Thursday, November 17, 2011


200 posts.  It has been an interesting journey over the past three and a half years.  Lots of learning, lots of sharing, and lots of collaboration.  I am thankful for the many positive comments, suggestions and feedback along the way.  I look forward to many continued relationships, discussions, and learning from my peers and colleagues all across the world. 

Enjoy the evening. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meaningful Technology Integration through Strategic Partnerships

Relationships.  Education is all about relationships.  Building positive relationships with our students, staff, administration, parents, community, board members...the list goes on and on. 

As Education Technology experts, it is incumbent upon us that the biggest relationship we initiative and develop is that with our Teaching and Learning department.  Far too often, these two entities operate in silos, without the day-to-day conversations about goals, needs, mission, vision, roadmap, etc.  If these two groups are not on the same page and walking the same road (in the same direction), our students and teachers can suffer the consquences. 

 So the question is, why is this an important relationship?  That is easy. 

  • Curriculum Alignment.  As education technology experts, we have an understanding of the role technology plays in the classroom.  We also see where the utilization and implementation of certain technology tools, resources, and applications can be embedded in the curriculum to enhance the learning experience and better engage our students. 
  • Technology Outlook.  Education technology experts should be at the forefront of innovative technologies.  They should be testing, piloting, and pursuing the purpose and value add for new technologies. 
  • College / Career Readiness Skills.  (Formerly known as 21st century long have we been in the 21st century?)  Huge piece of the Common Core Standards.  Embedded throughout the CCS are the College and Career Readiness Skills.  What skills should students posses when they leave our school districts that better prepare them for the world?  Problem solving.  Critical Thinking.  Collaboration.  Communication.  Digital Citizenship.  Research.  All of these skills can be enhanced and fostered through the effective and appropriate utilization of technology.  
I challenge those school districts that have models in place for these conversations to continue the push forward.  If you don't have the model in place to foster the necessary conversations, reach out to a school district that does.  We have to learn and grow from each other.  No one school district has the magical answer to all education issues.  By sharing, communicating and collaborating together - we continue to ensure the success of our students.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interesting View of The Future...

The question is...just how far in the future is this?  All the technology exists.  How do manufacturers make this cost effective and turn it into reality? 


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

iPhone 4S

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseSo Apple's big announcement yesterday came as a disappointment to many.  The rumors that had been circulating for days centered around a new design, look and feel, and other hardware enhancements.  Apple instead chose to focus its efforts on this updated iPhone on the software side. 

So what is new about the iPhone 4S? 
  • It has a faster processor than its brother the iPhone 4.  It utilizes a similar processor found in the iPad.  This means faster access to apps, better multi-tasking experiences and better end user experience with streaming content.  
  • The camera's resolution and sharpness have increased.  With an 8 megapixel camera, it has an improved lens, shoots in 1080p, more light, faster time between pictures and much more.  Big improvement. 
  • Apple incorporated a feature known as Siri, hoping it serves as a 'personal assistant' for customers.  Siri isn't new, but rather a company Apple purchased over a year ago.  Smart move incorporating that technology into this release.  
  • iOS5, which features the iCloud is set to release October 12.  The biggest win here is the elimination of syncing devices.  iCloud allows a user to update, sync, etc. all over a wireless connection.  
  • The iPhone 4S is available on Sprint now, as well as AT&T and Verizon.  Although Samsung is threatening legal action around the technology that makes the iPhone more of a 'world market phone'. 
While there was no 'iPhone 5' that had been touted, I believe Apple provided a solid upgrade to its current product making feature enhancements that customers had been asking for.  Was it a silver bullet?  No.  In typical Apple marketing strategy, they will probably save that for the next major holiday. 

I have yet to make a decision on upgrading to the 4S, I'm obviously most interested in the iOS upgrade in a week and testing out the iCloud functionality.  Stay tuned for my thoughts on iCloud...


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Reflection on Steve Jobs

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBaseAs I sit here and ponder the life and legacy of Steve Jobs, I look at the devices surrounding me in my living room to get a glimpse at his profound impact.  iPhone to my right.  iPad to my left.  iTunes on my desktop.  Steve Jobs was an innovator. 

Think about the music industry.  Many tried, but many failed.  Napster.  Rhapsody.  iMesh.  It wasn't until iTunes that the music industry was truly revolutionized.  Steve Jobs and his vision has forever changed how, where, and why we listen to music.

Let's talk about mobile devices.  The iPhone is a given.  Pre-iPhone, Smartphones were a novel concept that no one really knew what to do with.  Then along came the iPhone.  The App Store.  It has revolutionized how we communicate, do business, play, and live our lives. 

