Sunday, November 3, 2013

Minutes of October 22 DLIC Mtg - What is the quality of Digital Learning at EO Smith?

In attendance: Bruce Silva, Nancy Silander, Frank Krasicki, Sue Palmberg, Alan Trotochad, and David Strimple.

This meeting discussed the quality of digital learning that students, faculty, and administrators are exposed to.  Recent internet discussions and internal discussions about curriculum have been concerned with whether merely copying a traditional textbook to a digital format or watching a video constitute a digital learning experience or not.  In many cases, turn-key curriculum materials distributed by textbook manufacturers still promote the one-size-fits-all curriculum.

We started by exploring the quality of Professional Development our teachers are exposed to.  After some discussion, the conclusion was that there are two threads that can consume Professional Development time; perfunctory In-Service development topics often dictated by external bodies and actual Professional Development that might make a teacher more proficient in a particular skill or technique such as developing higher level digital classroom activity.

The staff's professional development time at EO Smith most recently and for the foreseeable future are, like the rest of the state public school system, is far too often consumed by legislated requirements with little time for , say... enhancing pedagogy.

We discussed a number of topics that might free up some additional professional development time but nothing that had any traction in terms of practicality.

An action item that did come out of that discussion was that Alan will create a teacher survey that simply gathers the sum of digital learning exercise available at EO Smith so that we can promote learning and teaching activities from within.

A middle topic was what kind of computer requirements EO Smith should migrate to.  The traditional keyboarding and Microsoft Office exclusive training is both dated and largely unnecessary.  A few suggestions included; How to formulate search engine questions and How to recognise the best answers.  It was also mentioned that Susan Biren was now transitioning from Microsoft Office training to more open source and online office suite exposures.  The Curriculum Committee will also review this topic.

We also discussed the issue of technology/science/math course participation by gender.  Our conclusion was that female students had made great strides in recent years in math and science in terms of enrollment in these classes - parity guess-timates for many classes were cited.  The exception was a lament by David Strimple that his AP computer science offering was still under-represented by female students.  This is a nationwide phenomenon and David's class is one of the more challenging of the elective cohort available.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Minutes of DLIC MTG - 09/24/13

STORRS, CT 06268

September 24, 2013
In attendance: Frank Krasicki, Bruce Silva, Nancy Silander, Alan Trotochaud, Seth Horila, Sue Palmberg.

Frank opened the meeting at 5:40 p.m.

The official munutes;
  1. Seth Horila gave a summer up-date – most of the purchases come from the $100,000 budgeted for 2013-14:
    • 75 X131E Window machines: 60 to math – on 3 carts – for Smarter Balance and for UCONN ECE Math courses who need particular software; 15 for Career and Tech Ed – need for Windows testing that need Internet Explorer, they will purchase 15 more through Perkins Grant
    • 35 Samsung series 3: 15 to depot to replace old ones
          • 7 to science department on a cart to add to 5 already purchased
          • 12 for future distribution
    • 37 LeNovo X137 Chrome E-books for English to replace failing laptops (Windows-based)
12 to science as a cart – science is encouraging teachers to only use what are needed if students also have them.

  • 7 desk-top computers for science
  • Upgraded and expanding special ed work stations – 28 machines to replace aging desktops
  • Foundation funded 5 I-pads – G4s to bring to 12 total in Math, 2 HP desktops in WL, 1 I-pad for afternoon school, and a smart-response system for a math class.     
    • State of CT opened grant applications for $100,000 for equipment for Smarter Balance – we asked for 276 Samsung series 3 Chrome Books (11 carts).
    • Google Integration application funding – Apara – google apps for education hook-in – linked to curriculum
    • Up-graded science and math computer (2007) teacher stations with HP computers – monitors stayed same.
    WL Lab – tables, electrical just getting completed; computers almost completed. Should be finished within the next couple of weeks. 38 work stations. Blackboard Collaborate purchased – October 3 launch date.
    Other technology up-dates:
    • Google Apps for Education – all students and staff are on. Email goes to School Chrome books limited to school email.
    • Tech coaches still active – 10 stipend positions
    • HP printers now come with e-print that now accepts from domain for Chrome and I-pad printing.

