Friday, June 28, 2013

#ISTE13 Six Word Story Project

As I'm reading through all the ISTE13 recaps, I started thinking about how it might be cool to create a six word story about my ISTE13 experience.  As I thought about what mine might entail, I wondered what others might look like.  And then it hit me.  We should make a collaborative video of six word stories all put together into an ISTE13 compilation!

So, here is the deal.  The more people we get to add to this, the more fun it will be.  Spread the word.  I first heard about the idea of a six word story from Dean Shareski (@shareski).  And I think it is a great project for any teacher to use in their classroom.  So, this will be good practice for you.  :)

Tell the story of your ISTE13 experience with one image and just six words.  It can be an image that you took at the conference, or one that someone else took that helps tell your story.  Look here for some ideas from Ben Grey's (@bengrey) wiki:

Use a photo editor (pixlr is a good free one for Chrome and Fotolr used to be pretty good on the iPad) to add the text of the story to your image.  You can publish your image to a photo sharing site like Flickr and then add it to our Google Presentation by the URL.  Or you can upload a copy of the image directly to the Google Presentation.

Add your story to the collaborative Google Presentation here:
Be sure to include your name, where you are from and twitter/g+ account info in the notes section of your slide.

I will download the slideshow and create a video out of all of the stories.  And then in two weeks we will have a Google Hangout to watch the end result.  Sound good?  :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thoughts on the Google Pixel

Google Pixel
As I read the news about the Google Pixel announcement it seemed that there was a lot of focus on the price of the device ($1299-1499).  I don't think evaluating this device on price is the right angle at all!

When I was first reading about it, the first thing I focused in on was the touch integration announcement.  ChromeOS just added touch integration! Seriously!  No, there isn't a full keyboard, but the touch integration is there with gestures.  This paves the way for a whole new set of devices running ChromeOS!  And with the Chromebook partners picking up speed, there is a lot of potential here.

Combine that thought with the physical specifications and design of the Pixel.  It is almost so impressive it is scary.  Apple's prized possession of late has been their screens.  First on the iPhone and iPad screens.  With the inclusion of the Retina display on the MacBooks this year they continued that trend.  However, Google just took Apple's lunch money and put them on notice with the Pixel display!

The Google Pixel has a 12.85" screen running at 2560 x1700.  It has a Intel i5 processor (1.8ghz), and 4GB of ram.  Throw in a ChromeOS with touch integration and you have a pretty major statement.  Google just proved they can package the same high quality hardware (designed with software in mind), with all the advantages of a web based ChromeOS.


Imagine where we go from here...  :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I had the great opportunity to present the closing keynote for the 2012 Fall TECSIG meeting this year.  I chose to speak about Destiny, and tell a little bit about the life experiences of my and my son Robert.  My goal was to tie those experiences back to some current issues I see in Education.  I didn't feel like I did as great a job as I could have in that manner.  But you can be the judge of that.  :)  Tim Holt (@timholt2007) captured it all on film:

Check it out.  At the very least you will learn a little bit more about me.  And you might just find out if Russia is really visible from a front porch in Alaska. :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is keyboarding a dying art?

How much time do your students spend practicing keyboarding in your school?  The students in our district begin learning keyboarding in kindergarten.  In the past they have spent a significant amount of time in their computer literacy courses learning how to type.

Over the past year our district has been developing a plan to completely change how our elementary lab courses work.  We want to move to a more project based curriculum framework, and we want to focus less on specific tools, and more on skills.  Our plan is to create a new project based curriculum that will pull content from the core subject areas for projects.  In these projects we will target technology skills like word processing, data analysis and research, animation, filming, and photography.  This way our students are gaining technology skills while also reviewing content from their core subjects.

Once we discussed what we wanted our students to do, we then needed to tackle the device we wanted to use.  We decided to go with iPads.  However, we were concerned that our students wouldn't learn to type as well if they only learning on the virtual keyboard.  So we plan to buy full size bluetooth keyboards that will be used specifically during keyboarding practice.

My question is:  How important will keyboarding be in the next five years?  As voice dictation capabilities improve will there be a need to type?  As I was brain storming this idea I used the voice dictation features of Evernote to save some of my thoughts.  Based on this experience, I won't be dropping my keyboard anytime soon.  But five years is a long time.  Will next years kindergartner still need to rely on keyboarding skills when they move on from elementary school in 5 years?

If we didn't spend time dedicated to keyboarding we could dedicate more time to teaching critical thinking, data analysis and research skills.  Would time be better spent on these skills over that five year period?  Or will keyboarding still be critical?  In my opinion keyboarding may just be a dying art.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Innovating around mono vision - The School CIO Summit

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Tech and Learning SchoolCIO Summit in La Jolla, CA on June 22-23.  I have to give a shout out to my boy Carl Hooker for helping me get the invite (he is a pretty big deal around here in case you didn't know -  This was one of the most enjoyable events I have attended in recent years.  The attendees were made up of CTOs, CIOs, Technology Directors, Superintendents, and even a few Curriculum Directors from across the nation.  Texas, and Illinois spawned the largest groups of attendees, and yes it did turn into somewhat of a competition.

