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What is the Cloud?

What is the Cloud?

What is the CLOUD?  Explained simply.

Understanding the cloud is essential in learning to understand our modern internet based ecosystems. Platforms like Google Drive, iCloud, iMessage, DropBox, and OneDrive are all cloud based platforms.

Curb you iPhone Addiction

Curb you iPhone Addiction
The BEST experiment on the future of LEARNING – the HOLE in the WALL

Fear created the greatest barrier to bridging the technology gap. The Digital Immigrants (teachers) spent their time learning in the old model. They read books, wrote papers, and filled in bubbles on tests. This made them good at memorizing things and good at using #2 pencils, but it didn’t prepare them for 21st Century life.

The Digital Native (students) however are spending all day on their screens. They are learning entrepreneurially on their iPhones. The problem is that they’re not learning as much IN school as they are outside of school.

Take a look at Mitra’s speech. The production value of this video is very good, but the message is the same as his previous TEDx talk. Here’s my previous Mitra post.

I am so proud of Dr. Mitra and the possibilities of his research.

There’s a real opportunity for a major revolution in education.

Great TIMES of INDIA article about the prize.

The internet is filled with Junk Food. Here’s a tool to help slim down you junk consumption.

Four years ago, I started writing a book about educational technology.  At that point, I believed that the only thing that could save education was technology.  I felt that we needed EVERY student and teacher to be taught how to use technology.

Today, I believe that we need to start teaching our kids how to NOT use computers.

Because the corporations beat the schools to the punch, the internet is now a fertile playground for advertisers.  The way that we’re fed information is solely based on what we click on most.  There’s so many techniques that are being exploited be reputable news outlets.  We are constantly being fed affirmations instead of factual journalism.

In his book, THE INFORMATION DIET, Clay A. Johnson lays out the case for healthy consumption.

This video sums it up in 60 seconds.

I’ve been trying out the software that Johnson recommends – I am now able to monitor and limit the types of content that I’m consuming. I’ll be posting in a week about the results of my experimenting.

FIVE skills for 21st Century Teachers

FIVE skills for 21st Century Teachers

Professional Development often emerges as a daunting process of ReLearning skills for teachers. I’ve been thinking deeply on the PHASE ONE skills that ALL teachers should have. They’re pretty simple. Here’s the list:

  1. Video/audio capture and upload – NO EDITING – just shoot and upload.  A LOT of information can be conveyed with some SIMPLE shooting techniques.  Along with THIS skills set – comes a few basic of shooting: Composition, Lighting, and Sound.
  2. Google docs collaboration and paperless workflows – the students are catching on.  The faculty is dragging their feet.  Collaboration can be introduced and continually reinforced in GoogleDocs.  PEER EDITING is one of the essential skills that students can learn from each other.  It holds them accountable and it helps them practice editing grammar and spelling.  Teachers need to catch on.
  3. Google docs collections and file organization – this is a SIMPLE skill that is sorta confusing inside the Docs management window.  Teachers need to learn that sharing ONE collection will allow them to share thousands of documents on the fly. They only have to create a class list ONCE – after that – new docs just need to be tagged to that collection.
  4. Understanding digital citizenship – this is one of those NON-TECH – tech skills.  Digital citizenship is not just the Golden Rule of Pixel based living, but it is also the key to introducing students to 21st century engagement.
  5. Understanding media literacy and the evaluation of sources – IS WIKIPEDIA – a GOOD source?  The answer is not a blanket NO.  TOO many teachers are teaching kids to simply avoid WIKIPEDIA. Isn’t it a stronger skills to teach students to EVALUATE and CONTRIBUTE and CORRECT Wikipedia?  We need to focus on evaluating and correcting sources online.  Student can be participants in their research and not just consumers of information.

What Can Education learn from Steve Jobs?

What Can Education learn from Steve Jobs?

I’ve been reflecting lately on the passing of Steve Jobs and what we as educators can learn from him. He was a true American. An inventor, a business man, a tech titan, and most of all a teacher. I’ve been exposed to Apple products in the classroom since I was a student. We had the Apple IIe in elementary school. So what can education learn from Steve Jobs? A lot.

Our educational system is broken. We haven’t really changed the way we teach since the invention of the printing press. We are literally still basing the majority of our teaching in text and books. Meanwhile, the majority of our learning is happening in hyperlinked, media rich landscapes that allow us to be well educated consumers. The internet has made us really good shoppers, but now really good students (yet). I’m one of the believers that education CAN and WILL be saved. I also believe that human ingenuity coupled with smart inclusion of technology will be the agent of change to save education in America, and ultimately the American economy.

