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This is a "blog-spot" where you can find postings of information, random thoughts, questions to ponder, or podcast links that relate to technology planning (or, on occasion, other important matters). Please leave your comments.

Updated: 2014-03-19T05:48:43.394-05:00


Who's Packing Your Parachute?


You've heard lots of hype about the book, "What Color Is Your Parachute?"  Well, the topic of this entry pertains to parachutes, but it's not about color.  It's not about parachute texture.  It's not about fear of parachutes (and all the activity that comes with a parachute).  It's not even about how to search online to find the cheapest parachute.


Rather, let's examine one of the most essential aspects of parachute care and handling — the packing of the parachute!

If asked to describe the purpose of a parachute, we would talk about how it protects the jumper as s/he leaves the airplane and descends to the ground.  We might even talk about how some parachutes can be "steered" by jumpers so they can hit a target.  But, I venture to guess that we would never mention the importance of proper parachute packing.

Just as with the integration of technology into learning environments, there is quite a bit of important planning that must occur in order for the parachute to achieve maximum value.  The person who performs the packing procedure must know the purpose for which that parachute is to be used.  It may be necessary to have many more elements of information, and for those elements to be given careful, strategic thought.  Perhaps, there is even a set of instructions available to aid the parachute packer.

If the packer is negligent, lazy, or doesn't consider carefully the importance of the packing task, it is conceivable that the jumper's life will be in danger.

If, during technology planning activities, we don't consider carefully the full impact that technology can have upon the lives of young learners, are we not being irresponsible, just as the aforementioned parachute packer?

However, if we technology planners are as deliberate, careful, and focused as a great parachute packer, we have the potential to enhance, significantly, the quality of learning interactions each learner has with various technologies.

It's worth our time, energy, and efforts to ensure that we think of ourselves as important to technology-enhanced learned as we consider the parachute packer to be for a successful jump from that airplane high in the air!

Think about it!

The beauty of variations


Silver SoldierOriginally uploaded by ttsweetOK, the first order of business is to give credit where credit is due. This photo is titled "Silver Soldier" and was made by the outstanding professional photographer, Tony Sweet. I encourage you to jump over to Flickr and view some more of his amazing photos. You can also view his work at his personal website.Now, let's examine this photo for a clear life lesson we all need to remember -- variations around us often serve as essential ingredients in the creation of beauty. Variations create harmony, often.Notice, also, the various color elements in "Silver Soldier" and how they don't fight each other. Rather, they come together, with their own characteristics, and contribute those various characteristics to result in a visual masterpiece.Another life lesson: Where does one color stop and another color start? You can't really tell. Instead, there's a "blending" of colors. And, although some two or three colors may appear to be the same, upon closer examination, we discover that they really are different.Where do you see yellow? Yes, it appears in several places.Where do you see gold? Yes, in several places.Where do you see brown? That's right -- in several places.And what about silver? Yep, again, it's in several places, even though our eye is drawn to the silver as though it were one discrete element. Yet, as we examine closer, we discover that some of the lines around the silver are not clearly and distinctly defined. The silver contributes its beauty to the whole by blending in -- and at the most appropriate location.Now, for the "transfer of learning" part to teach us what we need for beautiful planning within our group/team....The composition of your technology planning team is crucial. This is definitely not a one-person job! And, not everyone on the team has to view things in the identical fashion. Variety of opinion, talent, experience, work ethic, endeavor, and zeal has the potential for making a planning team strong and resilient when some of the problems buffet us. And, those problems will definitely come!Just imagine that your committee is made up of both seasoned teachers, as well as the novice. They have different perspectives on many things, yet each of them has valuable input for the whole committee.You will need not only teachers, but also administrators, civic leaders, parents, students, professionals (doctors, lawyers, insurance executives), retired individuals, .... well, you get the point. You need a veritable cornucopia of people with a broad range of talents, experiences, and opinions. However, your role as a committee leader is critical.You have to know how to take the best parts of each person's contribution and meld that into a meaningful whole.That's precisely what Tony did for us in this photograph. First, he had to stop and take notice of this beautiful image. Then, he had to use his best skills in photography to know the proper exposure, shutter speed, and position in order to yield the best image. The result is that we have a thing of beauty to admire. Other passersby might have thought that was just an ugly rust spot, but Tony incorporated the strength of his talent and composed the photo that magnetizes our appreciation. All those elements that contributed to making this photo a lesson for us were brought together at the right time, in the right proportions, from the right angle. Such a great lesson for leadership!None of this information is news to us. Yet, we have to be reminded of this frequently. Amidst the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, trying to coordinate the work of our planning committee, even as we go about managing the technological uses being applied in our schools or organizations, we often allow the beauty around us to get lost in the seemingly overwhelming "jobs" that consume our time.Hence, I encourage you to look carefully and closely at the beautiful photograph that Tony Sweet has given us...and ponder the beauty lying around you in the form of people's talents, op[...]

