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Card Table EdTech Advice

The other day, I tweeted that I'd rather read 3 or fewer ways to do something really well, instead of 100 ways to sort of do anything. I know, with Andy Rooney gone, that sounds like I’m in line to take his place—at least on the education tech front—wherever that is. I can hear my Andy Rooney voice now: I have 6 interactive classroom solutions lined up here. I can’t use all 6, so which 1 is best? Do you know?

Well, I’m certain it most always depends on individual needs, but because I live this stuff, I wouldn’t have a problem recommending the right ones for a specific educator, classroom, school, or district if asked.

Hey, wonder if that would work? Set up a card table at the education and technology conferences. Has to be just a little better advice than the Mystery 8 Ball’s YES, NO, MAYBE, or a psychic card reader—right?

Picture me at a table greeting admin and educators:

“What are you looking for? Oh, you’ll find that in aisle 3, but stop by booth #556, too, because you may like that as well. And, you’re going to need one to these gizmos—you’ll find in the last aisle. It’s new, but will have students hopping out of their seats.”

Sounds a bit like the Santa in the old Miracle on 34th Street sending customers to other stores for the best gift buys. 

I don’t think you’ll see me at a card table anytime soon... although you never know...

Here’s another tweet I saw, recently:

“How do you change a tech reluctant staff?” I don’t get that (Andy Rooney RIP again)! How does a staff get to be labeled tech reluctant in the 1st place? Seems to me that puzzle piece shouldn’t even be in the tech box.

Let’s add a few directions to the side of that box:

1. Know the curriculum.

2. Choose the right tech to match that curriculum.

3. Give that tech to all staff, and in all the classrooms.

4. Offer initial training.

5. Offer ongoing support.

6. Guide students to become more in charge of their own learning.

Additionally, #7 was offered by one of my favorite teachers:

7. Invite teachers to share project ideas with staff (for inspiration).

Let’s stress the importance of Educators as guides for students and colleagues—learning with or without technology.

Now, where’s that card table?

Education Think Tank NYC

I’ve been invited to participate in an Education Think Tank in NYC sponsored by Dell on Saturday. I’ve Ttddiscovered that most educators will attend speaking and learning events on Saturdays. Dell and other companies holding events for educators need some credit. Companies are getting the idea that educators have more influence in decision-making and change than they once thought. These events, as well as online teaching communities at education and tech company sites show the necessity to strengthen teacher partnerships to help district education and technology goals. To be perfectly blunt, what teachers want for teaching students is important, and it influences products and solutions sought and possibly purchased.

One of my favorite people, Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal, is moderating the NYC event onsite, and he’s getting a bit of online correspondent help from Tom Whitby @tomwhitby, who is a positive PLN TwitterWorld education force. I jokingly say that I discovered Eric, who is the consummate education-administrator entrepreneur, and that Tom and I share the same sense of humor, and passion to share.
BTW, I followed Sheninger around one day. He's the real deal. I watched him start the day, handle a parent situation, organize a professional development workshop, talk with students (they all know him, treat him like their teacher, and enjoy interacting with his sense of humor), gave me the Royal Treament building tour, and then at the end of a long day Skype a conference. I missed a lot, because I couldn't keep up!

First of all, I’m honored to take part in the event. I don’t usually get a chance to participate, and I’m excited to get to meet people I’ve only heard about—or should I say viewed tweets from—zipping through the columns of my TweetDeck.

Beyond attending, I also want to see how the event is being done. I recently asked Eric Sheninger about a very successful streaming event he held at New Milford High School that involved administrators, teachers, students, parents, and technology. I attended that one online. I told Eric that I was not only impressed with the content, but the streaming as well. I shared that link out, after the fact, many times. I’m just intrigued by the how to of these types of events, and believe that they should be done more frequently. I’ll go further, I’d like to see these streaming events a regular occurrence in all districts. Think of the possibilities—local unconferences, show and tells, best practices, science, math and tech expos, professional development, and the list goes on.

Here’s what’s needed to do that: An easy and affordable way for districts to stream. Box something up that works with very little geek connections necessary, and price it for education—not for corporate. If you want someone to manage that project, call me! I’m not talking Skype or FaceTime here; I’m talking professionally streamed material, including professional development. Right now, third party, online operations do this, some with expensive software/server/hardware, but really, there’s no magic here, and it should be more widely accessible beyond corporate ventures. I’m not talking free options either. I know they are out there, but it’s not perfect enough for prime time education. So, I’m looking forward to the tech talk, but I’m also scouting out the how to for this event.

Here are a few links to give you more information on the event as well as a list of the NYC participants and their Twitter handles. There is also online participation. Join us! And yes, Dell actually has a Snow White working for their education group. I’ve met her, but didn’t sing. ;>)

Register at:


Streamed at:


Eric Sheninger, @NMHS_Principal (Moderator)
Tom Whitby, @tomwhitby (Online Correspondent)
Adam Bellow, @adambellow
Dr. Brian Chinni, @drbpchinni
Erik Endreses, @erikendress
Aaron Eyler, @aaron_eyler
Renny Fong, @timeoutdad
Adam Garry, @agarry22
Michele Glaze, @PMicheleGlaze
Erica Hartman, @elh
Kathy Ishizuka, @kishizuka
Kevin Jarrett, @kjarrett
Michelle Lampinen, @MichLampinen
Susan McPherson, @susanmcp1
Lisa Nielsen, @InnovativeEdu
Mike Parent, @mikeparent
Mary Rice-Boothe, @Edu_Traveler
Ken Royal, @kenroyal
Sarah Thomas, @teach2connect
Snow White, @snowwhiteatdell

Accelerate: Standard Deviants Resources

SamGenovese_as_Hiro copy
At the recent ISTE 2011 Conference I had a chance to demo an Biology module by a group of very cleaver, dare I say deviant, education resource producers from a company called Cerebellum. It was fun learning, and fully packaged for teaching the things that used to take me binders full of resource gathering. Beyond that, the pre lesson, actual lessons, and post lesson activities and assessments were anything but traditional. I do know that any teacher could teach biology by using it, and students would love the irreverant style. I did make the comment that students would most likely want to create their own videos and characters after experiencing the lessons. Afterward, I interviewed spokeperson Sam Genovese (image above as "Hiro the Dog Eater") from Cerebellum, who also acts in some of the video resource scenes. You may learn enough about Standard Deviants Accelerate to give it a try.

