Buzzword BINGO – SxSWedu 2014

Hi to all my Austin friends…sorry to be missing this year’s event.

It’s March, and that means time for the fastest growing (and arguably hippest) education conference in the United States – SxSWedu in Austin. More people, more presentations, more great  opportunities for learning.

If you are just jumping into the world of edtech, use this BINGO card to ensure an introduction to the latest trends.

If you are well-versed on the intersection of education and technology, keep an eye out for these buzzwords and challenge startups and presenters to go deeper than a marketing pitch.


ISTE buzzword bingo 2013

It’s time for ISTE again, one of the world’s largest edtech conferences – this year in San Antonio, TX. With 4 days worth of events and tens of thousands of participants, it can be difficult to figure out what sessions to attend. If this is your indoctrination into the world of edtech, try playing ISTE BINGO to exposure yourself to a range of current pedagogical philosophies. If you are an ISTE veteran, shoot to cover the entire card over the course of the conference.

For the ultimate win, try and find a vendor with a tagline that scores a BINGO! There will be at least one on the floor:

iste buzzword bingo 2013

A tough transition…

I spend a good deal of time planning for transitions, as both a parent and educator. So when I recently received an unexpected opportunity to work on a long-term educational project with global impact, I started the arduous task of planning a graceful mid-year exit from the classroom.

I cleaned up all my curriculum maps. I documented my daily routines. I re-organized all of my server files. I shared permissions for all of my Google Apps for Edu data. I made screencasts of all iPad management processes. I worked with administrators to hire and train a middle school technology integration coordinator and a lower school technology specialist. I practiced my conversations with students prior to the announcement.

I thought I was in good shape until my last day of school. My final sessions with kids were tinged with sadness. Students asked all sorts of thoughtful questions about my future plans – ranging from when I would visit to my dog’s ability to accompany me to work at Google.

What I was completely unprepared for was students, faculty and administration leveraging the tools & skills we’d been exploring to give me a send off. I received a heart-warming and beautifully composed email from a student who had a history of mis-using the communication medium to make others feel bad. I received digital cards, digital collages, video goodbyes, HTML formatted farewell cards, and even a digitally sketched portrait. Students used a variety of digital media to capture the last day, including a high-5 tunnelled super send off!

Thank you card
Thank you card from the Development & Communications Manager. The message is Photoshopped onto a blank sign.

html thank you card
HTML thank you card from Mr. B. Yes the < p > tag is unclosed, but it will validate in HTML5.

Finally, as the recent collaboration (below) with a class in Los Angeles reminded me: just because I’ve left teaching full-time doesn’t mean I can’t continue to participate in education. I’m looking forward to working with students in the future and using technology as a form of self-expression and communication to enhance those experiences.

How do we measure mobile learning’s impact on higher-order thinking?

I’m lucky enough to spend Tuesdays to Thursdays working with an amazing group of students and faculty at The Westside School in Seattle. For 15 months now we’ve been growing a new middle school, and a 1:1 initiative is part of that model.

We are in a constant cycle of evaluation as we seek to understand the impacts of mobile learning, standards-based assessment, and mixed-age groupings on student academic achievement and character development.

Below are some edtech-focused numbers based on the first 3 months of this school year:

Learning though action

No matter if you teach with a formal delivery method, with an emergent curriculum, or move across this spectrum based on community and content requirements, students must be engaged to learn. Engagement comes from action; and action is identified with verbs.

learning through action

To learn more, take a few minutes to read and watch this previous post, “Got Verbs?“.

Jobs from the future: Virtual World Economist

Editor note: discussing “jobs from the future” may be a creative compliment to high school classes studying economics, sociology, media literacy, entrepreneurism,  etc.

A few years ago most of us had never heard of social media managers, market research data miners or app developers. What will be the employment opportunities for recent grads in 2025? One new career for recent economics grads might be a virtual world economist.

Gaming and social networks are a global industry. Many systems allow participants to buy, sell, and trade in native currency that can be purchased with real-world money (Habbo Hotel creditsFacebook creditsWii points, etc). How will real-world currency fluctuations affect virtual-world currencies?

Seattle-based game-maker Valve recently hired an in-house economist to manage the interaction of their virtual markets (source:

Free Google Earth in Edu webinar

Master teachers Jerome Burg and Thomas Petra are hosting a free Google OnAir discussion of best practices and curricular ideas for using Google Earth in education on November 2nd, 2012 at 7pm EST.

I’ve been stealing inspired teaching ideas from these two since the summer of 2008 – I guarantee you’ll walk away from the discussion with new ideas that can be implemented immediately!