Maker Faire: @ a Barnes & Noble Near You!

 Barnes & Noble Mini Maker Faire

If you are a teacher, student, maker, thinking about making something, interested in the maker movement, have some creative blood running through your veins, are an artist, collaborator, deep thinker, entrepreneur, zombie, were any or aspire to be any of the prior mentioned folks or are just looking for something fun to do on November 6-8, 2015... head on over to a Barnes & Nobles near you and join in on the fun!

Check out the video below to learn more about the maker movement.

ISTE 2014 and CMK 2014

            I am just returning from ISTE 2014 and Constructing Modern Knowledge 2014 (#CMK14 for those of you who wish to see what’s in the Twitterverse about it). Although ISTE wasn’t quite as good as in years past, and I wasn’t feeling quite well at the time, it was still great to hear what’s going on with EdTech around the world these days and reconnect with some great friends and colleagues to see what they have been up to. ISTE will be in Philly next year so it might be a cheap trip for some faculty to attend…. Which I can’t encourage enough.
            On the other hand, CMK14 was AMAZING!!!!! If I could have brought the entire faculty, I would have. If I were to take away one thing from the un-conference, it would be that I shared a room with 200+ brilliant educators and we all learned something without being taught!
            I have so many things to share about it, but at the risk of this post becoming a book, I will try to sum it up quickly. We started on day one, shouting out ideas to build things or solve problems… big and small. We then signed up for who we wanted to work with and I ended up becoming a part of “The Drone Team”. 

Our project was to build a drone… and that’s what we did. We were unsuccessful in making it fly but we all learned a lot from each other along the way. Here is a short video of our experience.


            And here are more video’s posted by all of the participants for your viewing pleasure.

            My family and I also got a chance to meet and chat with Super Awesome Sylvia.

 If you don’t know who she is… please go to She is a super awesome 13 year old who started making YouTube videos when she was 9 about making stuff! She is also (at 13) the inventor of the soon to be released WaterColorBot.
            We also got to meet The Treehouse Master himself, Pete Nelson! What an inspiring and creative guy.

            I also got a chance to visit the MIT Media Lab and meet (again) Mitchell Resnick, Director of The Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT and creator of Scratch and (soon to be released) Scratch Jr.
            And… Best of all for me at MIT was the chance to not only meet but sit and chat with Dr. Marvin Minsky…. The “Godfather” of Artificial Intelligence. His mind absolutely astonishes me. And at 87 years old is still sharp as a tack!!!!

            The conference was put together by Gary Stager Ph.D. (@garystager ) and a group of brilliant faculty, one of which was Jaymes Dec (@jaymesdec - ), from the Marymount School in NY, who I met at NAIS in Orlando and is the reason I went to the conference (….and is one of the most awesome dudes I know).

            Dr. Gary Stager is the Co-Author of a book called Invent To Learn. READ IT!

            I know this is a brain dump of a post but take your time clicking on the links, and thanks for reading. I have a bunch more videos and pictures to share for those that are interested. Just let me know. 

            HAPPY SUMMER!


3D Printing at Beauvoir! - Wait... What?

So... I haven't blogged in over a year, but thanks to Colleen Williams for sharing this article with me - 3-D Printing Classes In a Virginia School Attract Global Visitors She has inspired me to blog once (hopefully not just once) again to share something we have been experimenting with over here in the Tech Office!  

If you have stopped by or passed through recently, you may have noticed a weird aluminum robotic cube that looks like this:

And you might be wondering.... "What IS that thing?"

Well... I't a 3D printer. Yes... It melts and prints plastic (others printers can print in other materials like clay, cement, or even metal) in three dimensions. Not just the X and Y axis like those boring "paper printers"... but Z too!

OK, so here is what I know so far with a few site links that might be helpful in getting a grasp on this idea. Please share this with whoever you think might be interested.

       This is the 3D printer that we currently have if you wanted to learn a bit more about it. It is a bit of a “bare bones”, “No frills”, DIY printer and can be a bit “high maintenance”, but has proven to work quite well as a proof of concept.
       - This is the 3D printer that will be arriving over the summer. I believe it will prove to be much more user friendly, versatile, and output a much cleaner finished product.
   - Here is an extremely comprehensive line up of the plethora of 3D printers on the market today… the consumer variety anyway.