Facebook Police?


During a conference recently, I moderated a panel titled, The Supreme Court Is In Session: Ask the Experts. When we reached the portion of the program during which attendees were encouraged to ask questions or make statements about the current state of affairs with incorporating technologies into the classroom instruction, one gentleman in the crowd made the following statement:

I was told by my administrator that if I have a Facebook account, I will be fired immediately!!

Now, I've heard some crazy things coming from the mouths of administrators, but this one "took the cake." When the person revealed this truth, one word sprang to my mind: "insecurity."

Often, we talk about keeping our networks secure. That is a good thing. We even talk about keeping our fellow employees secure. That's a good thing--in concept, anyway. When we mention keeping students secure, though, that often brings on some new meanings. And, often, it involves some person "in charge," who has control over the environment in which the young person finds himself/herself.

Yes, we've heard the cavalcade of "excuses" why Facebook shouldn't be allowed in schools. However, in the same breath, we will create social networking situations that can be equally harmful, yet they have been accepted for many years and are not deemed as dangerous. For example, let's ask ourselves, "For how many years have schools had recess?" And, during recess times, don't we actually encourage students to interact with each other? We even create games and other situations during recess that force students to "network." What excuses do we cling to that lull us into believing these situations are not as dangerous as interactions on Facebook? Do we think that, since we're monitoring students' activities on the playground, nothing will happen? Oh, yeah. Right! Like we teachers on duty can keep our eyes on everything that's happening. Who are we fooling?

It's funny. One of the main advantages of Facebook for me is the resurrection of connections from former students and colleagues. Although many years have passed since we were together, we're renewing our bonds. And, the bonds we're renewing now are, in some cases, much stronger than they were "back in the day." Is there value in building connections among people? Is there value in our teaching students how to handle personal interactions? Is there value in "digging deeper" to learn more about the people we call "friends"? Is there value in focusing upon the true meaning of friendship?

Why, then, would a school administrator issue such an ultimatum to a teacher?

Many of you who read this blog are in-the-trenches practitioners. So, I await with great eagerness your responses. Please join the dialogue about this issue. And, for some great reading on this topic, visit Will Richardson's blog...or David Warlick's 2 cents worth blog.

Oh, and if I don't hear from you via this blog, perhaps I'll run into you on Facebook!!

Taking personal responsibility


This past week, I have attended the 26th annual conference of the Mississippi Educational Computing Association in Jackson, MS. Our keynote speaker this year was none other than the awesome Will Richardson.

One set of comments that Will made in his keynote are of particular interest to me. And, I believe they apply directly to all of us who are involved in planning for the effective use of technologies in the workplace and the lives of those who inhabit.

The concept involved personal responsibility.

After delivering a very compelling keynote address, Will summarized his points with a challenge to all Mississippi educators that we each take the personal responsibility to learn about blogs by blogging. We should invest significant personal assets into the writing and thinking we offer to the entries we make online. He encouraged us to "sweat" with our brains, to stretch hard and make profound, positive differences where we are.

Far too often, I fear that we are prone to just trot along and do our thing, expecting others to carry the heavy load. Or, we like to complain because things are not the way we think they should be. So, we fuss.

