Response to: Discovery Education Part Duex: Beyond the Textbook Continues.

Posted 04/07/2013 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership

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Response to .The Principal’s Page, Supt. Mike Smith

It was a pleasure to meet and learn from you, Mike. I am still processing the event. One path of thinking is to focus on “Beyond” and think of it as the call to supplement and not supplant the textbook. I don’t think I took that angle of consideration during the event.

A larger question of the purpose of a “textbook” considering the current, or more likely next, generation of connected mobile devices is yet to form. I challenged Iowans on my return to think of an always connected “Living” book that is perpetually updated, social in construct, and presents multiple paths to learning about and expanding on a topic. Caught in a not 100% connected truth, my guests had a hard time visioning about what they want by the time our 2014 Kindergarten class is likely to graduate using by middle grades in 2021 or even by high school. I am not imagining the status quo for another generation. I cannot imaging a “textbook” without some ability to “intelligently” help students learn and explore; to experiment and contemplate; to hear multiple voices and explanations; to learn of generations past in all parts of the globe represented equally in their resources without prejudice. These connected-textbooks assist the learner and the teacher reducing the curation burden and perpetual testing of cloud resources for validity and stamina. Why not integrate Siri-style natural language questioning into a living-book, for example?

Still tumbling through the past, present and possible futures. An exciting time for education, indeed


i11i: Iowa 1 to 1 Institute April 4 2013

Posted 04/02/2013 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership



Happy to contribute several topics to this gathering.
Fantastic panel of practitioners:
Connected Educators…Connected Schools with @shfarnsworth @nmovall @B_Berns @eolsonteacher

Also discussion sessions:
Beyond the Textbook
Beyond 1080 {Hours}
Coincidentally: The Des Moines Register editorial of 4/2 danced around the topic

and an informative session on national initiatives
National Educational Technology Plan and other national initiatives and how they might help inform and benchmark progress for schools.


Volunteer opportunity: Board of Reviewing Editors for Journal of Mobile Teaching

Posted 11/27/2012 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership, education, online learning

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The Journal of Mobile Teaching ( seeks scholars, practitioners and educators interested in joining the Board of Reviewing Editors in an effort to expand the diversity of voices, pedagogies and technologies that comprise the rapidly growing field of mobile teaching.

JMT (ISSN 2164-6724) is an integrated media resource accessible via a PC or mobile device. It is the core knowledgebase and professional network for teaching and digital learning with mobile devices. Our program of research papers, open source mobile lesson plans, and strategic presentations for mobile learning provides a point of first contact for teaching mobile.
Reviewing Editor Responsibilities include:
*   Providing leadership and expertise in a field related to mobile teaching; and
*   Reviewing manuscript submissions (up to six manuscripts per academic year)

Submit your nomination or statement of interest to

Nominees will be ask to provide a brief statement of expertise and to identify current interest in/contributions to the field of mobile teaching, as well as a two-page CV or resume. Nominations/Statements of Interest deadline: December 31, 2012

Richard L. Austin
Emeritus Professor of Horticulture
University of Nebraska – Lincoln

via Edtech Archives, posting guidelines and other information are at:

Edublog Awards 2012

Posted 11/26/2012 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership

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Call to Duty for helping other educators become a connected educutor

Posted 08/28/2012 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership, education

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My blog post on SmartBlog on Education. 8/28/2012

Another Total Cost of Ownership Crossroads

Posted 03/13/2012 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership

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March 2012

One of the skills of the best CIO/CTO’s is that of short and long-range planning and budgeting. Today and the near term will challenge even the best. CIO’s are at the crossroads of another Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) intersection. Over our decades of working in the educational technology space we have experienced wave after wave of new end user devices, each with its own unique advantage over a previous generation or model series. However, most units were an incremental change from the previous units. Even low cost laptops and the first tablets/convertibles were of a similar theme. CIO/CTO’s used calculations on the viable useful age of the units and the software it would support to develop a replacement budget. It is true that some districts used the budget to determine what could be replaced as schools tried to ramp up the student to computer ratio, but that is another story.

In that “simpler,” mostly personal computer era, which would encompass most of our readers, the full expense of owning a PC unit was generally calculated to be four to five years, with some budgets pushing a five-plus age. App (nee software) licenses were generally transferable with the exception of the OS. Into the TCO, of course, CIO’s also factor in energy usage, installation and maintenance labor. Gartner ( and COSN ( have done quite a bit of work in this space. COSN’s TCO resources were a significant addition to the K-12 CIO’s tool chest ( They include a comprehensive checklist of areas to consider. Many of the considerations were transferable to laptop and tablet/convertibles with traditional OS’s. Oh how things have changed. Three developments cast a shadow on the TCO work and planning; consumer devices in the school environment; ultra low-cost units; and smartbooks/e-textbooks. This is not to cast a pall on OLPC efforts, as that effort is mostly geared toward education endeavors.

Innovation is good. It is something to be celebrated. However, the CIO in K-12 is now facing a wave of technologies with many unknowns and new considerations. Consumer slate and mini-slate devices in this space include, of course, the iTouch and iPad series, Android and Windows slates. One might include phones, but only a few schools are buying smartphones with limits on the use for students. The TCO of these units is hardly a case study as of yet. The iPAD, for example, will soon enter its third version in roughly three years. Is this an indication of longevity or another point in time where compatibility of apps with OS changes will be an increasing issue? It will indeed be interesting to see what the industry comes up with an expected lifespan and the annual maintenance estimates. Many here have already noted the high learning curve of trying to manage and standardize these consumer devices. Android devices have similar issues of an unknown useful lifecycle. In this built-for-consumer device space, weekly announcements of tens of thousands unit purchases and deployments are popping up. It will be interesting to monitor the TCO data that flow from these brave CIO’s. Some schools are moving to leasing agreements even on these lower cost slate-style units. Splitting out interest and maintenance agreements from the hardware leasing is often difficult and may or may not be required by your district.

Along similar lines, the ultra-low cost units present a similar set of unknowns. Examples are the Chrome-book and consumer class netbooks. Perhaps there will reach a point where the low cost makes the units a commodity so low in comparable expense that replacing broken units will be a standard solution versus the parts and labor for a repair. The ultra-thins, such as Apple’s Air and Lenovo’s Ultrabook, are not low-cost units nor solely designed for a consumer market, but durability will weigh on the minds of many CIO’s as they search for data to use to project into their planning.

The third issue might, in many ways, be the more complex. I fully support moves that will bring us closer to a realization of the living textbook as originally described by Tim Berners Lee. Hypermarked “books” with enunciations, definitions, models, simulations, multimedia and digital manipulatives will take books for schools to another level of interest and allow students to individually and quickly go deeper or to broaden their understanding of a topic. Smartbooks may soon incorporate ways for students to check their understanding with instant feedback and logic-based links that will bring to the student the resources they need based on different inputs. Smartbooks for science might also be paired with near field probes which will gather experimental data and place into a format for students to analyze, for example. It’s hard to call them textbooks or e-textbooks. It is a multi-billion dollar marketplace. Why is this part of a CIO/CTO’s total cost of ownership? I think it will for a couple of reasons. First is that in as much as the move to digital resource “books” or smartbooks are likely driven by our partners in curriculum and instruction, the beginnings will be seen as a technology event. The observation of the iBook/iAuthor announcement was by Apple and not by Pearson or McGraw Hill might be a leading indicator. If viewed as a technology, the maintenance, management and replacement cycle of the hardware devices that hold these smartbooks and e-texts will fall in the CIO’s lap. An early question for the C-level team will be, how will TCO rules and planning be applied to the soft side; the apps and the smartbooks/e-texts. We are all familiar with textbook budgeting that has historically been too small. Stories of eight year old textbooks are not uncommon. Some schools have not been able to afford a 1:1 ratio of textbooks. That is less likely to be acceptable any longer. It will be very interesting to watch how the soft side costs are marketed to K-12. Are smartbooks a yearly lease to the school or a perpetuity purchase? Reading the EULA and smartbook licensing agreements will be critical to your TCO planning. Add to this any books and references added by the teacher-librarians. Will your technology team absorb the budget allocations or will your team divide responsibilities or will your district use a central planning team for the curriculum technologies? The other very interesting part of your new TCO and budget planning is where in the school budgets these different parts come from. In some states there is a wall of separation between hardware and soft wares. In some states, there is a value threshold on what constitutes a capital budget purchase. As these consumer devices fall in cost, expect them to fall below that threshold. Often the monies are not transferable. If you have already addressed these new TCO issues, it would be great to hear from you with a link to your revised plans. There is no one correct answer. Sharing different models will be valuable. My email address is

Just to make things even more potentially murky, CIO’s will be watching two added scenarios to be played out. One is for the publishing company to begin to provide its own Kindle Fire style tablets with its own smartbooks integrated. This will allow them to not have to pay a third party a distribution fee that may add significant percent to the end user costs. While students currently carry individual textbooks in their bookbags, one might envision multiple e-smartbook readers from different publishers with unique and proprietary formats. The other scenario to follow is a furthering of the epub standards to embrace non-proprietary standards to allow a wider open market for the host devices including possible virtual devices sitting in the cloud in digital student lockers. We do, indeed, live and work in interesting times. There is a need to bring more clarity to the total cost of ownership at this time of transition, especially in this time of constrained budgets.

Educational Technology Leadership: Policy, Planning and Practice

Improving STEM Education Administration 2013 budget proposal

Posted 02/13/2012 by gdahlby
Categories: 1 Ed Tech Leadership


Improving STEM Education
President Obama has identified the need to improve our STEM education compared to other nations, and set out three overarching priorities to ensure more students get the skills needed to succeed in the STEM fields: increasing STEM literacy so that more students are motivated to pursue STEM subjects; improving the quality of math and science teaching; and expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities. Key activities include:
 $149.7 million for Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM, which would replace the current Mathematics and Science Partnerships program. Funds would be used to support State implementation of comprehensive, evidence-based plans; professional development that aligns Federal, State, and local resources to provide high-quality STEM instruction, and for subgrants to high-need LEAs to support comprehensive STEM instruction in the grades and schools with the greatest needs.
 $80 million for STEM teacher and leader training and professional development, funded through a set aside from the Effective Teachers and Leaders program, to support the President’s goal of preparing 100,000 effective STEM teachers over the next decade. These funds would support competitive awards to create or expand high-quality pathways to teacher certification and other innovative approaches for recruiting, training, and placing talented recent college graduates and mid-career professionals in STEM fields in high-need schools.
 $30 million in the Fund for the Improvement of Education, combined with $30 million from the National Science Foundation, to support the development and implementation of a robust, evidence-based K-12 STEM initiative as well as efforts to improve the evidence base for STEM programs across the Federal Government. The initiative would include competitive grants focused on developing, evaluating, and scaling up proven practices that can help increase student achievement in K-12 STEM. In addition, funds would support the development of common evidence frameworks for the two agencies, a “what works” repository, and technical assistance activities.
 A priority for STEM projects under the Investing in Innovation (i3) program, which makes competitive awards to develop, validate, and scale up innovative programs, practices, and strategies that are effective in improving educational outcomes for students. The proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education (ARPA-ED), which would be launched through a set-aside of i3 funds, would focus on developing breakthrough educational technology solutions in high-need areas, such as STEM.

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