Sweat the Small Stuff

My school district open it’s doors to students on August 15, 2016. It was my 13th year in a leadership role overseeing opening of school as a technology leader. Anxious parents, new students, excited teachers, and leaders throughout the district work together to ensure it was a good first day. And in all the years I have opened schools from a district office perspective, this year was by far the best.  The network was ready as were the classrooms due to the collaborative effort of two departments dancing all summer long.  The Maintenance Department and Dublin Unified had the best summer in the history under their Director Mike Benzien. The Technology Services Department also had the best summer and much of that can be attributed to the staff themselves.Capture2

Our calendar changed in the winter and we were notified we would have one less week to prepare for 2016-2017 school year during summer. Mike and I began to meet in early February and map out how we could achieve the goals of opening school as well as adding six brand new classroom buildings to one of our middle schools.  We also moved all of our professional development to the Nielson Ed Center as a result of these early meetings. We spent the spring preparing that site with 3 to 4 new rooms that could accommodate up to 200 teachers for their professional development.  It has become one of the projects that Mike and I are most proud of as leaders of the district. Capture7

When I notified my department of the news that we would have one week less during summer you could imagine they were quite distressed envisioning the task at hand. We knew we needed a new approach to the work and I went to them directly for the solution.  I picked three team members all with a unique skill sets to plan how to approach the summer work as a team and achieve more tasks in less time.
The trio met a couple of hours and came up with a wonderful approach to the summer model. Each department member would partner with another in a very specialized areas as follows:

Deep cleaning team
Re-connection team
Imaging team
Student inventory team
Network team
Classroom move steam
New classrooms (x32) setup
Inventory team
Project team

They worked with each member of the 11 person department to determine who wanted which team. And with cherry picked student workers we began a journey as a new department working with a focus on projects and everybody in a leadership role.

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On a daily basis we had to pivot and shift based on the needs of the Maintenance Department. We also moved around a lot based on our own progress in our specialized teams. There were days that a site was not ready for imaging yet, so we shifted and moved to other sites or reassigned projects for the day to team leaders. There was a lot of fluidity on a daily basis and also required flexibility occasionally hour by hour.Capture1

Not only did the Maintenance Department finish one week early, but the six new classrooms were done.  Our department worked right up to the Sunday prior with key staff fine-tuning rooms to ensure the readiness for day one. The feedback we received during the first week of school was like nothing I have ever experienced in any year prior. All of the small stuff that we accomplished like removing antiquated technology, plugging holes, fixing wiring, cleaning runways, and little touches like remote controls attached with a bungee to every TV seem to be noticed by many of our teachers and staff.  Capture6

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I know not every district has the ability to have the manpower we had this summer with student workers, but I am convinced that a team approach with all members of the team in leadership roles is the way to go to accomplish goals. This model will be the new way our department works as a group on a daily basis. As I tell them often, we are one team each with areas of specialization and we complement one another skills with an awareness of what our limitations are and what we bring to the table.

 

What I learned…new school year & change is coming…

I have written a variety of series breaking down the key learnings that I observed with teachers, coaches, and administrators. Today I am going to selfishly reflect on my own takeaways from the recent leadership summit that occurred at the Dublin Unified School District.  Our retreat occurred over a day and a half. It began early in the morning with a breakfast crafted to provide ample time for networking and check-ins with leaders that have been gone for the duration of summer. We were intentionally grouped at tables in non-job alikes. School site administrators sat amongst district administrators and department heads. There was a mixture of veteran and new leaders at every table. This approach set the tone for what we would experience over the course of the next and a half. Visiting with others in our district that we would generally not work with on a daily basis was a great opportunity to form and ignite relationships.

Our new superintendent, Dr. Leslie Boozer, began the day by telling her personal story. It was an opportunity for everyone in the room to learn about Leslie and her background in a very meaningful manner. There is a lot of buzz in leadership right now about telling our story and encouraging principals especially to begin social media accounts to begin combating negative information that is in our news media and often on social media in our district. The personal story she told was not scripted nor did it feel disingenuous. She modeled what I will assume she would like each of us to do (especially for new leaders) in Dublin Unified.

We rotated through concepts as a group and learned about elements of the district. A gallery walk with imagery/data graphs showing the history of Dublin Unified and our current academic and social/emotional climates in our schools.

I am fortunate that I work with all departments on a regular basis in my role. Many of our staff do not get a chance to sit in Educational Services meetings learning about academic and other elements of “the work”. I heard many administrators share how grateful they were for that exposure.

