Author Archives: Tony Deprato


How I changed the perception of lesson plans at my school

I was reminded last week of one of the great unmentionables.

A teacher was absent and I heard some rumblings about lesson plans. As any school administrator knows, no one ever says anything good about lesson plans. The norm is a non-verbal look of piercing annoyance when lesson plans are mentioned.

I actually created the school’s lesson plan archive, so, in the midst of all this, I decided to explore the contents. I found many inconsistencies. I realized that unless this content translated clearly down into the classroom, outward to the parents, and internally to the curriculum mapping, it really was not worth doing.

I cannot mandate lesson planning for most departments. However, I did go to the head of the school and request that I be allowed to lead the ICT department in a brief project to clean-up lesson plans, plan for long term leave, and develop a system to help non-ICT teachers deliver ICT lessons. I was given a green light.

I met with the ICT coordinator (in my school structure I am not the head of the subject), and reviewed the issues. She agreed, and she had even better ideas than I did. The department is small, so the plan came together quickly. I formally sent an email saying that as Head of Technology and with the direct support of the Principal, all ICT lesson planning will follow this plan, etc. and here is a template. I added the words non-negotiable, to make sure I was clear.

Why People Hate Formal Planning

Here are the reasons I think most people dislike lesson planning:

  • They feel like they know the material, so why does it need to be written out in detail.
  • They might want to make changes, and adjust during the week, therefore it is a waste of time.
  • Time. Lesson planning is time consuming.
  • Plans are written for other people to read, which adds a level of formality not needed by the person writing the plan.
  • No one ever checks the lesson plans, so they are a waste of effort.
  • IF the school has curriculum mapping or an online class management system, lesson plans are redundant.

Why Administrators and Heads of Department Should Ignore All These Reasons

I also hate lesson planning. Only after heading a department and being an administrator did I see the value. Only after having a colleague take emergency long term leave did I realize how negatively missing lesson plans can affect an entire division of teachers and students. With this experience under my belt, I no longer support lax planning.

Let’s start with a current educational topic that seems to be part of most of the conversations I have been having in the last six years, curriculum mapping. Although a curriculum map can contain lesson plans, and although the building of a map can be done in such a way that people can search for plans down to a given day, curriculum mapping is not a process designed for day-to-day lesson tracking. The data can be very difficult to read, since it should be connect to longitudinal information spanning the entire school.

Technology should always be applied to the scope of it’s design, and the concept of a single perfect solution should be clearly avoided. Tools are used when needed, and technology is a tool. Hint: Single Sign-On, Not Secure, but It gets rid of many complaints.

Online course management systems can easily hold a lesson plan, but the breakdown of links and activities is not a lesson plan. I am often guilty of using this as an excuse for not adding a formal document to explain, in detail, a particular area of an online course. Systems like Edmodo move chronologically and the content can shift down quickly. Lesson plans get lost in systems like this unless there is a very strict standard for where the go and how they are referenced. Therefore, lesson plans can be included in online learning systems, but they probably need to “live” somewhere else.

After winning the redundancy argument, you can ignore everything else, because lesson planning is not about being convenient. It is about being accountable to the students, families, and other people in the school. It is about having something that can allow a person to subtract themselves from the equation that is the school, without leaving a huge damaging hole in the educational pathways that children follow day-to-day.

Administration and Oversight

If lesson planning is a requirement, a non-negotiable, a strain on everyone’s time, and important- then make it important. I believe Stephen Covey said, “Do the important things first.” As an administrator or head of department that means read the lesson plans and occasionally make sure the lessons in the classroom matched the plans.

Make sure teachers know plans are being checked. Comment on good ones. Have meetings about bad ones. Make planning important by making it come before broad conversations around curriculum mapping, homework, etc.

Remember, technology for lesson planning can and should be simple. Do not over complicate your processes. If the school has some software or platform that has organically developed a smarted lesson planning process, then stick with it. However, if people are comfortable using normal documents and a shared folder, then maintain the simplicity. The second the focus shifts from good planning to high tech solutions for planning, problems will arise.

