Future of the Book – eBook, eMedia or ??

Over my almost 15 years as an educator, I’ve always been on a search for the new textbook, or how to consolidate the textbook onto one device.  Right now, there are numerous eReaders out there.  How we use those devices in education is up in the air.  

Last Friday a group of educators assembled to organize resources that would help us all move closer to an truly electronic book model.  The group organized resources around Devices, Pay and Free Content, and Examples of eTexts.  We recorded much of the afternoon via uStream. 

There was a consensus at the end of the day that we direct our futures by building some examples of what we may see in the future, whether web based or specifically for tablets or eReaders. 

Since this is an ongoing project, I moved this wiki to OPuS1 – The Future of the Book and started a Community of Practice around the resources.  OPuS1 is a good container for this type of project.  Let me know if you ‘re interested in being part of this next work we’ll be doing via twitter or a comment on this post. 


Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wynnie/3881994177/

NAIS–School Change Hitting the Pavement

Today, arvind grover and I presented at the NAIS Speed Innovation Sessions. Our presentation concentrated on publication, collaboration, and productivity.  The slides are below.  Comments/Questions appreciated.


Your AUP on Social Networking – Our Results

Back in the spring I wrote about my school’s work trying to add a line about responsible use of social networking in our AUP. We had some great conversations with our faculty, students, and administrative team and ended up with the following statement:

I will maintain common, face-to-face social conventions and boundaries to avoid circumstances which are or could be perceived as inappropriate while using social networking, blogs, or any other interactive websites. 

In this statement, we didn’t ban Social Network sites but warned against their inappropriate use.  In our student and faculty/staff  handbooks we define the social norms we expect from community members.

So not perfect, but a good start.  Thanks to all that commented on my original post.  I am always amazed at how quickly the experts in this field find and comment on posts like this one. 

Let’s keep this conversation going.  What does your AUP state about social networking?

Disrupting Class Primer

I have been having lots of conversations at school (the one where I work) about  Disrupting Class.  People keep saying, "I have to read the book." 

Obviously, reading the book is the best way to get this, but if you don’t have time to read the book right now and want a primer, here’s some audio/video/text to get you  up to speed:

Start here:

And if you’re still interested (this is what’s on my bookshelf at least):

There are tons of other good resources out there.  I’ve been watching Google Blog Search for Disrupting Class as well. 

arvind, Vinnie and I will also be interviewing Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson on 11/24 at noon EST and 12/4 at 2:15 EST respectively at EdTechTalk

What recommendations do you have? 

If You Started a School, What Would the Theme Be?

As I’ve been exploring the theme of Disruptive Innovation and its implications new-school for schools in the next 10-15 years, I have imagined that there will be opportunities for new schools to replace some of the schools that have not changed.  Over the weekend, I was thinking about what the theme of a school that I would like to work at would be.  I found this exercise surprisingly difficult so, in order to generate some brainstorming energy, I asked my twitter network.  Here are the replies:

  • gardenglen @alexragone My theme for a school “Digital environment promoting student inquiry and collaboration.”
  • ernestkoe @alexragone what a great question…the love of learning, as cheesy as that sounds
  • andrewjkatz @alexragone flexibility.
  • momcginn The theme would be Belonging.
  • agrill @alexragone collaborative spaces, good citizens and inquiry.
  • pgow @alexragone (1) Think it should be sustainability, although the word is getting a bit shop-worn. Maybe “dignity, equity, and continuity.”
  • pgow @alexragone (2) Lots of place-based teaching: thematic, interdisciplinary, skill-focused units; civic and social engagement as  possible.

As I was thinking about this topic, I thought about science, innovation, and invention.  I was not happy with any of those.  This is a difficult task, especially when thinking about changing a system that has been around for so long.  I  found myself thinking about the skills that students should have upon graduation, but those skills could fit into many of these themes.

So I ask you, if you could create a school, what would it’s theme be?

Phtoto from: http://flickr.com/photos/mirkogarufi/297698145/

Differentiated Instruction

In Educational Leadership this month, Carol Ann Tomlinson writes about  Differentiated Instruction as a way of giving students ownership of learning. She states:

Differentiation enables teachers to go beyond the question, How can I make sure a student masters a body of information? asking instead, How can I help create a real learner?

There are four elements of DI: trust; fit;voice; and awareness.  Here’s a description of developing awareness:

“Monica Harrold, a 1st grade teacher frequently led her students to analyze a piece of work they were about to begin with a partner or small group.  After she described the task, she’d say, “Now tell me what skills are necessary to do this work really well.” Gradually , her young students became proficient at naming the skills the assignment called for.  Next, she’d ask them to think about which of the necessary skills they had and which ones they’d need to be sure someone else in the group had.  In my observations of Monica’s classroom, it was common to hear a student say, “I can draw and I can write, but I’m not very good at finding information so I’ll need to work with someone else who can do that.”  At age 6, these students were already becoming metacognitively aware.  They were learning to position themselves as successful learners by controlling their working conditions.