            ATTENTION TEACHERS - If you click on only ONE link in this post… LET IT BE THIS ONE!
   - This is a link that will give you a wealth of ideas on how it can and is being used in the classroom and is organized by discipline and software used.

            SOFTWARE and “THINGS”:

   - This is the mother-load of 3D objects and “shapes” or "things" created, customized, and shared by other members of the 3D printing community. The objects that I have printed so far have all been downloaded and customized (if a customizable shape) from this website. The site works best in the Google Chrome Web Browser. It is a great place to get started and to see what other folks are creating using other software. You cannot create anything from scratch here, only download and or customize shapes created and uploaded by other users.
   - This site (also working best in Google Chrome Web Browser) is, in my opinion, where we can get creative with our students. This IS a site that you can create things from scratch to then be uploaded to Thingiverse. I like to think of it as building with virtual Legos because it can be that easy. I personally have found it to be the easiest (although challenging at times) of the programs available to use… and it’s free and web based! There seems to be plenty of tutorials available on the site itself or on YouTube. I have also tried Sketch Up and Open SCAD but they don’t seem to be as simple and user friendly (AT ALL) for our age group of students or for Me for that matter.

            3D SCANNING: What’s that you ask?

            I have been testing a bit with 3D scanning to create digital 3D renderings from live objects that can then be printed… in 3D. This is another area that might be good to explore with our kids. The three things that I personally have been experimenting with are:
   - This software allows you to take 360 degrees of pictures and stitch them together to make a digital 3D model of whatever you photograph. I haven’t been too successful with it yet but have to admit that I haven’t had the time to even scratch the surface of the capabilities yet.
   - This software allows you to use a Kinect (yes… like the one for an Xbox 360) to scan objects and digitize them in 3D. I haven’t had much success with this yet either, but again, I haven’t even scratched the surface.           
   - And finally, this software also allows you to scan with a Kinect. I found this to be much easier to use than ReconstructMe but yet again have been unsuccessful in producing a usable scan. I continue to test and play and fail… on a daily basis… or as much as my time allows.

            The technology is still in its infancy so new and exciting developments are popping up every day and I am trying to keep up, with moderate success. I just can’t imagine where this technology will be in the years to come and how it will affect Business, Economics, Entrepreneurialism, Engineering, among others, but mostly EDUCATION! To me… this is a game changer and we might be experiencing its tipping point, we just don’t know it yet!
            Well…. That pretty much sums up almost all that I know about 3D printing so far. I'm still quite a Noob but continue to research every day. There obviously is a lot more to know than what I can cram in this post as well.
            If you have any questions along your discovery, please don’t hesitate to contact me because I might have the same questions or may have some answers. Besides, I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on all of this. Does it fascinate any of you as much as it does me? I can't get enough of it. And everyone I know that has seen it in action, including and really... mostly the students, are in awe! No problem with engagement here!
            In the meantime, I leave you with one more link for those of you who enjoy unique (3D printed) jewelry...
            ...and this video (Thanks Brian Roche) that will hopefully tie most of this together. Here you go.... I hope you found this post to be informative and inspiring. I look forward to hearing your comments.

A quick peek at Windows 8!

Here is a quick peek at what the Windows 8 experience will be like on tablets and laptops in the near future.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

Speak to your Browser... It will listen.

If you surf the web using Chrome or Rockmelt like I do, a new browser extension called Chaufer allows you to speak to your browser... And your browser will listen.
Lets say (no pun intended) you want to know what the weather is like in DC today. Simply push the Chaufr button that is added to your browser when the extension is installed, and say "Weather in DC" and Viola!...
Some of you may already use this feature on your smartphone, as my kids have seemed to master using the Google App voice recognition for my iPhone and iPad. Having it on my PC's favorite browser now is a great addition.
See you next time.

What is an Education... and what is Intelligence?

If when reading the title of this post, you expect to find an answer to the question above, somewhere below, then I am sorry to disappoint you. I do NOT have the answer. This is more of a reflection for me and as with all of my posts, I can only share my opinion. I welcome you to share yours by commenting.

Education, as defined by is "the result produced by instruction, training or study."

