These are my notes from Karl Fisch’s luncheon keynote at the November 10, 2011, Innovative Learning Institute hosted by the K-20 Center at the University of Oklahoma. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Links from Karl’s breakout sessions are available on Google Sites.

This session is available as a no-edit audio podcast via Cinch.

Conference Twitter hashtag: #k20ili

I’m passionate about these issues we’ll discuss today because of my 11 year old daughter, Abby
– particularly for her, I want you to think about YOUR Abby
– think about your young children or grandchildren you want to think about as I say “Abby” instead of thinking about ‘the generic student’
– make it personal, think of someone personal to you
– we need to think about what’s important

My purpose today is to be part of the conversation today, and the conversations you take back to your schools

Start: “I am a derivative”
– not a math derivative
– most of what I will share today I stole from someone else
– this first statement is from Dean Shareski in Moose Jaw, SA

Lots can say “Yeah, but…”
– I want you to change that to “yeah, AND”

As I teacher I set out in the audience
– I don’t have the answers, but I think I do have some good questions

– give you the context of how my thinking has evolved

As the director of technology, I am responsible for all the stuff which plugs in
– most important job is helping teachers and students USE the technology in compelling way

I was math teacher first
– fall of 1991 I started teaching math at Arapahoe High School

Generally our students are really ‘nice’ (compliant)
– for the most part they pay attention, do homework (or copy each other’s homework)
– some A’s, lots of B’s, a few C’s, generally everyone is happy

As an idealistic math teacher, I loved my content area and I wasn’t satisfied: I wanted

“We have a problem with math literacy: It affects 10 out of 6 people”

pushback: have an unwritten rule that we’ll ask just so much of each other, but not too much

“go back to giving 1 through 31 odd, and no one gets hurt”

1994 my administrator said, “I heard you know something about technology”
– photo of 8 mHZ processor Mac SE, 1 MB of RAM, dual 800K floppy drives for $2999, for $1000 more you could get a 20 MB hard drive
– flash drive in his hand: $15 and 400 times as big as that hard drive

Photo of Mac SE’s used as bookends in a school library

when I become full time tech director I started work on more staff development, starting writing grants
– I initially wrote grants but they were focused on tech, gradually I made them more about the teaching learning

Started blog “The Fischbowl” to continue the conversations in between grant meetings that were every two weeks
– faculty meeting: invitation to speak to teachers
– went home over the weekend, created a PPT, shared it with staff, they liked it, and I posted it to my blog
– some wanted to share with their spouses

Video was “Did You Know” (Shift Happens)
– video talking about changes happening and what it means for our students
– I was very concerned we were doing a great job preparing our students for 1985

Got posted by prominent educational bloggers (Will Richardson, David Warlick, Bud Hunt)
– 50,000 views by winter break
– in January Scott McLeod (at Univ of Kentucky now) asked for permission to remix it and post to his blog
– he posted it as video in multiple formats
– within 1.5 days someone downloaded it and re-uploaded to YouTube, (video sharing site), also
– those sites track views
– I tracked top 4-5 sites: conservative estimate, PPT I created for my staff of 150 has been seen by 40+ Million folks in all

Video was shown for Senate Select Subcommittee for Intelligence and the DNI and heads of every intelligence agency!

If a simple little PPT created by , we live in a fundamentally different world than the one you and I grew up in
– if you buy that, then maybe school needs to look a little different than it does now

Schools as we know now were designed in the 1920s based on ideas from the 1890s
– students are widgets, we perform similar operations on the assembly line for 180 days per year
– after 12 or 13 years kids fall off the assembly line ready for success in industrial-age America
– the model is messed up
– if you put good people in a bad system, generally the system wins

“Never before have kids been so well prepared for success in an industrial…” (David Warlick partial quotation – I DIDN’T GET THE ENTIRE THING)

We need to prepare kids for a world of information abundance
– anyone wishing for more info today?

What should students be able to know and do?
– old conflict: content v skills
– I want both as an educator! (I’m biased of course)
– sometimes we err too much on the side of content

We are going for understanding and critical thinking
– Chris Giovanni, English teacher in Colorado, great books
– says “I can reach the finish line and cover the curriculum in the year, but the problem is I”m often the only one left” (kids can’t come with us)

We can teach Colorado history, but it might be more relevant to have kids research why a particular street has the name it does, and not just turn a report to the teacher
– make a video, publish to Youtube
– put a link and QR code on a plaque so students visiting a particular place can see the video


ADDITION FROM KARL VIA A BLOG COMMENT: The QR code and movie trailers are being done by two language arts teachers in my building (Anne Smith and Maura Moritz), but we got the idea from Becky Johnson (@librarybecky)

American Revolution (idea from Alan November)
– have students in England study American Revolution side-by-side with students in U.S.
– perspective really matters
– it’s easier than ever before

Founding Fathers or Insurgents?
– there are two sides to this
– victors write the history, but there is more to the story

world geography
– showing world map
– more accurate view via landmass
– we have skewed perceptions because anytime you make a 3D surface into 2D you get a skewed view
– you have to decide how to orient the map (showing upside down map)
– US students need to stop thinking of the US as ‘on top of the map’

