Author Archives: LisaKate

BYOD in Your School Library

Businesses are embracing the BYOD trend for a number of reasons. Eighty percent of respondents in a 2012 Forrester Research study said increased worker productivity was the key reason behind BYOD program deployment and 70 percent cited an increased padding to their bottom line.

Along with their reasons for embracing BYOD programs, businesses also have reasons for concern, such as security breach issues and malicious motives from outsiders. However, businesses are not the only ones juggling the pros and cons of BYOD programs. Libraries implementing their own BYOD programs are faced with similar benefits and struggles. Just as workers prefer to use the devices that they own rather than being stuck with those issued by an IT department, students prefer to use their own devices rather than the desktop computers sitting in the library.

Concerns of BYOD in Libraries

Libraries need programs that are both compatible across multiple platforms and can be used anywhere, anytime. Ramona High School in California has a BYOD library program that supports a variety of devices — both Android and Apple-based tablets and smartphones. Students simply bring their device to the library for verification.

BYOD security is also a concern. How can libraries protect the information of users and data on their networks? The technical director at the New York Law School makes sure all BYOD devices are authorized to use the campus network that don’t bring in any computer viruses by using a ForeScout Technologies hardware appliance called CounterACT, according to Network World. Other solutions, like BlackBerry’s Enterprise Service 10 protect against BYOD security concerns by letting you manage your users, groups, apps and services all from one primary console.

How Does it Work?

Some Texas school libraries are using a digital platform called OverDrive. OverDrive allows students to access digital books on multiple platforms — computers, smartphones, tablets, e-readers and MP3 players. It even allows librarians to build their schools’ digital collection based on grade level or school curriculum. Overdrive uses the Adobe DRM (Device Rights Management) system to protect files from piracy and manage the lending period of library e-books. The Texas BYOD program is being expanded to allow students to check out books to their devices using the school’s network and account, according to the journal.

Some other online resources for digital librarians include:

Clevnet: An association of 44 library systems across 12 different counties in Northeast Ohio that allows access to the collections of every participating library.

OneClickDigital: A new E-Audiobook database.

3M’s Cloud eBook Lending: Let’s readers explore and borrow ebooks.

eBooks on EBSCOhost: Claims to offer a powerful search function unparalleled to other digital libraries.

Amazon: A huge selection of fiction and non-fiction books that can be downloaded to mobile devices including Kindles and iPads. It works with the Whispersync service allowing people to connect their devices with library accounts.

Ibiblio: An online public library that has freely available software and information on topics like music, literature, art, history, science, politics and cultural studies.

JSTOR: An online resource for searching journals, primary sources and books.

This article was provided by the Continuous Content  program from BlueFirePR.

What I Learned From Taking A Mooc

One day, everyone will remember their first MOOC.

Screen shot of Gamification: a MOOC on
Mine was and always will be Gamification on, by Professor Kevin Werbach, an Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. It was only the second run of the course and the first of its kind – a university-level course on the practice of gamification. Similar to MOOCs, gamification is in and of itself a phenomenon these days, so it was exciting to contribute to the improvement of both an emerging curriculum and learning platform as a novice student.

Similar to Edx’s blog post about What We’ve Learned From Teaching Moocs, I thought I’d write up a brief summary of What I Learned From Taking A Mooc:

There is No Such Thing As The Perfect Student In A MOOC

The course was structured like most MOOCs into weekly units, in which short 10-12 minute video lectures were made available. Ungraded checkpoints interrupted the videos that either prompted students to select a multiple choice answer or to think and discuss an idea later in the discussion forum. The required activities in order to pass the class were written assignments, quizzes, and a final exam. Given that there were about 63,000 (yes, THOUSAND) students from all over the world taking this course (!!) at once, the written assignments were graded via a peer evaluation system. Computers graded the multiple choice activities.

There was a fixed curriculum, but my pathway towards understanding was entirely my choice. I chose when I wanted to watch the lectures. It was my choice to what extent I wanted to engage further with my peers or to dive deeper into the content. It was even my choice whether to complete the graded assignments or not and pass the class. There was so much choice and customization of content for the learner, that even a score of 100% on the graded portions of the course “on paper” could not represent the learner’s entire experience. How do you measure that?

