18 April 2018

Outlier Podcast Festival, May 11th, 2018 - #OutlierPodFest

I am a HUGE podcast fan and have been for YEARS! In fact, I've been in the planning stage for my own podcast for almost as many years as I've been a fan. As my buddy Chris Nesi, host of the fabulous House of #EdTech podcast, keeps telling me, I just need to hit Record and get going! I'm hoping to make some changes to my life and schedule that should allow for me to get my act in gear and get a show started, soonish.

One of the things I'm looking forward to is a podcast festival that's happening in my hometown of St. George, Utah and the fact that I'll not only be attending it but also helping with the crew who is putting it on. I'm super excited! I tend to have a bit of a habit of helping with conferences, but it's all out of good intentions.

The name of this conference is the Outlier Podcast Festival and it will be taking place on Friday, May 11th at the Dixie Technical College in St. George, Utah from 9 am - 4 pm. From the website:

The Outlier Podcast Festival is an event held in St George, Utah where podcasters and digital influencers gather to learn, network, and connect IRL. 
It’s a festival full of speakers, workshops, breakout sessions, live shows and more. 
If you're interested in podcasting or are looking to grow as a digital influencer then you won't want to miss this.

If you think you may want to come and join us on Friday, May 11th, I have a couple of coupon codes that you'll want to take note of as they'll help with the cost of the ticket. 
  • Students get in for FREE just by selecting "Student"
  • Educators can use the code "Derek" and get 15% off
  • Everyone else can use the code "ETB" and receive 10% off
You're gonna want to go to OutliersCS.com and click on the RSVP link to register. While you're on the site, check out the incredible lineup of speakers and presenters because there are WAY too many to list them all here, but this is not just some small town gathering, it's gonna have some of the best podcasters out there. If you're near Southwestern Utah and you love podcasts and podcasting you NEED to look into making the trip out to learn more and see where this event can take you. 

If you have any questions about the Outlier Podcast Festival, feel free to reach out and let me know. If I can't get you the answer you want, I'll be able to get you in touch with some of the others on the planning committee. You can check out the Facebook Event page for more details as well. And if you want to become a Sponsor for the event, please reach out and let's discuss it more. 

I hope to see you all in my neck of the woods on Friday, May 11th at the Outlier Podcast Festival!


17 April 2018

Online Tool Xmarks Closing down May 1st

I received a VERY sad email on March 30th explaining that one of my favorite tech tools was closing down. I have been a fan of and user of Xmarks for MANY years and it was due to my love of Xmarks that I purchased a subscription to LastPass as they were being bundled.

If you go to Xmarks.com now you'll see a very sad message at the top of the screen letting you know "LogMeIn is retiring Xmarks from its line of products as of May 1, 2018. After this date, you will no longer have access to Xmarks." Not gonna lie, I will probably cry a little for Xmarks on April 30th.

I found Xmarks back in my 2nd year of teaching when I was getting discouraged that my bookmarks wouldn't sync across different browsers. I was using a PC at school in my classroom but was one of those people who used Firefox, Safari for PC, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer (only when absolutely necessary) but hated that if I bookmarked something in one browser I had to then remember to bookmark it in the other three browsers if I wanted to have feature parity between all four tools. That's when I found Xmarks, formerly called FoxMarks, a great tool that allowed me to sync my bookmarks across all of my browsers. I thought I had died and gone to nerd heaven, but my happiness was short-lived as Xmarks was worried about money and had announced it would be shutting down services in January 2011. Many users went into panic mode and decided it was time to try and pay money to keep the service alive, pledging between $10-30 each year to use a Premium version of the tool, but basically just pay to keep it alive. I was so worried because I had grown to depend on this tool to keep me in sync across my different web browsers.

It was looking rather dim for keeping Xmarks alive until December 2, 2010, when LastPass, an online tool to keep your passwords safe and secure, announced it would be acquiring Xmarks and keeping it alive and running. Many nerds, myself included, cheered because our beloved Xmarks would be saved. Then on October 9, 2015, LastPass was acquired by LogMeIn who then stated they would keep Xmarks alive and support the tool. That was until March 30, 2018, when I received the sad email telling me Xmarks would be shuttered on May 1, 2018.