Our first stop was at the Calit2 facility on the UC San Diego campus.  This research team is studying innovative commodity technology.  These are technologies that will eventually be brought to the masses, but are still in development/testing.  The first demo we saw was video in 4K vs. DVD quality.  The difference was amazing!  4K is basically 4 times the quality of 1080p HD.  Wrap your head around that!  4K is for kids you say?  Good news, they are working on an 8K standard too!  They showed us recording of a  vocal performance that was recorded live in 4K.  The definition was amazing.  It looked (and sounded - but that is a different standard) as if you were actually sitting there at the performance.  One of the attendees suggested that if there was a way to produce the sound as if it were coming from the location of the performers mouth that would make it just as good as being there live.  This vocal performance was being streamed from disc, and it required an 800mb+ stream to send the data.  Talk about truly needing a gigabyte connection!

If you want to get started on filming in 4K, you are in luck.  If you can afford it, you can pick up one of these cameras from Red.  These are the cameras that were used to film the Hobbit, and Prometheus.

Next we got to see live demos of their 3D virtual cave, which uses a combination of angled screens/projectors all connected together with a software package that allows you to explore in a world in 3D.  Now, I have to add here:  For those of us in the world that can only see in 'mono' vision, this isn't all that exciting.  You need to be able to see in stereo (using both eyes).  However, as it was bluntly pointed out, only about 10% of the population can't see in stereo (as you can tell, I'm not bitter at all).  The education aspect of this was thinking about how your students could explore a location that they can't physically get to.  Such as the great pyramids, or an archaeological dig site. You could also use an augmented reality browser (like Argon for example) to markup the physical world.  One attendee wanted to know how using hologram technology would fit into this realm.  He cited hologram Tupac as an example.  He was met with very confused looks.  And the rest of us Texans just had to sigh...

The other aspect of this demo was a room with LCD panels all connected in series.   We were shown a gigapixel image of a mountain.  What was amazing was the ability to zoom in on specific areas of the image (even a child playing soccer) without losing resolution or clarity.  They also showed us a picture from a microscope of actual brain fibers.  The discussion around this topic was pretty amazing.  Having a screen this size, with this resolution allows for the collaboration of video/image analysis.  Imagine being able to stand with a group of peers in front of an image on a wall, instead of huddling together around a laptop screen.  Then take it a step further, add in the ability to interface directly on the screen with tactile input in order to manipulate and adjust the video/image.  This would be an amazing collaboration experience for students.  While the Calit2 team didn't have the tactile input features available, they were working on it.  They actually had the cameras setup to begin testing a feature similar to the Xbox Kinect.

I also decided that I wanted to order a set of these contact lens!  WiFi enabled with a 16 megapixel camera!  That is what I'm talking about it!

The following day we came back together to listen to our keynote speaker Jaime Casap from Google.  We spent the day discussing four key areas in break out groups, and addressed concepts that Jaime had us think about.  Some of the key questions that came out of those discussion were:

  1. Can we create a 1:1 for the user experience rather than for the device?
  2. Why is collaboration cheating?
  3. How do we better use technology to create individualized learning?
However, the biggest 'aha' came after the break out groups presented and we were discussing the presentations.  We started talking about 21st Century Learning, and the four Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity).  Someone mentioned that it was time to stop talking about the 21st Century aspect (something that has been driving me nuts for the last few years).  And finally a solution to this problem was suggested!  Henry Thiele from Illinois proposed that we just drop the 21st Century part and call it Learning!  Bravo Henry!  I love it!  He wrote a great blog post about his suggestion here.

This event was amazing, and very thought provoking!  I want to say thanks to Tech and Learning for inviting me.  I have also created a Twitter list of all of the amazing leaders that I met at this event.

Related Links:

Friday, June 8, 2012

iConstruction - Building a Science based apptivity #tatc12
Resources for my iConstruction session today:

This is a list of all the apps that we will use today.

Apptivity Document: The Tipping Tower
This is a document that outlines our apptivity for the session.  You will want to open this document in iBooks on your iPad.

Apptivity Template
This is the template document that was used to build the above Apptivity document.  It is in Word format, but you can open it in Pages.

Live Stream:

Area 7 Conference Information:

Results from the workshop
The winners: @laceydelle and @dkuropatwa:

The problem children: @computerexplore and @iPadSammy

Monday, May 14, 2012

Build a custom App list with #edtech

An Apple professional development instructor recently shared this tool with me:

You download a small client from their site and install it on your computer.  It scans your iTunes library for apps, and then lets you pick which ones you want to share.  It then publishes a webpage for you with all of those apps listed.  Each app has the logo, a brief summary, and the pricing information from iTunes.  And each app has a clickable link that takes you right to the store to download the app.

This is a quick and easy way to share app lists.  I can see it being really handy for appy hours (find out more about appy hours from @computerexplore at   The moderator of the appy hour could share out app menus through this tool (it wouldn't be as fancy as some of the menus I've seen, but it would have all the info they need).  And users could exchange lists themselves.  Take a look at what the list looks like below: