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My April SAI Report article

This year I started writing a column in the SAI Report, the monthly PDF newsletter put out by the School Administrators of Iowa for its members. With SAI’s permission, I’ve decided to occasionally share my articles on this blog so that you can see what I’m writing to the principals and superintendents here in Iowa. Below is my April article. Let me know what you think and/or if you have any suggestions for me for future articles!


Hi, everyone. This month I’m going to highlight several resources that should be of interest to technology-interested principals and superintendents. That means all of you since we now live in a digital, global era!

The Horizon Report, 2009 K-12 Edition

Be sure to check out the 2009 K-12 Horizon Report ( This first-ever report describes six emerging technologies that are “likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within [K-12] education around the globe.” The authors note that collaborative environments and online communication tools are expected to have major impacts on K-12 classrooms in the next year or so. Online services that are profiled include Google Docs, Ning, Moodle, Skype, Edmodo, VoiceThread, Twitter, Zoey’s Room, and more. Impactful technologies with time horizons slightly further out – i.e., in the next two to five years – include mobile phones, cloud computing, smart objects, and the personal web. The report includes descriptions of each emerging technology along with accompanying URLs of helpful resources and examples of classroom use. This is a must-read for any administrator interested in better technology integration within his or her school organization.

Google Docs for Educators

Speaking of Google Docs, Google recently released a video highlighting how educators are using its online office software suite in productive ways. The video is available at the Google Docs for Educators page (, which also contains additional resources, tips, and suggestions for P-12 teachers and administrators. Some school districts are using Google Apps for Education ( – which includes Google Docs as well as e-mail, calendar, instant messaging, and wiki services – to save a great deal of money on server maintenance, software licensing, and other costs.

The Iowa series

I recently concluded a series of guest blog posts for The Des Moines Register that highlighted five essential levers that I believe are necessary to move Iowa schools forward and help our graduates survive and thrive in this new digital, global age in which we now live. These represent some of my best and most recent thinking on these topics:

  •  (21st century curricula)
  •  (a robust system of online learning)
  •  (a computer in every hand)
  •  (invest in leadership)
  •  (better information)
  • The netbook effect

    Some of you are considering netbooks as possibilities for 1:1 laptop initiatives in your schools. Read Wired‘s new article, The Netbook Effect (, to understand why netbooks are selling like hotcakes.

    SAI web site

    You may have noticed some changes to the SAI web site! CASTLE has been working with SAI to update the site, make it more interactive, etc. For example, Dan Smith currently is hosting a book discussion on The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. Matt Carver also recently posted about Iowa school districts’ cell phone policies. Both conversations are available in the Member Forum (the link is on the right side of the SAI web site). If you see Tracy Harms, give her a hearty thanks for all of her hard work. Look for additional tools, discussions, and resources in the months to come!

    Dangerously Irrelevant

    If you are enjoying this column, I would encourage you to check out my blog,, where I write about technology leadership issues on a regular basis.

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    Invest in yourselves

    Finally, I’ll make yet another plea for you to invest in yourselves. If P-12 school organizations are to ever catch up to the demands of a digital, creative, information economy, we must have technology knowledgeable and  savvy administrators. Please use some of those precious professional development monies to which your school district may soon have access to further your own understanding and skill development.

    If you’d like to dialogue further about these issues or think that CASTLE and SAI might be able to help with your planning, purchasing, and/or staff development decisions, please stay in touch!


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