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.

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Jeff Utecht

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The idea of using game based ideas in the learning environment or gamification continues to gain momentum with teachers…but more importantly with students.

Let’s not mistake “using games in the learning environment” with “gamifying the learning”. They are two different approaches to using technology within the classroom. Gamification is using the ideas that are found in games to motivate students in a fun, competitive and engaging way that speaks to their inner kid. Gamification really seems to be taking off in the later elementary years like 4th and 5th grade and middle school.

Hannah Kingsley in her COETAIL Final Project gives us a great look at gamification in action in a middle school spanish class.

You can visit her blog to get the full details along with links to the software she used and a unit planner outlining the process.

If you want to learn more about Gamification and Game-Based learning, join Robert Appino in his new course Gamification of Education.

Game-Based Learning Overview from Eduro Learning on Vimeo.

The course runs from June 22 – July 31st and is going to be a great way to do some summer professional development while you “level up”.

Photo Credit: flickr photo shared by chrisgj6 under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

COETAIL

Just a quick announcement to let you know that COETAIL Online5 Cohort is now open. Kim Cofino along with Robert Appino and Rebekah Madrid will be leading this cohort.

COETAIL continues to amaze me. As we continue to evolve the program with the changes in technology we also continue to see amazing things happening in classrooms all over the world at the end of the 18 month program.

Check out Reid Wilson’s Final Project video below and the rest of the details on his blog here along with more in-depth interviews with his students.

Some amazing higher-order thinking coming from these fourth graders and just a really great look at true technology integration leading to new and different learning.

If you like that one you’ll love this one from Laura Klecker and the integration and crossover of art and technology.

Just two of the many great projects from the 50+ COETAIL graduate this year.

If you would like to join us for an amazing learning journey starting in September. Head on over to the COETAIL Online5 Cohort blog and register today!

COETAIL

What has becoming somewhat of a tradition….ok…it’s really just my geek side coming out (yes this would imply I have another side….not sure what that is though), I sat down on Thursday last week to watch the Google I/O conference. For years now I have watched the Google I/O conference as well as the Apple’s WWDC (coming June 8th) for no other reason (or so I tell myself) than to fill in teachers at my school what was announced and how it might impact them. When living and working in China and Thailand this meant staying up until 2am or so to watch it live and write an email that would be in every teachers inbox by the next morning. Now living in Seattle it means a cup of coffee, four devices and watching it on my TV.

flickr photo shared by pestoverde under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license
flickr photo shared by pestoverde under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

It also means I no longer work in a school or have teachers to send this to…so you get my thoughts this year. Basically a brain dump of things I’m thinking after watching Google layout the next year and beyond of the future of technology.

Education was at the front of this year’s talk. I say that every year of course because I hear and see things through an educational lens. For example, Google’s new Photos app (Android, iOS) had nothing to do with education…or they just made it even easier for students to take pictures, create movies, stories and share those photos with their classmates and teacher. A common photo app on both Android and iOS devices with unlimited upload and storage space for all the photos and video you want to take. Yes…this can and will impact some classrooms.

“Please take out your phones and record via videos and photos your experiment today please. One person in your group needs to be the recorder for the experiment and I expect to see written notes along with video and image evidence of what happened.”

Google Expeditions

One of the biggest educational announcements was the release of Google Expedition. A virtual reality toolkit for educators being released, I’m going to guess, in time for next school year. Using Google Cardboard and any Smartphone (again both Android and iOS) you turn every classroom into a 3D immersive experience. This is very early stages but if you think 2 or 3 years down the road what this means for classrooms it could be very powerful.

“OK class….please get out your cardboard and we’re going to go live to Martin Luther King Jr. speech today. Group A  you will be viewing it from the back of the crowd. Group B I’ve put you in the middle of the crowd and Group C you are towards the front. I would like your group to experience the speech from these different perspectives and then discuss how your view and angle of the speech impacted you and notice the people around you within Cardboard. How did it impact them?”

