Holly D. Landez ePortfolio

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Innovation Plan Reflection

State of the Innovation Plan after 17 Months

Part A – Innovation at Work

Throughout our entire Digital Learning and Leading program at Lamar University, we have consistently connected our learning to an Innovation Plan. After I chose the topic of my innovation with the guidance of Dr. Thibodeaux, as outlined in this COVA Reflection post, I was motivated to implement the innovation at work. The STREAM Camp that I proposed in our first course EDLD 5305, Disruptive Innovation, was wrapped up by June 2021. One of my original concerns of choosing a STREAM Camp plan was that it would not carry me through the entire program. After STREAM Camp was completed in June 2021, I was very focused on molding the topics of the course as we were taking it to fit current activities in my job role as a District Instructional Technologist for Killeen ISD. Although the vision shifted, I was still able to make a lot of connections to the STREAM camp topic. This allowed me to do much deeper exploration into the concepts of:

STEM education in libraries 

In EDLD 5314, Digital Learning in Local & Global Contexts, we had an opportunity to complete a literature review on a topic associated with our innovation plan. This research reinforced my beliefs about the importance of STEM Education in Libraries and the value of a library STREAM camp. It reminded me that one of the goals of the camp was to engage learners, particularly girls and minority students, in activities that may lead them to STEM careers.

Library transformation 

Also EDLD 5314, Digital Learning in Local & Global Contexts, we updated our Innovation plans. This assignment helped me clarify my vision at work and while keeping my DLL work authentic. The research and preparation for this assignment solidified my beliefs and helped me communicate that libraries can indeed be the heart of the school and inspire a desire to explore and learn in students. Rather than being silent, somber places, the school libraries of the 21st century are places for students to rediscover the joy of learning.

Makerspace & 3D printing 

Because of our work in this program, I mustered the courage to request to implement a considerable innovation. We added 3D printers to 26 elementary libraries, making a standard for all future elementary libraries in the district. In EDLD 5318, Instructional Design in Online Learning, I designed an online course for staff members (teachers, librarians, campus techs) to develop their 3D printing skills. The scope of the course within our learning management went beyond the manual skills of setting up the 3D printer and focused on making connections to instruction.

Professional Learning

Another element of the updated innovation plan included Future-Ready professional learning for librarians. Designing professional learning opportunities for teachers has always been a large part of my job as District Instructional Technologist. However, throughout this program, as I was focused on library transformation, I became determined to bring meaningful professional learning to the librarians of Killeen ISD. When I left in January 2022, we were in the process of arranging for Shannon McClintock Miller to present. She is a renowned presenter and thought leader and advocates for Future-Ready libraries. I am not sure if that plan will materialize, but I am hopeful.

“If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.“

Steven Johnson

Part B – Analysis & Looking Forward

I believe that most of my innovation plan worked really well aside from a couple of small issues. The students that attended the STREAM camp were engaged and reported learning and having fun when they were surveyed. The planned innovations to a currently operation camp were:

Include a virtual learning component 

This went very well, although most students preferred to attend in person. Of the 500 camp participants, only 10% were virtual. We made a big effort to prepare activities for virtual learners, but most students wanted to physically attend camp and be with their peers.

Have a separate part of STREAM Camp specifically for middle school students 

The students enjoyed the camp. Planning this portion became challenging internally within the Learning Services department in my previous district as the elementary district instructional technologist. The elementary and secondary divisions of the department were each under different leadership and were taking different approaches to camps. Therefore this part was slightly confusing. Also, of the three weeks that camp we held, we were only able to host middle school students one of the weeks.

Implement 3D printing

This was especially tricky as the 3D printing can be a time consuming process, and students only attended camp for a total of 9 hours. Our librarians and camp staff did provide students opportunities to design 3D models, but time was limited to see projects through to fruition. Overall, learners were exposed to the concepts of 3D printing, especially at the middle school site. This is because the librarian that hosted the middle school students had the most experience with 3D printing.

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Fail. Try again. Change the world.“

Simon Sinek

What Worked & What Could Have Been Done Better?


The main part of the innovation plan that I did not have time to follow through with was a full evaluation of effects on student performance. Student surveys revealed that they enjoyed the Killeen ISD STREAM camp and had fun. However, we were not able to make a connection to standardized testing results or grades.

In EDLD 5315, Assessing Digital Learning & Instruction, I developed a plan for evaluating the effectiveness of the 3D printer initiative, which was a modified part of the innovation plan. It included taking surveys from students about their feelings about the library for qualitative data and frequency of visits for quantitative data. In December of 2021, I began taking steps to follow that plan and measure student perception of the library. Soon after that, moved to Copperas Cove Independent School District and became the Director of Digital Learning and Innovation. Therefore, I did not complete an evaluation of the 3D printer initiative as I had originally planned. For future innovation plans, I intend to include an evaluation phase.

What could have been done better?

I think what could have been done better is to advocate for additional time for the camp. This could include having the camp all day or spanning two weeks. Multiple students requested that the camp be longer. The initial design of the camp for a total of nine hours of attendance was to allow for as many students as possible to attend the camp. Also, it decreased the need for a huge variety of supplies.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building on the new.“


What lessons have been learned?

I learned a lot about planning and logistics. In late spring 2021, after much of the planning had already been done for STREAM camp, we found out there were additional funds available. The camp would be expanded by a third week and an additional 100 students. This complicated some of the planning, but in the end it all worked out! Sometimes those surprises can be blessings in disguise. When I had to scout an additional location for camp, I learned that one of my original locations was no longer an approved site. 

Also, it was a blessing that we were slightly behind schedule in ordering our supplies since we would have to order additional supplies to account for the additional students. During the summer of 2021, my previous district hosted multiple camps in addition to STREAM camp. Because STREAM camp was a somewhat separate camp from the others, we had our own registration process based on a Microsoft form and email communication with parents. If possible in the future, the STREAM Camp registration process should follow that of the other camps. That would be less confusing for parents, who may have had multiple online locations for camp registration.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.“

Andy WArholl

How do I plan to promote and communicate your innovation project?

As this innovation plan took place in my previous district, I do not plan to promote it any further. The district communications department did a phenomenal job of promoting the 2021 STREAM camp. After this summer’s STEM camp has wrapped up at my new district, I plan to include measurable data and update the article I drafted during EDLD 5317 Resources for Digital Environments. This summer the CCISD STEM camp will be promoted with flyers, emails to parents, and through social media.

It seems very fitting that in my new role I also am able to organize a stem camp. There are four main differences in the Killeen ISD STREAM Camp at my previous district and in STEM Camp in my new district, Copperas Cove ISD.

How will I apply what I have learned in the next innovation project?

The Digital Learning and Leading program has built in me some high-quality skills that I will continue throughout my career:

I intend to incorporate each one of these elements in the plans that I propose. Also, I believe that if we are to truly innovate, we need to maintain a momentum of introducing new topics and not becoming complacent. One way to avoid complacency is to stop saying, “That’s how we did it before.” Instead, we should ask, “What are the possibilities?”


Link to Final Draft Google Doc

Digital Learning and Leading Journey Synthesis

Where & Why I Started

My Digital Learning and Leading journey has been one of growth, exploration and interest to me. Looking back I can see growth in myself both professionally and personally. I attribute this to the COVA method and the significant learning that was purposefully designed for success in the program.

