Monday, June 30, 2008


Real quick post...if you do video editing and spend several hours trying to create professional videos - then this site is for you. Animoto offers professional looking videos for free (or low cost for extended videos) and requires little work for the end user.

Check out their site here.


Articles That Caught My Attention

Rather than a review or post about a solution/product, I am going to list some articles related to Ed Tech that caught my attention over the weekend.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Student Response Systems

My district is embarking on a beta test of student response systems in our elementary classrooms. The plan is to place 5 systems in each of our 6 elementary schools with the project being driven by a learning club environment at each school. The learning club will provide resources, training and necessary materials to those teachers involved, so that at the end of Year 1 - those teachers will be utilized to train new teachers the following year. By creating a learning club teachers have each other to rely on to share information, while also holding each other accountable.

I do believe in the value of the learning club concept and think it will propel this project to the next level. My biggest concern is will these tools have an impact on instruction in the classroom? I know the immediate feedback will be of benefit to the teachers, but how will they use that feedback? Will the teachers use that feedback to reteach material, provide more in depth content or simply move on to the next lesson as they always have. If the answer is the latter, then these devices will be nothing more than toys. If the answer is one of the first two, then hopefully those students who do not fully grasp the material or content the first time, will have an opportunity to apply and learn the material at a deeper level.

Time will tell whether this project will have a long term impact on instruction and overall student achievement. I believe if implemented correctly and having the buy-in from top to bottom, it could be the project to have the most impact on student learning in quite some time.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

KySTE Summer Conference

I attended the KySTE (Kentucky Society for Technology in Education) conference this past week and decided to post this week about the conference and some sessions I attended.

The conference as a whole was extremely successful. As a member of the board of directors, I was proud to see the quality of sessions, large vendor turnout as well as attendees. We had three quality guest speakers - Greg Palmer, Executive Director for MAGPI (; Mike Ribble, co-author of Digital Citizenship (; and Kentucky Education Commissioner Jon Draud. Each of these guest speakers provided excellent insight into their specific area and how it impacts K-12.

I was also able to attend breakout sessions and wanted to highlight a few of them:

SAN, Jody Rose - Dell
This session provided an overview of SAN (Storage Area Networks) and the pieces and components to make this happen in districts. The session also covered several of the acronyms associated with SANs. My district is currently in the process of consolidating and virtualizing our 25+ servers back to 3 devices. I found this session extremely informative and beneficial.

The Technology Challenge, Mark Weston - Dell
This session was conducted by Mark Weston - who is an education strategist with Dell. Mark is an excellent speaker/presenter and an innovator in the education community. Mark discussed groundbreaking technology initiatives in the education world. His ideas require schools and districts to break the existing pedagogy in our "modern education" and begin a shift towards innovative, ground breaking instruction.

I highly encourage any leader in the K-12 environment to seek out those who have had the privilege of listening to Mr. Weston and gather their opinions as well. Mr. Weston is the quality speaker that all district leaders need to hear and apply in their day-to-day jobs.

Web2.CIO, Bret Foster - CIO, Anderson County Schools
This session was two parts - one was about a CIO's experience using nothing but open source applications to do his job over a one month period. The second was about the various Web 2.0 tools and applications that are available to assist in communication and collaboration.

The first part Mr. Anderson discussed how he used products such as Ubuntu, Open Office, Thunderbird and Firefox to do his job as a CIO in a KY school district. Mr. Anderson admitted there were some difficult bumps along the way and his overall experience was less than desired. He did note that he felt within 12-18 months users could use these tools on a day-to-day basis without interruption or lack of quality in service.

The second part was my personal favorite. Mr. Anderson shared the Web 2.0 tools he had compiled ( and how they assisted not only in professional life, but personal as well. I was already using a few of these applications, but many I had never heard of. I have already installed and tested Diigo, ANIMOTO and Twiddla. I highly recommend you viewing the site above for an excellent collection of Web 2.o tools applicable to K-12.

802.11n Wireless, Jonathan Kidwell - Enterasys Networks
This session was presented by a Engineer with Enterasys Networks on the new wireless standard that has recently become available. 802.11n provides faster speeds (previous "g" speeds were 54/mbps and the "n" promises speeds near 500/mbps, while the real-world says it is seeing 100-140/mbps.)

For my district which has deployed a complete wireless infrastructure in all 12 buildings, the major benefit is we can utilize our existing hardware and infrastructure, only having purchase the additional 802.11n access points. We can also utilize the meshing feature where the 802.11n APs can communicate with the existing wired APs via their radios, thus allowing us to avoid the additional cost of wiring.

Overall the KySTE conference was a huge success and one of the most beneficial conferences I have attended in my four years as a CIO. I highly encourage all who are educators, administrators and technology leaders to plan on attending this conference next year.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Paperless Classroom

We are embarking on a new project in my district. I have two classrooms in one of my elementary schools that sometime next fall will become "paperless" classrooms. So, you might ask yourself - what is a "paperless" classroom? A "paperless" classroom utilizes technology to enhance and supplement student learning in lieu of textbooks, paper and pencils. The students use the technology to research, write, read and complete their day-to-day tasks. The driving force behind a "paperless" classroom, in my opinion, is the power it has to engage the students. There are other benefits such as immediate feedback on assessment and an increase in communication and collaboration for your students.

The main tool we are utilizing to complete our "paperless" classroom is the nComputing X-series device. ( This device allows up to 6 additional "virtual PC's" to connect to one host PC. Thus, you could outfit a classroom of 28 stations with only four PC's and 24 of the nComputing devices. The main benefit here is obviously cost savings - not only in the upfront cost, but in power and utility cost as well.

The plan is to transition the students from textbook, pencil and paper to the "paperless" concept over a period of time. We obviously don't want to "shell shock" the students and have them using the PCs 100% of the day on Day 1, but feel a 4-6 week transition period will allow for the students and the teachers to become comfortable with this model.

These "paperless" classrooms would not be taking shape without support from the building's principal, as well as the desire of the two teachers. We have also had a local business volunteer time and materials to complete the necessary additional wiring in the classrooms.

I will keep all posted as this project develops - I am certainly looking forward to the new educational opportunities that await the students in these classrooms.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Green Computing

As Educational Technology continues to shape the way our teachers teach and our students learn, we must not neglect how this technology impacts society, our communities and the environment. Research shows there is 80% more computers, projection devices and other forms of instructional technology tools in schools than 2 years ago, and that rate is continuing to grow. This being the case, there are two things our school leaders must review on an annual basis: 1. how much energy are these devices using and are we efficiently using that energy? 2. how do we dispose of discarded technology?

There is evidence showing that in most modern data centers approximately 45% is energy use, while the other 55% is power and cooling. This same evidence shows that most IT systems only use 20% of their system, while the other 80% is not being utilized. Consolidation and virtualization are one way to eliminate and reduce power consumption in data centers. By reducing the number of physical devices - an IT department can significantly save on energy and power utilities.

Disposing of discarded technology is another key element. Simply letting your computers and other devices be placed in dumpsters, auctions or other forms of removal is not sufficient any more. Research shows that by the year 2010 nearly 1 billion computers will be potential scrap. 1 billion? Wow. The scary part is less than 50% of companies have an eco-friendly disposal plan.

Most major computer manufacturers are now partnering with local companies to provide this service once you purchase their product. I encourage all school leaders and IT leaders to investigate their disposal plan and take the necessary steps to improve it, if necessary.

So as we move forward as a society, school leaders and IT leaders - let's remember our environment. Let's remember that the technology in our classrooms today can be the waste problems of tomorrow if we do not act responsibly.