Recognizing Digital Learning Outcomes Are Skills for the Future


  Digital learning Specialists & Technology Teachers are challenged with keeping their curriculum relevant to the needs of the 21st century student. Our students’ immediately recognize the benefit these skills bring to their ability to communicate in today’s technology driven environment. On a daily basis I see students utilizing the range of technology resources to support learning goals of teachers of all content areas and recognize that these students are acquiring skills which will serve them well into their educational future.

Design of Instruction with Technology
     The effectiveness of what we bring to students in the classroom is based on the design of instruction when using technology. The needs for elementary aged students to explore tools and develop an awareness of their applications to their learning requires a different approach than the more targeted subject area skills important to develop research and project creation skills as students move in the middle and high school levels.
     Curriculum development in Digital Learning involves a careful selection of technology applications and strategies for maximizing students learning experiences with digital tools. Collaborations with content area teachers and the ever changing landscape of technology resources challenge the Digital Learning team to refine student skills with technology while also enabling them to analyze, evaluate and create with modern tools.
     In North Reading, content area teachers are supported with Digital Learning Specialists who provide technology skills and their assimilation of these tools into the classroom. The Specialists also bring a specific technology curriculum content to each of three elementary schools.  The design of the instruction impacts the how and why students learn as much as the tools themselves. Staying flexible and responsive to the changes that technology can bring to the learning landscape and the world at large.
Impact Areas of Digital Learning Curriculum
      I would like to outline some of the essential areas that Digital Learning touches upon across grade levels that will serve students well into their future. These learning opportunities are constructed from a curriculums focused around essential skills and skills that carry beyond the tools. We live in world which requires a range of skills to succeed, and these skills are integrated into instructional approaches for students to learn with technology.
     Students with technology in their hands become more responsible. Technology helps students be more responsible for appropriate communication and to take more control over their own learning. Students can seek out feedback and improve their ability to listen and clarify their learning. The resourcefulness that technology enables students to develop allows them to be self-directed with their learning and define their own goals and to create and curate their own content.
     Learning is now more tool oriented and student success is weighed increasingly more on the ability to access and disseminate information from sources which are in ever increasing numbers moving to web platforms. Supporting students in acquiring these skills prepares them for skills necessary in higher education and develops their ability to adapt to the constantly changing environment which requires validating resources.
     As our nation becomes increasingly more technology-dependent, it becomes even more necessary that to be successful citizens, students must learn to be tech-savvy. When is readily available in the classroom, students access the most up-to-date information quicker and easier using mobile technology and robust research databases.

     The demand to keep students skills up to standards in the areas of computer science, robotics, digital learning and digital citizenship is a day and day out process of identifying the tools, software, applications and instructional methods to meet students ever increasing needs. Ensuring that educational technologies are thoughtfully integrated into teaching and learning enhances student outcomes and provides new opportunities for students in their classrooms now and in their future endeavors.

Instructional Technology Update- Andover High School-Grades 6-12 Daniel Downs Week of October 6th-10th 2014

This week began with a tour of Andover High School for a group of  Dutch Superintendents who visited to see how we currently integrate technology within our school. We were able we were able to make a video of their tour with a variety of different classrooms using technology. We  stopped in to the special education rooms, language lab as well as the programming courses labs. Dan Brennan the Media/Video also gave a first hand tour of the Andover Tv Studio. I was able to provide a detailed description of the work students do at the innovation lab and help desk for our visitors as well.
Their tour concluded with a question and answer session with the entire faculty at the end of the day. They also gave out of the gift of the book The UnDutchables to Dr Lord and others who were on the tour. This was a great opportunity to share     our perspectives on technology in education.

I had the opportunity to work with Isa Perez in the World Language department to have an overview of Google Classroom and how she could use it with her students. We also went over the process of adding new page, re-sizing images and content for those pages.  As you can see from the photo of her Google site her page looks great and she is excited to add a calendar for her students as well.

