Setting the stage for BYOD
Jun 11th, 2014 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

In order to move to a 1:1 environment, I think Bring Your Own Device “BYOD” is critical because it allows you to leverage funds more effectively to get devices in the hands of ALL students.   Those that can provide, do; those who are unable, can use a device provided by the school.  To build capacity in my new school, we’ve presented this concept at parent “meet-and-greets,” student meetings, and school orientation.  To more widely distribute the information, I recently created a video with my colleagues.  We also created the following 1-pager.  We are well on our way to being the first school in our urban district that is 1:1.



GTA Innovative Ideas
Jun 5th, 2014 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am attending the Google Teacher Academy in Atlanta later this month.  GTA has asked that if we have an innovative idea, we apply to present.  Here is my submission

  • Google Spreadsheets for real-time collaborative data collection.

When conducting experiments in a science environment there is often a great deal of experimental error associated with student data collection. This can lead to inappropriate conclusions or misunderstanding of science concepts or phenomena. One of the easy ways to remediate this is by collecting class data:  outlier data is averaged and balanced and students use more meaningful mathematical processes for analysis.  In the way-way past, this was done on the board.  We’d make a data table and students would fill in, then copy.  Once computers were more readily available, we would use a spreadsheet at a single station: students would come to the station, one group at a time and input their data.  We would then have one sheet that could be posted to the class website.  This process was still cumbersome.  With the advent of the Google Spreadsheet, it’s a totally different ball game.  Students can work simultaneously to input data and real-time progress monitoring can take place.  There are some key strategies to make it work effectively that I will discuss.

Google Teacher Academy
May 13th, 2014 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Google offers a teacher academy program across the country and the world.  I’ve applied for this round in Atlanta.  Part of the application required me to create a short (1 minute) video.  Here’s my submission:

Emerging Technology
May 3rd, 2014 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I (not-so-recently-ago) attended the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Conference (Fall, 2013).  One session was about emerging technology.  As I was cleaning my laptop’s desktop, I came across these notes and decided to post them here:

Emerging Technology in Photonics

  • Solar electric – poor efficiency, needs energy storage (not developed for scale), no payback w/o subsidies
  • Organic LEDs – produced in a flexible film (like wallpaper), signs display
  • Fiber lasers – fiberoptics where the core is an active medium (broad light, gas discharge) over 35% efficient (100x lasers), generates >100KW, can probably knock missiles out of sky, low power requirements, lightweight, no cooling
  • Laser-assisted additive manufacturing – highly irregular shapes that can be created (related 3D printing)
  • Capsule Endoscopy – 1/2” capsule- swallow it – contains batteries LED, camera

Emerging ICT (information communication technologies) Technologies

  • Technology trigger, peak of inflated expectations, trough of disillusionment, slope of enlightenment, plateau of productivity
  • 2005 “triple play- phone, internet, cable), 2011 apps, 2015 – experience roaming – social circle, apps ecosystem, user data roaming (mobile me), service roaming, user interaction design, industrial design, brand

Emerging Tech in Biosciences

  • DNA sequencing – nanopore sequencing
  • Complex biomarkers and antibodies
  • Stem cell technologies (keep growing in “undecided” state)

Microchips 2020

  • Wearables – enabled by microchip technology
  • Semiconductor content in cars is $350/car and rising 70+chips and rising
  • Silicon wafer 450mm
  • Flexible displays
  • Smart cells – electronic cell that includes instruments

Deep Space

  • Space is not in limbo
  • Space launch system – multi-purpose crew vehicle to travel farther – first launch 2013
  • Reusable vehicles – scaled composites ShapeShip Two – SpaceX Grasshopper
  • Suborbital rocket planes – XCOR Lynx, Virgin Galactic, Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser, JetPacks
  • Space Station resupply – SpaceX Dragon, Orbatal Sciences Cygnus – commercial cargo ships
  • Getting Humans back to space – Bigelow Aerospace (provide modules that collapse and re-inflate (e.g., bio modules, hotels in space), Boeing CST-100 (up to 7 people)
  • 3D printing for space – create spare parts instead of having to carry them

