Monday, December 13, 2010

The Impact of the Internet: A Story

Transformation is the goal.  It's not just translating what we have.  It is taking the resources within our reach to create something that didn't exist before--something new.  It is a transformation.

CC Namche Bazaar by Kogo
I love this article which talks about how the internet has transformed some villages in Nepal deep in the Himalayas.  It is so similar to stories of technology use in Africa.  When you put resources in people's hands, they are creative and do things we might never predict.  Among other thoughts, what are the implications for this story in terms of community development?

This news article is probably so powerful because it is a story.  We need to get students engaged in stories and creating their own stories.  I imagine many of our students could come up with innovative solutions to so many of the challenges our world faces.  Let's engage them to know, understand, and act...Perhaps we could read about one of their ideas on Yahoo! News.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Building Momentum

The headline is overly dramatic: "Computers in Schools are a Failure, Says Computer Pioneer Alan Kay."  The article says, "Computers have been in schools for the last 30 years, but with few exceptions, they haven't been used to their full potential."  Hmm...sounds pretty much right on to me.  Yet, how many things fit into that category.  The format and utilization of this resource in our schools has been slow going.  As I read this article, I see Kay saying technology for technology's sake is not very productive.  Where is the depth to the learning?

Alan Kay (3097599304)
By Marcin Wichary from San Francisco, U.S.A. (Alan Kay  Uploaded by JoJan) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, is this the first time you have heard this?  Alan Kay's comments seem like what many others have been saying for some time.  Leverage technology to add depth to the learning and inquiry process.  Project Red's recent research says the same thing. Do it right and it impacts student learning significantly.

Some take Kay's comments and those like him as depressing due to the failure of our schools to take advantage of an amazing opportunity.  On the other hand, it gives me hope for the future.  We are gaining momentum in our schools on how to put technology in a school environment and help students inquire, collaborate and give feedback at high levels.  We are recognizing the need to move forward now in ways that have not happened in the last 30 years.  For me, I see hope and anticipation at what is poised to by a dynamic time for students.  And we need to take action.  Our context with technology is different than it has been in the past.  We have to turn "clickable" kids into vibrant, dynamic learners with whatever tools we can put in their hands.

Are you being left behind?  Are you ready to participate?  Some need to be pioneers.  Others need to come along and sustain the momentum.  It starts with one transformed classroom at a time. Where are you?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


We consume a lot.  Reflect on what you consume.  Although this video is part of an effort to educate the one campus about their consumption in a creative way, it is a good opportunity for all to reflect.

Do you have suggestions on how to innovatively engage a community on a dialogue about their consumption?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Be Contagious

"good educators share useful tools with each other."

Several weeks ago, during a PD session with MS teachers, I shared a Web 2.0 tool called Wallwisher.  It wasn't the point and just happen to be a small tool that I used during the time together.  I used it in that specific session because I wanted participant-to-participant interaction, rather than participant-to-facilitator interaction.  It worked well for my purposes.

From there, one of the administrators attending went on to share it with our school leadership team and use it in a meeting.  One of our coordinators then proceeded to use Wallwisher with MS and HS staff during PD days.  From there, some teachers took and applied it to their classrooms and students engaged this tool for learning.

When I first introduced this tool, I had no idea it would spread in this manner.  I'm sure that others may have heard about it from other sources than just inside our community and my original introduction.  However, good educators share useful tools with each other.  I love it when students say they know what we did in professional development because their teachers all tried it out on them the following week.  It means the PD was useful and applicable.

If you are a technology leader (formal or informal), share useful tools with your colleagues.  And don't just share a link, share how you used it to enhance learning.  With many tools or technology integration activities, you can do this in a 5-10 minute casual conversation.  When other educators see how it impacts learning and your enthusiasm of the impact it had on your lesson, they are much more likely to implement it for themselves.    Be intentional in your leadership, regardless of your formal position.

Oh, and by the way, this applies to much more than just technology.  Be contagious.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No More Excuses

It may not be comfortable, but educators have to be savvy enough to quit buying the 2.0 version of the dog ate my homework.

A blog post by Alain Meyer entitled "A New Era of Homework Excuses" caught my attention.  He talks about how students take advantage of teachers and their ignorance when it comes to technology.  Technology becomes the excuse for whatever a student has failed to deliver.  I think he has a point.  We allow students to take advantage of us in our attempts to extend some grace.

CC Aaron Jacobs
I recently sat down at lunch with a student who had failed to give a presentation the previous day for the teacher sitting next to her.  She forgot her laptop that day.  Really?!?  We are 1:1 laptop school.  How do you forget your laptop?  I questioned her further.  I asked her if she really had the presentation done.  Of course, she said, yes.  I questioned her further about what the timestamps on her files might tell me.  She dodged the question and we had a laugh, moving on to other conversation.  I have no doubt that she took advantage of the extra time to work on her presentation to say the least...and probably didn't have it ready to begin with.

While in college, I've worked for hours on a paper and then lost a half day's work.  Did that change the due date?  Nope.  Work faster, stay up later, and make it better the second time around. The other day I was working on a document and lost it (due to my own user error).  That work did not suddenly go away. I had to redo it and still make my deadlines.  It's the real world and although grace is nice, we need to push students away from excuses and toward responsibility.  I suppose having them take responsibility for their own learning is a major goal here.  Life doesn't always wait for the planets to align.  Sometimes we get curveballs at the worst possible times.