    Summer on-line courses – Jon Swanson and Bill Green ran 2 courses – Jon had 9 students finish, and Bill 7 students. Lost about 25% of original enrollment. Courses this summer were much better due to the learning curve from last year.
    Software –
    • Moodle – summer sessions – 21 teachers – first-time learners. Now about 40 faculty who can use Moodle.
    Talent Ed is running our teacher evaluation system. Not using the state suggested one as did not have some of the __ we wanted. This program will also show strengths and weaknesses. All work done on-line. Seth and Bruce are being trained so that we can set up software the way we want.

    1. Parent Night – Lou will talk to freshmen parents re: technology, especially Chrome Books – practical from a student stand-point due to price and for what can access, especially with so many classes going on-line - $250 on Amazon.
    Many students are using phone apps in classroom and I-pads for various activities

    1. Next meetings: Software management, on-line courses, 3-D printers

    Bruce will send out suggested meeting days and times.
    Meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Nancy Silander
    Region 19 Board of Education Member

    Additional Notes;
    Seth gave us a very interesting insight into the way emails work under Google Apps for education.  Students are given a (first name) first initial, last name, anticipated graduating address.  For example;  Teachers are Same with administrators.
    These addresses are independent of any other gmail address anyone may have. So, for example, can still have a private address [or whatever else they decide to use] if they so chose.
    The school addresses are instrumented to eliminate spam and promote civil email exchange, all of which is in line with growing good virtual citizens.
    A sub-topic on this matter will be further discussed in later meetings - the possibility of keeping persistent addresses that our students and staff can synchronize their personal emails to after they leave.  This provides old students and friends who lose touch to write emails to the last known email address (say, and have that email potentially reach the individual its intended for.
    One of our future meetings will be dedicated to online learning.  Bill got slightly short-changed Tuesday evening.  We are all more interested in what he and Jon have learned.
    Moodle is amazing.  I attended the Parent's evening on Thursday and the older eBoard sites look very, very dated.  The Moodle sites are rich and aesthetically pleasing.  During the DLIC meeting, Alan noted that he was now familiar enough to be able to share reusable or tweakable lesson plans with other science faculty, something that makes individualizing instruction that much easier.
    I attended Lou's freshman orientation and the emphasis there was giving parents a comfort zone for their student's experience.  Not much was said about Chromebooks or digital learning but that's okay given the amount of information that needed to be disseminated.

    The school has a 3-D printer that is in disrepair but being mended.
    The DLIC will meet on the last Thursday of every month on a timetable that will vary.  We will also be dedicating a significant body of time in each meeting to a single, actionable topic.

    - Frank Krasicki, DLIC chair, EO Smith BOE

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 2013 EOS DLIC Meeting Agenda

Update: The March meeting is being postponed to April.  The Easter weekend is a long one for our staff and they deserve every minute of time-off that they earn.  See you all in April (date to be announced).

The EO Smith Digital Learning Committee will be meeting Thursday, March 28 from 5:30 pm  to 7:00 pm.  Our meetings end promptly.

The anticipated agenda will be:

Any unfinished business.

Any additional info about moving to Google as an email/apps platform.

Any other news or new business discussion.

We may also discuss Dr. Green's latest foray into digital teaching (so here we'll see some more classroom tools used in making his videos, and we'll talk about *HOW* we might put together a course that could be taught online including exercising Boundless in the making of such a course.

In keeping with our hands on approach, we are NOT going to debate the virtue of an online course - that will require some deep thinking that we can tackle in the coming months.  Here our interest is in exploring the degree of difficulty such a thing might require and secondly to simply aggregate all the issues that proceeding with such an endeavor might require.

The fictional course will be called How to Create a High School Online Course

We end our meetings at 7 sharp

Suggestions for topics are always invited and we're assuming Dr. Green will be available.

Dr. Green has already shared a Google diagram that is a reference point for the anticipated discussion.

These topics are subject to change based on availability of staff.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

February 2013 DLIC Meeting Minutes

February DLIC Meeting Minutes

In attendance; Bruce, Lou, Sue Palmberg, Brad, Nancy, Denise, Frank

This month's meeting was based on taking a deeper dive into the Google and Twitter applications. The links in these meeting notes are new references to the subjects discussed.

We tried accessing twitter to examine our #eoSmith, #eosDLIC, and #digitalLearning hashtags. Twitter still doesn't work on the student network – something that needs tending to.

We talked about the uses of twitter to:

We walked through the basics of Twitter which everyone more or less knew. Go to and sign up for an account and the account process is similar to every other sign up anyone will do.

We talked about the character limits and how to create hashtags (use a '#' sign and any keyword after it, for example #eosDLIC). We talked about the fact that an image can be tweeted by clicking on the camera icon that sits just below the text input box when creating a tweet.Clicking the icon allows you to upload an image.

Finally we talked about identity and the internet. Twitter and Facebook have become everyone's sanitized version of personal identity. It is rare to catch a glimpse of personality on these sights as everyone has figured out that these sights are searched by authority figures for personal anomaly.

As a consequence, many young people adopt alterego personnas elsewhere. One of those places is Tumblr (see:

We briefly discussed the need to dedicate a meeting to privacy and security and the existence of a fictonal phone number that's available to everyone was discussed (see: ).

The discussion switched to Google. We opened the DLIC email account to examine some of the lesser known features.

We found the Language preference drop-down list that allows the owner of the account to view the contents in whatever language is desired.

Next we attempted to create folders in Gmail and Drive. In Gmail folders are actually labels that mail can be categorized by (I (Frank) had forgotten that Gmail calls folders labels leading to some confusion).

In Gmail, by clicking on a specific email, then the 'Labels' Icon, a user can either assign that email to an existing label or create a new label that acts as a folder to separate similar emails into.

By clicking on the Account icon and the account link, we opened the gmail account settings page. Her Frank demonstrated creating an email filter that assigned an email from Ryan to a label [folder]. We discussed how creating filters for certain classes or assignments might be done. For example, the topic of an email could be prefixed with a unique assignment tag and then filtered to the appropriate label space.

Conversely, on Google Drive, clicking on the 'Create' icon lists a menu that includes creating a 'Folder' in which any Google doc can be saved.

A number of questions were raised and answered about Google Drive. We looked at the plug-in documents that are now available in Google Drive.

Sue thought the Graphing Calculator app (Desmos) was inadequate for replacing the school's graphing calculators.

Frank demoed and Bruce asked about Pert charts (in later correspondence, a Pert chart plug-in for spreadsheets was found).

Throughout the discussion, Lou initiated a new discussion that questioned whether or not EO Smith should convert the existing email infrastructure over to Google. After considerable debate a consensus developed that we should seriously consider migrating.

We discussed the desire to have all students get assigned a school-specific gmail account and how that might work. The goal is to enable every student regardless of income the ability to have their own application suite to use from anywhere.

Denise expressed a concern about the response time of the Google text-processing application to keep up with the load.

Frank recommended that students download and use LibreOffice off-line if Google is too slow and then upload the doc (see: ).

We also discussed student exposure to advertisements. This led to a demonstration of how to add extensions and add-ins to browsers. The AdBlock plug-in eliminates ads in Firefox. Chrome has something similar built-in.

We also looked at add-ins that automatically added citations to student research links and source material.

The last Google app we looked at is found on the google menu bar by clicking 'More' → 'Even More' → Fusion Tables → Forms. The Forms application allows the user to create forms that ask all kinds of questions. The Form is saved then shared with those who will answer the questions. When the Forms are submitted , the answers can be automatically tabulated in a spreadsheet the Form's creator has assigned.

Denise and Bruce will explore getting Gmail accounts for all teachers and students for Fall, 2013.

OPEN-SOURCE books – summer funding for teachers; and or explore doing one course using open-source books.

Bill Green will begin using Chrome books in his class.
Downloading anti-theft apps on Apples and Chrome books.

More Google apps exploring.