From the same source, Intelligence is defined as "the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc."

I think the real questions here are... What does one have to do with the other? Does getting an education mean that you become more intelligent? Do you need intelligence to get an education? Is intelligence something your born with, or learn... through the process of education? As I said before... I don't know the answer.

I recently returned from San Francisco where I attended The Learning & the Brain Conference - iGeneration: How The Digital Age Is Altering Student Brains, Learning & Teaching. Although multi-tasking, task-switching, gaming, attention and deep concentration seemed to be the largest debates, I went there with the intention of finding out more about (among many other things, some previously mentioned) what a developmentally appropriate level of technology use would be for elementary school age children. As it turns out, there is a ton of conflicting research... and I was left with no solid answer which I was sure I would come away with. I guess the best "middle of the road" statement came from a keynote speaker at the conference, Marc Prensky, author of Teaching Digital Natives, "Don't Bother me mom -I'm learning", and Digital Game-based Learning. He said and truly believes "Technology is developmentally appropriate when the child shows an interest in it."

I also learned a valuable lesson while listening to another keynote speaker at the conference. This one from Dr. James Paul Gee, and I have adapted it in my own mind to support my thoughts regarding the approach to technology and learning. He said "You don't read a book to learn biology. You do biology to prepare you to read the book about biology. After all, did your mom tell you to shut your mouth until you learn English?"

I have said before that I think we have come a long way with technology, quite quickly, and that we do a great job using technology as a tool to teach. However, perhaps it's time to begin learning how our students best learn with technology as a tool by encouraging free exploration. Let's let them find the best way for them to learn by using it (under supervision, of course). Now some of you might say... "When do we have the time to let them explore freely?"... or maybe there is a fear of the unknown. Well... I've got news for you.... YOU don't have to learn how to do it... THEY do! I know it's a little scary, but technology has become such a personal and dynamic tool, that every student in your class may use it differently to help them learn. And, they may use it differently today then they did yesterday, and maybe differently tomorrow from today. It's an evolving process that will continue throughout their lifelong learning. You are there to be their guide... to help them find the best way for them and their learning style. As Marc Prensky also said "Don't try to keep up with technology... you can't. It'll just make you feel stupid."

This is partly why we don't teach "technology skills" anymore, as many other schools do. What and where to click, and which program or app to use is really irrelevant. What's really important is how they view technology as a consumption and creativity tool for learning (think 21st century skills, communication, collaboration, critical thinking ,etc.). Instead of teaching how to make a Power Point, teach them what makes a good presentation, and show them all of the tools that they can use to make it (Power Point, Keynote, Prezi, Google Docs, etc.). Teach them that they need to respect the technology, themselves, and others while using it. They need to be responsible with it and also know when it's appropriate or when it's too much or too little (which is still heavily debated). It's about being honest and kind while using it. It's about citizenship... both physical and digital! Sound familiar?

With that, I leave you with this wonderfully inspiring talk from one of my favorite speakers, Sir Ken Robinson, and amazingly animated by RSA Animate. Please enjoy and be inspired.

I hope you found this post (my reflection) to be useful and thought provoking. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I look forward to hearing your comments. :)

See you next post.

Is The Keyboard Dead?