As educators, we continue to integrate more technology in the classroom.  We need to hold students accountable.  I'm not advocating losing all understanding and graciousness with students. We just need to use it a little more sparingly and hold ourselves accountable for some learning in this area.  It may not be comfortable, but educators have to be savvy enough to quit buying the 2.0 version of the dog ate my homework.

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Apple & Google Partnership

In our schools, we have implemented both Apple and Google Apps for students and faculty.  I see these two companies offering extremely valuable tools for education.  Apple integrates education-focused software seamlessly together in easy to use ways.  It provides a fantastic platform to demonstrate understanding and learning.   Apple provides a creation tool, which is at the top of Blooms revised taxonomy. It is also built to readily share these creations.

Google adds a component of communication and collaboration.  Although largely text-based in many aspects, the power of collaboration comes out in this suite of applications.  The opportunity to be a learning community and share the learning can have dramatic impacts on a classroom.

In my last post, I talked about being overwhelmed.  Although we have many more tools available at our schools, these two companies provide the core for using technology to enhance learning.  I continue to see huge benefits as both an Apple school and as users of Google Apps.  Teachers can start at this core and develop a foundation for technology integration in their classroom.  So much of what we want students to do can be accomplished with this core software without chasing the ever-changing Web 2.0 apps.  I'm not opposed to Web 2.0 options and their are some great ones out there.  I just advocate going deep and learning the core of what you have at your fingertips to increase the depth of learning taking place.  In technology, it is hard for people to know what they don't  know and as a result, they can often move to new things without accomplishing the full potential of what they already know or have started to learn.  Wherever you focus, do not lose sight of the learning and the student benefits.

Monday, October 18, 2010


The more I know, the more I realize I don't know.  The world of technology resources is vast and seemingly endless.  I see many people just overwhelmed by the technology available and it comes out as frustration and a feeling that it's hopeless to even try getting up to speed.

Steven Anderson wrote a nice blog post focused on beginning teachers and those that feel overwhelmed.  He rightly points out that teaching the first few years is vastly different than having a few years of experience under your belt.  Can you imagine walking into many of our schools just out of college with no experience and encountering many of these technology resources for the first time, particularly coming from a teaching program that fails to prepare you for this reality in schools?  And first year teachers are not the only ones overwhelmed.  Experienced teachers can have these exact same feelings in technology.

Some teachers give in and do nothing, resigning themselves to irrelevancy and hopelessness.  I see some tech savvy teachers and professional developers reinforce this by overwhelming teachers with what's available.  It is important to get outside our limited perspectives but those responsible for professional development also need to know their audience.  Sometimes less is more.  For many teachers, focusing on 2-3 things that can powerfully impact their classroom is sufficient for a year of growth.  The depth of use by the teacher can really help students learn and benefit the classroom instead of a surface glaze of many different "cool" tools.

We have to exercise the same discretion and information literacy that we need to be teaching our students.  We need to filter out what is most important in a digital world and determine how to leverage it for learning.  As technology leaders, we also have to help others find balance so teachers are not overwhelmed.  In the midst of our push to move people forward in their journey, we need to do so responsibly so we don't undermine ourselves with a lack of depth.

If you are an overwhelmed teacher, model the goal-setting you ask your students to do.  Don't give up!  Make some manageable strides forward and seek a true learning community that enlists the help of your students!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Bangalore, India. Yes, check out the people passing by. This is a new Polycom unit donated as a thank you gift from Simpson University. GSIS is a host to their Master's program for international educators. I have found that although I am very comfortable participating from a distance via phone or skype, others in meetings are often less comfortable and as a result, the meeting is not as effective. As videoconferencing grows in popularity even through common programs such as Skype, comfort levels are increasing.

This Polycom unit will open doors for us to connect to various locations around the world and access resources in a very clear and effective communication method. We have already talked to colleagues and partner schools around the world about ways we can use it to increase collaboration and expose students to new learning. It is exciting to see this technology reachable for our PK-12 students. We look forward to expanding this implementation to include more collaboration between TCIS and GSIS in the future. It is exciting to implement new tools that we know will enhance our learning environment.

If you have resources to suggest or want to connect with our school, please leave a comment...

Friday, October 8, 2010

To connect or not?

As I make more posts in coming weeks, you will probably see many take aways from Kathleen's visit. One take away I had related to connectivity. I know that there are times for laptops during class and a time to close the lids. However, my assumption has always been that students are connected when they are using the laptop. We use a lot of GApps so this makes sense in many regards. Korea also has fantastic internet. However, at the same time, I see a high value in turning off the wireless with purpose. We need to help students stay focused and avoid distractions. Turning off the wireless when they are working with local tools is valuable. Other strategies like full screen mode can be helpful too.

The bigger picture issue is creating an environment conducive to learning involves many aspects that we often take for granted. As I walked away from Kathleen's 2 day visit, I feel much more aware of these areas and look forward to talking about them with teachers to enhance their classrooms.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Being Facebook Friends

Should teachers friend students on Facebook? For some reason, since I work with technology, people seem to think I'm a good person to ask. And since I mentioned Facebook in my last post, perhaps it is relevant to address it here. My depends.

Let's ask a different question. Should teachers/educators be on social media? Yes. No question. If we want to connect with students and meet students where they are, social media is the way to go. Educational research tells us that we need to be relevant to engage students effectively. It also tells us that if we can extend our time spent on learning and our curriculum, then achievement goes up. Now put those two together. If we engage students with relevant questions/topics and use a medium that they are using outside of school for socializing, we are likely to extend school related discussions that promote learning, inquiry and authentic application of concepts in the real world. Many have unpacked this much more than I am here. This is only 1 aspect of leveraging social media to benefit learning.