Also in the World Language Department Diana Zawil has been using a variety of great tools to integrate technology into her courses. She is using the cartoon creator
to make cartoons of herself and others to explain language learning opportunities.

She is also using QR codes with her students to quickly get them engaged with content driven language games that she can use to track their vocabulary growth in Spanish. The use of QR codes is growing as creating these codes is easy and can take students to web links,text,images and a variety of other web based content.

I am very impressed with how Diana has integrated these tools and it expands on her ever growing knowledge of the use of technology in the foreign language classroom.

Students in the Innovation Lab have begun working development of tools to assist with learning a Google Sites for teachers.

We also received our t shirts and banner for the library. The banner will hang on the back wall of the library and also be a backdrop for videos and also go along with us to a field trips and other presentations of the students plan on making of the next several months.
Our Blog:

It’s great to finally have something to help us identify ourselves in the library we also have the opportunity to interview process Alicia a student who was part of last year’s help desk to be in our promotional video.

At the end of the day on Friday I assisted Dr. Lord with adding a video from his phone straight to his blog to share out with parents. Dr.Lord does a great job of sharing out his experiences from the week on his Principals blog every Friday.
Find his blog here:

On Friday I have the opportunity to work with Assistant Principal John Norton to assist a student with a broken his hand to take notes for his classes with Evernote.
Find Evernote here:

I appreciate John Norton pulling me aside  and having the opportunity to work with the student.
It was great to be able to review the benefits of Evernote and how the company has added many new sharing features including the sharing and multiple notebooks.

A great tool I would like to share out this week is the the Cloudconvert Google Chrome App.
Find it here:

This app works within the Chrome Browser and enables you to take video files of a variety of formats convert them to your choice of format(avi,mp4,mkv) and reuploads them automatically back to your Google Drive. The process really is seamless and saves many conversion steps. This is great for sharing online video in a variety of formats.

April 7-11 Instructional Technology Update Andover High School -Daniel Downs

I have been communicating with teachers around the building this week on how to use Baseline Edge software and complete the uploading and checking off of evaluation documents. This has benefitted teachers with helping them become more familiar with saving and storing important artifacts for their SMART goals. This learning process has been taken on with full steam and I am highly impressed with their detailed documentation of their learning goals and graphics being added to the portal.

Sara Adam a senior who works at the helpdesk was in a
cake decoration competition in Danvers Mass. She is currently designing a
website at the helpdesk about her cakes and designs and cupcakes. Sara has been diligently working on her site which displays a photo gallery of her work and also the history of her business. 
Sara was eager to have the opportunity to join the help desk and she has brought a great spirit and attitude to the help desk.

This week I continue to work with Peter Hall on his video
project that he has for this the French students. He is currently using iMovie
with video clips the students of shot show parts of Andover to the students are
visiting from France. I am working with him to have the clips to iMovie edit
and add titles. Peter has dedicated himself to integrating more technology into his classes and now he is taking on full video projects.

He will be sharing this project with the students were visiting
as well as his own students to strengthen the vocabulary and dialect of their French. Working with Peter has been greatly rewarding and I am currently planning on using his project as a best practice for high school integration in Andover. I have included the photo of Peter’s notes which he meticulously took about the contents of the project outcomes he wanted for students in this video. 

We are currently planning a video which will showcase
teacher use of technology across the district. The video will be a
collaboration between the digital learning department and the film and video
studio teacher at Andover High School, Dan Brennan who will help us shoot and edit the “Virtual Open House”.

The goal of the “Virtual Open House” will be to inform the community,parents,teachers and students of the variety of new technology tools, integration strategies and best practices which will be an important part of the 1:1 implementation in the fall in the 8th grade. Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of the video as we move forward.

