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The Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Ed Leadership (@MCDPEL) is committed to working alongside students, alumni, faculty and outside of network practitioners to help educators understand our evolving, connected world.

The pages inside the Innovations Lab interface were  created by actual edleaders working in the field; these leaders are students and alumni of @MCDPEL, as questions at the onset of coursework inside the Digital Leadership module has generated responses across multiple incoming cohorts of students.

We know that around the world, many different social media mediums are being used for teaching, learning and leadership - however, the Program's recent study trip to Silicon Valley (#pennsv16) shed light on something that has us thinking deeply on the explosion of apps, sites and tools found in today's schools. PA Superintendent and MCDPEL graduate, Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss (@ziegeran), talks in depth of this observation across 30+ schools and companies in his post-trip post entitled So You Think You're A Digital Leader:

(Startups) "have (intentionally or unintentionally) circumvented leadership and gone straight to tech-enthusiastic teachers for feedback on product development. As I see it, too much technology use in our classrooms is about making the traditional content-push model more efficient. And because so few (teachers and leaders) are asking the right questions about how technologies and tech tools advance a more progressive vision for education, we get products and services that may seem great, but really do nothing but reinforce an outdated vision of learning. (full post)

Let's look at a social media tool we're using globally to plan the largest (free) 2016 conference for edleaders (happening on July 11, 2016), EdCamp Leadership. During the trip to Silicon Valley (full schedule here), our team sat down with the leadership and founders behind Remind, a free, mobile messaging interface aimed to "meet students and parents where they are." Remind is an example of a company who has made positive changes to their (previously) one-way tool, to align itself with the research on home-school partnerships (Epstein, 2011). As with Remind, our study team asked about the research behind various apps and start-ups throughout the week, and as our collective reflections will continue to be shared on the #pennsv16 blog and hashtag.

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While talking with Remind's leadership, we were able to understand the story behind the idea, the ups, downs and how it's evolved to reach the following metrics in only a few years: 

  • 35 million teachers, students, and parents use Remind worldwide
  • 20,000 principals use Remind
  • 50% of US public schools and 1 in 10 Title I schools have active Remind accounts.

As leaders, here are a few questions (not specific to Remind) we should be asking as educators and leaders with a increasingly challenging responsibility to maximize time and resources daily. 

  1. What role should formal school and organizational leadership play in the selection, support and evolution of the medium?
  2. Might Digital Leadership actually mean saying "No" to a staff member wanting to use a "high tech tool" depending on the circumstances and established culture of the school?
  3. With the "drinking from the firehose" situation of available apps and sites for today's educators, how can we (leaders and educators alike), make sure we're not spending too much time searching mining for new tools and more time digging deeper on what we're actually using to identify the metrics and impact it has on teaching, learning and/or leadership? 
  4. What level of research should be provided up front to parents, teachers and edleaders before an app or medium is able to go viral? Hit the App or Play Store? Because it's cool, fun or wildly engaging for kids mean it's good for kids?
  5. How can ed leadership programs engage in the process of beta-testing new ideas on an ongoing basis, providing feedback, possibly even partnering with companies to inform their products from a leadership lens? 

The #pennsv16 team is working on developing a comprehensive list of questions for companies encouraging educators to consider their product over 2+ million other apps (via Techcrunch, 6/2015) to choose from. 


The use of Remind for text alerts out to stakeholders (with 2-way options) is one of the social media tools being used to keep EdCamp Leadership Organizers around the world in sync during the planning process through the July 11th event. Following the event, the @MCiLAB will take in in depth look into a variety of social media tools used before, during and after the professional learning process before posting a follow-up report. Subscribe to the Innovations Lab (upper left) to be informed of related news, social media research and events. 

USE CASE 1: INT'L EDCAMP LEADERSHIP, 7-11-16

So if you're an EdCamp Leadership Organizer (already 44 states will host events 7-11-16), follow the steps here to start receiving 1x/week text alerts to keep you and your team up to speed. Remind will once again serve as a sponsor for EdCamp Leadership this summer. Othercompanies interested in sponsoring the event in a way that benefits all participants should contact Hadley Ferguson or Joe Mazza before May 1st, 2016.

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Other Resources:

Visit the following resources, and use the comment section to make additional requests or add your own context to the use case. Doctoral students may be asked to respond during related coursework, so be sure to check back. 

  • Voxer
  • Periscope
  • Twitter
  • Coming May 1, 2016: Slack for EdLeaders
  • Have an idea for a resource? Use the comments below to share

These evolving resources are aimed to provide the exposure to school leadership realities and serve as a virtual Innovations Lab for edleaders.The selecton of tools referenced here is not aimed to support one company over another, but to expose today's edleaders to the realities in which they might need to ''swim in the waters' to understand the situation well enough to lead safely, effectively and innovatively.

Questions? Contact Leadership Innovation Manager, Joe Mazza at [email protected].

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