I think the "friends" on Facebook is a bit more complex. Some people advocate 2 accounts...1 professional and 1 personal. I think you have to think about how you use social media. I have some accounts that are personal and my friends/links reflect that. I have other accounts that are solely professional. Based on our roles, this can be easier for some than others. For me, Facebook is personal. There is nothing on there I'm ashamed of. Actually, I don't post much. Rather, I use it to keep up with friends across the world. I also don't have a class of students that I work directly with right now with my given role. Twitter is my professional account. Don't get me wrong. The personal nature of who you are bleeds over into the professional as well it should. It is reasonable to keep the two separate. Bottom line, if you are posting things that students should not see or might be better left to their imagination, don't friend them on Facebook.

No matter what medium you use for social media and connections, your life is more transparent than it has ever been. We know more about each other. Modeling and making good choices is paramount. So is self-control. You can't post confidential or "soon to be public" info before it actually is public. Many people have had some heavy consequences for mistakes in this area and it deserves due caution. All said, social media is a place to extend learning and leverage for the good of both student learning and professional learning. Don't be scared. Jump in but do so with some thought and foresight.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Marketing on Facebook & Schools

Screenshots from Nike Facebook page (above) and Adidas Facebook page (below on right).

While in the US over the summer, I was a bit surprised to see so many companies promoting their brands on Facebook. Perhaps I'm behind the times in US trends because I rarely watch US TV. Companies used to put their website up. Now, it seems that Facebook is where the masses are so that is where companies are seeking consumers. By all appearances, they are right. Social media continues to grow and Facebook is a one-stop shop for so many users to access communication. So why not market there? It makes sense. A Mashable article entitled Top 5 Emerging Brand Trends on Facebook just highlights some of this marketing taking place on Facebook.

The promotion of causes and charities is nothing new on Facebook and has been going on for some time. The marketing of products has been going on there as well, but the scale of use has gone well beyond grassroots efforts to become a high priority in major brands.

How many schools have sites on Facebook? The image on Facebook may likely be the public image of the school and viewed more often than the website. We often spend a lot of time on our websites and these are important, but I wonder if public relations and branding of schools (particularly internationally) needs to give more attention to the social media component. My guess is that most schools have a presence on a Facebook. And it's not limited to Facebook...check Wikipedia among others to see what it says about your school. The real question is whether that publicity comes from the school and promotes the school in the best and most accurate light...or, does the Facebook presence rest in the opinions of Facebook users with no official connection, some of which may have axes to grind?

Maybe it is time to reevaluate our priorities...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

GSIS21 Cohort

I have been trying to look for ways to build capacity and expand our knowledge base of "experts" at both our campuses. For GSIS, we have decided to take a small group and go deeper with content than we can with a larger group. In consultation with division leaders, we invited some faculty to participate in a series of PD sessions stretching from September to March 2011. We want to create a cohort of learners that can share a common experience and take their knowledge to the next level. We have so many teachers that are interested and desire this sort of training that is hard to select just a few.

Kathleen Ferenz's 2nd day of PD was spent with this group. We focused on what she called the visual and audio channels. We had a great day of understanding how to construct learning by starting with visuals. We spent a lot of time with iPhoto in the morning. Then we moved to podcasting with GarageBand in the afternoon. Like the previous day, we had fun and learned skills that had immediate applications to classrooms. We also embarked on a larger journey of transforming our perspective to create truly effective 1:1 classrooms. I'm looking forward to continuing our learning together!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fun PD

GSIS was privileged to have Kathleen Ferenz come in for 2 days of professional development for faculty. She is an Apple Professional Developer that has worked extensively in many areas of technology integration including both the Apple, Google, and Library of Congress worlds. She was a great resource to have and a pleasure to learn from. For me, it was thrilling to see faculty engage in PD that was fun and brought smiles to their faces. Teachers walked out the door with something they could use in their classroom next week and apply to unit development in coming months to transform their classroom. Immediate engagement, short term applications, and long term impacts. I like this model for PD and have sought to implement it with sessions that I lead.

Transformation. It's about taking a classroom and making a vibrant learning environment that embraces the tools available as a 1:1 classroom. 1:1 classrooms are different. It's not just doing some tasks digital instead of on paper. I'm not sure the education community gets this point. I see many people think they are excellent tech integrationists because they do the best paper based tasks on laptops. It's so much more than that...

Thanks, Kathleen, for a great couple days of PD with our faculty!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The ES Mobile Lab

We are very blessed to roll out a mobile lab in the GSIS elementary school this year. We piloted laptops with 5th graders last year through a 1 laptop to 2 students ratio. Although this was a significant step forward, the teachers quickly desired a 1:1 ratio for students and laptops. This year, we have implemented 1 full cart with 21 laptops in the 5th grade, which is shared between 2 sections.

Due to space needs, we also replaced the aging Windows desktop PC lab with a mobile cart of 26 laptops for grades PK-4. We are excited about the opportunity teachers have to bring the laptops into their classroom and let all students access and learn with technology.

