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Ned Aiken


Phoenix Google Summit and Genius Hour

posted May 15, 2017, 9:45 AM by Ned Aiken

Attending the Arizona Google Summit was an invaluable experience for more reasons than one. To begin, being in an environment with like-minded educators, presenters, and status-quo disruptors has a way to reshape one’s thinking and start the line of questions asking why is it that we do the things we do as teachers, and what really is in the best interest of our student’s learning and future success? I use the term “status-quo disruptors” because one thing became apparent when speaking with many of the Edtech team presenters: there are many educators that want to change the system, and a lot of them have some very compelling arguments to do so. It is in the idea of a “moonshot”, a term coined by Google that refers to avoiding thinking how can we make current systems slightly better, but instead creating a moonshot that rethinks how we do things to make new systems that have the potential to be exponentially better. “Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.


In this line of thinking, I discovered the potential of Genius Hour. Genius Hour, or 80/20 time as it is sometimes referred to, is a system used by Google where employees are given the freedom to spend 20% of their time working on independently chosen projects. Google found enormous success with this method, which created the obvious questions, could this work for schools as well? The answer seems to be a resounding yes, as a presentation I attended led by Anthony Speranza showed the limitless possibilities that can be achieved by students when given the freedom to choose and guide their own learning. This is not to say that running a Genius Hour project is simply saying to your students to go do whatever they want, but in fact for it to work the most effectively there is a best practice approach with a lot of literature found in books and on the Internet. I have explored such literature, in addition to the information provided by Anthony Speranza’s presentation, and am happy to begin my first forray into a Genius Hour project in my classroom, and see where my own moonshot can take me and my students.


Google Certified Level 1

posted Dec 8, 2016, 7:14 PM by Ned Aiken

I just finished the level 1 google certification test, and it was a very positive experience, for more reasons than just because I passed.  It was an engaging and interactive test where I was learning just as much as I was proving what I already knew, and apart from the last 20 minutes when I started getting very concerned about the amount of time remaining, it was a lot of fun.  I would say the most significant takeaway I had from the test was working with Google programs I hadn't previously worked with, like Google Classroom and Google Groups, where during the test I kept finding myself saying out loud, "this is cool, I want to start using this".  Now this might be a testament to the fact that the test wasn't super difficult in that I could easily figure out how to use programs I had zero experience with, or maybe its a testament to Google's intuitive and easy-to-use programing, or the most likely situation that the Google certification level 1 test is more of a marketing tool, getting us more interested in the software, than it is a challenging test.  Either way, it was useful, informative, and fun, so cheers Google.

Digital Citizenship

posted Sep 7, 2016, 5:25 AM by Ned Aiken

In an ever-expanding digital era, the need for reflection on safety of our digital practices is increasingly necessary.  My generation had to learn digital citizenship through trial and error. We began to notice the trappings of posting pictures and comments on social media without thinking them through first, and occurrences of identity theft and hackings all of a sudden became a thing to be cautious of, and we quickly had to learn how to protect ourselves.  Today's generation isn't learning about these dangers a little at a time, as they are all active in a big way.  Therefore it becomes vital to introduce our students to the idea of proper digital citizenship at an early age, whether that be how to protect themselves, or how to respectfully interact with others online.  This year I plan to add teaching digital citizenship as a major technological focus for my 2nd grade students.

Becoming Google for Education Certified

posted Aug 26, 2016, 10:05 AM by Ned Aiken

I've started the first steps in the process of the Google for Education training, and have mixed feelings about the process.  It is interesting going through the first units and knowing most of content, giving myself the confident feeling of already being relatively proficient in the world of digital teaching.  However, even in these early units, there are a few things I don't know about, particularly in the form of specific terminology that isn't necessarily relevant to my usage of the technology, or what I will be doing on a day-to-day basis in my future teaching.  This leads to needing to go back and search through a proverbial haystack of information just to find the small tidbit that I am needing to know to pass the practice tests.  I am hoping future units will involve novel ideas and components that will make the studying more interesting, instead of a repeat of known information with a small new detail every once in a while.

Technology Visual

posted Aug 17, 2016, 5:21 AM by Ned Aiken

The visual our group made was meant to represent 5 specific goals for the DT meetings throughout the year.  As a group, the DTs decided we want our meetings to be focussed around Coaching, practice, innovation, fun and making technology accessible to everyone.  We took the theme of sports, specifically basketball to convey our words.  We displayed a picture of a coach training young athletes, a meme of Allen Iverson's famous "We talkin' about practice" rant, a picture of Kobe and Shaq laughing and having fun, and lastly a picture of Dikembe Mutumbo (very tall player) standing next to Muggy Bogues showing diversity of our learners.

Our visual can be seen here

DT Role


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