What if we can “be there”. Instead of saying “Oh…you had to be there to see it, or to feel it” can we get one step closer of actually being there?

Google Sidestepping Universities

However, the announcement that has me still thinking and still blowing my mind is the announcement Google made about teaming up with Udacity to offer an Android Developer Nanodegree. Udacity has been rolling out these Nanodegrees for awhile now and this latest announcement from Google just adds to what could be a real movement in higher education.

The “NanoDegree” offering a narrow set of skills that can be clearly applied to a job, providing learners with a bite-size chunk of knowledge and an immediate motivation to acquire it. (NYTimes, 2014)

nanodegreesThat motivation being both AT&T and now Google are backing these degrees saying they will consider graduates of these degrees as being qualified for hiring within their companies. So instead of going to University and having to take all those classes you don’t want to take or you know don’t really point you in the direction you want to go, you get a Nanodegree instead. $200 a month for 8 months or so? Basically I get a degree for $1600? That’s a lot less than any public University where I live.

Now I could go on and on about where I think this is going and the future of nanodegrees. What I really want to focus on is what do students need in order to complete one of these degrees?

If we go to the “Prerequisites and Requirements” section for the new Android Developers degree. We see a list of prerequisites including some background knowledge you’ll need in Java and other programs. All of which can be found on Udacity’s website of course. But the one that caught my eye was this one:

Dedication and Mindset

In addition to 1-2 years of prior programming experience and intermediate technical skills, students are expected to demonstrate the following characteristics:

Resourcefulness: Ability to search for and find solutions in documentation, backed by the belief that all problems in code are discoverable;

Grit: Ability to work through challenges and persevere when code breaks and tests fail.

Growth Mindset: Belief that intelligence is NOT a fixed entity, and can be boosted by hard work in the process of learning and practice.

Let’s make these just a bit less techie for a second:

Resourcefulness: Ability to search for and find solutions in documentation, backed by the belief that finding problems is just as important as solving them.

Grit: Ability to work through challenges and persevere when things don’t go as expected and failure is seen as leading to solutions.

Growth Mindset: Belief that intelligence is NOT a fixed entity, and can be boosted by hard work in the process of learning and practice.

Are we making sure that students that graduate from high schools all around the world this month are leaving with this Mindset? I hope so….because this mindset will get you farther in life than any degree no matter how major or nano it might be.

You know how somedays you look through your PLN feeds and you can’t find anything really interesting? That was yesterday for me…but then there was today….

Here’s one….

Google Embeds Engineers as Professors

A great article on how different tech companies are taking different approaches to get minority students at all levels more involved in tech related fields. Google’s approach is interesting….taking some of their engineers and using them as professors…is Google trying to tell us something about the professors that teach these courses? Is what is being taught not what tech companies are looking for?

Maybe…..but then I started reading this article and I can’t help but be frustrated by what is being taught at a university level that should be being taught in elementary through high school.

Let’s start with this:

They taught introductory courses, but they also trained students on everything from how to send a professional email to how to make it through a software engineering job interview, which can involve a lot of time solving coding questions at a white board.

Two questions for you to ponder:

email1. Where are we teaching students to “send a professional email“? Isn’t this a skill that can be taught? Should be taught starting in elementary school? Our society today is an email society….so why is there no where in any school curriculum a place where email writing (for a variety of purposes and audiences) is being taught to students? What does this need to REPLACE in our writing curriculum?

2. Solving questions on a white board and being able to talk through the process with others. Do we have students talk through the process of solving their problems? “Please make sure you show your work” is not the same as “Can you please solve this problem for us and explain what you are doing as you do it…what are you thinking, where might you get stuck…what do you do when you do get stuck?