The iPad.  Great consumption device for an individual.  It is slowly, but surely, becoming a device that can change the landscape in education and other arenas.  Many people have moved away from a PC or laptop as their primary device and are living 100% on the iPad.  That trend will continue to grow.

I firmly believe Apple TV will continue to grow and potentially change the TV landscape, much like the music world was rocked.  Jobs had it figured out.  Like him or not, like Apple or not - the man was a master at marketing, strategy, and, above all, innovation. 

Steve Jobs will be remembered for two key words, that I have used time and time again in the post.  Innovator.  Revolutionlized.   

RIP Steve.  Thank you. 


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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Equity and the Common Core

With the Common Core Standards starting to find their ways into schools across the country, many teachers, staff, and administrators are learning, sharing and discussing how the new standards will impact their students and classrooms. 

The Common Core is designed to provide schools across the United States with a uniform set of standards to better prepare our students for college and career.  Having a common set of standards allows for conversations between states and for the first time, districts across the country knowing that all students are learning from the same core content. 

One key component of the CCS that is embedded throughout are critical 21st Century Skills such as problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.  I personally think embedding these skills throughout the CCS is fantastic.  These skills are essential to our future leaders and workers. 

However, I see one glaring issue.  With the focus of these skills often comes the expectation of certain technology components and levels of access for students.  The need to have modern tools available as needed to collaborate, research, share, and have authentic learning opportunities is essential.  The issue is the fact that many of our schools across the country have a huge disparity in technological infrastructure, tools, and (most importantly) instructional support. 

Students need equitable access to these resources and appropriate support to ensure appropriate understanding and comprehension of the 21st century skills.  Without that level of access, how can we adequately prepare them for college or careers?  Obviously the biggest obstacle is funding.  With school districts across the country having to cut budgets in tough financial times, where do these funds come from?  Government funds?  We've seen this tried before, but without huge results.  Local taxpayers?  They are already pushed to the limit and tightening their belts at home.

My challenge is to IT leaders in the K-12 arena to find innovative ways to utilize existing funds and partner for future dollars.  Ensuring the appropriate utilization of funds already available is the first step to receiving additional support.  We can move forward in this area, but it is going to take a collaborative effort by all involved to ensure that the level of access across all of our schools is equitable. 


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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fantasy Sports: Is There an Educational Value?

Yahoo! Fantasy Sports app for iPhone & BlackBerryImage by Yodel Anecdotal via FlickrI must admit that I am a Fantasy Sport nut. I play Fantasy Football, Baseball, College Basketball Pick 'Ems, etc. I enjoy the process of ranking players, studying their statistics, drafting, trades, free agents, and game day match ups. It is a glimpse into the world of General Managers and Administration for professional athletic team.

But do Fantasy Sports have educational value? Could a teacher use Fantasy Sports to teach students about mathematics, statistics, management, communication, marketing, research, etc.? I say the answer is yes.

Let's think about this together. A teacher could task students to participate in a Fantasy Football league for the 2011 NFL season. It is a project that could be a part of a Sports Marketing, or Probability and Statistics class. Students would research and apply the concepts of:
  • Good research practices by ranking their players based on analysis provided by experts
  • Management techniques in order to draft a team based on need
  • Communication techniques in order to facilitate trades, free agents, etc.
  • Statistical Analysis techniques in order to understand, predict and set their lineup on a week-to-week basis, based on trends, match-ups, and previous performances.
  • Marketing techniques to showcase their team within their league and to outside viewers.
  • Collaboration / Teamwork techniques if they were to be paired with a partner.
  • Critical Thinking skills necessary to make last minute adjustments to the lineup.
  • College and Career Readiness skills such as independence, using technology and digital media strategically, valuing evidence, etc.
A teacher could become very creative with how far to extend a project such as this. Students could be tasked to critique, analyze, predict, and review both their team's performance and that of their competition. (Obviously in a constructive and positive manner.)

With football season in full swing, and millions of Americans spending time managing, monitoring, and evaluating their Fantasy teams - I paused and thought of the potential educational value of this rapidly growing event for men, and women of all ages. The more opportunities we as educators provide our students to use real-world, authentic learning practices, while ensuring they are growing and developing the necessary skills and knowledge, the better we begin to prepare them for life after our walls.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What are you saying?

