David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
Shakabuku Infographics Video

Extraordinary Learning

A 15 year old Canadian schoolboy, with a fascination for the ancient Mayan Civilization, recently theorized a correlation between the star positions in major constellations and the geographic locations of known Mayan cities. Based on this theory, he used Google Maps to suggest the location of an unknown ancient city. The Canadian Space Agency was so impressed that they used a satellite-based space telescope to study the spot and confirm the existence of the hitherto, unknown city. 

In my work I ran across many ordinary youngsters who — with access to technology, supportive teachers and unconstrained curiosity — did extraordinary things. It all begs for a more empowering and imaginative way of educating our children. 

The Next Disruptive Wave in Education

Many would disagree, but I believe that the introduction of new information and communication technologies into our classrooms has had a productively disruptive effect on education. We have certainly not seen its full potential, and reaching it may well be impossible for a human society.  But I’ve recently wondered about a new disruptive influencer on the horizon, one that has the potential to further progress formal education – or destroying it – in my humble opinion.

Consider that even though some presidential candidates have promised to bring back the manufacturing jobs that America has lost to China, the jobs that actually left our shores are a mere ripple, as Matthew Yglesias put it in a recent MoneyBox article,1 compared to the manufacturing jobs we lost to robots during the same years – and those jobs will not return.

And now we have driverless cars, just around the corner?  Sam Tracy, in a 2015 Huffington Post article itemized the numbers of Americans who make their living by driving: taxi drivers, chauffeurs, bus drivers, driver-sales workers, school bus drivers, postal service carriers, light truck deliveries and heavy truck transport.  It totaled almost four million jobs, with wages of almost $150 billion a year.

Will there really be new jobs for them to train for?

Then entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Sam Altman, says this in a recent Freakonomics podcast, that, “..90% of (the) people (may) go smoke pot and play video games, but if (only) 10% of the people go create incredible new products and services and new wealth, that’s still a huge net-win.”2  In other words, is there a national economic need for 100% employment in the near future, or even 15% employment – besides what Altman refers to as a “..puritanical ideal that hard work for its own sake is valuable.”

All this is to suggest that the job of schools, sooner than later, may be to educate our children to be unemployed.  Consider the recent media interest in the concept of basic income.  Here is a Google Trend graph of the frequency of the term’s searches.

Google Trends  Web Search interest basic income  Worldwide 2004  present
Google Trends - Web Search interest_ basic income - Worldwide, 2004 - present.jpg

In the most general terms, basic income would have the federal government handing out to all citizens enough money to live on.  Those who want more would work for a wage. Those who do not, would find some other way of spending their time.  Experiments are already underway in Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland & the UK.

Even though I suggest an open mind, I do not want to spend this blog post arguing the merits or dangers of such an arrangement.   What I do want to ask is, “What would you say to a student who says, ‘I don’t need to know this because I don’t need a job?’”  What if he is absolutely right?  The next question is “What would he or she need to know for a future that does not require employment?” and “How might preparing our children for productive leisure change the WHY, WHAT and HOW of formal education?”

What do you think?

Coincidentally, this article, Machines Won’t Replace Us, They’ll Just Force Us to Evolvepopped up in my Reddit stream just minutes after submitting this blog post.

Yglesias, M. (2012, November 19). Nothing Will Bring Back Manufacturing Employment [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/11/19/global_manufacturing_employment_is_in_decline.html

Weller, C. (2016, April 19). A Silicon Valley entrepreneur says basic income would work even if 90% of people smoked weed instead of working [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.techinsider.io/sam-altman-praises-basic-income-on-freakonomics-podcast-2016-4

“Are teachers going the way of local bookstores?”

In my new situation of retired educator (or semi-retired educator. I can’t really decide), I find myself paying less attention to Twitter and more to friends and relatives on Facebook.  But this morning, when I started my computer and Twitteriffic flashed up, I scanned through the most recent tweets from my long-time and famous educator friends – and my eye landed on one by Doug Peterson  actually a retweet of Miguel Guhlin’s,

The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher is a March 25 article in The Atlantic written by Michael Godsey, a “veteran high-school English educator.”  Asked by a college student about the prospects of becoming a public-school teacher, he writes,

I never think it’s enough to say that the role is shifting from “content expert” to “curriculum facilitator.” Instead, I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation’s most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. The “virtual class” will be introduced, guided, and curated by one of the country’s best teachers (a.k.a. a “super-teacher”), and it will include professionally produced footage of current events, relevant excerpts from powerful TedTalks, interactive games students can play against other students nationwide, and a formal assessment that the computer will immediately score and record.