The meeting closed promptly at 8:00 pm.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Meeting Agenda

We are Meeting on Feb. 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm in Rm. 101.

Loosely the agenda for this meeting is:

How twitter works.

Explore the nooks and cranies of gmail and the google apps - filtering email, automatic test generation using forms, the graphic calculator, and whatever else might be of interest - there are a lot of hidden and useful settings.

Follow-up from last meeting;

Open source textbooks, cost, and opportunity - an on-going discussion.  Boundless, Curriki, and a Dr. Green candidate "CK-12" are all of interest.  The math department is requesting new texts with a video component that we hope to get demoed to the entire BOE.  Should we pilot a summer prototype written by some of our staff - Pick a subject?

Maybe, Naviance student planner component.

Progress on getting each academic subject area to define their absolute minimum requirements for their courses so that students could have a clear guide to buying an appropriate device.  Bruce is budgeting for devices.

How to encourage students to bringing in their own devices.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January DLIC Meeting Notes

Bruce, Lou, Sue Palmberg, Brad, Alan, and Frank Krasicki were all physically in attendance.  Dr. Green and Tim joined us in a Google hangout.

We started the meeting by attempting to choreograph a Google hangout using every conceivable device we had on hand.  Tim joined from home using a chromebook.  Dr. Green joined from home as well.

Alan's school desktop and video-cam nicely captured all of us in the classroom.  My (Frank Krasicki) Linux laptop had no problem joining the hangout.  Brad and Bruce could join using their ISP accounts. My Nexus Android had a dead battery so it was not tested.

The iPads however experienced network issues that became a takeaway action item (Alan) for the month.


To summarize the Google Hangout experiment - a successful and educational experience.

1.) We established that Google Hangouts could be successfully used by the committee for members who could not attend in person.

2.) We established that it is a great way to invite guests such as students and guest speakers to attend our meetings.

3.) Google HangOuts have classroom participation and sharing potential.

4.) They can (and will) be used at BOE meetings on occasion.


The second topic was Twitter which seems to be available on the school network's private channel but is spotty on the public (student) channel.  We plan to use Twitter more shortly.  Another action item (Frank).

Third, Dr. Green gave us an update on Moodle.  He mentioned some complications in migrating existing accounts that were successfully resolved.  Much of the teaching staff is slowly on-boarding (a good thing and as expected).

Fourth, we started a discussion about open source textbooks, cost, and opportunity - an on-going discussion.  Boundless, Curriki, and a Dr. Green candidate "CK-12" are all of interest.  The math department is requesting new texts with a video component that we hope to get demoed to the entire BOE.

Fifth, we plan on asking Doug Melody to give the committee an overview of the new Naviance student planner component.

Sixth is the expressed need to get each academic subject area to define their absolute minimum requirements for their courses so that students could have a clear guide to buying an appropriate device.

Seventh, the school is not seeing students bringing in their own devices in a critical enough mass for any teacher to be able to teach a lesson with devices enabled in the classroom.  Security seems to be one issue.  Newness a second.  Convenience may be a third.

We plan on shaking this out in the coming months.

End of formal meeting.


Bruce and I got together at his office Saturday to follow-up.  I brought a fully charged Android Nexus and the Hang-out attempts all timed-out.  We need to get this resolved.

We also talked more about creating opportunities for the staff to have the opportunity to better orchestrate their ideas about digital learning that may accelerate its classroom use.

I also discussed creating a Twitter account for the committee to begin soliciting student ideas.  i will put together a student newspaper article that details the specifics.  Bruce and Lou will review.

- by Frank Krasicki

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January DLIC Agenda

Wednesday January 23, 2013
7:30 P.M.
ROOM 101

This is our first meeting in a few months and after a stretch of busy holidays.

Here's the agenda:

 1. Round Table Discussion – Individual committee members can talk about their plans/initiatives, dreams and aspirations!
2. Update on “Bring Your Own Policy development.
3. Update on some device purchases – Chrome Books and IPads.
4. Discussion about the “textbook purchasing” dilemma.  Need to purchase text books because we don’t have enough devices for students.
5. Other 

Students Welcome!