Thank You

In 2007, I guess I did a decent enough job at giving thanks publicly for all of the amazing things I have to be grateful for. And while last year I sadly dropped the ball, I hope to pick it up again now and take it a few steps further toward the end zone.

First, I'm breathlessly thankful for the amazing ride its been for me in this past year. I'm thankful for my current job and thankful for the experiences I've been privileged to have. Remember, it was only about a year ago that I was being pulled on-stage with Alan November, taking my turn at inspirational quotes, and sharing the Educator's Guide to the Creative Commons - at the top of my game (?) as a Curriculum Technology Specialist in the Jordan School District. Since then, my district was split and I've shifted gears slightly. It's been an amazing ride, no doubt about it.

Next, I'd like to publicly thank the following people for doing what they do so well:

  • My beautiful wife and supportive family. Without them, I'd still be nothing.
  • The fine folks I used to work with in the Jordan School District. While I've seen much good come about from the split, I miss the friendships we had built up over the years. I hope we can do more in the future to strengthen those relationships.
  • The fine folks, supportive administration, and amazing team that I work with now. Building a district from the ground up is an incredible experience I wouldn't recommend to anyone. :)
  • The helpful faculty at Utah State University that continue to push me forward with my dissertation. It is coming along, slowly but surely.
  • Chris Craft, Jeff Utecht, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Robin Ellis, David Jakes, David Warlick, Sue Waters, Steve Hargadon, Doug Johnson, Kevin Honeycutt, Dean Shareski, Joyce Valenza, Chris Lehmann, and Will Richardson - for doing me a solid last July by helping to give my Ed Tech team one of the most spectacular introductions to their positions that I could ever imagine. I did a horrible job in thanking you then, but want you to know how much I appreciate your efforts. The audio for some of our conversations is available below.
Finally, I hope I never sound ungrateful for the good health I often take for granted, the freedoms I enjoy by living where I live, and the opportunities I'm afforded by playing the game in such remarkable times.

- - - - - -

The following audio clips result from an introductory "retreat" that we held the week of July 13, 2009, for the then-newly-hired Ed Tech team in the Canyons School District. While each of the conversations was directed to my staff in particular (via Skype), there is a wide range of interesting ideas shared by each of individuals. Sorry I haven't had time to clean them up more, but work with me here people: this is good stuff. Topics include the benefits of networked learning, techniques useful in motivating teachers to change, and other helpful selections of advice.

The Perfect Copyright Policy

Because of our background with media and technology, Jethro Jones and I have been asked to participate on the committee charged with creating a copyright policy distinct to the Canyons School District. Rest assured, this will be no insignificant task. My eyes go blurry just thinking about it.

Ironically, the ID tag given to the Copyright Compliance policy nails the overall experience perfectly:

If I could wave my magic wand, I'd create a policy that didn't require a full eight hours just to read it. That alone would likely translate into more teachers and students being willing to follow it.

What do you think? Does your school or district have the perfect copyright policy? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Those Content To Lurk

I've added a comment to my recent post about online participation (or lack thereof) that deserves a little focus time on the stage:

Upon thinking further about this topic, I've decided to add a few important words to my second category of educator. Originally it read:

2. Those content to lurk but still hesitant to contribute.

I've edited it to read:

2. Those content to lurk but still hesitant (or unable, for whatever reason) to contribute.

The fact of the matter is that there exist a very large number of effective educators that are simply not able to contribute in any significantly recurrent amount to online discussion. All told, it's not that they're incapable of participating and it's not that they're unwilling. Rather, this group maintains perceived silence online because their professional priorities prohibit them from spending the time or energy required to provide plausible contribution.

As I think Jared was suggesting in his comment, this population includes some teachers. Likewise, I think that school/district administrators and other members of the school community should be included. Furthermore, any inference that the offline contributions of these professionals are insignificant is simply unjustified and honestly inappropriate.
Now think carefully about this:
  • Do you think there is legitimate justification for a lack of participation in the important discussions that occur online (or are some conversations simply too important)?

Image source: Flickr user horizontal.integration. No clue what this picture has to do with lurking, but it sure made me smile :-)

Smart Rooms

Dave Weinberger was right: The smartest person in the room, IS the room.

Librarians: The Three Types I Still See

One week later, and I'll admit: I'm concerned.

Scott McCleod has posted a list of ten incredibly important and equally complex questions about books, libraries, librarians, and schools.

Doug Johnson has begun to react to Scott's questions, by stepping back as a (very good) librarian himself and challenging his peers to step up to the plate. we respond to folks like Scott says a lot about us. Can we explain our values and mission and realities without sounding defensive, self-serving or reactionary? Read the responses to Scott's post, put on your classroom teacher, principal, or parent hat and evaluate!
With such a provocative challenge and important list of questions, wouldn't you think that every librarian would want to respond? Unfortunately from where I sit, however, I still see three kinds of librarians (and teachers, for that matter - the same we've seen now, for years):
  1. Those that read and participate in the online think-tank we call social media.
  2. Those content to lurk but still hesitant (or unable, for whatever reason) to contribute.


  3. Those still stuck in the analog paradigm.
Sadly, the "professionals" behind door number 3 have likely yet to see the questions posed by Scott - and probably never will - unless some caring person prints the list out for them and tapes it next to the library copy machine, feigning violation of some abstruse portion of copyright law.

Roland Barth has said it best:
The problem of all educational institutions isn't that they are no longer what they once were. The problem is that they are precisely what they once were, while the world around them is changing in revolutionary ways.
Is it ever too late to change? Sometimes I wonder. More importantly, I continue to wonder what we can do to help current educators break out of their molds and into this century.


Image source: Flickr user Lester Public Library.

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