The Standard

Everything needs a measurement or a standard. For lesson planning, that standard is simple: If a stranger (Teacher-Administrator-Parent) were to read the lesson plan would they understand the learning objectives?

Not the HOW. Not the WHAT. Just the WHY and the OUTCOME.


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How to Teach Programming (without worrying about font size)

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how to teach programming – and font size. That sounds a little arcane, but this is why…
This week on IT Babble the Podcast Edition, [Ed’s note – you should listen, it’s very good] you will hear Patrick and I discuss this topic that was posted on Revisiting Why Johnny Can’t Code: Have We “Made the Print Too Small”?
Any one claiming that programming is related to text size has a serious problem. Why? Because tools that you can use to write programs allow you to set your text size. These are the options that come with the built in terminal on the Mac:
Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 7.54.23
Clearly, there are plenty of fonts, sizes, and colors available. People are grasping at straws trying to figure out why all the time spent having students plow through programming models simply is not turing them into “coders” or programmers. Trust me, it is not the font size.
The Main Problem
Everyone is over complicating the issues around learning to program, and they are not working towards the correct goals. The curricula are based on doing things in an hour, or 24-hours, or as a running elective without an objective.
Unless those in education set goals, at age appropriate levels, and have tasks that students can relate to, then attainment will be dismal. This process is not any different than learning a language. If a student is forced to do a language, and they have no application outside of the classroom, the language will not be learned.
The goal of programming, cannot be programming. This is what happens in all subjects when educators believe the subject should be taught, but have no practical application to connect the subject.
What Would a Curriculum Look Like?
I wrote a curriculum framework, yet to be fully implemented, for building problem solving skills and pattern recognition skills starting in year 3. The full framework can be seen here: Problem Solving with Computer Science and Programming: A Holistic Guide & Curriculum Overview.
The goal at every level is to build problem solving skills that connect to the physical world, as well as the digital world. The goal is always simple and repeated year after year. This allows a student to spend time working within the discipline, but also allows them to have time for all the other educational opportunities that are available.
Because this curriculum has a variety of experience based learning opportunities, students are more likely to apply what they learn to other subjects on their own initiative. When you state, this is programming class, and this is where you will do programming, then a student is less likely to apply programming outside of that framework.
What Does a Good Programming Class Look Like?
If students are required to take programming, then the lessons of a programming class cannot be based around following step-by-step instructions. Instead they need to be puzzle based, allow for teamwork, and follow a flexible assessment model.
One practice I like to follow for all new programming concepts is something I call “chopping wood”.
I once read that chopping wood is therapeutic because a person can get immediate results. Students new to programming need immediate results.
Here is how it works:

  • Students are given a working program, not piece of code, but a simple program with 3-4 parts.
  • The teacher asks the students to team up and annotate what they believe each part does. They do annotation with comments. The teacher asks the students not to run the program, just to study it.
  •  The students run the program and play with it. Whatever features it has the teacher then defines so the students can experiment. This might take 5-10 minutes, it is not a game or challenge.
  • The teacher sends the students the program again, this time it is broken. The students compare the working model to the broken one and try to fix it.
  • The students break the program and send it to one another. (This can also be a homework assignment)
  • The teacher review the structures and logic.
  • The final assignment- add a new feature. Annotate what you will do inside the code, and try to achieve it. Make it clear students can sign-up for forums (teacher provides a list if age appropriate) to get help from their peers around the world.

Rinse and repeat with every new set of concepts. After students have a decent framework, they can start taking code that exists and combining it together, improving it, etc. Then after they have manipulated and used many scripts or programs, the process of making something unique will not be so trivial or difficult.
The assessments need to be peer (30%), self (20%), and teacher (formative/summative 50%). Students need to feel like they have some say in their work. Most teachers are not great programmers, and without some input from students, interesting solutions or attempted solutions, may be ignored. In programming attempts matter. The logic might be clear, but the syntax maybe jus be a bit off. Literally speaking – if you are not careful in programming you can fail a student with a great idea for a grammatical/spelling mistake.
Unless the goal is to have a factory of people typing instruction sets, schools need to focus programming efforts towards problem solving, pattern recognition, and team work. As much as possible, the subject of programming needs to be integrated and not separated. The student mindset should be that programming, writing code, etc. is simply a tool box that can be accessed anywhere and anytime.
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Education Work

If your tech choices aren’t student centered, then you’re doing it wrong

Some people have 10 years of experience. Other people have 1 year of experience 10 times, I wish this were my quote. However, it came from a source on Slashdot – which I always recommend everyone read a few times a week.