Additive Manufacturing

  • joining materials to make objects from 3D model data
  • medical diagnostics
  • dentistry (small piece in office – caps produced)
  • paleontology
  • GIS survey
  • BOOTH 201

New Varieties as New Technologies (Grape Growing)

  • “No spray” fungicide resistance  (GMO or hybrid breeding)
  • NMR used in other areas – leverage existing technology
  • Applied research in climate change – “crop forcing” – prune vines and come back into June and do it again
  • Mitigating catastrophic diseases (Pierce’s Diesease)
  • Korvan 3016xl – vehicle for collecting data on soil quality (e.g., conductivity, compaction)

Nanotechnology (Nano-Link)

  • RustOleium NeverWet (superhydrophobicity) (Ross Nanotechnlogy) YouTube video 8M+ views http://youtu.be/DZrjXSsfxMQ
  • Carbon Nanotube Computer “CEDRIC”
  • Drug delivery – deliver without doing damage during transport – medicine in pores – then “cork” dissolves away, deodorant – releases when body temp increases

Ubiquity of Tech Innovation/ Entrepreneurship in Big Data

  • Health based on
  • Netflix series – take data on what you have clicks, people
  • Facebook – facial recognition, attributes
  • Project using facial recognition to ID art subjects, hospitality (in bars – facial recognition on patrons – let you decide where you want to go), facemate, retail – cameras – realtime demographics in store – lines moving fast enough, who is looking at products, how old are people in your store
  • Billboard – if you are female it shows you an ad, not – no ad – customizing ads
  • Peer-to-peer currency – Bitcoin
  • Crowdsourcing/Collaborative Consumption – waze – where the cops are on the road, lyft – friend gives you a ride, rent out your own car, parking at your house, collaborative laundry
  • Get Data? Use Data? Ethics?

McKenzie (Mitt Romney’s Consulting)

  • Disruptive technologies – Mobile devices #1, Big Data, Personalized Medicine, Batteries, Natural Gas – 4.4cents/KW hour
  • SMRs – small modular reactors (nuclear – tiny reactors – affordable to build make one, done, encapsulate in concrete
  • Fusion – medical isotopes – Taylor Wilson (14 yr old who built a reactor)



Technology changes “note taking”
Nov 9th, 2013 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am often still baffled at schools who have a “no tolerance” policy for the use of digital tools in the classroom.  No phones, no tablets, no nothing.  You might have been one of the 2M who saw the professor who indicated “No laptops in class.  Do I make myself clear?”

However times are changing.  In my current Stats class (practicing teachers/doctoral students), I often find the SmartBoard posing for pictures.  After modeling a procedure using software, notations and all, the students whip out their smartphones and click away.  It is a CLEVER documentation process as you get the WYSIWYG photo – students can reference the actual screen that they may encounter later on the computer and, as a fully annotated doc in context, it mayvery well make more sense than something documented on paper.

I think the important consideration is that when technology is used to ENHANCE learning, that’s a good thing, but when technology DISTRACTS you from learning, that’s the bad thing.  In a classroom with children who are still working on self-regulation, we may need to assist them.  But should we take away the potential benefits that technology offers to protect against potential problems.  I think it is better to deal with them as they come up and teach responsible citizenship.

A Crash Course on Creativity
Jun 2nd, 2013 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am just completing my first MOOC (Massively Online Open Course) entitled “Crash Course in Creativity” offered by Tina Seelig at Stanford University.  It’s been a pretty amazing experience taking a course with 15,000 others – probably about 5,000 active students in the process.