Rather than fuss, we should put on the mantle of intellectual actuity and really press for the higher ground. By doing so, we present an encouraging model for those around us.

So, I ask myself today: "Am I lazy or do I have the intellectual energy to give back to my world more than I have gotten?"

What about you? Really!!

What do you say?

Tech Planning Primer needed?


Do you know all you need to know so you will have a top-notch technology planning document?

Without a doubt, most of us have gone through the process of developing a written technology plan.  Well, if we examine our efforts closely and objectively, will we vote that we've done the very best job possible?

Will we think our plan is the best it can be?  Or, are there areas in which we think we can improve?

This goes to the core of the "why" question for having a plan in the first place.

Why do we have technology plans?  To get that federal money?  To satisfy some externally-imposed requirement?  Because the organization next door has one, so we feel compelled to follow suit?

Why do we go through all the laborious, time-consuming effort to create a tech plan?  And, when all is said and done, is it all worth it?

I wonder how many technology plans--in the United States, alone--are created purely out of a burning desire to build a clear roadmap for the future.  And, how many of these will include thorough sets of objectives and goals that have been vetted and, thus, have earned broad-based support among constituents?  

From my experience, the percentage of school districts developing technology plans for all the right reasons is very small.  Most of the school leaders with whom I talk will tell me that they have to develop a tech plan so they can "get our money."

Yes, money is important--perhaps even crucial.  However, if this is the main reason for crafting a tech plan, the process is flawed from the beginning.  Granted, some great outcomes may result even from flawed processes, but just imagine how much better results could be!

So, my question to you is:  Do you think there is a need for a technology planning primer?

I have begun recording a series of podcast episodes that go through the technology planning process from start to finish.  I am using all the resources that NCTP (National Center for Technology Planning) has garnered over the years.  But...

if I continue to build it, will you come?

I'm depending upon you to let me know.  What do you think?  And, why?  What pieces would you like me to include in this program?

Leave a comment here, or else shoot me an email.

Encouragement: A Planning Vitamin


Encouragement!How often do you feel like you're just paddling in still water?  Using up loads of energy, but not getting anything for it?  Have you ever seen one of those little mechanical horses out in front of a discount store?  Children  can pop in a coin, then climb aboard the horse and ride, ride, ride while music plays.  But, no matter how long they ride the horse, when the time runs out, they're still in the same place as when they started.  They've ridden a long time, but made no progress.Do you ever feel like that?I do.So, what's the antidote?Recently, I was feeling a bit unproductive--and the more I thought about it, the more unproductive I became.  I felt myself slipping into a feeling of depression, actually.  I wanted to shake it all off and move forward, but somehow, I just couldn't jump free of the grasp that feeling had upon me.  The clock kept ticking, but I wasn't making progress.  Then, it happened.My cell phone rang.  The caller was a dear friend, Kristi Brown, who was calling just to see how things were going.  After we had our usual "hello" exchanges, she immediately began telling me how proud of me she is, because she knows I am accomplishing so much.  What on earth was she thinking?  She couldn't have known that I needed that call.  Yet, there she was, encouraging me and telling me the exact things I needed to hear so I could realize how much I was capable of accomplishing.Encouragement!  That was the precise vitamin I needed.  And, it didn't take her but just a couple of minutes.  However, it made all the difference in my day.Before the call was even over, I had risen from my chair and had begun organizing some materials on which I had needed to be working.When we hung up our phones, I was like a windstorm.  I believe I accomplished more that day than I had the entire previous week!  What made the difference?For me, it was someone else taking a few moments of their time and giving me a positive word.  She was telling me, perhaps in different words, that she believed in me and knew I was capable of making a significant, positive difference in the world.  She told me of ways I have meant a great deal to her.  She reminded me of impact I have had upon others' lives.  I didn't even have to tell her that I was in a "funk," because there was neither time nor need for that.Her actions turned my day around.  Kristi's simple act moved me from apathy to activism -- from complacency to achievement.Think of the other people on your team.  Are they achieving at the levels you wish?  At levels they wish?  Are they tired?  Or, are they losing focus of the project?  Are they becoming distracted?  Is their participation waning?  Perhaps, they are still working hard and seem to be productive team members, but they just need a little boost from someone else who can help them understand that their efforts are valued and are of great benefit to the team momentum.You need to give someone that little push -- that little "lift" -- that can make all the difference.Now, what can we learn from this?I encourage you -- right now!  Actually, I encourage you to think of someone who means a great deal to you, then contact that person and thank them for what they mean in your life.  Send them the gift of encouragement.  You don't have to wait in long lines, run up charges on your credit card, or worry about the color of the gift wrap.  Just contact someone today.  Share with that friend your personal gift of encouragement.See what a difference it makes in not only the life of the other person, but also in yours!I encourage you to take action!Let me know what happens.  OK?[...]

Teacher as Coach


Outside the education realm, there is a great deal of activity emerging around the notion of "coaching."

We see evidence of life coaches, career coaches, business coaches, etc.

So, doesn't it seem to you that a career teacher is a natural candidate to serve as a coach?

Would you hire a life coach?

If so, why? If not, why not?

Have you served as a coach to others?

If so, what did you do? If not, why not?

As I study the nature of these new coaches, I am pleased to hear that the structure of life coaching, etc., is including many of the concepts that we discuss as classroom teachers. So, the bridge to this new career seems open and clear.

I just heard one coach say that "vision affects the way we move forward." Then, the coach went on to explain the difference between vision and eyesight. Following that, the coach described how, as a person develops the ability to be visionary, one's life improves. Things become clearer. Problems are avoided more easily. Many excellent concepts followed during this discussion to which I was privy.

So, what do you think? Do you want to create passive income? Do you want to extend your service to others? Maybe you are tired of "trading your time for money" (a REALLY weak idea!!) and would like to use your life to provide more value to society.

What about a teacher as a coach?

Let me hear from you.

21st Century Learning: Who's on First?


Okay, friends....  Here's your chance to speak up.

With all the "hoopla" about 21st Century Learning in schools around the world, many of you are working hard to ensure that students gain essential skills that allow them to be competitive in a global economy.

So, among all the skills listed as essential by the various organizations, which skill do you think is most important?

Please leave your feedback here.  I believe your opinion will "seed" the thinking of other readers...and create an inspiring dialogue.

Be sure to comment, then come back and read others' thoughts.

Where's the accountability?


This past week, I led a full-day seminar on technology auditing (seminar title: Technology Audits Made Easy (TAME)) for several school districts.  As introductory information, I displayed charts that showed Federal funding levels for educational technology for the past 5-6 years.  

Then, I showed similar charts for Federal funds that came to their State.

Naturally, they were amazed.  

But, my question to them was, "Yes, but what do you know about how these funds are being used?"

As you might suspect, nobody had answers.  

The reality?  Accountability for ed tech funds going to schools in the US is, for all practical purposes, nonexistent! 

Does that fact bother you?  Does it cause you to remember that all these federal funds going to schools are actually YOUR money??

Just to emphasize the point, ponder this:

Federal $$ for EETT & E-Rate 2002-2006 = $14,021,625,084.93
Average per year = $2,804,325,016.99

This means that U.S. schools have received, on average, almost $3 Billion each year since 2002, yet we have almost no attention paid to accountability.  Amazing!

  • What were these funds used for?  
  • Who received the money?  
  • What is the ROI (Return on Investment) for our tax dollars that have been provided to support and promote educational technologies? 
  • Who is keeping track of these data?  
  • Where are the records?  
  • Is there any guarantee that current success with the money will yield future investments? 
  • Was the distribution of these funds reasonably equal?

So, what do you  think?

Am I overreacting?  Or, am I simply making the point for all of us who want to ensure that our tax dollars are being used properly?

I know this is only one aspect of accountability, but it is one!

Leave your comments here.  What do you think?

Ed Tech 2008


(image) Yesterday, I had the privilege of being a featured speaker at Ed Tech 2008 in Ashland, VA.  The conference was held at Randolph-Mason College and was co-sponsored by the Virginia Commonwealth Public Broadcasting.