The afternoon was followed by an actual board game we played with new groups on the topic of change. The board game was a wonderful opportunity to play with some very challenging concepts:

How do you move change through an organization? How do you deal with naysayers? How do you capitalize on anyone with any social influence to help spread your vision?

Following the change board game, we were all invited to have an informal dinner together which allowed for more networking and debriefing from the day.

Our next day began with a dynamic presenter on the topic of cultural relevance. It is a topic that many of the administrators in the district were hungry for. As we debriefed this element of the day as a team, it became a fast highlight for many administrators. Now we know we have begun the conversation. More on this topic as that story unfolds.


The above was in a folder at every table for administrators. I want to emphasize no one ever was asked to pull out this new org chart, nor was any mention made that it was even in the packet. This very subtle way of introducing a very powerful new org chart to our organization was much appreciated. And the fact that Leslie put students at the top of this org chart tells me how important the work this year is going to be as we lay the framework with a new era of leadership in a high-performing district. I personally am very excited about what’s next on the horizon. We have an incredible group of leaders in Dublin Unified. I feel very grateful to be a member of this team.

Everything Student Centered

Over the course of the past two school years, Dublin High School has had experiences with internally prompted DOS attacks. What does this mean? I am very confident stating that we had students that were hacking by way of bots pulling our network down with a good old fashion saturation of packets. This is troublesome for many high schools across the country. In my past three districts, we had students hacking into systems to sell grade changes, cause disruption prior to exams, and hack for the bragging rights.

This topic is prime for a very real and robust digital citizenship model.  We had worked with various law enforcement agencies and had challenges in getting results due to a lack of precedent set for minors violating cyber security laws. In meetings with the high school, staff wanted to have a list of potential offenders and then remove their access to technology. My red flag- they would only add fuel to the fire. I proposed another approach which is as follows:

Ask the students involved in Leadership to begin a marketing and public relations campaign to stop bullying via hacking at the high school. Students created flyers and submitted their art for consideration. The video production department let students script, direct, and star in short videos on the topic with the soul message of “stop hacking”.

The campaign began in the late spring of 2016 and ran through the end of the school year. Posters created by the high school students are now on every classroom wall at the high school and at the district office. The first video has run a number of times at the high school during morning announcements.

The campaign being led by students for students is the most powerful way to instill change.  Teachers that were initially concerned about the idea have since shared they have found it to be very effective as a delivery for messaging.

And since the beginning of the hacking campaign, I am happy to say we have had no internally prompted hocks occur at the high school as a result.  It may not mean that they will stop altogether, but when it does begin, students will be empowered to address it with their peers.  And you and I both know the students know exactly who’s hacking the system.

For the past 14 years, I have been supporting teachers in delivering digital citizenship professionally with their peers and to their students in their classrooms. Moving into the 2016-2017 school year, my plan is to do a student centered delivery of digital citizenship at all secondary campuses in the district.  We have great teams of leadership students that want to make a difference on their campuses and we have Character Ed programs that will be great frameworks for the delivery of digital citizenship. I’m envisioning high school and middle school students visiting elementary schools and delivering the same type of digital citizenship concepts to the upper grade classrooms.

Commonsensemedia.org is the district adopted platform for digital citizenship and Dublin has reframed the name from digital citizenship to digital tattoo.  The leadership students at the secondary level campuses will receive professional development on the topic and have conversations about the best way to deliver. Video, badging system, and collaboration opportunities are all on the table for consideration. My plan is to create space and time and allow the students to work out all the details. Everything student centered.

Making is a mindset, not a strategy.

The maker movement  which began in the Bay Area of California roughly 12 to 15 years ago has become a hot term in education as recent as the fall of 2015.

Some see it as the next potential silver bullet to transform an age old institution. Some see it as the flavor of the week by over enthusiastic teachers and administrators who are always looking for the next thing. The maker movement  is just that, it’s a movement.

The spirit of the maker movement is a revisiting of an age old concept. Makers, a.k.a. entrepreneurs and inventors are not new to our culture. Inventing brought our country and others to the Industrial Age. Inventing also brought the world to the Information Age.

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We now call it making, hacking, crafting as common terms. In 2015, at the MakerFaire in the Bay Area, early entry on Friday began as an opportunity for schools to see and experience the maker movement . In 2016, the morning of that Friday, a workshop was held for administrators and teachers who want to begin makerspaces at their school sites.

