Cisco Systems top teacher training guru is Lance Ford from Howe Oklahoma. Lance has done teacher technology training all over the country from the friendly confines of rural eastern Oklahoma. Lance is what Cisco calls an educational advocate. He knows the ins and outs of video conferencing and he works with teachers across the nation on implementing video conferencing into their curricula, He is a multi-media specialist with teaching experience, technical experience, expertise with numerous technologies, and he loves to help teachers feel comfortable with technology. Lance was president of the Oklahoma Distance Learning Association the year after I was President of that organization so we worked together many time times over the years. Not only that, Lance is a great singer and all around fun guy. I have said before and will say it again Lance is a giant digital education oak amongst a slew of tiny acorns. I have included a couple videos below to give you an idea of what Lance does.
Over the past few years, I had an ongoing conversation with my former Cisco Sales representative, Matt Peres, about their efforts to get Lance in front of hundreds of teachers to enhance their ability to use technology in the classroom. I always responded by saying it is a valiant and commendable effort by Cisco, but what they are doing is not scalable. Every once in a while during these conversations, I might concede that the mechanics of what Lance Ford does are shareable, but the passion of the MAC Jedi (aka Lance Ford and also the moniker on his vehicle’s license plate) is not scalable. Should they quit, why of course not, but let’s not fool yourself about the reach of this type of program. (NOTE: Matt left Cisco for VMware a couple years ago)
So…is Lance Scalable?
My position in this conversation is simply this: “ Lance is not scalable” “Scalable” is a popular buzzword in the technology field that refers to how well a hardware or software system can adapt to increased demands. For example a scalable network system is one that can start by supporting a few users and easily grow to support thousands of users. When you build something that is scalable you can rest assured if you have invested in a scalable technology solution you can sleep at night because you have confidence you won’t outgrow it.
I am glad Cisco is investing in people such as Lance. Matt told me they had hired one or two additional educational advocates and it is certainly noble they are doing this, but I do wonder about the overall number of teachers this approach can really impact.
So the final question in this conversation may be the most important one, “How did Lance become Lance?” is really an important question. For this one, I will move to the world of sport, specifically American football, to discuss.
When the football coaching carousel is in full swing the term “coaching tree” is often tossed about by television commentators. A coaching tree is similar to a family tree except it shows the relationships of coaches instead of family members. There are several different ways to define this relationship between two coaches. The most common way to make the distinction that a coach who worked as an assistant on a particular head coach’s staff for at least a season is part of the original head coaches, coaching tree. I think I can relate this concept to the IT support and integration world. In my personal IT support and integration tree, I have several individuals who at one time worked for me and have gone on to bigger and better roles in both the public and the private sector. They are part of my IT tree I suppose.
Most recently at EDUCAUSE 2012 in Denver I again got into the conversation mentioned above with Matt.who at the time was still our Cisco Systems account representative. This time however Wes Fryer, Author of Speed of Creativity joined us. I said do you guys know how Lance became Lance? No was the answer so I pounced with a story Please note, I am always up for telling a good story so here it goes…
Over 15 years ago I believe the IT support and Integration tree in Oklahoma began with a project known as the HB1815 Teacher Technology Training program. This project directly impacted Lance’s style and teacher technology training all over Oklahoma. I would even suggest it valuable to revisit the deployment of this project with newer technologies. This program did a lot with a relatively small budget. This project from many years ago had a tremendous cascading effect on technology support and integration in Oklahoma. Lance is part of that cascading approach.
Yes, I do believe this HB1815 project has its own IT support and Integration tree and Lance Ford is a branch of the original HB1815 teacher technology training program. He told me he was in the second cohort of the program in 1997. The program ran from 1997 to 2002.
So how did Lance become Lance? HB1815 planted the seeds for Lance to do what he does for a national audience. Isn’t this cool? One of the pupils in this program, aka Lance, took what he learned and carried it further than the original teachers. Shouldn’t that be a goal we have for all our students?
Many of the concepts I see discussed in modern instructional tech literature were used in the original training for the HB1815 program. In 1997 we began talking about how the “Sage on the Stage” could become “The Guide by the Side” . This is essentially what many today refer to as the Flipped classroom. We talked about engaging students to humanize the distance learning process and using multiple modes of media to liven up the video conference. These and much more were the gospel of distance learning spread early and often to those participating in the HB1815 project. We were distance learning evangelists before it became trendy for technology firms to have a person designated as their “Whatever Evangelist”
Examples of resources we developed then such as the slideshow “Instructional Design for Distance Learning” is shown below. Interestingly, I believe these basic guidelines are just as relevant today as they were then.
What was HB1815?