To that, I say, “poppycock!” How’s that for post-career reflection and rejection of the ideals that I seemingly promoted for the last 20+ years? But the fact is that I never promoted such a future for the classroom and find the arrangement to be personally revolting and counter-productive to what I believe the purpose of education to be.

It’s an interesting question and one that many of us have challenged ourselves and each other with, “What is the purpose of school.” Here’s a good answer, in my opinion – Why School by Will Richardson and what is described in Invent To Learn, by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.  But here is my ready answer that is short and to the point.

The purpose of school is to prepare our children for adult life during the next 70 to 80 years.

Life doesn’t happen on a video screen and it can’t be simulated with a game.  Goddey’s “fantastic computer screen” will help as will the games and video clips from top thinkers on TED.  In fact, they are essential.  But the fallacy is the assumption and fear that technology replaces the teacher.

To be sure, nobody in education, but those in the darkest recesses of denial, believes that the role of the teacher is not changing.  The shift from “content expert” to “curriculum facilitator” is certainly happening – and it should.  But NOTHING, my most loyal readers, IS EVER THAT SIMPLE.

A phrase like “sage on the stage to guide on the side” is intended as an idiom to focus the attention of experienced professional educators who already grasp the changing conditions that are reshaping school.  It is not an all-encompassing description of the future of classroom instruction.  Frankly, while reading Godsey’s advice to his student, I saw no need for classrooms at all – and that’s the last thing I’d want to see for my grandchildren and their children.

We have to acknowledge that there is a powerful cabal that desires and promotes just the scenario described by Mr. Godsey.  They fancy an education system that spends its billions on their videos, games, tutorials and assessment products, instead of unionized public school teachers.  Products, whose service can be measured (test scores), can be marketed.

In my mind the most preposterous statement in the whole article is the advice of a superintendent, aired on NPR, “If you can Google it, why teach it?”  ..and this gets back to the question, “What is the purpose of school?”  If education’s objective is to equip our children with facts that they can recall on state test day, then I would agree with the superintendent’s statement.  But if its purpose is to prepare our children for adult life, then the job of the teacher is to help learners to understand what they’ve Googled and develop the essential literacy skills and habits of questioning, analyzing and assigning context to the Googled information.

What we can predict about life in the next 70 to 80 years is almost nothing, beyond the timeless practices of responsibility, compassion and providing value to the community.  It will continue to be a time of rapid change, inventions that redefine how we accomplish our goals and discoveries that challenge our beliefs and philosophies.

The common core subject of every classroom today should be learning to learn.

And this brings us back around to Michael Godsey’s apparent fear that his college earned knowledge of literature has become obsolete.  Our classrooms still require experts.  But experts today are no longer known for knowing all there is to know about a subject.

Today’s experts are known for being highly skilled at learning and relearning the ever growing and often changing knowledge about their subject.

This is the notion of expertise that teachers need to model and that students need to see every day, the essential and constant practice of contextual learning-skills / learning-literacies.

Adult life is about learning.



I Just Learned a New Word

In my efforts to write this book about the history of educational technology (as I have witnessed it), I’m finding myself doing more reading than writing. I guess that’s normal for book-writing, though it surprises me since I am typing this mostly from my own recollections.

This morning, in my reading, I learned a new word.  It’s mesofacts.  These are facts that, when learned, seem to be dependable, longterm and applicable truths – when in fact, they are likely to change within a lifetime, and often within a few years.

In his Harvard Business Review article, Be Forwarned: Your Knowledge is Decaying  Samuel Arbesman relates an example, a hedge fund manager saying in a conversation, “Since we all know that there are 4 billion people on the planet…”  4 billion people is what I learned when I was in school, and it still surprises me when I heard that it was up to 6 billion and now 7 billion.

Arbesman says that these mesofacts are far more common than we realize.  It makes me wonder about how much of what we are expecting our students to memorize, will simply not be true in their adulthood, and may even be problematic.

This all supports something that I heard someone say a few years ago.

Any question, whose answer can be googled,
should not be on any test.  

Another epiphanic statement, which may or may not be attributable to John Dewey is,

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s,
we rob them of their tomorrow.


Another word I learned is scientometrics.  Its the study of the shape of how knowledge grows and spreads through a population.