I am certain that innovation occurred in my school district because of the work I was doing in the DLL program, beginning with the Innovation Plan and the projects that were associated with it

Prior to enrolling in this graduate program, I worked hard as a District Instructional Technologist every day for six years. However, I was not sure that I was having an impact or innovating. Generally, I was just going with the flow, and continuing the work that my colleagues had designed. It was fun work, but I did not recognize that we were innovating. Our work was centered around:

  • professional development in digital learning topics and blended learning
  • overseeing iPad initiatives such as our iLearn program for elementary teachers
  • supporting applications such as our learning management system, Schoology, and several others
  • supporting librarians by overseeing their PLCs and organizing special events like Battle of the Books and their summer library program (which became STREAM Camp)
  • organizing a digital citizenship initiative to be supported on campuses by counselors, librarians and campus techs.

While we were busy doing that work, there were organizational changes in our district that left us with an uncomfortable uncertainty around our department and positions. This prompted me to quickly seek an additional teacher’s certification in technical applications. It was then that I realized that I probably should go to graduate school. But I did not go. Then the pandemic hit, and our work shifted to supporting virtual learning. It was extremely challenging, and at times I felt overworked and undervalued. I did not complain or ask for additional help because EVERYONE in education was struggling to help students grow and succeed under difficult circumstances.

That trying time did bring about some necessary innovations in our district. My department quickly designed and implemented online training for teachers, students, and parents in multiple applications. We also procured an additional online platform for early learners, Seesaw. I observed teachers stretch out of their comfort zone to teach virtually. It was inspiring to see them embrace the digital tools they needed to be successful.

Beginning in the summer of 2020, I was casually considering earning my Master’s degree. It would be essential to have the degree if my department grew and I could potentially lead a team. I revisited the Lamar University Digital Learning and Leading degree plan page multiple times before I decided to fill out the form for more information. The program appealed to me as it was very closely related to the work I was doing. Additionally, the online five-week courses sounded manageable and could fit my busy work lifestyle. 

After filling out the form, I received a call quickly from Lamar. Then before I knew it, I took the leap of enrolling without thinking too long and hard about it. I would start two weeks later!  I did not want to put this off another year due to a fear of failing, potential workload or financial commitment. After 26 years of working in education, at age 49, it was finally time to forge ahead. Looking back, I am grateful that I made that life-changing decision. The time has passed by very quickly, and it is hard to believe we have reached the end of the program. Although I am older than the average student, I sincerely believe that it is my age and experience that contributed to my success in the program. 

Who Was Involved

Once EDLD 5305 started, and we wrote our first introductory discussion posts, I realized that I was not the only seasoned educator my age in the program. I very quickly connected with three classmates, two of which are close to my age. Our group of four stuck together and supported each other every single step of the way. The ability to collaborate and commiserate with friends certainly contributed to my success in a major way. Another contributing factor to my success in the program has been the very knowledgeable, supportive and encouraging instructors we had throughout the program. While all of our instructors clearly have expertise in the COVA method and Digital Learning, there are three instructors that stood out to me as very inspiring because they modeled a teaching approach that I hope to emulate.  Dr. Thibodeaux, Dr. Reed and Dr. Grogan consistently fostered a safe, encouraging, and collaborative environment during the class meetings. Other people that contributed to my success are my family and my colleagues. They were all very patient with me when I needed to prioritize school work over other activities. 

Highs & Lows

The past seventeen and a half months have been a series of highs and a few lows throughout the program. It has undoubtedly been a period of growth for me! I started the program just as I start every project in my life, full of enthusiasm and with good intentions for success. The structure of the program in five week courses supported my success and progress because it was relatively fast-paced without being too stressful. As a junior high, high school and undergraduate student, I was never very motivated. I did just enough to squeak by. In regular semester-long courses in my undergraduate courses, I had a tendency to procrastinate required reading, studying for tests and writing papers. Whether it’s age, experience, the financial investment, or COVA, the learning in this program has been markedly different for multiple reasons:

  • The courses were short, so it was easy to keep up. 
  • Because of the COVA method, the work was authentically tied to my daily job. The learning was authentic, so it paid off to do thorough research and planning on my projects. 
  • The nature of the work was centered around a project, with practically no tests. We only had quizzes in one course.
  • Practically every course we had was related to the innovation plan, or could be tied to it in some way. This gave me the sense that my work was building upon itself, supported by research and new knowledge gained in previous courses. At times it felt like I might be wearing out the topics a bit. But looking back now, I can see growth and a development of ideas. 
  • My team of classmates proved to be a powerful motivator. I wanted to do as well as they did. Our conversations in Slack frequently prompted me to get to work instead of procrastinating. Jen, Angela, and Hannah helped me develop the skills needed to be a more self-directed learner
  • Earning good grades in the beginning was very motivating because I wanted to continue to meet my potential in each course. I did not want to lower the bar, so I had goals to maintain good grades.
  • The element of having a public portfolio was a huge driver for me! Nearly every assignment in the course has its own blog post to document the journey. The thought that my classmates, colleagues and other friends in the edTech world would potentially see my work motivated me to create high-quality material. When I interviewed for my current position in the middle of the program, I shared my ePortfolio as an example of my work. It gave a clear history of my accomplishments as well as information about my beliefs and demonstrated my communication style.
  • The generally predictable course structure was also very helpful. Having a weekly class meeting early in the week, a discussion post with two discussion responses and a weekly (or bi-weekly) assignment was very manageable
  • There were not too many lows at all because the coursework was authentic. Those mainly occurred when I did not manage my time well in preparation for a larger assignment, such as our first literature review. But after I began to recognize the predictable workflow for each course, it was easier to keep up and not get behind. Generally, I reserved the weekends for completing assignments.

What I Have Created

The Digital Learning and Leading program has provided me with ample opportunities to create and plan. I already felt comfortable with many digital tools, but this course helped me deepen my skills with:

  • Google slides (~ 9 slideshows)
  • Google Docs (3 literature reviews, multiple planning docs)
  • WordPress (49 posts, 18 pages)
  • Book Creator (3 books)
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Express (abundant images & videos)
  • Sway (1)
  • YouTube (10 videosplaylist to the right) ➡➡➡
  • Canva (abundant images & slides)

What I Have Accomplished – Course Goals

It wasn’t until EDLD 5305, Disruptive Innovation, that I realized my department was already involved in some very innovative work. My primary goal was to get back to developing those innovations that had been interrupted by the pandemic.  After carefully considering my innovation plan with help from Dr. Thibodeaux, I chose to focus on adapting our existing summer library STREAM camp to include virtual learners, a separate middle school component, and 3D printing. Because of the work completed in EDLD 5305 with the innovation proposal, a research literature review, an innovation outline, a video to share with stakeholders, and an annotated bibliography, I had a solid structure for innovation with our STREAM camp.

EDLD 5302 Concepts of Educational Technology was probably my favorite course in the entire program! I loved exploring the introspective topic of Growth Mindset based on the work of Carol Dweck and the opportunity to create a learning manifesto. We explored the SAMR, UDL and TPACK frameworks which are essentials for digital leaders to consider when planning professional learning, designing instruction, or recommending online and software applications. These frameworks should be communicated to teachers and staff to help them use technology in more effective ways. In 5302, I also designed a list of Professional Learning Networks that I have continued to add to and share with colleagues.

In EDLD 5303 Applying Educational Portfolio, we developed our ePortfolios after considering Who Owns the Portfolio. It was in this course that I learned that the process of building the ePortfolio is just as essential as the final product. We also examined how each element of the COVA framework can cement learning for students. I wrote a brief blog post series reflecting on Choice, Ownership, Voice and Authentic Learning.

EDLD 5304, Leading Organizational Change was a powerful course for me because it empowered me with tools to influence innovation in my district. In that course, I shifted my focus from STREAM Camp to library transformation. What a joy it was to go back and revisit this work we completed slightly less than a year ago. This course was rich with learning and prompted me to observe the behavior of those around me.  As I reflect on that time in my professional career, this course helped me GROW. I was working with a very out-spoken close colleague at the time. Without the benefit of reading Crucial Conversations and Influencer, I may not have grown the courage and backbone I needed to establish my ability to lead. Also, many of the goals that I outlined in EDLD 5304 for transforming libraries came to fruition! I would likely have never developed those ideas with such specific detail if I were not in this program.

In EDLD 5313, Creating Significant Learning Environments, I appreciated the opportunity to refresh my memory on the various learning philosophies like constructivism. The first time around that I learned those things in college I did not have a good grasp of the theories. I was inexperienced. Also when I was in college and learning those theories, I was not yet a parent. The concepts felt somewhat abstract to me. As you watch students and your personal children learn and grow, those learning philosophies take on new meaning. In this course, after reading The New Culture of Learning, we asked What If questions around the possibilities of creating connections and positive culture to support learning. I organized these ideas in a Sway presentation and created a metaphorical video relating a classroom to a farm.

EDLD 5314 Digital Learning In Local & Global Contexts was the first class where we first developed the habit of asking three essential questions that are required when considering any innovation:

What worked?

What could have been done better?

How to apply the lessons learned?

These questions have stuck with me in areas beyond my classwork and employment. This class also provided an opportunity to revisit some previous work related to our innovation plans. In a second literature review, I was able to expand my thinking about a summer library STREAM camp to consider STEM learning in school library learning hubs in general. This was very aligned with the work in my district at the time to help the librarians cohesively reach the goal of modernizing their libraries to become learning hubs. 

In EDLD 5315 Assessing Digital Learning & Instruction we read Mertler’s online book Action Research and planned methods of quantitatively and qualitatively measuring the instructional impact of the implementation of our innovation plan. The focus of my action research plan was the 3D printer initiative for our elementary libraries. My fundamental research question was, “To what extent does equipping elementary libraries with 3D printers impact student engagement in the library?” Prior to completing our action research plans, we created an outline and wrote a third literature review. Since I moved to a neighboring school district with a promotion to Director of Digital Learning and Innovation in January 2022, I was not able to fully carry out this action research. However, developing the process and considering methods of evaluation is very important to future innovations in my new school district. 

The coursework EDLD 5318 Instructional Design In Online Learning was timely and practical for me. It fit right in with the 3D printer initiative for the elementary libraries. It was essential to have a way to prepare campus staff to implement the 3D printers effectively. An online course in our learning management system was the perfect forum for that. After reading Tony Bates’ Teaching in a Digital Age, and developing a plan using an Understanding by Design Template and Fink’s 3 Column Table the outline learning outcomes, I was equipped to design a solid online course. A process that proved to be very valuable was the OSCQR Course Design Review to evaluate elements of the online course. Overall, I used the strategies gained in EDLD 5318 to share resources and design an online community to support the new learning. This was a strong beginning to make the 3D printer initiative a success. All elementary librarians, campus techs and some curriculum specialists and teachers were enrolled in the course to build their skills. Participation in this course was in progress when I left Killeen ISD to work in Copperas Cove ISD.

In EDLD 5389 Developing Effective Professional Learning, we studied the work of Allison Gulamhussein to learn strategies for engaging teachers in authentic and active professional learning. Once again, I used an Understanding by Design Template and began a 3 Column table to design a 3 year professional learning plan that was : 

  • ongoing
  • addressed specific issues
  • engaging
  • highly effective
  • specific to the discipline

This plan was not necessarily connected to my innovation plan, but it was authentic learning because this type of planning is directly connected to what I do at work. I will certainly carry the knowledge and skills gained in this course in designing future authentic professional learning opportunities for teachers.

In EDLD 5316 Digital Citizenship, we deeply explored resources for carrying the important message of ethical, legal and responsible digital communication, creation and activity. Mike Ribble’s Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know was a powerful and informative tool. I created a book to explore and explain how we can do better sharing each of the nine elements of digital citizenship. One tool that was extremely useful in this course was the Coursera Duke University online course, Copyright for Educators & Librarians. EDLD 5316 had the most content to cover in the entire Digital Learning and Leading program with extensive journal entries, discussion posts and quizzes. Some notes about the rich learning are outlined in this reflection. The content in this course was not directly connected to the innovation plan, but the learning was indeed authentic as sharing the message of digital citizenship is one of my responsibilities as the Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at Copperas Cove ISD.

EDLD 5317 Resources For Digital Environments put me somewhat out of my comfort zone as we were tasked to write an article to submit to an actual reputable publication. We developed an outline, rough draft, media pitch, and final draft. The topic of my article was to compare the STREAM Camp of my innovation plan to the STEM camp in my new district. After I have an opportunity to gather data on the STEM camp coming up in June 2022, hopefully I will gain the courage to submit the article to the TCEA Tech Notes blog spot. Part of being a true digital learning leader is to recognize and highlight successful innovations to inspire others to innovate in their learning environments. 

EDLD 5320 Synthesis of Digital Learning & Leadership has been an incredible opportunity to revisit the learning and work we have completed on our Digital Learning and Leading Journey. I am grateful to have it all my ePortfolio to refer to. That is true ownership. 

What Worked

I learned so much throughout the program and I believe that the COVA method contributed to that. Every assignment I did had some connection to my daily work as a District Instructional Technologist. The only way to manage time to be successful at work AND in school was to combine them.

  • The research, writing and other coursework we did certainly helped build my strength and confidence and gain a voice at work. As the coursework was closely connected to work I was already doing, it brought some validity to much of my daily work. That in turn helped develop my leadership skills.
  • I believe that building a solid structure to my ePortfolio served me throughout the program. On this coursework page, each course links to blog posts that were categorized with that course name. This organizational structure was inspired by many of the exemplars that we were provided.
  • Other factors that worked for me were:
    • Creating a YouTube playlist of videos for each course
    • Speech to text for quicker writing. Dictation became essential for effective writing. I recognize that my writing has evolved throughout the program.
    • Text to speech for more effectively reading required material. 
    • Subscription to Citation Machine to keep a list of resources for each course
    • Subscription to Scribd to have a wide variety of eBook, Audiobook and PDF resources available.
    • Subscription to SlidesGo to make appealing slides that embedded nicely in my WordPress site
    • Using the weekly discussion posts as the base for upcoming written assignments. I realize that many of my discussion posts were too long, but the strategy of using those posts as pre-work for assignments was critical to my progress.

What Could Have Been Done Better

  • One thing I absolutely could have done better was to deepen my research. In our work we really did not have to do an excessive amount of research papers, with only three literature reviews and an annotated bibliography. I did certainly develop some research skills and I especially loved Research Gate. Also I was pretty pleased with the digital resources available from the Lamar University library. I realize how fortunate we are to be students in 2022! My online research is certainly much more prolific and efficient than researching in my undergrad work. Back then we might check out a whole stack of books and get one line of research out of each book if we were lucky. Also, we no longer have the nightmare of microfilm and microfiche.
  • Another thing I could have done better in the program was learned to use Canva more effectively. One classmate, Hannah, always built the most beautiful Canva presentations. I have barely a surface level knowledge of Canva, and never mastered the presentation or video features. That is an area in which I need to improve. 
  • Another thing I could do better also is to work ahead. Frequently, I did not give myself enough time to work without feeling pressure. This is where my cohort was essential to me! Their encouragement was indispensable!

