Tom Murray

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ALMA SOLVES PROBLEMS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD (Like Smartphones and Tablets Did)

Tom Murray

                  You may have seen my friend, Eric Sheninger's recent post, "Finally, an SIS Worth Switching For". Eric and Eric and I are both on Alma's Advisory Board and like him, I'm excited about this platform. As an SIS, it's the best-in-class. Schedule a demo and you'll see how much thought and attention went into designing the interface.

Finally, an SIS Worth Switching For

Tom Murray

You don’t need to be a database administrator or techie to make it work for you. Most of the

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6 Benefits of an Android Tablet

Tom Murray

A recent article in Fortune entitled, “Ultra cheap Chromebooks are killing it this year”, highlights the explosive growth of mobile devices in schools, and specifically relays how 72% of Chromebooks sales were to schools. In the overall market, in 2014, Chromebooks outpaced Apple’s iPad in school related purchases.

4 Ways to Leverage Tablets Beyond the Classroom

Tom Murray

  Routers on school buses to bring wifi to the poorest parts of the community. District wifi maps indicating free business hotspots throughout the community. Wifi kiosks in low income housing. With the explosion of digital learning over the past decade, school districts are starting to tackle access and connectivity issues, as well as providing anytime, anywhere learning experiences for kids.

5 Costly Inventory Management Mistakes Schools Should Avoid

16 Questions for School Leaders Going Digital

Tom Murray

When implementing a digital conversion, it’s imperative for school leaders to have a systemic plan of implementation. In schools where news headlines have pointed out failures in implementation, quite often evidence pointed towards poor planning, a rushed implementation, and/or poor decision-making by school leaders. Some areas that need to be thoroughly planned for are:   1.

5 Concerns School Leaders have about Digital Transformation

Tom Murray

  From Atlanta, Georgia to Vancouver, Washington, I've had the opportunity to travel and work with over a thousand district leaders over the past year. Regardless of which region of the country the conversation takes place, a number of concerns arise regarding a district's digital tranformation. These concerns are real and are often roadblocks for school leadership teams. One will not find

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Four Ways to Support Your School's Digital Transformation

Tom Murray

  Digital learning is an instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience. The Alliance for Excellent Education, one of the top bipartisan

"I Just Want to be Normal, Daddy."

Tom Murray

    Finding strength in the midst of heartache   Today was one of the those days. The kind of day that’s difficult to forget and one that rips your heart out as a parent. What started out as any Monday would, ended with me appreciating life and the love of my little ones that much more.   My little girl was born with severe food allergies - tree nuts and sesame seeds to be exact.

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Join SETDA: Affiliate Memberships Now Accepted

Digital Learning Day Ignites the Blended Flame

Tom Murray

  As part of the 3rd annual Digital Learning Day, educational leaders from all over country descended upon the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

5 Key Takeaways from #edcampusa

Tom Murray

For My Prince and Princess on Father's Day

Tom Murray

Guilty of often having my head buried in my

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This One's for You, Grandpa!

Tom Murray

Professional Learning that Connects and Empowers Teachers

Tom Murray

As educators, our core business is learning. We fulfill a multitude of additional roles that are also extremely important, yet, at its essence, education is about learning and our schools and school districts must be learning-focused organizations. Of course, when we talk about learning as our core business, we (rightly) think, first and foremost, of student learning.

Every Child, Every Answer, Every Time

Tom Murray

For generations, a traditional one size-fits-all instructional model has reigned paramount in our nation’s classrooms.

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Digital Learning Day Ignites the Blended Flame

Tom Murray

  As part of the 3rd annual Digital Learning Day, educational leaders from all over country descended upon the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Utilizing Twitter Chats for Professional Development

Tom Murray

Each week, educators from around the world take part in various conversations on Twitter known as “chats.” These conversations have become an excellent way for educators to connect on relevant topics, share resources and best practices, all while challenging each other’s thinking. The premise of a Twitter chat is simple. Questions are posed in a sequential

Professional Learning Networks (PLN)

Tom Murray

Recently, I had the opportunity to record a Google Hangout with four connected educators on “Growing Your PLN.” Lyn Hilt (@l_hilt), Nick Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher), Lisa Dabbs (@teachingwthsoul) and Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) joined the conversation and shared a wealth of advice on how educators can develop a strong personal learning network. What is a personal learning network?