GSIS is getting to be the first ones to experience and utilize this resource in our system. As TCIS moves to the new campus, they will be implementing a similar mobile cart as their lab will not be present in the new building in Techno Valley. We hope to further expand the mobile labs to have more carts shared between fewer classes so students and teachers have greater access in the future.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Top 5 iPhone Apps

Many people at our schools are getting iPhones. I see them much more frequently among our students and out in the community. It was recently reported that in Korea, over 110,000 iPhone 4s had been pre-ordered. I would guess that number has continued to increase.I have gotten a many queries about all kinds of things on the iPhone. I thought I would make mention of my Top 5 apps in no particular order:

For me and my workflow, my t0-do list and scheduling items that need to be addressed is critical. I have found Things to be a fantastic tool to organize and prioritize my to-do list. It is very powerful and based on the Getting Things Done principles. I particularly like that I can create steps within projects and schedule certain items on certain days easily. I sync this app with Things on my laptop via the wireless. It is a little pricey compared to most apps $9.99 but well worth every penny for me.

WhatsApp uses wi-fi or your data plan to send text messages, photos, video, etc. to your contacts. Your phone number is your unique identifier so you have to have the right phone number in, inclusive of country code. It allows you to text anywhere in the world without international charges. It is now available on other smartphones besides just the iPhone which expands its use. It seems like several chat/texting apps are out there and probably work similarly. The trick is to get one and sell your friends on it so you don't have to pay for SMS messages. WhatsApp is a great bargain at .99.

Personal Finance by Pageonce
Personal Finance allows me to track all my credit cards, frequent flyer miles, and bills from a variety of sources in one place. It notifies me if too many credit card transactions occur in a day and notifies me of big charges. It consolidates utilities bills for a home in another location all in one place that is easy to view and keep abreast of what is going on. It saves me logging into many different sites. I really like being able to log in via the web on Pageonce and setup the accounts. Then I just view everything via the iPhone app. For this one, there is a premium version and a free one.

IM+: All in One Messenger
IM+ consolidates all my chats into 1 app. I can set it to stay logged in and receive push notifications for up to 18 hours. It is easy to use. Again, there are others out there but this is one I found that works well and meets my needs. There is a Lite version which is free. It has some limitations and I have found the normal paid version worth it although a little pricey at $9.99.

Dragon Dictation
Dragon Dictation is from the makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking, a popular software package. This app converts your voice into text. It's very accurate and great for recording longer emails that I don't want to type on the phone or text messages when I can't type and need to send a quick note. This app is free.

If you look at the pictures in this post, you can see screenshots of my first 2 pages of apps which are the ones I use the most. For the most part, I like free or very cheap apps. I've listed some of the pricier ones here which is probably good my most expensive apps are the best. It means I chose well. Be strategic on your apps and try to read user reviews. And there does seem to be an app for nearly everything.

What your favorite apps? Add them to the comments...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Taking Risks

In my first post of the year, I talked about newness. In a comment to that post, Chantal said, “Technology is a handy tool, but the effectiveness of the teacher instruction continues to be paramount to successful education.” For those that do read my blog regularly, I hope you have seen that theme amidst the gadgets and glitz. Effective instruction rests with the teacher.

In reflecting on Chantal’s comment further, I believe the 21st century presents a valuable opportunity for us to model learning. In an age of information overload, we spend a lot of our time teaching students how to learn...and we should. We are teaching students how to fish rather than just giving them a fish.

Some people are more willing to take risks than others...

Title: Shark Surfer

Source: Youtube via notorious415

I have observed and heard many stories regarding the difference between the younger and older generation. Young kids can program a VCR or make the computer do amazing things because they are willing to try stuff. They don’t worry about it breaking. How many adults say they didn’t want to try something on the computer because they didn’t want to mess it up. Kids are much more willing to take risks.

As we integrate technology into the classroom, we take risks. We risk our position as an expert. We risk control. We empower students without knowing how they are going to handle it. With the risk, we have a great opportunity. We can become a student and learn from the students that we teach. It may seem like a no-brainer, but the paradigm shift is difficult. It can make the technological shortcomings of the teacher apparent. At the same time, it brings the strengths of some students forward and engages them in amazing ways. Teachers that model “not knowing” and learning a new skill, allowing the students to teach them and their peers can create a phenomenal learning community in the classroom. It requires some humility. It requires a willingness to say “I don’t know...” That’s not an easy phrase for many teachers.

I can think of fewer ways to transform your classroom than truly modeling learning and creating a learning community that grows everyone--teacher included.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Grace Amidst Transparency

We live in a transparent world. We know a lot about each other. Not only do the people I hang out with know me, but people that I email, Facebook, Skype, and readers of blog know many things about me. It is not just our interests that are transparent; it is also our emotional ups and downs. Technology is not the only culprit although it is one that definitely increases our openness to each other.

As we look at each other, the title of a popular book comes to mind: Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them. As we see more of each other, it is easy to make judgments and write people off for their shortcomings. In a transparent world, we need more grace. We need to forgive people for being themselves...for being imperfect. That’s all of us. We just see others' imperfections more easily than our own.

I fear that our grace has not grown proportionately to our transparency. We could use a substantial dose of humility. I've come to enjoy and embrace transparency. In the midst of transparency, may we extend more grace in a world that needs more kindness and forgiveness than judgment and critiques.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Container for your Classroom

What's your container for your classroom? Now, let me first say that I think Jeff Utecht writes articulately about this with examples in his Thinking Stick blog post titled What's your container? That being said, he has probably helped popularize this terminology and idea in the region more recently but the concept and term has been used for some time.

I've been in many conversations here at the beginning of the year with teachers trying to decide what they are going to use as a container for their classroom. The meaning of container is how they are going to contain or hold together the content for their classes. This idea of a container brings coherency to instruction that may point to links all over the web, Google App files, or digital interaction just to name a few. It becomes one place where important materials related to instruction can be located.

CC Sealand Florida by Louis Vest

For some people, I think the term hub is more fitting. A hub is a centerpiece where other things spiral out. For some, all they need is one place to get students and then they point them all over the web to other resources. They need a location to store and organize all their links. They have no "stuff" because everything is on the web somewhere else with various Web 2.0 sites. Containers can act as hubs but in some ways imply more substantial content being posted on them.

To give an example, Moodle could be a container. It can link to whatever you like on the web but it is extremely useful for interaction such as discussion forums, dividing the class into groups, and posting files. Google sites or one of the wiki services can act as a container to hold files and "stuff" in a similar way. At the same time, a wiki can just be a hub with links and embedded code from other sites. A diigo list or a Google doc with hyperlinks might just act as a hub. A blog may act as either one.

So why is it important to distinguish the difference between a hub and a container? It's probably not. It is important is to clearly know your purpose and what you want to accomplish before you select a tool. Doing a blog because "everybody's doing a blog" is hardly a good reason. How will your container enhance, support, and engage students in learning? Think through what you want to do with your container/hub and consider how it can interactively engage students in your content. Then, select the best tool for the job.

Do you have suggestions for a container that you'd like to share? Post them in the comments.

Monday, August 9, 2010


August brings with it a sense of newness in schools. We like new-ness. It is part of the reason people buy so much stuff. Used stuff just isn't nearly as much fun or enjoyable as something new. The newness of the school year brings excitement and anticipation. As educators, this cycle of newness and growth (both physically, spiritually, and academically) in our students is rewarding to watch.

As we enter the 2010-11 school year, I anticipate an exciting year at both our campuses. For TCIS, the future of the new DTV campus is getting closer as the buildings are beginning to take shape. We continue forward with great momentum in effectively integrating technology into our learning environment, although it will mostly be with our existing equipment this year. At GSIS, the school continues to complete the outfitting of teachers and students in a technology-rich environment that rivals the best in Korea. The growth of technology integration into classrooms is amazing to watch and shows in the digital media constantly being displayed on the web by both staff and students.

As we embrace the newness of the school year, may we also reflect on how we can invoke new strategies to improve learning. No matter how many technology gadgets, bells, or whistles we have, it is the learning in the classroom that is the focus. We have to keep the main thing the main thing. (Don't let the new look of my blog distract you from the journey we are on.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010


At the end of the year, it is a time to reflect. If you've read my blog this past year, you've seen that the year has been one of reflections and prioritizing. These are common themes that kept reappearing in my life and thus my blog. I hope that my personal journey of how to manage life in a busy world with lots of responsibilities has given you a pause for reflection on your own life.

On another note, the internet is an amazing tool. Most of us know this fact, however, we should continue to recognize how amazing it is. Over the last year, it is the medium that has brought 2,856 unique visitors to my post about Keynote vs. Powerpoint. It has brought visitors from 90 different countries. It has brought us new tools and allowed us to access phenomenal amounts of information.

Be Literate will take a bit of a hiatus until the fall. It's time for summer vacation--one of the great blessings of education. So come back in August and don't expect too much before then.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Switching over to Diigo for News

I don't know if anyone ever checks my Be Literate Wikispace. I was posting some current news articles that I ran across to this wiki as much for myself as anyone. I found the wiki a bit tedious for the task so I have completely switched over to using Diigo. I don't post tons of links but you might find some news articles and exemplars of 21st century practices through this Diigo list. Check it out if you are interested.

Needless to say, the wikispace will still be around with past news articles and some video resources, but don't expect more updates there.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Growing our Family

My wife and I are excited to add Ethan to our family during the month of May. Our girls love him and we have had a good time as a family bringing him into our lives. We praise God for a safe delivery and that both baby and mom are healthy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Time Machine

If you have an Apple computer and are not using Time Machine, you are missing out. Time Machine is part of the Mac operating system (OS). Each day I come into my office, I just plug in my external hard drive. It automatically reads it and records any files that have changed. It will use up all the available memory on the hard drive and then delete the various versions so that it maintains a monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly backup. While plugged in, it will automatically backup each hour. The one caution as with however you back up, don’t carry the external hard drive with the laptop because if you bag gets stolen or lost, they both go.

Although this is a fantastic way to backup your machine, I was extremely impressed last week when I changed to a new computer. Again, a program within the Mac OS called Migration Assistant helps you setup a new computer. I simply selected setup machine with data from my Time Machine external hard drive. I started it up and let it run while I did some other things. In about 2 hours, the laptop was completely setup including my system preferences, account logins, printer and wireless settings, and even the desktop background. I just made a couple clicks and it was done. Very impressive.

My advice...use Time Machine if you have an Apple.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

iPad Followup

I posted April 22nd and said the iPad was a gamechanger. Since then, 1 million devices have been sold. Rupert Murdoch spoke about the impact of the device on media subscriptions. A recent Mashable article showed the steep decline in netbook sales since the introduction of the iPad. I have had personal conversations with people that describe talks between Apple and the healthcare industry among others. Keyboards are not allowed in operating rooms because of contamination. However, an iPad provides a sealed device which can be sterilized and wiped down. Some have said there are many uses from healthcare to delivery/logistical services that do not want a camera, thus the reason for not including a camera on the first model.

In my opinion, all evidence that my previous statement holds true. The iPad is a gamechanger. It's not the device itself but the power and potential of the platform. Don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean I'm headed out to buy one. I am just confident I will at some point in the not-so-distant future.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Singapore APD Training 2010

I had the opportunity to attend Apple Professional Developer training in Singapore this weekend. As always, I am reminded that international educators in the Asia region are superb. My fellow APDs are excellent educators and a great reminder of why we have chosen to implement Apple at our school. In addition to the benefits of the equipment and software, we get access to a great network of educators that are willing and able to consult and support other schools. I look forward to working with these colleagues to continue growing the Asia region.

As with the Apple Distinguished Educator training that I went to last month, I feel that great things happen when the synergy of like-minded people come together. Although diversity was present in terms of schools and educational backgrounds, we shared the same goals and philosophy underpinning our work. During this weekend, we shared many tips, tricks, and dialogued about best practices and ideas. It was authentic, dynamic learning taking place, and I believe we all walked out with something to show for it. It's like the roads below converging to form a flow of traffic that benefits student learning. It's powerful and exciting to be a part of it.

I look forward to continuing work with my new colleagues.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Life is busy and we fill it up with all kinds of things. Some things are better time investments than others, but who have you worked with that isn't busy? The bigger question to ask ourselves is whether or not we are being productive. Let's note that productive can take many forms. The most obvious is rooted in the word itself--producing a product. This product may be exemplar lessons for other teachers, great learning experiences for students, or curriculum documents. It might also take less tangible forms through leadership and the positive influence on colleagues. Being productive means contributing to your community and making it better for everyone--students and colleagues. It isn't about you...or me.

When we become so busy that we are just trying to survive, we become inward focused. We stop turning outwards and contributing to the community. We can easily become self-absorbed and focused only on our own little sphere of our work. It's not intentional, but it's a human coping and survival mechanism.

So we need margins. Margins are that lag time so that every minute of every day isn't filled up. It leaves us open to get involved and invest in our community. It's part of a healthy life, healthy organization, and a sustainable pace in the organization. It's not necessarily a new idea. It is one that I've been thinking a lot about lately. Andy Stanley has spoken articulately about this idea and Leo Babauta touches the idea in many of his posts, particularly a recent one on Frictionless Work.

If you don't have any margins, take some time to reflect and see what you can do to create some. We all need them. And the organization, the community, and our families suffer if we don't. How about you? Any suggestions that you wish to share with others on how to successfully create or sustain margins?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gamechanger or Hype?

Yes, I'm sticking my neck out and weighing in. Why not? It seems like everyone else has. I'm not sure how anyone that reads the news could miss the articles on the introduction of the iPad. Many critics and many advocates have voiced their perspectives. So my perspective...

It's a gamechanger. I've read Michael Hyatt's post which he talks about it being a luxury. A colleague commented the same thing this week. This comment is spot on. If one thinks the iPad will replace their laptop, s/he is dead wrong. It's not just an iPhone with a big screen either. Yes, it's a great ebook reader but that's not gamechanging. So what, it's color. That's just an upgrade from some of the others.

As I have read so many of the comments and articles both pro and con, I have drawn the conclusion that many people on both sides of the product reviews have missed it. When asked about it, a professional presenter at a recent conference said people just don't get it. I think he's right. I'm not sure I really get it either, but maybe this falls in the category of knowing what I don't know. When I was debating between an iPhone and a Blackberry, I read a review that said the individual using the iPhone felt like he was using a phone for 2012 or 2014 rather than a phone for 2010 with the Blackberry. I think this offhanded comment may hold a lot of truth. Apple has historically ignored some of the criticism and negative feedback on products they put out initially. Some speculation for this and my personal belief is that these products are designed for what people will want/need in the future--2-3 years down the road. The success of their products in recent years may well prove that they are producing valid products that do meet consumer approval. The current paradigm doesn't always fit this product they put out, regardless of whether it is an iPhone or iPad or whatever. And they are okay with that because they are working into the future and pushing the envelop of what's possible, feasible, and useful. It is an edgy and provocative place to release products and be a successful company. Ultimately, much of Apple's success comes from their ability to get the user interface right in these products.

People commonly translate what they know to a new gadget or tool. I believe the iPad opens the door to transformation. It is a total paradigm shift that goes beyond simple tweaks. It's a new way of thinking. The iPhone was a stepping stone. However, a new generation of apps will open up that the iPhone could never handle. The gamechanging power of the iPad is not in the gadget but rather the platform that opens a new world of opportunity. I remember seeing a TV advertisement for the iPhone that said there was an app for everything. I kind of laughed at the exaggeration. However, an app does appears to exist for nearly everything. You can scan barcodes to find the cheapest prices of products while at the grocery store, wake up at the best time according to your sleep patterns, and even plan your family based on the most likely times of the month to conceive a child. It is absurd how many apps are out there.

The iPad taps into a mobile device market that is just blossoming right now and provides the platform for...well...whatever you want to do. (If you want more info on this subject, read the NMC's Horizon Report.) Don't get me wrong; it's not the end all. However, it is a gamechanging device which embraces transformation, not just a translation. Just a couple embracing media in a new way, I predict will begin seeing ebooks produced for the iPad that go beyond text on a screen. It may be text, images, videos, hyperlinked text, etc. that extends well beyond the current paradigm of book reading. If embraced by publishers, it could hugely impact digital textbooks which in my opinion have struggled to find great success and widespread use. The uses in classrooms are numerous. As a matter of fact, that again reinforces the provides the platform for transformation. Ultimately, we will see uses that we never imagined for it. So, right or wrong...gamechanger.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Doing it better

During the recent Apple training I attended, Rebecca Stockley facilitated several of the meetings. She is an improvisation specialist and helped facilitate the meeting times, encouraging the flow and collaboration. She has worked extensively with Pixar. When asked about her experience at Pixar, she said a key to their success is the philosophy...

If it worked the first time, don't do it again. Do it better.

It is integrated in their organizational culture. If they don't push the envelope to get better, they will not stay on top. It sounds very similar to Thomas Friedman (note this is a loose paraphrase by memory) when he says the question is not whether or not your product will become obsolete. Everything becomes obsolete. At this point, it is more a question of whether you will make it obsolete or someone else will.

So there is something to be said for going beyond the status quo. What is the motivation and what does success look like? I think the "why" is a critical component. Why do you seek to be better? Why do you seek to be the best? As we invest in our organizations and set priorities, the why is a pivotal key to defining success. We need to stay focused on pursuing goals for the right reasons or it is easy to get sidetracked and "busy" without substance to our work.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Plugging Freetech4teachers Blog...and the Google Guide for Educators

I have found the Freetech4teachers Blog to be a bit overwhelming with the amount of content posted there regularly. However, I suppose information glut can be a good thing at times and the key is to skim and read sporadically rather than hitting every post. At least, that is my advice.

Richard Byrne has really done a good job of compiling resources. I particularly like his work to put together a guide to the Google tools available to teachers. With so many schools running Google Apps, this is a great resource for educators around the world.

I encourage you to peruse this blog. Tons of helpful resources are there. For example, Freeology offers printable resources like graphic orgnizers for teachers (see Byrne's blog post for more details). You can find virtual field trip resources and even links to tutorials like Mac for Beginners.

Make sure you are taking some time to explore the many tools available on the web to help students learn and make this type of professional reading part of your regular diet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inspiration from Joseph Linaschke

As we journey through life, we come in contact with phenomenal people from time to time. From my experience during the Apple Asia Distingushed Educator (ADE) training (#ade2010), I found Joseph Linaschke (@travel_junkie) to be one of those people. He is super-talented in a highly competitive and high skill field. During his time at Apple, he worked extensively with the development of Aperture, the professional grade of iPhoto, among his other projects. He currently runs and appears regularly on the This Week in Photography (TWiP) podcast.

He spent several days with our group, giving us photography tips, Aperture tips, and just generally spoke about many of his experiences. He has had a camera on his shoulder as long as he could remember and his experience and expertise shows. As I watched him interact with members of our group, he was unassuming and easily engaged in conversation. He engaged in the experience with us and helped us meet some of our project goals during the week. Some people that are at the top of their field come off as in a way that makes their work seem untouchable--never attainable. Joseph made it reachable for us...he encouraged us to give it a shot. I love photography and it is a growing interest. My level is low and interacting with someone at this high level could have easily discouraged me. My experience this past week inspired my creativity and motivated me to remove any limits I may have placed on myself.

As educators and leaders, we want to do this daily. Whether it is our students or colleagues, it is not about us. We want to inspire others to dream bigger and be better as a result of their interaction with us. I would venture to say that many ADEs will take away thoughts and tips that Joseph never intended to impart to us. That is part of phenomenal people--one walks away from the interaction getting much more than intended and the impact of the interaction lasts much longer than the time frame in which it actually occurred. For me, the 5 days will continue to extend by my reflection on how my interactions will impact others on a daily basis and how I can inspire the creativity I desire in others. And the beauty of a 2.0 world means that this may be done in person or in tools such as this blog. How about you? Do you inspire those around you to greater things?

Joseph took some of us on an optional photowalk around our hotel near the Singapore Merlion. Although I didn't have my Nikon SLR with me, I did take these with my older Sony H2. Thanks, Joseph, for the tips and inspiration!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Youtube Debut

If you are searching for videos, the first place most people go is Youtube. What will you find if you search for TCIS or GSIS? For Taejon Christian International School, you might find an old dance contest or a cheerleading video posted by some students, maybe even something that has nothing to do with our school. For Gyeonggi Suwon International School, you might find some training videos or some students making a newscast.

We want to promote our schools and make some of our media about our schools readily available so others can see the fantastic work our students are doing and the learning environments our faculty are creating.

We are debuting a TCIS Youtube account for the first time with a slideshow that will be embedded on the new Daejeon Techno Valley (DTV) campus blog. Subscribe to the channel to see future videos.

Thanks to some of my forward-thinking and acting colleagues, GSIS has been posting student work and activities on a Youtube channel for some time. We will continue posting media of student events here and letting people know what we are doing on this channel. We have also created an official GSIS Youtube channel and we hope to add some video content to it soon.

Check out these Youtube channels and see the learning taking place at TCIS and GSIS.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Missing the Boat on 2.0

I recently read this post on the Google blog. It is titled "A Serious Threat to the Web in Italy."

The short version...some school bullies beat up an autistic schoolmate. They posted the video to Google Video. Google was notified and took it down immediately...within hours of its original posting. A public prosecutor in Milan indicted 4 Google executives, none of which had any direct link to the Italian posting. A Milan judge convicted them. Needless to say, Google is putting its full weight into a defense and appeal of the decisions.

As I read this post, it was clear to me that some of the key people from the Italian justice system fail to understand the nature of Web 2.0 or our current world. We have to understand our context and so often those around us fail to realize the reality we live in. We live in a world of not just consuming media but producing it. A weakness of this environment is all the junk that is produced and put on the web. Thank goodness for the many companies that take down illegal or inappropriate content. However, to say they cannot even allow these posts to exist and to hold them responsible turns the focus from the real issue...changing the deviant behavior that produced the content. Are we working as hard to prevent the bullying of an autistic child as we are to limit the medium that allowed them to share their work?

If you take away one sharing option, another will rise up like the Hydra of Greek mythology. It's too late to stop the prevalence of transparency and posting of content to the world. We need to do everything we can to instill morals and ethics into our producers of content. It's a never-ending imperative and we will never get it perfect--but we must try.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Deep Breath...Cannonball!

SPLASH! My 3 year daughter has decided she loves to do cannonballs into the pool. She is pretty hilarious. She yells and takes a big leap, coming up smiling (most of the time). Because her sister wears goggles, she insists she needs them too although they do not keep out much water. We recently went on vacation and it was great to get our breath and just enjoy being together as a family and relax, mostly screen free for almost a week.

Life gets busy and we need balance. We need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually among other components. At different points, it is easy to focus too much on just one component and ignore the others. We should strive for balance. We preach it to our students, and we need to model it ourselves.

My brief hiatus from my blog has been a chance for me to catch my breath as we move towards the spring and end of year push that happens annually in schools. If you need a breath, take it. We all need to breath.

And after some refreshment, we can jump in and move ahead...Cannonball!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Wiki Adventure

I recently had the opportunity to get an iPhone. After using it for nearly a month, I have found it to be a great tool for me and supports my mobile life of working between 2 schools. Overall, it is a very impressive little gadget. One of the great things about the iPhone is the apps available to do various tasks. One commercial I saw for an iPhone stated there was an app for nearly everything. From my experience and searching the App store, it seems pretty true. At the same time, it can be a bit overwhelming.

A few months ago, I read a blog post by Jeff Utecht which referenced a wiki as putting something out there and just letting others run with it to see what develops. Another article I read this week discussed "crowdsourcing".

In an effort to sort through the many iPod Touch & iPhone apps, I started a wiki that is open to anyone to compile your favorite apps, a short review/description, and the price. We consume so much on the internet but perhaps this a place you can contribute. For some of you, you regularly interact with sites like this. For others, you'd rather stay away. What do you think? Why don't you give it a try and note your favorite apps? Be a contributor.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Relevant Learning

School must find ways to engage students in relevant ways. A colleague recently pointed out this website which turns a variety of topics among many core subjects into rap music. It is called Rhythm Rhyme Results. Not only does it take concepts and information and put it to lyrics that can be recalled more easily, but it actually has different versions of songs at different paces and with blanks to allow the learning process and scaffolding to occur. You do have to pay for the service but the website says much of the music is available for download via iTunes or Amazon. I didn't listen to all the music but it seemed like a neat concept and innovative way to engage students. Perhaps it is worth checking out for something you are teaching...

Thursday, January 14, 2010


It is easy to get enamored with gadgets. Tech rumors abound with speculation of the iSlate or whatever they will call the Apple tablet. New software apps come out all the time. It is easy to dissolve into following the glitz and trends, losing sight of the goal. So what is the goal?

Well, that depends on you. If it is a hobby, then maybe the latest and greatest is for you because it's fun. However, may be it is about how technology can make you better. Better at what...well, anything. I like to see ways that use technology tools as just The other day when I was in a grocery store, I need a food item translated to Korean. My iPhone allowed me to download a translation app and get it translated immediately for the shopkeeper in the store. I call family members on Skype and talk on the computer without the cost of long distance phone calls. Those are examples of technology working for me. I have seen people lose hours of time to Facebook and other attractive but overall pretty meaningless surfing. (Please note: Facebook can have value--it is up to the user what the value is and how it is used so I'm not anti-Facebook.) Technology can be a distraction. The point is this...

If you are just following ever-changing technology and gadgets, you may be working for the technology. Let the technology work for you. Even in having fun, use stuff that benefits your life and others. Look for ways to benefit what you do or transform what you do. Let the technology work for you rather than vice-versa. I like the new shiny objects too but don't get lost in the hype.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

As we enter the new year, it is the time of lists and reflections. Check out the ads that show up on webpages or article headlines--best of this, worst of that, top 10 of 2009, etc. We too often omit the very important time of reflection in so many areas of our lives. Holidays and events like the new year help us remember their importance. As we embark on a new semester, I hope that you will reflect. To help you along, consider some of these questions:
  • What do I have to celebrate from 2009?
  • How have I been blessed in 2009?
  • Are my priorities in the right order and perspective?
Reflection is not relative to others, but at the same time, I can't help but think of my situation in light of others. I have food, shelter, heat in the winter, a retirement plan, toys for my kids, a great family, colleagues & friends that care about my well-being...I could go on. So many people in the world don't have even one of these things. I am blessed and I have much to celebrate. It makes 2010 look like a great year to invest in others and share so many blessings with others. I pray that I will be successful to do just that.