Lessons I Have Learned – Separate from the Course Goals

  • The biggest lesson and eye-opener for me was that there are abundant opportunities and resources available, and all you have to do is be open to them.  That is indeed authentic and significant, as I began to consider other potential job opportunities. I would not have done that without this program, as I intended to retire from Killeen ISD as a District Instructional Technologist.
  • Another lesson I learned was not to compare myself to others. Rather it was more effective to use classmates’ work as a source of inspiration. Everyone’s work was authentically their own!
  • A third lesson I learned is that everyone has great ideas. The most effective and beneficial classes that I felt we had throughout this program were led by instructors that encouraged collaboration and sharing within the class meetings. That was where true connection and collaboration occurred. 
  • I also learned to continue to be flexible and willing to change the plans when needed. For example, my innovation plan wrapped up early in the program and I needed to focus on other work in my job. Therefore, I was able to mold the authentic work with the coursework and keep it mainly connected to the innovation plan.
  • I learned to anticipate change at my previous school district as a result of our work in this course because we were so focused on innovation. The trick I learned is to time the suggestion of change well. Carefully timing helped me innovate: STREAM Camp, 3D printer initiative and library transformation.

Where I Am Now

I can think of two courageous leaps that I have taken as a result of being in this program. The elementary 3D printer initiative that I led at Killeen ISD where we purchased 26 printers to establish a library standard was not one that was necessarily well received in the beginning. But because I had done research in this course, and developed online training as part of this program, I was prepared to thoroughly share the reasons why those 3D printers were a good idea. 

Since then, I have moved to my new district. Just last week my assistant superintendent (without even being asked) said to me, “We are going to buy a 3D printer for every elementary library.” I think that’s amazing!!! 

The other example of “daring to take a risk” was leaving one school district after being there for 27 years to another district to take on a leadership position. I am grateful for the opportunity even though it has been challenging and I am definitely out of my comfort zone. I would not have had the courage to take that leap if it had not been for the DLL program at Lamar University. By learning new leadership and planning skills, I have also had more courage to collaborate with various departments to build the diversity of my network. In some cases, curriculum and technology departments have not always seen eye to eye. As someone in the curriculum department, is a major goal of mine to have a harmonious relationship with the technology department.

Where I Am Headed

As my eyes have been opened to additional possibilities, I have some potentially lofty goals and dreams. I am not sure which ones I will actively pursue yet, but potential future plans include:

  • Earn my ISTE Certification – I was previously enrolled in the program and did not complete it due to time constraints. Now I am better equipped to tackle the ISTE portfolio submission.
  • Become an Apple Distinguished Educator – My district is currently rolling out a 1:1 iPad initiative for early learners. This will be a good springboard for me to make a difference and earn a distinction simultaneously.
  • Work as an adjunct professor at a local community college or university. I realize now that I have experiences and expertise to share.
  • Move out of public education and work for an edTech company when I become eligible for retirement in a little over two years. I do not have any specific ones in mind, but I know there are plenty of options. 
  • Run for the Killeen ISD School Board as I still live in the community and have an everlasting connection to the district where my children were educated. 
  • Present a TEDx Talk on my experiences as an educator, digital learning leader or an overcomer of difficult circumstances. I do not have a specific topic in mind, but I still have time to dream big!


  • Covey, S., McChesney, C., & Huling, J. (2012). 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. S.l.: Simon & Schuster.
  • Dweck, C. (2016). Mindset: the new psychology of success. Random House
  • Horn, M. B., Staker, H., & Christensen, C. M. (2017). Blended: Using disruptive innovation to improve schools. Jossey-Bass.
  • Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Patterson, K., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations tools for talking when stakes are high. McGraw-Hill.
  • Grenny, J., & Patterson, K. (2013). Influencer: the power to change anything. McGraw-Hill Professional.
  • Gulamhussein, A. (2013, September) Teaching_Effective_Professional_Developmt.pdf. Dropbox. https://www.dropbox.com/s/j13c5mk092kmqv9/Teaching_Effective_Professional_Developmt.pdf?dl=0
  • Mertler, C. A. (2013). Action Research (6th ed.). SAGE Publications.
  • Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society of Technology in Education.Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

DLL Synthesis Google Doc

COVA Reflection & Application

Mastering Choice, Ownership, Voice and Authentic Learning

Part A – COVA at Work

Throughout the Digital Learning and Leading Master’s program at Lamar, we have been immersed in the COVA approach to teaching and learning. This approach is based on the book COVA: Choice, Ownership and Voice through Authentic Learning, in which Harapnuik, Thibodeaux and Cummings thoroughly describe how these elements in a significant learning environment promote deeper and more meaningful learning. The authors bring authenticity and relevance to this approach by relating their examples to personal experiences, as well as describing how they successfully used the approach in the DLL program at Lamar University.

Learn More About COVA with this image created in Thinglink.

My Authentic Learning

The structure of this program built on the COVA approach opened my mind to new possibilities professionally and absolutely impacted my work as a District Instructional Technologist. Throughout the program, I was able to apply new learning to my daily work from nearly every course. It was clear to me by the end of our first course of the program, EDLD 5305, Disruptive Innovation, that we would have choice and the ability to work on an authentic project throughout the program. I was psyched and eager! However, I carefully considered the first couple of choices we had to make.

We were instructed to:

  • Choose a tool for the e-portfolio
  • Decide on a topic for an Innovation plan. 


For my ePortfolio, I considered 4 possibilities:

  • Adobe Spark Page – I had started a page in Adobe Spark (now known as Adobe Creative Cloud Express). After viewing the portfolios of other EDLD students, I realized I would need a tool that was more robust. This tool is amazing, but did not have the versatility I needed to carry me through the entire program. Also, I would have built it in the domain of my previous district, and would have needed to find a way to move it.
  • Google Sites – I had tried Google sites a little and didn’t pick it up super quickly. Plus I really wanted a domain name for my site. Currently I maintain a school portal which is built in Google Sites, so I am now learning how to use it!
  • Wix – I can’t remember why, but it wasn’t the right fit for me.
  • WordPress – I had used WordPress previously just a little bit. I had two other pages set up from when I dabbled with it before. My tiny bit of experience with WordPress and having the option to buy a domain name was probably why I chose it. I am very glad that I decided to set up the site with a navigation page early in the program. After that, setting up for each course began to feel routine. Looking back, I do wish that I had taken more time to shop around for a little more modern them, but I am happy with what I have. 
Learn More About ePortfolios with this image created in Thinglink.

Innovation Plan

I was thrilled with the idea of having the freedom to choose a project that I could apply to my daily work. The job I was doing as District Instructional Technologist at that time was quite busy, so the idea of earning my degree while also tackling work tasks was appealing. However, I didn’t have the confidence that I could choose something that was truly innovative. Upon reflection, I realize that I was fortunate to work in a district that embraced innovation in many ways. The work I was doing was already somewhat innovative.

I reached out to Dr. Thibodeaux with five potential ideas for my Innovation Plan and she helped me narrow it down to the STREAM Camp. What fun it was to dig out that original email to remind me of some ideas I had forgotten that I can still pursue!