I feel weird even posting this because, well.... I'm typing it on a keyboard. The answer is.... Not really. Or should I say... not yet?
As someone who never took a keyboarding or typing class, I have always wondered if I really should have. Although I have become quite efficient over the years, I'm a "hunt and peck" typer for the most part. I might be able to get about 30 to 40 words a minute using a traditional keyboard and I highly doubt that I can come close to that by writing with pen and paper if I expect it to be legible.
Since I started converting handwriting to text using a Tablet PC around 7 years ago, the tablet can now read my handwriting better than I can read my own sometimes. Handwriting recognition has really come a long way and continues to get better. However, more and more lately, I find myself leaving my writing in its original form and not converting to text. I can draw pictures and arrows and really do much more for my visual brain than I can with a keyboard; just one of the reasons that I love a Tablet PC.
Many years ago, I got my first cell phone with T9 input and had to learn how to communicate using my fingers on 9 buttons. It was easy but time consuming. A few years later, I got my first Blackberry with a full QWERTY keyboard. Once again, I had to train my thumbs. And then.... there was the iPhone! Typing with my thumbs once again, but with no feeling. This wasn't a big deal for me because I have always had to look at my keyboard while typing. I think the lack of keyboarding lessons actually did me a favor in this case. I have found that most "touch typer's" have a harder time acclimating to a variety of virtual keyboards.
Over the years I have experimented with voice recognition software, virtual laser keyboards and other unconventional input devices. Most of them I found to be somewhat useful but less efficient than typing with a keyboard. I just wonder that if I try to become more efficient with these devices.... would I beat my keyboard speed? I can certainly talk faster than I can type.
Now, how about our kids? I have often said that most teenagers can type 60 words a minute under their desk or in the front pocket of their hoodie on their phone. Why?... Because their culture demands it. It's their standard mode of communication. In ten years, will they be typing at all? Maybe they will be speaking to their computers as some of us do with our cars or phones today. Maybe they will just think it, and the computer will read their mind. ...Don't believe me?... Check this out!
So why am I posting about all of this anyway? As a bit of a piggy back to The KNO post below, I have been seeing some new products coming out from some more well known manufacturers, sans keyboard. No I'm not talking about the iPad, although I am sure that the success of these emerging technologies can be attributed to the excellent marketing of the iPad. Now that folks don't mind typing virtually on that "revolutionary device", perhaps they wont mind doing it on something a bit more useful?

Click here to read for yourself and decide.

As always, I hope you find this post to be useful and thought provoking. I look forward to reading your comments. :)

See you next post!

2020 Vision

Just a quick post today to share this article from the latest edition of THE Journal. It's a quick look at what the next ten years may hold for education, technology, teaching, and learning. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
And here is the printable version for those of us that love paper:

As always I hope you find this to be useful and thought provoking. I look forward to reading your comments here.

Many Thanks for reading and ... see you next post.

Skype in The Classroom

So we all know what Skype is... right?

Have you been struggling to find a way to use it in your classroom to connect your students with others from around the world? Maybe your struggle is not how... but with who? Wouldn't it be great if there was a directory of teachers that are looking for other teachers to connect with? And wouldn't it be even better if you could get on that list so other teachers can find you?
Well there is such a directory. Although in beta right now, you can become some of the first teachers to be a part of this global directory to be launched next month. Click on the link below to learn more and sign up for the beta.

As always, I would love to hear any thoughts or comments, like "This is amazing news" or "I have been waiting for something like this" or "I love Technology". Please go to the blog to do so @ if you are reading this post in an email.

Thanks for reading.... I'll see you next post.

Is This The Future Of Textbooks????

Say Hello to Kno!

(K)No... this is not a Kindle or Nook... Nor is it an iPad... or a Tablet PC for that matter. It's a Textbook? Well... more like an eReader with some added functionality, and its coming to a student near you. Check out the video below to see what this thing is capable of.

Kno Movie from Kno, Inc. on Vimeo.

OK... now that you have seen it and most likely formed a first impression, let me share mine, if I may. I kno(w)... I kno(w) [<-- you see what I did there? Clever, huh?] this is a marketing video and in a perfect world if this thing works like it does in that video... I'm impressed. What makes it different from things that I've seen in the past is that publishers have not just PDF'ed books as they have done for PC's or Mac's or eReaders. They have partnered with publishers and seem to have created a more "book-like" experience for the student. I mean really... how long do you think it would take... say... You... to figure this thing out? My guess is... not to long at all. Once you figure it out, it might take a bit more time to become efficient with it, but hey, none of these concepts are really foreign are they?

With that said... my first thought though is that it's HUGE! Who wants to carry around this monstrosity? Especially with that ... much smaller thing we all see on TV all of the time... you know... that "revolutionary device"... with the fruit on it? This thing is not quite as attractive as one of those now is it? And it's certainly not marketed as well. Lets be honest, If you weren't reading this, you probably wouldn't kno(w) that this thing even exists. If you didn't use a Tablet PC every day, would you know what it is or what it's capable of? Do you really know what all of it's capabilities are now?

Well...Check out the next video to see their reasoning for the size, and some other good stuff about this new textbook.