Several hundred eager educators attended this conference that is now in its 21st year.  What a terrific group of people these are -- and so imaginative, creative, and willing to strive for perfection in their classrooms.

My presentation was one of four in a series specifically for administrators.  The overall topic was "21st Century Learning."  Dr. Sara Armstrong led off in the first session by educating all of us about the various models of 21st Century Skills proposed by the: Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Metiri Group; and ISTE NETS•S (International Society for Technology in Education National Education Technology Standards • Students).

Following Dr. Armstrong, a collection of grass-roots educators at ITRTs (Instructional Technology Resource Teachers) from the Goochland, Powhatan, and Henrico County districts showed us working solutions from their schools.  This was an amazing presentation, delivered by fantastic young educators.  I was immensely impressed!

Following lunch and the conference keynote by Dr. Armstrong, I delivered my 50-minute session, 21st Century Learning: Practical, Proven Strategies for Implementation, as requested by conference organizers.  The time just FLEW!  Before I knew it, it was time to wrap up.  Attendees gave excellent suggestions and examples of implementing technologies to enhance these skills.

Now, my hope is that they will allow me to return next year in 2009!

What Makes You Plan?


WHY do you plan?

We surely do hear a lot about planning, don't we?  But, is all this planning talk just something we do to occupy our time?  Or, is planning really a worthwhile experience?

What positive benefits come from planning?

So, I'm wanting to hear from you.  Send your comments and thoughts.

Just why do you plan?

What makes you plan?  Is it an internal drive to improve?  Is it a desire to make things better than they once were?  Or, do you have a specific goal in mind, and planning is the tool that will get you there?  What is it that really drives you to engage in planning?

So, imagine this.  A person walks into your office and you pull out your tech plan.  You give it to the person and say, "Here's my technology plan.  It will show you what I want to accomplish."

The person responds with a one word question that reverberates in your mind:


What do you say?

Leave your comments here.  I really, really want to know what you think!

Leader 2.0? Is it real or Memorex?


In scouring several magazines and journals related to educational technology recently, I have been struck by the fact that our U.S. schools may be beginning to have some leaders who truly "get it." Do you find this to be true, as well? (Your comments are solicited.)

So, I have been wondering....are the "legacy" leaders fading away, succumbing to attrition brought on by encroaching age? Or, are those organizational leaders (superintendents, principals, tech directors) who were in place when schools began using technologies just moving on to other areas where their tradition-bound approaches to learning aren't so obvious?

Mind you, I am not intending to issue a blanket condemnation for all administrators who were in place 20 years ago. I am merely wondering if our current school leaders received preparation that enabled them to see the advantages of employing technologies wisely for student achievement and institutional advancement.

We hear talk of Web 2.0—and most of those who advance this concept speak of the myriad ways that student learning can become so much more exciting when these new technology capabilities are leveraged. We are told that Web 2.0 tools make learning more authentic, interactive, and engaging.

Is it possible to imagine school leaders who are the same? Authentic, interactive, and engaging leaders? Given that we understand what is meant by the phrase, "Web 2.0," how can we characterize a leader who has advanced as far beyond the traditional mold as the web technologies have?

How would a "Leader 2.0" look? What would be the characteristics? How would you promote this level of leadership as being more effective than the prior model?

Further, what advice would you give to Ed Leadership departments in universities where the new breed of school leaders is being developed?

What do you think?

Let me hear from you.

Are iTunes and iPods evil???


Recently, I conducted a brief survey of technology coordinators and leaders in 3 states. My purpose was to ask them these questions:

1. Do you block iTunes in your school? (followed by, if so, why not?)

2. Do you allow students to bring iPods to school?

There were a couple more related questions, but the main focus of the survey was to determine to what extent iTunes and iPods are a part of the planned school learning environment.

I'll bet you can predict the responses.

So....what do you think they said? Let me hear from you. You can either shoot me an audio file (MP3 would be great), a voice mail or fax to my hotline number (206/984-3136) or email me.

After you send me some feedback, I will respond with the results. I am open to suggestions from you on how I can expand this survey to more states and/or countries, as well.