  1. STREAM Camp with virtual option – I chose this one and somewhat connected it to the 2nd choice in this list.
  2. Elementary MakerSpace upgrade – I was able to procure 3D printers for the elementary libraries and designed the online course for librarians and teachers in EDLD 5318.
  3. Virtual Professional Learning Academy – I can start on this in my new role!
  4. Blended Learning Framework – In my new role, they have recently developed a Blended Learning Framework, so I will follow through with this.
  5. Micro-credential Initiative – I didn’t choose this one, but I’m glad it’s on a project wish list.

When it comes to innovation an ounce of execution is worth more than a ton of theory.

Phil McKinney

Adapting the Innovation Plan

After I chose an idea for an innovation plan and submitted all assignments for EDLD 5305, Disruptive Innovation in Education, I felt very comfortable with the notion of pursuing the plan and documenting that in an ePortfolio. I was not completely sure that the innovation plan would carry me throughout the entire program. The STREAM camp would be done by the end of June 2021. So what would I innovate (and write about) after that? As the program progressed and the goals of each EDLD course revealed themselves, I was able to adapt my innovation plan and mold my coursework to fit with the overarching concepts. While every topic that I addressed was not directly related to STREAM camp, I generally focused on the realm of these topics:

Learning Philosophies

My learning was indeed authentic, and the COVA approach aligned with my beliefs and learning philosophy. I believe in these teaching & learning theories:

  • Constructivism – Based on the notion that learners construct new knowledge and ideas based on previous knowledge and experiences
  • Behaviorism – Theorists and researchers such as BF Skinner, Ivan Pavlov, and E.L. Thorndike were proponents of behaviorism and believed that a change in behavior by a student demonstrated learning.
  • Cognitivism – This theory is centered around thinking and what occurs in the learner’s mind during the learning process.
  • Connectivism – This relatively recent theory by George Siemens proposes that because information is so readily available and constantly changing, the concepts around accessing information and learning should be updated. 

Part B – Creating Significant Learning Environments

I appreciated the opportunity to examine those beliefs in EDLD 5313, Creating Significant Learning Environments. Throughout the work in that course, I came to understand that what preservice teachers learn in college as best practices and what actually occurs in schools can be starkly contrasted. There may be several causes for this. State and school district leaders feel pressure to find ways to ensure that all students make measurable educational gains on standardized tests. This is particularly true most recently. According to the report by Hanover Research, 2022 Trends in K-12 Education, US schools are faced with record-high teacher turnover and students continue to struggle with trauma and learning loss. Therefore, school leaders may choose to infuse classrooms with a strict curriculum to follow, and frequently use formal assessments and data to monitor progress. 

Support or Autonomy

In some cases, overwhelmed teachers may even request that pre-designed lessons be made available. Other teachers prefer more autonomy, and the ability to creatively design learning experiences for students. If teachers have this autonomy, they are able to create significant learning environments using the COVA framework.

Resistance to Innovation

I recently changed school districts, and I observed the effects of what some teachers perceive to be constrictive curriculum in both school districts. In my previous district, I had become reticent about disruptive change after hitting a couple of walls. In my new district, I am still developing relationships, identifying needs and learning about applications that we support. Tiny seeds of discouragement were beginning to take root as I began to encounter those familiar walls. 

The idea of implementing wide-spread innovation and change can feel overwhelming and daunting. How is an innovation leader supposed to maintain a harmonious balance and alliance with leadership, while still working to create positive change? 

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.


Hopeful Reminders

Thankfully, I was recently reminded about how to remain hopeful and envision multiple opportunities and possibilities for innovation, including using the COVA approach.

In EDLD 5313, Creating Significant Learning in Environments, we read New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. This book bolstered thoughts of possibility and decreased the overwhelm of disruptive innovation. The authors propose that teachers return to the more naturalistic perspective of learning, as children are born explorers and learners. “In the new culture we describe, learning thus becomes a lifelong interest that is renewed and redefined on a continual basis. Furthermore, everything—and everyone—around us can be seen as resources for learning.” They go on to propose that current learning environments are not “broken” and that “the new culture of learning will augment—rather than replace—traditional educational venues.” This is a hopeful proposal. 

Earlier this week, I had the amazing privilege of participating in a meeting called the Innovator’s Lounge, hosted by authors Dr. Matthew X. Joseph and Brian Aspinall of CodeBreakerEdu. At first, I felt as though I had little to offer the conversation as I listened to a small group of authors and thought leaders describe ways they are innovating. I was asked what I am doing to create change and innovate in my district. Basically my response was, “Nothing yet.” That answer did not satisfy me, but as the conversation progressed, I began to feel an increased sense of hope. It occurred to me that it IS within my power to inspire and drive innovation in small incremental ways that can have a ripple effect. I may not be successful at every single attempt, but there is power in modeling. Also, leadership is also very often about taking risks. If someone with the word “Innovation” in her title is not able to take risks, then who is?

Innovator’s Lounge 3/11/2022

Incorporating Innovation & the COVA Approach

Here are a few ways that I can remain vigilant in my quest for innovation in my school district:

Professional Learning – I have recently launched a survey for all teachers and staff in which they have the opportunity to share what professional learning they prefer. This includes topics and format. When we design these learning opportunities for teachers, we can base some of them on the COVA approach by building in opportunities for participants to apply that learning authentically in their classroom. In EDLD 5389, Developing Effective Professional Learning, we learned about Allison Gulamhussein’s 5 Principles of Effective Professional Development. One of those principles states that, “The duration of professional learning must be significant and ongoing to allow time for teachers to learn a new strategy and grapple with the implementation problem.” The COVA approach is best implemented in longer professional learning designs in which teachers have opportunities to make connections with their new learning, use it authentically and reflect upon it. Currently 32% of our survey respondents have indicated cohort style as a learning preference. That is hopeful!

Elementary Summer Coding Camp – In my current district, we are fortunate to have a DoDEA grant that provides funds for STEM education and coding specifically for our junior high students. This provides multiple opportunities for innovation. The challenge is cultivating interest in some events, such as our recent Together We Code Event. The grant also provides for a junior high STEM camp in which students spend two weeks inventing. This is based on a purchased program. For elementary students, we are planning a district-designed summer coding camp. I am looking forward to following the guidance of these authors and thought leaders who advocate for and clearly define the many benefits of coding as a new form of literacy for young learners:

This two-week camp will absolutely include elements of Choice, Ownership, Voice and Authentic Learning. Additionally, it will tap into that natural desire for learning that students are born with!

Share the COVA Method relentlessly – In professional learning settings, I intend to share the concepts behind the COVA framework. When faced with the inevitable question, “How can we do this when we have a scripted curriculum?” My responses will be simple:

  • District leadership has stated the elementary & junior high math curriculum are able to be supplemented with additional activities.
  • Self-contained elementary teachers are also responsible for science and social studies. Those subjects made for authentic learning opportunities!
  • As a professional, you know what is best for your students. Build in opportunities for them to rediscover the joy in learning.

Continue Blended Learning Cohorts – Our junior high math teachers are currently in a blended learning cohort that spans the entire school year, courtesy of a state funded grant. This purchased program this year does not explicitly espouse the COVA approach, however, it does provide for most elements of the framework.

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.

Brene Brown
  • Choice – the teachers can choose which digital tools or skills to include in their course for students
  • Ownership – they are able to design their LMS math course to fit the needs of their students
  • Voice – I have heard the concerns they have voiced about the difficulty they encounter learning new skills and tools, and the disparity of being able to implement those with limited constraints. I intend to work closely with the presenters to customize the program for next year to lessen the teachers’ perception that they have to expend a huge extra effort to implement blended learning. In fact, if they use blended learning and the COVA framework as intended, they may find themselves doing less work. 
  • Authentic learning – the learning is authentic as teachers take their new skills and instantly apply it to their LMS course.