Two questions I’m asking myself today. Actually the first question I have been asking schools lately. Everyone agrees we should be teaching students to send emails, to write emails for a variety of audiences but I have not found a school that is REPLACING this type of writing in their curriculum. It’s not even replacing the skill really…it’s changing the medium. Write a letter to mom and dad or write an email to mom and dad. In email you don’t indent, in email you have a subject line that is important, you don’t have that on a paper letter.

We need to start REPLACING, changing out medium for the new…or then again maybe not…as they’ll learn how to do this in university….if they happen to go to a school with a professor from Google.

As the school year comes to an end….and I know it’s coming to an end because all my teacher friends are busy monitoring, agonizing and stressed out about the testing happening this time of year….and those are the teachers…wonder what the kids feel like?

To help take minds off of the endless hours watching kids take tests, I thought I would share PD opportunities that I am directly involved with either in creating, organizing or advising on.


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Eduro Learning Summer Institutes

July 2nd – Eduro Learning Summer Institute in Seattle

BellHarborHosted at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, this 1 day institute looks to inspire educators to be creative. Check out this venue! We chose this place because too often we find that educational conference venues are dull and boring and do not spark that innovative, creative feel. Being on the pier on the Seattle waterfront you can not help but feel inspired. Follow Eduro Learning on Twitter and look for promo codes to save some money!

July 6-8 – Eduro Learning Wired with Wine Institute

whitmanhotelA brainchild of mine when my wife and I were wine tasting in Walla Walla a year ago, I just kept thinking that there is no reason why professional development for educators can’t be fun!  This 2+ day institute offering the same strands as the Seattle Institute just allows us to go a whole lot deeper in thinking and creating when we have more time together. Hosted at the historic Marcus Whitman hotel and within walking distance to 70+ tasting rooms this event will be fun on many levels. Check out the schedule and I really hope to see you there!

What’s the difference between a conference and an institute?


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Learning2 Conferences

Registration is now open for the fall Learning2 Conferences. This year Learning2 will be hosted in Manila, Philippines and Jo’Burg, South Africa in the fall and we’ve just announced Milan, Italy a year from now.

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If you have questions about any of these please contact me or leave a comment below.

(Stories from my side of the field parts 123456, 7)

He stands next to the car, keys in hand ready to go as the sun comes up over the Camelback Mountains. As I come out of the trailer my M’s hat on backwards he smiles at me.

“Ready?” I say.

He nods, hands me the keys and we climb into the truck. He doesn’t talk much anymore and the ride from my parent’s trailer in Sun City to the Peoria Sports Complex is a quiet one.

As I drive I’m overwhelmed with emotion. Here we are getting ready to go watch the Mariners practice during Spring Training, something we had dreamed about and talked about for years, and we can’t really share this moment together. Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) has taken most of his speech and executive functioning now.

Unlike alzheimer’s where you lose your memories, FTD affects the front of the brain and the speech pathways. The memories are there, the experiences are there he just can’t express them in any way.

As I continue to drive to the sports complex I keep telling myself he knows what this means even if he can’t express it, show it, or internalize it. That we’re going to watch the Mariners practice during Spring Training together.

Once we get to the sports complex, Starbucks in hand, we walk to the lower practice fields and watch the pitchers take Pitcher Fielding Practice (PFP). As I watch I’m transported back in time to my college days where every day as pitchers we worked on PFPs. So boring, so “stupid”. Pretend to throw a pitch then have the coach roll you a pretend bunted ball down the first base line so you could practice picking it up and throwing to first. The hours I spent doing this are more than I would like to remember. Yet here is Felix, Walker, Paxton and Iwakuma pitchers at the top of their game going through the same motions as millions of kids around America will be doing this year as well. If I thought I spent a lot of time doing PFPs, I wonder how many hours these guys have done?