Q: How is Standard Deviants Accelerate different from other online resources?

Ans: We had a few goals when creating Standard Deviants Accelerate:

1)  Save teachers time.

2) Make it intuitive and easy to use, because no teacher should have to use a personal day to learn a new online program.

3) Make it a comprehensive subject-based learning resource that is flexible for teachers and students alike.

4) Create new and unique Standard Deviants video, audio, and testing materials that are only available on SD Accelerate.

Q: How will teachers benefit from using this platform?

Ans: Accelerate will save teachers time. Grading rubrics are provided for relevant assignments, however we know that each classroom has different needs, so we made the rubrics editable via simple click-and-type. Additionally, Accelerate pushes performance data to teachers for struggling students. This frees teachers from constantly having to log in to get time-sensitive data about students in need of more help, thus providing teachers have more time to teach.

Q: Can you explain the methodology in the structure of the subjects’ material?

Ans: Differentiated instruction, RTI and creative critical thinking are the backbone of Accelerate's methodology. 

A quiz taken at the end of a module is informed by smaller quizzes taken at the beginning of the module.  It really gets interesting with the critical thinking questions, though. Accelerate will push either a foundational or an enrichment critical thinking question to the student based on that student's unique performance on prior assignments. This type of instruction happens dozens of times over the course of an entire subject. 

Accelerate's approach to RTI is to literally send red flags to teachers when students are underperforming, so as to allow the teacher to respond in a timely manner. 

Students are asked time and again to approach the material from creative angles and think for themselves.  This makes the subject matter relevant to their lives, makes it real and makes it totally engaging.

Q: Why should this be used in the classroom?

Ans: For teachers, Accelerate is about flexibility and saving time.  Sure, there is a logical pathway to how Accelerate's lessons are organized and presented, but the entire system is designed to allow teachers to manage their classrooms in the ways they see fit. Teachers can have students submit assignments electronically or as printouts; additionally, Accelerate can be used directly in the classroom or assigned as homework or as a long-term assignment—the teacher is in control.

For students, Accelerate is a dynamic learning environment that provides not only Standard Deviants video programming, but also assignments with twists that really make the students engage with the material.  I mean, where else are students going to be asked to explain mitosis in rhyming couplets?

Future Shaping: Anthony Salcito MSFT

Anthony Salcito at Lenovo ThinkTank 2011 Anyone who cares about student learning in this wireless and digital age will find a kindred spirit in Anthony Salcito. He’s the Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector Education for Microsoft, and one of my favorite people in the ed tech world. When he talks, he says things that I’ve been thinking for years, only when he says them, the ideas sound better. If you’ve ever fought for student learning, or technology for kids and schools, you’d be comfortable in a conversation with Anthony. Furthermore, his Shape the Future initiative is helping to make access to technology a right and not a privilege for every student everywhere.  Please check out Anthony’s post Making Access to Technology a Reality via Shape the Future at his Education Insights blog for more.

Recently, at Lenovo’s (Intel) ThinkTank 2011 event in Washington, DC, Anthony shared that “Along with passionate heroes for classroom change, there is also a great need for scalability for successful change—and that may be the greatest obstacle for transforming education." Salcito hopes to play a role in that scalability for change, as well as in empowering the children of the world. Microsoft supports ATC21S, Assessment of Teaching for 21st-Century Skills, and Shape the Future, so there’s a pretty good team backing him, and you couldn’t have a better person leading the charge.

Illinicloud CDW-G at ISTE: D'Orio Cloud Search

Scholastic Administrator Executive Editor Wayne D'Orio collects cloud-tech stories at ISTE. CDW-G's VP, K12 Education Bob Kirby, and Director of Sales, K12, John Pellettiere led a round table discussion of Cloud-using administrators at ISTE. IlliniCloud is one of many success stories. IlliniCloud worked with CDW, a leading provider of technology solutions, to supply affordable access to virtual servers, online storage and high-speed network connectivity across the state of Illinois - technology that, until recently, was out of reach for most K-12 schools there. Sharing data center resources and costs among schools across the state helps each school district to focus more on advancing the use of technology in the classroom for the direct benefit of students.
Watch the Interview:

Lightspeed Technologies Classroom Audio: ISTE

Find out about REDCAT and TOPCAT in this interview with Bruce Bebb. Lightspeed Technologies can create an audio environment for enhanced classroom learning. REDCAT is right out of the box, and TOPCAT is an easy-to-install ceiling solution. At ISTE Lightspeed was given The Royal Treatment.

Watch and learn how easy it is to create the best classroom audio for instruction:

Toshiba THRiVE: ISTE

Toshiba's THRiVE gets The Royal Treatment at ISTE. Kelcey Kinjo, product manager at Toshiba, hits on some of the THRiVE's features, including a user-replaceable battery—a big education-upkeep benefit. While the new back plates make a fashion statement, this new 10-inch screen tablet from Toshiba is making some education waves for those looking for classroom-tablet alternatives.

Watch my ISTE visit with Toshiba as the new THRiVE gets The Royal Treatment:

Qualcomm's Kristin Atkins: ISTE Interview

Qualcomm's Kristin Atkins, Director of Wireless Reach, talks about tablets, wireless initiatives, and the D.C. Wireless Conference during our interview at ISTE Philadelphia.

Watch the interview:

Acer Iconia Tab W500

Acer11 I took a look at the Acer Iconia Tab W500 . Actually I took a look at the two Acer18 parts that make up this interesting tablet hybrid. There's actually a keyboard that the tablet part fits into. They really are two parts, because the keyboard and tab sections aren't designed to stay together when closed, but rather the tab sits on top of the keyboard like a cover—with the help of some magnets. A latch on the lid locks them closed.

Acer21 Here's the keyboard part with a centered mouse button. There's a trap door that reveals two prongs for this  keyboard-docking station part. The W500 works without the keyboard section quite nicely, but it does offer two additional USB ports and an ethernet input connection as well. Most will use the WiFi, which with Window 7 quickly locates and connects to a wireless network.