Until next safe!

Catching up


I know it has been quite a while since I last entered something on this blog. However, most of my activity has occurred on the blog page for my popular podcast, Think Like A Leader.

So, to catch up on what's happening with the podcast, come on over to and join the fun.

Plus, if you have suggestions for:

  • future programs;
  • how to make the podcast better;
  • guests I should interview,

then, please let me know. You can email me, leave messages on the Think Like A Leader hotline (206-984-3136), or just prepare an audio file and send it to me as an MP3. Perhaps, I can use some of the content you provide.

Regardless, just know that I'm still alive and kicking...and striving to provide the very best information on technology planning, leadership, and comprehensive improvement that can be found anywhere. With you as my team partner, we just can't lose, can we?

Think Like A Leader podcast


(image) I am very excited to have created and posted a new podcast, Think Like A Leader, yesterday. The first episode is merely a quick overview of what is coming in the future, but it was a fun experience to create the podcast and to be using a new process/procedure (new to me, at least).

In the past, I have created podcasts using Podcast Maker™ or GarageBand (a fabulous portion of Apple's iLife suite), then posting these to my .mac account. However, with the able and gracious assistance of Ted Lai (creator of the award winning podcast, SoCal Hockey) in Orange County, CA, I used the Libsyn service.

Here's the process I used (at least an extremely basic explanation):
1. Record and edit project in GarageBand
2. Save audio as .m4a from GarageBand
3. Upload .m4a to Libsyn
4. "Tweak" the Libsyn blog page just a bit
5. Submit podcast to iTunes Music Store

So, I encourage you to check out the podcast, then send me your ideas, suggestions, or other comments. Then, if you like what you hear and/or think you have something to contribute, please consider subscribing to the podcast. Also, feel free to recommend the podcast to others.

I know that Think Like A Leader will get much better in the forthcoming episodes, so just enjoy the ride with me and let's grow as leaders together!

Listening to Mississippi's first realtor podcast?


My last posting was about the brand new podcast here in North Mississippi for realtors. I've had some interest expressed in this, since most of our work with podcasting occurs in schools. So, here's my question:

Would you like to listen to this first podcast episode?

If so, let me hear from you. Leave comments here or email me.

Podcasting for real estate


Today was a good day. I was so pumped to get to have a meeting with Norma Cother, the managing broker for Crye-Leike Realty here in Tupelo, MS. My purpose for meeting with her? Podcasting!

I had the very strong feeling that Norma, a terrific lady and absolutely outstanding realtor, needed to be the very first realtor in Tupelo (or North Mississippi, for that matter) to have her own podcast.

Norma admitted that she had never heard of podcasting. However, just as soon as I started telling her about it, she "got it." She was immediately on board and ready to put the first episode together.

So, we'll be issuing the first podcast by early next week. This represents a victory, not just for having another convert to podcasting, but also for seeing podcasting becoming another powerful marketing and information tool in the real estate realm. Norma will be "tuning in" to other podcasts, just so she can get some more ideas for how her podcast will increase in value. No doubt, she will be a quite successful podcaster.

Ahhh, the feel of sweet success!

(image) [Note: For those of you who may not know, Tupelo, MS is the birthplace of Elvis Presley — so that fact will make Norma's podcast even more appealing. There is so much history in this town, yet it is blessed with a thriving business community. Elvis would have been proud!]

MECA 2006 Conference Wrap-up


Well, I didn't get any more postings completed as the conference went along, so this will be just a brief wrap-up of the sessions and experiences we had at the MS Educational Computing Association (MECA) annual conference in Jackson, MS.

For me, the main focus of the conference was participation by the Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) and how they provided such stellar leadership in sessions and workshops. Actually, I was the only ADE from Mississippi who participated in this year's conference, because ADE Kameron Ball from Mississippi had a very sick baby and was unable to attend.

Dr. Carl Owens led multiple hands-on workshops dealing with the new iLife '06 suite of applications that Apple had released only a couple of weeks ago. And, the new additions are just fantastic. It was particularly fun for me to see the faces of workshop participants and hear their voices as they were coming out of the hands-on lab. Such excitement! Carl always has a bag of his newest "techno-toys," too, and that's a highlight for the Mississippi educators--who have come to expect such things from Carl. They think he is so cool!