Students In MOOCS Are Not Dogs

Students in MOOCs, for the most part, want to help each other learn! The discussion forums were RICH with conversations not only about the material covered in the lectures, but ENriched with supporting material and provoking questions contributed by the students. I found myself spending (losing?) hours in these forums and at times overwhelmed even by the amount of learning going on there outside of the course syllabus. Students also created additional forums like MeetUps and Facebook pages on their own to support each other’s education. I was not intimidated by the anonymity of the people posting or competitive in any way with them, but instead I felt supported and encouraged by my peers. I think this is the single most powerful component of a MOOC – the ability to share your knowledge and love of learning with others to enrich your own and other people’s education. Isn’t that what teachers are supposed to do, too?

In TAs We Trust

I was able to get any of my technical or course-related questions answered promptly and accurately from any one of the global TA’s monitoring the discussion forums. It is certainly not possible for a professor to offer live office hours to over 60,000 students in whatever number of time zones, whether virtual or not, at once, but a couple of Google Hangouts were scheduled live with students who were selected based on their topic or question submission for the Hangout.

There’s No Failing In Massive Open Online Courses!

Well, actually there is, if you don’t do the required stuff to get the passing grade. BUT…if you don’t “get it” at first watch of the video lecture, well, just play it again! And again! Then tomorrow…watch it again! Don’t like the videos? Download and read the transcript as many times as you want! Still not sure? Ask a question in the Discussion Forum. Need help with your writing? Post it in the wiki for others to collaborate on. I took my own notes in Evernote alongside the lectures, but when I reviewed before quizzes, some of even my TYPED notes look like chicken scratch, so I went back and watched the lecture again. If I wasn’t happy with my first attempt at an assignment, I could submit new answers with a reasonable penalty. And if you DO fail the course in the end…guess what? The course material is still available to pre-registered students and the course is probably offered again the next semester. So just enroll…again. For FREE.

Commit Or Quit

I did recognize that because the course was free, and I wasn’t required to pass it, and my grade wasn’t compared to anyone else’s in the class, that in the back of my mind, the pressure was “off” to have to pass. The pressure was also off to not have to show up to class! I figured out how to schedule my time to space out the video lectures and assignments. Fortunately – cue kudos to Professor Werbach and his design team – the content and the delivery of the content was so interesting and engaging to me, personally, that I stayed committed. I am curious to see what the completion rate and the pass/fail statistics for the course were.

Related Resources:

Good Work Conference: Developing Responsible, Caring, and Balanced Youth

I had the greatest pleasure of attending a Good Work Conference: Developing Responsible, Caring, and Balanced Youth ( at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham this weekend. The conference was made possible by Project Zero Perspectives ( at the Education School at Harvard University in partnership with CASIE Online ( The conference was also almost NOT made possible by the weather!! It too me 2 hours to drive my MINI through the unanticipated snow storm Friday morning from Southie to Dedham. But it was so very worth it, as I expected it to be!

The conference engaged me and about 200 other participants in discussions and reflections on how to help young people deal with the ethical and moral dilemmas they encounter in their digital world and how we as educators can equip them with the integrity, bravery, empathy, and power they will need to be good citizens.

I was especially excited to attend this conference because the Good Work Project was the foundation for my own Masters thesis in 2009 and I have incorporated Good Work into all of my curricula since. The mission – to help adolescents understand the power that they have to positively impact their communities by making new media, not just consuming it. Like many educators during the rapid rise in the use of social media, I also began to explore how to educate my high school students about the consequences of some of their online behavior. In one of my smaller Media Literacy classes at TechBoston Academy, a group of 11th grade students and I created our own Ning, where the students developed the acceptable use policy and behavior guidelines of the community and chose the consequences for “bad behavior.” We began the course looking first at ourselves offline by taking cameras into our homes and neighborhoods and writing “I am from…” poems that express our identities in the real world. Through classroom and online discussion, we then talked about the differences, if any, between their profiles, beliefs and behavior offline and online, and that of their peers. After that year, I began my career at the Boston Renaissance School as the IT Director, and so although my focus turned to more administrative tasks and leadership in education, I still had my group of students after school, called the TechSperts, with whom I could continue to explore these themes. I taught these 4th, 5th and 6th grade students Internet Safety skills and knowledge, computational thinking and game design, all under the umbrella of the mission to produce good workers who understand good play. The findings from the Good Play project, therefore, that are on a MUCH larger scale – over 100 students and 40 adults – have always been of interest to me.