Not what I wanted to hear at all. Now I have to start all over again and see if there is a tool that will allow me to keep all of my bookmarks in sync across different web browsers. I know I can do it across the same web browser, but I prefer to use different web browsers for different purposes. If you happen to know of a tool that will allow me to fulfill this need, PLEASE share it with me.

Thank you, Xmarks for helping me keep my sanity as a classroom teacher who used a PC at work but all Macs an iOS devices at home! I was able to work more effectively and efficiently because I knew I could sync my bookmarks across browsers and even access all of my bookmarks via the web in case I was checking it from a different machine. You will be dearly missed by this nerd!

Note: Thanks to the authors of the Xmarks Wikipedia page for help remembering the exact dates of the different acquisitions!

16 April 2018

New Sesame Street Autism Book

I have a bit of an obsession with Kickstarter, a website that allows people to crowdfund their ideas to fruition. I love the whole idea of Kickstarter and may even create something that allows me to use the site to help bring something to life, but until then I'll continue to back projects that call out to me and demand to be backed when my own personal funds allow.

The most recent project I have found that looks intriguing is from none other than Sesame Street, you know, the amazing little show that teaches kids all sorts of great things they should know. Well, Sesame Street is more than just a show and this project is aiming to help people see it. The project is called "Help Prevent Bullying with Sesame Street’s New Autism Book" and its purpose is to crowdfund a new digital storybook to help raise more awareness of Autism and more importantly how to help kids with Autism deal with bullying, a sad situation that unfortunately needs addressing. Check out the video below.

Now that you have a better understanding of the project, go check out its Kickstarter page and back whatever level you feel comfortable backing. One thing to keep in mind, if they don't reach their goal of $75,000 by Friday, May 11th at 4 pm Eastern Time (1 pm Pacific Time) then they won't receive ANY of the funds, so be sure to back it before then.

How does this apply to schools and education? I think this is a PERFECT fit for schools and education. It seems like more and more children are being diagnosed with Autism and what better book to have available for teachers and students to learn more about Autism. While I haven't watched too many of the newer episodes of Sesame Street, I know that I LOVED watching it when I was a kid and was always impressed by how amazing each episode was. If there's a group or organization committed to helping kids learn and grow, I think Sesame Street fits that description.

So get out there and help support this great project by backing and sharing it today!

26 March 2018

Apple Education Event in Chicago

It appears Apple will be holding an Education Event tomorrow on Tuesday, March 27th at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, IL. As many different tech news sites are reporting, this isn't going to be your normal Apple Event, especially since it won't be held on their own campus, but what exactly will they be unveiling? It appears the leaks haven't been as open on this event, we actually have a chance to be surprised instead of knowing all about the new fun. 

I listen to a lot of podcasts and on the most recent episode of Connected (Episode #185: The Myke Hurley School of Excellence), Stephen and Myke discuss some of their thoughts on the subject during which Stephen brings up the fact that Apple seems to be blown away by schools moving to Chromebooks for students instead of Mac laptops and/or iPads due primarily to the price differences. As someone who works in education and with multiple school districts and charter schools, I can say that is what's been happening down in my part of the world. It's hard for a school district or charter school to justify the price difference of a Mac laptop or iPad when they can purchase a Chromebook for as low as $250 or less. 

Last night on Twitter, Dr. Will Deyamport shared a YouTube video, included below, by Rene Ritchie where Rene shares some thoughts on Apple creating a laptop running iOS inside instead of its traditional macOS, check it out below.

While Rene isn't the first or only person talking about this idea of a laptop running iOS, I think this is an interesting idea none-the-less. Apple has a history of releasing Education-only hardware (Anybody remember the old e-Macs?) but it's been a while since they actually make specific hardware instead of just offering a different SKU. 

While I think the idea of an iOS laptop could be pretty cool and would be VERY interested in getting one for myself, I have to wonder if this idea is too little too late? It makes me remember the fact that when the iPad originally came out in January 2010 Microsoft had a monopoly on office-y software but then Microsoft President Steve Balmer wouldn't agree to put any of the Office apps on the iPad. What happened due to that decision? Many people, including those in education, realized they didn't actually NEED Microsoft Office to get work done and could use other apps. Then in 2012, Google released Google Drive and again, many realized they didn't NEED Microsoft Office because they could use Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets to get work done for FREE. Microsoft has since had a change in leadership and now you can find all of the Microsoft Office apps on iOS, but because it took them so long to release their apps on iOS, many people realized they didn't NEED to use them anymore. In fact, there are many people who don't even install Microsoft Office on their computers because they can use Google Drive instead. 

Why do I bring all this up? Many schools, which were largely Apple schools, have left Apple products behind and moved almost entirely to Chromebooks due in large part to the difference in price. Could Apple announce an amazing device that will bring the cost closer to that of Chromebooks and help win back the Education field? I don't know, but I sure would like to see them try it. 

So how can you plan to follow this event? It won't be live-streamed like most of the modern Apple events, possibly due to the "field trip" style of the event and not having their state-of-the-art facility, or possibly due to the fact this will be happening in a school, so how can you follow it? You're going to have to go back in time to when Live Blogging was a thing and follow your favorite site(s). I think I'll be following along with a couple of my preferred sites including, Six Colors and the Six Colors liveblog Twitter account, The Verge, and MacStories

What do you think Apple with discuss or announce in their Education Event tomorrow? Let me know. 

31 May 2017

#ISTE17 Here I Come! - #30DayProject - Day 08

The official #ISTE17 Conference logo!
I just finished my 9th year in education and it was another great one. It was very different from my previous eight years, but I've really enjoyed the change of pace and the challenge of working with more than my individual class, grade level, and school. One thing has been pretty consistent with most of those years of teaching, my desire to attend educational conferences to learn and grow in my profession and meet other amazing educators. I've had the absolute pleasure to attend many conferences in my time as an educator, but there is one conference that I have tried and tried to attend for many years that has always found a way to elude me, sometimes at the last minute. That conference is none other than one of the largest EdTech conferences around, the big kahuna, ISTE!

I'm so excited to be a speaker
at #ISTE17!
Well, the wait is coming to an end this summer because I am so excited to announce that I will FINALLY be attending #ISTE17 in San Antonio, Texas and I couldn't be more excited! But wait, there's more because not only am I attending #ISTE17 but I will also be speaking at #ISTE17 as an Ignite Speaker on Sunday, June 25th @ 1:30pm (CDT)! I am so excited for this opportunity to not only attend #ISTE17 but also get to share the stage with some amazing educators who I consider friends, even though we haven't even met in person yet! If you attend the session you will hear from amazing people like Jaime Donally (who I have been blessed to meet IRL and she's even more amazing than she is online folks!), Kerry Gallagher, Tara Linney, Holly Clark, and ten other amazing educators who I don't know yet but am excited to meet and learn with while there! I am over the moon excited, and also more than a little nervous, to be speaking at #ISTE17 but it's something that I LOVE to do, share my passion for education with anyone who will listen, or read.

The #PassTheScopeEDU crew will be at #ISTE17!
So how is this all possible that I'll be able to attend ISTE this year where I haven't been able to do so in the past? Part of the answer is I was selected to be an Emerging Edublogger, which grants me access to the conference for $FREE as a credentialed member of the media. I will be writing blog posts before, during and after my ISTE experience as well as working with my #PassTheScopeEDU crew to make sure the entire event is properly live streamed via Periscope. I plan to scope alongside my #PTSEDU crew of Stacy Lovdahl (also an Emerging Edublogger for #ISTE17), Brian Smith, Toutoule Ntoya, Dan Kreiness, and hopefully Valerie Lewis, the founder, and visionary of #PassTheScopeEDU along with many others who are still figuring out their ISTE schedules. And in order to get ourselves ready for #ISTE17, Brian and I will be scoping the 2017 Badge Summit happening on Saturday, June 24th also in San Antonio, TX. So if you don't already have plans for the Saturday before #ISTE17, you should consider checking out Badge Summit and come say Hi! while you're at it.

