Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Skipping Stones

As I evaluate various new technologies that are developed each year, I've come to the conclusion that the danger is what I picture in my mind as "skipping stones." As any of you who have spent time on the shore of a calm lake know, a nice flat stone, thrown just right, will hop along the surface of the water several times before it sinks to the bottom never to be seen again. Observers will oooo and ahhh, but the excitement lasts only as long as the stone skips and can't be summoned again until the next stone is tossed.

The same goes for educational technology if we're not careful. We see the potential of the technology, whatever it is; we purchase it and deploy it with great fanfare; and then we watch with dismay while students and teachers implement the use of the technology at only the most superficial levels. The stakeholders are very excited at first, but because the users aren't growing with the technology, the newness wears off in a hurry. Then the advertisers tout the next new technology, and the users clamor to move on to the next new device or software, only to once again hip skip along the surface of the potential of the technology.

This cycle must end. We must make educated decisions about the best devices and software for our schools, and then we must train and collaborate and dig very deep to make sure we are making the very best educational uses of the technology. We must avoid the temptation to put the old aside to move on to the next newest thing over and over again, because it means we never really reach the place of teaching differently or learning differently, and that after all, is the point. isn't it?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Collaboration and Cooperation

I'm thinking about teamwork today, about reaching decisions based on mutually agreed upon terms that are themselves based on initial disagreement and the honest evaluation of information.

I'm thinking about seeing the big picture and bringing the expertise of many to the table to reach agreement.

I'm thinking about how we all have different perspectives to offer, so we all need to be heard, but then I'm thinking we need to reach conclusions and stand up for the group decision and for one another.

I'm thinking about how much we lose when we don't work together and build each other up.

I'm thinking that there is no place for pretense.

There's a lot to think about today.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I am currently at the ITEC IT Conference in Ames, and I just came from a session put on by representatives from the Council Bluffs schools. They are completing a pilot project of Chromebooks and are prepared to roll out a grades 9 to 12 Chromebook 1:1 initiative this fall. I've tested a Chromebook myself, and they are great! There is little work that needs to be done to deploy them. They boot up in 8 seconds. The battery lasts 8 hours. They are designed to use Google Apps which we use in the district already.

However, you can't load programs or software on them. They don't do Java. They have only limited Flash capabilities. And, they are paperweights if they don't have a wireless Internet connection. As wonderful as it would be to get away from laptops and netbooks that sometimes take a minute or two to log in, I just don't think Chromebooks are the answer in a community where we have so many families without Internet access, let alone wireless Internet access at home.

What do you think?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Integrating the best technologies in the most educational ways

Thought for the day:

Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom.--Clifford Stoll

We must continue to move the education of students from fact memorization to higher order thinking skills, and we must do it urgently and systematically. The use of technology in the classroom can be the catalyst for this process, or it can enable teachers to teach the way they've always taught, turning out students who are completely unprepared for the ways of our globally connected, technology rich world. We must continue to read the literature and study educational technology, and then we must continue to urgently work with teachers and administrators to both choose the best technologies and to also push students to their own active, authentic learning for life.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Our new SLCSD YouTube Channel:

Storm Lake CSD YouTube Channel

Take a look at the 6th Grade Book Trailers Playlist and stay tuned for more SLCSD videos!