Arbesman, S. (2012). Be forewarned: Your knowledge is decaying. Harvard Business Review, Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2012/11/be-forewarned-your-knowledge-i

20 Mbps & We’re Still Searching for the Same Stuff

I’ve been doing a lot of deep digging while working on my book about the history of technology in education – as I’ve seen it.  This afternoon, I happened upon some online handouts for one of my first keynotes and its slidedeck.  The address was called, “The Three Ts of Teaching in the Twenty-First Century.”  It appears to have been delivered in November of 2000.

On one of the opening slides, I had listed the ten most searched for terms of that month.  As a comparison, I found the top ten searches on Google in 2014, and have listed them as well.

November 2000   2014
10  Pokemon   10  Sochi Olympics
91  Napster   91  Frozen
81  Playstation 2   81  ISIS
71  NFL   7 Conchita Wurst
Florida Recount   Flappy Bird
Britney Spears   ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Thanksgiving   Malaysia Airlines
Dragonball   Ebola
Election 2000   World Cup
Christmas   Robin Williams

I was actually surprised how little it’s changed?  We have video games, sports, entertainment with a peppering of world-shaping issues.

Marimuse Interview

In 1993, while I was working at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and exploring the educational potentials of the, then emerging, Internet, I ran across an intriguing and inspiring summer project being conducted at Maricopa Community College in Phoenix, Arizona.

With the local school district, they invited a diverse group of students who would be entering fourth, fifth or sixth grades (all at-risk of failure) into a MUD  or Multi-User Domain.  Essentially, a MUD is a text-based virtual environment.  Think SecondLife  where the environment is read about, instead of seen graphically.

This particular MUD was empty, flat asphalt.  These students, some of whom you couldn’t get to write their names in a classroom, were challenged to create a virtual city in the MUD, by learning a simple programming language and describing its buildings, parks and their own virtual homes, in all their richness, with words.

You can read what Howard Rheingold had to say about the project here.

At the end of the project, I invited a number of the organizers and volunteers to a virtual office I was maintaining at MIT’s MediaMOO, where my avatar was known as Peiohpah.  There I interviewed the team about their experience. I had acquired a virtual video camera, which recorded the exchanges.

Here is a portion of that interview played back on Pei’s TV.