My dad is quiet, watching them next to me through the fence. I nudge him and point as Felix covers first base and then crouches down like a catcher to receive the throw from the next pitcher in line. Ah…the things you get away with when you are the King. As I watch my dad watch the players, the memories of all those times he crouched down behind a makeshift home plate so I could practice pitching, all the times he helped to set up an old tire in the back yard so I could practice. All the games he watched me play in……

Seager taking ground balls
Seager taking ground balls

We watch for a bit longer and then slowly make our way to the upper practice fields where the team is getting ready to take batting practice. We head to a row of bleachers between the main practice field and a smaller field used only for infield practice and stand on the top row; giving us a perfect view of the team taking batting practice in front of us and the infielders taking ground balls behind us. I can’t help but smile and feel like I’ve found a slice of perfection right here in Peoria. Surrounded by baseball with my dad.

We watch Seager field ground balls on the practice field, I turn and look at my dad and again the emotions overtake me. The hours that he hit me ground balls like that, the patience he had to help me work through bad habits and form good ones. The willingness to do whatever it took to make me the best at this game that I love.

I wrap my arm around his shoulder and give him a squeeze……he looks at me confused and says “What?”

“Nothing” I say as I give him another squeeze, “I’m just glad we get to do this.”

Batting Practice
Batting Practice

He half smiles not fully comprehending the moment I know but I also know the memories are still in there even if he can’t express them or reach them any longer.

“CRACK!”

We both turn around in time to see Nelson Cruz the newest Mariner hit a ball 400+ feet over the left field wall.

“CRACK!”

“WOW!” Dad says….like a little kid seeing his first homerun as another one flies over the fence. We watch as Cruz deposits 3 of the next 5 balls over the fence in left center field.

“He’s going to be fun to watch” I say.

Dad doesn’t respond…not knowing how to and not being able to find the words. I would like nothing more than in this moment to be able to talk about all the players with him, to talk about the way this player prepares to receive ground balls or the way that one has changed his stance over the years, but the conversation has escaped him now so we stand here in silence watching the Mariners take batting practice.

I remember the winter of my senior year of High School right after I was cut from the varsity basketball team and feeling down and out; my dad coming home one day with the wiffle ball pitching machine from the High School. Being a teacher at the school had its privileges. I remember my dad not mentioning, or mentioning very little about me being cut from the basketball team and instead decided that this was a great opportunity to help me prepare and practice for baseball season. My mom being Principal of an elementary school gave us access to a gym on the weekends. Almost every weekend the family would head to Broadway Elementary, set up the machine and take hacks in the gym. Mom and Dad would take turns feeding the machine as us boys rotated through hitting. Once that was done, dad would hit us ground ball after ground ball. The hours that this man has spent teaching me, helping me, showing me this game are countless.

Dad and I Spring Training Game
Dad and I Spring Training Game

As we watch batting practice, I start talking to him as if he didn’t have FTD. It’s a one way conversation as he doesn’t say anything except every once in awhile “There goes another one” as a ball flies over the fence. I talk to him about the players, about the minor leaguers trying to break into the majors and about my predictions for how I think each player will do this year for the Mariners. We stand there on the top row of the bleachers, my arm around him, while he drinks his Starbucks through a straw and we talk baseball.

He might not be able to express it, he probably can’t even comprehend what all of this is and why I’m so excited to be here with him right now. But he’s still my dad, he’s still the man who spent hours teaching me this game and provided every opportunity he could so that I would love and appreciate this game as much as he did.

As another baseball season gets underway today I’m reminded of all the hours my dad spent helping me to understand and appreciate this game….thanks Dad, for everything.

Google Maps has been out for 10 years now. Digital maps…starting with Mapquest has been out since 1996 (technically 1993 but mapquest was the first main stream map most people remember). For those of you keeping track that puts us almost 20 years into the digital mapping word. 20 years we have been using digital maps and yet for some reason digital maps have not replaced (there’s that word again) mapping in our schools.

In 2007…8 years ago now….Apple put a map in our pocket. Fast forward to 2015 and almost everyone has a digital map in their pocket. Pilots now fly with iPads, ship captains now navigate with GPS and digital maps. Truck drivers now drive via digital maps and GPS location. So basically every professional that needs to use maps is using digital maps. I’m not saying we need to stop teaching how to read a paper map…but really…that should be 10% of the mapping work a student does not 99%.

