Oct 31, 2013

New Beginnings

It is with mixed emotions that I announce I will be moving on to a new challenge as Chief Technology Officer for the Las Virgenes Unified School District in just a few weeks. My last official working day at Saugus Union School District will be Friday, November 15.

Looking back on my time at Saugus, I have been truly blessed with tremendous opportunities to be a part of amazing accomplishments. Today, I want to thank everyone with whom I have ever worked over the past seventeen years. I would never have grown to be the man I am today without a great team of educators whose trust and support has been second to none. I will miss the enthusiasm, perseverance, and passion for students and learning that has been so prevalent over the years at the place I have called home for so long. I am confident that there are many great days ahead for Saugus and for every member of the Saugus family.

As I look ahead to my future with LVUSD, I’m thrilled to be joining an incredible group of educators at what is clearly one of the best school districts in the nation. I see both great challenges and tremendous opportunities there, and I can't wait to get started on my new adventure. I set out with a new sense of future, a passion to make a difference, and a confidence that if we put our minds to it, if we work together and believe in it, we can change the world.

LVUSD Press Release

Photo Credit: The Cookiemonster cc
Jul 20, 2013
I am increasingly convinced that the defining experience of the 21st Century is getting steamrolled by blithe inculcations of "the future". We see them everywhere; in product announcements, at trade shows and conferences, and too often (sadly) in the edtech world as an excuse to purchase our favorite toy, to choose simple over powerful, and generally spend twice as much to get half as much.

I (somewhat) recently found myself drawn into this conversation through a post by Miguel Guhlin (who I greatly admire) entitled Only Human - #Ubermix = Yesterday's Solution? In it, Miguel suggests that it's too late for Linux (and laptops, really), extolls the virtues of the iPad, and suggests the overall inevitability of tablets ruling the world, based on well-reasoned observations and personal experience. To be fair, the post reflected something of a thought exercise on inertia overcoming right and exposed Miguel's own frustrations with the negative implications of our new, app-centric world. What it lacked, however, was broad reflection and a longer view of technology choices and their implications.

Miguel did me the great honor of posting my response as a guest post on his blog, but I also wanted to post it here (with slight edits and the addition of links), on the off chance that readers might not subscribe to his (which you really should).
Jun 23, 2013
Ah, the ISTE conference. Arguably the biggest ed tech conference of the year, and yet the conference I am least interested in. They tell me there are over 20,000 attendees this year - great news, I suppose. Great news if you are one of the many sponsors of this now, heavily corporate driven conference. Today, the twitter-verse was all aflutter over Microsoft's "free" Surface RT tablet, surely one of many "magic bullets" that are guaranteed to solve all that ails eduction.

But it's not the vendors and their efforts to "own" education that I'll miss. Nor will I miss all of the "awesome" app shootouts, the "look at me" sessions by teachers who fall silent when you ask, "so who else at your school is doing this?", or the "experts" who haven't been in a classroom for years. No, I won't even miss the "edublogger" click-ups to stroke each others' egos, to the exclusion of all those whom they should endeavor to inspire.

What I'll truly miss most are the real conversations that take place outside the sessions - in the hallways, restaurants, lobbies, and every other available, open space.

Which is why I was thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with a number of top-notch educators this evening at a special "Not at ISTE" hangout. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!



Mar 1, 2013
The first of (hopefully) many open source related hangouts with +anotherschwab of Small School BIG TECH fame. In this episode we talk about just how open Chromebooks actually are, Microsoft's mistakes with Windows 8/RT, and the web as the operating system(?). We also chat about going with open source software in schools and thinking differently about student-centered technology in the classroom.


Feb 10, 2013

Thoughts on Chromebooks

Fans of Google’s Chromebooks are expert at making compelling arguments for their use in schools. Apologists regularly sacrifice reason for simplicity, focusing on how easy the devices are to manage for the adults in the organization, rather than on the capabilities of the software to meet more than just rudimentary needs or the device’s capacity to grow with students’ desires/passions/interests, both in and out of the classroom. While Chromebooks are certainly better than tablets (don’t get me started), the typical use case represents a rather shallow view of the power of computers and computing in the learning space.

In the past, the argument for Chromebooks was tempered by cost, as the devices typically ran between $400 and $600, making them a rather expensive proposition for what they could do. Google’s failure to compel corporate buyers, coupled with scathing review after scathing review led them to shift their gaze to the education sector, where they have been able to realize a modest hint of momentum and positive feedback. Still, as of last fall uptake had been light overall. So in a rather bold move, Google took to subsidizing the cost of Chromebooks, driving their prices down to extremely compelling $200-$250, in a significant effort to build market/mind share for their device. While the perils of relying on corporate subsidies to fund educational programs are obvious, the new pricing model can be extraordinarily compelling to those wishing to get technology into the hands of more students in schools.

Jan 25, 2012
Ah, yes, here we go again. Yet another corporate shill (or Schill, in this case) stands before the populus with a somber look, declaring that the U.S. education system ranks whatever-th globally (in test-taking on an uneven playing field constructed to bolster the careers of politicians who lack the temerity to take on real issues - but that's another post). Next, a few heart-warming videos play, followed by a wonderful - dare I say "magical" solution to the problem devised by said corporation, which, as they desperately hope you will believe, truly cares about education. Who are we to doubt their sincerity? This must be true, right?

But wait a minute - are we perhaps being sold? Are we giving Apple a pass because we love their products so? Are we giving up too much just because the solution seems so simple? Or worse, do we really believe that better textbooks are the answer to all of education's woes? Rather than just hoping for the best and assuming Apple's intentions are pure, let's instead take a step back and try to understand a few key truths about corporations.
Jan 19, 2012
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is always one of the largest and most anticipated events in computing, devices, and electronic gadgetry, and CES 2012 was no exception. But with all the focus on Smartbooks, Smart TVs, Smart Appliances, and tablets of all shapes and sizes, it's easy to see why news of other device classes might get drowned out by all the noise. Add to that a gap in manufacturing created by hard drive shortages, a next-generation processor transition, and delays in Microsoft certification, and it's easy to understand why it might be hard to find good information on upcoming devices in our favorite product class - namely netbooks and mini-notebooks. But fear not, for a plethora of exciting devices are slated to arrive in the coming months.