[on Pei's TV]      ***********************************
[on Pei's TV]      **   C a m p   M a r i M U S E   **
[on Pei's TV]      **  An Interview with the staff  **
[on Pei's TV]      **      of the first virtual     **
[on Pei's TV]      **         Computer Camp         **
[on Pei's TV]      ***********************************
[on Pei's TV]
[on Pei's TV]      . . . the camera pans left to right over
                 Pei's Studio
[on Pei's TV]  A cozy corner with two comfortable sofas
               arranged for conversation in front of a large
               picture of a schoolhouse. Curiously, the
               walls of the schoolhouse appear to be
               transparent. There is a copy of Tuesday's
               *New York Times* on an end table.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila smiles at the camera
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "I'm here with a few friends today
               to talk about a project that they have been
               involved in this summer, Camp MariMUSE.  I
               call them friends although I have never met
               them face-to-face, and don't even know the
               sounds of their voices.  Yet I have
               profoundly enjoyed their companionship by
               interacting not only with their words, but
               with their imaginations, and -- most
               importantly to this interview -- with their
[on Pei's TV]  Pei turns to the rest of the group.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Hi, Pei"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon  looks toward Pei, pleased to be
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Why don't we start with my guests
               introducing them selves."
[on Pei's TV]  Woody waves to TV land
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K giggles
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, ""I am Lila on the MariMuse, a
               volunteer for the project.  I am a student
               at Phoenix college, a returning student"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "I am Billie Hughes aka Avalon
               on MariMUSE.  I worked with the team that
               first brought Muse to Phoenix College."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei senses that another member of the
               MariMUSE team is looking for them and
               disappears suddenly for parts unknown.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila waits for Pei to return
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "I am Miss-K on the Muse, and
               Susan Oram in RL (Real life) -- the school
               librarian at Longview Elementary School. "
[on Pei's TV]  Pei has arrived.
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad materializes out of thin air.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Hi Wlad!"
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "I am Rod Brashear, Woody on
               Marimuse.  I am a student at Arizona State
               Universtiy-West and also work for the
               Arizona Department of Education.  I
               volunteered to be involved with the Longview
[on Pei's TV]  Lila waves to Wlad, and thinks she has seen
               him before ;) "
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Hi, Wlad"
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Wlad, would you introduce
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "Hi, and I am Jim Walters.  I
               work at Pheonix College and am intensely
               interested in this medium."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Is that everyone?"
[on Pei's TV]  Lila thinks that is all for the moment,
               Platoon will join us later"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "Thanks"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon turns toward Pei,anticipating a
[on Pei's TV]  Pei reads from his clipboard, then faces
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Avalon, would you begin by
               explaining how Camp MariMUSE came to be?"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "Wlad and I were in the library
               one day when the Dean walked in.  We were
               excited about what Muse was doing for our
               college students.  She suggested we do a
               summer camp for kids."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We jumped at the chance and
               the rest is history."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "Avalon had heard a rumor that
               Joanne, the principal at Longview, might be
               supportive of a technology linked proposal.
               So we set out to meet with her."
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "wlad and Av planted a seed and
               didn't realize how big the tree would be.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "...and still growing!"
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "it's rather like falling into
               the rabbit's hole with Alice."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei grins with understanding
[on Pei's TV]  Lila laughs at the rabbit hole analogy
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "So it began as an environment for
               college student?"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "We did try to start with the
               basis that it could accommodate learners of
               all ages."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "But college students were the
               group we began with because that was the
               group we had access to."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We tried it first with our own
               students, but always dreamed of a huge one
               room school for learners of all ages."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "The dream is starting to come
               true, isn't it?"
[on Pei's TV]  Lila nods agreement
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "We took some risks in bringing
               in some of our own students, then to try to
               offer a class entirely in this environment."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei turns to Miss-K.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Miss-K,  Could you describe some
               of the landmarks of MariMUSE that your
               campers saw when they first entered the
[on Pei's TV]  Woody notices sweat on the brow of Miss-k.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila hands Miss-K a tissue
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K smiles sickly!
[on Pei's TV]  Pei reaches over and touches Miss-K's hand!
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Well, we went to Lady
               Starlight's castle first. "
[on Pei's TV]  Pei's eyes widen with excitement.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "We also visited some of the
               places the first group of campers had
               created.  Also, Some of the campers spent
               quite a lot of time in an amusement park."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "A couple of the volunteers had
               created a space station that was the initial
               home of all the Longview campers."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Tell me about the students who
               participated in Camp MariMUSE?"
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "Do you want a feel for what
               they were like in RL, when they entered the
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, “Yes!"

[on Pei's TV]  Avalon sits back listening to those who were
               with the children the most to talk.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Well, it was quite a mixed
               group of children.  Our school is very
               multi-ethnic and those groups were
               represented at the camp."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon looks at Miss-K remembering just how
               diverse the group really was.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila remembers being surprised at the young
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "The kids were all going into
               the fourth, fifth or sixth grade.”

[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "The children who attended were
               children who were definitely at-risk for
               failure in school either because of their
               back grounds or skills.  They were chosen by
               the teachers at Longview on the basis of who
               we thought might benefit the most. "
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "The first day of camp was an
               exciting day.  Students had heard exciting
               rumors and were very eager, with a bit of
               confusion and trepidation, to come to a
               college and work with the MUSE."
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon materializes out of thin air.
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon says, "HI Pei, sorry I interrupted"
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Platoon, my man! gime five!"
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon ^5's Pei
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon sits back and listens
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "The first couple of days the
               children were very quite and shy.  After the
               comfort level was attained the kids were
               conversing in the muse and RL with real
               excitement and interest"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "They seemed very young, and shy
               and seemed to be wondering why they were
               here, but then they got started began having
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K nods.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "How did the students first
               approach the text-based virtual environment?
               What was their early reaction?”

[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "On the first day, I heard
               whispers of, "This is dumb."  By the end of
               the first session, all the campers agreed it
               was about the coolest thing they had ever

[on Pei's TV]  Lila recalls the excitement of the children
               when they left for the bus, how anxious they
               were to come back the second day."
[on Pei's TV]  Lila recalls how quickly the children became
               conscious of correct spelling"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "I had worried that the ones who
               couldn't keyboard might become discouraged
               and quit, but they just hung in and their
               skills kept improving."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Even this morning some kids
               were asking about getting back on the system
               so they wouldn't lose their keyboarding
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Those of you who were volunteers,
               how did you assist the campers and what sort
               of impact did this experience have on you
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon says, "My best the very best
               experience I had was when I started paging
               some of the campers and ask them if they
               need help...and they responded where are
               you...and i said that I am kinda far away
               from you...they couldn't imagine that "
[on Pei's TV]  Lady Starlight materializes out of thin air.
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon says, "I thought that was so cool to
               have to convince them that I am about 20
               miles away from them”

