Monday, December 30, 2013

Technology and Toddlers

     So how much technology is too much technology when we are talking about the preschool and early childhood set?  While we as adults are tethered to our devices and most of the adolescents we know are socially connected 24/7, when it comes to our youngest learners, we encounter push back about screen-time from a large segment of early childhood educators, citing developmentally appropriate practices and the need to foster play, social interaction and emotional development.  Can technology do the same thing (or better) than blocks, the kitchen center, or the dramatic play center?
     When you watch the videos on YouTube of babies trying to swipe a magazine with their fingers, or toddlers who can unlock their parent's iPhone to watch videos, you have to wonder, should we be leveraging and fostering technology use that seems so innate with these young kids or should we maybe just bury our heads in the sand and maybe all this will just go away?
     As a boomer who was blown way when we got our first Pong videogame, I never could have envisioned the things that are now possible as a result of technology innovations.  What the future holds, who knows?  One thing we can be sure of, technology will become more ubiquitous and not something you do, but rather something you are.  No, I'm not talking about implanted chips (although that is already happening), I'm talking about one's digital footprint- how we identify ourselves and more importantly how we connect and collaborate with others.   Sounds like social interaction and play to me, no? So, maybe we just need to rethink how we should be using technology with our youngest learners recognizing that we have an obligation to be laying the groundwork for what they will build on in the future.
     So the reason for this post - I'm looking for folks out there who are using technology with young children in innovative ways.  Do you have some unique ways you are developing parallel and collaborative play, fostering social interaction and collaboration skills through VOIP, building background through virtual field trips, etc. I am doing a presentation in Chicago at the end of January and would love to be able to share some stories from the field.  Thanks in advance for any support you provide and feel free to email me at

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and......

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of my fellow techies, nerds and geeks who have shown an interest in the work I have posted over the last three years.  I continue to be amazed and energized by the fact that I have received over 36,000 page views since I started this blog.  In the past year, I have come to realize that while I am a very good educator, as a blogger, I pretty much suck.   I wish I had more profound thoughts, more frequent revelations, interesting posts, or something.  Life continues to get in the way.  And those kids...  Anyway, thanks for continuing to follow and read my blog. I promise in the New Year, to try to be more cerebral, or at least post on a more regular basis.  That's not a resolution, just something I am going to try to do.  Enjoy your Christmas......

Saturday, December 7, 2013

App Rubric Dissertation Available

I've got some good news and some bad news.  The bad news first.  My dissertation will not be posted online through ProQuest until sometime in March.  The good news?  I would be more than happy to share the PDF of my dissertation with anyone who might be interested in reviewing my research.  For the low price of $19.99 plus shipping and handling you too can get your hands on a copy of this research, but wait, if you act now, we will send you a second copy for free.  Just pay separate shipping and handling.  If you haven't closed the window yet, are still reading, and have followed my work over the years, you will have figured out that I am only kidding.  It's free, like everything else I have posted on my blog with the caveat that my intellectual property rights be observed.  Please note the ® on the front page of the dissertation.  Simply send me an email request at and assuming both of our email accounts can handle the file size, it will be on it's way asap.  Thanks for continuing to follow my blog and more importantly, for spreading the news and changing the world......

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from Dr. Walker...

     So what an I thankful for?  I finally defended my doctoral dissertation this month!!  When the next person yells out in a restaurant, "Is there a doctor in the house?" I can reply, "Sort of?"  A number of "real doctors" have told me my kind of doctorate i recently earned is harder to get than their degree which is quite a compliment, but honestly, I think I'd rather have their salary than the compliment.
     At any rate, in keeping with the open source mentality that inspired the development of this blog almost three years ago, I will be posting my doctoral dissertation in the coming week for anyone who might be interested in learning from my research in order to take this whole mobile technology thing to the next level.  I hope my research continues to encourage people around the world to conduct action research and full blown empirical studies to identify best practices in the use of technology in education settings.  The conversation and collaboration have been rich.  I hope they will continue.  Stay tuned for a posting letting you know where you can find my dissertation.
     So now that I have my doctorate, what an I going to do when I grow up?  That's a good question. Still trying to figure out if I even want to grow up...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is there a Doctor in the house?

Is there a Doctor in the house?  Well, there might be soon.  My final defense for my doctoral dissertation is scheduled for November 7th.  After that, please address me with "What's up Doc?" when you see me.  I will be sure to post my dissertation after, assuming I do, pass.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Website Worth Checking Out

I first "met" Bronwyn Sutton online as we were sharing our frustration regarding the lack of a consistent means to evaluate the quality of apps designed to be used in education.  Bronwyn asked permission to use my Rubric for Apps and took it to the next level.  She just recently released a new website that has reviewed over 750 apps using the rubric.  You really need to check out her website.  Here is an excerpt from her latest email:

Big news!