Acer8 I found the tablet section very sturdy, but a bit heavier than I thought it would be. Acer1 The specs show it at about 2.2 lbs. The bright screen is something I really like, and the Windows 7 touch features were very responsive. I thought the Acer Ring idea was a unique touch for finding and opening applications. Reminded me of opening an old safe, but turning the tumblers with touch. Check the images right and left to see what I mean. 

Acer17 I always test out the audio, and it was great—what's not to like about Dolby Acer2 Advanced Audio Virtual Surround! It was also wonderful with video, and yes, it played everything including Flash. The camera switched, with a tap, from front to back quickly and easily for both stills and video, and the images were quite good (right). The screen resolution is 1280 x 800. Again, holding the W500 for a long time convinced me that setting it in the keyboard stand would be my viewing option.Acer4

Acer15 There's HDMI, SD, Bluetooth, wide screen view, and of course easy rotaion shifting. It was quick one-button start and stop. I worked all day on a battery charge.

Web browsing in IE was fine, and touch scrolling and finger expanding for zooming was easy, too. Acer22 The onscreen keyboard hides to the left of the screen until you tap or drag it for use. I changed quickly from keyboard to writing with my fingers in Writing Pad. Acer6Windows 7 on the Acer Iconia Tab was seamless.

 Other than the Windows 7 standard applications, my review model had Skype, Nook for PC, Acer Games, and Times Reader. I was looking more at a cool gadget this time.

  Here are the two parts together, but separate them and the Tab goes mobile: Acer18

Karen McMillan: Conferences Help Educators Connect ASCD

In my interview with teacher Karen McMillan at ASCD 2011, she recommends that educators attend conferences to meet like-minded professionals, share ideas, and hear cutting-edge teaching how tos. The world may seem social-media smaller, but educators still need to connect with the bigger world—out there. Teaching benefits, and therefore student learning will, too. Interestingly, McMillan has picked up on what the experts are saying about the best of social media, in that when you have good learning networks, the people in them are well known before meeting them in person. And, if you are lucky enough to meet your PLN members in-person, you are one step up on the professional relationship, as well as solidifying the friendship. "It seems you know them already."
Watch Karen McMillan discuss the importance of PLNs with me at ASCD 2011:

Lisa Dabbs & Joan Young ASCD Presenters

Lisa Dabbs and Joan Young presented at ASCD 2011. They spent some time talking with me, sharing their presentation, Beyond the Classroom Walls, as well as a bit about the importance of online and in-person collaboration. You may know Joan as Joan Mancini Young, author of Super Sight Word Songs and Silly Songs for Sight Words. 
Watch my conversation with Lisa Dabbs and Joan Young:

Steven Anderson Web20Classroom ASCD Scholar

View my conversation with Steven AndersonASCD Scholar—better known in the Twitter-Education World as web20classroom. Anderson shares Words of Web 2.0 online wisdom, and provides daily collaborative encouragement for teachers and administrators.
View my ASCD interview with Steven Anderson:

Angela Maiers: Teaching Every Day Matters!

I discovered some teaching sunshine at ASCD 2011—and it was Angela Maiers. You just don't meet and interview Angela Maiers—you sort of pleasantly collide with her! More video from ASCD—Soon!
View my short run-in with Angela Maiers at ASCD 2011:

Scholastic Ed Tech Event

Scholastic Professional Media had its first education tech event in NYC. We invited local administrators and educators from NYC, NJ, Mass, CT, Long Island, and a few places in-between. Some marketplace experts attended as well. Our publisher has wanted to do something similar for quite some time. It really just took the right group together—to pull it off, and a few special people to organize it. To me, it was a science fair for big kids.  

Lehmann The Scholastic Ed Tech Event had two amazing speakers, Chris Lehmann http://practicaltheory.org/serendipity/ Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA, as well as forward-thinking educator, and David Pogue Pogue http://www.davidpogue.com/ New York Times Personal Technology Columnist, and all-around good guy. If you’ve never heard Chris Lehmann talk, it’s a treat. His line about we deliver pizza and not education rings so true, and Pogue was just Pogue. I’m certain that some of the words used, and screenshots shown during his presentation made the Big Red Dog blush, and I do know that he made the crowd think and laugh a lot, too.

I was just smiling during both talks, and thinking to myself, where would you get to see this anywhere? Scholastic Professional Media has been talking of having educators invite their administrators for the next one at 557 Broadway, and even doing some in other parts of the country. Now, those are all great ideas.

Education UnConferences

Education UnConferences shares what an UnConference is, as well as what one can do for a district. Hear about a specific UnConference for new teachers called ntcamp. Guests are Principal Patrick Larkin, Burlington High School, Burlington, Mass, Principal Eric Sheninger, New Milford High School, NJ, and Professor Andrew Marcinek Montgomery Co. Community College Instructional Technology Specialist. Listen to the discussion:

SMART Audio Gets Heard: The Royal Treatment

SMART Audio gets The Royal Treatment. Steven Yao is interviewed by Ken Royal. Sound systems are becoming standard equipment for ALL students in classrooms. It gives all students an equal opportunity to hear everything a teacher says.
Watch the Interview:

StrataLogica: World at Teaching Fingertips-Royal Treatment

StrataLogica (Herff Jones) has a new kind of map that gets The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews Don Rescigno. Seeing and interacting with globes was so 20th Century! Here's reality at your teaching fingertips. Watch the Interview, and see the interactive geography show:

Dell Flips Its Lid! The Royal Treatment

Dell's Duo and new Latitude get The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews David Fritz, and gets the "Flip" scoop.
Watch the interview:

Samsung's "Sliding Slate" Gets Royal Treatment

Samsung's new "Slider Convertible Slate" gets The Royal Treatment.
Watch the Ken Royal interview to find out more:

ASUS Slate Gets Royal Treatment

The ASUS eSlate EP121 that comes with a Wacom digitizer pen and Bluetooth keyboard gets The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews ASUS' David Ray.
Watch the Interview:

Fujitsu Convertible Tablet Gets Royal Treatment

Fujitsu's Slate and Convertible Tablets get The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews Fujitsu's Paul Moore.
Watch the interview.