While the concept and technology of using Wordle to visually display a concept, message, website, etc. isn't new - it isn't actually something I have done on this blog before. I thought to myself - what am I actually saying on my blog? Is it of value? Is it relevant? One approach is to take a different look at the words I have utilized on this platform. Wordle gives me the visual display of keywords on my blog. Here is what I came up with (yeah, I know the quality isn't that great...sorry):

Wordle: CIO Corner:  What am I saying?

So what are some of the keywords? World, Teachers, Innovation, Students, Learning, Administrators, Technology, Understand, Opportunities. I found it interesting that 'Technology' was not one of my most utilized words, but interesting in a good way. I don't want it to be the utilized word. This site isn't about technology, but rather about teaching and learning and how technology - as a tool - can enhance the way teachers teach and the way students learn. This visual back-up helps solidify (at least in my mind) that I am on the right track. Thanks Wordle.


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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The World Around Us

As educators, we can often get consumed with our educational circles, curriculum, and learning communities. While all are important and play a vital role in how we grow and transform the learning process, it is imperative we not ignore the world around us.

As the economy continues to find ways to struggle, as political leaders continue to ignore common ground, and as countries across the world continue to climb past us in terms of education, work force, and economics - we as educators must not ignore the world around us.

It is imperative that our students understand what is going on in the world today. It is equally important that they understand why it is important. They must understand that decisions being made today have long term impacts on their financial futures and careers. They must understand that to pull our country back to the top, where it belongs, is going to require innovation, creativity, problem solving, team work, and sacrifice. (Sounds like a familiar skill set, huh?) It is all too easy for a high school student to be consumed with their world, but they must not ignore the world around them.

As teachers, it is imperative we understand the world and its impact. We need to see how our jobs as teachers are more than just preparing students for a test, but rather preparing them for life. A life that is going to be dependent on a highly skilled work force, and an economy that needs stability. We as teachers must know, understand and integrate the world around us.

As administrators, we must know and understand the political, financial, and socioeconomic world around us. We must be able to facilitate and lead discussions with our staff on how the local, regional, state, national, and global decisions impact the future of our students. It is imperative that administrators value the skill set that all students need to master in order to be competitive for jobs. It is imperative that administrators research, almost daily, the happenings in our country and world and ensure conversations and discussions are taking place in the classrooms. It is imperative that administrators not ignore the world around us.

So what happens if we ignore the world around us? We will continue to slide, as a country, and as a society. Jobs will continue to move off-shore. Our economy will continue to struggle and find solid footing. Decisions will be made at the highest of levels, that ignore the basic foundations and common-sense that made this country so great. I don't think any of us want to see a future for our children or grandchildren that isn't stable and doesn't provide many of the opportunities we have been afforded. This is why it is of the utmost importance...we not ignore the world around us.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Innovate, Innovate, Innovate...and Innovate

Innovation. Defined as 'to renew or change' or 'to introduce something new'.

This word can sometimes be overused, both in industry as well as education. But, why? It shouldn't be overused. Innovation should be something we strive to do on a daily basis. It should be our mission and goal to constantly innovate and create new ideas / opportunities for our teachers and students. Innovation should never be stifled, it should be fostered and rewarded.

As leaders in the field of educational technology, it is imperative that we strive to innovate, alas renew, change and introduce something new, the way our students are learning and the way our teachers are teaching. Technology should be viewed as a tool, or vehicle, that enables the innovation - not drives it. Good instruction, a solid curriculum, engaging teachers and visionary administrators should be driving.

My challenge to all. Don't stifle innovation. Encourage and provide opportunities for your colleagues and peers. Enable them to utilize technology as a tool that extends the walls of the classrooms and provides engaging / exciting ways for students to communicate, collaborate, share and learn in ways not previously possible. To the innovators out there...keep pushing forward. Continue to stretch the walls and push the boundaries. You are the difference makers and you will continue to move us forward.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Classroom Innovation: Quick Video on Role of Teacher

This is short video that does a decent job of capturing the role of teachers in a 21st century learning environment. Side note: the John Mayer song is a nice addition.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Google+: Will it Matter?

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseThat's the big question on everyone's mind right now. Google launched their new social networking application earlier this month and it has been quite the buzz around the web. 10 million users and 1 billion objects shared in just a couple of short weeks. Quite impressive. But will it stick? Is this simply the 'latest, greatest fad' or does it the potential to shift the social networking landscape? I'm becoming more and more convinced it has traction.

First, let's look at what the folks at Google did. They essentially took the best of the industries leading social networking tools (Facebook and Twitter) and created a tool that also solves some of the privacy concerns from FB users. Google+ users have the capability of following anyone in the world, just like Twitter. I can follow Shaquille O'Neal, Ashton Kutcher (think he will be the first to one million in his circles?) or Joe from next door without any approval required on their end. This replicates the functionality of Twitter where I feel 'connected' to these people and see their updates, no matter how ridiculous they may be.

