Archive for Technology

Presenting today at the The Future is Now! – Online Learning Best Practices Conference @ BSS in Toronto.

I will be talking and showcasing some tools and ideas to promote collaboration in the classroom.



On April 7th and 8th of next week I am really excited to be attending and speaking at Canada’s most innovative web conference. MESH.
This will be a great opportunity to listen, talk to and learn from some of Canada’s most forward thinking entrepreneurs, writers and web experts. More importantly I am keen to talk to people in all different fields of work about the skills and qualities that they are looking when they hire employees. This new E-conomy requires a new breed of team player/worker/learner and we as educators need to prepare our students for the world that awaits them.

Take a look as some of the great workshops and panels in store:

  • The Future of News
  • Using Social Media for Good
  • How the Web is Changing the Way We Learn
  • Managing Personas Online
  • Search Engine Optimization 101
  • Managing Community Online

See the full schedule here

I have been invited to sit on a panel for the session entitled “How the Web is Changing the Way We Learn” moderated by Sacha Chua. Sacha holds a strangely similar position to mine as a Enterprise 2.0 consultant at IBM. She states:

I help companies and people learn how to use Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking in order to be more productive and to collaborate more effectively.

Sitting next to me on the panel will be John Philip Green of and Clare Brett (Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum Teaching and Learning at OISE/UT). All of us are involved in various aspects of education will be speaking about the deep impact that the web is having on the way we learn, the way we teach and education in general.

In preparation for the panel I have been asked to reflect and share my perspective on the following questions. While I am sure we will go deeper I just wanted to sketch my initial thinking here.

What is the biggest technology-related challenge facing teachers and students today?

This new generation of students feels just as comfortable around a computer as their parents do around a radio. They continue to wow us with their ability to digest and adapt to new and evolving technologies while at the same time testing our comfort zones when it comes to issues concerning their safety and privacy. The challenge facing students today is that they have only ever known a networked world but lack the wisdom to manage and leverage it effectively, safely and ethically. The constant pace at which technology changes makes it difficult for schools, teachers and curriculum to keep up. The question that is often asked by parents is “Where and when will my student learn and develop this new literacy?” The answer is being formed in schools everywhere but is still in its infancy. In my mind teacher training and professional development is the key to this process.

What do you see is the biggest factor that will change in the next three years?

With respect to the web it will be a further shift to online applications . As connection speeds continue to increase more and more software companies will move their products online which offer collaborative opportunities which were once not possible. Google Apps will continue to infiltrate team and group projects and classrooms will continue to connect with eachother around the world. Toronto will see the birth of eLearning Consortium . Thirteen CIS Independent Schools have collaborated to create online course opportunities for students within in a not-for-profit eLearning Consortium. This will be the first time high school students within the independent school system will be able to attain credits online.

What is your ideal vision for the Web and education in the next three years?

Traditional education is slow to change. K-12 schools are by definition “walled gardens” of learning. All the content, curriculum and student work is housed inside where it is safe and collaboration between schools is rare. The ethos of the new web has yet to penetrate our schools fully. Today it has never been easier to share ideas, broadcast learning, communicate, collaborate and enable positive change. Opportunities to give our students authentic audiences for their work, solicit feedback and tap into outside expertise has never been greater. I would like to see more K-12 classes sharing and broadcasting their learning “out” as well as inside schools and continue to reinforce that the web is such a powerful tool in “making a difference.”

What are the key gaps that need to be filled?

The evolution of the web and sites like wikipedia are also forcing teachers and schools to rethink the ways they teach “research” and information literacy. The fact that anyone can produce and publish content challenges our ideas about truth, authority and trust. It has never been more important to prepare students for this new information landcape. We role that the “library” plays in school is now more important that ever but the scope of what it does has profoundly changed.

What is one concrete next action people in the audience can take to make things better?

If you are a parent or teacher: Play games, sign up for social networking sites and get literate.

If you are a student: Think before you post!

I know it is cliché to add 2.0 to everything but after watching this video about one of U.S administrations dynamic new groups—the TIGR (Technology, Innovation and Government Reform) Team, its hard not to feel that some exciting changes are on the horizon. The blog keeps blowing me away with its content.

Talk of opening up the government data to everyone, mash-ups and remixing of information from the U.S government?

This is the kind of change I can believe in.

Watch the video.

What do you think?

Cross posted at:

Have you ever been to Kaohsiung?Do you even know where it is ?Well before this weekend I didn’t either. Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second largest city and I have been flown here by SMARTBOARD to present at the 2007 Symposium on Development of Creative Intergration of ICT in Educationto. I am one of 5 keynote speakers who will be speaking to 200 Taiwanese teachers about technology, teching and learning. My presentation is titled – “Interactive Whiteboards: Their impact on teaching, learning and professional collaboration – Reflections on a 5 year study”.You can download the pdf version here: “Interactive Whiteboard Presentation Notes”So wow did I get here?Well it all started (like so many other connections this year) at the Learning 2.0 conference. I contributed the same presentation, the people from SMART seemed to like it, and so the invitation was extended.I have opportunity present quite a bit in my current job but this conference will provide me with lots of firsts.First time visiting Taiwan.First time being a keynote presenter.First time presenting with a Chinese translator.First time presenting to a non-english speaking audience.My talk is focused on how Interactive Whiteboards can change pedagogy, planning and promote collaboration in schools.The conference is at one of Microsoft’s schools of the future. This school (see below) is massive and hold over 3000 students. Factory style with a Feng Shui twist.I hope I can add some value.taiwan-1.jpgtaiwan-2.jpgtaiwan-3.jpg

This weekend I along with 49 other educators from around ASIA have been invited to attend the Apple Distinguished Educators institute in Bangkok, Thailand. It will be a chance to be indoctrinated immersed in all thing Apple through the lense of education.

What really excites me about the institute is that it is project based. All participants will be placed into groups and given themes and questions to explore using the variety of Apple products available to us. Lots of advanced workshops and new stuff to try out.

Some notable edu-bloggers (Kim, Clay) will be there along with MAC guru Steve Clark of Shanghai Community International School.

I’m psyched!

Check out all the action here


How does google work? - A great visual answer

So how does google work?

This question comes up more and more as people marvel at how quickly the answers to their questions are given right back to them. Explaining how google gets those answers back to you so quickly is something few people are aware of.

Before you read on, check out this great visual answer to this complicated question.

I read the Google Story this summer and highly recommend it. It reveals really interesting insights into the minds and ideas that helped shape what is arguably the most innovative companies of our time. Google is always in the news and continues to shape the definition of “SEARCH” in new and exciting ways.

If you do nothing else, turn to the back of the book and just read through the google “entrance exam”. This test is given to all prospective job candidates and is unlike any test you will find in our schools today. Why?

It asks questions you cannot prepare for in advance.

It asks for original thought on the spot.

It asks for creativity on the spot.

It asks questions will many possible answers and possibly no answers.

You can find a sample here

When you hire creative, outside of the box thinkers and support them, great things can happen.

Well worth your weekend.

The google story

Big movements start with small steps……………..

A simple conversation with Scott last week started like most conversations at ISB, passing each other in the hall.

“Hey Justin! I’m looking to get a little deeper with peace day this year, got any ideas?”

Scott is always looking for meaningful ways to get his students engaged in the writing process and reflect on a deeper level. He has been using his classroom blog as a tool in process but up until now it did not really have an audience other than parents. It was time to change that. Together we came up with some questions for the post that we felt would stretch students to think about peace and what it means to them. You can see the post here.

Time was a factor here as Peace Day was the next day. As we know the read/write web is a powerful tool that can quickly and easily bring people from all over the world together to share and collaborate. The only barrier is knowing that each other exists. I decided to reach out to all my contacts and get the ball rolling. I put out call to teachers and coordinators to have their students stop by and share their perspective along with the country they came from. I also helped Scott embed a cluster map on his site so we could track where the hits were coming from. If you don’t have one on your site get one today! The goal of this little post was to get a few different perspectives from other students to create and opportunity for further conversation about peace.

The results…………..112 posts!!!!!

Mark Picketts at Carol Morgan School , Dominican Republic answered the call and got several of his teachers to involve their classes

Mark Dilworth at International School Manila, answered the call and also got his teachers involved.

Kim Cofino at International School Bangkok , answered the call and reached out to her global community to bring in some great comments from the U.S

Carolyn Foote – Librarian, Texas , answered the call and wrote a fantastic post about Scott’s experiment and featured some of her favorite student comments!

Maryland answered the call. Thank you!

Philadelphia answered the call. Thank you!

The list goes on…………….

One conversation…….led to one email………….led to 112 posts………..which led to a global audience and a conversation about peace!

That is what these tools are for. That is why they MUST be BLENDED into everything we do. Because the time invested reap rewards that keep on giving.

All it took was a teacher willing to ask “How can I go deeper?”

If you are reading this and interested in involving your class please drop by Scott’s Learning Blog and have your students post. We would love to read their thoughts!

One small step at a time.

One small step

Live from Shanghai – Learning 2.o conference

Here are my synthesized notes from the first conference session I attended.
Papert Matters – Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas

By Gary Stager

This session presents just a few of Professor Papert’s most powerful ideas about children, computers and learning through his own words and rarely seen video. The presenter worked closely for Dr. Papert and was the principal investigator on his most recent institutional learning project.


If immerse students in math the same way immerse them in language.

Mastery over the machine on many levels – not just for access not just for connection

Information is one SMALL piece of the information puzzle. Largely computers are seen as the gateway to information but we should see them as much more than that.

For the general public, information mean information and so the role of information technology becomes more like, let’s say , listening, hearing the news than making it. It’s more like getting information passively.

Learning happens through experience.

“the best way to ensure that construction of knowledge happens is through active participation that can be shared with others”

Arrived in Shanghai yesterday to attend the Learning 2.0 conference at Concordia International School. The introductory round table was really interesting and the conference is shaping up to be a good one. I will post on each session I attend both here and on


Let the learning begin!

I am always amazed at the incredible pace at which new online applications and services get released. Each one seems to out do the other and provide a fantastic free service in exchange for your attention, and user information.

That was until I found Animoto.

Animoto takes the cake!

Click here to see what I created in less that 4 minutes! is a web application that automatically generates professionally produced videos, each a customized orchestration of your images and music.


What a great way to show off our new library in a new and easy way.

Back to school parent night is coming up this week at ISB and no doubt many teachers will rely on Powerpoint or iPhoto to tell their class story. Who will dare go with Animoto?

I’ll find someone :)

Big thanks to our new 21st century literacy specialist Kim Cofino for the photos.

Hat tip to Robin Good and his “Be Smart, Be Independent, Be Good” blog for this resource. A fantastic resource on the world of online publishing. If you are looking for a web 2.0 maven, he is mine.

ANIMOTO is…………………….