Jeremy Gutsche at Symposium

After lunch, Jeremy Gutsche took the stage. He has a standard type of speech called “Unlocking Cool”. For us, he bounced in a few extra letters and modified the talk to that we was talking about “Unlocking School”. The message really didn’t have to be modified all that much. Schools face the same challenges that businesses do. Get stuck with doing things the old ways or refusing to recognize progress and you’re not going to be in a position to meet the needs of your customers.

I really enjoyed listening to the story about Smith Corona, particularly since I owned a Smith Corona typewriter. I was not aware of the breakthroughs that Smith Corona was responsible for, but ultimately didn’t stick with it enough to remain viable in the business. The big message here is to not rest upon your laurels or you too may become the company that makes the best typewriter in a world that doesn’t use them any longer.

The second big message was about how success and change needs to be viral. It can’t happen by edict. It has to be something that winds its way through an organization in such a manner that everyone wants a piece of it. I reflected upon the SMART Board successes that we’ve been enjoying this year. This truly has been a viral implementation. It’s something that people know will change the way that classes are conducted and there’s no denying the engagement and motivation of students when a SMART Board is used properly.

The third message was that you need to lose like you enjoy it. Obviously, you need to be trying new things all the time and you’re not going to be hitting home runs all the time. But, unless you’re in there swinging and learning by your misses, you’re not trying.

Jeremy’s website at and his commercial site at are excellent resources.

Will Richardson at Symposium

Symposium 2007 was last week in London. We had another terrific turnout even with the threat of bad weather. But, after 2006, we can deal with anything!

The morning keynote speaker was Will Richardson who set a terrific tone to the day. His focus was on the Read/Write web and how it has the potential to motivate students to use the web for good purposes. I had to admire Will as he was way out on a limb expecting to have decent internet access at a hotel. It’s one thing to have a presentation and step through it page by page, but to illustrate what you are talking about live is impressive.

His message was well received. The focus at the conference is on ideas. There are no vendor displays or vendor sessions. You listen and get engaged with the hope that folks would be inspired enough to say “I could do that” and then go back to their reality and make it happen. I know that after Will’s inspiration that there are lots of folks that are going to try.

And, after all, that’s the very best that you can expect from a keynote speaker.

Check out Will’s work at

So little time…

Symposium 2007 was held yesterday in London and am now in the recovery mode. As a result of Will Richardson’s and Jeremy Gutsche’s speeches, I am walking away with a huge to-do list. Totally inspired and have a whack of notes that I’ve got to go through and take a look at.

December 2007 Newsletter

My December GEC Computers in the Classroom Newsletter is now online at:

December is Symposium month for the [ ]Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee. Each year, this one day conference is held for directors and superintendents of education, principals, and key computer leaders in the Western Ontario region. At the conference, speakers who are leaders in the field of computer and technology use share their insights with the group as the RCAC uses the event as a catalyst for change.

Over the years, the list of keynote speakers have included [ ]David Pogue, [ ]Mark Prensky, [ ]David Warlick, [ ]Jamie McKenzie, [ ]Doug Johnson, [ ]Robert Sawyer, etc. It should come as no surprise that each of them has a dynamic web presence and ways to stay in touch with each. All of them are big writers and are constantly generating food for thought on a regular basis via their website and some with newsletters.

Each of the speakers is know well in their field and make stands in their particular areas. Marc Prensky is probably best known for his description of digital natives and digital immigrants. He uses these descriptions to drive home the notion that students today have more electronics (and know how to use them) than we ever did growing up. It’s a fun analogy and gives you pause to think about how best to address the needs and learning styles for todays’ students.

Jamie McKenzie comes from a rich academic background and is a prolific writer. The focus of his books, of course, is rich with technology and its use, but focuses strongly on using this and other methodologies in the classroom to push students to higher order and rich curriculum activities. His website [ ]The Question Mark is devoted to these activities and how to ask important and relevant questions in the research process.

I subscribe to McKenzie’s newletter and, this month, he dropped both gloves in his assessent of Prensky’s message in an article entitled “[ ]Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions, and Digital Deprivation.” In the article, he took exception to Prensky’s assumptions and challenged the quality of some of Prensky’s research.

I had to read the article a few times to really comprehend the content.

I enjoy Prensky’s observations, but never took it literally and with a 100% acceptance. I look at the students that I come in contact with on a regular basis. Even my daughter, who served on a panel discussion with Marc last year has access to more technology than I could have dreamed of as a child.

This is her world and there aren’t too many things that I would ask her to change.

She still loves her softball, sitting with a good novel, listening to her iPod, going to school, working at her job, updating her Facebook site, and I’m sure involved with one or two other things that as a parent I don’t want to know. She has a cell phone, knows how to text, and stays connected all the time.

While I don’t take Prensky’s remarks literally, I’m not prepared to ignore them because of some academic reason. Kids today are different and have different opportunities. As educators, we need to acknowledge this and find ways to engage them as well as teach them how to use all this technology responsibility.

Consider the quote from Mary Kay Utecht.
“Our task is to provide an education for the kind of kids we have… Not the kind of kids we used to have… Or want to have… Or the kids that exist in our dreams.”

For me, that’s the bottom line from the message.