The Lack of iPad and Android at #ASCD12

March 25, 2012 Leave a comment

iPad has been with us for two years, and some great Android tablets have been around for at least half that time. Over a hundred million people are using these devices to interact with others, consume content, create and share understandings. They are everywhere at the conference – I’m sure there are hundreds, if not a thousand, tablets in teachers hands at #ASCD12. Yet when you look through the session book, they are near-completely absent.

I’m not trying to rag on the organizers of ASCD12 in any way – In fact I think they’ve done a fabulous job as usual. ASCD is my favourite conference, and I’ve been to many many others (I’m including my own conference, a ~400 delegate science conference). I’m really just making an observation of the sessions that were proposed.

This lack of tablets saddens me, because I’ve seen first hand how radically different they are than using desktops, laptops, or netbooks in the classroom. I’ve taught in the extremes – with a whiteboard marker and a textbook as my main resources, and a science class in a computer lab with web2.0 and social media heavily embedded. Technology (albeit, not on its own), opens so many doors. I’ve been a tech leader in my district for 3 years. This past year I’ve spent my time supporting students and teachers with iPads more than anything else. I confidently say, no other piece of technology in the past few years – no website, no computer, no cell phone – has caused as much genuine excitement and tangible positive influence on learning and teaching.

I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know if anyone can be an expert teacher with a device that has only existed for a few years, but I’ve watched students speak words no one knew they had. I’ve seen kids write stories that touch the heart. And I’ve read e-mails from teachers who work late into the evening that simply couldn’t get motivated in the past. The iPad isn’t the answer. But it is the catalyst. And I just want to meet like-minded people who are way out on the edge with me on this one.

If you’re out there at #ascd12 and around on Monday, I’d love to hear your story

I’m presenting on the topic of iPads and student diversity at 8am in room 204c Monday Morning at #ASCD12. Stop in or come by after if you have an experience to share – I want to hear it.


In The Pursuit of Appyness

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been over a year since I’ve been a regular blogger. You see, 12 months ago to the day the world had its first glimpse at the iPad 2. Ever since then it has been a huge focus of mine. So much so, I’ve barely stopped to reflect (read: blog).

I’ve been in hundreds of classrooms over the last few years, working with thousands of students. I honestly believe that mobile technology such as the iPad (and the ecosystem that surrounds it) is the most engaging, most personalized and simplest way for students to interact with the curriculum as far as technology goes. Students are excited. Teachers are excited. I’m excited!

The strength of the iPad lies in the apps. At the same time, an all-too-common desire to have the longest, greatest and most updated app list frustrates me. The goal sometimes becomes to have an app for everything. And you know what, there almost is. But pursuing this ever-growing app list down to the nitty gritty of every single learner outcome isn’t the answer. Well, at least I don’t think it is.

An efficient carpenter may have hundreds of tools, but if you’re cabinet-maker, chances are there are 3 or 4 that you couldn’t live with out. I think our learners (and teachers) can be much more efficient if they focus on learning a few broad strokes. Have a dozen or so apps that provide what you need. Leave the other 597 apps that you own (my current app count on my iPad 2) in the cloud.

There are at least a dozen different video editing apps that I’ve seen teachers use or have heard teachers spout off to each other. Some are awful. Others are great. But, one is enough. iMove, for example, could keep you busy with no less than a dozen different activities. I don’t mean to suggest that you should only ever use one app in a category. What I do want to suggest is that, once you find an app that works, focus on some of the great activities you can do with that one app.

When I started a small decking company almost 10 years ago I kept buying up tools. I had 5 different drills, 3 different nailers, dozens of accessories, a few hundred feet in extension chords, and at least half a dozen saws. I was rookie. The last deck I built required just 1 drill, 1 saw, a tape and a level. The deck was beautiful.

You don’t need every great app that is out there. You don’t even need 1% of them. Take the time with your students to explore what can be done with just a few great apps, and they will build wonderful things.

Categories: Uncategorized

ToonDoo Tutorial

April 8, 2011 1 comment

I receive a lot of feedback on my article on comic strip creation, so I thought I would go the next step and provide a basic tutorial for creating cartoons. Please feel free to use, modify, edit, whatever. But, if you make a million dollars off of this, you owe me half ;).