I was able to meet Carrie James and Katie Davis, researchers at Project Zero and on the Good Play project, and attend one of their workshops, “Exploring Digital Ethics and New Media Literacies.” The class was extremely engaged and I think also shared my sentiment at the end that we could have gone on all afternoon with the activity! We discussed the kinds of online activities that raise moral or ethical issues and organized them into the five ethical fault lines in digital life defined by the Good Play project:
1) identity – when does the identity online cross over into deception?
2) privacy – what are the boundaries of sharing something public vs private?
3) ownership and authorship – issues of plaigarism, copyright, and piracy
4) credibility – how do you judge someone as credible online? Even if you know the person, how do you know that what they share is true or authentic?
5) participation – what are norms of behavior and how are they maintained?

Many of the workshop’s members expressed their concern about the immediacy of sharing online and the loss of reflection or forethought before posting to what could be a large-scale audience, especially if it goes viral. Speaker and civic education expert, Danielle Allen, had brought the “boundlessness” of action intrinsic to using digital media to our attention in her presentation on Day 1, and wrestled with how we as educators can prepare young people to handle that kind of response if it happens. Any one of our students could publish a video expressing their belief in something and it could go viral, so how do we help young people respond to the scale, power, and speed of that kind of action with integrity, bravery, and self-discipline? There are adults who can’t even handle it properly!

I was surprised to think more critically about mom’s blogs, too. One member of our workshop, who is a mom, expressed her concern about the lack of guidelines for new moms using digital media. So many moms (and dads) share so many photos of their children online, and although they may be posted within their private social circles, they are still being posted, and essentially, that parent has decided to begin building that child’s digital footprint. I was given an album of my baby pictures and then I could decide what to do with it. Today’s babies are having their photos shared, or even made into a viral video that ends up in a commercial, without their permission. So it was refreshing to hear a young parent recognize the dilemma. As one student from the Youth Underground quoted a parent from Betsy Bard’s book of interviews 6 Years Online, “Look at my cuuuuuute baby! But, wait, who IS looking at my baby? Doesn’t my son have the right to his own privacy? Who am I to make decisions about my son’s privacy?”

We were then given a moral dilemma and 3 responses from 3 different students in the study, and we were asked to reflect on their decision making process – How do youth think about their online lives? (and in relation to their offlinelives) How do they make choices online? How do they respond to dilemmas? Carrie and Katie described the three ways of thinking that each youth experiences:
1) consequence thinking: what will happen to me as a result of this action? Are the rewards worth the risks?
2) moral thinking: consider the impact of your actions on known others (other people’s feelings) and show empathy
3) ethical thinking: your actions can have an impact on a larger group that you had not considered, such as your school, nation, world.

It was clear that most of the young people interviewed had thought about themselves, the individual, first and the effects of their actions on others second. It was also apparent that no matter how many privacy settings we may put in place on our own social media accounts, there is a considerable lack of control of what others share. For example, I could go to a party the night before a big game and be snapped in the background of a photo that was then posted on Facebook, and even though I was not tagged so that my friends did not see the tagged photo on my profile, anyone of the poster’s friends who recognized me would know that I was there.

One post-it asked “Is it ok to break the rules if you don’t get caught?” My mother always told me “be sorry before it happened” and “you’re only sorry you got caught.” She scolded me for not thinking about the consequences of my actions before acting, but I was lucky that the effects of my mistake were contained within the context of the few people involved. In the digital world, however, my mistake could be amplified on a much larger scale. That would have made me MUCH more sorry I got caught, mom!

This is not to say, however, that all young people these days over share information, or can’t distinguish between what to share publicly and what to keep private, or can’t engage in respectful dialogue online. We had the pleasure of hearing from a panel of some high school students who very much had made thoughtful decisions about how they behave online, but it was also clear that they still have questions and will continue to struggle with the dilemmas that we all deal with in digital media. Some didn’t have a Facebook or a Twitter account while others create accounts in every new social media tool that comes along. Some thought social media helped them engage in deeper discussions about topics than they would offline, while others didn’t feel the need to post their opinions online. Some thought it was cool to connect with their teachers on Twitter – it “humanizes them” – while others didn’t like having to be more careful about what they shared because of being friends, or friends of friends, with teachers.

Founder of Design for Change, Kiran Sethi, wrapped up Day 1 with her inspirational message that is summed up in 2 words: “I CAN!” She was motivated to change her son’s educational experience in India when he came home from school one day suddenly saying “the teacher said I can’t.” She has made it her mission to instill the “I CAN!” attitude in young people all over the world to not only be what they want to be but to be able to help others be what they want to be, by making changes in the world now, as young people. The Design for Change curriculum is implemented in over 100 countries, and its web site is an inspiring community of sharing the good work that kids can do.