And making in classrooms and schools is not a new concept. Teachers and school sites have been doing projects since the inception of education as a delivery for instructional goals.  There is a lot of excitement and a new push towards making in schools. I caution teachers and administrators to not fall into getting on board this popular concept. It is not a strategy that can be used in the classroom like silent sustained reading. It is really a mindset in the way that you approach your instructional practices and the culture at your school site promoting a spirit of inventing an entrepreneurship with students.

What this may look like for your classroom and your school culture depends a lot on your students. Are they excited about the idea of being makers? Do they understand the value and the importance of risk-taking and failure? Are they encouraged to own their educational roadmap and take risks?

In my own district, over the course of the last year and a half, we have begun to have explorations around the maker movementCapture1.PNG

We are creating spaces and opportunities in libraries and on campuses where students can explore and demonstrate their learning in differentiated ways. We have no answers and have many questions. We are encouraging our students to bring their maker practices from home to school. That bridge between what many students are doing at home for the love of hacking and exploring and the required schoolwork will create a stronger community overall.

In my own technology department, we have attended the Friday MakerFaire  event as a department PD so my staff can support teachers and students that want to hack their education. I will also say that naturally, IT departments often operate in the spirit of the maker movement. On a daily basis, we hack solutions that will fulfill the needs of our students and staff. It’s a natural fit for school based technology departments to be hackers. If you are thinking about a makerspaces for your classroom or school, do it.  There is everything to be gained in instilling an inventing/hacking mindset in curious minds. And, they are doing it at home already-bridge it.

Follow our progress at #celebratedublin and @tr_bo.

The power of partnerships

In 2003, with a toddler and a long career in the private sector, I chose to circle back to where I began in public education. I re-entered as a district administrator in Pittsburg Unified. I stayed in that position for nine years and had a great opportunity to collaborate on projects with other district leaders in other departments. In Pittsburgh, collaboration across departments was expected as an element of a functional professional learning community. We were encouraged to meet the needs of all students in our specialized areas. During my time there, partnering with other departments was obvious.
In the private sector, different departments are expected also to work towards a common goal. There is very little leeway given to departments that are isolated in nature and non-collaborative as a an approach to the work.

I have been in three districts since re-establishing my commitment to public education. At each district I have seen great examples of district level partnerships across departments who have members committed to our only goal: educating students. I have also seen departments that do not believe there is anything to be gained in partnerships. How many have you heard this comment, “that’s not my department. “. Those four simple words can cause ongoing ripples in the system that directly impact student learning.

In my current district, I am very lucky to have a partnership with the Director of Maintenance and Operations, Mike Benzien. He is an absolute pro and on a daily basis over extends his reach in an effort to ensure all students have a quality educational experience.  Because of his attitude towards his work, he and I very quickly established a partnership that has served us and the district well. We are entering our second summer together and our approach is very simple tech follows maintenance.  When I meet with my department on the topic of summer planning I reiterate the statement often. Tech follows maintenance. This approach is as follows: Tech needs to prep the room, maintenance cleans the room, Tech put the room back together. Over and over and over across 11 campuses this is the mantra.

This spring break, Technology and Maintenance embarked upon a very aggressive schedule. Both departments worked extremely hard towards the same goal: preparing spaces for learning. And following the mantra mentioned above, Tech followed Maintenance.

When we begin our very short summer with our very long list of projects we will not be alone as a department but rather a partner with Maintenance. The power of partnerships are as critical as the power of relationships. Do you have a district department that you are not working well with? Have you ever approached department leadership and asked them if they would like to partner on a project?

Please feel free to add your comments on this topic. It is not one that has been given much thought or attention but I believe it’s a real gem worth considering.

A new kind of Professional Development for TOSA’s (a.k.a: Coaches) Series: Part 2

Dublin Unified has 10 Full time release academic coaches that are specialists in subject areas. We also have a fair number of edtech coaches that are full-time teachers paid a stipend to support teachers at their sites with technology integration.
The needs of these two groups vary. academic coaches are expected to be both subject matter experts and savvy with technology so that any lesson can be infused with some form of integration. Building the capacity of edtech coaches and academic coaches can be met with the same approach: ask them what they need and support them with ongoing targeted professional development.  Professionals that are asked to do something beyond educate children, moving into the area of educating adults, are not often given the tools necessary to be successful in schools. There is an assumption that great teachers make great coaches. I have not always found that to be true.