There was an article titled, Lessons From a Decade of IT Failures :The takeaways from tracking the big IT debacles of the last 10 yearsThe quote actually came from the comments about the article.

It struck me in a profound way. I immediately, and sadly, thought of many of my co-workers who fall into this category. I also thought of key institutional indicators which could be warning signs that decisions are not being made from the “right place”.

The Right Place

There are many schools that run teacher centered, adminstration centered, and community centered models of education. These can all be reviewed at another time, but what they all have in common is that the needs of the student are not the priority.

Research in Education in the last twenty years overwhelmingly supports student centered learning. To be in the right place a school should be following student centered approaches. This requires fairly frequent adjustments to scheduling, assessment practice, learning support, etc. Being student centered means supporting a culture of change. Not always large swooping change, but often small adjustments that ripple influence like a stone hitting the water.

Key Indicators of a Problem

If change is supported in a student centered environment, a school administrator would not see the following (would not, think negative, think dark):

  • The same schedule being followed for more than three years
  • No curriculum revision cycle
  • Lack of data for moving students to different levels
  • A small number of PD requests from teachers
  • The absence of a formal school improvement plan
  • No effort given to defining of hours related to subject completion or academic success
  • People in non-leadership roles running programs from a “playbook”
  • Teachers and Administrators without improvement indicators attached to their annual review

Technology Can Help

Of all the things we can use technology for in school, nothing is easier and more clear cut than using it to collect and study data. From basic Excel implementations to Powerschool, there are many options to allow a small group of administrators to collect and study data.

This process, and hopefully a regular one at that, would quickly flag trends leading to the negative list of key indicators above.

Finding the problem after it has occurred is not going to be enough. The only way to have a real solution, is to stop the problem before it reaches a critical mass and becomes embedded in the culture.

Like a video game with flaw or loophole: If you detect it before you launch the game then it is classified as an error; if you detect it after you launch the game it is classified as a feature.


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Using BYOD? How to keep your students on the same browser standards

Without directly managing software on student laptops, sometimes it is frustrating to implement simple standards, such as, which browser should students use.
I decided to take the simplest approach possible and consider users on Apple laptops, Windows, and iOS devices.
A very common technique when designing a website is to detect the browser, and then load a css style sheet or some other pieces of code that is designed to work with the users browser.
Many people do not realize that Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and the versions of those on iOS devices, are different. They have varying standards. When buying services, the service will normally be compliant with the top 3-4 browsers being used. However, when developing internally for multiple browser, as one does for privacy or because they might happen to live in China, is time consuming. Remember, most Ed.Tech people are not full-time developers, regardless of their skills set they simply do not have the time.
The script below is running on the schools Drupal content management system. However, it will work on most content management systems (WordPress, Joomla, etc.). And it can be written in other languages using about the same exact logic.
This script does nothing when the student is using the correct browser. When they use an incorrect browser, it directs them to a page that kindly reminds them which browser they should be using.
The script is easy to beat if someone is determined, but I have found being slightly annoying tends to eventually wear down the majority of users. The goal is to make sure everyone has equal access, and that teachers with a set of instructions can provide some universal support.
The script checks for Chrome and various versions of Internet Explorer, so if you love Firefox you need to adjust it. Here is a list of Browser User Agents to support anyone trying to do this.
I took all this code straight out the PHP API, it is nothing special or clever. However, it is simple and free, and it is just another way to set standards in an open BYOD environment.
Happy Coding!
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What to do if your school wikipedia entry gets 'edited' by your students

We have all been there. Normal day at work. Focusing on something we feel is important. Then, the call comes in. Something has been, or is in the process of being, hacked.
What? You haven’t been there? Well there is no better way to waste an afternoon and fully test the responsiveness of your IT team.
In this case, students thought it would be awesome to re-write the school’s Wikipedia Page. Now this is not really hack, and actually, it is not even illegal. In fact, if they did not do it on-campus, it would be a hard battle to win with parents, aside from giving them a day of detention.
They cleverly said the school was located in North Korea, and that the cafeteria was ground-zero for typhoid a few other delicious conditions (Level 4 Radiation Zone was one of the best).
They actually did not write anything defaming, libelous, or slanderous. Bad language was also avoided. Overall, a pretty mild annoyance.
Not thinking, as the school changed the content back, some kids tried to change it. They did this on-campus while logged into the network. So I had the joy of searching through logs to find them. I am pretty sure the original rewrite happened in the summer, and off-campus. That was safe. The later move…no so much.
Understanding Your Wikipedia
If your school has anything official on Wikipedia, a person needs to be appointed to manage it. This requires reading it once a week. Nothing else is required unless updates are made.
Whomever does this needs to be a registered user with a school email account. If they find a mistake, added by someone else, they should not delete it. Instead, they should flag it, and contact Wikipedia.
There are clear instructions for doing both of these things here.
Wikipedia is very quick to reply, and they will revert the page and then set it for approvals. Once a page is in approval mode, nothing will post automatically. So checking it every week should then resolve any issues.
There is Always an Opportunity to Learn Something
If your school has an internet filter or firewall, you ( a normal person) can request to see all the Wikipedia searches students are executing (maybe students and staff). This is very interesting.
I was expecting to see searches about Batman Vs Spiderman, or Kim Kardashian. Instead, I found that students were looking up math topics, complex biology subjects, controversial historical figures, and mostly good academic content.
Now I am going to work on a monthly report that captures what the students are searching, and compare that to curriculum topics. I am curious about this question:Are the students interested in these topics, or are they being prescribed? 
This is why it is called Educational Technology, and not just Technology.
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How to Support Open Source with your School IT Budget

Many schools use open source unofficially. They download programs like VLC and then clone them across all their installations. They run servers with Apache to provide numerous services to their communities. Yet normally they cannot donate or contribute any money to these open source projects because of the way supplier registration works.
I would be nice if every year the IT budget could have a line item called ‘Open Source’.  Then the IT director would be allowed to take various amounts of money and donate them to the projects that the school depends. However, this probably would not work. Most accountants do not understand the concept of open source, and even if they did they would never officially support a payment that did not require an invoice.
I think the solution is simple. IT directors need to employ a multi-faceted strategy to ensure that every year open source projects get additional financial support. By National Australia Bank, traditional financial supply and distribution chains, their innovations are attracting consumers for various reasons: costs, ease, security and privacy. Peer-to-peer lending, usage-based insurance, Cloud-based banking and investing, and financial marketplaces are just a few recent examples. While banks have been slow to respond to these changes, some non-bank players (including telecom, retail, and even automotive companies) have been grabbing the opportunity to enter the fray.
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1. Raise awareness with parent and student groups who raise money. Let them know what benefits they are getting from open source, and explain how cost would increase for the community if these projects do not keep growing.
2. Lead fund raising efforts for IT projects that use open source software. The project can be the benefit to the community and the money can be donated to the open source project. There are so many projects that can support various groups within the community, but are difficult to budget for or get approved.
3. Create reports that bottom-liners such as accountants can understand. Build these reports year after year to show how much money is saved by using open source software. Make sure these reports include projections of savings if the software is continuously used and projections of budgetary increases if the open source software were not used any longer.
If open source software can find awareness among users, eventually bottom-liners will have to start paying attention to the numbers and make the needed changes in policy to allow schools to directly and publicly support software that is empowering their communities.
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What would you do if your school’s Internet shut down?

If you are not aware, “A Dude Named Ben” refers to the generic and often ignored systems administrators who work at/in organizations.