Book reports
– we still do these
– but doing an old school book report doesn’t make as much sense
– so a student at my school is doing “BAnned Book Movie Trailers and QR Codes”
– students are doing movie trailers: 1 describes the book, 1 describes the controversy, and 1 shows their opinion
– making those links into QR codes and taping those onto the spines of those books on the shelf
– so if our kids have smartphones in the library, they can view those reviews right away

What does it mean to be LITERATE in the 21st century?
– I don’t think we know the answer to that question
– when I grew up it was about reading
– last 30 years, we know literacy is about much more
– I still don’t think we have a good idea about that

reading and analyzing “To Kill a Mockingbird” is different than reading and analyzing the WWW (photo of multiple websites) – teacher: Cris Tovani

Let’s talk about elections
– I grew up in Lexington, KY
– 1 newspaper and 2.5 TV stations (rabbit ears off, NBC didn’t come in)
– newspaper at most might have 5 stories in a night about national elections
– of 22 minutes of anchor news each night, about 4 or 5 minutes would be about national elections
– you had to be home at 6 pm to see the news
– we didn’t flip channels too much (no remotes!)

Think about how different elections are today
– collage of lots of other sites/sources
– surveys overwhelmingly show young people get their resources here, but older adults now do too increasingly

Websites of candidates, you could get pretty detailed policy briefs
– yes some spin there, but…
– compare this to Carter v Ford news ‘back in the day’
– no comparison…

Who is teaching our kids how to do this?

Showing graph of realtime searches during the debate between Palin and Biden
– searches of ‘clean coal,’ nuclear, maverick, and voter registration
– DURING the debates
– remember how few presidential debates there were in previous generations?
– now realtime conversations

literacies are not just for school or to get a job: it’s about citizenship

ABC started broadcasting in 1948 as 3rd major network

Thought experiment: 3 networks x 62 years x 365 days x 24 hours per day (all new content)
– over 1.5 million hours of programming (lot of TV)
– Last month, YouTube produced more info and that’s probably closer now to two weeks

Clay Shirky: says important things
– we lived in the past in a filter then publish world
– we now live in a publish then filter
– everything is published, we have to be the filter
– we all need to be media specialists
– media specialists are in the best place to help us figure all these things out

You can track rise and fall of Presidential candidates by what video is ‘hot’

Obama campaign said official campaign videos uploaded got 14.5 million hours of views
– would have cost $47 million to buy equivalent ad time (via traditional outlets)
– that was free

How many of our students can legally get to YouTube in our schools

Even the Vatican has a YouTube channel (the Pope!)
– now that the Vatican has given their blessing to YouTube who can’t: public U.S. schools and Taliban
– 17 year olds can defend our country in the military
– 15 year olds driving big SUVs to school
– but we still don’t let kids access YouTube at school

I understand there are issues with YouTube and distraction , but we have to work that out

Anyone watch enhanced, online version of last State of the Union address
– they had slides with additional info
– lots of folks like @nprpolitics asking for fact checking

3 groups of people
1- people who don’t watch State of the Union
2- people who watched it on TV and let the pundits do their thinking for them
3- people who watched it online and fact-checked / engaged in conversations

I want Abbey to be in group 3 as she grows up

Photo from Tunisa Arab Spring
– 10 years ago it might have stopped with the fruit vendor setting himself on fire
– no one is saying it’s a Facebook revolution
– but it DID help them spread their message

Picture from Tahir square
– blogging area, extension cords out to the edge of the square, people getting out their messages

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, requires eery diplomat who rotes through the forging service institute to get training in social media
– you think our students should? (no, let’s just ban it)


Jason Ohler: “Literacy means being able to consume and produce the media of the day”
– not enough that students can consume media, they need to be producer
– if you know how to produce, you can deconstruct hand maybe not be manipulated by them
– think of the ‘media forms of the day’

My guess is “5 paragraph essay” not at the top of the essay
– I’m not saying the 5 paragraph essay is evil
– but if that’s all we teach our students, that’s educational malpractice

Ohler “Fluency is the ability to practice literacy at the advanced levels required for sophisticated communication within social and workplace environments.”

“The fluent will lead and the rest will get left behind…”
– thinking about NCLB

Partnership of 21st Century Skills
– “profound gap between knowledge and skills most students learn in schooll and the skills they need..”

ISTE: “work collaboratively, including at a distance…”

technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments…many literacy”

NCTE definition of literacies:
when we were growing up literacy was a capital L, now it’s many lowercase “l’s”
– “literacies are multiple, dynamic and malleable”

NCSS position statement one media literacy:
– we live in multimedia age where majority of folks get info from non-print sources…
– that true of your classroom?

Howard Rheingold: “In the 21st century, participator media education and civic education are inextricable.”
– if you are teaching civics and not teaching social media, you’re really not teaching civics

Richard Miller, Chair of English Dept at Rutgers
“We are not longer grounded in the printing press… to compose and compose successfully in the 21st century, you have to now only excel at verbal expression, at written expression, you have to also excel in the use and manipulation of images. That’s sweat it means to compose.”
– I have shared videos from him

Idea of a digital footprint

gateway drugs to Facebook and MySpace: Webkinz and Club Penguin

I think we need to teach kids Facebook in class
– not how to upload photos
– we need to teach them how, when and the consequences of things

difference between stupid things when we were young and now: if it didn’t rise to the level of felony in the past, we don’t remember it now
– today stuff gets archived in ways it didn’t before

GEneral Electric has internal social networking site they call professional networking
– employees will interact around their passions
– if that happens, good things will happen
– the site gets 25 million hits per day
– how are we preparing kids for a world of work when we block most social networking sites

High school language arts class who read “A Whole New Mind”
– interacted

Fishbowl technique with inner circle and outer circle, involved live blogging
– author Dan Pink came in for 2 hours

post: Dan Pink Ustream and CoverItLive Archive
– this is now part of the digital footprint of these kids

What will your kids have in their digital footprint?

you never get a second chance to make a first impression
– the first impression we make now is often virtual, not physical
– people will know about you before they meet you
– your digital footprint will speak about you to college admissions officers, future employers, your future mate

In a world where info is a text away…

Text GOOGL (46645) or ChaCha (242242)

Google Mobiel App for iPhone
– now Google Googles
– take a photo of something and it will search the web for it

Apple released Siri a few weeks ago, interacting with searches
Try WolframAlpha, it does all of high school math and science with detailed steps

What do we do if this factual information is a lick away

kids must learn how to learn

Toffler: “The illiterate of the 21st century will be those…

Hoffer quotation” Learners inherit the earth….

That was my concern when I created “Did You Know”

How do we help students create their own Personal Learning Networks?
– cavemen had PLNs to learn about hunting, gathering, etc.
– PLNs are now on steroids

I have teachers on 6 different continents now, most of whom I have never met in person

Knowledge resides in the network

were you can find info and answers today is much broader than it ever ways

Will Richardson: we are moving form “do your own work” to “work with others”
– “hand it in” to “publish it”
– “just in case” to “just in time”

what should students (and their network connections) know and be able to do?
– the more people you know, the smarter you are

Jay Cross, “Informal Learning”
– “What can you do….”

Help kids build networks and go global
– education is both local and global

2009 Horizon Report “those who use tech in ways that expand personal connections…”

5 billion potential teachers by 2020
– lots of people for my kids to learn from
– why would I lock this down?

My daughter now in 6th grade, had project similar to Flat Stanley and you write
– within a week 200 people around the world participated by sharing a photo and writing a paragraph about where they live

A couple weeks ago: Skype conversation with a teacher in Bermuda as a result of an assignment at school

What about standards
– I think we can have high standards but not be standardized
– the things my teachers are asking students to do now are much harder than what we had to do in school, but they are not standardized

Example: Do all students need to know “there is a complex number i such that i squared = -1, and every complex number has the form a + bi with a and b real?”
– I wish people would acknowledge that Abbey

It’s as if the most important thing we know about our students is their date of manufactured

I care about Abby’s Yearly Progress, not your AYP
– I don’t measure this with test scores

rhetorical question: you ever going to be 18 again?
= your students ever going to be your age?
– should we be preparing students for the world of the Mac SE or the iPhone world

What do you want for your Abby?

We need to spend less time paper training, and more team using digital tools (David Warlick)

Richardson: differences between what we can do with analog paper and digital paper

I want you to have some VISION for your students, for your Abby
– I’m not asking you to not be accountable, I’m asking you to be accountable for my kid

1 thing worse than not being able to see, being able to see but not having vision: Helen Heller

Breakout session links:

We’re living in a read/write world


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2 Responses to Karl Fisch at the 2011 Innovative Learning Institute

  1. Michelle C says:

    I totally agree we need more digital innovative learning.

    Michelle C

  2. Karl Fisch says:

    Thanks for the detailed notes and the kind words. I’m going to clarify a couple of things just for accuracy, but you did a remarkable job getting it down.

    “As an idealistic math teacher . . .” I wasn’t satisfied with my students just getting by in math, I wanted them to really get involved and engaged. I’m still struggling with this.

    Grant meetings were roughly every 2-3 weeks, 3 hours of release time paid for by the grants.

    Don’t get me in trouble – I hope I didn’t say “I didn’t really want to talk to teachers” 🙂 I didn’t really want to talk to teachers in a faculty meeting that they didn’t really want to be at.

    The second video sharing site I mentioned was

    The 40+ million is to date for all versions, not in a few months. That’s an estimate, but probably a conservative one.

    The never have kids been prepared quote is from David Warlick.

    The Reading Teacher is Cris Tovani

    The QR code and movie trailers are being done by two language arts teachers in my building (Anne Smith and Maura Moritz), but we got the idea from Becky Johnson (@librarybecky)

    $47 million to buy ad time, not necessarily “produce” them

    I understand that Algebra is essentially the same in Colorado, Oklahoma and China – I just wish that more people would acknowledge that Abby is not the same as every 11 year old in Colorado or Oklahoma or China.

    Paper Training quote from David Warlick

    Vision quote from Helen Keller

    Again, really nice job on the notes, I don’t mean this comment as criticism, just wanted to give credit where due.

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