Support Library Transformation – Our librarians are already doing amazing work! I want to determine ways to highlight this and continue to build their capacity to provide and support makerspace opportunities and digital citizenship education. If we are creative together, the librarians and I will surely discover and design opportunities for COVA learning!

You just start.

Brian Aspinall


I am very grateful for this opportunity to reflect on my learning experiences throughout the Digital Learning and Leading program. Each class meeting, discussion post, visit with cohort members and assignment build connections. This current reflection has brought about a renewed inspiration for the abilities I have to make a difference with all teachers, students, staff members and parents in my school district.


Link to Final Draft Google Doc

Article Submission Final Draft

Tale of Two Camps:

How Two Central Texas School Districts are Transforming Learning Through Summer STEM Camps 

Here you will the find the final draft of an article that I am considering submitting for the publication as a guest blog entry on the TCEA Tech Notes Blog site. Creating this article has been somewhat of a daunting task as I have much respect for the organization and the consistently quality information and resources it provides. One goal of the article is to help inform my peers that may potentially refer to the article to be inspired to design their own STEM camps. The message that I hope to convey is that we can engage students with fun summer learning with the proper planning and resources. Hosting elective summer stem camps can go a long way to inspire students to potential career opportunities that they would not have otherwise had the opportunity to learn about. Potential readers are:

  • curriculum leaders
  • instructional technology leaders
  • campus leaders
  • Librarians
  • classroom teachers

The article has gone through several iterations throughout the course as I gradually prepared, and after considering peer and instructor feedback, developed these elements:

Guidelines for TCEA Tech Notes guest blog article submission

TCEA Guest blog posts require

  • One high-resolution image: There are 4 possible images to use linked on rough draft ePortfolio entry. Photos courtesy of Todd Martin, Killeen ISD
  • Posts should be 500-800 words.
  • Provide practical, ready-to-implement ideas, instead of broad concepts.
  • A brief author bio:

Holly Landez, the new Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at Copperas Cove ISD has over 27 years in the field of education, with 17 years of supporting learners with technology. Holly is passionate about helping teachers discover new digital tools and strategies to enhance learning. It is her mission to help students recognize their strengths while exploring new interests, particularly in STEM topics.

Link to Final Draft Google Doc


  • Coding for kids, Kids Programming Classes & Games: Tynker. Tynker.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.tynker.com/
  • Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2018). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. The MIT Press. 

“projects, passion, peers, and play. In short, we believe the best way to cultivate creativity is to support people working on projects based on their passions, in collaboration with peers and in a playful spirit.”

Mitchel Resnick

Article Submission Media Pitch

Tale of Two Camps:

How Two Central Texas School Districts are Transforming Learning Through Summer STEM Camps 

This video is part three of a project in development, my article to potentially submit as a guest blogger on TCEA TechNotes. The article is abased on a camp that I helped develop and support in Killeen ISD and another which I will support in Copperas Cove ISD. The two camps have similar themes and goals, but they were designed with different approaches. STREAM camp in Killeen ISD is nearing its fourth year, and is the foundation of the innovation plan I have been developing throughout my coursework in the digital learning and leading program. The Copperas Cove ISD camp is nearing its second year. It is my hope that by the fourth year of the Copperas Cove ISD summer stem camp that we will have measurable results that show students have made significant gains in math. That is the objective of the grant which makes that camp available for students.

  1. Outline
  2. Rough Draft
  3. Video promotion of upcoming article
  4. Final draft
  5. Submit to publication

How can we help students become competitive in the future workforce while reducing the summer slide? How can we help pique student interests and inspire them to explore topics in science, technology, engineering, and math? Two Central Texas school districts have hosted summer STEM camps to build student curiosity and creativity in topics that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore. In recent summers, students at the these two districts have had the opportunity to attend STEM camps to informally build skills, engage in design thinking, and find joy in learning. While taking different approaches, these two districts are achieving similar results: inspiring learners.

In recent summers, two central Texas school districts have hosted summer stem camps to build student curiosity and creativity in topics that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to explore. At these camps students were able to informally build skills engage in design thinking and find joy in learning. While taking different approaches these two districts are achieving similar results: inspiring learners.

One camp was hosted mainly in elementary libraries. It was a homegrown camp with a variety of activities. Students used robots and made crafts, and participated in science experiments. The other camp was mainly for middle school students. The program came with a full curriculum and supplies. Students had opportunities to be creative. They participated in science experiments, and did engineering projects. And they invented!

Both school districts found creative ways to fund the camps.

Would you like to know more about how you can provide similar opportunities for students in. your school district? Look for my article in an upcoming TCEA TechNotes blog. In the article I will discuss how to acquire supplies and programs, creative strategies for acquiring funding, considerations for effective planning, and other tips for a successful camp.


Committee on STEM Education of the National Science & Technology Council (2018) Charting a course for success: America’s strategy for STEM education

Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2018). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. The MIT Press. 

Teaching minds: How cognitive science can save our schools. Roger Schank. (n.d.). Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.rogerschank.com/teaching-minds-how-cognitive-science-can-save-our-schools

Sledd, W. (2021, July 7). DoDEA grant funds Stem summer camp for Cove students. Killeen Daily Herald. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://kdhnews.com/fort_hood_herald/across_the_fort/dodea-grant-funds-stem-summer-camp-for-cove-students/article_449aa0ea-de9c-11eb-91d1-bfb9774766cd.html. 

Article Submission Rough Draft

Tale of Two Camps:

How Two Central Texas School Districts are Transforming Learning Through Summer STEM Camps 

How can we help students become competitive in the future workforce while reducing the summer slide? How can we help pique student interests and inspire them to explore topics in science, technology, engineering, and math? Two Central Texas school districts have hosted summer STEM camps to build student curiosity and creativity in topics that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore. In recent summers, students at the Killeen Independent School District and Copperas Cove Independent School District have had the opportunity to attend STEM camps to informally build skills, engage in design thinking, and find joy in learning. While taking different approaches, these two districts are achieving similar results: inspiring learners.

The 2018 report by the Committee on STEM Education, which is composed of members from government agencies and departments invested in STEM education, outlined goals and a vision for STEM education for the upcoming years. The goals are to build strong foundations for STEM literacy, increase diversity and equity in STEM and prepare the future workforce. The report detailed the current state of STEM education in our country, which is growing, but still lagging behind other countries. Additionally, the report proposed a five-year pathway to success, including examples and resources. This report has impacted the goals and work of school district leaders and educators to bolster support for STEM education.That impact can be felt in Killeen and Copperas Cove, Texas and is directly benefiting students in grades K – 8. 

In 2017, Dina D’Amore, librarian at Reeces Creek Elementary suggested an innovative change to a traditional summer library program that had waning participation and attendance by students. Collaboratively with a team of talented librarians, assistants and volunteers, STREAM Camp was developed. The team designed creative, fun, and challenging activities to be implemented across five locations for over two hundred students in grades kindergarten through eighth grades during the first two weeks of June. Throughout the three half-day sessions of STREAM camp, students engaged in coding with Scratch, observed robotics demonstrations, programmed Dash, Ozobot, and Sphero robots. Additionally, they engaged in science experiments such as the Magic Milk Experiment, as well as crafts like jewelry making, and video projects using green screens. Because the camps were held in libraries it was a natural fit to integrate literature connections with the STEM exploration. Students started their gaze listening to books such as: 

The first year of STREAM camp was supported by a small existing budget for the previous traditional library program. Therefore, the camp activities were implemented with existing technology and tools that were available, with a small budget for purchasing consumable supplies. The following year, the camp expanded to include an additional location and serve over one hundred more students. This was a direct result of positive survey results submitted by students and parents. Consequently, the school district was able to invest additional funds to support the camp. 