When the IRS lost all their emails, they claimed total ignorance, and had no idea who their tech people were. This video below is entertaining and can explain the origin or the term, but has very little bearing on this post.

Enough background! Let’s get into it.

Every school has at least one “Dude Named Ben”. I often find in times of crisis, such as massive hardware failures, Technology Directors and School Administrators do not know how to support the process and procedures needed to literally save critical technology infrastructure.

In many situations, the school administration and the head of technology do not have the professional experience required to deeply understand infrastructure, therefore, they avoid managing or being directly involved in situations related to critical infrastructure.

The fact is a good manager or leader can always help a person who is working on a tight timeline and is highly stressed, and often feeling totally isolated with the problem.

Here are some simple steps to take to assist any Dude Named Ben, without getting in the way.

Make the Timeline and Targets

Unless the situation is dangerous or hazardous, the first thing that should be done after the briefing is to set the timeline and targets. Many people want to just start working, this is not a good idea. People need to talk out problems. Most people relate well to time and urgency.

  • Start by asking what steps have to be taken to get the status quo back.
  • Then ask what needs to be done to determine what caused the problem and prevent it from happening again.
  • Then start inquiring how long each step should take, in a normal situation.

Now there is a set of goals and a general understanding of how long it should take to complete them all. If time is actually lacking, then start asking the tough questions such as, “Which of these steps could we skip, and be operation but not perfectly operational by our deadline?”

This is where leadership matters. This is where ownership of the consequence can shift, and the system administrator(s) can work and feel supported. There is always a chance of failure, and people working in fear are not going to work as well as someone who is being supported by leadership.

Also, this process builds confidence. When administrators take time to listen and understand, the barriers come down and an honest explanation and list of issues will surface.

Set Some Rules for Health

Yes, I know how it sounds, but it is important. If you have a team that must pull a 12 hour plus shift, or work in some adverse conditions, then make a plan to keep people healthy. Provide food, drinks, and mandatory breaks. Set points where everyone steps away from the problem, reviews the targets and timeline and reflect on the work. This is a great time to make adjustments and reconsider some priorities.

A manager or leader can control and manage all of these things for the team that is handling the problem(s). It is one less thing the team has to worry about, and they will appreciate it. Odds are, the problem will be more complex than it seemed initially. So having a team that is willing to go that extra mile without being asked will make all the difference.

This is an Opportunity, so Seize it

When things break, and have to be rebuilt, it is an opportunity to make improvements.

It is critical to know why the failure happened, and to mandate that steps be taken toprevent it, not to fix it. Fixing can imply that the old system needs to be patched and kickstarted back to life, only to once again fail.

Seizing the opportunity could cost some more time, but the benefits often outweigh the loss of time. Identify those who will suffer the most for the lack of the resource(s). Explain the problem, and that the idea is not to fix but to expand and improve. Use the word opportunity often, and get the stakeholders to agree.

Your Dude Named Ben is a person. Remember that. If you can form and manage teams, you can help in times of crisis. Trust me, it is not fun being that guy -sitting alone- and knowing everyone is waiting for you to pull-off a miracle.

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This simple test shows why the iPad is a tool, not the whole toolbox

I will make this a simple conversation. I will choose 10 qualities that a traditional educational technology resource should have. If the iPad has a quality in full, I will award it 1 point. If it is partially capable, I will give it a .5 . If additional accessories are required, it gets a 0.

  1. Works with existing software or licensing :   .5
    Sometimes there are Apps that come with software licenses, but often you have to buy the App version.
  2. Fits into the school’s purchasing model and/or accounting methodologies: 0
  3. Allows users to create media and share it easily: .5
    The tools are starting to evolve but moving things from the iPad to sharing mediums dedicated to the curriculum, and the privacy of the curriculum, is not always easy. Getting media on the iPad that was not created on the iPad is also significantly harder than using a laptop.
  4. Allows students to create long form written assignments for curricula such as the IBO, AP, and IGCSE: 0
  5. Can easily work with other hardware owned by the school: 0
    Not for free and not always intuitively. With some Apps the possibilities are growing but on the initial buy-in, the iPad creates it’s own little world.
  6. Cost effective and shareable resource: 0
    The iPad models seem cheap, but with the way they need to be accessorized the price is very close if not equal to a low-end laptop. Sharing a device designed for personal ownership is possible, and Apple makes it possible, but it is not ideal. Even if the price point for 30 iPads is usually lower than 30 laptops, asking 100 students to use 30 iPads is not the same as sharing laptops. 100 students need 100 iPads to really make the most of them.
  7. The device works with content provided by the curriculum publishers: 0
    Getting better but still not there. Amount of content used still greatly exceeds the amount available on the iPad.
  8. The device has a high level of local maintainability: 0
    Most IT departments cannot fix iPads when they break. I mean physically break. Unlike laptops and computers they need to be sent away to the iPad doctor. Trust me, kids can break iPads, they are not Starbucks Going Hipsters reading The Verge carefully swiping with clean fingers.
  9. Has a variety of cost effective software solutions available for various age groups: 1
    No argument, the Apps are there and they are very powerful when integrated properly.
  10. The device is scalable for future performance: .5
    I am giving this a .5 because the software is scalable, and it is possible for an organization to develop exactly what they need for the device. In fact, it is cheaper to have someone make a simple focused App, than to have them write a deeply integrated program for a platform like OS X or Windows.

Score: 2.5 / 10

get an ipad

The iPad is a tool, not the whole toolbox.

So why should schools want iPads? Because they motivate students to learn. In the same way that this device motivated me to love technology:

The fictional concept of being able to move around freely and have a device that gave me a different view of the world was very powerful. It powered my imagination. It drove me to start using computers at the age of 11, but not just for games, but to program. I always loved how the Start Trek Officers had to constantly modify, update, and reverse engineer their Tricorders to get them to do what they wanted.

That is what the iPad is. It is the reality of years of imagination. It is often a time-wasting, game playing ,mind numbing entertainment device. However, when students decide to make it forward-facing and use it to read the world, it is something much more.

The innate weakness of the platform is what makes it a good problem-solving tool. Trying to get the iPad to achieve the goal, is the goal. That is where the learning happens, through the process and through the imagination.  Students do not care about all of this, they just want to get it to work. To do what they want in the way they want.

It is not important what a grade 7 student does with an iPad. It is not important if they waste their time. It is not crucial for them to demonstrate that they are responsible enough to keep the music down. What is important is that at some point an idea sparks in their minds. An original idea. And then they take the resources around them, and make the idea into reality.

When in engaging students with iPads, do not tell them to get “Apps A and B” and do “Activities 1 and 2″.

iPads are not textbooks.

Instead, leave a problem or question in front of them with the following instructions: “Solve It and Prove It”.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. ~ John F. Kennedy 1962


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BYOD and Printing: What You Should Be Doing

Why are you printing if you are BYOD teacher? Printing and writing are not connected. This is something that everyone in a BYOD program needs to be aware of.
Here are the rules you should follow and communicate to your students:

  1. All assignments will be posted online, not emailed.
  2. All students are expected to have a copy of all online materials during class time on their laptops. These materials should be downloaded to avoid any conflicts with the network.
  3. During timed writing assignments or quizes, students will use their laptops for reading the assignment/questions. They will then answer on paper if required, or electronically if allowed.
  4. In some cases the internet access will be suspended to prevent anyone from doing unauthorized research during an assignment. See #2 and follow the directive.
  5. If a student needs to work off of paper, they must print it at home and bring it to school. This needs to be communicate in advance to the teacher.

Here are the rules you should follow as a TEACHER:

  1. Allow all work to be submitted electronically, but not on email.
  2. Start grading electronically. It is slow only at first but once you can use the tools it is much faster.
  3. Audio based grading and feedback is so common that is now native to systems like TURN-IT-IN.  Stop writing and start talking. It is faster and requires the student to listen and then revise. A much better process than reading red marks.
  4. If you must grade on paper, then print the student work after it is ALL SUBMITTED. If you are not using email this is easy. You can print the entire class at once and then start grading.
  5. Use online feedback, do not write on the paper. As you are reviewing work online you can make notes and comments on the work itself. When you are done reading you are done with the feedback.
  6. Learning to work in 2 tabs or 2 desktops(Mac) -your gradebook should be in one and the work in the other. Mark in real time.
  7. Save heavy printing for exams, unless your school can serve a secure exam. If they cannot it is about a 700 USD investment to be able to do this and not allow students any access outside the exam, even on their own laptops.

If you read this and would like to know what tools are needed to achieve a paperless classroom, email me directly or post a comment here. The tools are free and require
only a commitment to use and organization, they are easy to use.
You can be proficient in online marking after doing one set of documents. Printing is not going to grow, it is going to shrink. It is expensive and unfortunately heavily abused by teachers.
If your students are BYOD this means they are learning a new way of working. When they move out of your organization, the most likely scenario is that they will be working purely online and only printing if they choose to pay for it.
Universities are not only following this model, they are even moving away from normal textbooks for similar reasons. Prepare your students for the future. It is worth the initial inconvenience for them and you.
I have been paperless, at least 90% paperless, since 2005. In 2005 it was difficult, because I had to serve and manage all the technology to facilitate the process. Now it is seamless and easy for people to stop wasting time and resources on printing.
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Google Apps vs Office 365 : The Simplest Answer You Will Eventually Read

I have traveled to many places on the planet Earth. I have been in deserts, jungles, various oceans, in the frigid cold of Eastern Europe, and the unbearable summers of the Arabian Gulf.
I have found that sometimes I encounter a new place that seems like a place I would want to live. Something about it truly stands-out. I am not one to move on quickly. I tend to linger and explore. I want to find the underlying reason for the charm. I want to be as objective as possible. After all, I have learned that if I decide to move and live somewhere, I can move and live anywhere.
Visits always end, and returning back to home is inevitable. It is only after a person returns home, and they are completely unable to ‘be’ where they were, that they understand what not being there means.
This inability to connect truly helps shape the final and most objective opinion we can form, always a little bias, but honest about the reality of where we are and where we could go.
Only in this state of objective absenteeism can a person say, “Yes. I do want to change and do something different in a different place.”  Or, “No. I think what I have is all I need, and change would be less gain and more loss in the long run.”
I am telling you, without any hesitation, that being disconnected and unable to fluidly use Google Apps, the Google Api, and the millions of websites that are Google powered has limited my ability to reach students, families, and staff. It has forced me to create small pieces of infrastructure, at significant cost, just to get beyond word processing and email.
I am in a place where it is impossible to guarantee universal access to anything powered or owned by Google solutions. Most people are not aware that over a million websites use the Google Api, store their videos on Youtube, or use Jquery hosted by Google. Most of the free sites used by people sporting Web 2.0 interfaces for schools use these services.
Google Apps is not about mail and making documents, it is about being part of a massive ecosystem. If all you do is bicker and worry over the best way to make a presentation or send an email, then as a technology leader you are doing a disservice to your community.
Everyday I manage and implement features for my campuses with Office 365 and Sharepoint. My team and have just been recognised by Microsoft as leaders in our region for our implementation. I use everything they have. I design solutions in Sharepoint, move people into OneDrive for Business against their will, and create training materials full of hints and tricks like a boss.
Doubt not! I am an Office 365 ninja.
But if I had a choice, I would simply use Office 365 for office staff only. Anything and anyone connected to teaching and learning would be on Google Apps.  I would run multiple email domains, which I do anyway, and share data via the Active Directory.
I have seen a few very good international schools recently tell all staff, and new hires, “If you want Office make sure you buy your own copy.” I think this is smart, and cost effective. I also think everyone who needs Office can afford the educational price once every five years. I, in fact, have done this in the past. The world did not end. Some people were angry. But when I rolled out four new software packages for math and science with the savings from the Office license, tempers faded.
The simple answer to the debate, Google Apps or Office 365 is:
Teaching and Learning = Google Apps
Office Staff = Office 365
Everyone = Can use solutions developed in both environments.
Until you have known both, and then can only have one, you may not understand.

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