Saturday, July 28, 2012

KDE: There's an App for That

KDE launched a new app for iPhone/iPad this week and it looks pretty good. I give it an A-.
The Commish has been pretty tech-savvy and the new app pulls together KDE content effectively.
My only complaint is that the KDE website still treats the curriculum like a mystery. If you know where to look - or as my students say, if you are willing to spend too much time searching for them, and being distracted by the old combined curriculum document and crosswalk - they are there. But the app would have been a good opportunity to create ONE TAB where all curriculum resides. 

Instead of using KDE as a resource, many Kentucky educators use the Common Core app. Principals cean carry it into classrooms on their phone during observations.This is fine, I suppose, but not really. Any differences reflected in Kentucky will be missed and that's no way to coordinate a bunch of schools.

The new KDE app is a great opportunity to put Kentucky Standards into the hands of Kentucky principals inside Kentucky classrooms.

KDE says,
A new app for iPhones, iPads and iPods [not for Android, yet] compiles content from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to enhance communications on education-related matters across the state.
The free KDE News app is available through iTunes here. The app is designed to provide users with immediate access to many items housed on the KDE website, including:
  • Kentucky Teacher Magazine
  • Messages to Superintendents and Teachers
  • Headlines
  • Education Commissioner Terry Holliday’s Blog
  • Videos
  • Kentucky Education Technology System (KETS) Tech Tips
  • Photo Gallery 
The app is the latest in a line of technology products from KDE to help the agency share information and provide transparency. A Windows Mobile version of the app also is in development.


Anonymous said...

One of the most interesting, and foolish things KRS did, was halt the sending of the publication Kentucky Teacher. Now I am so far removed from Doctor Holliday that I couldn't tell you what he is up to or what is going on in other school districts. I always read the paper newsletter when it came, though, but I'm usually too tired to access the KDE website.

KDE has suddenly become more remote to most teachers. In a way, it was a great way for KDE to save money, but I've lost touch with me state superintendent of education.

Richard Day said...

The power of the internet has undoubtedly been its utility as a stable information repository and communications conduit. That said, we've all had to change our habits to get at the information we need. When websites are well-designed, it's easy.

Like you, I suspect, I like my old school printed texts, but for the reasons you cite, KDE (and just about everybody else) is changing to online information sharing. I guess we will all have to get used to it - but we get a ton in return.

For those who shift to mobile technologies, they will find a Commissioner who is "out there" to a much greater degree than any of his predecessors - if only because the new technologies allow him to be.

In exchange for your paper copy, KDE has now made it possible for you to get Kentucky Teacher on your portable device along with back issues - I suspect - anywhere, at any time.

But if KDE is missing much of its target audience (Kentucky teachers) that's a problem. My belief is that technology becomes useful when it satisfies the needs of its audience and is so well designed that it become the "go to" source for a certain type of information. Like a book - the best technologies become mundane because everybody needs it and has it.

As for the Commissioner, here's what you missed in a nutshell: Holliday got on the Obama/Gates bandwagon early and has stayed on board. He's strong on national standards and assessment, a little more moderate on using student test scores to evaluate teachers and just mildly supportive of charters. He has been repeatedly handed a lousy budget but doesn't mind saying so out loud. The state board recently agreed to keep him around to do more of same. : )

Anonymous said...

I am on the same page with the first contributor. One of the most significant misunderstandings about eletronic communication is that if one sends it, that it is inturn not only read but understood and followed through on. With that said, think about how many messages you get a day and how many either end up in the trash can or so convoluted and detailed with information that you don't have time to truly read and understand them. It is my opinion, that tHere is a complete lack of in thoughtful dialogue between most electronically communicating parties. The commish can boast as much as he wants about visiting each district in the state but like the first contributor, I sense he is out of touch with what is really going on in schools. It is as though he feels he can ramrod whatever he wants down state educators throats, no mater how impractical or unsupported. I don't see any dialogue between him and educators, just the commish sending out countless electronic initiative and expectations with the explanation that we have to do it or we won't get the fed $ or else our kids will be working in Chinese goulogs (sp?).

It is my perception that a small handful of individuals are imposing their perceptions of what should be done at the school levels without any meaningful imput from the educators who are working with students each day. Telling folks they have toolbox, webinars and tweetfests as a means of support just doesn't cut it when you are trying to implement the myriad of changes and initiatives which keep coming down the pipe. THe guy hasn't done squat to get everybody on board with at least some of the main initiatives. Now a days it is just another email from Frankfort or a front office person telling you have to do something without any imput. Its as though the collective million plus years of experience thoughout all Kentucky classrooms has not even enough value to be incorporated into any conversation about priorities and practices which will best serve our kids.

Example in point, we just learned last week that these program reviews in writing, practical living and A & H which we spent an enormous amount of time last year creating, reviewing and gathering artifacts are actually not going to be reviewed each year, rather one should be worked each every three years with the others rotating on the other alternating years. What? All I heard last year was we had to do this because it was going to be part of our accountability score and before we are even one year out they are changing the rules on us. Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate the reduction in busy work by 2/3 but the bottom line is most educators and adminstrators could have told them this type of annual program review was over kill but instead of listening to those darm entrenched, lazy educators in the field we get pie in the sky expectations which take away from direct time with students and result in questionally accurate reports which even the state can't monitor and basically have very limited value. We are cutting arts right and left in order to get reading and math scores up and you want me to do a program review of something your own value system doesn't endorse.

Sorry but we are talking about serving children not how the state can pretend to be leading us through surrogate electronic means.

Richard Day said...

Sure, I take your point.

As for the Commissioner ramrodding whatever he wants down teachers' throats - that's pretty much what he was hired to do, right? ...implement SB 1 without any money and without taking a referendum from teachers on whether or not they like it.

And you're certainly correct that while KDE does invite comments, there hasn't been to much dialogue that invites changing course...until very recently when the Prichard Committee started gathering some. (Reminds me: I need to do a piece on that.)

I would quibble with your vote count. My read is that nationally a majority of Rs and Ds are on-board with the corporate reform movement s promoted by those with money to hand out - Duncan, Gates, Walton, Broad....

I'm not sure the way change is communicated down the line from Frankfort to Superintendents, to Principals, to Teachers is all that different from the implementation of KERA - but the pipeline is bigger while KDE staff is smaller.

Your point about Program Reviews is well-taken. That concept was a disaster on the blackboard...and now in the field. I see no way they can result in productive activity and I'd prefer they simply went away so that teachers could spend their time in meaningful activity for students. It reminds me of all the time wasted trying to implement the Primary Program.

At inception, everyone was (rightly) concerned that without "something" writing instruction may well suffer - and that's not good, so somebody came up with program reviews.

But I think we have to count changes to Program Review requirements as a positive example of the Commissioner reacting to complaints from the field. The way I heard it, Holliday got an earful from some pretty good folks and that caused the change.

Anonymous said...

Point taken, but I still think that the Commish and his crew are too quick to force implementation without much practical input from the folks on the ground. THey might just be able to offer not only some practical insights but perhaps even help head off disasters like the program reviews. It seems like SB 1 has become the global justification for anything that those in ed. power individually feel is best without working with those who are actually doing the teaching each day. Really in a very generalized perspective, how can we as a state agree to all the tax money we are sending out of state to pay for multiple vendor assessments while we are cutting teaching staff? It is like spending money on an expense hose to water your garden but not being able to pay your water bill.