[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "She was having difficulty with
               him being in the same virtual room with
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "To build on Platoon's comments,
               one child initially refused to believe a
               volunteer was really in California."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei smiles
[on Pei's TV]  Lady Starlight says, "And another looked for
               a volunteer in the disk drive."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad ecalls one student looking in the disk
               drive slot trying to see Angus."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei laughs and laughs and laughs
[on Pei's TV]  Lila laughs at the remembrance
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "What, exactly,
               did the MariMUSE campers do on a daily
[on Pei's TV]  Woody pulls out his muse curriculum daily
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "every day the students were
               asked to complete a journal entry.  They
               also wrote at least one article per week for
               the newsletter.  They were also responsible
               for doing some creating in the MUSE."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad recalls some of the homework and how
               serious the students were about getting
               together their descriptions and setting
               their character names.
[on Pei's TV]  Azure_Guest says, "What amazed me was that
               they were so unwilling to leave for break."
[on Pei's TV]  Woody adds that they felt three hours was
               too short of a day on the muse.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "Do you remember how Ginji would
               go home, make her sister help her research
               so the cave could be exactly what she
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "At the end of the first week,
               the students were wanting to come in over
               the weekend..”
[on Pei's TV]  Lady Starlight says, "They were all very
               proud of their work."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Ginji wears her Phoenix
               College t-shirt often."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "Above all, we learned that
               this medium was exciting to students, it
               captivated them despite its text-base.  And,
               they could handle the coding.  They were
               reading and writing for 3 hours a day,
               thinking and problem solving, and loving
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "It taped the intrinsic
               motivation of all the persons connected to
               the program.  Students Teachers, and
[on Pei's TV]  Pei nods.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Have the kids come back to school
               yet?  If so, what are they saying about the
               MUSE now?"
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Everyday I am asked, WHEN can
               I come back on line?"
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "The children are eager to get
               back on-line and are stating that they have
               projects to work on, and they really want to
               check their mail."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "I called all the MUSE kids
               into the library this morning and they were
               all talking at once.  They did not want to
               leave to go back to class."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We believe we are just seeing
               the tip of the iceberg.  We believe we are
               on the wave of the future.  This medium is a
               window to a new way of learning."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon looks at Miss-K remembering the child
               who said, “You don't think I am stupid, do
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "The kids are so proud of the
               NY Times article.  They all want copies of
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "How did the parents react to Camp
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "We had an enormous turn out on
               the parent day.  We were amazed.  The
               parents are especially proud of their
               children.  I think it raises their self-
               esteem too."
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "Many parents had to take off
               work, with no pay, to attend any function to
               which they were invited.  Such as
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "Some even rode over on the
               school bus to be here."
[on Pei's TV]  Woody says, "When the parents first met with
               us, PC volunteers and Wlad, There was a very
               small turn out.  After the camp was over
               there was almost 100 percent parent
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "Running Wind's parents went to
               great lengths to attend graduation, they
               VERY proud of him and his accomplishments."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "And parents who had never heard
               their children talk about what they were
               doing at school were getting rave reviews
               and daily updates on the camp activities."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We invited the superintendent
               who was amazed at the children's creativity
               and the amount of writing they did.  We also
               invited state representatives who felt the
               excitement.  And we had parents who knew
               their kids were really excited about and
               successful with learning."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "On graduation day, it really
               felt like one big family celebration."
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad laughs remembering how he helped
               Running wind entertain two of his
               younger relatives.
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "Remember, this was only a 3
               week camp.  All of this happened in 3 short
[on Pei's TV]  Lila shakes her head, and says, "Hard to
               believe we did all that in 3 weeks."
[on Pei's TV]  Pei 's heart is full!
[on Pei's TV]  Woody throws time out the door.
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Were there any real surprises?"
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "It seemed like a magical
[on Pei's TV]  Lady Starlight nods.
[on Pei's TV]  Lila says, "I was very impressed with the
               increase in global awareness."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "I was blown away by the
               research that the students initiated!"
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "One of the other teachers
               committed this week about how important it
               was for these kids to see the volunteers
               from the college working at their jobs,
               volunteering, and going to class.  It
               helped them see they could go to college
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "It was a time of being
               completely accepted."
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon grins at Miss-K.
[on Pei's TV]  Platoon  says, "it was a time of beeing
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K says, "Actually, I still get misty
               eyed about it. "
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon hands an embroidered hankie to Miss-K.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K giggles
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "What plans do you have for the
               future of MariMUSE?”