Mobile Application Curriculum: Intro to Mobile Development Platforms

Introducing students to the variety of common mobile development platforms is a great place to start with mobile development curriculum. The differences between these platforms and the available technology varies with the design approaches for each platform. It is beneficial to introduce students to:

1.Examining different mobile development platforms and their interfaces (Android,iPhone,Windows) and defining the differences between them.
2. Review differences in device technology and technology capability as it relates to the visual and technical design of a mobile application.
3. Review and understand the current design standards for iPhone and Android(includes icon design, design resolution and interface).
4. Define different design approaches for different mobile platforms. Explain strategies used to have the application work across platforms.
I have provided a list of resources and descriptions of how they can connect with developing students understanding of the Android and iOS platforms. Use these as starting points for class discussions and
strategy development. The links below can provide an outline for instruction.

Review of Android & iOS Developer Guidelines
Review the contents of the iOS and Android Development guidelines.These guidelines have been prepared to assist developers with making apps that the marketplaces can support and also are user friendly to the consumer. These documents can be quite deep but it is important to notice how specifically they are written and how their details can influence the successful deployment of an application or additional phases of debugging.

Platform Design Standards
After reviewing the design guidelines for Android and iOS you should be able to clearly identify the major differences between these platforms. During this part of the instruction the discussion/review of the reading can be done individually or used as a basis of discussion. Students should be able to identify major differences in how these two platforms are approached differently from a design perspective.  This looks like notes to the teacher, not instruction to the student.

Differences Between Android & iOS Hardware/Software
In addition to design standards, what are the described differences in hardware, software or operating system you see defined in the design guidelines of these two platforms? You should clearly identify known operating systems or device based hardware. You may also infer knowledge of current operating systems on specific devices.

Common Strategies For Cross Platform Design
Research using search engines(Google,Bing) the alternatives to creating apps for iOS or Android. Use the questions to guide the search.
  • What other opportunities for app marketplaces are there?
  • Can students find a current breakdown of the market share for different types of mobile application development?
  • Who are the contenders?
  • What does the market share breakdown tell us about the choice of development tools or platforms?

Students will ideally be able to differentiate between platforms and define the technology behind them.

These questions can help identify learning objectives.

1.Define three major differences between Android and iOS applications.
2. What is an alternative to developing for Android or iOS? What is a challenge to this alternative?
3. Which platform has an operating system which is open-source (free to upgrade and download)?

Understanding the variety of layouts and possible user experiences which are available in the two largest development platforms (Android and iOS) will help students understand the design possibilities. In this lesson students should begin to see the wide world of mobile application development. The goal is to introduce to students the current guidelines for application development for the two major platforms and differentiate the needs of each platform in terms of design.  Based on the knowledge gained from guided discussion and research on mobile platforms students should also better understand the larger context of the mobile development market.

Sample Assignments

1. Short Essay: After reading the Android and Apple Design standards, define the major differences between the Android and iPhone platforms. What do the design standards tell you about technology required and used to create mobile applications? Was there something that was unexpected in these documents? If yes, what, and why were you not expecting it?How would you use these documents to assist you in creating a mobile application for either platform? Which platform do you prefer and why?
2. Case study research and presentation. Research a mobile application using internet search engines which has had multiple design issues related to being placed on different app markets. What were the issues? How were they resolved? What strategies were used to resolve the issues between platforms? What can be learned and applied to your own possible mobile design? Make a visual presentation using Powerpoint, Prezi or other slide-based presentation tool representing your answers to these questions.

The SETT Framework: Evaluating Special Education Assistive Technology-TIE Conference Holyoke,Ma January 2014