With that in mind here are 10 ways you could use Google Maps in the classroom.

1. Latitude Longitude Scavenger Hunts

gmaplogoYou remember learning about Latitude and Longitude right? Well, in a paper map world it’s a place that is “kind of there” where your two fingers meet. In a digital world it’s a specific location. This allows us to do some fun stuff and learn about Latitude and Longitude at the same time.

What do these three places have in common?

24.007233, 38.210118

31.204263, 121.281686

46.986944,-123.812859

Then maybe you have students go to the opposite hemisphere from where these places are and see what’s there. Is this math looking at x y axis and how we divide our world? Or is this social studies and looking at landmarks? Or is this English and we have the settings of the books we have read? Or is it History and we’re comparing and contrasting battle sites. In a digital mapping world Latitude and Longitude mean more than where your fingers meet…it’s a very exact location.

Google Sightseeing blog: View some of the great images from around the world

2. Earth Picker

earthpickerEarth Picker is a fun and addicting game. If you click on the link kiss the next 30 minutes of your life goodbye. The game reminds me a bit of Carmen Sandiego back in the day. Only in this game you need to be able to “read an image” a new skill that we need to be teaching students as more and more of our information becomes visual. What do you see? What clues can you find? A great little game to start teaching digital mapping skills.

Yes…Google does have a whole site dedicated to using maps in education

3. Smarty Pins

smartypinsSmarty Pins is a great game for educators to use and adapt. I encourage educators to play the game for awhile, yes the questions seem to be American Centric, however what we’re after here is the questions that Google is asking and how the game works. Once you get the hang of it an educator could create their own questions around their own content area. Students could put a pin on the map where they think it is…once the true place is revealed they could get driving directions to see how far they were off….now we bring math into the curriculum and have students add and keep track of their own distances. Think settings of books in English class, battles in history class, or create questions in a world language class and the country practicing language skills. Yes the game is fun….even better is how easy it would be to adapt it to fit your curriculum.

Create your own mapping game

4. My Maps

mymapsMy Maps is simply amazing. So much so that it is used in the next six ways to use Google Maps. My Maps allows you to create maps not just read and use them. All of a sudden we become digital map creators and the possibilities become endless.

5 ways to use My Maps in the classroom

5. Video Tour

mapvideoUsing My Maps students could add markers along a route of say…..Ferdinand Magellan. Students could create videos, or record their voice and actually embed them into a marker for others to learn about what happened at that spot on his travels.

Now….because this is Google…..of course you can share a map just like you can a Google Doc. Now you have 10 students working on 10 different explorers all of them adding their routes and videos to the same map. From there we can start to see patterns of routes, patterns of where explorers were going and what they were trying to do. Now we can start asking questions and as we find answers to them we create videos and add more information back to the world.

Want some training? No problem Google has you covered!

6. Create a map for your community

communitymapsMy Maps isn’t new. In fact I’ve been creating maps for different purposes since about 2007! Here’s a map that I created for friends that came to visit while we lived in Shanghai, China from 2005 – 2008. Are you studying your community? Your country? Your state/province? Why not create a map for others based on your favorite places to eat, visit, play, etc.

See how others are using Google Maps to help their communities

7. Create a route

vpqWe’re talking real skills here! Here’s a route I created when my wife and I visited Croatia last year. We had never been to Croatia before and didn’t know the roads or how long we should expect to drive between our destinations. Using My Maps we were able to create a route from hotel to hotel and get a really close approximation of the driving time we would have each day. So cool and digital maps has now forever changed the way you travel!

Keep up with what Google is doing with maps

8. Measure Distance and Area

googlemapsdistancesIn My Maps you get the ability to draw straight lines to see the distance between two points anywhere in the world. Better yet is the ability to draw out an area. Ever wonder just how big Russia really is? What if you draw an area map around your country and then move that area over Russia. How many of your countries do you think fit in Russia? In China? On the continent of Africa?

