Category Archives: Educational Leadership


Sunderland, Vermont – June 7, 2012

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) announced a Vermont school district, the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union (BRSU), has been selected to participate in its major education transformation initiative, “Teaming for Transformation: Leading Digital Conversion for Student Learning.” CoSN is the premier national professional association for school district technology leaders. BRSU was selected to participate in this project with twenty other school districts from around the country.

Teaming for Transformation districts were selected based on their demonstrated commitment to improving student-centered learning in a digitally rich environment. The selected districts will participate in an exclusive online community focused on infusing digital resources and tools into the teaching and learning process, and participate in a two-day site visit to schools in Mooresville, NC, a district nationally recognized as a leader in this work. Dr. Chris Dede, the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education will support the districts in developing strategies to scale the digital conversion of learning back in their districts.

“I am very pleased our district was selected to participate in this initiative,” said Dan French, Superintendent for the BRSU. “For the past 5 years, we have been working towards building capacity in our district to restructure our instructional systems to support the personalization of learning using technology. Our participation in this national project will further enhance our ability to continue down this path by allowing us to work closely with other districts from around the country who are acknowledged leaders in school transformation.”

The BRSU is located in Sunderland, Vermont and serves the communities of Danby, Dorset, Manchester, Mount Tabor, Pawlet, Rupert, and Sunderland. The newly formed Mountain Towns RED and the Winhall Town School District will be joining the BRSU on July 1, 2013.

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An Intructional Vision for the BRSU – Spring 2012

This presentation was made to BRSU boards in May/June of 2012.  The purpose of the presentation is to provide an instructional vision for our districts based on our work over the last 5 years in understanding the new, technological context for teaching and learning.  Based on this collective work, I have concluded our organization’s instructional systems should be organized around two design principles:

  1. Personalized learning for each student; and
  2. Teachers and other educators should be connected in a common professional network to support instructional innovation.  The theory behind this concept comes from Education Epidemic by David Hargreaves.

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Lateral Innovation Network Outline

“The path to transformation is decentralized, distributed, and disciplined.” – D. Hargreaves


  • Open the instructional, professional, and curriculum development processes to a peer-led network in order to provide a more effective means for sharing best practices and transferring them more rapidly
  • Improve the quality of teaching and learning broadly across a group of schools
  • Create a climate for teachers to innovate by promoting:
    • the motivation to create new professional knowledge;
    • the opportunity to engage actively in innovation;
    • the skills for testing the validity of the new knowledge; and
    • the means for transferring the validated innovations rapidly within their school and into other schools.

Structure of Network

  • Totally cloud-based
  • Initial focus would be K-8. Elementary and middle level innovation capacity would lead high school transformation.
  • Implement a common communications infrastructure. All districts would join Google Apps.
  • Implement a common Learning Management System. See below. (approximate cost $10 per student)
  • Curriculum development on Curriki.
  • Common tags would be established to identify work across all platforms.

LMS Functionality

  • Individual learning plans for every student
  • ePortfolios
  • Units can be matched to current and future standards
  • Capacity to share instructional materials, units, and assessments among teachers
  • Other standard LMS functionality: design online and blended learning activities, implement assessment, monitor student academic progress, iterative academic feedback, teaming of staff and students around learning activities, connect to web-based learning resources, establish non-traditional support groups for students, new learning opportunities and new structures of knowledge – mash up, 365 and 24/7, parent connection, personalization around UDL principles.

*Objectives adapted from Working Laterally: How Innovation Networks Make an Education Epidemic by David Hargreaves.

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Superintendent Forums

I have organized a series of “forums” for BRSU staff to give them the opportunity to ask me questions and for me to better understand their perspectives towards organizational change. Here is the announcement I sent out to staff.

Good Afternoon,

I think we are in an era of significant organizational change. Many of these changes are the result of state and federal policies. Other changes are the direct result of the larger demographic, economic, and technological context.

To develop a better understanding of how these changes might affect us, I thought it would be helpful for me to set up some times when we could meet face-to-face to give you a chance to hear from me directly and for you to ask me questions.

I am calling these meetings “Superintendent Forums.” These forums are open to all staff from all schools even though they will be held at a specific school each month. I will begin each session with a presentation on a specific topic (e.g. governance changes, etc.) and then open it up to your questions.

The dates and times for these forums are as follows:

11/18/10 MEMS 3:30pm – 4:30pm
12/13/10 Mettawee 3:00pm – 4:00pm
01/05/11 Dorset 3:30pm – 4:30pm
02/03/11 Currier 3:30pm – 4:30pm
03/03/11 Sunderland 3:30pm – 4:30pm

I hope to see you there,


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My Google Apps Presentation

Here is the outline of my Google Apps presentation for the VPA conference on May 11, 2010.

Why move to Google Apps?

  • FUD (and sometimes FUDD) Concerns
    • COPPA – “If you are using Google Docs within Google Apps Education Edition for your school domain, your school assumes the responsibility for complying with COPPA and the information that students submit. When offering online services to children under 13, schools must be cognizant of Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  COPPA is a regulation that requires parental consent for the online collection of information about users under 13.  Per the Google Apps Education Edition Agreement, any school administering Google Apps Education Edition acknowledges and agrees that it is solely responsible for compliance with COPPA, including, but not limited to, obtaining parental consent concerning collection of students’ personal information used in connection with the provisioning and use of the Services by the Customer and End Users. Parental consent and notification could take place in form of a permission slip granting use of Google Apps and/or other technology services at the school.”
    • FERPA – Google’s Privacy Policy
    • CIPA – A free message security service can make the system CIPA compliant.
    • Archiving – Google provides each user with over 7 GB of email storage.  A message discovery service is available for a fee.
    • Technology Schools Can Trust
  • The Case of Oregon
    • state-wide access to Google Apps for schools through the Oregon Virtual School District
    • Oregon negotiated a state-wide agreement with Google to address privacy and protection concerns for all of their schools
    • Accelerate Oregon – “a public-private partnership is dedicated to providing Oregon schools with the tools necessary to advance teaching and learning with Technology”
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2010 VT FOSSED Presentation

Here is my presentation from the 2010 Vermont Open Source & Education Conference.

The David Hargreaves papers referenced in the presentation (Education Epidemic and Working Laterally) can be downloaded for free as pdf files from the Demos website.

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