me something she’d seen in school. (She has no concept of how happy this makes me.)

Please share this post/video with those that think YouTube should be blocked in school because it has no educational value. I’m sure that the students and staff at Ocoee Middle School in Orange County, CA would argue otherwise. They have my daughter singing their lyrics and me smiling.

Here are some links for some other great educational resources from YouTube.

Vicky Davis’s Favorite Inspirational YouTube Clips and YouTube in Education
http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2008/02/favorite-inspirational-youtube-clips.html

YouTube’s SafetyCenterVideos’s Channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/SafetyCenterVideos

Alec Couros’s 90+ Videos for Tech. & Media Literacy
http://couros.wikispaces.com/TechAndMediaLiteracyVids

Is it information overload?

It’s been a week since Educon2.2. Countless blog posts have been written and the stream of Tweets with the #educon hashtag is still, well, streaming.

So, a week later, this constant stream of information brings me back to the conversation that Liz Davis and I facilitated. I think the quote from Sarah Houghton-Jan that we shared before we began our protocol last Sunday really resonates with me now as we are generating all this content about Educon, and I am curious as to what everyone is doing will all the information.

“We have become far more proficient in generating

information than we are in managing it.”

When people ask you where you find the time to do all that you do and read all that you read about education, do you stop and ask them what they are doing with their time? Do you ask them how many countless hours they spend watching commercials or TV in general? Do you ask them what they listen to while they are exercising or commuting? What do people do with their time?

What options do we have to help us organize and filter the

information that comes to us.

During the conversation that took place at SLA on Sunday, January 31, folks in our session talked about what tools they used to
collect, aggregate and disseminate information. Here are some of the tools our group used:

  • Delicious
  • Diigo
  • Google Reader
  • Gmail
  • RSS

Actually, I took some flack from Mike Wacker and Sean Nash about using a Wordle to give a visual of what the group was collectively using, but oh well. We used Google Forms to do some group questioning and then could have used the Spreadsheet Gadget to do an embedded Word Cloud in the Spreadsheet, but Wordle has so many more options.

  1. Is there something you are doing with your time that you could eliminate or reduce to pursue something you are interested in professionally? Is that so bad?
  2. Do you realize you are not alone?
  3. Talk with people about what they do to manage their information. We would have never heard about how Ben Wilkoff uses Gmail to manage his informaton without the conversation at Educon. Now we just need him to make the screencast or write the blogpost we urged him to create.
Source: Liz Davis's Flickr Stream

We all didn’t have the solution to managing our information, but we took comfort in knowing that we weren’t alone and in being able to talk openly about different ways to manage all the information.
Is there something special that you do?

Is there someone that helps you manage your information?

Is there something that you heard in our session that you have tried and found to be successful?

Please share.