Blog About #ISTE2014 – Well of Course as Everyone Else Did



So if you looked at this image and said… Jaime & Katie… wait, what…EduVue.. LadyGeeks… did they combine forces to take over the world… you would be on the right track! Well not exactly… but it was great to finally meet Katie and talk about our experiences with what our shows have taught us and how they have made us better while sometimes wearing us out. This conversation was one of soooo many I had at #iste2014, and that my friends is what made the event. I pulled my usual social butterfly move and avoided sitting in sessions like the plague. I talked to people I have known for years, and people I met for the first time at ISTE. I didn’t eat or drink enough, walked more than I do any week, and found myself drained when it was all said and done. That being said, I would do it all over again if I could.

ISTE in my city was great…. sorta. Yes I could sleep in my own bed, commute up whenever I chose to, and make my coffee just the way I liked it, but as you might expect there are downfalls. It felt like my life was going on and ISTE was just one of the things to make happen each day. It didn’t feel like last year at all. I didn’t make it to more than one evening event, and used the Atlanta traffic nightmare to dictate when I drove in and when I drove home. The lesson learned here is that if you are going to enjoy the whole event, you must stay at the event!

My final thoughts on this are simple… People made my week. Discussions on the vendor floor, in the bloggers cafe, and on the escalator still play over and over in mind. From the Atlanta connections I adore, to my international friends I rarely see, it is just so important to connect. For when you connect my friends, the learning doesn’t end on the last day of the conference, but rather continues all year long! So if you met new people at ISTE… stay in touch. If you saw old friends…. let them know how great it was to connect again and plan for the next time you will meet up and exchange ideas! Learning happens everyday, and ISTE just allows us to expand the group of people we will learn with each year. I am willing to bet those who were #notatiste even grew their PLN in that time. It is an amazing time to be in this field folks, so take advantage of what you can!

While I would love to give a shoutout to all who made my week… EdS final projects are calling my name… so please enjoy my flickr album that shows you who made me smile at #iste2014 ūüôā ¬†PS… if you have a picture I don’t have in my album… please tweet it to me! @jaimevanderg¬†



Leadership – Who Exemplifies What You Believe?

For my Issues in Instructional Technology Class in my EdS class at the University of West Georgia, I had to share someone I saw as a leader in education and technology. I chose Eric Sheninger & even snagged him for a few minutes for a Google Hangout several weeks ago. I often feel my course work is blog worthy, so why not share it!

Technology Leadership – Seeing the Visions of Eric Sheninger


I see true technology leadership as a role that encompasses a solid educational foundation, a vision for leading through modeling, and a drive to share openly and aspire to inspire others daily. For this reason I chose Eric Sheninger as my example of what I see in true technology leadership.

Eric is currently the principal at New Milford High School in New Jersey. That however is only one part of what makes him a technology leader, granted it may be the biggest part. Eric has been featured in multiple magazines, published books, received a tremendous amount of accolades and named to NBSA’s 20 to Watch list four years ago. He speaks to educators around the nation and sits on boards of educational leadership conferences. He makes a difference. Technology leadership needs more people who not only have a long list of accomplishments, but care about sharing the next generation of technology leaders. Eric most certainly embodies just that.

Eric’s latest book Digital Leadership, Changing Paradigm for Changing Times was just recently released. He focused this book on what he identifies as the 7 pillars of educational leadership in this digital age. Eric speaks openly about his initial hesitance to social media and what changed once he saw media such as Twitter as a valuable tool to communicate and connect with his stakeholders.

I chose to not only write about Eric as a leader in technology, but also to reach out to him in a Google Hangout for a brief discussion on who he was and what he valued. The whole video will be available for you to view, but my biggest takeaway from that discussion was his views on fostering leadership in his teachers and media specialist. He was passionate about the collaborative effort of leadership. He spoke of the need for autonomy, and putting others in the position to lead. He didn’t spend his time talking about himself, and what he does, rather he focused on how he could foster growth in others to make a difference in schools. This is why I am certain I chose the right leader for this assignment.