[on Pei's TV]  Avalon has been assigned to work on grant
               writing and assessment so we can continue
               and can learn as we proceed into the future.
               This is a major commitment from the college
               to a very important project.
[on Pei's TV]  Woody boogies about the future.
[on Pei's TV]  Wlad says, "By the 15th of September, we
               should have 12 terminals installed at
               Longview for the students to use.  There
               will be a 9600 baud modem line to the
               college.  We know that the equipment will
               work with that speed.  We want something
               that will work right away, so that we can
               get the kids back on-line."
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K squeals in delight
[on Pei's TV]  Pei applauds
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K will never get anything done once
               those terminals are in!
[on Pei's TV]  Pei rolls in the floor laughing
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon grins and grins and grins with
               excitement about the future.
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K wrings her hands thinking of so much
               to do and so little time.
[on Pei's TV]  Avalon says, "We have very strong support
               from the Longview, Phoenix College and the
               district offices to continue and build on
[on Pei's TV]  Pei looks at his watch and turns back to the
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Viewers...I am speechless!"
[on Pei's TV]  Miss-K smiles
[on Pei's TV]  Pei says, "Except to say that I am deeply
               moved by these people and what they have
               accomplished this summer.  It is impossible
               to know all the consequences of how they and
               the experiences they have provided have
               touched the lives of a handful of children
               this summer.  Or how the technologies and
               techniques they are pioneering will effect
               lives in the future.  But my bet is that it’s

[on Pei's TV]  From MediaMOO, this is Peiohpah saying "good

In re-reading this interview I was struck by four ideas.

  1. The campers were engage in self-directed learning, because they were doing something with what they were learning. 
  2. Their enthusiasm had nothing to do with slick graphics and booming sound effects. It was text. 
  3. The campers were working hard, though they might not have called it work. Students who are engaged in this type of learning experience often call it, “Hard play.” 
  4. There seems to be a direct relationship between learner-engagement and parent-engagement. 
  5. Young Learners need to see adults model meaningful learning.

What if it happened before the Internet?

One of the challenges of writing a history of educational technology is that so much of it happened before the Internet. I have been surprised and disappointed at how much of it, that I barely remember, has never been reported on the now ubiquitous World Wide Web.

As a result, I’ve had to be resourceful in my research, and one of the tools that I’ve found myself going to again and again is Google’s Ngram viewer.  Here’s the situation.  I’m writing about happenings just after I left the NC Department of Public Instruction and discovering that my future is going to be in training and presenting, instead of Web design and development.  I believe that it was during this time when the term “Integrate technology’ was being adopted by ed tech advocates.  But I’m not sure.  How do I determine, on a timeline, the growing use and abuse of the term.

Click to Enlarge

Enter Ngram Viewer.  The default terms are Albert Einstein, Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein.  The viewer presents a line chart, illustrating the number of Google digitized books that mention the term by year, from 1500 to 2008.  The default shows the gradual growth of Frankenstein from just after the publishing of Mary Shelley’s book (1818), and then a more rapid rise of Sherlock Holmes starting in the final years of the 19th century.  Occurrences of Albert Einstein started in the second quarter of the 20th century and then Frankenstein, again, overtakes and surges well above, starting in the 1960s – possibly as a result of television’s re-running of Frankenstein movies released in the 1930s and ‘40s.

Entering the term, “integrate technology into the classroom,” into Ngram Viewer, I learn that, although the term started to appear in the late 1980s, its popular use started to rise in the mid-1990s, as we left the growing number of education technology conferences with our new mantra, “Integrate Technology! Integrate Technology!  Integrate Technology!”


Two Reasons I Won’t Use My Typical Opening Today

For the last several years, I have been opening my keynote addresses by describing something that I’ve learning in the last 24 hours. It was usually something that I’d run across on my iPad (Flipboard), or a conversation I’d had, or some other striking something that caught my eye.  Today, it would likely be the Olkaria IV Geothermal Power Plant just brought on line in Kenya with the assistance of Germany’s continued development of green energies.  I first learned about the plant from the Kenyan cab driver who took me from the St. Louis airport to my hotel yesterday.