But, they didn't stop there. Unlike Twitter, I'm not limited to 140 characters, as a matter of fact - I'm not limited to characters. I can now share anything / everything with those in my circles. Ah the circles...what a great concept. I can now share information that is relevant and of value to each of my friends, without sending them updates that they don't care about. I have (so far) created a circles for friends, work, family and sports. My plan, at the moment, is to focus items that are related to educational technology towards my work circle, posts centered around sports to those who I know are sports fiends and then all others to my friends. I'm sure I will tweak this over the coming days / weeks, but it feels like a good start.

Google kept on pushing. They created hangouts. Hangouts are virtual spots utilizing audio and video where people can talk, chat, laugh, etc. I was speaking to co-worker yesterday who said the high school students she knows who are utilizing Google+ are raving about Hangouts. They love it. Nice job Google - you may have hit a homerun with this piece.

Big questions that leave me hanging at the moment:

  • How can I easily access and update via my mobile device? (Specially my iPhone)
  • I need a single easy-to-use application or web-based tool that allows me to update all of my social networking places (FB, Twitter and Google+) with one post. Where is it? TweetDeck was what I was utilizing and I want to see that integration.
  • Will Google+ have a place in education? My thoughts are with a future integration with Google Apps, it is quite possible.
Back to my original question. Will it Matter? Is Google+ just the latest MySpace (ouch, I used a bad word...sorry), or does it have the potential to rattle the cages of Twitter and Facebook. Time will tell and the more users who make their over to Google+ and check out its features, the more we move towards relevance. Google has a nice start, a great product and some innovative features that are going to push FB and Twitter to regroup and get off the gravy train. I love it when competition brings out the best of innovation. Keep it coming.

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Why? Because it matters...

SparksImage by Gnal via FlickrMy wife attended a work conference this week out of state and returned home last evening. While she was there she communicated with a few past colleagues and they asked how we were doing, how I liked my new job, etc. Then one of the people turned to my wife and asked 'why did your husband stop blogging? I always enjoyed reading his posts and comments.' That hit home with me last night and something that translates into our daily lives as educators.

I had become quite consumed with my new job, new duties, new community and learning that I simply made a choice to move the blog to the back burner. It wasn't that I didn't believe the value wasn't there, it was simply trying to prioritize the chaos in my life. But to hear that someone who lives 500 miles away was disappointed that I don't blog regularly anymore created a new energy and excitement within me. The value that once was a high priority, had slipped and it is time to reclaim.

This often happens to many educators across the country. We get so consumed with our school, our district, our community that we forget their exists an education community beyond what our eyes can see. There are colleagues and peers across this globe seeking new knowledge, new ideas and new innovations on a daily basis. It must continue to be our charge to share, collaborate and learn from one another so that we can ensure our students receive the highest quality education possible.

To the colleague who inspired me via my wife. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that while my world may be extremely busy, that I can not forget about my colleagues across the state, country and world that desire to share, collaborate and learn. If everyone were to put this on the back burner as easily as I did...where would we be?

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Consumption v. Creation

iPad with on display keyboardImage via WikipediaQuite the topic for debate right now in the education community, what type of device do my students need to perform the tasks, assignments and work that is required of them? Do they need a single device that they can transport with them at all times and if the answer is yes, what does that device look like? Or do students simply need access to devices based on their requirements?

The debate of consumption versus creation has peaked given the introduction of the tablet devices (iPads, Galaxy, Xoom, etc.) into the K-12 market. While these devices serve a great role in the fit-for-purpose environment, it charges the debate of whether this device completely meets their needs. Many educators (myself included at this point in time) still believe students need access to both a consumption device and a creation device (laptop, desktop, etc.) for a percentage of their work.

However, one could argue that as the tablet devices become more sophisticated and are targeted at the K-12 market, instead of a consumer device, the above could shift. We could see students using a tablet device as their primary device and not needing access to a creation device, because the ability and intuitiveness to create on these devices will become much more sophisticated.

As for now, I am in the camp of access to devices as needed. My philosophy may shift as the devices shift, but only time will tell. What are your thoughts on consumption devices versus creation devices?


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Transforming the Classroom

It has been a few months since my last post. I certainly haven't forgot about the blog, just taking a little break while focusing on other things in my life. But I'm back and hopefully recharged about utilizing this as a vehicle to share, collaborate and communicate with others about educational technology happenings.