It is my hope that Eric can continue to be one that others in leadership roles look up to for direction on being a leader in education and technology. As students in this EdS program, I believe we could learn something from the work that Eric has, and continues to do. Grab a digital or hard copy of his book, check out his website, or find one of the many venues he will be speaking at in the near future. I promise you won’t be disappointed with what you gain by connecting with this leader in education.


Systematic Change – A Letter To Anyone Ready to Hear It

Well as a MORE than full time EdS student my blogging time has been crunched! I do tons of writing, just less of my opinion, and more of deep ideas and research. So brilliance came upon me. Why not post the very things I am sharing on D2L right here. It is my intellectual property, and therefore I choose to share it. This week I had to write an open letter to someone about systematic change. This my friends is what emerged. May it open up discussions for you  and yours!

Good afternoon colleagues,

It is with my great pleasure I address your concerns brought before me over systematic change. I am honored you value my experience and expertise to take this on for your better understanding. Systematic change is one that I simply dread having to share with educators today. It is one that seeks to send the message that a complete overhaul is in need. I dread this mostly because I fear this message will suggest to those in the trenches that they have not being doing a good job to this point. That message certainly is not the one I intend to send. The picture is far bigger you see. From the top down, change must happen. Look around at the classrooms today. Do they resemble an assembly line, as in one that you would find during the industrial age? Are rows or groups lined up all facing the front of the room? Do they all direct their attention to the leader in search of knowledge? I imagine you can see where this is headed. Our schools today have simply never left the age of organized assembly. We as a culture most certainly have though. We are deep into a collaborative information age that no longer supports the organized directive that education was once. The systematic change must start at the top. Everyone from the Superintendent or Head Master down must embrace a diligent change of practice, not out of pressure to keep up, but out of need to transform the learning process in every classroom in every school. I am not suggesting this will be easy, but it will most certainly be worth it. 

I value your concern in how this model is different from so many others we have seen in our careers. I challenge you to try to find one that focused on more than one specific change in practice. Can you think of any model that called for rebooting the system all together? Consider this systematic change to be the reboot of all reboots. While the operating system itself looks the same, nothing it does is exactly like before. In that same analogy, can you see that while a reboot is rarely required, it is necessary if your productivity is to increase? No other model in education will seek to disrupt the whole system, but sadly without that disruption we are bound to continue in this unchanging educational practice. 

I hope that much of what I am sharing has helped you to begin to answer your final question somewhat on your own. This change is needed because at the end of the day it isn’t about how comfortable our teachers or administrators are with doing something a little bit different, but rather are we preparing our students for the world they will one day live and work in? This isn’t about us. It is about them. This systematic change could be the difference between preparing students for entry-level retail jobs and preparing students who can revamp retail trends and practices with mobile and wearable technology protocol. Which of these students do we want produce when they leave us?

I hope I have opened up with will be an ongoing discussion. I would love to be a part of that discussion if you see my input as valuable. 


Jaime Vandergrift

#educationallysharing¬† Continue reading »

Ok Google as Assistive Technology …Whaaaatttt?

I wear my instructional technologist cape over my mom cape most days. Once they kiddos get home, I wear them both. Thank goodness they came in coordinating colors! ūüôā¬†Often these worlds overlap, and most often I learn quite a bit about my professional life from my personal life. Last evening just happened to be one of those evenings! ¬†My soon to be 5 year old is full of life and energy. He is ALL boy and loves all things dirt, bugs, and animals! He has watched my ongoing relationship with Google Now, and he often hears the words “Ok Google” from me, so it was no surprise that he grabbed a Nexus 7 and called out that command last night.

The back story here is that I recently had him tested for speech and language. He is often difficult to understand sometimes, and I wanted to get early intervention if necessary. After testing, it was determined that he has no speech delays at all. He has command of every sound he should have at this age. This was a relief for me, however, we were still faced with trying to help him speak clearer and enunciate. He speaks very fast and often lacks proper enunciation. Now if you have ever had a conversation with me… you probably know where he gets the fast talking!

image- *Google user content

So fast forward to last evening and the little boy with the Nexus 7. Without hesitation he called out “Ok Google”,¬†and then he rattled off a command. Sadly Google didn’t understand him. He tried a few times, but each time he was unsuccessful. Then the light bulb went off! I asked him what he wanted to see, and of course he wanted to see grasshoppers! I then helped him clearly practice saying ‘grasshopper’ slowly until he had it. Then with confidence it was “Ok Google, grasshopper!” Voila! All of a sudden he could see images of every kind of grasshopper Google images could pull up! He was in little boy heaven. Then he wanted to see frogs, beetles, ladybugs, and termites. He was practicing each word clearly and slowly before calling out the command and having success. You better believe we had to drag him off of that device to get him to the shower!

