Lots of newness this week.

1. I’ve become a massive fan of the new app called Clear. I’m getting more done because of it, and the design is so clean and thought out it’s a pleasure to use.

2. Re: the New England 1:1 Summit– We’re going to have to cap tickets at about 350 out of fear we’ll run out of parking. Last I looked we were closing in on 330, so if you’re interested, time to get in on that.

3. Big News: I’m part of the biggest sponsor of that summit. Let me introduce to you, EducatorU. It’s a small(ish) consulting group aimed at providing soup-to-nuts help with district’s transitions towards 1:1 environments. To that end, the list of services is substantial (and growing), and we’ve got lots of content coming your way. The website is partially up (my Bio’s not even there yet- they’re waiting on my picture), but we’ve got a lot going on. Drop us a line.

4. Minor update to the Setup page.

5. I’ve been more active over on twitter recently. Lots of reasons, but I’m trying to bring related content to the educational world that isn’t from within the educational world. So expect lots of… slightly oddball… posts. Fair warning. But I hope you folks find them useful.

Self Published Textbooks (and where to go from here)

A bunch of years ago (6 years), the British Literature anthologies we were using were dead. Like, bindings-falling-off dead. And out of print.

So, like normal we looked to the major vendors for something suitable and new to buy. But there were problems- nothing had quite what we wanted, and they were all absurdly expensive. We were looking at having to spend something on the order of $30,000 on books we really didn’t like all that much.

Which got me thinking about just writing our own textbooks. And when I happened across an article about print on demand publishing, light bulbs began to flash.

We’ve been having our own textbooks printed for our students for five years now. I can’t take all the credit- especially the first year, there was a lot more than one person could do. But I did all the layout on the first two editions of the book (as well as contributing some text).

You know what I’ve learned in the time since then?

This is the only way to go. There’s no reason not to be doing this, at any grade level and in any subject. If you’re an educator (and presumably know your subject matter), this is the only way you’ll ever be happy with a text. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and yes, you’ll have to learn some new stuff (book layout, copyright law, electronic publishing details…), but learning new stuff is a part of what being an educator is all about.

I worked on a project last summer that put educators from all over the state together to pool resources- the idea being that it would allow any of us to create our own e-books quickly and easily because we wouldn’t have to do all the work ourselves. It was (and is) a great idea. Sadly, there weren’t that many people that seemed to buy into it last year. We’re doing it again this summer (details to follow, as I have them) and I’m hoping for a bigger turnout.

So much newness…

It’s the beginning of vacation for me, though I suspect there won’t be much in the way of “vacationing” going on around here. To busy for that sort of thing. Busy busy busy. So it goes.

Anyway, here’s the rundown of what lunacy I’ve involved myself in this week:

1. New England 1:1 Summit has over 300 tickets sold- we had limited to 300, but we’ve added another 200 tickets, just in case. I’ve got a post on it here, and clearly I’ll be there. I’m even leading a session. Come!

2. The transition to a self-hosted WordPress blog is complete- and wasn’t anywhere near as ugly as I was ready for. A big thanks to Noah over at Prxy. It wasn’t my skills that kept things moving and painless. All him.

3. I’m currently teaching Little Brother by Cory Doctorow in my freshman English class. I “taught” it last year while out on paternity leave, so this is my first year doing it in the class with students. Also: ePub only. Which means I actually have to bring my iPad to class a lot of days.

4. I’ve been pushing the Everything Is A Remix series for a good long time, and the last film just came out. It’s required watching, people- for both you and your students. Get on that.

5. I’ve got a couple of minor projects going together over the next week or three- all small stuff, but I’ll post up here about them as they get closer or after they’re done.

6. HUGE project in the works with some other very good folks. Cannot stress the nature of the HUGE-NESS, but alas, as of right now, it has to be hush-hush. Announcement on this coming soon. I promise.

An amazing resource.

I’ve known about these for a while now, but since the last of the series just dropped yesterday, it seemed like the time to write about them.

The Everything Is A Remix videos should be required watching for all educators and students. End. Of. Story.

Kirby Ferguson breaks down the complicated differences between copying and tranforming- showing the merits of either and limitations of both. In the educational world, it’s all too common for us to say “copying is bad” without ever admitting that copying plays an important role in the creative process. We delineate the world into good and bad without ever addressing the substantial grey area.

These videos take the very difficult subject matter and via use of excellent narration, wonderful animation, and astute split screens, open students’ eyes to the true nature of creativity and ownership.

If you’re not watching these, and if you’re not showing them to your students, you’re doing it wrong.




New England 1:1 Summit

So I’m helping work on this fairly large summit we’re running. As of right now, we’ve got 280 people signed up, but we’re predicting something over 300 attending by March 10th.

Pretty excited about all this.

We’re trying to start some good communication between people already doing the 1:1 thing, and people looking to go that direction. If I’m honest, I have absolutely no idea what that other direction might be, but there you go. Let me say a few thing about what this conference isn’t:

1. An Apple-specific event. Yes, they’ll be there, and yes, we use iPad2’s at our 1:1 schools, but this isn’t about a specific device.

2. A focus on how to use specific tools in classrooms.

3. A waste of time.

And as to the question as to what this conference is:

1. A plainspoken talk about the culture shift required in a successful move to 1:1.

2. A chance to share and create resources about that cultural shift.

3. Awesome.

I’ll post more about the cultural shift I’ve mentioned above, but that’s a bigger topic than I’m willing to tackle right here and now.




New coolness.

It’s no secret that I’m a bit fan of Kickstarter. If you don’t know it, it’s a crowdfunding platform that allows people to bring cool ideas/products/projects to life, and reward the people that back those projects. To date, I’ve backed eight projects there- and it’s been an adventure every time.

So I just backed project #8.

It’s different this time. I know the people involved- the excellent folks over at Bootstrap Productions, who besides being brilliant educators (Yes, you too Derek…), are brilliant writers and artists. They’ve hooked up with the folks over at Eyeformation studios and are trying to fund some genuinely impressive activities books.

I’ve got two young daughters, and it’s hard to find activities that aren’t princess based- never mind activities that have artistic merit on their own.

I don’t plug things much- but this is worth your time.





Annndddd We’re Live!

There we go, folks. Live and back at ’em.

1. Email is live, too. So you can stop having your emails bounce. Which is nice.

2. I’m working on a pretty involved video project right now- multiple camera shoots, 1080/24p, and the like. I should have the A-roll finished this week, and with my fingers crossed, much of the B-Roll too. Then editing. Lots of editing. I can say that it’s for the New England 1:1 Summit, and that it will debut there, but I’ll post it here as well.

That’s it, for now.

Happy to be back and in action.