To me, I’ve had two great experiences:

  1. Taking a course on creativity.  Although I’ve only been able to dedicate limited time to the course – and that’s allowable. I’ve come to realize that time and dedication to a project is necessary for maximum results.  I think I’ve been able to think about creativity and also how to get others to think about it in a meaningful way.  To me, that’s the big take away that makes me happy.  I’m less happy realizing that if I had and/or made more time to participate in the course, I would certainly had a more robust experience. But isn’t that what I’ve written about on this blog for years?  Creativity and problem finding take time.  If you don’t dedicate the time to the creative process, you won’t come up with your best ideas.  Incubation takes time and if you don’t make the time to do it, you won’t generate enough ideas for prioritized selection. I guess in that sense, it’s very self validating
  2. Taking a MOOC.  There’s been a lot of buzz around open courses lately, and professionally, I’m glad I could experience the process.  I really like the way the platform is flexible and the way the professor designed the learning challenges.  I really want to figure out a way to engage Connecticut students from across the state in a MOOC environment.  I have a few ideas about content and think there is incredible potential for breaking down barriers when students can be allowed to collaborate across school and district boundaries.  Learning can truly be anywhere, anytime.
Read my post on ED WEEK!
Nov 29th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I wrote a guest blog post for Bob Slavin’s (Success for All) Blog – Sputnik.  Please check it out and if you are on Twitter, I would really appreciate a tweet from the site!


Here’s a brief excerpt:

The real question, ultimately, is, “Does technology help our students become better independent, self-directed learners?” That’s the game-changer. It’s not about the latest fancy device, hot off the shelf. That device is just a tool– it’s not knowledge and it’s not a skill. Just because we haphazardly give students technology tools doesn’t mean they are going to learn better–the evidence definitely supports that. Learners purposefully interacting with the tool and using it for production, facilitated by thoughtful, forward-thinking educators, is the way to get to a student-centered learning environment that improves engagement and achievement.

Teachers producing digital media
Nov 24th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

My sister-in-law, Jessica Poyer, is a fabulous 2nd grade teacher with the Hamilton Central Schools in Hamilton, NY.  The teachers there recently produced a video for their school spirit week.  It paints the teachers in such a fun, human way for the students.  I also love the fact that the district has its own Youtube Page. Kudos to them!


How the iPhone Changed the Way We Do Ethnography
Nov 12th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.


Ethnography (from Greek ἔθνος ethnos = folk/people and γράφω grapho = to write) is a qualitative research design aimed at exploring cultural phenomena. The resulting field study or a case report reflects the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group.[1][2][3]An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing, the culture of a people.

is an approach often used in qualitative research.  Recently on the “Cop in the Hood” blog, the use of the iPhone was discussed as a tool for data collection.  See the post HERE.

Here’s what caught my attention:

In an attempt to stay true to my ethnographic forefathers, I had been jotting down notes in shorthand. Deep in the recesses of countless seminal ethnographies, one can usually find a footnote or appendix detailing the experiences one has collecting data. Everyone from Whyte to Venkatesh [ed note: and Moskos], it seems, has shared personal anecdotes on finding odd moments to jot down notes of what they observed, heard and felt. What these texts seemed to gloss over, however, is just how conspicuous one can look with a pen and pad in 2012.
Not wanting to make the situation any more uncomfortable than it was already becoming, I fumbled around in my pocket and pulled out my iPhone, opened the “notes” section and began typing. In an age when most teens and 20-somethings remain glued to their i-devices, checking mail, or texting, I found that my fiddling with a phone while talking to Chaz was no longer “curious” behavior. In fact, it was seen as quite normal.
Ironically, I’ve been contemplating a reflective study with teachers using iPod Touch and the Voice Memos App.  Questions are provided and the participants can record their personal narratives.  But then the follow up becomes easy.
  • Participant records answers on the iPod Touch (or just as easily with an iPhone)
  • Participant clicks the share button
  • Participant emails or texts the file to the research team
  • Research team sends the mp3 file to service provider for transcription
  • Analysis commences

The power of technology can help connect subjects to researchers in a seamless way.

Battlstar Galactica (1978) vs Star Trek Voyager (1995-2001)
Apr 23rd, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I’ve recently been hooked on some science fiction series from my earlier years via Netflix.  It is quite amazing to be able to watch an entire series from start to finish over a much shorter period of time.  The streaming feature is really great.  I started my sci-fi adventure with Star Trek Voyager and then moved on to Battlestar Galactica (original series).  Both have a common theme – they are far, far away searching for earth.  In the case of Galactica, they are somewhere else in the universe searching for the elusive 13th colony – Earth, while Voyager is stranded a bit closer, somewhere across the galaxy, and they know how to get back to Earth – it’s just going to take a while.

So I’ve been thinking about which series I thought was better, and just come to the conclusion that Voyager works better for me on so many levels.  Some might think, well the tech from the 70s really isn’t good enough – but I can get by that pretty easily – the constant repeat footage of the vipers and Cylon three passenger vehicles, tube-TV monitors – static when there’s nothing there (instead of the blue screen), keyboards that remind me of Radioshack TRS-80, wired headsets, and all the other “felgercarb.”

What really bothers me in this series is the concept of


They just do such a horrible job in presenting a realistic depiction of distance and time.  For example: Earth is presented as “galaxies” away.

Now if galaxies have huge distances between them – the majority of time would be spend traveling between galaxies.  However, a transition between galaxies seems to happen almost instantaneously in the show.  And don’t forget – these ships all travel at sublight speeds – unlike Voyager that travels at Warp (superlight) speeds.  Voyager (located in the same galaxy as Earth) needs to travel 70,000 light years to get home.  How far do you have to travel at sublight “flank speed” to make it?

In the final Galactica episode, “The Hand of God,” summarized:

Receiving a mysterious radio signal possibly from Earth, Adama and the crew are wary of a Cylon trap, and decide to turn the tables by attacking the Cylons with a stolen Cylon Raider. Apollo and Starbuck, in the series finale’s last scene, narrowly miss receiving Apollo-11 moon-landing transmissions from Earth.

The Cylon trap is a single ship in the current galaxy, positioned within a single solar system that for some reason the Galactica fleet HAS to traverse.  “There’s no way around it.”  How can that possibly be that a single ship, hidden behind a single planet of a single solar system in a single galaxy is the ONLY route to go.  It just gets too unreasonable for me.  The design and thinking is too two-dimensional


This to me is a more interesting comparison.  Cylons are

. . . a cybernetic civilization at war with humanity.  The Cylons of the 1978/1980 series are not the mechanical foils seen throughout the series, but an advanced reptilian race who created the robots (who were referred to as Cylons within the show) to serve them, maintain their vast empire and to man their military forces in the face of a sudden population drop that eventually led to the Cylons’ extinction — seemingly overnight. (wikipedia)

While the Borg are

. . . a fictional pseudo-race of cybernetic organisms depicted in the Star Trek universe.  The Borg manifest as cybernetically-enhanced humanoid drones of multiple species, organized as an interconnected collective, the decisions of which are made by a hive mind, linked by subspace radio frequencies.

The Cylons are certainly a reflection of 70s technology. Each unit is independent and there is a hierarchy of unit type.  The silver Centurion is the lowest level and has a seriously computer-processed voice.  For a race of “robots,” they are seriously unsophisticated and seem to have pretty poor processors and data nodes.  Likely because the technology didn’t exist (in real-time, 1978), it is surprising to see that these cyborgs have no networking capability – there is no data sharing between units, unless communicated orally.  The Cylons are unlike the Borg which are all interconnected and simultaneously processing all knowledge and data between units – now that’s sophisticated technology.  The Borg are composed of both organic and computer components.

In a battle, who wins? I think the Borg have it hands down – just in ship alone, the Borg cubes have electronic field generating shields – the Cylon Basestars don’t have any shielding.

So thanks for enjoying my SciFi rants.  Resistance is futile!

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