Anthony Robinson gave great workshops, too, including one on digital storytelling that was particularly well-received. Too, he led a session about his recent experiences as a Fulbright Scholar, spending six weeks in the Czech Republic. Besides giving workshops and sessions alone, he helped other ADEs during their workshops and sessions.

Julene Reed was my very special sidekick in the sessions we led. Perhaps you have read, already, about the phenomenal success we had in our hands-on workshop, Podcasting: From Start to Finish in 90 Minutes, that we gave on Monday night from 8:00-9:30 (even though the participants didn't leave the room until after 10:30!!!!). She and I presented two other sessions: Podcasting and Podcatching for the Absolute Beginner, followed by Podcasting Studio Construction Kit: Soup to Nuts. Both sessions were very well attended.

Although Mississippi had been hit extremely hard by Hurricane Katrina and many schools are barely functioning currently, the conference attendance was up by more than 100 people this year! That is a tremendous attribution to the resilience of Mississippi educators who are determined to stand together and make this a positive experience. Even in the midst of the tear-jerking reports from the MS Gulf Coast schools, there was laughter and applause that roared still louder. I am so proud to be a Mississippian, particularly at such a time as this!

Now, why don't you make plans to attend the MECA Conference next year? It's scheduled for January 31-February 2, 2007 in Jackson, MS. Y'all come...ya hear?

MS Educational Computing Assn Conference, Entry #2


Second day at the conference site, yet today was preconference day. The actual conference doesn't kick off until tomorrow, Tuesday. Activities in which we engaged today included getting the hands-on labs ready for the workshops that began in the evening.

Tonight's first workshop, "iLife '06," was led by Dr. Carl Owens (Apple Distinguished Educator and Professor of Teacher Education and Director of the Instructional Resources Center at Tennessee Tech University). As usual, Dr. Owens did a fabulous job showing attendees the new features of iLife. He gave them a thorough understanding of how to leverage the power of iLife to maximize their teaching. The workshop ran from 6:15 - 7:45 PM.

Then came the really exciting workshop!

From 8:00 - 9:30 PM, ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) Julene Reed, from Memphis, TN, and I conducted a hands-on workshop titled Podcasting: From Start to Finish in 90 Minutes! What a fabulous time we all had with approximately 20 brave souls who, even though they had had a full day already, came in to learn how to make their own podcasts in such a short time!

We had the most outstanding group of educators who, no matter what the obstacle, would not give up. Each on of them teamed up with another workshop participant, then the two of them used GarageBand (from iLife '06) to create their first podcast. The great news is that all teams finished on time and then we played all the new podcasts for the entire group. Applause rang out across the amphitheater as they celebrated their newfound success.

I am so thrilled for these friends. I wish I could let you hear their first efforts, but I'll have to get their permission first. So, stay tuned.

Mississippi Educational Computing Association (MECA) Conference


Today (actually, it was yesterday, since it's already past midnight here), I drove just over 3 hours to get to Jackson, MS, where the annual MS Educational Computing Association (MECA) Conference will be held this week. The actual conference doesn't begin until Tuesday; however, I joined with several Apple employees and a group of Apple Distinguished Educators this afternoon so we could unpack and install a lab full of Macintosh Powerbooks and iBooks to be used in hands-on sessions at the conference.

The Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) who came early to help set up are Dr. Carl Owens, Professor of Educational Technology from Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, TN, and Anthony Robinson, Technology Director for the Putnam County (TN) School District. Both Carl and Anthony have come to the MECA Conference for six sequential years and we are thrilled to have them back this year. Joining us tomorrow will be another ADE, Julene Reed, Director of Academic Technologies at St. George's Independent Schools in Collierville, TN -- a suburb of Memphis.

Thanks to the Apple team: Adair, Jennifer, Gary, Neill, and Linda for helping to make this the most exciting MECA Conference ever!