A buzz word that has been around education for the past 3-5 years is 'one-to-one'. School districts across the country are spending millions of dollars to provide students and teachers with district-owned mobile devices. These devices are typically laptops, tablets and now a growing trend towards iPads. My question to those districts is: what is your value add with those devices? Is it tied to assessment, attendance, behavior, 21st century skills, etc.? How has placing a device in the hand of every student (or students having access to these devices) transformed the learning process? That is the key question.

When we talk about transforming the classroom and learning process, it has to start with teachers. Too many times I read about school districts investing in these 1:1 initiatives and then discussing professional development for teachers AFTER the fact. School districts must be proactive in engaging, educating and preparing their teachers for what a 21st century classroom looks like, and more importantly how does that change their teaching style? When school districts begin to have those conversations FIRST and outline a vision, goals and a roadmap to accomplish, the transformation is much more powerful and immediate.

Teachers must be engaged from the very beginning for the change to be successful. This can not be a 'top down' initiative. Teachers must add value, be at the table and help steer the ship, if the district is reap the full rewards from the initiative. Districts can do this by inviting teachers to visioning days, allowing teachers to facilitate and guide the professional development, and utilize professional learning communities to foster conversations and strategies among team members.

The transformation process isn't going to happen overnight. But if a school district outlines their process effectively and stays the course, they are less likely to see resistance and more likely to see positive, successful results in a timely manner.


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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Changing the Way We Communicate

A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...Image via WikipediaAs I reflect over the past three years of my personal and professional life and how the Web 2.0 / Social Networking / Social Media world has profoundly impacted the way I communicate and interact with friends, colleagues, co-workers, family and those of like I interest; I ask myself "How did I manage without these tools in the past?"

I daily utilize Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate with friends, family and fellow educational technology enthusiasts. My iPad, iPhone and Tablet PC are always within an arms' reach. I have learned the 'fit for purpose' with these devices and their associated applications and software. Upon arriving at home, my web enabled TV allows me to stream YouTube videos, view Twitter and Facebook updates, check out the newest video on Netflix and read the daily news. (Oh yeah and I watch TV on it too.) More and more, every device and web-based application I utilize is designed to keep me connected and communicate with others as quickly and instantaneously as possible.

When we apply this logic to world of education, specially K-12, why wouldn't we want to utilize the same model to engage our students? By providing them the tools and applications that enhance their ability to connect, collaborate and communicate, we are molding and shaping the next generation of global leaders.

I am always seeking the next latest and greatest app or device to enhance my communication, connectivity and collaboration. I consider myself to stay on the cutting edge and love to learn from the many educational technology experts across the world who enjoy sharing as much as I do. I challenge others to take up the same approach. Share with others. Share your knowledge, share your research, share your articles and share your ideas. By sharing and learning, we can continue to grow and ultimately improve the way we learn, teach, communicate and collaborate with one another. These skills are a necessity if we as a country wish to stay at the forefront of the digital global economy that is already upon us.


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Friday, January 7, 2011

Review of Samsung Galaxy Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tablet at mHealth Summit 2010Image by Hallicious via FlickrI was fortunate enough to get my hands on a Samsung Galaxy Tablet for our team to review over the next few weeks. I have spent about 24 hours with the device and here are my initial thoughts:

  • The device is 7" diagonal - so much small and lighter than the iPad.
  • I was fairly impressed with the speed when moving between applications, browsing the web, viewing videos, etc. Samsung utilizes their own processor, not a limitation.
  • Free Office Productivity suite (ThinkFree Office) pre-installed.
  • Camera - rear and forward-facing. (I'm sure its biggest competitor has this coming in their next release.)
  • Flash 10 supported.
  • Serves as a Wi-Fi hot spot. Not sure how big this is in the K-12 market, but a nice feature non-the-less.
  • DLNA Technology which allows you to display content from the device to other enabled devices such as TVs, computers, etc.
  • Good battery life - 13+ hours
  • Support for multiple video codecs (mp4, divx, wma)
  • Durable - use of gorilla glass
  • Price Point - starting at $320

  • Wasn't that impressed with the apps available in the Android Market. (Especially in Education)
  • A bit clunky / sloppy on the OS side, but this was my first impression of the Android OS
  • No USB port
  • Image quality on the camera is average to below-average (expected better)
  • Cost of data plan

Overall, the device seems quality and I am anxious to hear what other members of my team have to say about it. I'm not 100% sold that it would be worth moving from my iPad to the Galaxy, but I will continue to explore. Definitely worth the time for your district or department to evaluate and determine its value to you and your personnel.

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