Tag Archives: TechTuesdays

Resources for tomorrow’s #TechTuesday topic with parents at @The_School: Safer Online Behavior

When I started offering monthly TechTuesdays for the parents at The School at Columbia University back in January of 2013, it was kind of a bust. I wanted to use edcamp’s unconference style of crowdsourcing topics on the day of the event, so I was hoping that whoever showed up could/would decide what we were going to discuss. That wasn’t too successful. Less and less parents showed up, some only wanted a bit of tech support for their iPhone, and it became an awkward and humbling experience. Ultimately, I was ready to drop the whole idea of a parent coffee about technology all together.

But then, The School purchased a couple of Google Glass devices, and it occurred to me that I could choose a topic that might appeal to a lot of people: Wearable Technologies. So in March of 2014, I rallied a teacher who was prototyping with Glass in her class and two parents who were early adopters, and they agreed to guest star at the inaugural Tech Tuesday. It was a big hit! Lots of parents came and talked about wearables, and I got to share some of my conspiracy theories about devices and sharing and tracking. I gathered resources (articles/links) on a GoogleDoc and shared this out. At the end of the session, I asked those in attendance for possible topics for the next month. And so on and so forth.

This month’s topic is Safer Online Behavior, and I’m looking forward to parents sharing experiences and tips with each other, offering my own suggestions/hopes/fears, and providing many articles and resources for parents to read (and hopefully discuss with their children) via the GoogleDoc that I continue to add links to every month.

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Google Doc of “Tech Tuesdays” resources that I share with the parents

In January of 2013, I launched Tech Tuesdays for the parents at The School at Columbia University. In anticipation of our inaugural meeting, I shared the following via an email to faculty:

Grace helped me reserve one of the new Dining Rooms from 8:00-9:00am on Tuesday, February 5th to launch a monthly Tech Tuesday drop-in program for parents.
This will not be a time to bring in a home computer for tech support. Rather, I hope this drop-in time can help:
1. Establish common goals and a common language for talking about Technology
2. Answer questions about how to access The Gallery and The Tube and other school resources
3. Examine the Terms of Service and privacy settings of various websites
4. Show how to adjust parent permissions and check the history on web browsers
5. Address any questions parents may have
I’d love your help in promoting this as an opportunity to gather and build community! Also, if anyone wants to stop by to share a project or ask a question, that would be awesome too.

I had hoped to foster an unconference-esque environment without a set agenda, and I expected parents to show up and talk about things they wanted to talk about. While many parents attended the first session, the number of attendees each month petered out until one day, it was just me sitting by myself. I realized it would help if I did in fact have a chosen topic each month (while also asking parents to suggest future topics), and I reached out to the parents and Communications Department to help further advertise these gatherings. The first “new and improved” Tech Tuesdays was about Wearable Technologies and I recruited A.J. Jacobs to speak specifically about his experience with Google Glass. He wrote about his experiences here: Google Glass: What You’re Not Supposed to Do. I launched and shared the GoogleDoc of notes and resources at this meeting, and I’ve been adding to it ever since.

Since then, the monthly sessions have continued to evolve — I now know to always have a topic shared in advance, and I gather resources on the shared GoogleDoc so anyone can access this information at any time. I often ask colleagues to be special guests in order to share examples of their integrated technology projects in any given grade or discipline. I’m lucky to have had a lot of support from the administration, my colleagues, and from the parents. My goal is to foster a safe space where people learn, ask questions, share stories, offer advice, build a common vocabulary, and gather talking points to discuss at home with their children.

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Super grateful to my PLN after #NYCIST two weeks ago, #NAISac14 last week, and #GoogleGlass convos this week…

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My two ex-bosses @donbuckley @gdorio #neit14

A post shared by Karen (@karenblumberg) on

Two weeks ago, I attended the February meeting of the New York Consortium of Independent School Technologists (NYCIST). We meet monthly face-to-face and for an annual conference at Mohonk Mountain House. This year’s Mohonk experience was especially community-building after a norovirus plagued many of us and inspired the hashtag, #Mochunk. It was awesome to gather at Little Red Elizabeth Irwin School (the host for last month’s meeting) and get a demo of Kandu from one of the creators. Equally awesome was to continue the discussion at a local watering hole afterwards. NYCIST was my first Personal/Professional/Personalized Learning Network (PLN), and the conversation, collaborating, and camaraderie from the group has proven to be invaluable over the years.

