I partner with organizations in helping to understand the changing nature of learning by working together in long-term, embedded professional development that prepares us all for our future, not our past.


Jeff Utecht


I hear it all too often from teachers, administrators, and school board members.

“Who’s training the parents?”

Well….we are!

It’s true that if we’re going to change the culture of what we expect schools to look like and be like we have to help parents understand the changing nature of education as well. Along with that, we have to help parents understand this generation. They are a great generation for sure, however as I tell parents….nobody has raised a fully online, fully connected, fully mobile generation before….lucky you!

This generation is different we look at them and their devices and we don’t get it. Why can’t they go outside and play like we use to do? Why are more and more of them not getting their driver’s license? Why don’t they go to a friends house instead of texting all the time?

These are just some of the questions and issues that usually come up in parent training sessions. They are all legitimate concerns and great questions to be asking.

As part of our work (Eduro that is) Kim Cofino and Chrissy Hellyer have put together a 6 course parenting certificate program for parents who want to learn and understand the connected digital lives of teens today. These courses are not about taking devices away, or answering the way to open-ended question “how much time should my child be on a device?”. No, these courses are about understanding this generation of connected teens and appreciating the world they are growing up in and trying to understand it and the pressures they are under within it just a little better.


Kim and Chrissy interviewed parents and teenagers for the course. Throughout the different courses, you get to hear parents and teens talk about how they are handling this new world of parenting. A world where you are having to parent in both a physical space and a digital space. The physical space is much easier as we can see kids actions, we can talk to them. However, their digital spaces are hidden, or not so hidden, and we need to be talking about and parenting those spaces as well.

Parents can take just one course if they would like or they could take all 6 and get a Parenting in a Digital Age Certificate from Eduro for completing all 6 courses. The classes come with a private Facebook group for parents to share their stories, talk about how they are handling things with their own children, or ask for help and advice. It’s a community to support each other as we help children today navigate a world that no other teenager before them has ever had to do. Their world is not what our world was when we were their age. This is a new landscape for both parents and teens.

The six courses are:


As Kim and Chrissy were creating the courses they also started to pull together resources and ideas for a book. They created a Top 5 Concerns for Digital Parents E-book that you can purchase on the Eduro website or get free when you purchase all six courses. It’s a great quick read that parents can take and use in helping to understand this generation just a little bit better.

We’re so excited to be launching these courses and e-book and with the holiday season upon us wanted to offer readers of The Thinking Stick and parents a discount for the courses. If you purchase a course between now and January 1st, 2017 you can save 15% off your purchase with the promotional code: TTSparents

We hope these courses help and please do give us feedback on them so we can continue to make the better and relevant to parents today.

As I start my second full year working with Auburn School District educators in what they call their Auburn Teacher Leadership Academy 2.0 (ATLA), it’s aways great to hear that long-term professional development really works.

For context, I meet with the ATLA group 5 times throughout the school year. Each training builds upon the one before giving depth to the professional development you just can’t get at a conference or one-day PD session.

This is where my focus with school districts is right now. If we’re going to make actual lasting change in schools with these powerful connected tools, then we need to make sure we have professional development plans in place that help teachers learn how to use them in truly meaningful ways.  –Jeff Utecht

The following is reposted with permission from Auburn School District.

Last year when I received my Chromebook at ATLA (Auburn Teacher Leadership Academy 2.0), I didn’t see how it would benefit me as a band teacher. After all, band is about having students blow air through instruments, not typing up a summary about a music history assignment on a glorified typewriter. But after graduating from ATLA, I realized that there had to be ways to use technology to support my students that I didn’t realize.

auburnbandYesterday was our first day of Chromebooks in the band room and I was blown away. I realized that the little laptops give all of my kids instant access to digital keyboards. After a brief survey, less than 5% of my students could name the notes on a piano. Now 100% of my students can.

That simple lesson is going to lead into much more complex musical theory discussions in ways that we could never have had before. In this way, the Chromebooks took us beyond supplementing what we were doing because it wasn’t feasible to provide access to pianos for all my students.

Now the Chromebooks offer us a quick and portable way to do so. And the software! Instead of just presenting information to students, they get to practice! Repetition is a key to student growth. Today I am out of the building and my students’ Do Now is to practice naming piano notes for 50 repetitions!

Currently, we are in the process of buying Flat, a simple to use music notation program that will allow our students to become composers. I’m excited by the cross-curricular benefits my students will enjoy as they try to divide 6 quarter notes by dotted 8th notes.

Before easy-to-use student notation software, kids didn’t get the instant feedback when they tried to incorrectly assemble measures of music. Now, not only will they be practicing math, but they will be able to connect the songs from their cultural backgrounds to their instruments at the same time!

bandchromebookI know that students have to play their instruments to improve, but the Chromebooks are helping me fill in the gaps of basic music education in an interactive way that they weren’t getting before.

Yesterday at the end of class a student came up to me and put his hand out as if we’d never met before. When we shook hands he said, “Thank you.”

However, my evaluation goes this year is immaterial. For this kid, I just passed it.

On behalf of my students I’d just like to thank Auburn for giving us what we didn’t know we needed.

Orlyn Carney
Music Teacher
Olympic Middle School
Auburn School District
Auburn, WA

I’m excited to be partnering with Becky Berg, Superintendent of Marysville School District #25 (MSD25) and Scott Beebe, MSD25’s, Chief Technology Officer, as we are submitting a case study proposal to South by Southwest EDU conference (SXSWedu).

I have wrote occasionally here about the work the Eduro Learning team and I are doing in partnership with Marysville as they roll out over 5000 Chromebooks to students 6-12 in their district. I use the term “rollout” loosely, as what Becky, Scott and the Board decided to do was not so much a rollout as a leapfrog. In the video below, created and produced in partnership with a Marysville student, you hear Becky talk about what the technology was like in the district before they passed their tech levy in 2014.

What the Marysville School Board and the leadership understood was that “rolling out” devices over a long period of time will not help their students tomorrow. If we wanted to help them tomorrow, we needed them to have the devices today. So they “leapfrogged”, skipping the laptop/Chromebook in carts phase, skipping trying to figure out what is the most equal way of getting devices in the hands of kids, and they just did it. Here is a quick rundown of their timeline (though Scott has made a way cooler one here).

  • February 2014: The community of Marysville passes the Tech Levy and infrastructure work begins
  • February 2015: Working WiFi is deployed in all schools for the first time
  • May 2015: Every teacher receives a new laptop. The district makes the jump from desktops to laptops for educators
  • May 2015: Rollout a 3 year, 12 full-day training program for teachers partnering with Eduro Learning
  • November 2015: Deploy over 5000 Chromebooks to every 6-12 student
  • August 2015 – June 2019: A total of 180 training days equalling 1260 hours of training for roughly 480 educators

In under two years, MSD leapfrogged their existing education model to something completely new and different. I have worked with many schools both here in the US and overseas and have never seen a school district commit to changing the teaching and learning landscape as quickly and as fully supported as Marysville has. At SXSWedu, I want Becky and Scott to be able to share their district’s story of how they did it, bringing the community along with them, supporting teachers and most importantly doing right by students.

As for my part….Marysville chose Eduro Learning from a host of Professional Development partners to oversee the teacher training commitment that they made to their community, students and teachers. Why did they choose use? You’ll have to come to SXSW to find out. 🙂

Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas
Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas

One thing we believe at Eduro Learning is that there is no need to hide what we are doing. If anyone else can learn from us and it helps students, then part of being a teacher is helping others. That is why all our materials that we use in our trainings can be found here, on our PD site. Through the trainings you will see how we balance helping teachers understand and use the technology tools that are now in the hands of every student, and the pedagogical shift that needs to take place to change the teaching and learning culture of a school district.

Kim Cofino and Chrissy Hellyer, both career educators, are our curriculum writers, not just for the teacher training but the six administrator trainings that administrators will go through in this process as well. The entire Eduro Team runs the trainings face to face and supports teachers from afar in between the face to face trainings. If we expect teachers to teach in a blended classroom, then we must give them the opportunity to learn in one as well. So we created a blended learning system that allows for learning to take place between the face to face sessions. A truly blended  PD experience as we change the teaching and learning culture within the district.

Has it been smooth? Nope….and that’s what makes it exciting. It’s education after all and we’re trying to build the airplane as we fly it! You can’t pause education, the kids keep showing up as we work through the transition. The Board continues to support the teachers’ efforts by creating a Social Media Policy, one of the first in the State of Washington, and by coming to some of the trainings themselves to show their support for their teachers. I cannot tell you how fantastic it is to work with a Board and Leadership team that understands this is a journey, not a destination we’re trying to get to.

The work continues into this year of course, as we continue to build understanding with teachers, change paradigms within the community and most importantly support students in preparing them for their future not our past. I felt the need to write about this, not only because I think it is important work, work that needs to be shared so others can benefit, but this is also the information that doesn’t fit on the SXSWedu application.

Please help us by taking a few minutes (SXSW doesn’t make it easy…you do need to register an account) and vote for our Case Study session at SXSW so that we can share the Marysville Story with an even larger audience. Thank You!


A new survey released from ADP looks at what millennials (age 18-35) and right behind them “Generation Z” (for lack of a better name at the moment), want from their job and employers. Quartz had a nice write up of the research and I was drawn to this both in the report and in the write up.

“[T]he need for meaning has certainly evolved over the years,” the ADP researchers wrote. “Today, the younger generation of Millennials places more of an emphasis on a search for meaning within their jobs than previous generations, who tended to look for meaning outside of work.” -Quartz

So this generation is searching for meaning in their work. When work is school you are searching for meaning in your school work. We call this student-led, or student ownership, or a host of other names I’m sure you’ve heard in eduspeak. But what we really need to understand is that for this generation in our schools today they want work to be meaningful….to them….not to us the teachers.

How do we help them do meaningful work? Work that shows their passion, their love and something they want to do? Each generation is different from the one before, yet we treat the new generation like our generation…because that’s what we know. Today we have more research on this generation than ever before and all that research says the same thing. They are an amazing generation that if given meaningful tasks will work hard for you. If the tasks are not meaningful, if they don’t feel they have control over their own time and space, then they shut down (more from the above research).


I was thinking about this as I subbed in for the tech teacher at my wife’s school. The lesson plan called for them to explore a couple of data websites on their own. I watched 4th graders struggle without knowing what to click on or where to go. They go to websites all the time but without meaning, why go at all. So we came up with meaning. For a few kids they were interested in Antarctica, a few others their favorite sports player. All of a sudden we were looking and navigating data websites in a meaningful way….meaningful to them.

Employers are having troubles keeping Millennials happy in the workplace (that’s really what this article is about) and Gen Z is coming right behind them. Engaging this generation is not just an education problem. It’s a problem that everyone is facing when we treat the next generation like our generation instead of understanding that they are different. Not better or worse, just different…..and that’s a good thing!

Over the next few months on the Eduro Learning blog I’m going to write a series of blog posts about Hiring, Onboarding, and Retaining the Millennial educator. Based on talking with pre-service teachers in Whitworth University’s Masters in Teaching program and my own research and presentation I gave to the Washington State Personnel Association on the same topic. Please join in with your thoughts as I explore the idea of what this generation is all about.


I haven’t made much time to blog this semester…..OK….this year. But what a year it has been!

I am currently writing this sitting at Rialto Beach on the coast of Washington. One of our favorite ‘get off the grid’ places to go. We hike in about a mile, no Internet, no cell service. Just the waves, nature and prana.

It’s here that I find time to finally sit and reflect on this year’s journey into amazing new educational adventures with more on the way.

Eduro: Marysville School District

eduro logo 800x300I wrote last year about the 5 year contract we signed with Marysville School District and the work the team and I would be doing there. The first year has been simply amazing. From August when we started training 150ish teachers in Cohort 1, to deploying over 8000 Chromebooks to students 6-12 grade in October and November. Then “Doing the Work” to start changing teaching practice to understand how to make the most of this new tool and connected classrooms…it’s been tough but exciting.