I understand there are TONS of amazing things to do at ISTE more than the awesome learning from sessions and I hope to enjoy as many of them as possible. And as such, I've already RSVP'd to many great events so I can try to get a full view of just why all my friends keep talking about the great that is ISTE! So if you have any suggestions for a newbie, please feel free to reach out to me and let me know what I should be attending and be doing to make my ISTE experience the best. The best place to find me online is Twitter at @lars3eb or you can leave a comment here on this post or via the contact form on the Contact Page. I promise to respond to your comment and look forward to seeing what y'all think I should do at #ISTE17.

Be sure to keep an eye out for more #ISTE17 posts that will be appearing here before, during, and after the conference. They will all be tagged with the #ISTE17 tag so they should be nice and easy to find.


30 May 2017

Get Back Up - #30DayProject - Day 07

Source: Pixabay.com
I've had a really challenging weekend and don't know what to say. I start this #30DayProject because I want to spend more time writing and reflecting on my educational practice and I drop the ball after 6 days! In my defense, I've had some family issues that have moved the focus of my time to things that are more pressing. But, even though I missed 3 days I won't miss my numbering and I'll continue on in the process. I will get back up on the horse and return to regular posts.

I can't help but think about a great book I bought but haven't had the time to read yet called The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed * by Jessica Lahey. Side note, I tweeted about my desire to read The Gift of Failure in a recent #UTedChat and Jessica Lahey not only thanked me in the chat, she also sent me a handwritten thank you card! I couldn't believe it! A handwritten thank you card from a New York Time's Best Selling author! I was shocked! It was so nice of her to do that.

Image Source
Anyway, back to the book. I bought the book in order to participate in a Twitter Book Chat but life hit me so hard I wasn't able to read it with the group. I've always been a big proponent for looking at failure in a positive light because I believe that is where we learn the most, from our shortcomings and when we mess up. In fact, I always told First Attempt In Learning or Frequent Attempts In Learning. Regardless of how you look at it, I believe the only way you truly "fail" at something is when you quit trying and stop. For this reason, I will continue forward with my #30DayProject even though I "failed" by missing 3 days. I will continue working and hopefully learning as I go.
my students that Fail was nothing more than an acronym for

Thanks for sticking around!

* Yes this is an affiliate link to Amazon and if you purchase the book from this link I will receive a very small kickback for referring you. If you don't like referral links, here is a non-referral link to the same book.

27 May 2017

Riding A Bike - #30DayProject - Day 06

Source: Pixaby.com
I did something today that I haven't done in a long time, rode a bike. Now I didn't go on a long ride but I still got on a bike, two different bikes in fact, and rode them down the street and back to my house. I couldn't tell you the last time I rode a bike and yet I was able to hop on the bikes today and got riding without any issues at all.

Why is this important and why should it appear on an educational site? It's important for the same reason I can recite my multiplication facts up to 12 without much issues. It's important for the same reason I can recite some of the memorized poems and scriptures of my youth. It's important because when something is truly learned and, dare I say "mastered," it stays with you for life. I'm not a huge proponent of making/asking kids to memorize things unless they are needed on a regular basis because we now live in a world where it's so easy to pull a computer out of your pocket and search on Google for the answer. And yet, there are some things I believe are that necessary to memorize in order to make life easier for kids. Those things, like multiplication facts, scriptures, helpful songs/poems that help you learn, are worthwhile enough that kids still need to use some of their biological hard drive space to house it permanently and not just in the short-term cache. And even more than asking students to memorize things, if we can help them learn something so deeply that it is able to be stored on their permanent hard drive then we are actually making a difference in their lives.