Parent Engagement in a Future Ready School

Tom Murray

This post was originally published by the National PTA, here. Note: This blog post represents my personal views and not that of my employer, the Alliance for Education, or that of the US Department of Education; the two organizations that are running Future Ready. Parent Engagement in a Future Ready School It’s no secret. Parents are instrumental in the academic success of children, yet walk into schools across our nation, and the range of parent involvement is all over the map. Some schools

What is the Future Ready Effort?

Tom Murray

Future Ready Schools is a bold new initiative, led by the Alliance for Excellent Education, supported by the US Department of Education, and in partnership with the LEAD Commission and a vast coalition of organizations, working to support school district superintendents and their leadership teams on district-wide transformation. The vision of this new initiative is for district leaders to develop and implement a sustainable, forward thinking roadmap for effective digital learning transformation

Six Keys to a Classroom Makeover

Tom Murray

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with three of the nation’s leaders in classroom design, and founders of the MTV-meets-classroom style resource,Classroom Cribs: elementary school principalBen Gilpin, technology specialistAJ Juliani, and classroom teacher and award winning blogger,Erin Klein. In this Alliance for Excellent EducationProject 24 Leadership Series Webinar, we discuss a number of keys to classroom redesign, the research behind designing a brain-friendly learning

Seven takeaways from ConnectED to the Future

Tom Murray

On Wednesday, November 19, 110 of the nation’s top superintendents, U.S. Department of Education officials and representatives from a myriad of organizations, convened at the White House for theSuperintendents’ Summit, declared “ConnectED to the Future,” by President Obama. The event was an an extension of theConnectED Initiativelaunched earlier this year. Obama kicked offFuture Ready, a bold new effort to maximize digital-learning opportunities and help school districts move quickly toward

Why #Internet4Schools Matters

Tom Murray

Personalized learning. One-to-one implementation. Bring your own device initiatives. All of these, when combined with high-quality instructional practice, can systemically change a classroom learning environment. However, these instructional practices and tools are essentially useless without an infrastructure that can properly support them. Although the topic of E-Rate has come to the forefront in recent months, in the not-too-distant future the program will turn 20 years old. Section 254 of

School Supplies, Facebook and the Common Core

Tom Murray

I was the fourth one in line. Standing directly in front of me were two moms that were obviously out shopping for school supplies. It is that time of year. Three-pronged folders, marble notebooks, some pens, a few book covers, a handful of binders, and some loose leaf paper was what I could see. What struck me most was how similar school shopping must have been twenty years earlier when that mom’s mother or father had taken her to the local store for back to school shopping. It struck me how as

What is the Future Ready Initiative?

Tom Murray

The Future Ready Schools Initiative is a bold new initiative, led by theAlliance for Excellent Education, supported by theUS Department of Education, and in partnership with the LEAD Commission and a vast coalition of organizations, working to support school district superintendents and their leadership teams on district-wide transformation. The vision of this new initiative is for district leaders to develop and implement a sustainable, forward thinking roadmap for effective digital learning

This One's for You, Grandpa!

Tom Murray

I can remember bouncing on your lap when I was about three. remember the silly gifts you’d give, your incredible sense of humor, your amazing model of how to be a father and grandfather, and how to this day, I consider you the most brilliant man I’ve ever known. remember your hugs and kisses; your tickles every time we were together. remember your “I love you, Tommy. I’m so proud of you”, stated well over a million times. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to greatly respect your service

For My Prince and Princess on Father's Day

Tom Murray

In two days, my little boy will be one. In a blink of an eye, he’s gone from a sweet newborn baby, to a crazy babbling toddler on the verge of taking steps of his own. My princess, now four, talks about her wedding day, what she wants to be when she grows up, and her favorite app of the day. I’m not quite sure where time went, but in a few blinks, life has moved on. I’m a guilty one. I’m guilty of often putting work in front of my little angels. Guilty of often having my head buried in my email

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5 Key Takeaways from #edcampusa

Tom Murray

The energy at the end of the day was infectious. To hear Emily Davis from the US Department of Education speak with such passion about what had occurred at the DOE that day was both encouraging and inspiring. In lieu of the traditional edcamp smackdown to wrap up the day, 100 educators from around the nation discussed the day''s impact of the first ever EdCamp USA. In reflecting on my time at the Department on June 6th, and having co-facilitated four sessions throughout the day, I left with the

One Last Day

Tom Murray

Fourteen years ago I closed the door to a classroom that I could call my own for the first time. I was 21 years old, fresh out of college, and thought I had a clue as to what teaching would be like. Looking at 24 little ones staring back at me, I was nervous and in retrospect, pretty clueless. remember that feeling like it was yesterday. My first year teaching was one of the most difficult years of my life, but a year that changed my course and provided me with incredible clarity. The day

Let's Not Lose Perspective

Tom Murray

They were floating in the water when I first saw them — the paintings of my three-year-old girl. Once a moment of pride and jubilation, now wading in the water that stretched from side to side of my home. It’s an image I’ll never forget and one of the most difficult moments of my life. A few hours earlier, I had just finished a keynote in New York, when I glanced at my phone. I had over a dozen missed calls from numbers I didn’t recognize. They turned out to be the types of calls you never want

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Years Gone By: Relevant Learning Ties Remain

Tom Murray

This post is co-authored by Tom Murray and Kristen Swanson. Dear Tom, Back in the days of giant desktop computers and Microsoft Publisher, you were my teacher. You showed me how to create digital learning spaces for my students, and you guided me as I started to think about the ways that technology could transform students into authentic writers and publishers. Although it has been many years since you were my teacher, you still influence my learning. Thanks to Twitter, blogs, and social

Complete Versatility in a Public School Setting

Tom Murray

The Quakertown Community School District, winner of the 2011 iNACOL Innovative Program Award, has been highlighted by Michael Horn, author of “Disrupting Class,” on numerous occasions for its self-blend educational model. QCSD, a K-12 public school in Bucks County, Pa., is a rare breed among public schools, as all students in grades 6-12 have a full menu of both cyber and blended learning options. Some students earn a QCSD diploma as full-time cyber students. Others graduate having taken all of

The Obsolete Tech Director

Tom Murray

The role of the typical school district technology director has become obsolete. Speak with your average teacher in many school districts in the U.S., and you’ll find the technology department is better known for getting in the way than for serving the educational needs of both staff and students. Many technology departments, led by obsolete tech directors, are inadvertently inhibiting learning. The mantra of “lock it and block it” no longer works in a 21st century digital learning environment

Professional Development Reform: 8 Steps to Make it Happen

Tom Murray

Every year, school districts around the country waste a tremendous amount of time and money on ineffective professional development. The traditional model of “sit and get,” where a one-size-fits-all approach is utilized, yields abhorrent results. Ask teachers from typical school districts in America their thoughts on traditional in-service time, and the feedback won’t be pretty. Professional development in many districts must undergo radical reform, from a model that’s outdated and ineffective

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Building a Positive School Culture

Tom Murray

Schools around the country are being cleaned, waxed, and made to look their best in preparation for another year. It’s about this time when principals begin planning for the new year. Data is analyzed, goals are formed, schedules reworked, communication to parents planned, etc. But where does school culture fit into planning for next year? What steps can principals take to build a positive school culture and strong team? 1. Lead Lead by example. It’s It’s simple. As a whole, staff members watch and mimic

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Digital Leadership for School Leaders

Tom Murray

Year after year, hundreds of millions of dollars are funneled into technology initiatives and resources in school districts throughout the country. From hardware and software, to infrastructure and one-to-one devices, money is flowing into programs and tools for schools like never before, but are these technology devices and tools making a worthwhile impact considering the cost? Who’s leading such implementation and reform? As these tools become more prevalent in schools, it’s school leaders

Professional Development: Let's Work Together

Tom Murray

It was sitting at a breakfast meeting three years ago with a colleague in a neighboring school district and my close friend, Rich Kiker (@rkiker) that it hit me. Rich and I were discussing needs in our home districts, plans moving forward, effective aspects of our professional development, and how to continue to improve on our already successful programs. As we sat there eating our eggs, we began to see clearly, how through a few simple steps, we could continue to help transform professional

A Quick Start Guide to Participating in Twitter Chats

Tom Murray

This past week, I had the privilege of introducing US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, as a guest moderator for #edtechchat, an educational Twitter chat that I founded with four members of my personal learning network (PLN). Over the course of 60 minutes, almost 2,000 people from around the world, shared about 10,000 tweets in response to the Secretary''s six questions related to being a Connected Educator. Secretary Duncan (@arneduncan) and his Office of Educational Technology