Last week at a training that Kim and I were facilitating for Cohort 2 (the next 150 teachers) a math teacher said to me, “I’ve started using Google Forms and ‘Flipping’ my class, but other than that I’m not doing much.”

Let’s see, you made a transition from a PC to Mac operating system, you are learning and are continuing to learn the power of Google Apps for Education. You also have started to change lessons, units and overall pedagogical approaches you use in the classroom. Yeah…..I think you’re doing plenty for a 7 month roll out.

So often as teachers, we don’t take time to step back and reflect on the journey we have come on in a year with our students and with ourselves. The changes are so small at the time that we don’t often see that they add up to something much larger. If this is where we are at in 7 months. I can’t wait to see where we are in 2018 and beyond.

Cohort 1 is on training 7 of 12. Cohort 2 is on training 5 of 12 and Cohort 3 starts their training the end of June. Soon we will be changing learning for students from 3-12 grade across a district. Impacting the learning of roughly 11,000 students. What an honor!

COETAIL: Another Cohort in the Books!


Who would have thought a program started in 2009 to help the teachers at one school (International School Bangkok) would 7 years later have over 1000 educators going through this learning journey……not us.

A couple weeks ago our 6th online COETAIL Cohort completed their 18 month learning journey with some amazing final projects. You can view them here (link to blog) or follow COETAIL on Facebook or Twitter as we release them once a week over the summer.

The program continues to get rave reviews from educators who complete it. Full disclosure our dropout rate is roughly 15%. This is not just some courses that you do to learn. This is a community you join to truly reflect on your teaching practice and make the most of the technology you have available to you in your classroom. Our instructors and coaches (COETAIL graduates who want to continue supporting the community) are what make this program work. The program continues to focus on being reflective in our practice while learning together to better ourselves as educators. A simple approach with an amazing impact. Our next Online Cohort starts in September. If you want to be a part of this amazing community of dedicated, learning focused educators please join us.

Learning2: Expanding Globally


It’s been a big year for Learning2. Our 8th successful Asia conference was incredible in Manila this past October. Then off to South Africa for our 2nd Learning2 Africa conference. Then it was on to our first ever Learning2 Europe in Milan, Italy where Stephen Riech and Carrie Zimmer helped to pull off an incredible start to Learning2 in Europe. This conference does not have a big keynote speaker but rather teachers doing “Learn2Talks” or 5 minute inspirational talks on their ideas, passions and thoughts. Follow Learning2 on Facebook and Twitter to get a weekly talk sent to you, or subscribe to the Learning2 YouTube channel to get all the Learn2Talks past, present and future.

Next year not only can you find us in Asia (Saigon) in Europe (Warsaw) but we expand to South America (Quito) in October. With flights from the US being around $800 I hope to see some American teachers expanding their PLNs and making connections in South America this coming school year.

Personal Consulting: Enumclaw School District

Doing the work in Enumclaw #esdimagine
Doing the work in Enumclaw #esdimagine

This past year I had the honor to lead the Connected Classroom Teacher (CCT) in Enumclaw on their learning journey to 1:1. This group of 15 teachers not only did the work. They did it in a humbling fashion. Taking failures (First Attempt In Learning) in stride, learning not only a new OS (Chromebooks) but also thinking differently about teaching and learning in a connected classroom. Chris Beals, IT Director in Enumclaw and myself put together a case study of our work and partnership together here. The work continues with three more CCT Cohorts this coming year. Work once again that I am honored to be apart of. There is nothing like a 6am drive towards Mt. Rainer on a clear morning to remind you to be humble and be present.

Personal Consulting: Auburn School District

As Auburn School District prepares for their 1:1 rollout they have put together ATLA Cohorts (Auburn Teacher Leaders Academy). Cohorts of teachers to go through a series of trainings to think about teaching and learning in a 1:1 environment. Our work continues next year with a new group of ALTA teachers.