Using Google Maps in math class

9. See your World in 3D

googleearthMy Maps allows you to export your map in KML format. Funny….cause Google Earth allows you to import KML files to give you high resolution images of all your information in a 3D space. Expanding the conversation, expanding knowledge about our world…and beyond.

40+ Ways to Use Google Earth and Maps in the classroom

10. Mobile Maps

mymapslogoGoogle Maps is downloadable on every mobile device I know of and My Maps is as well (Android, iOS)! So now you can create maps and use maps on your phone, tablet, watch? No need to have a class set of laptops when every students has a phone in their pocket. Here’s the problem…..this is number 10 and now that we have the ability to make and read maps on a mobile device that has GPS on it…..we just opened up a whole new way to engage with information, create information, and teach students the skills they’ll need for their future in a digital mapping world!

Ideas of how to use My Maps on mobile devices

Maps I found in an antique shop. Yes...paper maps are now considered antiques.
Maps I found in an antique shop. Yes…paper maps are now considered antiques.

Yes…..paper maps days are numbered. Sure they’ll be around for awhile yet but really…that’s for our generations not theirs. They might never touch a paper map…never have to be frustrated with trying to fold it back up, worry about it ripping or whether or not it’s up to date. I know, I know….we loved our paper maps. But it’s time to let them go and embrace a new digital mapping world. For the sake of our students and their future.

Happy Birthday Google Maps….may you continue to lead me around our world!

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There has been a lot going on with my new adventure that is Eduro Learning. Kim Cofino and I, along with 5 others, founded the company last May. The idea behind the company was that there were many conferences, summits, and PD opportunities to learn about technology tools however very few focused on the change in classroom culture that needs to happen or the change in the mindset of educators that needs to happen to truly take advantage of what technology has to offer.

It’s 2015 if you hadn’t noticed, and we’re still in a place where very rarely is technology replacing learning in the classroom in meaningful ways. I believe that’s because “integrate” is the wrong word…the wrong mindset. In 2015 we need to start thinking about replacing

What skills need to be replaced in our curriculum because of technology?

You see replacing is a different mindset. It’s a different way of looking at technology. We don’t have a lesson created already and try and integrate technology into it. No…we need to start replacing the whole lesson with something different because of the technology we have available to us.

We’re not talking about small changes here….we’re talking about shifting the way technology is viewed. Shifting the way technology is used and thought about.

Of course this culture shift needs to be understood by the administration. It needs to be more than we’re giving every student a laptop and move into a deeper question of how do we change the culture of our school?

MSD Logo_Only_MSOfficeI’m excited that we found a school district, an administrative team, and a staff hungry for a new way of looking at learning in 2015 and beyond. Eduro Learning has entered into a five year contract with Marysville School District in Washington State to do just that….to take 450+ educators through a program that changes the culture of the way learning happens (Press Release).

This goes beyond conferences, summits and institutes. Beyond one-off PD days and looks at long term embedded learning. Each educator who teaches 4th – 12th grade in Marysville will spend three years with the Eduro Team. This is the type of long term professional development that truly can change the culture of a school or district. Very few school boards and school leaders are willing to invest this type of money and resources into changing the culture of their school. Even fewer are willing to sell it to their community and make it happen. We’re looking for those type of schools, school boards, school leaders. Ones that truly understand that it’s 2015 and we need to start thinking differently about the tools available to us and look at how society operates with technology today and bring the education of students inline with the way technology is being utilized in our global society.

I have no doubt you’ll be hearing more about this project here and across the web as we get started in May.

Of course not every educator is lucky enough to work at a school district like this, so professional development opportunities in the form of institutes, conferences and summits is still the default way that schools support educator professionally.

Because of that we have been thinking how we take those opportunities and make them the best they possibly can be within the time frame we have.

How do we make institutes social, collaborative and in-depth?

It means moving away from a model of learning a lot of stuff and learning something really well. It’s moving away from 45 minute or 90 minute sit-and-get conference sessions to a full day of in-depth, interactive learning in a single strand.

Eduro Learning is launching four events starting this summer focused on in-depth, interactive professional development.

google-plus-profileSeattle, WA One-Day Institute:

The first thing you’ll notice when you head over to the event page is that you sign up for a strand within the institute. Yes…we make you chose what you want to spend a full day learning about. You do not go to this session or that session….you go to a full day, in-depth, interactive learning session on a given topic. The three strands will interact with each other and overlap their learning as social is a key component of learning for all ages.

Secondly you’ll notice that these are not big events. We’re keeping them at 150 people. Small, focused, intense learning sessions that allow us to differentiate the learning for the participants. When’s the last time you went to a conference or summit that tried to meet your specific needs as a professional learner?

Wired with Wine in Walla Walla Two-Day Institute:

This is my brainchild (OK….I give my wife 51% of the credit) and I’m excited to see if we can make this work. Why can’t educational professional development be fun? Be is beautiful locations and treat educators like adults and provide a little responsible fun with the learning?

The idea here is we spend two days going in-depth in learning while mixing in wine tasting in one of the great wine regions of Washington State. Learning is still the focus however, we’re infusing some fund wine tasting and wine knowledge into the learning experience. What if…for example we talk about how you can use a Google Form to collect data and get instantly results and then use that same approach in a blind wine tasting test to see which wine is viewed best by the participants. Not only do we talk about what you can do, we’ll actually do it…with wine of course. Once again making the institute interactive and learning focused in a fun and….OK….we’ll just stop at a really fun way.

Online Courses:

Of course if you don’t work at a school district likes Marysville or you can’t join us for a face-to-face institute we also offer online courses. These are six week courses that we are continuing to tweak and create moving forward. We have bigger plans of how these courses will all come together in the future to create something a bit different. For now…they are one off courses that you can use for recertification credit or if you are an International Educator (outside the US) you can take for graduate credit from SUNY-Buffalo State. Keep an eye here for more information and more ideas around these classes and learning experiences.

It’s amazing how far Eduro Learning has come in less than a year. What can happen when you bring together people who are passionate about what they do, about education and about providing the best professional development we can for educators. We’re off to a great start….and this is only the beginning.

I was honored to sit down with Bob Greenberg while in New York recently to talk about my views on technology’s role in education. If you are not familiar with Bob’s work. He has been traveling around the world filming thought leaders on their views of education. His Brainwaves Channel on YouTube is worth a bookmark and some time browsing watching and thinking about where we are and we’re we need to head in education.

I am so very honored to be video #114 on the Brainwaves Channel.

Each year I like to try and predict what might be the technology that affects us both in our daily lives as well as education. Predicting the future is fun…if you’re right people think you’re amazing….if you are wrong…nobody really cares. 🙂

 Here’s my other predictions….I’ll let you decide if I’m any good at it.

2007: The Year of the Network (Can we say Twitter and Facebook)

2008: The Year of the “Live Web (Ustream.tv and other services take off)

2009: Bringing Social Learning to the Masses (Education goes deeper in understanding social connections)

2010: The Year of the Mobile Web (iPad, Android, iPhone do I need to say more?)

2011: The Year of the QR Code (These little buggers start showing up everywhere)

2012: Mobile and Integration (Chromebooks, iPads, laptops, tablets, phablets, phones…yeah the list goes on and on)

2013: Opps….forgot (Check out these 10 Innovations in 2013 that improved the world)

2014: Preparing for Wearable (Which leads us to 2015)

 Last year I wrote:

As I wrote a few weeks back, I do think we are in a pause at the moment and 2014 will probably be the last year of it before we start up that next big adoption curve of wearable technology.

