How can YouTube support great teachers? Can we flip education?

As a student, I want to learn and succeed in my classes for a variety of personal motivations.   I believe that I thrive when my teachers cared about me enough to give me individualized attention.   How do we encourage this style of teaching?   To answer this question, I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite teachers.

I enjoyed my graduate computer science (CS) education at UCF.   I, however, can especially remember my algorithms class very clearly.   Algorithms, one of the first CS courses I took after working as a professional software guy for five years, nearly broke me.   Why?  Writing business applications for years really involves math concepts that you pick up in elementary school.    I had not used math skills like calculus, linear algebra or differential equations during that period of my life.  In the first week of class, many of peers and I felt like we were just run over by a bus because we needed to re-gain expert knowledge of these topics.

I survived that class for three main reasons:

(1) Arup Guha is a wonderful teacher.

(2) Arup invested a lot of time with his students outside the lecture to make sure they were not left behind.  He really cared about you and that you owned the knowledge.

(3) During the class, I formed some great relationships with my peers.  We would study together constantly.

I don’t remember the name of every teacher I have had.   I, however, will always remember Arup.

Is there a way that great teachers can give more individualized attention to students during class room time?

I would like to introduce you to the    Founded by Salman Khan, the organization has the mission of “changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”   I believe that Mr. Khan’s work might be one of the great positive revolutions and innovations in education.   This is exactly what we need!   To learn more about Khan Academy, I invite you to review his TED talk below.

What is the impact of these ideas? Quotes from viewers:

  • “i’m impressed and feel inspired to create some videos on science.”
  • “This guy is absolutely amazing. A true world-changer.”
  • “Amazing. Truly innovative.  This is the true purpose and essence of the internet.”
  • “Sal deserves a nobel peace prize!! He is responsible for helping me pass Physics, Earth Science,and Math!”
  • “it was very strange for me to do something of social value” great line….something to aspire to!”

As technology professionals, how do we support teachers who might consider flipping their class room?

How do we minimize the cost of change in teaching style?

For teachers who are flipping their class room, what do you do during your class time?

Boldly going where no one has gone before:

Most of us probably learned about cell biology in a traditional manner: lecture, books, and labs.   While these means of teaching are great, young students will soon have an alternative.   In the future, you’ll get to experience a quest through the basic lego block of life… the cell.

I had the opportunity to meet a team of very talented programmers and science visualization artists.   Blair Lyons and Laura Lynn Gonzalez, the creators of the KinectBiology project, have taken on the amazing task of enabling us to travel through a cell.

I first learned about them through their Kickstarter project.   I have to confess that they were the first Kickstarter project that I ever funded because I was inspired by their talents of visualization.   I believe that their Microsoft Kinect interaction is pretty awesome too.    In contrast to other game based learning cell experiences, they really care about providing a real model of the cell while making it fun.   This shows up in the manner that the gamer travels through the cell.     You don’t just fly around the cell.   You travel a network of structure that they discuss on their blog.

I appreciate Laura Lynn, Rachel, and Blair for innovating in the open.    They are providing a gift to the game based learning world by sharing their design and technical process with the world.

Please support their project by sharing their blog with your friends.   I am sure they would appreciate financial support too.

Very cool project!


I believe educational technology just became exponentially cooler. Thanks Google!

I think educational technology just became exponentially cooler! Why?  During the Google I/O 2012 conference, our amigos at Google gave us tons of new tools and platforms to help us innovate.   I love new toys!  These tools can help serve existing movements like mlearning and  game based learning.  I love seeing competition in the tablet space too.    Lower cost tablet devices is a great win for students.  The glass technology creates huge opportunities in augmented reality.   It’s fun to dream about what you can teach with this tool.   News from Google I/O:
  • @timoreilly I suspect that Google Glass may be a technology milestone to surpass the iPhone. #io12 bold thinking, unique assets brought to bear — MLEARNING
  • @google: Watch the full video of today’s skydiving Project Glass demo at #io12 (hint: it’s great in full screen!) — MLEARNING
  • @timoreilly Women of Google event opens with a video about @sitwithme and the red chair campaign #io12  — WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY
  • @google Big @Android updates @ #io12: Jelly Bean, more entertainment in Google Play & 2 new, powerful Nexus devices  — MLEARNING
  • @CNET Google Glass just got a lot more real. Check out our first take: #io12
  • Android 4.1 will have Bluetooth Braille support  — EDUCATION FOR BLIND
  • @mattcutts Google will be teaching a “power searching” class: . Good for regular folks, SEOs, even #io12 attendees.    — SEARCH COURSE
  • @ChromiumDev is now mobile! Check out 9 brand new mobile experiments at #io12  — GAME BASED LEARNING, MLEARNING
  • GoogleAtWork: Big updates to Google Apps Script at #io12today. It’s now easier to create&share what you build.
  • While reviewing #io12, I saw that Microsoft has created a cool automation service for Android: onX .   Everyone loves automation.  — MLEARNING, GAME BASED LEARNING

For more news on Google I/O 2012, please visit .

Summary videos can be found at CNET.

What education innovations would you like to see  in 5 years based on Google’s contributions today?