On January 14th, I had
the opportunity to visit The “Technology in Education” Conference put
on by the organization in Holyoke, Ma at the Kittredge Center
at Holyoke Community College. It was my first visit to this conference and was
able to benefit from the small focused presentations made by educators
predominantly from the western part of the state. 
I was accepted as a
presenter for this conference and made a presentation to approximately 30
educators/administrators on the tools and resources for beginning a Mobile
Application Development course. I presented using a Google Presentation but
also included links to a website I am currently developing which contains all
of the lessons I have created for the Bunker Hill Community College 
Courses Mobile App
Development Certificate. I shared these resources and also a variety of videos
students in my classes have made of apps made in a Project-Based Learning
environment with technology. Here is a link to the resources and presentation.
After my presentation I
had the pleasure of sitting in on a fantastic presentation from Dale Gardner-Fox,
Jeanne Tuthill and Allegra Osborne. Their presentation “Are You SETT to
go?” outlined the barriers to successful Assistive technology
implementation in special education. They described the frustrating problems of
choosing tools which don’t fit students’ needs and abilities, lack of proper training,
environmental factors as well as the timeliness and appropriateness of the
assistive technology. 
The presenters described
and outlined the “SETT” model developed by Joy Zabala( as a
beneficial process to help asset in best implementing assistive technology.
SETT stands for 
Students, Environment,
Task and Tools. Each one of these elements are collaboratively evaluated in
teams which take into account consideration of the student needs, selection of
proper technology, a plan for implementation and a process for evaluating the
effectiveness of the process.
The SETT framework
counters several large issues with assistive technology:
1. Poor implementation
and planning of Assistive technology.
2. Consistent and
Appropriate Use of Assistive Technology
3. Due to cognitive
weaknesses “Tech & Content” cannot be expected learning goals due
Cognitive failure.
4. Helps avoid
“learned helplessness”(when students perceive frustration to the
adaptation to the use of technology).
The SETT framework is a
four part model using a collaborative approach to using the technology we want
to use in the special education classroom. The stakeholder team makes things
happen and students in some instances can be part of this decision.
1. Student: When
addressing the students’ needs with assistive technology it is important to
carefully consider the selection of digital tools which take into consideration
the needs of the student and how they will be implemented into the classroom.
The consideration and
selection process should be continual and use the IEP as a guide.
Selection should be
based on what the stakeholders see the student as being able to do.
What barriers and
potential successes are available with the tools?  
Developing student
motivation to use the technology is beneficial for success.
The most important
factor with tools is that there is a plan for the evaluation of the
effectiveness which is done with a team approach including all stakeholders
relative to the student (paraprofessional, teacher, administrators, aides, parents). 
2. Environment: Determining
the environment in which the technology will be used is also a critical
component to the SETT framework. 
Data from the
environment should be collected from a variety of sources:
Strengths and Concerns
Physical Barriers
Expectations of others.
Outside of school
Possible low-tech
3. Tasks: What
is the point of the Tech?
It is important to
directly address the purpose of the technology and how it will be used.
Is it going home?
Is it connected to real
Do the tasks learned
align with active participation in all environments (communication, instruction,
productivity, environmental control)?
An assistive technology
plan helps keep accountability with the student.
4. Tools: The
tools are the choice of devices, applications, computer/web based technology
used in the classroom/home.
Devices should support
learning, communication and social goals (Intellitools, IPad, Apps).
Services and training
should support the staff and student needs.
Specific strategies
should be in place to create motivation with the tools (music, writing, normative
This framework enables a
real evaluation of how assistive tools can be used and supported in the
classroom. The critical components are that the major stakeholders are involved
in the decision making process and an alignment of the learning goals and
technology used is made as tools are chosen. This framework can also be used as
a district strategy for educating staff on the evaluation of assistive
technology by adjusting the model as a district vision.
S-Student=District Personnel
E-Environment=District Level Knowledge
T-Tasks=Staff Implementing Technology
T-Technology=Technology Both High & Low Tech
By replacing the
variables of the traditional model with district staff a plan for educating
your district with the beneficial strategies of assistive technology alignment
can be gained. A critical role in this process is the district level knowledge
of the importance of a plan with assistive technology and also the training
provided staff for the implementing of the technology into the classroom.

The training this
presentation provided was well conceived and beneficial to my workplace
environment as a high school digital learning specialist who works with devices
in the classroom and student strategies.

Helping Teachers Place Their Materials Online: Phase 1-Instructional Strategies & Introduction To Tools

Most teachers when thinking about how to organize their existing
content into a web based format play with a variety of tools and resources such
Wiki’s, Edmodo or other District Based Learning Management Systems. When stuck
in between these resources and still looking to have a web based presence for
the classroom that offers the look of a teacher website a great option is a
blog which can present presentations, links, documents and even a variety of
assessments. Many districts have their own policies for teacher websites and
access so it is important to check with your district about their policies
before beginning and committing to any projects.