RM Slate Gets Royal Treatment

RM Education's RM Slate gets The Royal Treatment at FETC. Ken Royal talks to RM's Christy Smith.
Watch the interview:

KINEO Gets Royal Treatment

The KINEO Slate at FETC. Jeff Cameron talks to Ken Royal for The Royal Treatment. Watch the interview:



Ken4 Here are a few more things that knocked MY socks off at FETC 2011.


I had to be quiet about the eInstruction Mobi View. Actually got a presentation on it from Steve Kaye, who said, “We’re going to share something with you, but you can’t say anything.” Most times sitting on something until the actual release doesn’t bother me, but this time it had me hopping. Putting a touch screen, similar to that of an iPhone into a teaching slate knocked my socks off. Geez, another one of those ideas, which is a no brainer…and why didn’t I think of it first! No complicated icons around the device to figure out just touch the screen. Anyone can teach and direct a class with it. I reviewed its Mobi predecessor, and thought that was good. eInstruction has a new hit.

SMART and FrontRow, two companies help students hear the teacher better.

I checked in on two, very different, companies—SMART and FrontRow that are doing something about audio in the classroom. Smart has a classroom audio system as well its new SMARTAir, and FrontRow Sound Systems has solutions that can be configured to fit every classroom need. I know from personal experience that those wireless necklace-like devices hooked to room speakers make a difference for hearing impaired students as well as all students. Learning is something that happens differently for all students, but how students hear their teachers is an individual thing as well. Besides benefiting student listening, these products may even help with student behavior. Hearing keeps students in the learning game and away from trouble on the sidelines.

I have a meeting with another company—Califone—at TCEA in Austin. They’ve been offering students and schools audio, and now visual products for years.


Recently, I visited a school in Georgia using the new Promethean ActivBoard 500 series, so at the FETC launching it was pretty familiar. I asked my usual questions, but for me, I think the most wonderful thing was when the Promethean crew let a teacher, Jeremy, have his way with that new ActivBoard. The programmed part of the launched showed the traditional PowerPoint slide connections, but when Jeremy nudged his way to the board he raised the level from tech specs to how to—and “Here’s what I do with the 500”. In moments, the teacher had us buckling up our Web 2.0 seats, sharing sites that made his students excited about learning—he took us beyond PowerPoint. Now, that made me smile, and it shared the power of the board for learning—and getting kids out of their seats.

Congratulations to Promethean for giving Jeremy the teacher-star room on the stage next to their new ActivBoard 500 multi-touch star.

Send In The Slates! FETC

There is certainly a puzzle to solve for school and district leaders—whether to jump on the iPad wagon, wait for Android’s Honeycomb and take advantage of Aps, stick with Win7 familiarity, especially if your environment is already Microsoft, or try something completely different. The few slates/tablets I did see at FETC 2011 in Orlando were pretty impressive, each offering something different, played Flash, and there were a few surprises as well. I expect to see more at TCEA 2011 in Austin.


KINEO I think one of the show hits was the new KINEO by a company called Brainchild. It is unique in the slate and handheld space. While it has WiFi, this touchscreen for kids is administratively controlled and built for student safety. Aps, tools, and video are there, but it’s specifically only what the teacher and administrator want there. By design, it doesn’t have a camera, which may have a lot of education administrators sighing relief. KINEO is Android, but looks nothing like any of the other traditional slate platforms. I like that it has function buttons along with touch and stylus. It has a day's worth of battery life, and it is replaceable. This looks to be a sturdy, appropriately sized, safe computing device for kids. My feeling is the only problem will be keeping up with production—Brainchild should sell a lot of them.

RM Slate

RM Slate Here’s another big surprise, and really good education computing choice. I’ve been following RM Education for years. They offer a lot of education products and solutions—ones they make and others with partner help. Anyway, I wasn’t expecting to see a slate at the booth. RM has something with its RM Slate. It has everything, including a brilliant touch screen with stylus, too, as well as camera. This is great; it comes with Office and RM EasiTeach. That’s amazing marketing. Because it is Win 7, the RM Slate fills the needs of districts already in a PC environment. It’s about 2lbs, so not as heavy as some of the others out there either.


Fujitsu2 Fujitsu is known for sturdy computing devices, and is the grandfather of tablet and Fujitsu1 convertible devices. Their Q-Series tablet is a Win7 at about 1.5 lbs, and I was very impressed with their new 10.1 convertible tablet. Districts looking for a more conventional device, a traditional laptop keyboard, along with a slate option attached, will find the answer here.


ASUS ASUS has their eSlate (EP121) that comes with a Wacom digitizer pen and Bluetooth keyboard. There was a lot of interest in this slate at FETC. It is sleek, powerful, with Gorilla Glass, and like most Asus products—it’s pretty, too. I always want to shake somebody at the Asus! In my opinion, they have products that are inexpensive and perfect for education, but really don’t push that point enough. I’ve been saying that for years. Look out; if Asus ever gets an education rudder, they will navigate to the head of the class—fast.

Note: Look for more on these Slates—in video—soon at Scholastic Administrator.

A Bit of Good Product Sharing

Ken4 I'd like to thank my friends at the Blohm Agency for this Marketplace News.

Capstone Digital will soon introduce a new personalized literacy program. Created to connect reading levels with student interests, the new offering provides access to the largest integrated library of digital books with multimedia reading supports. The online platform enables anytime, anywhere access to books that students can read, rate, review, and share with classmates through safe social networking.  Through embedded assessments, end of book quizzes and benchmark quizzes, the personalized literacy program allows educators to monitor, track and measure student reading growth. For more information, visit www.capstonedigital.com.

Shmoop offers online test prep for SAT and PSAT, and will soon launch ACT test prep. Each online test prep course includes deep content reviews, hundreds of drill questions and two-three full-length interactive practice exams.  Shmoop uses classic video games such as Oregon Trail, Tetris, and Mario Brothers as metaphors for the challenges students will face in the exams. In addition to preparing students for the SAT and ACT Exams, Shmoop offers online courses for four of the five most popular AP Exams. Shmoop offers affordable group rates for schools, districts and public libraries on its subscription products.  For more information, visit www.shmoop.com.    