So where does this fit into education? Let’s start by knowing our students. What are the struggles our students face? What interests them? Now use Google to facilitate intervention. In my case it was speech and language, but I know you can think of so many other interventions that Google could assist with. For second language learners Google could be the vocabulary intervention. I know when I taught 3rd grade I had a student who could not grasp the difference in urban, rural, and suburban communities. Google images made those vocabulary words come to life. Google Maps could make that even more amazing!

So imagine if you looked at the assistive needs your students face everyday and figured out how Google could be your partner in practice. Think about what possibilities exist when you look at the simplest technology as something that can revolutionize learning!

Please let me conclude with this… No matter how great you think your school’s web filter is, there is a likelihood that at some point an image or site will find its’ way in to your classroom that is not appropriate for students. Be diligent by pre-searching, preparing a list of words and phrases they can google, and always being present in the moments when search is happening. ¬†There is so much potential here, we simply do not want to lose these opportunities from a lack of diligent supervision.



When You Can’t Run… Glide

So that carpool line time yesterday sure paid off for some great brainstorming with Allison Peterson (@alcp)  via the Glide App that I love so much!

Allison, like many of my Atlanta friends, works at a K-12 independent school with a vast campus. I was trying to think of some ways to make this an even more effective tool for instructional technology purposes, and then it came to me. Whether you are on a large K-12 campus or not, one of the challenges I hear from instructional technology coordinators, is that they can’t be everywhere at once. They can’t make every planning period for teachers, they can’t be in every classroom when something goes wrong, and someone panics, nor can they sit by their email all day answering questions about vaguely explained issues throughout the building. I won’t lie.. when I taught, I know I emailed my technology specialist and told her my “thingy” that connected to my computer didn’t work… Yep… I am sure that was the kind of email she loved to get. Who knows what “thingy” I was even talking about, let alone what I needed it to do. This is reality folks. In a perfect world, every staff person would be able to tell us that the VGA to HDMI cord was not working, which did not allow mirroring in the classroom. Let’s face it… what percentage of the staff could give you a thorough description of the problem, allowing you to troubleshoot with a line or two?

In comes Glide. You have the phone app…. they have the phone app ¬†(or Tablet App). ¬†No matter where you are, they can use Glide to not just tell you, BUT show you what the issue is in the classroom. You could literally be on the other side of campus, or not on campus at all, and have no need to run in those cute #shoesinedu.¬†Rather, why not respond via Glide with suggestions based on what you see from the video. Perhaps they want a quick suggestion for a tool to use during their planning period. Again… Glide. They want to show you something the class is doing as a result of the great tech tips you gave them. GLIDE! The ideas can go on and on, but for me it is the convenience of being able to be so much more available to a staff. It also removes the translation lost in text via email, that we all know is a reality. Communication and Collaboration are my favorite of the 4 C’s since I am highly linguistic and interpersonal, but I feel they are the cornerstone to effective technology diffusion in schools. When a free video messaging app can allow us to focus on these two skills for the growth and development of a school integration plan, I have to say it is one we all need to look at. Work smarter, not harder friends. Reinvent how you get your tasks accomplished! Check out Glide!

Thanks Allison for pushing me to think yesterday!




A Couple of Communication Apps Kicking Mass Social Media to the Curb for Me

Let me begin by saying that I have always been a firm believer in the power of professional learning through social media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+.  I still use the resources daily, post my great finds, and take in a few myself. Most days I have a few 140 character conversations with someone in regards to a post or idea shared. To me, this is powerful, and has for the time being been a great way to learn and grow.