Source: Pixabay.com
A couple days ago I had something amazing happen, my first-year students graduated high school. I never thought I'd see that day and yet, I didn't actually see it. My students graduated and I didn't even try to attend the event. Why not? I don't know, I just didn't realize it was happening that night because I wasn't invited to attend. I didn't attend because I was spending time with my family and visiting different doctors for medical check-ups. I didn't attend because life happened. And it was okay because I know those students learned things in my class and in their subsequent classes that will stick with them and allow them to be better people. They learned things to allow them to one day, sitting in a meeting at work, sitting in a class at University, sitting at home with their own kids, get back on their proverbial bike and get riding because they have that information permanently stored in their minds. And on that day, they'll think back to when they first learned the thing they're thinking about and realize it wasn't so bad to have worked hard in school. And they may even remember their 4th grade teacher and his crazy ways.

Congrats Class of 2017! You did it, you graduated High School and get to move on to the rest of your life. Best of luck!

p.s. It's technically still Saturday here in Utah so I haven't missed a day yet! But I'm just barely making it.

26 May 2017

Life, Challenges, and Hope - #30DayProject - Day 05

Image Source: Pixabay.com
Sometimes life hands you a crummy situation and you have to decide how you want to deal with it. Do you want to be angry and frustrated because you didn't get what you wanted or do you face life head-on and take what comes your way with strength and determination to make the best of it? I don't know where I am right now as I deal with health concerns for my Mom and the very real fact that her days may be numbered here on this Earth. I want to be 100% optimistic about her healing and getting back to full health, but I have to be realistic and know that there is a very real chance she won't be around to see her grandchildren graduate high school or get married. I love my mother very much and am really struggling with her health issues but I know that God is real and He loves me and my family and has a plan for our lives. And yet, knowing that doesn't make it any easier for me to deal with the pain and heartache I've been dealing with recently.

Visiting Voxer HQ in 2016
I love the Voxer app because it allows me to connect with people on a deeper level than Twitter or Facebook because you can hear the other person's voice and there's something about that idea that pushes you past the basics of communication. As with many tech tools, I tend to be involved in LOTS of different Voxer groups of all kinds. One of those groups has helped me deal with my Mom's health issues and concerns and it's not your normal group. The group is one where we share more spiritual messages and ideas than anything else. In fact, the group was created as a place where we could gather to share our thoughts and beliefs about God and His ways. I am very grateful for my spiritual family in my Voxer group because no matter what my concern is, I know they care about me and are willing to pray for me as well as with me. And that's a beautiful thing. Earlier I shared a link to a Mormon.org article because I am in fact a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or what many call a Mormon. And while I think I'm the only Mormon in my religious Voxer group, it doesn't matter because we all lift each other up and help each other out and I find that to be beautiful.

I don't really know why I'm writing this all here on an EdTech website other than I feel this is something that should belong here in my Babble category because not everything I do is Education or Technology and if you want to get to know the real me then you need to know more than the EdTech side. All educators are more than their classroom, teaching assignment, or extra roles (which are often many) and yet we don't always allow ourselves to show that online. As I've already said here, this site is about me and the way I see education and life. This is life for me right now and I felt the need to share it with y'all.


25 May 2017

Talks and Panels on Video - #30DayProject - Day 04

DigCitSummit @ Twitter HQ

I have had some pretty amazing things happen in the last couple of years and I just realized I haven't posted about a couple of them here. Back in October 2016 I was invited to attend the DigCitSummit @ Twitter Headquarters and speak on a panel of amazing educators on the topic of How Can We Think Outside The Box Regarding Teaching and Spreading Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy? It was a lot of fun and I learned a ton from my fellow panelists as well as the rest of the presenters and other panels that day. Below is the video from that panel discussion for your viewing pleasure, so please enjoy.

And yes, that was in fact my lovely wife calling me to check in and see how the conference was going. Ad yes, I forgot to turn my computer on Do Not Disturb mode so everyone was able to hear the ringing. But at least we were able to laugh it off and show that it's not the end of the world when something like that happens during your presentation. The other member of the panel included the following:

Panel Moderator: Alan Katzman (@SocialAssurity)
Panelists: Jaime Donally (@jaimedonally
Derek Larson (@lars3eb
Casper Pieters (@DCSOOCed
Chris Priebe (@chrispriebe
Erin Reilly (@ebreilly
Kristin Ziemke (@Kristinziemke)

UCET 2017

The other cool thing I wanted to share with you is the video footage of my first ever Ignite Talk that I gave at the UCET 2017 Conference at the University of Utah on March 17, 2017. The topic was Connecting Globally and Locally as Educators and it was the most challenging talk I've ever given. If you're not familiar with the Ignite Talk format it is 20 slides that automatically change every 15 seconds for a total of a 5-minute presentation! It was exhilarating and challenging and I can't wait for my chance to do another one. The filming started a little late so you actually miss my first two slides, but I think you still end up with a pretty good idea of how the talk turned out.

Have you had a presentation, talk, or panel recorded before? How did you feel when you finally found out it was available to watch online? I know I was both nervous and excited to watch. I hope you enjoy the above videos. Let me know your thoughts and how you think I could improve my method. 

Thanks for reading and watching!

24 May 2017

Remembering #Picademy - #30DayProject - Day 03

Image Source: Raspberry Pi
Its been over a year since I took part in #Picademy training at the Computer History Museum in Mountain
View, CA but I haven't forgotten the amazing opportunity it was and the fact that it pushed me to a different level of computer skills. It was at those two days of training that I really got into computer programing and coding and that I learned I wanted to do more with it. While I haven't been able to do as much programming as I wanted to do, I have taken lots of time to help get students interested in looking at computer programming and coding more. In fact, I recently ran into a parent of a student who told me her daughter has decided she wants to study computers and has gotten involved with some coding and programming at her school this last year and was on the school's First LEGO League team. Talk about a great present for a nerdy teacher, it was better than Christmas!

Sadly, I didn't document my experience as well as I wanted to do, but my pal Peter Strawn wrote up an awesome blogpost reflecting on the weekend. He also included some excellent pics and videos of the Show & Tell as well as another video created by the awesome Brian Briggs. You should totally go read Peter's great reflection on the weekend and get excited for #Picademy.

The amazing team at the Raspberry Pi foundation have decided to continue the push for more #Picademy training opportunities and there's still time to apply for the last two groups of classes being offered here in the good 'ol US of A. The final two locations (hopefully just for now) are Ann Arbor, MI and Boise, ID. Now, there will be two different sessions at each of the two locations, so below is a table I borrowed from the official #Picademy website, which you should probably be sure to check out ASAP so you can apply for these events.


Providence, RIJohnson & Wales UniversityJune 5 – 6April 13
Providence, RIJohnson & Wales UniversityJune 8 – 9April 13
Irvine, CAUniversity of California, IrvineJune 19 – 20April 27
Irvine, CAUniversity of California, IrvineJune 22 – 23April 27
Ann Arbor, MIAnn Arbor District LibraryJuly 24 – 25June 2
Ann Arbor, MIAnn Arbor District LibraryJuly 27 – 28June 2
Boise, IDJUMPAugust 7 – 8June 16
Boise, IDJUMPAugust 10 – 11June 16

After you complete the 2-day
training you become a
Raspberry Pi Certified Educator!
Again, if you notice, there are two dates you need to keep in mind if you are interested in applying for either of the last two locations, June 2nd and June 16th. These are the deadlines for applying, which you should all be considering doing RIGHT NOW! In fact, why are you even still here reading this amazing site? Get over to the #Picademy website and click on the Apply Here link to get started! Be sure to tell them @lars3eb sent you so they know I'm still doing my part to help the #Picademy program grow! You actually have a place to list it at the end of the application. 

Again, you can't ask for a better 2-days of professional development by a better group of trainers. I really enjoyed my time working with the Raspberry Pi crew at the Computer History Museum and would LOVE to have the chance to join them again sometime in the future. Although it'd be fun to be on the teaching side of the training this time around. All they need to do is get in touch and I'd make it happen because it was that awesome! 

If you end up applying for one of the MI or ID sessions, be sure to let me know. Oh, and best of luck to y'all in your applications!

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