At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, I surveyed all coaches around their individual professional development needs. There were very different needs. Academic coaches wanted to learn iPads for modelling instruction and video for filming & sharing with teachers. The edtech coaches wanted to learn about Google Classroom, tips and tricks with browser functionality, and best practices for their own toolkits.  So began a year long series of professional development delivered sometimes in person and sometimes via Google Hangouts. The monthly focused meetings that occurred with both groups often included a professional development component with homework and sharing with one another what they had discovered and learned and how they would infuse it into their own practice.

Now at the end of the 2015-2016 school year during final meeting with both groups, I asked they reflect on their year’s worth of focused meetings with a professional development element. The discoveries that were made and shared with one another drove much of what we will attempt to achieve as a group in 2016-2017.

Most of the coaches shared that they had grown significantly with technology integration in their own daily work, as well as the professional development that they deliver to teachers at school sites. Google Classroom was a big win for our school district the school year as was the full integration of Google Drive and Google Apps for Education to meet the needs of our student body. We focused a lot this year on the use of Google Hangouts as a venue for meetings, staff development, and classroom instructional practice.

As we move into 2016-2017, I believe our coaches will be far better equipped to utilize the suite of tools at their fingertips in integrating technology more thoroughly in classrooms across all school sites. The focal point of our work in 2016-2017 will be furthering our exploration of Google Classroom related to instruction, the use of video for students and staff for their own learning, and blended learning models.

My goal as the CTO is to keep the rhythm of the work that has been outlined in the Learning & Technology Plan at the focal point of technology integration with teachers and staff. In 2014-2015, we kept our professional development goals related to technology integration to three tools: Google, blended learning, and online videos on demand.The same areas will be the focus of the 2016-2017 school year keeping it simple and keeping it consistent with options to dive deep into only a few tools to further everybody’s exposure and comfort level.

A New Kind of Professional Development for EDU Information Technology Staff Series: Part 1

As the landscape for teachers, coaches, and administrators change in education with a formal push towards common core and 21st century classrooms, there is a great opportunity to bring Information Technology staff along for the ride. Historically, Information Technology staff in schools did not have many opportunities for formal professional development. Organizations like CETPA were the only one of its kind delivering professional development occurring annually at their conference. Relying on the tech industry for professional development was often challenging because technology in schools is not the same as technology in private industry. Many IT shops in education have relied on internal professional development to meet the needs of a very curious hungry workforce. I personally know many IT professionals in schools who spend the bulk of their free time learning new tools that help them become more efficient in their work delivering seamless solutions to classrooms.

In January 2015 I took the position of Chief Technology Officer for Dublin Unified in Dublin California. It was a brand new position and part of the job description was defined by setting vision for the department in delivering services to staff and students. With a background in educational technology delivering professional development to teachers in other districts,  I jumped at the opportunity to innovate with a new team.

In my first month, I set two hour meetings with staff individually to create professIMG_2854ional development goals for the year. The conversation was introduced by encouraging department staff to dedicate two hours a week to a topic that would benefit them professionally in the workplace. Those goals would be achieved in a timeline with milestones and communication with leadership around needs. In two hours a week, many staff worked toward certification in key areas that benefited the team and the district overall. Those individual meetings also helped me understand what was needed for the whole team. This wall of certificaitons didn’t exist prior to the spring of 2015.

I then began outlining an effort to convert department meetings to professional development opportunities. In our weekly meeting occurring  weekly for an hour+, there is rarely a time when we cover nuts and bolts. Team based thinking, processing, and topics are introduced to support one another and the district overall. Examples of some of the department meeting topics are as follows:

Networking 101
WiFi deep dive
Running projects as a team
Identify site needs via a gallery walk
Good old-fashioned customer service

In May of 2015, site Computer Technicians went to the Friday Makerfaire event geared towards educators. This was the department introduction to the Maker model that we are now moving towards as a department to be equipped to support sites that are moving to 21st-century project-based learning. Fast forward one year and the whole department will be attending as a team. We are procuring a 3-D printer, MakeyMakey kits, Little Bit’s, Arduino’s, Rasberry Pi’s, Spheros,  & breadboards all as a result of this initial exposure. We are one step ahead of our school sites and will be prepared to provide support and teach alongside our teacher counterparts.

That is a first for our department! Another example of focused professional development occurred in December 2015. The whole team embarked upon a competitive hour of code Capturewith the only goal of being able to turn around and support sites that wanted to offer hour of code to the student body. To date, one Computer Technician in the department has teamed up with a teacher leading hour of code for Title I students in an afterschool format. We are only beginning to scratch the potential of becoming a service based organization that can add value to the classroom beyond hardware tech support.

Shifting the culture of the department has been met positively by the majority of team members. The spark has been lit in some staff that are veteran as an additional outcome. No longer are we considered the tech that can fix your computer, rather wear now seen as a value add to the organization. I’ll keep you posted as we move forward on this very exciting topic with classified staff in a K-12 public school district. #Speak IT 

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BYOD by Design

Creating a school culture and a district perspective on BYOD requires a slow thoughtful approach with all stakeholders.  A year ago when I began my position as the 1st CTO of Dublin Unified, one of the first tasks as the first CTO of the school district was to review social media and acceptable use policy’s with the Board.  This may not seem like a critical first step as the first CTO for a school district, and in hindsight it was the right one. As I made revisions toall technology board policies and administrative regulations, I began thinking about where we needed to go on our journey with a 21st-century technology integration. 

Over a number of years, the district had rolled out a lot of technology in classrooms for teachers and was at the beginning of rolling out technology for students. 3400 chrome books had been deployed the year before. The need for procedures and policies was evident as the next natural step.  I knew I wanted to change the acceptable use policy to an opt in model. That eased paperwork and tension at the beginning of every year by auto opting in all students that would use technology on the first day of school.  I also have to admit I am a fan of BYOD models. I believe BYOD is far more financially sustainable, yet they are not as popular as one to one in schools currently.  


 This fall, I proposed a BYOD policy to the Superintendent and he was willing to entertain the idea. I began doing homework and discovered there were no BYOD board policies I could find in the State of California at any school district. When I began a search nationally, I came across very few formal board adopted BYOD policies in any school district.  I pulled the best of what I could find and began drafting the BYOD policy that went to our Board this winter. The initial request from the Board members was to involve student voice to ensure they had an opportunity to say what they wanted to see happen in the language. Work was also done at the Technology Advisory Committee level as well as with targeted classrooms in fifth and eighth grade.  

Once the acceptable use opt in policy and the new BYOD policy were board adopted, I began the work of compiling class rules that would be edited by the same student groups that contributed to the board policy.   

    
    
   
All of the work is now done with a board policy, a BYOD agreement, a BYOD FAQ, and BYOD classroom rules procedures.  All of the documents have been turned over to school principals and they have been tasked with taking to their leadership teams, their parents, their teachers, and their student body:

All documents can be found here: dublin.k12.ca.us/Page/9492

The value of having a BYOD policy and all items mentioned above assures parents, teachers, administrators, Board members, and the Superintendent that there is a legal framework to protect all parties.  Technology policies, agreements, & procedures are not sexy as other elements of tech integration. They are critical for school districts to be legally compliant and protected. I believe it also shows a level of commitment that speaks to the integration beyond the hardware.

A new kind of Professional Development for TOSA’s (a.k.a: Coaches) Series: Part 1

Dublin Unified has a fair amount of Academic Coaches. They are full time release teachers whose sole mission is to assist classroom teachers in fine tuning their art and science of teaching. There are also EdTech Coaches who receive a stipend to do the same effort on a smaller scale. These individuals have a full classroom that they have to teach and support daily. In addition they will troubleshoot and interact with teachers that want to integrate technology into their instruction.

Through a variety of discussions with Dr. Sarah Breed, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Dublin Unified, we agreed this group of teachers would benefit from some professional development targeted to support them in their effort to support others.

We agreed on a full day of release with a focal point on progressive PD models that we could model and intern expect that they deliver to their teachers in staff meetings, in one on one sessions, and grade level collaboration time. I was very fortunate to have creative discretion over the content for the day. See our theme!

I chose to build a model that was a blend of EdCamp, CUE Rockstar, and ISTE playground environments.  These approaches to professional development are a blend of ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) and CUE (Computer Using Educators). The professional development models deviate from the “stand and deliver” “sage on the stage” that teachers have been complaining about for generations.

We began the morning with an hour long session introducing EDTech coaches to the maker model. The Technology Services Department staff were brought together and assigned stations and for one hour. EdTech Coaches floated between stations every 10 to 15 minutes to have an experience like none other.

One station was the marshmallow challenge, simplified. IMG_1818Another station was the personalization station, a place were teachers were encouraged to decorate their laptops. The stickers I chose for the station focus on anti-bullying, superheroes, and positive role-models that the students will see on their teacher’s laptops in the classrooms. Another station was called the Tech Genius Bar, several of my staff assisted teachers with any support they needed with hardware and software on their work laptops and personal devices.  My personal favorite, was the green screen station with the DoInk. IMG_1817The EdTech Coaches used props and could shoot photos and/or videos with the green screen to show them how simple the tool was to use.