So, they make a single screen version too. Thats a good touch, but can it compete with the HP Slate 500 and it's full fledged Windows 7 OS, that can run MS Office and Skype and...? How many devices do we need? Can one do it all? You be the judge.

What does all of this mean for our students? How will they push the market to put out products that will do what they need them to do? What else will they use devices like this for? Maybe we should talk to our kids about this, and see what they think. Will anyone show this video to their students?

As always, I hope you found this post to be informative and thought provoking. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks, and see you next post. :)

FaceBook Heart's Skype

Apparently yesterday, the folks at All Things D posted that a little birdie told them that FaceBook is planning to integrate Skype into their platform in the near future. According to the article, this partnership will allow you to make video calls, SMS, and calls to landline phones, all from within the FaceBook interface. This really kind of exiting to me though not surprising. I figured they would do something like this eventually. My question is how this will look in a mobile platform?
And of course, my question to you all is, how will this affect the way our children socialize online? Does a video chat really count as "Face to face communication"???? Is this scary to anyone? Not to be creepy here, but it almost, and I stress almost could be a way to verify who it is you are really chatting with on the other end.
I look forward to see how this develops and how people really use it.

As always, your comments are not only welcomed, but encouraged. Please don't just respond to this automated email but visit the Blog at to comment. Thanks for taking the tie to read this post.

Articulated Naturality

OK... So most have you have probably heard of something called Augmented Reality. Dictionary .com defines it as -
"-n an artificial environment created through the combination of real-world and computer-generated data"
It's a bit of a step up from Virtual Reality that was popular in the late 80's and early 90's. If your an iPhone or Droid user, you may know about an app called Layar. If you don't know about it.... Get It!

Here's what it does.... As pictured to the right, using the Wikipedia Layer (in the LAYAR app) if you are walking around a city that you may be unfamiliar with, you simply hold up your phone and it will show you virtually what you are looking at. If you were to click on the bottom there, it can take you to the Wikipedia page of The National Cathedral. This is just one of the layers that can be applied. You can also look for restaurants with the Yelp Layer and the list goes on. Like I said.... Try it, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Now, lets get back to what this post is really about... Articulated Reality! Watch the video below, because I just don't think I can write well enough about what its capabilities are. I guess I could just say that it's the next step up from Augmented Reality.

Enjoy the video....

QPC - Articulated Naturality Web from Justin Montgomery on Vimeo.

OK..... Did you get all that? No.... Watch it again.... I'll wait.

Now, My question to you is: How will this change the way that our children will learn in the future? I would love to hear some creative possibilities about how this technology can be used personally, and in the classroom (and outside of course.... the world is a classroom you know) to learn.

As always, your comments and questions are not only welcomed but encouraged. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

What Does Digital Citizenship Mean To You?

Let's have a conversation. I invite you to share your thoughts about what Digital Citizenship means to you. Is it different for you than it is for your, friends, family, colleagues, students? Does your digital personality reflect who you really are... personally or professionally or both? How do you plan to prepare our students for the unknown digital world that we will all be living in? How can we help them to become responsible global digital citizens?
There are many questions that can be asked. Lets hear some of your questions and comments about what Digital Citizenship means to YOU.

Digital Citizenship, Interactive Whiteboards, and One-to-One Computing

Here are a few videos on Digital Citizenship, Interactive Whiteboards, and One-to-One Computing from the floor of the ISTE 2010 Conference that took place last week (6/27/10-6/30/10) in Denver, CO. You may recognize someone in the videos.
As always, Your comments on the Blog are not only welcomed, but encouraged. I hope your all enjoying your summer.

In case you are unable to view all of the videos, Here are the Links:

Food For Thought over the Summer Break

As we get ready to go off to a summer filled with fun in the sun, I just wanted to share a little food for thought while you sit on the beach or wherever it is you may go. I will keep this one short and let Sir Ken Robinson do the talking. Have a great summer everyone and enjoy this very inspirational talk. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

As always, your comments are not only welcome, but encouraged.

Oh, and if you happened to miss his talk from TED 2006... here IT is!

The Wait Is Over! ...Well... in 5 days it will be.

Hello World! Remember me? My... How I have missed you all!

It's pretty ironic to me that my last post was over a year ago regarding Multi-User Video Conferencing, and a [then] new program called ooVoo that made it possible for free. Since that post, ooVoo has undergone some changes that now require payment for "premium features".... like Multi-User Video Conferencing! (Grrrr!!!) The 2-way video chat has remained free, but they just don't quite seem to do it as well as Skype in terms of quality, reliability, and ease of use. So many die-hard Skype users never took the leap.
I also predicted in my post that Skype would have an answer to ooVoo soon. Although "soon" was not really an accurate prediction.... According to a recent post by the AP....The wait is over! Next week Skype will be offering Group Video Calling to Windows users for free! Apparently, the Apple version is still in development but should follow soon. Sorry Mac users, you'll have to keep waiting. :(
The service has been reported to be free for now but will require some coin in the near future. So... you better get your Group Video Skype on while it's free.
Hmmmmm, I wonder how long it will be before we will see what this will look like for say... iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and phones, maybe even WebOS tablets made by HP? How will this affect how we communicate in the future... or how our kids will communicate? Watch out Dick Tracey! I guess thats a whole-nother post.
As always, I would love to see your comments. Thoughts please?

UPDATE: Here is the link to download the BETA-

ooVoo: One up on Skype? Maybe two or three?

OK... OK... I haven't had time to blog lately, but I thought this might be worthy of a post.

I have been waiting (years now) for Skype to add some Multi-User Video Conferencing functionality to their already amazing free product. (Can you tell I like Skype?) Up to this point the only Multi-User video conferencing options were uber-pricey and required special network appliances to work.

Well... the wait is over, but... Someone has beat Skype to it.... and that someone is ooVoo. That's right.... ooVoo. This dandy new little piece of software let's you video conference with up to four different users for.... wait for it...................... FREE! So, if you are here in DC, and you have some family in CA, and some more family in NJ, and even more in PA (as I do).... you can all talk and see each other at the SAME TIME! Any more than four users including yourself, your going to need to pay.

To get started using ooVoo: just go to and download the software. Create an account, add some friends... and your ready to ooVoo! If someone you know doesn't want to install the software... That's OK..... you can send anyone an invitation to video conference through the web! Basically, it sends them a link to a website, when they click on it, they join your conference in a web browser. You can't do that with Skype!

OK... This is the disclaimer section of the post: This is pretty new stuff, and they haven't quite worked all of the bugs out yet, but hey.... you get what you pay for.... right? The voice quality tends to echo a bit and video can't even touch Skype quality, but it's not too bad... And I'm sure it will get better. Because it is free, it also does have advertising as you can see in the image above. The interface is a bit darker than what you may be used to with Skype too.

The best part is that I can't imagine that Skype won't have an answer for this. I'll be keeping my eye out on both companies to see how things are progressing. A little competition usually helps the people get what they want.

I hope you found this post informative and helpful. I will try to not let so much time pass between posts next time. :)

As always..... Many Thanks..... and your comments are not only welcome, but encouraged.

CAM-Trax: Please not just for Games!

I haven't had much time to blog lately, just as I am sure you are all busy (with 8 days of school left) and don't have much time for your RSS Readers either, but I just had to quickly share these thoughts with you.

Last night, I stumbled across this post from Engadget in my Google Reader about some new software called CAM-Trax being developed for Gaming. It uses a web cam to track movement of colorful objects that can be "locked in" by the software and used as a controller. The best part of this is that the objects can be anything as you will see in this video.

So here it is (Enjoy the Bestie Boys music!):

The sad part about this whole thing is that it's only being developed for gaming right now! That is all well and good for games and the gaming community, as this would be a great step for them. However, What about the rest of the computing world? To think of gaming as the only application for this is a bit narrow, wouldn't you say?

I can imagine this being used for interfacing with PCs in a variety of ways. How about for an art application? or just as an interface to your computer without having to touch anything? I could see this being used in some type of science or Physics application to track movement, speed or velocity. The possibilities are countless in my mind right now, and I would love to here what kind of use you all can think of.

My worry is that because it is being developed for gaming right now, these guys may get an offer from some gaming company to buy the technology and who knows if it will make it out for other applications.

I have signed up for the BETA and when it comes out, I will be sure to share my experience with you all.

I hope you found this post to be at least thought provoking and somewhat informative.

Lets hear your thoughts!