Auburn SD this year also launched #techconnect a one day conference for their teachers to come together and share their learning, their classroom practice and have conversations around teaching and learning with devices. I was honored to be this year’s keynote and look forward to continuing our work over the next year.

Keynote: Washington State School Directors Association

A true highlight and memorable moment of this past school year was being asked to be a keynote speaker at the Washington State Schools Directors’ Association (WSSDA) Conference. To be asked to keyonte, inspire and push the school board directors’ in the state that I was educated in, love and call home was simply an honor.

Selfie with students after Keynote
Selfie with students after Keynote

I have now had the pleasure of working with over 25 school districts in my own state and was able to bring my knowledge of what I’m seeing, hearing and thinking about to those ultimately responsible for leading the change in our schools. It was great to be able to talk about the above mentioned school districts, to highlight the great work I have seen being done on behalf of students across the state and at the same time to push for a future of schools within Washington State that will prepare students here for a future that is continually evolving.

Whatever I said must have hit home as I will be keynoting this year’s conference as well. This time in the town where I grew up Spokane, WA.

Then there were the countless other experiences. Keynoting the WCTSMA student conference in Kennewick, WA. The State of Education address to parents and community in Enumclaw. The work with Everett School District’s Leadership Team over the past year in preparation for their Tech Levy passing, which it did, this April, and starting our work together to bring 22,000 students and 1,100 teachers into a 1:1 teaching and learning environment.

It has been an incredible year. Full of learning, of meeting new people, and most importantly helping schools help students prepare for their future not our past.

If learning something new was easy everyone would do it.

One of the reasons I love working with school districts and teachers over a long term basis is that you get to really dig in and do the work.

I have started many presentations over the past year with this:

“Raise your hand if you were ever taught in your pre-service program what learning looked like in a 1:1 environment?”

“Raise your hand if you were ever taught classroom management strategies in a 1:1 environment?”

“Raise your hand if in your Master’s degree you learned teaching and learning strategies for a 1:1 environment?”

“Raise your hand if the curriculum you have to teach from was created for a 1:1 teaching and learning environment?”

In the past year I’ve asked these questions to hundreds of educators. The only question that ever sees a hand go up is the Master’s degree and even then we’re talking 1 or 2 in a staff of 300+.

Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas
Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas

Here’s the thing….once your school or district decides to go 1:1 everything changes. The curriculum in a moments notice needs upgrading. Your classroom management changes, and what we can do, know that we need to do, and how learning happens all changes. It changes in ways that most educators were never taught to teach in.

These are the reasons long-term focused PD sessions need to be implemented once a school decides to go 1:1. No one-off conference or one-off PD day is going to be able to address the deep pedagogical shifts that happen once every student has access to the Internet the moment they want to learn something. It changes everything.

School leaders need to understand that investing in this type of long-term, pedagogically focused PD is the difference between devices becoming replacement for paper and pencil and becoming something transformational in the classroom.

It’s not a teacher’s fault that they don’t know how things change, because chances are they were never taught to be prepared for this change. So for better or worse we have to “go back to school” and learn how to adapt our teaching methods, ideas, and understandings to a new connected classroom where we have leveled the content knowledge playing field.

We have to “do the work” to be OK with this and to become learners again ourselves. To open our minds and understand we’re not saying any one is a bad teacher-there isn’t judgement. We’re saying we changed the landscape on you and with that comes a new way to approach learning.

Schools need to understand when they decide to go 1:1 they must make sure to invest pedagogically in their teachers as well. Not PD focused on devices and software but focused on new ways of learning and understanding what the 4 C’s really mean in today’s connected world.

onthelogI sit here….on a piece of driftwood wondering where this log came from. For sure somewhere here off the Washington coast…I think.

For two days this will be my thinking spot. The spot where there is no connection. No cell service, no Internet. There is my wife, myself, these waves and this fallen tree.