 

 

 

After that, teachers had choice between two sessions that ran one hour long. There was a district focus on certain applications only and included Google Classroom.  IMG_1827

During lunch, and APP Smash was offered and teachers gathered their favorite apps and extensions in one Google sheet and had two minutes to share and present their information to others. By having the APP Smash data gathered on a Google sheet, nothing was missed and an EdTech coach that was attempting to download an extension during that two minutes did not have to worry about also writing down the name of the next APP coming in line because it was a very fast-paced moving experience.

The final session of the day was delivered by two Super Power Coaches (KELLY HILTON  @KELLYIHILTON & SARAH LANDIS  @SARAHLANDIS from Pleasanton Unified School District on the topic of #hyperdocs. Sarah & Kelly were offered a opportunity to try out new material and take risks since they were not with their own district staff.

The value this brought to the afternoon session, I feel, was invaluable. It is a very rare occasion, where teachers are encouraged to take risks and when professional development is often delivered, due to the cost, there is generally a need for certain deliverables as an end result. I found the afternoon session that ran for one and a half hours was the most powerful time of the whole day. I plan on bringing Coaches from other districts in to train our Coaches as a model moving forward. We are still awaiting evaluation feedback from the session, I’ll keep you posted.

MinecraftEDU: Technically Speaking

As you know, Microsoft acquired Minecraft and made the announcement in December of 2015. This past week, Microsoft announced the acquisition of MinecraftEDU. They have rebranded it and it is now called Minecraft Education Edition (MinecraftEE).  For many of us in education that have invested in MinecraftEDU it begs the question, what now?

During the annual bett http://www.bettshow.com/ conference in the UK, Microsoft had a large booth set up and opportunities for people to explore MinecraftEE due out this summer worldwide. Sessions were offered and mentors were available to assist teachers and administrators alike in previewing the new version.
I followed the http://www.bettshow.com/ conference on Twitter and had an opportunity to ask a couple questions of key people at Microsoft. My first big question was what programming language is the new version of MinecraftEDU built on. MinecraftEE is built on C++. The current version of Minecraft and Minecraft EDU are both created in JAVA. What does this mean for education? C++ will be less of a beast to manage in IT departments. It still has yet to work on a Chromebook, but will work on tablets like the current PE (Pocket Edition) does.  With the new platform, there will be increased functionality and a new interface that will allow for personalization and student profiles.

Here’s the before and after for MinecraftEDU:

In the current version of MinecraftEDU, I can buy a license for $14. That license can be installed on the computer and have as many users as I would like to have rotate through that environment. The + for that is budget. The – is that students cannot save their local projects very easily  due to a lack of a unique signin.

In the new version of MinecraftEDU, I will spend five dollars per student annually. This new pricing structure, will be difficult for many districts if they want a districtwide utilization of this new tool. Students will login with the unique identifier and be able to keep all of their work under that credential. It will be interesting to see if this tool will work in a pure web-based interface or if there will be a need for a client install. We will know more on this topic. In the coming months. 

In the current version of MinecraftEDU, users can create custom mods that essentially modify the game. That part of Minecraft & MinecraftEDU has had great appeal with users as it feels very much like an open source community based application.

In the new version of MinecraftEDU, mods are not currently available. We will have to see once the platform is released how much control users will have at the code level. Can they modify the code and reimport like they can now? Will there be as much sharing in the Minecraft community that we currently see where there is no limits to the users creativity?

Many programmers will tell you that C++ is a far more reliable platform then JAVA. From a programming perspective and a user experience perspective, this may be an advantage. We will no once we have a chance to experience the new version.

 

For classrooms, schools, and districts that are considering MinecraftEE need to weigh the pros and cons for the budget, the ease of use, and a comparison of the functionality prior to making a decision. In my district, I have essentially 100 licenses of the current version. Beginning this summer, Minecraft EE will be available to my district for free for one year.

 

 My strategy is to continue to use the current version (MinecraftEDU), and compare it to the new version (MinecraftEE) prior to making the budget decision to move all students to the more expensive version of MinecraftEDU. I feel confident within a year our students will tell us which platform they prefer. The Microsoft version of MinecraftEDU is going to be a more expensive deployment then the current version of MinecraftEDU. Budget will not be my main data factor, but it should be yours if you are brand new to the tool and considering the deployment in the next year. Check back for updates as the story unfolds. In the meantime, happy world building in Minecraft EDU.