I have now released a website called “The Learning App Guide to Autism and Education”.

I have evaluated over 750 apps using your rubric. I am passionate about evaluating apps and aligning them with evidence base for children with autism.

The website is

Harry, the work you are doing and your philosophy towards mobile technologies is inspirational.

Kind regards

Bronwyn Sutton
Speech Language Pathologist
The Learning App Guide to Autism and Education
1  1/249 Harts Road, Indooroopilly, 4068
' (07) 3876 9529

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Can We Please Stop Calling Them Cell Phones?

Can we please stop calling them cell phones?  Does anyone, other than your grandmother, have a phone that's just a phone?  "Cell phones" are really a computer that just happens to make phone calls for those folks who still make phone calls.

I bring this up as school systems across the country are struggling with outdated policies designed to keep "cell phones" out of the classrooms.  Part of the problem is those folks making decisions about policy are operating with this old "cell phone" mindset.  If that's all these devices could do, I would understand it.  After all, who wants kids making or receiving calls during your biology lecture that you have honed over the past fifteen years and have down to a science? (I couldn't resist!)  Let's work on restructuring our schema and begin to embrace the potential these devices can have on enhancing that well-worn biology lecture.

I do not know about your school/system/agency, but that ones I am familiar with are having a heck of a time trying to keep up with technology - budget constraints, new innovations every time you turn around, etc.  Meanwhile, many of our students are coming to school with "cell phones" that are even cooler (and more powerful) than ours.  Outside of school they connect and collaborate through social networks, conduct their own inquiries on the fly, and get answers to their questions in real time.  In school? Well, that's another story.  In some schools, kids go to the computer lab once a week to learn typing skills or Pixie, or some other skill that someone in this current time, or more likely the past, has deemed important for our kids' future.  Even when computers are in the classroom, their use is still controlled by the teacher, not driven by the children's curiosity, providing them with opportunities to assume control of their own learning. Many of these same kids have access to technology, albeit "off and away during the school day" in their backpacks, or the sly ones, in their pockets. Talk about a disconnect!

So, Mr. know it all blogger, what do we do?  Well, let start with the biggest hurdle, by acknowledging things are changing and that education needs to change as well.

How should kids be using technology?  How do use it?  Do you see any disconnects?  What do you do when you need information right away?  Card catalog, Dewey decimal system, wait a week for the computer lab, ask the teacher if you can use the eMac in the back of the room, or do you pull out your mobile device and just Google it?  I thought so.  Kids need the same level of access to information that we enjoy whenever we need it and that they experience outside of school.

Let's stop calling them cell phones and start giving kids the power to take more responsibility for their own learning.  "Take those smart phones out of your backpack kids.  It's time to learn!"After all, it is the 21st century, no?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

You Go Latvia!

I have to give a shout out to one or more educators in Latvia.  They logged 122 page views in one week!  Pretty cool to think folks half way around the world are thinking along the same lines.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Mobile Learning Revolution: The Top 101 Resources

Be sure to check out the work of Scott Hawksworth, Chief Executive Officer of Best Online Universities,  Scott and his team have assembled an amazing list of 101 online websites and resources addressing the use of mobile devices in education.  In Scott's words:

"Technology is changing education in countless ways and mobile learning is one of the most significant innovations,  We think anyone involved in education, whether a teacher or a student, should stay up-to-date on its evolution.  This list aims to help them do just that."

I Teach Therefore IPod (one of my favorite blogs) is listed as a resource.  So is the work of innovative mobile folks like Tony Vincent.  It's a pretty comprehensive list (no, not just because my blog is on the list).  Be sure to check out the list at:

PS  With all of my career changes, folks have have a hard time keeping up with me.  If you would like to connect with me, my newest email is

Monday, June 24, 2013

Backward Southern Schools? Not so Fast - Horry County Leads the Way

     Say what you will about the schools in South Carolina.  Underfunded, underperforming, under fill in the blank?  While improvements have been noted, the state as a whole is a far cry from the model of reform and excellence imagined by Arne Duncan and the politicians who profess to know better than we educators.

     In a recent report from NEA ranking states, South Carlina teachers' salaries ranked 38th. 

     In terms of the Science and Engineering Readiness Index (SERI), SC students ranked 40th in the country ( 

     Rankings from the 17th annual report card posted by the American Legislative Exchange Council placed South Carolina as the worst performing state in the country.


     With all that said, it makes what is happening in Horry County, South Carolina even more impressive.  Last night, the board of education approved a 2.2 million dollar "personalized digital learning initiative" as part of thier technology plan to put digital devices in the hands of each of their K-12 students, update existing technology and build their wireless infrastructure.  You can read the piece in the local Myrtle Beach paper.

     Of particular note in Horry County is the work going on under the leadership of Judy Beard with the support of Beth Havens at Whittemore Park Middle School in Conway.  Whittemore Park received a Next Generation grant and is working collaboratively with the leaderhip team assembled by Dr. Cindy Ellsberry to implement truly innovative technology programs.  You can read about their grant award here:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Technology Nine Commandments

Since I have had some time on my hands in between jobs, I have had the opportunity to reflect on what I have learned over my 34 years in education about the most effective ways to incorporate technology into today's classrooms to enhance teaching and learning.  As a principal, I made my fair share of mistakes in my well intentioned efforts to try to make the most out of technology.  As a blended learning senior consultant I saw even more mistakes being made, again with good intentions.

My experiences have led to the crafting of a list of dont's and do's when considering incorporating technology programs with kids in education settings.  I hope I don't offend readers as I have put my thoughts, most of them don'ts, into a list of commandments.   I had ten, but deleted one to make it the Nine Commandments.   I didn't want to be accused of infringing on the big guy's intellectual property.  I do not mean for this post to be sacrilegious, just humorous and hopefully thought provoking.

You can find the commandments on this shared Google doc:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Back in the Saddle

I know this blog isn't supposed to be Facebook or Twitter, but I got a job - Woo-Hoo!  Thank goodness -  I was running out of rooms to paint in my house.  Details on the job to follow.....

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rubric Research Data Coming Soon!

Good day fellow mobile enthusiasts.  I am very happy to announce that I am coming down the home stretch on my doctorate and will have more data to share in the very near future.  Seventy subject matter experts from around the globe recently completed an online survey and shared their experiences using the App Rubric, as well as how they are using Apps in their settings.  It was interesting data and further supports the importance of research in the area of mobile technology applications in education settings.  In addition to posting this latest round of data, my hope is to post a link to my dissertation sometime this summer.  Happy surfing....

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's not Mommy honey, it's the Kindle.

Russ Crupnick, Senior VP of Industry Analysis gets it.  What is this 1984?  Technology is now taking over our need to parent?  No longer do you as the parent have to tell your child his or her time is up on the Kindle.  You can program the device so that mean old Kindle is the bad guy.  Read his post below:

The commercial itself can be viewed here:

Come on Moms and Dads - Mom up and Dad up.  Being the bad guy isn't a bad thing.  Be a parent, not a friend.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Screen Time- Is Flex Too Much?

    With the increasing use of computers in schools and the fact that too many of us (kids included) spend way too much time with our faces glued to small and large screens (oooh, shiny), the question that begs to be asked is, "How much time is too much screen time?"
     I'm all about connecting kids with technology in schools, don't get me wrong.  Besides believing in the power of technology to enhance our instruction, if we don't, we risk a whole generation of kids checking out of this thing we call school.  However, I am concerned in our rush to increase the use of blended learning in schools that some of us may be taking things a little too far.  Of particular concern to me are those folks across the country (e.g., Carpe Diem Schools) implementing the "flex model" of blended learning under the guise of being "innovative". Call me old school, old-fashioned, or whatever, but I don't think computer programs, digital content and the like, no not even Hal, can take the place of the interaction that takes place between a teacher and his or her students during that magical thing called learning.  Let embrace the latest and greatest technology, but be mindful of using it to do what it does best, freeing up teachers to do what they do best.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Working (or not) for a Technology Start Up Company....

     Ah, the cost of wanting to push the edge of the envelope, being on the forefront of innovation, meeting kids where they are in terms of their technology use, increasing their level of engagement and excitement about the process of schooling, and changing the face of education as we know it - unemployment!  After 7 months of helping schools implement blended learning classrooms across the country, I find myself unemployed for the first time in 40 years.  On the second day of my new life I reflect on what went wrong.....
     Education Elements, without a doubt the leading band of forward thinking technology consultants in the country, downsized the band by 50% last week.  The "pivot" (corporate speak for "we better do something different 'cause we are running out of money quick") was in response to the market not responding as quickly as hoped, and for that matter as quickly as it should.
     We have been talking about transforming schools for the past quarter of a century, but walk into most schools across the country and you'd swear you were back in my old school in the seventies, except of course that now there are laptops instead on Apple IIe's.  Unfortunately, too much of the innovation out there in the educationsphere is being driven by grants, all too often all too short.  While many education leaders are labeling themselves as "innovative" it is about time somebody stepped up and put their money where their mouths are.
     You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the field who could present a case as to why schools should not increase the level of blended learning in today's classrooms.  Even those old dogs who just figured out how to text are beginning to see the light.  Here's the rub - until school systems, CMO's and boards start making blended learning a priority by funding it within their own budgets rather than relying on grants, schools will look pretty much the same another quarter of a century from now.  I will mark my calendar for 25 years from today and make sure I update you on the state of our schools and blended learning, unless all of the kids have completely checked out by then....

Personal note - My apologies for not posting for the past 7 months. It was grueling trying to change the system.  Time to figure out another approach?