Lately I have had a bit of a change of heart. I have been using Voxer for quite a while personally, but recently started using it professionally. Then came Glide. All of sudden I started seeing that the way we communicate in social media is just the beginning. These apps allow us to go so much deeper, and keep the conversation going, changing, and evolving, in time.

Voxer is a text and audio app that allows you to record a audio message and share with a group up to six people. As far as I know, there is no limit to how long you can record, but ole @ipadsammy sure does push the 5 minute mark here and there ūüôā In a conversation of several people from your PLN, you can literally go from having a die hard opinion on something, to really being opened up to new ideas. It takes professional learning to a whole new dynamic! Amber Teamann also shared her ideas on Voxer here.¬† Read what Amber had to say about Voxer and learning!


Glide has become my new happy place. It is an app I would love to be able to use more professionally… and so thus the blog! Glide is a video and text app that allows us to communicate with one person, or a large group, all at once through short 1 minute 30 second videos. For the moments when your hair or makeup isn’t just right… you can of course reply with a text to the person or group! I love the short sweet bursts of video, and when you get behind, they all play in order, as if watching a short movie! If you haven’t downloaded this free iOS and Android app, today is your day!

Now let’s talk Voxer and Glide in the classroom. Yes… I like to see how we can take apps like these and make that translate into global learning!

As of now we struggle with time zones and using Skype or G+Hangouts for international sharing of ideas. These apps in my opinion remove this concern. Classes could share via audio or video, at any time, with no concern about if our global learning partners are sleeping while we are in school!

Imagine we partner classes around the globe in studying landforms. Imagine using Glide to record landforms in the areas around the schools, and sharing with the partner classes. Perhaps studying weather patterns over time is in your curriculum… why not partner with classes around the globe and document the comparisons in your weather patterns as you go over time? Foreign language studies… well wouldn’t that be fun? Imagine partnering with a class in France or Spain and practicing fluency of each language with each other. Yep.. I say imagine because I hope to plant a seed. I hope you read this and decide to download these apps, and see how you can make these a powerful part of your professional learning, as well as your classroom learning!

For me… I prefer Glide most days. I like to see who I am talking to. (ie why I choose a G+ hangout over a twitter chat any day.) I like that these apps add a more personal, human connection to the learning. Find me on Glide with the PIN – YXS AFEY – ¬†On Voxer I am jvande1346 – Any professional ideas you want to talk through.. Feel free to find me on either app!



Goodbye Confusion of 2013, Hello Focus of 2014

So after finishing one WHOLE ¬†calendar year in Georgia, I suppose I can reflect properly. Moving here in June of 2012, I think I expected far more that was reasonable of career growth, and by December of 2012, ¬†sure was let down. ¬†I started 2013 cautiously optimistic, and have to say there were some highlights along the way. I was able to speak at both University of Georgia Griffin, and Georgia Tech Research Institute. That was pretty sweet… ¬†And certainly tops my 2013 accomplishments.

I worked with many great teachers and students this year, and learned something from each and every one of them.

I headed into Season 2 of #EduVue with the best team a girl could ask for!

I was part of two great instructional technology conferences, and helped to get both trending in social media. (Yes, I consider that an accomplishment!) #EdCampAtl and #GaETC both took place this fall, and I gained so many new connections and ideas as part of them!

Yet…… Still I feel like I just haven’t nailed it down. I still don’t see the vision. I still don’t have a real description of what it is I do, or what I specialize in. I know sooooo much about soooo many things, but clearly I need a focused direction!

Sooooooo Spring of 2014 this girl is headed back to school! I will be in the EdS program at the University of West Georgia.  I will be pursuing an EdS in Media, concentrating on Instructional Technology, and hope to take the bulk of the classes within the program in 2014. #gobigoroghome

With that plan ahead, I will finish up 2013 with two goals to set.

1) Get organized!

This mom, wife, student, volunteer, professional …. is going to need it! I live a digital life, but have decided after reading a great post from Amber Teamann, that I need a paper and pencil planner. I decided on the Bloom Daily Planner, compact, and semi matching the Vera Bradley hipster and backpack I will be very much toting nearly everywhere I go. ¬†I am going to need to get it together! The goal is to keep everything double documented, digitally and in the planner, hopefully keeping me on top of it all!

2) I must define my direction!

