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


After reading David Warlick’s post: Innovation Learning for a Flat World, I got to thinking about the games that our students play on a daily basis and how right David and Bill MacKenty were about the language that these short-cuts use. So, I went out to the internet and in less than five minutes I found a short-cut to a very well know PlayStation2 game.

After you finish one, try a B, A, IB, IA, or S license (1-16) or rally. The ghost racer will be on. If it confuses you, press D-pad Up to toggle it off or on.

When I was working and living in Saudi Arabia I knew a 10 year old boy who was really into PS2 games (Gotta get into the lingo) He would come home from school and sit on the computer for hours looking for the newest short-cuts to his favorite games. After he found them, he would print them off and run upstairs to play the game for hours on end. Once he had mastered the short-cut he would call his buddies and they would all get together showing each other the newest short-cuts for the games they liked.

I like the thought on David’s post about rules in video games being something solid that kids ‘bump up against’ at the same time kids know that if they work hard enough and spend enough time looking for it on the internet they will probably find the short-cut around that rule. To me this sounds like a skill they might learn from their parents. We bump up against rules sometimes, say for example tax rules. As adults what do we do, we look for ways around the rules to make our lives easier. So what skills are these short-cuts teaching our students? That rules where made to be broken? Or that if you put enough time and energy into something, you can overcome the obstacle that is in your way?

Off the top of my head

Reece Lennon Writes in response to my “The Future of a School” article:

Okay, so you gave her a philosophical answer, but what about a practical answer? What should she tell the architects when they are drawing up their plans?

Yes, my answer is philosophical, and as far as the architects are concerned they need to know that we envision a place where information flows freely, or the word we have adopted ‘seamlessly’ from space to space within the media center. We have given the architects our philosophy on how we see our school using this media center. It is there job to create the space that will allow us to use the space in the way we envision it. We (meaning technology teachers and librarians) meet with the architects once a week to go over plan, discuss placement and types of hardware. But our focus reminds on the seamless use of information. That is our vision, to create a space that allows students to flow from books, to technology, to video rooms and back again. Although it is a philosophical answer, it is also a practical answer in what we envision our media center to be. A vision that has been well received by the architects and the consultants our district has hired.

A great new web site called S.O.S. (Situations, Outcomes, Strategies) was launched on Oct. 7. The following summery was taken from an eSchool News article found at this link.

Teachers and library media specialists searching for new and innovative ways to educate their students about effective research practices now have a new online tool at their disposal: S.O.S. (Situations, Outcomes, Strategies) for Information Literacy.
Launched Oct. 7 at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference in Pittsburgh, this Syracuse University program–made public now for the first time–is a free multimedia resource for K-8 teachers and media specialists who want their students to learn more, and become excited, about research.
During their own research for the program, project directors Ruth Small and Marilyn Arnone of the Center for Digital Education at Syracuse University focused in part on how to relieve the anxiety that children often have when beginning research projects.
“We asked how we can teach children in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them, yet still teaches them to evaluate sources or understand search engines,” Small said.
The pair’s research indicated that educators often have a difficult time finding lesson plans and motivational instructional methods that address information literacy skills and that they struggle to find plans relating these skills to classroom assignments and research projects in particular.
Information literacy–the ability to locate, organize, evaluate, manage, and use information–is critical for today’s learners, researchers say. These skills lay the groundwork for success in every student’s life.
The S.O.S. project is “a solution to an age-old problem,” said Julie Walker, executive director of AASL. “We talk a lot about integrating content and skills, whether those skills are information gathering or technology, but many people have a difficult time doing that.”
The project includes an online resource page where educators can view lessons plans, video clips, and other teaching materials submitted by teachers and library media specialists. Curriculum-integrated lesson plans and teaching ideas are linked to real-world examples of solid teaching, most notably focusing on collaborative efforts between classroom teachers and library media specialists, Small said. So far, about 150 educators have contributed at least one lesson plan.

S.O.S. for Information Literacy

I encourage you to take a look at the site. I have already sign up for a free account that allows me access to the 150+ lesson plans, and have found some that I will definitely be using in the coming weeks.

My school is in the process of building a new Media Center. We have held and continue to hold meeting with the architects, planners, consultants, etc to try and create a building for the 21st century.

I have had some great conversations with my Deputy Superintendent over the future of technology. Yesterday she sent an e-mail with the following question.

What will be out there 5 years from now in the world of information technology that we will want our facility to accommodate?

Great question and one I’m glad we are asking. The issue with this question, I believe, is that there is no concrete answer of what technologies will influence education the most 5 years from now. Hardware continues to change, so trying to develop a media center for hardware that doesn’t exists yet is difficult. Sure there will be laptops, tablet PCs, and a variety of other things, but they probably will not look the same, act the same or even run the same programs as computers do today. I feel the best we can do is build an infrastructure that allows flexibility to adapt to changing technologies.

That being said there are some things I feel will be out there 5 years from now that I think we must consider, but none of them are hardware based. The Internet continues to expand exponentially, creating more information then we could possibly consider. What will be here 5 years from now is information. I feel we need to create a space that allows for the flow of information. With the development of web 2.0 and tools likes Blogs and such that are bring the read/write web to life, our focus needs to be on accessing information and information literacy. The hardware will change, the programs that we use to access the information will change, but the growth of information will be constant. It’s difficult to build a new media center without focusing on hardware. Hardware is important after all, it is what we use to access the information. But more importantly we need to look at what tools will students need to access this information. Today we talk about laptops, LCD projectors, SmartBoards, etc. But in 5 years those tools will be replaced by smaller faster, easier to manage machines. Creating a space that is easily adaptable to new technologies is the key.

We also need to look at the formats in which information is being distributed. podcasting, blogs, videocasting, wiki, and ebooks are all fast becoming vehicles of information. So we must look at what tools are needed to allow students the ability to access these types of information, and create spaces where students cannot only access this information, but a place where they can produce it as well.

Our focus needs to remand on the 21st century student. No longer are we the teacher the gatekeeper of information, we need to design a media center that allows the students easy access to the information they want, be it a web page or a podcast, and allow them the right to be an active member in the information age by being able to produce information for a global community.

Just my thoughts!

Have you ever had one of those moments where a thought pops into your head that just makes you laugh? I had one last night over microwave popcorn.

As I stood in front of the microwave waiting for the popcorn to finish I started thinking about kids today growing up with technology and how it’s difficult for older generations to realize just how much technology is a part of their daily lives.
I remember when my dad brought home our first microwave. It had to be 1982 or so. I remember how HUGE of a deal it was, this ‘thing’ was going to change everything. I remember when I was really little making popcorn with an air popper and in 1982 never imagined that the microwave one day would replace the air popper along with many other appliances.

My generation grew up with microwaves; we have evolved with it, learning how to utilize it to make everything from TV dinners to popcorn, to defrosting the nightly dinner. We don’t think about using the microwave, we just do. Why? Because it has been around all our lives, we know how to use it and how to run it without thinking about it.

Computers and the Internet are the same with today’s kids. They won’t know how to live without it because it has always been there. It keeps improving, making life easier to the point, like the microwave, you don’t know how to function without it. Nobody had to show me how to use a microwave, in fact today I can walk up to a microwave and within a minute or so know how to run it. Generations that did not grow up with the microwave, might find this frustrating. Kids and computers today are the same. We don’t need to teach kids about computers, they already know how to use them (something I’m reminded about on a daily basis with my 5th graders) we just need to utilize the tool, like we have the microwave, to use it to its fullest potential.

Just thinking out loud

In a recent article from eschool news talks about Yahoo’s approach to putting copyrighted books online, while at the same time appeasing publishers. Something Google hasn’t been able to do.

My feeling is we are doing something new here,” Mandelbrot said. “We are building a collaborative effort that will make a great deal of copyrighted material available in a way that’s acceptable to the creators. That is novel.

I have been really excited the past couple of days as more and more teachers here about the Blogs we have started here at the school and the upstart of our Moodle site. I have teachers approaching me asking what it is, how they do that, etc. What a great feeling knowing there are teachers at your school who are thirsting for technology. I look forward to the coming weeks when I can sit down with them and really start to look at how best to use these Web 2.0 tools. I’m excited to start working with these teachers on using technology to enhance their programs.

Just got back from a relaxing weekend on the Island of Hainan. Took some time to catch up on some reading that I’ve been meaning to do.

Ian Jukes

“Education at the Crossroads”
“Moving the Educational Debate”
“Beyond Technology to the New Literacy/Shifting Gears Workshop”

Marc Prensky
“Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”
“Do They Really Think Differently”

Carr, David, K. (1996) “Managing the Change Process: A Field Book for Change Agents, Consultants, Tem Leaders, and Reengineering Managers. McGraw-Hill, New York, New York

I did however find myself itching to get back to a computer and catch up on my blog reading. I have made reading Blogs a daily habit and found that when I had some spare time by the pool, I wish I would have had a wireless connection so I could have caught up on that reading as well. Now it’s back to working on preparing students for the 21st century.

My 5th graders have been blogging for about 2 weeks now. As much as I understand and read about this generation of digital kids, they still amaze me. I use the Blogmeister software which has been a great and easy way to manage my student blog entries. Today I came into school to find 34 blog articles waiting for review. That is 34 out of my 130 students who blogged on their own time after school. It’s been fun to watch the students writing improve as they get the hang of exactly what should be written on a blog. What to write, how to write, and when to write. In two weeks time they have learned more about writing to a worldly audience then I have.

I had a teacher come in today and tell me that a parent stopped her in the hallway to say how wonderful the blog has been for her son. He comes home every night and writes the happenings about the school day, or another part of the story that he is working on. The parent loves that she can check her son’s blog, and keeps track of what’s going on in his head. She’s even responded to her son with questions and encouragement. She said that she use to fight with her son about writing during his free time, now he asks if he can.

All we have done is give a digital kid digital tools. Now that he has tools that he knows how to us, and enjoys using writing has become an enjoyable subject.

The great part for me is, this teacher is now really getting into the blogging world, and looking for ways to incorporate the blogs even more into her classroom. I’ve had some great conversations lately with teachers, librarians, other technology teachers about ways they might use blogs.

What I love about the blogs is the teachable moments it has created. Today thanks to David Warlick’s post on 2 Cents Worth. I started the conversations with the 5th graders about being a journalist to a worldly audience. What does that mean and what their responsibilities are as a journalist. I just wish I was able to see my students more then the allotted 45 minutes every 6 days. Technology needs more attention then 45 minutes, but with the pressure that teachers are under these days, 45 minutes is truly all they can spare until the mindset is changed that technology is learning not just another subject.