Discovery Education Part Duex: Beyond the Textbook Continues.


Instead of making you watch a projector slideshow of my trip to Washington (old school reference), I thought I would just share my thoughts about my experience at Discovery Headquarters.Discovery Education.

First, I love a free trip.  I’m not sure which I love more – the free or the trip.  Combine them and I’m in heaven (if you are reading this and in charge of giving away free trips, please keep me in mind).

If you recall and I’m almost positive you don’t, I was invited by Discovery about this time last year to take part in a forum on digital textbooks (I’m told it’s the wave of the future).

The way this works is Discovery pays your expenses for two days and then they own you.  Sort of like a college athletic scholarship except there aren’t coaches from Discovery screaming at you.

Discovery flies or trains you in, provides a hotel room, feeds you, and then asks a lot of questions.

Their purpose is to learn the thoughts and ideas of people who may one day implement digital textbooks (or techbooks) in their school districts.

My purpose was to be helpful but most of all to learn something.

This is harder than it sounds.  Think about all the workshops, webinars, speeches, curriculum groups, etc. we’ve all sat through.  More times than not we all leave these experiences dumber and angrier than when we walked in.

Going to Discovery is just the opposite of this type of experience.  These people are so happy with their jobs  it’s almost creepy.

It is hard to be around them and not take something positive away from the experience

When the forum was over, I felt much smarter.  I’m sure I’m not, but the feeling is nice.

I would like to feel taller, but that’s a different blog.

Participating in an event like this at Discovery is fun for several reasons.  The biggest for me is I’m not in charge.  And it’s nice to be part of a group where you don’t hold any responsibility (other than being there on time and eating Georgetown Cupcakes).

It’s also nice to be asked questions instead of being the one asking.  Plus, anytime you find yourself in a situation where everyone else in the room is smarter, you should take advantage of it.

For two days, we were quizzed by the good folks of Discovery Education on a variety of topics.  The main one being what a digital math techbook should look like.

I’m often asked my thoughts about buying textbooks, but no one has ever asked me to help design a very preliminary version of one.

I guess I can check this task off my bucket list.

When Discovery comes out with their Math Techbook, I’m sure I won’t recognize it.  It will likely not look anything like the one our group came up with, but that’s okay.

We were there when they started.  And that’s pretty cool.

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Discovery Techbook Review.


Since my trip to Washington, I’ve been very busy.It's the Future.

School.  School.  More school.

And avoiding hamburgers like the plague (which is what I thought I had… and mark my word, you do not want the plague).

Mowing my yard 14 times in March (global warming stinks… but it is a lot warmer).

I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about Discovery’s Techbook.

I didn’t want to rush right back and write a review.

My concern was I couldn’t do Discovery or the product justice (and I didn’t have time).

My initial reaction to the Techbook… I was just a little bit "under"whelmed.

I think I had my hopes set so high.  After all, this is the company that brought us Mike Rowe, Mythbusters, and American Chopper (by the way… props on the cardboard cutout of Paul Sr. at Discovery Headquarters).

I thought the Techbook would completely transform education.

Rock my world.  Like Poison or Motley Crue (the 80′s were a special time).

I was hoping for everything.

Complete and total transformation.  The universe would never be the same.

Like when ice cubes came along.  Or air conditioning. 

Cable TV.  Indoor plumbing.  McNuggets.  Shoe strings.  Underwear (seems weird, but try to imagine life without them).

Techbook was good.

Really good.

But I had my hopes up for iPad good.

That it would give me something I didn’t even know I needed.

Don’t get me wrong.  Discovery is on the right path.

It’s a company with really smart people who really care about education.  And storms (they like to chase them).

I was just hoping they would jump 20 years into the future.  Call me impatient.

I was impressed enough we hope to try out the Science Techbook in my school.

There is no doubt digital textbooks are the future.

I’m just hoping the future gets here quicker than probably is possible.

My suggestion:  if your school is thinking about buying textbooks… don’t.  Until you try Techbooks.

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Beyond the Textbook Forum Attendees: Weird.


I’m assuming if the good people at Discovery read this, I’ll be banned from corporate headquarters.They Put Up a Sign to Welcome Me.  I Thought That Was Nice.

That would be bad.

But, it would be neat to walk in, only to be wrestled to the ground by a gang of security guards (I don’t know how many they would need, but I’m guessing 7… I’ve been working out).

Plus, it wouldn’t be the first place where I’ve been uninvited.

And what are the odds they would invite me back anyway?

The Textbook Techbook Forum was interesting.

Interesting to say the least.

I got to meet an amazing group of people who are quite famous in the education/technology world (still not sure why I was there… they must have needed a token Superintendent).

If you read blogs, tweet, or stalk this kind of educator, you would have been impressed by the lineup.

Dembo.  Jakes.  Warlick.  Whitby.  Becker.  Sheninger.  Couros.  Laufenberg.  Maiers.

And the Godfather.  Shareski.

Why is he the Godfather?  Because he is.  You don’t get to question why.

It was a Who’s Who of famous educators.

And I discovered something (get it… discovered?).

They are weird.

Every last one of them.

Really weird.

What kind of person is obsessed with the education issues of the day?

Technology.  Curriculum.  Teaching styles.  Textbooks.

Who are these people and why don’t they get hobbies?  Maybe they should take a walk or something.

I would like to think they attended the forum for the free trip.  Maybe even to raise their profile in the Twitter universe?

For all I know, nuzzling up to the people who brought us American Choppers and Shark Week raises their fee for presenting on various educational topics.

But I don’t think any of this is true.

I think they are just weird enough that they were there in the hope of helping provide students and teachers a better textbook (techbook) for 2012 and beyond.

Told you they were weird.

The good kind of weird.

Top 3 Questions I get when I attend these types of events:  1.  Why don’t I attend these types of events more often?  2.  Are you going to make fun of me in your blog?  3.  How’s Buddy the Dog?

Answers:  1.  I like my house.  2.  Yes.  3.  He’s great.  He’s Buddy the Dog.

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A Flight, a Free Trip, Discovery Education, and Food Posioning. It Was a Very Busy Day.


The superintendent’s life can be a busy one.Discovery and Shark Week.

But I know it’s the same for principals, teachers, secretaries, custodians, parents, students, and Buddy the Dog.

Well, not Buddy.  He’s not that busy.  Unless you count 17 hour naps  as busy (I’m so sick of holding a mirror under his snout to see if he’s still breathing).

Everyone is busy, so I’m not complaining.

But lately, I have been unusually busy.

School.  The Evil Spawn’s athletic career (I use athletic… and career… loosely).

This week I added to my troubles by throwing in a one-day trip to Discovery Education in Washington, D.C.

One-day and trip should never be used in the same sentence (and I just did it twice… idiot!!).

I really didn’t have time, but I knew I needed to make the time.  After all, it’s Washington D.C. (you can never turn down a free trip to your nation’s capital… unless you are a communist… and if you are… I’m not judging).

The trip was good.  Not great.

Blog sarcasm karma reached up and slapped me in the face.  Again.

When will I ever learn?

Note to self:  Don’t write a blog about what type of person you don’t want to sit next to on a flight because karma will mock you by sitting someone worse next to you the very next day.

I get on the plane.  Take my window seat (which is an opportunity to be the first one to notice an engine is on fire).

And then it happens.  Nope, not a lady with a baby (that’s a different blog),

Worse.

A young strong woman (freakishly strong) sits down and announces "I’m the worst flyer you’ve ever met.  I apologize in advance for screaming and I’ll probably grab you at some point".

Well, thanks for the warning.  And for cranking up my stress level because people with brand new vasectomies always hope to be grabbed by perfect strangers on a plane.

Here’s a sentence you almost never hear people say… "I wish I had MORE swelling!"

The worst part?  She screamed so loud on take off there was no way anyone was going to hear me crying like a little girl when she grabbed my man parts like a grocery bag.

Let’s just say, it was a long flight.

But it got worse.

The airline "misplaced" my luggage.  Which I’m told (by them) is better than "losing" it.

I should have known there was going to be trouble.  It’s never a good sign when you get off the plane on the middle of the tarmac.

The good news is they "found" my luggage.

Since I arrived at the hotel late, I got to eat dinner by myself in their ridiculously high-priced restaurant.

Who pays $14 for a hamburger?

After dinner, I retired to my hotel room to get a good night’s rest before going over to Discovery Corporate Headquarters.

I was excited.

And cramping.

You see, the $14 hamburger turned on me.

It’s 1:00 am.  I’m in Washington by myself.  And I’m face down in the bathroom eating tile.

I thought I was dying.  At one point I was hoping I was dying.

I just knew I was leaving this world like Elvis.

How sad.  A small school superintendent found alone in a hotel in a compromising position.

People were bound to talk.

I didn’t care.

Just stop the cramping.

Luckily, I eventually fell asleep.  In bed, as far as you know.

I got up and felt like a million bucks.  Food poisoning evidently doesn’t last long on the East Coast.

Maybe it’s the time change.

I made my way to Discovey and had a wonderful time.

But that’s another blog.

I’ll get to the Techbook Discovery people.  I promise.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.