The very first bit of advice given to me by my faculty adviser was this very advice. (Geesh… have I heard that a time or two before?) It is quite interesting how the best advice given at the wrong time is often disregarded, but that same advice provided at just the right moment, can speak volumes. We have to be ready to hear constructive feedback, of this I am certain.

So while I am certain I will have some adjustments to make in the coming months, I am beyond excited for this new adventure. Priorities will shift, but I think we can all agree that furthering education is certainly worth it.




Spreading More Sunshine… Thanks @8Amber8

So the one and only Amber Teamann, spread some blog sunshine last night and threw some my way, so in turn I will do the same. Amber is one who brings out positivity in so many, while also pushing us to think bigger and reach higher for students each day! So Amber… Thank you for your sunshine, and here I go.

Here are the rules listed by Amber on her blog:


  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger. – CHECK — She rocks!
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

11 random facts –¬†

1) I intend to have my doctorate by 40 if it kills me… if for no other reason than wanting people to refer to me as Dr. ūüôā (Oh yeah and because I am a learning junkie!)

2) I am a closet Twitter chat hater… no not for others… but for myself. I can’t get into them… tried for years! Hit me up on a F2F GHO any day of the week!

3) I do not like Candy… but I could swim in chocolate.

4) Accessories are my life. Jewelry, shoes, scarves, oh my!

5) Certain parts of the year (like now), I really miss being in the classroom. Other times… not so much. I would be a teacher for life if I could play by MY rules… but turns out I have to follow other’s rules… #bummer #standardizedassessmentsucks

6) I am an EXTREME rule follower. I may not like it… but I follow it.

7) I can for the most part, get along with just about anyone. It is a very short list of people I can’t work with. (A list does exist though…. and I am sending it to Santa!:)

8) I need a paper calendar badly. I live so digitally… but still can’t keep all balls in the air with a digital calendar. I also take it very hard when I drop one of those balls!

9) I am incredibly driven… perhaps too driven sometimes. I set way too lofty of goals, then get frustrated when I fall short of them. (Which makes absolutely NO sense!)

10) I do have a husband and two kids… but you would be hard pressed to find them online with me. I take digital footprints very seriously, and protect them from my over exposed digital existence.

11) I have moved so many times, I feel like I can never make real friends… ūüôĀ I secretly wish Santa would bring me a BFF in 2014. I see enormous value STILL in personal relationships!

Now For Amber’s Questions:
1. Do you prefer to shop in stores or online?  AMAZON Prime baby! Shipped to my door with no shipping cost in two days! Are you kidding?
2. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Two closets full… Thus #shoesinedu
3. What is your favorite type of music? Top 40 – One Republic, The Fray, Imagine Dragons, The Script…
4. Cats or Dogs? ¬†Probably dogs… Kid with allergies makes pet ownership hard… so we have two turtles!
5. What is your typical bedtime? 10 pm… giving me two hours of adult time after kids are asleep.
6. Favorite twitter chat? Well I am the world’s worst co moderator of #ntchat — but Lisa has really done great things with this! Bless her heart for putting up with me!
7. Democrat/Republican/Other? ¬†Republican… but I really just want government to make sense… So if a new party can make that happen, let’s do it!
8. Best place you ever vacationed? Any beach… anywhere!
9. Best book you’ve read in 2013? The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
10. Favorite television show when you were growing up? I was one of those VERY low SES kids growing up – one channel, black and white.. SO limited choices!
11. What is one thing you never/rarely share that you are exceptionally proud of? I am a first generation college student who came from a trailer on Rt. 38 in St. George WV. I have lived in four major cities in the US and have (despite my own judgement of myself), really made a difference in education, albeit one small step at a time. I do want my doctorate, and I do one day want to give back to my home state of West Virginia.
Now I get to nominate 11 other bloggers! All of which are so deserving.. but Amber did take many I would have put in my 11 too! ūüôā
1) @Rikki908 – Rikki Lowe
2) @daveguymon – Dave Guymon
3) @catflippen – Catherine Flippen
4) @lackeymartha – Martha Lackey
5) @bigpurplehat – Kristy Vincent
6) @craigyen – Craig Yen
7)@jaymelinton – Jayme Linton
8)@edtechchic – Jessica Johnson
9) @peoplegogy – Will Deyamport III
10) @amylpie – Amy Pietrowski
11)@teachercast – Jeff Bradbury
Your questions are the same as above 11 chosen! I hope some of you will take the opportunity to participate in this, as lifting others up can be one the warmest feelings in our hearts!