Jobs created a company that created a product that served a niche market at a time when technology was evolving. He built a surfboard that rode the opening wave of the technology revolution. He stood tall on that surfboard, and he rode it all the way to end of his life’s wave.

Apple is an innovative American company and education can learn directly from the successes of Apple. If we can succeed in education, we can save our economy.


Apple has always been ahead of the innovation race. Their philosophy is simple – let the past build on the present. ONE great product led into their NEXT great product. iPod one was ground breaking. The click wheel offered a fresh way to interact with a menu. That was the FIRST big invention. The genius of this technology was that people didn’t have to relearn what they learned with the first device. The iPod then set the groundwork for what became the iPhone and the iPhone became the iPad. Not only did Apple streamline the production process, but they also leveled out the learning curve from one product to the next.

Apple continues to demonstrate this intuition in its software. iTunes works and acts like iPhoto. iMovie (for better or for worse) now works and acts just like Final Cut Pro. Garageband works and acts like Logic. Users don’t have to relearn anything.

What can school’s learn about innovation?

Schools haven’t reinvented their approach in a long long time. We’re still primarily focused on reading and writing as our means to evaluate. The last major advancement in education came in the form of the printing press. Books gave students access to uniform texts that they could study from. The most modern addition to the current classroom is the word processor and the laser printer. It gave students the ability to write and re-write their work and print it out in a larger variety of font sizes, shapes, and now colors.

The read and write model needs to be innovated.
The content of our textbooks is curated by corporations who are profiting huge from our education system. We need to unify the textbook, and allow teachers to collaborate as authors.


One of the secrets to Apple’s success is that it is structure like a startup. This micro scale allows them to ignore market research and to innovate based on what the innovators feel is right. They don’t have the messy excesses that modern corporations have. They have small design teams that continued to be challenged through the years to “Think Different” and create new solutions to fresh problems. Education is currently stuck in a macro system of evaluation where politicians are setting standards for academic achievement based on bubbled in test scores. If we can shift our thinking to a local model, we’ll have a better time making change happen.


Kids simply aren’t reading today. The average 8-18 year old is consuming 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content in 7½ hours of multitasking. They consume media in all kinds of ways – they’re just not reading to consume it. They are WRITING more than ever before, but the language their using is an invented language that only they understand. They have created an efficient shorthand that older teachers who learned shorthand in school seem to scoff at. The truth is, less letters to communicate the same thing takes less time.

For less than $500 today, students have access to devices that can do what I call All of the WWW’s. They can:

W – Watch stuff
W – surf the Web
W – Write Stuff
S – Shoot stuff

The previous academic focus on reading and writing was a consequence of the technology available. For a long time, books were the most effective way to mass distribute educational content, and so we resorted to teaching broad topics like READING, WRITING, MATH, SCIENCE, and LANGUAGES.

Today, we can shift to a media focused landscape. Kids should be curating and creating Internet video content. Schools should be teaching kids how to evaluate and how to make what they’re consuming.


Steve Jobs was a master collaborator. He hired people who were smarter than him to work inside the Apple HQ. He worked with vendors, and challenged them to continue to make better, smaller, faster products. And then he homogenized the workflow. The iPhone glass is the same glass as the iPad. The iPod, iPhone, iPad chargers – all the same.

He knew that he alone was not as smart as a group of smart people working together.


Steve Jobs was an autonomous thinker who had the right combination of visionary and collaborator. Certainly, Jobs was at times uncompromising with his creative vision, but he knew what he wanted, and he continued to push his vision forward until people agreed.

We need to start teaching visioning in schools. Projects are often predetermined for students by their teachers. They are unwilling to invest a lot of their minds into projects – because they’re more interested in “finishing the paper” than they are interested in expressing themselves.

Our system encourages moderation. Kids complete just enough of a project that will yield the grade that they’re seeking, and they don’t go beyond the expectations that teachers set. We need to begin to design projects that challenge students to craft a vision for an assignment and autonomously seek the solutions to their in class challenges.

We need to also acknowledge that each student’s path in unique. Trying to teach a 5th grader to read at a fifth grade level when they are only able to read at a 2nd grade level is a recipe for failure. Self guided learning will allow advanced students to conquer greater tasks quicker, and it will help struggling students get the help that they need. Students need to be empowered to pursue areas that generally interest them.

Not every student will go to college, and so we need to offer a comprehensive curriculum in our K-12 schools that will introduce essential 21st Century Skills to our kids.


We can learn a lot from Steve Jobs the entrepreneur. At 20, he started Apple in his parents garage. He saw the challenge – to create a workable personal computer, and he ventured out to create the solution.

An easy way to encourage entrepreneurship in classrooms is to let kids pick the content of their projects. They’re projects should be shared and used to teach OTHER kids about these niche fields of interest.

Students are the curators of their new world. They will be the next generation’s teachers.


Jobs continued his work as a master collaborator with the app store. He offered content creators 70% of the revenues from all of the sales of books, apps, movies, music, and apps.

Content creators scoured the free market to find a niche that they could fill, and they made content that could all be sold in one place.

What can schools learn from this? Well, they can take on the app store business model, and use it as an incentive to pay teachers more.

What if we got the top communicators in EVERY discipline to offer their lectures for free on the internet. Sponsors and advertisers will fund the projects. Teachers will get 70% of the revenues, the schools will get 30%, and students will get a FREE education.


Steve Jobs was a master communicator. When Apple launched a new product they did it in a BIG way. Their new product would be in the top of the news cycle for days after.

Jobs had a passion for his products, an understanding for what they could do, and he had the charisma that made people want to listen to him. They used the medium that they were innovating to help share the message. A few years ago, Apple started to webcast all of their major product launches. People were so passionate about the products, that they wanted to bear witness to every piece of the new products.


Apple has always plans ahead. Right now, if you purchase a Apple computer, it no longer has a firewire port. It now has a Thunderbolt port – which is 10x faster than USB. Apple has never market to what’s trending today – they’ve always worked hard to create products that will be of value tomorrow.

They’ve always thought about what was coming NEXT – instead of what works right now.

We are currently at the great technology plateau…High Definition video is at our fingertips. We can make and consume HD for very little cost. Internet is ubiquitous with urban living. 3G is everywhere, WiFi at every Starbucks and McDonalds. Our teachers and students need to coexist on this plateau. Teachers need to let go of the reigns of the classroom, and let the students explore new media with subjects that interest them. Students need to be guided through this plateau. Schools need to begin making sustainable investments in technology to keep inspiring students around the world.

LESSON ONE: Drawing in Google Docs

LESSON ONE: Drawing in Google Docs

The school year is back in session, and I’ve committed to creating a video for every one of my lessons. Here’s LESSON ONE: Drawing in GoogleDocs.

The fundamental vocab words that are focused on in this lesson are:



The FUTURE of Textbooks – eBooks

The FUTURE of Textbooks – eBooks

This TEDtalk is inspiring.

Al Gore’s latest book has been eBooked.

The current textbook publishers have been dragging their feet, continuing to consume profit from their old fashioned books. Our students and teachers are beggin for new resources. I think there will be a revolution in the textbook world as teachers start to author their own content – like ck12.org.


When will a device by the expectation in education?

When will a device by the expectation in education?

10 Years ago, schools started to promote their ONE to ONE laptop programs. If you’re at a school like mine, who never adopted the laptop model – you’re in luck. The need for a laptop in schools is over. Here’s what I’ve come up with…students need to be carrying a digital device (of some sort – YES – it can be a laptop) that will support their WWWs.


W – Watch/listen to video and audio
W – Write/Read on the device
W – Web enabled communications
S – Shoot – the thing should have a camera.

iPad Two.

The iPad 2 is ready to go, a laptop, a netbook, etc. We’re all ready. I’ve been collecting data on one grade level of students in my school. In the 7th grade, almost 80% of the students already have a device that can support the WWWs and they are allowed by their parents to bring it to school. An additional 3% of those students have a device at home – but mom and dad haven’t let them use it out of the house yet.

We’ve been tiptoeing around this subject for quite a while. School administrators are fearful of the increased costs associated with a ONE to ONE laptop program. Parents are worried that kids will become TOO dependent on the device. Meanwhile, students are BEGGING for the opportunity to learn the skills that they’ll need to possess to become employable.

Here’s my proposal:


Every school should set a goal date to institute a device oriented program. Next Year, Two Years, Five Years, whenever. They need faculty to have ample time to prepare – and learn how to use that stuff. Families can prepare to start saving money – that used to be used on books to spend on a device. Schools will have time to carve out a new model for education–one where books come as downloads, lectures are watched the night before – at home, and students are met in school where they’re most familiar.


9. doing MATH
15. the list goes on and on and on…

CLOUD COMPUTING has leveled the playing field. We’re now platform agnostic, device agnostic, and the only thing we really need is a solid reliable link to the internet.

The DIGITAL DEVICE is going to the swiss army tool for education. It is adaptable, and incredibly unlimited with it’s possibilities.