In order to empower our students, we must engage them in these metacognitive tasks early and frequently.  As I start to collect the tools of the school of the future, DI is a critical part of that toolbox.

Image from Wes Fryer

Disrupting Class —

Disrupting Class is definitely in my top few from the past few years.  The book has changed the way I think about education and education change.  It has provided a road map for the future.  Models to experiment with, and a clear way to test those models of change.

I want this post to be short and sweet, so here’s a quick list of highlights.

  • Christensen defines how businesses are displaced by disruptive technologies in the theory of disruptive innovation: The MiniComputer by the PC/MAC; The SLR camera by the The Kodak point and shoot camera; and the vacuum tube radio by the transistor radio.  Christensen sees that online learning that is customized by the learner style is the future and predicts that “by 2019, about 50% of high school courses will be offered online” (p. 98).
  • We should all be offering online courses to our students and testing alternatives in our existing schools is places where there is no competition such as APs and/or classes that are not offered already.
  • To truly see the change, we will need to have school created outside the dominant system, such as charter and private schools where schools can be left to experiment and define this new type of schooling, find success and then bring it back to mainstream schools.  His business example is the Toyota Prius that was created in an external business unit and then brought back into Toyota’s factories to be built.

When I look back, a number of books fit in the changing my lens on education: Good to Great helped me see the importance of leaders and structures of successful organization planning; Now, Discover Your Strengths helped me see my strengths and how to best use them; Cluetrain Manifesto and The World is Flat helped me see the power of openness and how Internet communications have changed the world;  In A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink helped me see that the types of skills traditional schools teach are the building blocks, but not the end game skills that our students need; and now Disrupting Class has has given me the lens of effective organizational change.  All of these books provide unique and simple ways of looking at problems, clear and articulate writing that include stories as examples, and significant basis in human development and psychology.

Christensen ends the book by stating,

“These technologies and organizational innovations are not threats.  They are exciting opportunities to make learning intrinsically motivating, that make teaching professionally rewarding, and that transform our schools from being economic and political liabilities to sources of solutions and strength.

Thanks, Clayton Christensen, for inspiring me.  I look forward to testing your theories.  Thanks to Vinnie Vrotny for the recommendation.

For all of you, head to Amazon and pick this one up.

Going with Outlook/Exchange

After a long process, my school has decided to move to Microsoft Outlook/Exchange 2007.   I realize that this is 2008-06-02_2119bucking the trend to move towards outsourced email with Google’s Apps for Schools and Microsoft Live, but these systems did not meet our requirements.  I use Gmail for my personal email and am very happy with it, but we felt that for an enterprise, it were not quite ready to go in that direction.

What is exciting about this move is that we will have better basic email functionality for our basic email users  and more advanced functionality for many of our high end users.  The basic functions include:

  • HTML email support
  • Outlook Web Access — A much improved web user email interface
  • Advanced search
  • HTML mailto: support so our SIS email class and email parents links will work
  • A standard, clean user interface for our community

The advanced features include:

  • Industry standard calendaring
  • Integration with many of our installed databases
  • PDA/Phone integration

As we migrate, the one space in FirstClass that is not replicated in Outlook/Exchange is the conference.  We will be using Group mail lists, Outlook Public Folders for some of these conferences in addition to Moodle forums and possibly some Drupal or other open source forum software.  The result is that we’ll be moving to web apps being the center of our universe with our email system driving us in that direction.

I’ll be posting more along our migration road. 

I’ve created a documentation web site for this project here.  What do you think?

Your AUP on Social Networking?

At my school, we’re looking at what our school policy on social networking between students and faculty should be.

Our initial inclination was to create a restriction between students and faculty ‘friending’ each other on social networks. arvind and I have discussed this on our webcast a number of times. For example: here and here.  But then the exceptions happen:

1. I have used Flickr, a photo social network to collaborate with my students in photography.
2. Our student environmental club has used Facebook groups and invitations to plan events between students, faculty and parents.

Given the positives that can come out of social networks, does anyone have a policy that rides the appropriateness of use tight rope?

Your thoughts/comments are appreciated.


Here are some general AUP resources I have collected on the subject:

School Computing Wiki: http://schoolcomputing.wikia.com/wiki/Acceptable_Use_Policies

David Warlick has recently jumped into this conversation: http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/archives/1452 and http://landmark-project.com/aup20/pmwiki.php

Photo from: http://flickr.com/photos/mkeefe/1457984966/


With all of the conferences happening over the next few weeks (K12Online, AIMS, and NEIT2007, it’s kind of hard for me to think about January, but EduCon 2.0 coming fast.

EduCon 2.0 is being hosted by Chris Lehmann, Principal of Science Leadership Academy from January 25 – 27 in Philadelphia, PA.

Please take a Chris’: EduCon 2.0 — A Call for Conversations and the Conference Wiki.

This is going to be a great event.  Don’t miss it.