Also, thanks to one very special "outsider" who showed up, rather unexpectedly, to offer help. That outsider was my oldest brother, James "Andy" Anderson, from Crystal Lake, IL. But, he was actually in Jackson during the MECA Conference, so he came on over to help. There is some question as to how much help he really was, but ... oh well, I suppose it was pretty good to have him there, after all. Truly, all members of the team enjoyed Andy and expressed their appreciation for his arduous labors. Nobody thanked him, though, for his nearly-endless stream of lame jokes! :-)


After an afternoon of hard work to get the lab set up for tomorrow, we all went out for some good ole' Mississippi Bar-B-Q at a very popular restaurant, Red, Hot, 'n Blue. Man, that was some really good eatin'

I hope you will listen to my audioblog posted tonight, as well. All comments and/or questions are welcome!



#1 Tech Planning Tip


(image) What is your top tech planning tip?

OK, you've just been hired as a consultant for a school that is struggling to develop their new technology plan. To get them started on the right track, you must respond to the following question that they have just asked you:

"What is the #1 most important thing we must include in our technology plan?"

So, as you have read many tech plans and/or you have worked on your own, you must have thought about that singular element that was of most value.

Perhaps it's a clear vision statement. Or, maybe it's a concise executive summary. Maybe it's merely a well-organized, clearly laid-out planning document. Perhaps it is the inclusion of graphics within the document that tell your story in graphical style.

It might be a reminder of something you tried. Or, maybe it's just a great tip that you can offer your client, the school district. Regardless, the question has been asked, so...

Now, it's your turn. Reach down into your bag of tips and pull out the one that is #1 for you.

(I have my own ideas, but I shall wait until several of you contribute yours. Let's learn together!)

Duration of a tech plan


This morning, I had an email from a school leader who had a very important question.

She asked, "What should be the duration of our technology plan? I have heard people say that your plan should cover 5 years, and others have told me that 3 years is a better time. What do you think?" This is certainly an excellent question.

Several years ago, when technology planning was a relatively new concept, a planning cycle of 5 years seemed appropriate. However, with the rapid changes occurring in the world of technologies -- and with the dramatic changes being placed upon teachers -- it seems that we should consider 3 years a good and reasonable "long range" term.

Three years may even be too long for your school or organization. Perhaps there is a better strategy to use.

Some schools have begun using what I call a "rolling plan." That is, they are making their plans cover three years, yet they evaluate their existing plans each year -- and they extend the ending point of their plan. In other words, the planning committee might create a tech plan for the three year period of 2005-2007, then at the end of the first year, they enter an phase of evaluating their technology plan. When they emerge, they have created another three year plan, this one dated 2006-2008. It's not a new plan, necessarily. Rather, it's a sharpening and improving of the previous plan.

This process results in a climate of constant improvement. Of course, constant challenges will be your partner, too, but that is just the nature of life in a high-octane environment. Can you even imagine life in a stagnant cesspool where things are always the same?? No way!

So, what do you think? What is the best duration for a technology plan? Three years? Five years? One year? Ten? Twenty?

Let us hear from you. Do it now!

Podcasting, anyone?


Isn't this whole notion of podcasting amazing?

Can you remember, as I do, when podcasting was a term that made others turn their head in a funny way or wrinkle their brow when they heard the term? And, just think about it -- that was only a year ago!

However, podcasts are growing in number each day, perhaps each hour. Podcatching clients and "podcast maker" software are blooming like a rich bed of spring flowers. So....

What do you think of all this podcasting phenomenon?
Are you a regular listener -- or as a creator?
What are your favorite topics?
What promise do you believe this podcasting thing holds for student learning?
What are the downfalls, the negatives, the shortcomings?

As the quantity of podcasts rises, so does the pool of mediocre podcasts. Some of them are engaging, but some of them (particularly by educators) are just plain BORING!

What are your thoughts on podcasting? Send them in.

And, by the way, we will continue this discussion in future weeks, focusing upon certain aspects of podcasts (ex: leadership, personal development, student learning). What podcasts do you recommend, and why?

Let me hear from you!