LadiesAt the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference last week, I was honored to be chosen to co-present with amazing ladies I met via Twitter and face-to-face conferences. I knew Liz Davis (@LizBDavis) before I met her at a NYSAIS Education and Information Technology (NEIT) conference in like 2007. Hadley Ferguson (@HadleyJF) and Kim Sivick (@KSivick) were also people I knew via Twitter before I first met them in person at EdcampPhilly in 2010. I’ve since seen them online and in person many times, and it was a pleasure to talk about our own professional development and growth to two really nice audiences at NAIS in Orlando.

photo 1This week, I led two conversations at The School at Columbia University about GoogleGlass and wearable technologies. The first was for parents as part of the monthly TechTuesdays series I launched last year in order to build community and a common vocabulary between the Technology Department, the faculty, and the parents. For this month’s parent talk, I invited Rachel Klem (@Klemify), music teacher here at The School, and A.J. Jacobs (@ajjacobs), prolific and witty writer/author, to facilitate a discussion about their experiences with GoogleGlass. I was so glad to see a large turnout and hear lots of questions and anecdotes shared. I gathered resources on a GoogleDoc linked here: http://tinyurl.com/TechTuesdaysTSC

This afternoon, Rachel and I hosted another conversation for educators and technologists as part of an ongoing series of grassroots Professional Development (PD) afternoon offerings for our faculty that I help facilitate. In attendance were:
Me (@KarenBlumberg)
Rachel Klem (@klemify), music teacher here at The School
Katy Gartside (@KatyGartside), 5th grade teacher here at The School
Paul Shirk (@alert_soulful), 1st grade teacher here at The School
Marko Pacic (@MarkoPacic), Director of Technology at Convent of the Sacred Heart
Colin Samuel (@workplacehobo), Director of Technology at The Green Vale School
and joining via GoogleHangout:
From Boston, Andy Marcinek (@andycinek), Director of Technology at Groton-Dunstable Regional School District
From Austin for SxSWedu, Basil Kolani (@bkolani), Director of Technology at The Dwight School

For the record, here’s Sergey Brin‘s TED Talk where the co-founder of Google shares some possibilities for GoogleGlass:

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TechTuesdays with parents


This year’s theme at The School at Columbia University is Community. In the past, themes have centered around Numeracy, Literacy, Innovation, and other key topics. In the spirit of community, I asked my Head of School, Amani Reed, if I could launch a monthly program where parents could drop-in during breakfast from 8:00-9:00am for an informal hour of conversation.

My goal is for parents (and any available teachers) to reinforce a common language and common goals between parents, students, and teachers. I hope parents bring questions and talking points to the table like an  unconference where the topic is not set in stone or scheduled but rather flows organically based on the interest of the group. I anticipated that attendees would ask about how to access The School’s photo archive, video archive, class websites or how to connect with the various Google calendars we use (Athletic, Family, Faculty, and grade-specific calendars).

The parents who gathered at the first meeting in January used the time to ask about spyware and propose a more rigorous K-8 computer science curriculum. Thankfully, Amani Reed (Head of School) and Don Buckley (Director of Innovation) were present to address these conversation threads. They also requested weekly sessions with topics assigned to each session. Though I was initially more than willing to accommodate these requests, after discussing this with various administrators and the other technology integrators, I decided to stick to my original plan of hosting an informal monthly gathering.

I was really pleased with the second gathering we just had on Tuesday. From my perspective, the people who came brought good questions about public/private, parental controls, which tools to use to support curricular goals at home, how to open links from teacher emails, and how to navigate the various technology tools/programs embraced by The School in the various grades. We talked about SnapChat, Facebook, Common Sense Media, how everything one puts online is public/permanent/traceable, how there is no such thing as privacy online, how various grades use technology to communicate with students, how to limit web access (check browser history, put devices in public places, change modem’s password, etc.), and a bunch of other stuff.  Katy Gartside (@KatyGartside), 5th Grade teacher, shared her class site and the various resources linked from it.

I also shared links to the following articles:

Snapchat Founders Sued by Classmate Who Claims They Took His Idea

It’s Official: Teens Are Bored With Facebook

Currently, I’m looking forward to next month’s meeting…

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