It’s wonderful to be here in Missoula, Montana, to spend a couple days with area school administrators discussing the need for educational leaders to create professional learning communities, to lead with “digitally informed” vision for blended learning, and support transformative models of professional development in our schools. I’ll be presenting and facilitating sessions here in person tomorrow and Friday with the assistance of Karen Montgomery, who is videoconferencing in from St Louis. We also will have administrators participating via videoconference from remote sites in Billings and Kalispell. Karen and I have created a curriculum page for our two days with educational leaders on our Powerful Ingredients 4 Blended Learning Google site.

My flight from Denver was fortunate to land early this afternoon because of heavy fog in Missoula. Thankfully the visibility was just good enough for the pilot to make the landing. I took a couple panoramic images this afternoon of the striking geography: We’re surrounded by mountains! (I can easily get as excited as Bilbo speaking to Gandalf when it comes to landscapes like these.)

This is a 360 degree panoramic image I took today in Missoula with the iPhone app, Sfera. Click the link to view the webpage version, it’s an image you can click and drag to “move” within, similar to the old QTVR. (QuickTime Virtual Reality)

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I should have continued adding several more images to the Pano photo below, but the light at the intersection changed so I couldn’t!

Mountains in Missoula, Montana

I spent some time this afternoon in the local Best Buy as well as Barnes and Noble. It was interesting to visit with the lady at the information desk in Barnes and Noble, who was attempting to provide technical phone support to a customer who had recently downloaded the Nook application on their smartphone. They were not sure if they had an Android phone or something else, which made it difficult to provide phone support. B&N needs their own “Genius Bar” like Apple Stores have. The employee, who was elderly, had a conversation with me afterward about how the Nook and the Internet are changing the numbers of books they stock and the ways people are encouraged to buy books. She lamented the changes from “the old days.” Signs of technological convergence and the influence of the Internet are evident in many places.

The Nook Color, released in December 2010, now sports a full touch screen. It’s not multi-touch, but it is much more usable than previous versions which were more like an old Palm screen that was stylus-sensitive only at the bottom. The ad I saw today heralds it with the words, “Touch the Future of Reading.”

Nook Color: Touch the Future of Reading

This isn’t the future of reading, it’s the present… At least for those with the money to purchase digital devices and enjoy connectivity. Best Buy was selling some gift cards I hadn’t seen previously: Facebook credits (I definitely don’t need these, I steer clear of virtually all Facebook apps now) as well as Zynga credits for Farmville players as well as addicts. I’m not in that group either.

Buy Facebook Credits?

Zynga Credits

In the Apple section of Best Buy, gift cards were available for iBooks.

$50 iBooks Gift Card

The local Staples store had a “help wanted” sign out. Computer skills mandatory, sales experience optional.

Now Hiring: Computer Skills Required

I’m surrounded by stunning geography here in Missoula, but it seems the influence of the digital world is as powerful here as it is at home in Oklahoma.

It’s time to make some changes in our schools…

We’ll be encouraging all our workshop participants tomorrow and Friday to participate in a Twitter backchannel using the hashtag #mtvision, short for “Montana Vision.” With a tub of Flip cameras to use during our group work time in the afternoon, I’m sure we’re in for some memorable experiences that will be shared. :-)

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On this day..

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  • elawson

    The other great part of Missoula is their beer selection. Did you try a Moose Drool Brown Ale while you were there?

  • http://twitter.com/heza Heather Dowd

    It’s a great city! Enjoy Missoula! Big Dipper ice cream rocks.

  • Jacob Gonyea

    I agree with you on the prevalence with which technology plays in society today. Your pictures show how even a place like Missoula, Montana, which most people might think not be as technology advanced, can offer community members the added flexibility of social media. I find your picture on the Staples help-wanted poster the most intriguing. This strikes me how times have changed because they asking for more of a technological sound mind instead of an individual with social skills. Finally, I also agree that changes need to be made in our schools as it pertains to technology because at my school almost every student has a cell phone with smart phone capabilities and have overheard talk of facebook or twitter. We should find ways to integrate this new social media with learning in school…

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