Not App Happy… Yet TouchCast App You Intrigue Me

So I love to say… I love tablets in education… but I am NOT app happy.. In fact you might call me, app picky. I download many… play a bit, and if I see some automatic possibilities for educational use, I play on. Every now and again I get a little addicted to an app, because my brain explodes with ideas about how to use this in a classroom. That app today… TouchCast¬†

I won’t write too much about it.. rather I am going to let my TouchCasts do the talking. I have 5 I have uploaded and have learned so much already! Hopefully my back end work will help you make fewer mistakes when you try it! So here we go.. Touchcast show us what you can do!



Reflections on #GaETC13, Moments that Shine



About six months ago I was asked to step into a social media chair role for the Georgia Educational Technology Conference held here in Atlanta each fall. It was just one year ago I attended this conference, and earned my newcomer ribbon, yet a year later I was taking on a leadership role. Seems life goes that fast these days. While the opportunity to volunteer my time for this great event was wonderful, the best part was the take aways that had nothing to do with me… but rather those who inspire me to push farther, and keep going.

My pic collage is just a start in showing the connections and moments of the week. It was wonderful to see Jerry and Shelly, and yet again they reminded me why I am so thankful I found twitter for building a PLN! Jerry did what he always does… makes you feel like you are on top of the world! Shelly made my day when she brought out the cutest #shoesinedu for a day of speaking! Both are such genuine people. I actually introduced Jerry to a group of teachers I worked with here in Georgia, and laughter ensued when one called him the Justin Beiber of Educational Tweeting! Epic Times!

I had the opportunity to see both Amanda Dykes and Kristy Vincent  start their sessions early, due to a full house waiting for them to speak. These two had so much to share and I am thankful they traveled to Georgia to share it!

I had the opportunity to see Amy Pietrowski¬†speak as well. Amy is someone who, if you do not already know… ¬†you should. She has such drive and vision for making a difference in schools, and it was great to see her in action. Amy is usually the one promoting us on EduVue, so it is nice we can now promote her a bit. Isn’t that what this is all about?

The dark horse duo that made #GaETC13 fun for me, might be some fellas new for you too. Adam Nidey and Chris Anderson were so fun to get to know this past week. They both bring such a passion for education, while being the life of the party. I am so thankful I had the chance to get to know them and hope to cross paths again in the future!

My EduVue team… minus our girl Stacia, who was greatly missed, had various roles in making #GaETC13 great! Yet again I am reminded why I love working with them!

This just hits the tip of the iceberg to be honest… but again, it is the PEOPLE that made the event. PEOPLE, CONNECTIONS, and SHARING. Not one of the people mentioned have an “Oh look at me!” personality. Thank you to all of you who reminded me that PEOPLE make this ride great…. not awards or accolades. Each time I get to do something like this I am reminded of just that.

Lastly, I walked out with some great personal victories. I gave away 3 $100 bills for social media contests… and loved that. It felt so good to hand someone a gift, knowing they had helped me promote the event all week! I had time to sit with the student showcases, and I got “schooled” by Amanda Cavin‘s students on Tellagami and other neat apps. Thanks Amy for snapping that picture! Additionally I had time to chat with someone I have such great respect for, Dr. Chris Craft¬†, and found that yet again he goes well beyond being a great speaker and presenter. He is an amazing mentor who literally shared things with me that pushed my thinking yet again. I learned how to merge into more of a social media marketing vision, and have ideas about how I need to work to understand that more! I watched our twitter and Instagram followers, and Facebook likes, grow by the day, and deeply appreciated the sharing participants did for the event. So much to reflect on…. thanks to all who gave me something new to think about and build on!

I leave you with this… when you get the chance… Dance… Thanks Jerry for capturing my return to the Electric Slide, and a moment that reminded me to not take #edtech so serious!

electric slide