I was also able to attend founder, Justin Reich’s workshop, where we were asked “What does awesome look like?” Instead of focusing on what technology can ruin in a child’s life, ask instead what is awesome about it, and where do we want our students to be? We looked at to what degree young people are different and acknowledged that kids are not doing less stuff, they’re just doing different stuff. He asks educators to not see the loss of what kids used to do and don’t do now, but instead see the gains in what kids are doing now. Technology integration can sometimes lead teachers away from the learning goals of the lesson. One student on the panel later that day remarked that one of his teachers uses a chalkboard, “…and that’s awesome! I don’t want him to change that!” while in another one of his classes, a teacher uses a smart board effectively to help collect and distribute classroom notes. Justin posed two questions to educators: To what extent does technology allow us to create learning environments that are truly different? To what extent does technology allow us to do old things faster or more easily? I left thinking about how much more control of their own learning young people have these days, and realized that this is probably super scary for most teachers. BYOD models greatly increase the variety of and inequity to problem-solving tools that kids can have access to, so how does a teacher prepare an assignment that integrates with the unanticipated and ever-changing types and numbers of resources while still being a challenging and meaningful problem to solve? I also left the workshop with this declaration from Justin: “Our iPhone 5 will be their Commodore 64!” YIKES!!

We heard a panel discuss how to teach children not only to feel empathy but to translate it into action. Harvard professor Richard Weissbourd moderated the panel which included
Karen Campbell, Parent Proof blogger and Brookline Parent Education Network founder, Erika Guy, Nobles & Greenough Dean of Students, and Shelly London, Family Dinner Project founder. It was a pleasure to meet Shelly London, who co-founded the ethical video game, Quandary, that was launched last summer by the Learning Games Network, a spin-off of MIT’s Education Arcade. Quandary was developed by a team of experts across the fields of child development, social and emotional learning, moral development and game design. Scholars from Harvard and Tufts University devised a prototype that was tested for viability. Designers at the MIT Education Arcade and the Learning Games Network refined the game, which was produced by FableVision, an award-winning digital production and learning company. Quandary provides a framework for how to approach ethical decision-making without telling players what to think. I learned about Quandary last summer when I attended the Game Design Boot Camp and expressed my interests in teaching moral and ethical thinking through video game play. Peter Stidwill presented at the Good Work project and gained some great feedback from educators about the game and its application in the classroom.

We were all entranced by famous Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen’s presentation (“I’m a famous guy in Finland. This is funny. But it’s a fact.”) where we were challenged to help our students achieve the “magical uplift” to an elevated state of thinking – thinking about love, beauty, empathy, justice…the bigger picture that too often is postponed in the face of the everyday task lists (what do I have to do?) and the competitive pursuit of the goodies (what do I want?). I heard the audience snicker when he posted a photo of Lady Gaga and her quote that she is trying to “figure out a way to make it cool or normal to be kind and loving.” But I think the eyes stopped rolling when he remarked that, when he saw her in concert and observed the way she approached two fans in her audience, “It is a possibility for a pop star to think on the upscale level and actually be…loving.” In our Good Play workshop we discussed the humanization of celebrities as a result of social media and the possible deterioration of hero worship that may in fact help young people understand and be empowered by the good work that is possible by the collective actions of a group of people, rather than be discouraged by the improbability of their own stardom, and thus feel a lack of individual efficacy.

Overall I thought that the Conference was wonderfully organized into a variety of engaging presentations – lectures, panel discussions, interviews, and videos – by some of the world’s leading researchers, philosophers, educators, philanthropists, and activists in education. It was a joy to meet in person so many of the researchers who have shaped my teaching and thinking and to meet so many people who are as passionate about increasing the incidents of good work, good play, and good citizenship in the world. You can check out my tweets live from the 2 days that I attended at lisakatesspace, #pzgw.

I am left with one essential question from Howard Gardner: how will you take what you have learned this weekend and translate it into action?

To that I say…stay tuned… ( :

Related Resources:

Boston STEM Collaborative for Girls launch party

Happy International Women’s Day!

Besides the fact that VAWA was signed back into law today (YAY!), I was also able to celebrate the launch of the Boston Area GIRLS STEM Collaborative ( at Microsoft’s NERD Center in Cambridge.

The Boston Area Girls STEM Collaborative is committed to increasing young women’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by creating programs that spark their interest and expand their knowledge of the multifaceted careers in these disciplines.

I learned about the Collaborative when I met one of the co-founders, Cynthia Brossman, during my work as a presenter at the Boston University RET Summer program for science educators in 2011.

The night was beautifully organized – it was a shame the weather was so bad!! But the attendees and I who braved the snow and wind were able to enjoy light bites and wine while listening to a panel of female executives in STEM careers discuss why there aren’t more women in STEM careers and suggest ways to increase the numbers.

The statistics are staggering…

Women own less than 25% of STEM jobs but make up 52% of the work force.

Less than 5% of members on an executive team of a startup company are female.

So naturally the question is why?

The consensus on the panel was that a network of ongoing support and mentoring is important once a female gets into the field so that they don’t leave, but that more female professors in STEM college pathways is necessary too. It is possible that a woman can go through an entire engineering education and never see a female professor – 13% of all engineering professors are female. Some education about what an engineer or a scientist actually does is also needed so that young women can understand and appreciate why pursuing a career in a STEM field is interesting and fun and rewarding and lucrative. Alright ladies, it is time to LEAN IN!

I was also able to walk around and visit the many booths set up with plenty of mentoring opportunities for women in Boston and learning opportunities for girls. Here are a few:

S.E.T. in the City: Career exploration for high school girls (

Science Club For Girls: Science literacy. Sisterhood. Self-confidence. (

WSW Web Start Women: Women teaching women how to program. (

Codagogy: Online web development courses for women. (

The Artem!s Project 2013: Rising 9th grade girls learn to program web sites, build robots, create games. (

Tech Savvy for Middel School Girls: Have fun with computers, engineering and technology. (

Summer Pathways in science and engineering at Boston Univeristy; (

GDI Boston: Girl Develop It helps women build web sites and apps. (

WEST: Advancing women in the business of science and technology (




Leading, learning the future

I spent the day at Holy Cross College with fellow Newton Public School colleagues at MASSCUE’s Leading, Learning the Future Conference.

Michael Mino (Contact: michaelmino.comgave a comprehensive overview of the many types of 21st century learning environments including social learning environments such as Ted Edmentormob, skillshare and instructables; open source learning management systems such as Moodle and Khan Academy Lite; cloud based environments such as Google Apps; and the ever-growing MOOCs (massive open online courses) such as those on Coursera, Edx, and Venture Lab. As more and more mobile devices populate K-12 classrooms, especially with the increased interest in the adoption of BYOD models, the question burns even as our eyes burn trying out so many different applications to find the right “fit” for our classrooms, schools, or districts: What will be the impact on K-12 learning at home, at school…or anywhere across the community?

I also enjoyed the keynote at lunch by Tom Daccord, co-founder of EdTechTeacher. He spoke about the impact of mobile devices, particularly the iPad, in the classroom and the challenges and affordances of a BYOD model. He emphasized the need for anyone implementing a mobile device model to stop focusing on the apps and start focusing on the activities! Educators should stop listing apps and searching for the “silver bullet” app that teaches a specific subject. Instead, use the creative and collaborative apps to enable your students to share and show their knowledge of a subject, and assess their creations  to find gaps in their understanding. I especially connected with this appeal given my experiences rolling out a set of iPads to special education teachers for the first time at an elementary school. It took some time for them to accept that there was no one “silver bullet” app for math, or ela, or science, and only in year 2 when the second ipad came our and had a camera, did we see the creative apps come out and get easier to use and collaborate with. A big challenge too was helping teachers plan activities that would work on these devices for a variety of subjects and students. So when he acknowledge a major challenge in a BYOD model for teachers is to ask them to plan activities that would work on a VARIETY of devices to ensure equity, I realized the possible intimidating and overwhelming feelings some teachers may indeed have! He showed us Inkling: a digital textbook creator…that actually turns the textbook into a social learning environment. How many educators are able and willing to take the time and know the materials to make their own digital textbooks that can be shared and manipulated like this, instead of the publishing companies digitizing and owning them, which could mean that students and teachers would lose the ability to manipulate the content…just like a textbook?! Tom ended with a buzzing reflection on a recent publication called Hacking Your Education, by UnCollege founder, Dale Stephens. With guidance as to the right resources and tools, anyone can create his or her own courses, to take and learn from. This would be the ultimate personalized and customized education that puts ownership more (almost 100%) on the learner, and less on the teacher! Now, isn’t that what educators have been yearning for? I do think I felt the audience sway a little on this thought!