The HB 1815 program began in June of 1997 when the Oklahoma legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1815, commonly called the “Telephone Bill.” It mandated the collection of approximately $7 million from telephone companies over a period of five years to support teacher training in telecommunications and distance learning. The ultimate goal: to place a “lead technology teacher” (LTT), an expert in technology infusion, in every wing of every school building in Oklahoma within five years. To organize the training effort, the Oklahoma Department of Vocational Technical Education (ODVTE), now known as Oklahoma Department of Career and Technical Education (ODCTE) took geographical factors and population density into account and divided the state into six consortia of educational institutions based upon geography and population density. The Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technology Education (ODVTE), was the fiscal agent for the monies allocated by the legislature, called together focus groups from K-12, vocational, and higher education institutions in urban, suburban, and rural areas to discuss challenges facing the new program. At the outset, the primary issues were disparity in available technology from building to building and district to district, lack of uniform technology use, differing viewpoints on who should provide training, varying delivery methodologies, and the short timeline to accomplish the goal. The project wanted to include a diversity of people and skills requiring participants from K12 education , vocational education and higher education. Also, they wanted a cross section of participants who were teachers as well as administrators. I often joked I was picked from the southwestern quadrant as I was the only administrator who could turn on my computer.…it may not have been far from the truth in those days.
Essentially the breakdown was the four quadrants of the state with an extra group in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. All six consortia worked in conjunction with the ODCTE, the financial administrator of the training funds .
In sparsely populated southwestern Oklahoma this project provided training at the local college site for over 400 K12, Higher Ed and Career-Tech teachers. from throughout Southwestern Oklahoma during the five (5) years of the project. At my institution sixteen (16) full time and Twelve (12) part time Western faculty participated in this project to enhance their ability to integrate technology into the teaching and learning process.
About the HB 1815 Training
The program ran from 1997 to 2002. Many educational consultants today may not agree with the path chosen for the orginal HB1815 decision, but the ODVTE and focus groups decided not to follow the teacher-training model previously used in Oklahoma schools. Prior to this program school districts normally contracted with experts from outside the field of education to train teachers to use technology. But according to teachers, this method was not effective. They stated trainers did not know
what teaching is all about
and could not understand their needs as they had no idea about their minimal access to technology. In response to these concerns, an advisory committee for each region chose ten teachers (NOTE: Remember my previous comment about wanting an administrator? Everyone involved wanted teaching backgrounds even for administrators such as me who were involved),
Individuals completing the training cascaded from the Master Trainers were recognized as master teachers in their fields and recommended by supervisors, to become Master Trainers (MTs). MTs participated in ten (10) days of intensive training in what we called Level II competencies and develop a curriculum, based on the needs of their region, to address each Level II objective. It was determined Level I competencies were something teachers should already know. In practice as we were doing the training this was sometimes not true.
|Level I Competencies||Level II Competencies|
|Level I Competencies||Level II Competencies|
Each region subsequently deployed and refined a new curriculum while training thirty additional MTs in their region. The training from the Master Trainers then cascaded to 1000’s of Lead Technology Teachers ( LTT) who train and share ideas and information with teachers at their home schools. These individuals then became the the approachable champions of technology” in their school.
The MTs used a ” teach-show-do-apply” method, filling most of the class time with self-paced, hands-on activities. The classroom is a community of 10 to 20 learners, with an MT acting as a facilitator (guide by the side) of discovery rather than as an instructor (sage on the stage) delivering packaged knowledge. MTs give examples, model methods, and guide attendees in revising existing curricular components to include technology where appropriate.
Skills learned included:
- presentation software,
- desktop video conferencing,
- offline browsing,
- using scanners and digital cameras,
- distance delivery,
- legal issues and ethics,
- electronic field trips and emissaries,
- newsgroups and e-mail lists,
- web page design,
- advanced search techniques,
- evaluation of online resources,
- legal issues and ethics
- creation and proper use of graphics, and
- overall technology integration
Not a big deal now, but this was 1997 and many institutions at all levels were not far removed from having typewriters and dictation machines in some of their classrooms. Getting teachers to the point that technology in the classroom was transparent was an overall goal of the program.
Looking back at lessons learned from HB 1815
People Matter. I still hear this a lot, but when it comes to accomplishing something the people who make up your team really matter.
Everything in life is about relationships. I still call some of the people I trained with some of my closest professional friends.
True collaboration really works. This was a collaborative effort between higher ed, vocation ed (Career Tech), and K12. In Oklahoma, there is this passive aggressive relationship between higher education and vocational eduction. There are various agreements which allow Career Tech students to get college credit but the reality is the two areas compete for money from the legislature. This program took administrators and politicians and gave much of the development of the training curriculum to the people in the trenches…teachers from all levels.
Tunnel vision is not good even if it appears going through the tunnel is working. This program focused on training teachers how to teach effectively with interactive videoconferencing technology. When our region hired the coordinator for the Southwest region, we were not thinking about asynchronous learning. However looking back it is obvious, Frank Zittle, was right this one. In fact one of my fellow MT’s, Scott Charlson, have said more than once, Frank was right” The moral….pay attention to those outside your comfort zone. You may learn something.
My personal observation is this is the best training program I have been involved in. According to an article written in 2000,
In a preliminary report to the legislative telecommunications task force, Dr. William A. Coberly (1999), Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Tulsa, declared that the program “has been very successful and cost effective . . . The vision of the legislature, the administration by the Oklahoma Vo-Tech System, and, most importantly, the enthusiastic response of Oklahoma’s teachers should be commended” (p. 4).
…and that Matt and Wes is how I believe Lance Ford became Lance Ford.