Funds For Learning, an E-rate compliance services firm, just released the education industry's first E-rate application for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  E-rate Manager for iPhone is a free mobile version of the E-rate Manager service provided by Funds For Learning. E-rate Manager for iPhone provides current users instant access to information regarding funding requests and commitment amounts, service providers and remaining funding balances. The free application follows in the tradition of the E-rate Manager tools, offering easy navigation and instant access to the most up-to-date funding year information. For more information, visit www.fundsforlearning.com.

Get ready for the SIIA educationversion of Don't Copy That 2, which educates students on digital fair use and copyright laws. Along with the video release, SIIA has developed classroom materials, including lesson plans and other informational resources, targeted to middle and high school teachers and librarians that help to promote the ethical and legal use of digital information. In addition, the classroom resources are aligned to digital citizenship teaching objectives in NETS standards and AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner. For more information, visit www.dontcopythat2.com.

With more than 1 million users, Edmodo provides free, secure social networking tools for teachers, students and administrators.  The online environment offers a safe and easy way to exchange ideas, share content, and access homework, grades and school notices. Edmodo recently launched Parent Accounts, allowing teachers to exchange messages and maintain open-communication with parents, provide direct access to grades and assignments, send notifications to parents about upcoming due dates and missed assignments, and alert families to school events and activities. For more information, visit www.edmodo.com.

CES: What’s New? Does it Compute?

Compute This time of year is pretty exciting for tech geeks, and as the pocket protector crowd descends on Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show, education vendors are getting ready for London’s BETT, Orlando’s FETC, and Austin’s TCEA. And I’m just trying to figure out what’s new—again.
Here are a few comments from all over the field:

Mouse Mail

While nothing is more important than a parent in monitoring appropriate kid-Internet and tech-device use, I’m all for any ideas that can help. Mouse Mail http://mousemail.com/ has feature to help parent’s stay aware of what their kids are doing on and with the devices they’re using. Monitoring features include e-mail, text messaging, games, photos, social media, and more. Take a look.


Looking for a cool way to collaborate on those new Android device or netbook, BigBlueButton http://bigbluebutton.org/ might be the open source option to try. It says it’s for higher ed, but it’s certainly perfect for middle schoolers on up. I know it works well on Android, should be cool on iPads when that Flash problem gets worked out.

Samsung's Building a New Galaxy

Someone check Samsung http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab for steroids! They are certainly starring at CES with their Android Galaxy Tab and new Galaxy Player options. Their Galaxy Phones have sold way over 3-million in the US. I believe Apple sold about that many within about 3 months.

Toshiba 3D Display without glasses

 Toshiba http://us.toshiba.com/tv/3d has a TV they claim to be 3D, and those funny glasses aren’t required. While it doesn’t require glasses, it does still require you to sit in specific locations for best viewing. Most of us would really like 3D to be perfected, and Toshiba seems to be close, but right now waiting seems to be the name of the game.

The prices on 3D devices have come down, but the restrictions for viewing just don’t make it right on larger displays—yet. I still think the breakthrough will happen first on smaller devices, like phones, where glassesless and in-front-of-your-face viewing can happen better.

Lenovo Laptops, Netbooks, and Tablets

Lenovo http://lenovo.com/us/en/#ss has their new Y-Series IdeaPads at CES. A year ago, I covered the U-Series. But marketing for that was delayed. I’m thinking the Y-Series, generation 2 and might make it. They are a combination tablet and notebook, but most are waiting for Lenovo’s tablet release—to battle competitors Apple and Samsung.


Asus http://usa.asus.com/index.aspx is a prolific tech company. They’re releasing a few tablet/slates at CES. The Eee Pad Slider is pretty intriguing. Again, it’s on the Android 3.0 OS, has about 6-hour battery life, front and rear cameras, and a slide out keyboard—reminds me of a big cell phone. That’s not bad. Not sure of the pricing, but Asus usually has great prices on good quality tech. Wish this crew would get more involved in education.


I really think that we’re in a waiting period when it comes to tablets and slates, and the competition remains Apple’s iPad http://www.apple.com/. Pricing is a key factor, and most don’t mind paying for good options that work, rather than paying less for something that may not be quite right for the task. I hear so much about the iPad being perfect for education, and while that’s true, the pricing has to drop for it to be perfect for the education budget.

Android is a great option, and it’s wonderful to see companies jumping in to take advantage of it. And with names like Froyo, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb what's not to like.

I may be wrong, but I’m still waiting to hear something from Microsoft http://www.microsoft.com/. Time to do for education, what they've done for gaming. Just seems to me that with all their resources, there has to be more they can do. I remember hearing about a crazy table being developed by MSFT, 5 years before it was unveiled—so maybe Microsoft is way ahead—and Bill and Steve haven’t called me yet.

Wireless Education Conference D.C.

Wireless1 The direction of cell phones as devices for more than calling, texting, and gaming, was very evident at the Wireless Education Conference 2010 in Washington, D.C. Qualcomm and it’s partners AT&T, Blackboard, Lenovo, and Verizon presented expert panel discussions, how to presentations and idea starters, as well as interviews with leaders in the wireless movement.

I was very impressed with the BYOT, or Bring Your Own Technology options presented by CTIO Bailey Mitchell of Forsyth County Schools, Georgia. That, as part of a blended approach to increasing the amount of technology in schools, really puts supporting the infrastructure in the driver’s seat, and the CTO’s role changes from “Dr. No” to Can Do. This is certainly a philosophy to be replicated. Students can work in their system with whatever device they bring in—iPads, iTouches, whatever—doesn’t matter. As Mitchell says so wonderfully, “Our user base tolerates no downtime.”

Two important factors are Forsyth’s open access configuration is simple, with no intrusion or virus considerations, and their hardware purchasing is for only those students who don’t have, and can’t afford computing devices.

An important consideration has to be that the Internet in education is like an opera singer—it needs great pipes. And when you don’t have to worry so much about getting the hardware for all, more emphasis can be placed on the broadband—those pipes. When that happens, the cloud becomes a reasonable option, and a lot of budgetary expenditures can be freed up.