If it is useful to you, please let me know. It’s always nice to know people appreciate the work.

Here is the ToonDoo Tutorial, titled: Getting Started with ToonDoo

ASCD Presentation Handout

March 26, 2011 Leave a comment

The following link will give you access to the handout for our session “Written Conversations Develop Minds for the Future”. The hand it covers the ‘how to’ portion of our presentation.

Handout EspejoGerndt

Categories: Uncategorized

Thank You, Facebook

March 26, 2011 Leave a comment


This post is related to the presentation I will be giving at the ASCD Annual Conference in San Francisco. If you’d like to come out, it will be on Saturday March 26 at 5:15 pm in room 113.

By the seventeenth century, the printing press was common throughout Europe, and, “was the core technology that gave rise to the Age of Enlightenment” (Jeff Chase, 2001). Academics and experts alike could share their knowledge and understanding with millions of people.

Late in the nineteenth century, fountain pens were mass produced. Suddenly, everyone could begin writing with ease. But, the audience would be small, isolated to a small group of people at best.

By the late 1990’s, internet became relatively common. Select individuals, with the know how, could create a website within a few days, maybe weeks. But, at this time, most people with internet access were simply consuming the information.

But don’t let anyone tell you that the biggest difference between today and 25 years ago is that students can access and consume the information of the world. While this is partially true, I believe that the most important distinction is that todays student is creating the information. With social media, everyone can be, and is, an important author.

How important? Glad you asked! The picture below is one of thousands of images, blogs and tweets from protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Average people, connected to the rest of the world through their cell phone cameras and blogs, have made waves by sharing information and rhetoric of the happenings in their countries. The revolution in Tunisia is largely credited to Tunisian use of social media such as blogging, Facebook and youtube to get their message out and gardner support of the world.

Social media was used to gain the support of the world in Egypt and Tunisia

So the question isn’t ‘Should we be allowing our students to use social media?’ The question should be, “How do we get our students to use social media effectively, so they can be change agents too?”

Categories: Presentation Tags: ,

How Social Media Can Develop 21st Century Skills

March 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Saturday from 5:15 pm – 6:15 pm, Moscone Centre, Room 113

Bring Your Laptops!

In a few more than 24 hours, I will be presenting at the 2011 ASCD Annual Conference with my colleague, Susana Gerndt. The title of the session is “Written Conversations Develop Minds for the Future”, with reference to Howard Gardner‘s recent work. The session might have been called “How Social Media Can Develop 21st Century Skills”. The session description we submitted a year ago doesn’t do justice the importance of technology and social media in modern learning environments, but, the session will. Here is a taste of our introduction:

Looking specifically at the meaning of the word social and then the meaning of the word media allows us to come up with our own understanding of what social media is and can be in our classrooms.  Social media can be cordial, gracious, informative, popular and neighborly. It is created by people for people. Individuals become active participants in a communal understanding that is not limited to their own thoughts, or the thoughts of a select few individual ‘experts’. Individuals are linked to the understandings of the world.  Social media is therefore the information of the community.  Would you rather leverage one person or dozens, hundreds, thousands, even millions of people?  Social media engages students because it gives them a platform to leverage many individuals as opposed to just the teacher.

If all works out, we will run a backchannel using twitter hashtags #ascd11 and #1437 (session number). Tweets will be aggregated on todays meet, here:  So, if you plan to come (and we hope you do), bring your mobile device!

Top Things To Look For In A Conference

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

As you have experienced yourself it always seems that when it gets busy, it gets really busy. January/February has been (and will be) incredibly busy for me. Part of what I’m doing has had me thinking about educational conferences, and what I like in a conference. Here is an incomplete list, feel free to help me finish it off in the comments thread.

  1. Expert Keynote Speakers – There should always be a speaker/series of speakers that are experts in their field and engaging speakers – this is a given.
  2. Choice – I like conferences that have multiple sessions at any given time with accurate descriptions so I can choose what works for me.
  3. Variety in Format – small group workshops with expert help, large group lectures where you sit and get, and everything in between.


%d bloggers like this: