Archive for the ‘Educational Leadership’ Category

Embedded Tech a Division of Hokanson’s Instructional Technology

This is the beginnings of a plan to provide services to the educational community. Stay tuned…

Image from Teacher Certification Degrees…

Great Teachers


I was recently reviewing my list of instructional technology trainings, etc. from my years serving as an instructional technology director. The list of resources can be found here although, some of the links to resources within are no longer available with my current school district abandoning a server that was utilized to feed this info. I have most of the information; so, I plan to reconstruct as much of those resources that I can over the next few weeks in order to have it serve as a historical record of my past work, but also to serve as a resource to those that can benefit from the information.

In the meantime, as I continue to teach again in a classroom setting, I am constantly constructing online resources that enable my students to work anywhere they have a device and internet connection as we flip the classroom and continue on our adventure in learning about modern American history. You can visit our journey at



Five years ago I moved to North Platte, Nebraska to take a position as the educational technology director for the North Platte Public Schools.  I had taught for 13 years prior to that as a high school and middle school social studies teacher.  Upon my arrival in North Platte I soon found a lot of opposition to embedding technology into the learning process.  One of the first school board meetings I attended I heard one gentleman accuse me of being “only a teacher.”

What a great compliment!  That phrase sticks in my mind, and I couldn’t be more proud to be called such a name.  My career as a teacher has led me to many places and on adventures with many great educators and students.  I now go back to the classroom to teach, to work with students, to feel like what I am doing is worth something.  Worth more than gold or riches.  Teaching is a profession that literally reaches into the future.

I am a teacher, a great teacher.  If only everyone would be…

If you are interested in the book see the following (I profit in no way…)

iPads vs. Textbooks
Created by: Online Teaching Degree

After a fun filled July I am back at the business of learning and helping to get ready for the new school year.  We have finally upgraded many of our computers to Windows 7 ($ held us back!), and the 300 additional netbooks that we’ve been waiting to get to the high school are in the building ready for use (600 netbooks at NPHS now!).  Exciting times indeed.

Several trainings are in store for support staff, administrators, and new teachers the beginning of this week.  This is my fifth year in this district and I feel like we have made some great progress over that time.  Access to digital devices is much improved, our network and storage space has been upgraded (a continual process), and I hope to see more of a focus on use, integration, and embedding technology in the classroom this year.

We have a 1:1 initiative at our smallest middle school with about 200 netbooks in the system.  It is not a full fledged take home program, but students have access during the day.  We hope to get to the 3/4 stage of 1:1 at our high school with only 300 devices left for next year to bring online 1200 netbooks for students to use at NPHS.  This year will be a preparation for that goal, and I hope we can have some progressive discussions and preparation as we move closer to that end.

Once again I had the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Educational Technology Association Conference in Omaha this past week.  As always, I am impressed with this hidden gem (for some people) held here in the Heartland.  I had the pleasure of listening to keynote speakers Rushton Hurley and Richard Byrne.  I attended several informative sessions on hand held devices, 1:1 programs, and took part in a great discussion on moving forward with reluctant staff.  Of course I was able to network with several colleagues from around the state and to renew old acquaintances and made some new friends along the way.

If you are in the region, I highly recommend a trip to Omaha next spring (April 26-27, 2012) to attend the NETA conference.  You will be amazed at the resources you will have access to, the speakers and presenters that will share valuable information, and the power of face to face networking.  You can learn more information about NETA at the following url:

See you next year!

It has been a few years since I heard Ian Jukes speak at the T+L Conference in Nashville (October 19, 2007).  However, his words continue to ring in my ears, and I want to share some of them with you as I reflect on where our school district is with embedding technology in learning.

Ian Jukes said:

“We have access to some new technologies but their use is generally optional not integral and certainly not required of all teachers – and the technologies are often used to reinforce old practices and assumptions about teaching and learning and assessment and do not require the teacher to change their current instructional practices.”

“Ask yourself this very important question – would your students be there in your classrooms if they didn’t have to be? Are they there because they want to be there? Or are they there because they have no other choice? And if they’re there only because they have to, what can we begin to do differently to help more students want to be in our classes?”

“…Our emphasis as professional educators has to be on more than just LOTS.”

“The starting point for making the necessary changes is that as educators we have to understand how truly different our students are.”

“This shift is so fundamental – the gap between them and us is so wide – that there’s no going back to the basics. There’s no going back to the way things were when we were kids.”

“The problem is that many educators just don’t get that there is a digital divide. Many of us pay lip service to the notion that this generation is different. We knowingly nod our heads but then we shut the door to the classroom and go back to business as usual where it could just as easily be 1960 all over again.”

“Most teachers know very little if anything about the digital world of their students – from online gaming to their means of exchanging, sharing, meeting, evaluating, coordinating, programming, searching, customizing, and socializing.”

“The bottom line is that we really don’t understand their digital world and we never will until we take the time to honor and respect where they come from. But to do this we have to be willing to acknowledge their world and start to educate ourselves about that world.”

“If we truly want to make a difference in the lives of our children, schools must become a place where students are actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge and know how…”

“The context of a significant event provides a frame of reference and relevance for remembering the specific information about what you were doing long after the event. By providing a context for the new information teachers are actually helping students with long-term memory.”

My summary and challenge to myself and others that continues today:  As educators it is time that we take responsibility for our own learning.  If we want to create self-directed learners, we must become one.  We must model self-directed, independent learning, and we need to discover how our students learn in the 21st Century.

I have been contemplating my personal learning network (PLN) as of late, and I have shared my off and on dealings with such tools as Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  As an educator, a PLN is vital in gaining new ideas, sharing, seeking support, and maintaining all sorts of human relationships that get one through the days, weeks, and years.  I have never been a good giver over my digital PLN, but living as a taker has helped me to survive.

Sometimes people come along and give you a good shot in the arm when you least expect it, and two gentlemen did just that for me many months ago.  Dale and Jarred were two new teachers, just finishing up their programs of study at university.  Last year was their first year in the classroom, and now they march along in the second.  I had followed these teachers, and visited with them on rare occasion, but I lost them for a bit (my fault).  I backed away from my digital PLN to gain some perspective, that I never quite found, and added them back today.  Hopefully they will take me back.

Chances are good they didn’t know I was gone, and that would be my fault for being a taker.  That’s okay.  I need to take from them, I need their enthusiasm, I need to hear of their struggles and triumphs, and I need to be ready to offer encouragement when I think they need it.  That encouragement makes me a giver.  Support is one of the great benefits of a PLN.  It comes from strangers, those you least expect, but they become familiar:  they become family through one’s PLN.

We come to the end of a calendar year.  This is a time of reflection for many, and a time to set new goals.  I’ve been thinking about goals, been taking stock of the past, and wondering how to navigate the future.  I have been looking for perspective.  I was referring to my PLN via my RSS feeder to find some wisdom, and Dale provided just the perspective I needed in the following video (Dale and Jarred:  Thanks for finding me many months ago even though you didn’t realize I needed to be found!):

You can follow Dale and Jarred on Twitter:  @DaleHolt and @JarredRowe and learn from them at “Not Your Average Teacher

They truly are not average, they are great!!!

Sites for bullying, friendship, personal safety, anger, or conflict resolution:



Personal Safety-



Conflict Resolution-

Sunday evening as I walked to my hotel from the ISTE 2010 opening keynote I was struck by the difference on the downtown Denver streets compared to 25 years ago.  In a surreal coincidence I saw 2 young men dressed in white shirts and ties and saw myself those many years ago when I served the people of this city.  As a 19 year old young man, I spent my time downtown and in the Five Points area helping many people that could not help themselves.  I don’t share this to shine a light on what I did, but I want people to understand tough times.  In several of the sessions I attended at ISTE the current dire state of affairs was shared.  Come back in time with me and we shall compare and contrast.

25 years ago I spent 18 months of my life, unpaid (I saved money as a teenager to do all this on my own dime) helping people.  The time was 1985, the organization I represented had shortened service time from 24 to 18 months because we were in an economic recession, interest rates were 13% and higher, unemployment was up, and there was an influx of Vietnamese and Hmong refugees from Laos and Thailand here in Denver.  The streets I walk today were filled with desperate people, and I spent time with them, helping them.  We delivered clothes, beds, food, helped them find housing and jobs, gave them rides, did whatever we could do to help them have a better life.  Many of the young children I knew back then are now adults, and are out in the world helping to make it a better place.

The service I was involved in was meaningful, frightening, rewarding, painful, full of heartache and joy at the same time.  I had worked hard growing up on a ranch in western Wyoming, but this was something else:  a different kind of hard work.  I benefited from each experience, I am a better man because of these times in my youth, but where did all the people go?  There are a few I see, but are they all still there?  Do we not see them because they were shooed away, because they are hidden elsewhere, were they cleaned up like crude oil on a sandy beach and taken away out of sight and out of mind?

It is easy to be concerned when we have something shoved in our faces.  It is right there, not to be ignored.  We may get concerned for awhile because it is a popular thing to do, it captures our interest for a time, or it impacts our personal lives so directly that we have to deal with it.  I was taught at an early age to serve people.  I don’t mean the occasional helping the neighbor.  I mean consistently giving of my time, money, and life to those that I live amongst with an eye to the big picture of things and with a hope that others will do the same across the globe.

I heard a comment during an ISTE session on Monday that we must think global first, and I wonder if that is misguided thinking.  If we can’t think about our neighbor and help them, how can we know what it really takes (time, energy, heart, etc.) to help around the world?  It may be a case of semantics, but family first, community second, and global third seems like a natural progression of thinking, or in the case of students learning.  We can make a huge difference for good where we are at a given time. I think we should.

Yes, these are tough times.  There have been tough times since I took my first breath in November of 1965.  We live in a troubled world, we face great challenges, and we do need to help our children prepare to meet problems head on just like I was taught to deal with things by great and noble people in my past.  We do that via authentic opportunities of service.  I shall restate the key term:  do.

Doing something requires action.  Yes, I can join a social network group and discuss the issues, make a plan, but it serves no real purpose until that action is carried out in the form of service to others.  Hands on, get your hands and white shirt dirty, help a guy stand up on California Street in Denver, feed him, get him some clothes and housing, take him to a job interview, check back and make sure life is getting better kind of service.  Selfless service, not out to make a dollar service.

We can talk about it and it is a noble, idealistic effort, but until you act I have a hard time listening.  Would you really help someone you see in need on California Street?  Will you?  If you came back 25 years later and saw no one in need, was the problem solved?  Today, the economy is tough, but I would say better than it was 25 years ago.  A trip to the Exhibit Hall of ISTE 2010 sure makes me think everything is okay in the education world.  Tax dollars will buy many of the gee whiz items that grace the hall, but will these items help our kids go out and find people in this city, in your city, that are in dire straits?  Maybe that is a lens that we can use to help us decide before we choose that new interactive whiteboard, set of clickers, or information management software.

I listened to a man on Sunday night speak of solving the world’s challenges.  Would he go out on California Street, just a few hundred yards from the very stage he stood on (25 years ago California Street ran through the Convention Center!) and help someone in need?  I hope so.  I have.

Let’s help our children, students, young people look the hundred yards and go out and help.  That is good hands on experience that will help them look a mile, 100 miles, 1000 miles, and all around the globe.  It will help them to see the people on California Street that we may not see anymore, but they are still there in need.  Most of us already do this in our classrooms and schools, and we must continue to extend that vision beyond those spaces keeping an eye on that young face within our view making sure they see the challenges ahead and that they learn how to do something about it as we do something about it with them, today.

Hello out there!  I feel I have dropped off the face of the earth here at H I T, but I have been quite busy establishing several tools for our district and putting together an equipment deployment to keep us busy over the summer months as we prepare for the return of students and staff in the coming weeks.  It has been an exciting time amidst trying times in education with budget cuts, staff layoffs, and a generally not so good economy.  I have also witnessed the high school graduation of my oldest child and her plans to move into higher education.  That has kept me busy enough!

Our district has been the beneficiary of helpful stimulus funds that have allowed the purchase of several pieces of equipment that will provide learning tools for students and staff.  We will see projection devices in all K-12 classrooms by the fall be it a projector and document camera and/or a new Epson Brightlink system in K-5 classrooms that don’t already have a SMART Board.  We infused over 1200 netbooks into various schools over the past year and after my first three years here at this district I feel we are making progress in providing 21 Century devices that can enhance the learning process.

New tools we are adding to the educational process include Moodle (a content management system), Mahara (an ePortfolio system), and we have established our own WordPress server.  These open source tools are key in assisting teachers and students as they learn, grow, and show what they know in our educational endeavors.  We are determining whether or not to continue utilizing Gaggle for student email or to try Microsoft’s Live@edu.  That decision will come soon, and I believe cost will be the deciding factor.  A robust wireless network has been established over the past three years enabling the use of these tools across the district in our 13 school buildings.

I have plans to attend the ISTE conference in Denver in the coming days and look forward to meeting several of you I have met over the years via this blog and through efforts such as Quest Atlantis.  Denver is a four-hour drive from my neck of the woods, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  I hope to learn many new and exciting things on the trip to bring back to our community.

Busy times require focus, and I just can’t seem to find the time to share here.  Reflection is an important part of the learning process, and this blog has enabled that for me in the past.  I know I learn so much from the many out there that put forth their efforts, trials, errors, and accomplishments, and I need to give back so much more.  Here’s hoping that I can do just that has time marches forward.