National STEM Video Game Challenge 2010 Youth Prize Winners

As I have reviewed materials from the conference, I have become more convinced that education has a huge impact to the future of our economic future.   I have also enjoyed seeing the results of “game based learning” challenges. The students in this video give me hope that the US can continue to be innovation leaders. I am blown away that these students are in middle school. Wow!  I hope that I can inspire my boys to have that sort of creativity.

These students are truly exceptional.   I would be interested to learn about the parents and teachers who supported these students.   Whatever it is, we should try to reproduce what they are doing.

As parents, mentors, and educators, how can we create challenges in our families and communities that inspire young people to be creative and innovate?

Can gaming have a positive impact to students? Answers from

Please make sure to visit

If we spend 3 billion hours a week playing online games, is it possible to direct some of that human energy to creating positive change in the real world?   Can gaming have a positive impact on students?  In the past week, I had the opportunity to explore some of the content from the conference.     During this event, the speakers and thought leaders explored how games can improve our planet.

Why should teachers consider using games to enhance traditional learning?  Dr. Rick Van Eck, a leader in instructional design and technology, has a great TED talk exploring the major benefits of game based learning.     I wanted to share this content to help you understand the context of the conference.

From the conference, I was especially moved by the keynote by Jane McGonigal.     You can view the full talk here ( She talked about the influence gaming can have on emotion, mental resilience, social relationship, self image, and engagement.    She challenged the community to work together to help measure and prove that games can have larger positive impact.   I loved her story behind the birth of  As a game designer, she created this game in response to a concussion she had experienced resulting in a period of profound depression.   In response to this dark time in her life, she designed the game to make small steps to wellness.   This game looks like it would be helpful to anyone going through a traumatic life event or illness.  I love that she collected her back story and academic literature review at .

In other contexts, Jane McGonigal has promoted the idea of online games that you play in the real world.    For example, you should checkout World without oil.   While I feel some of the execution of the game can be improved, the game idea has really resonated with me.   As an aspiring game designer, I will definitely explore this concept more deeply.

To the team that constructed the organization and conference, I greatly appreciate all of your work.    You have given the world a lot to think about.     I am more convinced that online and real world games can create positive changes in health, education and our planet.

What kind of social change do you want to make in education?   What are you passionate about teaching?   Can we use games to teach that topic?  When does teaching by gaming make sense?

What makes a great teacher?

Why is this important?

  • Great leaders are born from great teachers.
  • For those that do not belong to the top 20% of society, the quality of education seems to be degrading.
  • Over 30% of high school students never graduate.
  • For minorities, over 50% of high school students do not finish.

If we value education as a nation, we should find ways to create great teachers, support them, reward them, and reproduce their success.  The Gates Foundation has been doing some amazing research in this area.

In this video, Bill Gates challenges the community to construct thoughtful measures that help us celebrate and discover what makes an awesome teacher.



Starting with WHY

Space Shuttle Launch

My wife and I grew up in the great state of Florida. I was born and raised on the west side in the city of Tampa. Sarah was raised on the other side of the state in the shadows of the rockets on the Space Coast. We are HUGE fans of NASA. I can remember my Dad breaking out an “old school” slide projector to show us the history of the Apollo missions. Several times our family took mini-road trips to the east coast to see the Shuttle launch. Both of my parents work in the medical field. These things, combined with an “overdose” of watching Star Trek, influenced my love for science. In my adult life, I work as a software engineer who especially loves to rip off ideas from biology.

Growing up in Cocoa Beach, FL, Sarah was in a prime location to explore the coastal wildlife and to see all things NASA. If you visit Sarah’s childhood home, you can run to the beach at the end of the street and see a few launch pads. Sarah’s dad had an awesome career working at the Space Center. When you grow up surrounded by engineers and rocket scientists, it is almost natural to become a lover of science. I have to say that I am very proud of my wife. In her young adult life, she has completed her doctorate in biomedical science. She now teaches microbiology and biology in a local college. It has been awesome to see her experiment with different teaching and engagement styles.

Together we have a shared passion for science. Like all teachers, my wife has to work diligently to keep her students engaged. This topic of student engagement seems to dominate our dinner conversations. As a technologist and media geek, I enjoy the opportunity to help my wife be successful in her work.

From my corporate perspective, I have started reading a lot of content related to leadership. The books “Developing the leader in you” by John Maxwell and “Entreleadership” by Dave Ramsey both point to a profound principal: the best leaders are those that teach. Even though I work as a professional computer geek and my wife is a college professor, it seems we are both in the same business of teaching.

Born out of this passion for science and desiring to become better teachers, my wife and I decided to commit to blogging about our life lessons. In this work, we hope to celebrate great teachers, schools, and organizations that teach. We also hope to explore opportunities that can improve our craft of teaching.

We hope to cover some of the following types of content:

  • Examples of great teaching
  • Showcases of great schools
  • Teaching principals and rules of thumb
  • Teaching styles
  • Media resources
  • Teaching communities
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Web technology that supports teaching and learning

We hope that you will become a regular visitor. Thanks for joining us as we learn to improve our craft of teaching.