I look to my right and see our bald eagle friend who obviously has a nest near by. He/she has been a beautiful site to watch over these two days. Yesterday morning it flew by us so close you could hear the wind between its wings. It turned its head towards us, checking us out, then keeps on its way looking for breakfast. Today it sits on a rock island, every once in awhile taking flight to soar in the wind and find a new high perch to take in this breathtaking view.

When we talk about the power of disconnecting, this is always what comes to mind. This idea of getting outside our day to day routines, sitting back and enjoying nature, our surroundings and allowing our mind just to….be.

beachreadingMy wife uses this time to read. The backlog in her Kindle dwindling by the moment. I use this time to write. We both take this time to reflect on life, on ourselves, on us.

Disconnecting is so important. Often I hear teachers say “These kids today are always connected.” and it’s true…we’re ALL always connected.

Recently at an admin training day I asked roughly 80 administrators to put down all their devices, close their laptops, turn their phones upside down. Then move their chairs back from the tables and put their hands in their laps. The room was tense and we lasted 42 seconds before someone peeked at their phone.

You’re not going to disconnect when you have devices that can and will connect. It’s not an age thing, it’s a society thing. We talk about needing kids today, all of us today, to disconnect. What are we doing in schools to help kids, our teachers, and families understand this? It’s hard to disconnect. Finding a place that is “off the grid” is difficult today, not impossible but difficult.

It is important to connect to nature, to our loved ones and most importantly to ourselves. We need to make sure we’re helping kids today understand that.

That’s all I have….now back to watching my bald eagle friend do what it does best. Just being what it is.

I always look forward to Google’s I/O conference to see where the future of technology and innovation is headed and today, once again, didn’t disappoint.

This was the 10th I/O conference for Google. This is where Google shares what it’s working on so developers know where the platform is headed… and what they see as the future of technology.

daydreamsetThe theme of this year’s conference could not have been more clear. Artificial Intelligence (AI) was definitely the theme of this year’s conference. Whether it was their new device Google Home, their new apps Allo and Duo or their new Virtual Reality (VR) device, the future belongs to AI and machine learning.

Machine Learning, or where machines teach themselves, to me, has the greatest impact on education. The idea that a student could soon be sitting at home and simply ask their Google Home device “How do I solve this problem?” and instead of the device giving the answer, it talks the student through how to solve the problem. It will ask the student questions, respond to those questions and actually teach the student. Now….yes….this is what parents do (and should do) and I’m not saying I want students talking to computers all the time. But it does open up some interesting possibilities for the future.

As usual, it’s the stats that get me really thinking about how we in education will continue to evolve.

300 million people were online when Google was founded.

3 Billion people are connected via mobile today.

Think about these numbers.
When you think that roughly half the world’s population is connected via a mobile device, you can’t help but think what that means for education on a global scale.

Or, what that means for your students and their ability to connect with people from…well….anywhere. What are we doing in schools and classrooms to better understand that we need to be on mobile devices? Really grasping that these devices are where people spend the majority of their time.

Over 20% of Google search queries in the US are done by voice.
Over 50% of all search queries are done on mobile devices (both stats from this year’s keynote).

Take one second and ask yourself, how does this change your classroom?

Now, figure this layer: Google states that they translate over 100 languages and over a billion words a day. Many world language teachers are still frustrated with this technology. Is it perfect?

No. But it’s getting better…every day….and every time you use it.
It’s not going away. And it has forever changed languages globally.

So, how do we embrace this new technology and make it part of our teaching? Where do we use it? When do we allow students to practice with it? When do we discuss where it’s useful and when it fails?


What a great quote from today’s Keynote:

What if we can achieve a lot more in education with technology assisting us than we previously thought possible?
What if it changes the way learning happens? What if we had to rethink teaching and learning because these technologies exist today?

We need to understand in education that the world is adopting and adapting to these new realities. How are we doing? Are we taking time to step back and think bigger than this assignment or that activity to truly consider what is happening in our phones today?

We might not like it, but we live in our phones. Not just us…everyone! Students, parents, our community at large, everyone lives in their phones. Once we accept that, then we start to harness these devices to:

  • Remind students about upcoming school work and events
  • Engage parents in students lives
  • Inform parents about what is happening in the classroom
  • Engage and inform our communities about the work that educators are doing

If we are not in their phones, they aren’t hearing us.

Often I have conversations with schools about their new website and the thousands of dollars they spend in making it easy for people to navigate through it.

What I rarely see is a school website that truly engages people in the conversation of education, that connects the school community in social conversations that lead to deep links back to the website.

People don’t “go to websites”…they go to web pages…that they click on from a social update. If your website does not include social, you are not engaging your community and, in fact, I would argue, you are disconnected from it.

In the end, what today’s announcements meant are nothing more than we continue to march forward into an unknown future and breaking barriers faster than we ever thought we would.

In our lifetime we’ll see electric cars, self-driving cars, and even flying cars become mainstream. Things that were only seen on the Jetsons years ago. That is what we’ll see in our future.

But what about our students? What will they see?

  • The only phone they know is a smartphone.
  • The only car they will drive will drive itself.
  • And the only jobs that will be available are ones where people are working with computers or machines in harmony.

Their world only gets more connected from here.

And we need to prepare them for that future.

Not our past.

This post is cross-posted on the Eduro Learning Blog

“We have a choice, They don’t”

I’m stealing this quote directly from Ben Sheridan. Not sure if he’s the one that came up with it however that’s who I heard say it so he gets the credit.

flickr photo by Zach Frailey (Uprooted Photographer) https://flickr.com/photos/zrfraileyphotography/15712427278 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
flickr photo by Zach Frailey (Uprooted Photographer)  shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

It’s a good way to frame and point out where we are in these generation gaps. We (those of use over the age of 34) have a choice of how much of this new technology we want to adopt. Well, some choice. Nobody asked me if I wanted a chipped Credit Card.

But in the grand scheme of how we live our lives, we get to chose how much of this new connected world we want to be a part of. In almost every session I do there is at least one if not three or four teachers who either do not have a cell phone or have a non-smart phone and are completely happy with their lives. That’s great. There is nothing wrong with how you want to live your life. You are an adult that knew a different way before technology became part of what it means to live and work today. You get to chose.

Here’s the thing….a student today in our schools doesn’t get a choice. They don’t get to chose. There are very few trades that will exist by the time they hit the workforce that will not require some technology skill. There is not one university today that does not expect a student to know how to use a laptop and at a minimum know how to access work online and turn in assignments online. That’s the minimum expectation.

See in their lives…their future, not having a cell phone is not a choice. It’s the only phone that will exist. Cars will drive themselves, things will be shipped to your door in under 24 hours and all your bills will be paid online using your phone.

“They’re just so connected”

Yes they are! And so are you! Do not put the connected world we find ourselves in on this generation. If you have a cell phone, if you use that cell phone as an alarm clock, then the first thing you touch in the morning and the last thing you touch before going to bed is a connected device. You are just as connected as they are. The only difference is you remember a non-connected world. They don’t.

flickr photo by francisco_osorio https://flickr.com/photos/francisco_osorio/8424402083 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
flickr photo by francisco_osorio  shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Recently I had a teacher tell me how happy her students were to read a book. A real, paper book. They enjoyed being able to focus on reading without notifications going off on their screen, or that feeling of being distracted because you have a connection. Of course they enjoyed it….the same reason I enjoy camping at the beach with my wife with no internet connection. We enjoy being disconnected. So where are you having that experience in your classroom as well? The experience of being hyper connected and the experience of being disconnected and, here’s the important part, talking about the different “feelings” we have in those two places.

There’s a reason why the new Kindle Paperwhites are still selling. Who would buy a device that only allowed you to read? Why would you do that? Why do people buy a device that in today’s world doesn’t do 100 other things? Who would buy a device that allows you to “just read a book.”

Not only do I want students to read hyper connected text and content, I also want them to read disconnected content in books as well. But more than that, I want every teacher to have a reflective session with students on WHY we need both. On when do you use one over the other? This is the conversation we need to be having with students.