Dr. Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of Qualcomm puts it well, “Processing power in your pocket is growing. Mobile devices and cloud are moving forward.”

I’d like to see more work being done vision-based AR, augmented reality. It seems to me the smaller screens would play well with 3D applications—without the hassle of glasses or distortion found in larger screens. Right now, the simulation activities kids use in classes are more checks, plusses, and circles. It’s pretty primitive, and not too far removed from that original coordinate, move the turtle, applications in the 70s.

Most of the applications for mobile devices shared at the conference were STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering , and Math based, but the language arts and reading application for these small computers will open a lot of teaching possibilities—from flashcards to polling on the fly (Poll Everywhere)—we are at the education wireless edge and ready to jump off flying.

Note: My interview with Kristin Atkins, Director of Wireless Outreach, Qualcomm, will be posted soon at Scholastic Administrator's Online Video Page.

Smackdown, Show & Tell Web 2.0

Ntcamp7 I was lucky enough to attend two Web 2.0 teacher meetings this week, and I didn’t have to leave my computer. One was a UK Show & Tell, and the other was a Philadelphia new teacher camp (ntcamp) and Smackdown. Smackdown, by the way, had nothing to do with wrestling, but both gatherings had everything to do with sharing teacher Web 2.0 tools.

These peer to peer-mentoring happenings help pick up the slack in pre-service university lessons that are still rare today. Pre-service teachers landing jobs, and having only blackboard mentors won’t move classroom technology forward. These un-conference gatherings are just what the doctor ordered.

The Smackdown or Show & Tell ideas include sharing as many Web 2.0 tools to the audience as possible. The key is that the audience does the sharing. And that audience is not just those at the Smackdown/Show & Tell site, but also those viewing and listening on the Internet—all over the world. UStream/TV seems to be the streaming choice for getting that done. Not only can attendees view the streaming video, but they can Tweet and chat at the same time. They draw more attendees than many professionally planned Webinars I’ve seen.

Unfortunately, The streaming technology is still a work under construction, but no one seems to mind much. It would be wonderful, though, if some sponsors stepped up to offer better camera work and streaming possibilities, which could greatly improve the quality of these un-conferences. There is something to be said for educators getting together on a weekend, and making these sharing experiments happen, with mostly free online tools. Still, I’d love to see Scholastic, TechLearning, communication firms, or others important to sharing education technology get more involved with these un-conference educator presentations—somehow. That said, it would be nice to keep them as non-commercial as possible.

As for me, I’d rather listen to a group of educators, who are untrained presenters, sharing what they do with their classes and staff, rather than hear polished presentations from the same-old usual names. Most educators at these things share their one favorite Web 2.0 tool, rather than their top 100, so what you hear is very complete and very useful. What's great is that everyone walks away with a Google doc which includes the URLs of all the applications discussed. And because it's archived, revisiting the ntcamp show & tell is a click away. Faculty meetings should be more like this.

While many are involved in these presentations, I need to share two young educators that are making   Joe-dale-coff
things happen on at least two continents. They are SA8 Steven Anderson (http://web20classroom.blogspot.com/), a North Carolina school district instructional technologist, and Joe Dale (http://joedale.typepad.com/), a UK ICT (Internet Communication Technology) specialist, as well as Jack of All. I don’t think they’ve met, but I do believe their parallel courses are so similar that getting them onto the same stage—somewhere—is just a matter of time. When they do, I hope to be in attendance, if not in person, at least digitally. Steven Anderson (left) and Joe Dale (right).

Twitter Yields Scholastic Interviews ISTE10

Tweets net educator Interviews for Scholastic Administrator at ISTE10.

So, who showed up after we tweeted invitations?

ISTEc John Carver, superintendent of Van Meter schools in Iowa stopped by with Shannon Miller, library media specialist, and Principal Deron Durflinger. All did individual interviews with me.

Carver is an ambassador for his district, and also for Iowa, too. His philosophy is fresh and is clear from top to bottom and bottom to top. He is carving out new technology territory in his district, with his staff, and for his students. ISTEa

Miller has proven to be one librarian to follow on Twitter. She shares more than URLs for useful student  resources. My recommendation is to follow her (@shannonmmiller) to get valuable how tos that go beyond the four library walls.

ISTEb Durflinger is a Van Meter principal who really gets that administrators need to model for teachers, just as teachers need to model for kids. He uses social media as professional development and even for hiring new teachers. The entire Van Meter crew knows the power of PLNs (Personal Learning Networks).

ISTEfTwo Richardson ISD, TX educators stopped by the booth, too. Principal Megan Timme and  Lauren Sanders, who teaches students with learning differences, were in search of more 3D technology at ISTE10. Sanders is actually working a 3D technology pilot—glasses and all—in her classroom. 

ISTEhGayla Power, Denver Public Schools Teacher Portal and Schoolnet administrator shared how controlling all district data, and providing all stakeholders—exactly what they need—is not that difficult if you’re using the right management tool.

ISTEd David Ligon stopped by as well. Ligon has moved from an administrator of technology direction in his Gilbert, AZ district to a technology and grant writing role. That seems to be, in this economic climate, a great fit that needs duplication in other districts throughout the country. To find a technology expert as well as a grant writing expert in the same person is a brilliant stroke, and probably not a common occurrence.

I look forward to more conversations with these educators, as well as others Scholastic Administrator tweets up at future conferences. Look for the my interviews soon—at the Scholastic Administrator. Follow me on Twitter @kenroyal.


Social Media's Education Value

Ken&Cam Scholastic will give a year's subscription to Instructor Magazine, FREE, to educators and administrators, who stop by Scholastic Administrator booth #1428 between 12 and 1pm on Monday, June 29th, to talk with me about social media at ISTE10 in Denver.

The Big Red Dog's Scholastic Administrator, will be hunting more than clay and crayons at ISTE 2010. I'll be there in search of answers from teachers and administrators about the use of social media in education. This includes questions about Twitter, Facebook, as well as PLNs (Personal Learning Networks). Help teach the old dog new tricks by showing up at the Scholastic Administrator booth 1428 at ISTE10, from 12-1pm on Monday, June 29th.

I'll be asking the questions, and video recording your short interview answers. Help me find out... What do you think of social media in education? Do you prefer Twitter, or Facebook? And also share your take on PLNs.

Follow me @kenroyal on Twitter to find out more, and get involved in additional education and technology conversations from classrooms to the clouds.

Document Camera Companies Morph

Document camera companies aren't what they used to be. I mean that as praise. For the most part, if you ask a teacher the name on his/her document camera, you may still get the "I'm not sure" answer, or "You mean my Elmo?" But behind the scenes, document camera companies are changing. I uncovered some breaking news about two of these morphing companies while snooping for stories at InFoComm 2010.

DC120 Lumens, is a company known for its red document camera, the Ladybug. You may even see their design being used by other companies. Well, they may have just knocked the tech socks off the industry by making their DC 120 Ladybug wireless, using 1082.11 technology--just like those wireless laptops. By attaching a base to its bottom, the DC 120 document camera can go anywhere in the classroom, and teachers and students won't be tripping over wires. You can still get the wired DC 120, as well as a 25 foot USB extension, but looking into wireless makes a lot of sense. The base snaps on and snaps off with ease. Why didn't I think of this! Hmmmm, wondering if other companies are thinking the same. Get ready for wireless document Cameras!

AVerAVerMedia, a company known by many for their unique connection devices, like the AVerKey, their very portable and capable document camera, as well as their recent AVerPens for cooperative group classroom learning, has taken a giant leap. AVerMedia has taken up the challenge to make education distance learning affordable. The big boys that have been on the visual audio stage for years have done very little to make video conferencing affordable K12 priority. At InFoComm, AVerMedia's President Pait, gave me permission to interview and release the news. Not only will you go to AVerMedia for document cameras, but they may be the place for districts to enter the real video conferencing world, providing schools and classrooms with board room quality communication for a K12 budget.

My InFoComm videos and More!

ASCD Conference is a Great Choice!

Add ASCD to your education conference hit list.
(Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)

Ascd2 I attended the ASCD Conference  in San Antonio for the first time. I wasn't sure what toCrowds1 expect. Although, I know that whenever in Texas, I've been overwhelmed with the politeness and courtesy everywhere. The ASCD conference staff went out of its way to make me feel at home, and I'm certain the ASCD Conference attendees felt that welcoming warmth, too.

Educators and administrators attended from everywhere. My flight to San Antonio carried educators from Vermont. I may have talked and asked too many questions of a special education teacher seated next to me, but I wanted to find out why she was traveling to ASCD.  It wasn't for technology alone, but rather a combination of things, such as learning more about assessment, new curriculum ideas, as well as professional development solutions.

ASCD was founded in 1943 and this was their 65th annual conference! Evidently, they're doing something right, and their Learn. Teach. Lead slogan makes education sense. This conference had 50 technology sessions from how to integrate technology into3ascd the arts to using iPods for global learning. Beyond that, the three-day conference had 500 sessions, including ELL, brain-based Ascdoutsideeducation, assessment, mentoring, professional development, education advocacy, and worldwide education presentations. I peaked into a few pre-conference sessions, and even caught Robert Marzano speaking to a packed roomand the conference hadn't started yet.

ASCD's exhibit floor made my day as an old chalk pusher and education product follower. Many times the software side of technology takes a backseat to all the gadgetry and tech hardware, but online and software solutions, including those with print materials, as well as REAL books had a bigger spotlight at ASCD. The aisles were packed.

My ASCD booth video interviews will be posted at http://www.scholastic.com/administrator/.


Epson's BrightLink 450Wi Different

Epson's BrightLink 450Wi is different.

Brightlink1 I had a chance to try out Epson's new BrightLink 450Wi at TCEA 2010. If you don't know what it is, let me make it simple. For $1799 you get a projector that not only projects, but makes any wall interactive. I watched Hall Davidson put a white piece of art board inTCEA0058 the projection areaand write on it. Later, I told Hall that it was the most impressive thing I had seen. We both laugh about the elaborate stand Epson was using, when a sheet of art board worked quite nicely.

I know all the interactive whiteboard solutions, and appreciate their differences. Hall thinks this one is a "game changer". I will agree that it is different. The projector's ultra-close position above the work area avoids shadow, and it can work with just a dry-erase marker, but those things don't make it different. For me, the difference is that the projector does it allit projects and makes whatever it projects oninteractiveit's all contained in that projector housing.

TCEA0053 That said, the reality is that it still has to be installed, not sure what that cost would be, but I know installation and codes are variables to consider in each district. I don't know what further upkeep is required, but looking into that is important—for any technology. I enjoy cool tech, but my technology specialist side keeps me grounded in the real world, too. There are many interactive whiteboard solutions out there, and we're seeing the technology change and improve, so I look for more innovation like Epson's BrightLink. When it comes right down to it, a district's needs determine the solution. Right now, Epson has added one more choice to think about.

SMART Mixed Reality: Shaken Not Stirred

My mission: Find out more about SMART's Mixed Reality.

Smart1 I revisited SMART Technologies at TCEA 2010 to check in with President and COO Tom Hodson, as well Smart5as take a look at their new XE student response device, but my secret mission was to get more intelligence regarding SMART's Mixed Reality.

The best description is that it reminds me a lot of those plastic Cracker Jack's  prizes—the plastic squares that when turned in different directions shows a different image. Now take that two-image, no-content, toy and fill a card, or a block with many images that have meaning and data. 3D displays, for want of a better description, magically SMART20002 appear when the cards or blocks are placed under a document camera and displayed. Take it another step further—when the objects are shaken, the images change and the information presentedSmart3 deepens—drilling down through 3D content—just with a shake.

I knew that my still images and explanation wouldn't be enough, so under the guise of senior technology editor for Scholastic, I shot some Mixed Reality Video, which will show a more complete story.

SMART Technologies is still working on the idea, but the education implications of their Mixed Reality make it more of a 3D classroom possibility than 3D-plastic glasses. I had to return to headquarters, but I will follow-up on other missions. This is all top secret, so make sure you don't share any of it!


TCEA 2010 Begins

TCEA Day 10013 TCEA, the Texas Computer Education Association convention begins year 30.TCEA Day 10017

It really is a teacher gathering, and I enjoy covering it.

I take beginning conference images each year, and just get a kick out of watching it blossom during the week.

TCEA Day 10010 TCEA is one of the warmest places on the planet, even when most TCEA Day 10009of the country is dealing with snow, and colder than normal temperatures.

I'll have plenty of video interviews, exhibitor booth visits, and always a chat with educators about what they've discovered at TCEA to take back to their classes and districts.

TCEA Day 10003 Building a yearly conference is not an easy task, but it seems TCEA Austin has the right formula.

"Get Them on a Bus Mate!"

Ohioresized0010 At about the turn of  this century, I was seeking ways to share “how to” technology with staff. Most of my innovative tech friends were still either in the UK, or Australia. Yeah, today, you’d call them part of my PLN (Personal Learning Network).  I remember asking for technology professional development advice, and the voice e-mail that made me start thinking out of the box. I can still hear his voice saying, “Get them on a bus mate!”

Teachers1 Turns out, my Aussie buddy was trying to get his staff to use digital cameras and software to enhance teaching. He actually offered incredible professional development courses throughout the year, but usually had difficulty filling seats. He discovered, by hiring a bus, offering a digital camera field trip, packing away a bit of a picnic, he had a captive audience. He could do some how to, share new tech news, and have a good joke or two. The carrot he held out didn’t hurt eitherstaff would get to take a camera back to class, and he would make sure they had the appropriate software to work with it.

Teachers2 Now, a bus trip didn’t work with all things then, there’s no way he’d do it with a huge desktop, and it was a time where wireless was still pretty much two cans attached by a string. The concept, though, of getting staff away from their usual surroundings, offering equipment and software to take back to the classroom, having some fun learning, and bonding as a group is what I took away then, and what I still believe to be valuable now.

Admin2 I was reminded of that Aussie tech bus trip this week, when I met educators and administrators on my trip to cover eTech 2010 in Ohio. Offering individual educators a day at a conference makes sense, but planning to send a larger group makes more sense. And sending more than your favorite geek teacher makes the best sense. If that group is diverse, with elementary, middle, high school educators, at different levels and subject areas, joined by administratorsprincipals, curriculum heads, assistant superintendents and superintendentyou have the makings of a unified tech team.

Admin1 All that said, I know the economic times are tough, but you need to weigh the value gained when more than one or two excited, enthusiastic teachers or administrators come back from a conference with ideas. What a great and simple way to get teams of teachers working together, rather than one rogue teacher doing the equivalent of a technological light show in his/her classroom. The former creates a solid plan, and the latter makes for a lonesome pioneer, sometimes seen as just the district’s tech show off.

If you can get groups of educators to FETC, eTech, TCEA, or local conferenceswonderful, but if you can’t, think about that bus field trip idea. Create a small conference of your own, possibly teaming with other schools or districts. If possible, have teachers take away some software or tech, and don’t hold the PD in the same building where teachers work. Get them away, get them to bond, and remember to take them on a field trip mate!

Live From Ohio eTech 2010

Ohioresized0011Just back from covering Ohio's eTech 2010 for Scholastic Administrator. I'm told it's the 3rd largest education technology conference--behind FETC and TCEA. I had a chance to  walk each exhibit aisle, interview exhibitors about products, shoot some video, interview elementary, middle, and high school educators, as well as district administrators. 

Ohioresized0001 There was quite a bit of teacher interest over taking back and trying some paperless classroom ideas, as well as excitement  about using Skype to connect classes, and share authors with kids. Even kindergarten teachers planned to do this.

My video coverage will be posted at http://www.scholastic.com/administrator/ soon.

Thanks to West Clermont, Cincinnati, Ohio Assistant Superintendent Dr. M. E. Steele-Pierce for rounding up some great educator interviews for me. Her district brought 35 educators to eTech, and one of them was Superintendent Dr. Gary Brooks.


I Need More About SMART's Mixed Reality!

Kenroyal4 If you asked mewhat I’d like to know more about—from FETC, it would be SMART’s Mixed Reality. They had an incredible booth-teaser. Small cubes with digitized icons/data on them that when placed under a document camera gets 3D images to pop up on a display screen. Shaking the objects mines down to different sub-images—skeleton to skull to jaw—for a science example. Not only that, but this Mixed Reality magic can be used on cards, in books, and who knows what else. The education implications are mind-boggling.

I saw it, but didn’t get a chance to ask in-depth questions, nor shoot video, so I’m looking forward to those possibilities at TCEA. I need to know more. The YouTube video I’ve seen so far isn’t very good, so I won’t post it. What was very clear, is that SMART caused a buzz at FETC with their digital upgrade to those 3D plastic squares we used to get as Cracker Jack’s prizes as kids. Stay tuned, and I’ll have more on this—for sure.
The SMART Mixed Reality demo was way cool, but I need to know more of the Education Reality!

3D Still Science-Fiction Plastic Glasses

Stereoscope 3D was everywhere at CES 2010, the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas—from Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, LG, and others. I tried on the 3D glasses at the Samsung display, but it seemed to me, 3D hasn’t moved too much further forward from those old science fiction movies. I’m old enough to remember finding antique wooden stereoscopes and their stereo images in an attic, and I know that technology later led to the plastic-toy stereo-viewers of the 60s. But is there anything new?

3d glasses Although the new 3D technology continues to hold my interest, you still need 3D glasses, so we’re a long way off from the reality of seeing 3D commonplace in classrooms. It might be just me, but it makes me a bit dizzy after awhile. And the glasses-less 3D makes you stand in designated positions—and the resolution isn’t great. I do think we’ll see more 3D, especially for watching sports though. You’ll certainly know where you stand with your host from your sitting position. Favorites will get the best seat positions. Keep working at it! Every kid deserves a great seat.

So, 3D might stay in the consumer and movie realm for now—but I hope the idea continues to evolve—it would be cool in a classroom. It just needs to get past the plastic glasses and designated viewing spot stageand the resolution has to be great—not just OK.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.