But no story today.  The first reason is trivial though not insubstantial.  It’s time.  I’ll only have 45 minutes for my opening talk.  It’s usually closer to an hour.

The second reason is more important.  It is my audience; school librarians, students of library science, and supporters and administrators of school library programs.  I’m not launching into a demonstration of personal learning because librarians and their libraries are almost entirely about person learning.  Their patrons explore, examine, experiment and discover – in much the same ways that we all conduct our essential learning outside of school.

These authentic learning experiences are way to rare in the classrooms of our schools, and this is due not to the best intentions, reflections and inventiveness of our teachers.  It is my country’s continue obsession with market motivated and industrial methodology of public education.

I Can’t Believe I’m Doing this Again!

One of the nice things about writing again, is that it doesn’t require a huge monitor.  Therefore, I am not chained to my upstairs office.  I can do it virtually anywhere.  :-)

In our 35 years of marriage, there have been only a few instances when my wife realized what a cleaver fellow I am – maybe three. I think one occurred yesterday.

As you may be aware, I am winding down my career as an educator.  My wife, concerned about identity security, has spent parts of the last couple of days looking for my social security number included in two large file cabinets of documents from 19 years of clients and jobs.  She commented, as we were walking up to North Hills yesterday, that I had accomplished a lot in my years as an independent and been part of some pretty exciting developments in education and technology.

Then she said, “You should write a book about all of this.”  

My reply was simple, the same that I’ve said to colleagues who have recently asked, “So now that you’re not traveling so much, are you going to write a new book?”


“I’m through!  I’m tired!  ..and writing is really hard work for me…”

Yet, this morning, as I woke and lay in bed, my mind was going like it hasn’t in many months, seeming to have realized that in some deep and evil corner of my brain, the decision has been made.  I had an outline written out by 8:30 this morning – for a new book about the history of educational technology.

I really can’t believe that I’m Doing this Again!

Creativity: The Lego Way

Two 2×4 Lego bricks, of the same color, can be put together in 24 different ways.  Three can be connected 1,060 different ways.  Six can be combined in 915,103,765 different ways.  ..and, of course, children (and adults) have enthusiastically assembled them in nearly as many.  It’s when useful and reliable resources can be used in so many ways that creativity is invited.1

The best use of Legos, in my humble opinion, never involved lessons or even instructions.  You do not sit down and teach children how to creatively make stuff by clicking Lego bricks together.  You simply given them the bricks and let them play.

Might we achieve more inventive-minded students, if we could redesign curriculum to simply give our children the prescribed resources of mind, and then encourage and free them to play, construct and learn.  One example occurs to me, something that I witnessed in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada many years ago.

In early 2007, I participated in a provincial conference there and in addition had an opportunity to visit some of the area schools with my friend and NB educator, Jeff Whipple. At the time, the entire province was engaged in some pretty innovative initiatives.  I wrote about that visit here and here.

I was overwhelmingly impressed with everything that I saw in the schools around Fredericton, but the visit that came to mind as I started thinking about Legos was Chad Ball’s civics class.  He had decided to approach it in an entirely different way that year, based on a summer morning brainstorm.  Rather than present the content to his students in teacher mode, he simply made it available to them, the vocabulary and concepts of Canadian government, mostly through a wiki.

Students were then assigned to work in groups, to create a new political party.  They were to develop a platform, write speeches and even establish a mascot and logo – and required to appropriately and effectively utilize every vocabulary word and every concept of Canadian government in the process.  Chad taught in consultant mode, though he reported that he api;d often refer students to classmates who seemed to have a handle on the concept or practice. 

On the day of our visit, Mr. Ball had asked, on the class wiki, if there might be ways to extend the project.  Even though the posting initially evoked complaints from some of the students, within a half hour there were 102 comments on his posting, mostly suggesting ways that they might take their political parties to the next level.2

This style of teaching and learning is about empowerment, not compliance,

because learners are given access to building blocks,

..and invited to build something.


1 (2014). Brick by Brick: Inside Lego [Television series episode]. In Inside.Bloomberg TV.

2 Warlick, D. (2007, March 23). A Day of being Overwhelmed. . Retrieved July 21, 2014, from http://2cents.onlearning.us/?p=946

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Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
2nd Edition (2012)

Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
Classroom Blogging
(2007) • Lulu
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Raw Materials for the Mind

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