Third year of STREAM camp brought significant growth and challenges. During the school year 2019-2020, STREAM camp did not occur due to the pandemic and school closures. The following year, in an attempt to supplement unfinished learning, STREAM Camp was significantly expanded, which increased the budget. The improved budget allowed the team of librarians to serve virtual learners and incorporate additional valuable materials such as Kiwi kits and 3D printing. Including virtual learners required careful planning and coordination. The team creatively implemented STEM challenges (include details of a challenge here) which could be accomplished using everyday upcycled materials that virtual learners may have at home. That summer Killeen ISD was able to host STREAM camp as one choice of a variety of camps.

The summer STEM camp in Copperas Cove ISD evolved under completely different circumstances, but still yielded positive results.  In 2019 the district was awarded a $750,000 grant from DoDEA called Copperas Cove Codes. The summer STEM camp is only one resulting activity supported by the grant. The success of the grant initiative is to be measured by increased math scores of students in grades 6, 7, and 8. The activities and data measured will be ongoing until 2024. Some of the differences of the camps are that: 

  • The CCISD summer STEM camp has significant solid funding that is sustainable for at least two more years.
  • The success of the camp is to be measured with actionable data in the form of test scores.
  • The CCISD camp activities were designed by an organization called the National Inventors Hall of Fame, which includes an all-inclusive program with a curriculum, schedule and supplies called Project Invention.
  • The first year of summer STEM camp served seventy-two students in grades 6 – 8


While each district has taken different approaches to providing challenging and engaging summer STEM learning opportunities for students, we do see several similarities in the camps:

  • They were each designed to help students find the joy in learning and enhance their regular classroom instruction.
  • Both camps included the conscious thought process proposed by Roger Schank’s research,  Teaching Minds (prediction, modeling, experimentation)
  • Both camps will continue for the upcoming summer of 2022
  • Both camps will positively affect students with outcomes that may not be realized until adulthood.
  • Essentially the camps were meant to inspire curiosity and students and help them find the joy in learning with a theme similar to the thoughts of Scratch creator and author of Lifelong Kindergarten, Mitchel Resnick who said, 
    • “projects, passion, peers, and play. In short, we believe the best way to cultivate creativity is to support people working on projects based on their passions, in collaboration with peers and in a playful spirit.”

Questions to ask while planning successful camps:

  1. What are the Goals of the camp? 
  2. How will the success of the camp be measured?
  3. What grade levels will attend the camp? 
  4. How many students will we be able to serve? 
  5. How many staff members will we need to teach and support those learners?
  6. In which facilities will we host the activities? 
  7. Will transportation be provided? 
  8. Will snacks be provided? 
  9. What is the potential budget of the camp? 
  10. Is this type of camp sustainable for multiple years? 
  11. Will we design our own activities and camp, or will we purchase a program to host our camp? 
  12. Will we be able to invite any guest presenters or experts? 
  13. What sort of accommodations will we need to consider for students with special needs?

Digital and Hands-On Resources for do-it-yourself camps:

Works in progress:

TCEA Guest blog posts require: 

  • One high-resolution image: There are 4 possible images to use linked on the ePortfolio. Photos courtesy of Todd Martin, Killeen ISD
  • A brief author bio:

Holly Landez, the new Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at Copperas Cove ISD has over 27 years in the field of education, with 17 years of supporting learners with technology. Holly is passionate about helping teachers discover new digital tools and strategies to enhance learning. It is her mission to help students recognize their strengths while exploring new interests, particularly in STEM topics. 


Committee on STEM Education of the National Science & Technology Council (2018) Charting a course for success: America’s strategy for STEM education

Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2018). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. The MIT Press. 

Teaching minds: How cognitive science can save our schools. Roger Schank. (n.d.). Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.rogerschank.com/teaching-minds-how-cognitive-science-can-save-our-schools

Sledd, W. (2021, July 7). DoDEA grant funds Stem summer camp for Cove students. Killeen Daily Herald. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://kdhnews.com/fort_hood_herald/across_the_fort/dodea-grant-funds-stem-summer-camp-for-cove-students/article_449aa0ea-de9c-11eb-91d1-bfb9774766cd.html. 

Feedforward opportunities:

  • How can I best express that STREAM camp primarily served elementary students, with a few older students. For the third year, middle school students had their own special section of camp.
  • Which details can I trim down to fit the 800 word limit of the TCEA guest blog post and balance the stories of each district?
  • Should I consider a different publication that would allow more text?
  • How can I best fit in the planning considerations and list of supplies and resources?

Link to Rough Draft Google Doc

Link to Google Doc with Comments enabled

Article Submission Outline

Digital Citizenship Reflections

Culminating Project


This class has provided me with a wide range of insight in the topics of digital citizenship. With the availability of ubiquitous technology and the growth of the internet has progressed across the past 30 years, we have developed the need to transform our perception of what it means to be a good citizen. Now it is the responsibility of all involved in raising students to help them develop smart and responsible digital citizenship skills as well. This includes:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • school administrators
  • community leaders

 Generation Z, that is students born between 1997 and now, have been born into a world of accessible technology. According to Pew Research Center, ninety-seven percent of teens use social media. They do not exactly separate the real world and the digital world. Therefore, it is logical to include digital citizenship skills in most areas of their education and upbringing. Just as we frequently remind students how to properly conduct themselves in various scenarios (classroom, assembly, restaurants), we should remind them of how to responsibly conduct themselves online. This course has helped strengthen my skills in that area.

I believe that my biggest accomplishment and best work in this course is the culminating project designed in Book Creator that defines each of Mark Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship. It is a tool that school leaders can use to share with teachers and parents which includes resources associated with each element. The mantra present on each page of the book is, “How Can We Do Better?” I chose this mantra because even though digital citizenship education is not a new concept, we must constantly strive to improve the knowledge and skills we impart to students. As technology develops and changes, the challenges for digital citizenship education increases. According to enough.org and DigitalTrends.com, there has been a 70% increase in cyberbullying in recent months.

We must ask ourselves how we can do better at preparing students for positively impacting their digital world. I arrived at this question after watching the 2020 Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. I don’t necessarily agree with every dire message portrayed in the film, that all social media platforms are driven by greed and disregard the mental health and wellness of users. I do agree that social media has changed the landscape of society. I also agree with Jaron Lanier, computer philosophy writer and a founder of the field of virtual reality, who says at the end of the documentary, “We can do better.”

One challenge I did face was digesting the amount of content in the course that we needed to digest. Although, I do also consider that a strength of the course. The concepts around Digital Citizenship are rich and require more than five weeks to master.

The most meaningful thing that I learned in the course was to persist in my leadership role of emphasizing the need for richer digital citizenship education. In many districts, it ranks low on the list of educational priorities, particularly now as student and teachers are facing so many learning gaps because of the pandemic. Some districts merely provide a technology acceptable use policy, a list of things not to do. In my opinion a more positive and effective approach would be to weave digital citizenship education into regular instruction, providing students with strategies for being a good digital citizen. That also happens to my favorite thing of the course, to make it my mission as a Director of Digital Learning to lead my new district in evolving their implementation of digital citizenship instruction.


Image Credits:

People illustrations by Storyset


Week 4 of our EDLD 5316 Digital Citizenship course has been rich with learning opportunities! This week we:

Case Study 1 – Patrick Halligan

The tragic case of Ryan Halligan, who ended his life after enduring multiple forms of online bullying by his peers, is one that should never be repeated. Sadly, Ryan is not alone, and these types of situations have occurred all over our nation. Some examples are shared here, on Hidden Kids. It is the responsibility of all involved in raising youth to develop strategies and solutions for combatting cyberbullying. This is noted in a Gifted Child article by Dr. Del Siegle, “Parents and educators play an important role in helping young people understand the consequences of poor decisions in a digital age where favorable, as well as unfavorable, text and images spread exponentially.”

Ryan was the victim of several forms of cyberbullying including:

  1. Denigration: “Dissing” someone online. Sending or posting gossip or rumors about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships.
  2. Outing: Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information or images online.
  3. Trickery: Talking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information or images online. (Siegle, 2010).

These actions contributed to Ryan’s feelings of inadequacy, and depression. As he did not report the cyberbullying to his parents, school staff, or other trusted adult there was not a positive resolution to the situation. However, Ryan’s father is now able to make a positive impact on students, parents, and school staff by sharing his website which includes resources for preventing cyberbullying. Additionally, he visits schools to share Ryan’s experiences and advises students, parents, and school staff on steps to take when cyberbullying begins to rear its ugly head. Additionally, Ryan’s case contributed to the 2004 Vermont Act 117; 16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(32); An Act was enabled in memory of Ryan Patrick Halligan who was severely bullied electronically. The penalty is to have schools develop a plan to notify parents of bullying along with the victim and expulsion may be a consequence.

Although the offenders may not have received discipline in school for their behavior, they likely endured some psychological repercussions.  If similar bullying occurs in Vermont schools now, they have an obligation to share that with parents and deliver a consequence.

As a school technology leader, I would take several steps to minimize cyberbullying:

  1. I would advocate for and implement frequent communication with students, parents, and school staff information about cyberbullying. It is essential to humanize these topics and include true stories such as Ryan’s.
  2. I would ensure that our school district had superior content monitoring and filtration software on the network and on devices to ensure that such activities were not occurring on the school district network or school-issued devices.
  3. I would encourage school leaders to make bully reporting safe so that students do not have a fear of social repercussions when they report cyberbullying.
  4. I would do my absolute best to contribute to and help develop positive school climate.

In this talk at George Mason University, Sameer Hinduja, the author of Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard, states that students in schools who perceive a more negative school climate, report more cases of cyberbullying. He goes on to discuss positive social norming, in which school staff, can create a ripple effect of positive school climate, rather than a negative climate. It is the moral obligation of school leaders to be observant and alert to potential bullying and cyberbullying and consciously take steps to build positive school climate so that students are able to put their efforts and energy into building each other up rather than creating painful and dangerous scenarios.     

Case Study 2 – Kylie Kenney

Although Kylie Kenney’s situation is similar to Ryan’s in many ways, it has a happier ending. When Kyle’s classmates created the website called “Kill Kylie Incorporated” and then sent out messages pretending to be her, they were engaged in at least two forms of cyberbullying:

  • Denigration: “Dissing” someone online. Sending or posting gossip or rumors about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships.
  • Impersonation: Pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material to get that person in trouble or danger or to damage that person’s reputation or friendships.

According to the Deseret News article, the two students responsible for the online bullying were eventually suspended. Additionally, the police had to be involved because their bullying included death threats. It is likely that until then, the students that did not know Kylie very well naively thought that what they were doing was harmless and that they would not be caught. After this situation, Kylie accompanied Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to speak to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to shine a light on the need for legislation regarding cyberbullying. Since then, Utah state law includes additional regulations regarding cyberbullying.

A s school technology leader, I would take the same stance as noted previously in the case of Ryan Halligan:

  • Training students, parents & staff frequently
  • Utilize content monitoring & filtration on the network & devices
  • Ensure safe (potentially anonymous) bully reporting
  • Advocate for and encourage positive school climate.

Hopefully each of these steps would have a positive effect to reduce the occurrences of cyberbullying.

Reflections & Resources

For our discussion posts for this week, we viewed Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk, The Price of Shame. 

I remember very vividly when this scandal with Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton occurred. It seemed like the story was everywhere! On late night TV shows, the news, tabloids and more. Back then it seemed overwhelming and shocking, and Monica Lewinsky was the one every person blamed for the scandal.

The story that Monica described was painful, as was the story of Tyler Clementi that she shared, who took his life after experiencing online bullying. Her story could have been exponentially more painful if it had occurred now, when social media is in constant use by millions of people. Can you imagine the level of pain she would have had to endure while reading comments of thoughtless people hiding behind a computer or smart phone screen?

Monica very eloquently reminded the audience that we are making progress and heading in the right direction, and that we should reinforce empathy and compassion to ease the shame of mistakes people make. However, positive reinforcement is not quite enough. In Texas we have David’s Law, which is named after a boy that took his own life after he was relentlessly bullied online.

“This law allows schools to combat and prevent cyberbullying by empowering them to investigate and address off-campus cyber-assisted bullying if it materially affects the school environment. “

 I had the opportunity to hear David’s father speak and tell his story at a high school. That was incredibly impactful and made an impression on the students! This images shows the positive impact that David’s law is having in the issues associated with bullying in Texas schools.

Additionally, we viewed a video featuring poet Shane Koyczan which was moving and provided an opportunity to consider how the bullied feel. Models such as this, and well as the cases of Ryan, Kylie and David should be shared with students to remind them to be empathetic and compassionate, rather that working to build shame in others.

We also engaged in reading some very meaningful content. What I found helpful and engage was the book called Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin.  I have not read the entire book yet, but I especially enjoy the scenarios outlined in the book. Of course accessing one resource can lead to YouTube rabbit hole, which is what happened to me. So I also came across multiple videos featuring the authors. I especially enjoyed these two featuring Sameer Hinduja presenting at George Mason University and at the World Anti-Bullying Forum. In both videos he shares his definition of cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices” and shares current (for the time) statistics about cyberbullying, as will as contributing factors to and the effects of cyberbullying.

One of the most useful sites I encountered was https://cyberbullying.org/ which provides information and resources to define and prevent cyberbullying. Additionally, it compares and details the laws regarding cyberbullying in each state of America.

Reviewing the case studies of Ryan and Kylie were helpful because it reminded me that each case is different, and can quickly become dangerous if not bought to the attention of trusted and engaged adults. This led me to examine the current state of cyberbullying. Sadly, with the pandemic, reports and statistics are not terribly promising. Security.org reports that due to an increase in social media use as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, cyberbullying was on the rise, with twenty-one percent of students reporting that they have been cyberbullied.  With the latest statistics, Broadbandsearch reports that 42% of cyberbullying occurs on Instagram.

Just as the pandemic has set back teaching and learning, and created instructional gaps, it has also set the stage for an uptick of cyberbullying. Just as I believe that our students will continue to make learning gains, I choose to believe that as time goes by and educational communities are rebuilt, positive school climates will be able to make a shift once again toward minimizing cyberbullying. Our students’ lives depend on it!

https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/establishing-rules – Just in time tips for parents about setting limits and boundaries around screen time and digital wellness.

Cyberbullying Warning Signs – An extremely valuable resource from Cyberbullying.com to share with parents

https://enough.org/stats_cyberbullying – Recent statistics about cyberbullying in the United States


Image Credits:

People illustrations by Storyset