This post will include some of the central considerations to
consider from an instructional design perspective and also some of the central
considerations when choosing to integrate the Google Blogger platform and the
associated Google docs and tools. That said, a variety go blog platforms exist
and some are extremely interactive (WordPress, Weebly, Tumblr, Typepad).
 I have chosen on this post to focus on Google Blogger due to my success
with integrating the tools in the classroom and also the ease in which I can
explain its immediate benefits.

Design Considerations

Before creating your blogger account and Gmail for the creation of
a blogger blog it is important to collect all of the content you would like to
have on each section of your blog. I often encourage teachers to organize their
blogs as though it will be their website for their classroom in which each
course they teach will have its own page and be the focus of that area of the
blog. A site map should be developed which helps organize the thinking of the
content. This site map can be done formally on paper or can be outlined and
integrated immediately. In the example photos below the breakdown of an AP
European History course is shown. 

This teacher(photo) has identified specific presentations (PowerPoint’s)
and documents (Word) which she will link of this course homepage. I have worked
with this teacher to turn these documents into Google Documents for the ease of
backing them up on the Google Drive Cloud and linking and sharing opportunities
with students. Teachers can also integrate existing PDF’s teachers may have
been printing in an online format or even turn documents into PDF’s.

The process of aligning your course sequence of materials and preparing them to
placed on a web based platform can be tedious but it can benefit teachers to
back up their documents online and improve the fluency in which they deliver
materials online. The process of creating links and sequencing material also
enables teachers to reconsider the order in which they present materials and
can also allow them to better introduce web-based assessments using tools like
Google Form, Socrative or linking to Edmodo environments. Teachers can also
begin to consider the integration of screencasts of video lectures for homework
or students who have missed courses. The graphic on the left was created using This site enables you to create sitemaps and organization graphics.

Discuss Teacher Strategies,
Goals & Motivation

From an instructional technologists perspective it is important to
have deep conversations with teachers about the intentions they have with their
content online. Web platforms can quickly turn off teachers transitioning to creating
more online resources. They often feel they do not deliver their materials in
way their students or are used to.

Provide support as teachers delve into placing materials online. This support
is critical to having teachers see the long-term benefits of web based
resources and flipped classroom models. Integrating these tools consistently is
a process and fluency with technology in the classroom only grows as it is
being used regularly and fitting the environment intended. There will be
setbacks in the process but assuring teachers that the time invested can save
them time as the forward can help motivate and inspire them to create for the

Also assure teachers that providing web-based content does not mean they are
replacing traditional instructional methods. In the beginning of this process
the tools placed online should be tiered toward supporting instruction and can
be used from once a week to daily depending on the comfort level with the tools
and resources.

Key Tools & Tips To Consider In the Development of Blogger
Blogs For Teachers

(I will be updating this page with new posts in the coming weeks with more
specifics on each of these topics. I have included some sample links).

  • Organize all content for each course in a folder and review the
    order of instruction and course assessments and goals.(Consider creating graphic like the one above. I used
  • Set Up A Page For Each Course (This provides a separate space for each course
    and a way of differentiating for each class.)
  • Create A Google Calendar To Share Course Information (The same calendar in your
    Google email can be embedded into your blog and used to post course updates)
  • Use Of Google Drive for Storage (Using Drive can streamline linking of resources
    and also create an immediate backup)
  • Use Google Groups For Collaboration (An easy method for communicating with
    specific groups based on email address)
  • Use Google Hangouts For Offline meetings (live and recorded
    collaboration online with video, great for college students and adult
    professional development)
  • Use
    YouTube for videos of lectures, videos and supplemental course videos and embed
    into the areas of the blog pages with HTML (Screen casting is a powerful tool for sharing screen recordings with presentations or web based