Monitoring my heart rate after a workout.
Monitoring my heart rate after a workout.

Yes…the pause is over 2015 is here, wearable is here and becoming mainstream. Between things like Fitbit and watches wearable is only getting better, cheaper and has a real place, I think, in education starting this year.

What I am most interested in, and what I feel has the greatest benefit to education, is the health data that these devices help track for people. That’s where wearable is going to start and what it will disrupt and I think there is some huge benefits to the health curriculum in schools.

A class set of the cheapest fitbit for example would cost roughly $3000 (though I bet schools can do better). What if we were to give these to students to help them better understand their personal health? Think of the data analysis that could be taught in Math class as well analyzing personal data, whole class data, whole grade level data, and whole school data. All of a sudden the “fun run” the PTA puts on has a whole new curriculum meaning to it.

Also there is a social element to health I really want to explore with wearable. We know social plays a key part in motivation. Especially during the middle school years. What kind of effect could we have on student health by connecting classes socially around health? Could a kind of “positive peer pressure” have an effect on both the short term and the long term health of students?

Health and exercise is a personal thing and we know that forming good health habits young leads to good health habits later in life. I learned to take my own heart rate in middle school and think we need to still teach that…..but at the same time a click of my watch (Moto 360) gives me up to the minute stats on my “Heart activity” today. If I’ve been inactive for too long I get a gentle reminder to maybe go for a walk, get up and move around, or my RunKeeper app reminds me I haven’t ran in 3 days. The new water drinking app Drink Well I installed now gives me nudges via my watch to remind me that I need to drink water. Using research that it’s better to drink small amounts of water throughout the day rather than large amounts at one time…can this app help me: sleep better, be more productive, be in better all-around health all because I’m drinking enough water? We’ll see.

googlefitThen there is sleep tracking. The fitbit is great at this (I don’t have one but know many that do) and how can this information help inform students about their lives. High School teachers and counselors are constantly on students to get enough sleep. What if we could track that with kids, show them that yeah…you got 4 hours of sleep last night and now you’re not functioning well in Math class…gee…I wonder why? We help them understand not only the data but themselves and show them the importance of health and the new data we all have available to us.

Health curriculums are already trending in this direction. Moving to health/holistic based approaches and away from being sports and games centered. Not that sports and games are bad…anything that helps us move and be active is great…but the curriculum is already leaning in a way to help students form good healthy habits later in life by exercising and eating right. This technology I feel has real potential to take health curriculum to a new level.

I’m running an experiment of my own around this. For Christmas my good friend’s 11 year old daughter got her first cell phone (not saying who bought it for her but it could have been me). When she opened it her eyes went wide and she started jumping up and down on the chair…. “I feel I need to go outside and scream!”. I spent some time with her setting up her new phone and one of the things I had her download was the Google Fit app as well as RunKeeper. Her mom, my wife and I all use it to track our own running. So we set her up with an account and become her “friend” within the app. Everytime we run she’s notified that we have completed a run. Everytime she runs we’re notified of it. She can give us likes and comments and we can do the same for her. Even though we don’t live in the same city we can encourage each other in running and being healthy. RunKeeper syncs with Google Fit and Google Fit also will track her steps when walking and I showed her how she can add other activities. Although “recess” isn’t an activity within Google Fit that you can add we talked about what activities might best mirror what she does during recess. I wish there was a way to share your Google Fit stats and make that social…there isn’t (that I know of) at this time so we’ll see if she continues to use it and adds her activities to it. Of course she’s 11 and what she really wants to do is download all the games she wants to play on her new phone. Which is fine…that’s part of the process but I’m really hoping in my secret experiment that she starts to see being healthy is something we do as adults and how the technology can help us help each other.

So PE/Health teachers….if you have room in your budget this coming year for these little devices I really think there is something here to explore….and if you do….please let me know about it. I’m really interested to see if these wearable devices can help to change/enhance the health curriculum in our schools.