Keynote and Workshop Topics

[see also my main Consulting page]

Below is a list of possible keynotes, presentations, and workshops that I can facilitate for organizations. This list is by no means exhaustive. Basically I can do almost anything related to K-12 leadership, digital leadership, technology issues for postsecondary faculty, school law, and/or data-based decision-making. I’m also sometimes asked to give presentations to small businesses, nonprofits, and local governments regarding social media and marketing. I always custom design my work to meet the individual needs of your organization. Please contact me if you have any questions about these topics.





Below are some topics that I’ve been asked to facilitate recently. All of these presentations can be customized for elementary, secondary, leadership, school board, policymaker, and/or business community audiences. Most can be done either as a keynote or as a breakout session. All presentations are accompanied by numerous resources and slide decks that can be used by participants in their own work.

The Relevance Gap: 6 Arguments For Why Schools Need To Be Different [in conjunction with my new book from Solution Tree]

Schools need to change but the gaps that we need to close are ones of relevance, not just achievement scores:

  1. The Information Literacy Gap. Schools are supposed to help students master the dominant information landscape of their time. We can’t do that in local, analog, isolated school environments that ignore the digital, hyperconnected, global world around us.
  2. The Economic Gap. Schools are charged with workforce preparation. In an era in which the only job growth in developed countries is in areas that require non-routine cognitive work, schools’ overwhelming emphasis on routine mental work such as recall and regurgitation disadvantages our graduates economically.
  3. The Learning Gap. For most of human history, both teachers and learning materials such as scrolls, books, and maps were extremely scarce. Today we live in an era of information abundance, not scarcity. Most schools have yet to fully realize the implications of our new learning landscape and we are leaving incredible learning opportunities by the wayside.
  4. The Engagement Gap. The biggest indictment of our schools is not their failure to raise test scores above some politically-determined line of ‘proficiency.’ It’s that they routinely ignore the fact that our children are bored, disengaged, and disempowered. The disenfranchisement of our youth continues to happen in the very institutions that are allegedly preparing them to be “life long learners.”
  5. The Innovation Gap. Just as it is difficult to prepare high-level thinkers in low-level knowledge environments, it also is hard to prepare innovators and risk-takers in compliance-heavy learning spaces. The relentless efforts of teachers and administrators to control young people in every aspect of their school lives exact a terrible toll on students’ willingness to think creatively and divergently. Innovation is how we initiate movement beyond the status quo and how we transform school structures and educator mindsets. Right now most schools don’t really have an innovation agenda.
  6. The Equity Gap. Unfortunately, access is not the only barrier for underserved children when it comes to learning technologies. Even when these students do get to use technology at school, they frequently use it in very limited ways compared to their more affluent, higher-achieving, white classmates. Accordingly, even when schools do move toward more modern learning environments, age-old inequities are being continued and sometimes exacerbated.

School Models That Foster Deeper Student Learning and Engagement

A wide variety of school and classroom models enable 1) deeper student thinking instead of just recall and regurgitation, 2) student empowerment instead of bored passivity, and 3) authentic, meaningful, community-embedded work instead of isolated, artificial classroom assignments. From passion projects to course redesign to whole-scale school restructuring, we will walk through these organizational models together and discuss which might be feasible options for your school system(s). Participants in this session will get concrete, inside looks at schools around the world that are empowering students in amazing ways!

Do We Have to Settle for Normal? Or Can We Get to Amazing?

Normal in schools isn’t cutting it. We must move beyond the status quo, which currently features massive levels of student boredom; a misguided focus on standardized, low-level student work; and a failure to prepare students for a digital, global, hyperconnected, and participatory information landscape. Fortunately we have a number of ways to get beyond normal. Let’s make ‘amazing’ our new normal!

Redesigning Classroom Lessons and Units to Enhance Deeper Learning and Student Agency [in conjunction with my upcoming book from Solution Tree]

We have a lot of technology floating around our schools and classrooms these days. And while that can and should be a good thing given the digital age in which we now live, we often find that our technology-related efforts aren’t paying off for us as we had hoped. This half- or full-day, hands-on workshop is for educators who wish to push their technology-infused pedagogy to new levels. We will blow right through TPACK and SAMR and use the trudacot technology integration discussion protocol to design and redesign lessons across various grade levels and subject areas. THIS is where the powerful conversations occur; THIS is the work we need to be doing as educators. We will use actual lesson plans and video exemplars to facilitate our work. Bring a willingness to rethink learning and teaching, a lack of defensiveness, and, if possible, a laptop or Chromebook that will work with Google Sheets. [also can be done as a shorter breakout session or keynote]

What Does Personalized Learning Really Mean?

Blended learning proponents hold wide-ranging views of how to best use digital technologies to ‘personalize’ student learning. Where do you fall on the spectrum? We will learn about various blended learning models – with numerous school examples of each – and discuss which ones are likely to empower students to be active, engaged learners and which ones may not.

Assessment for Deeper Learning

Citizenship, college, and career readiness demand that students engage in deeper and higher-level learning more than ever before. How do we configure our assessment to incorporate critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, global awareness, and other important skills that are difficult to measure? How do we include amorphous and inexplicit student learning outcomes such as PBL projects and performance assessments in our data systems? In this workshop, we’ll look at some possibilities from schools around the world.

Schools of the Future: 10 Building Blocks

The schools of the future are being invented today, one building block at a time. Every year we see the initiatives listed below gain further ground in traditional educational systems. Educators and policymakers should be working toward greater implementation of these components, both individually and in concert:

  1. Project- and inquiry-based learning environments that emphasize greater student agency and active application of more cognitively-complex thinking, communication, and collaboration skills.
  2. Community projects, internships, digital simulations, and other problem- and project-based learning experiences that foster students’ ability to engage in authentic, real-world work.
  3. Competency-based education and standards-based grading efforts that shift the focus of assessment from seat time to learning mastery.
  4. 1:1 computing initiatives (and concurrent Internet bandwidth upgrades) that give students powerful digital learning devices and access to the world’s information, individuals, and organizations.
  5. The expansion of digital and online (and often open access) information resources that increase the availability of higher and deeper learning opportunities.
  6. Online communities of interest that supplement and augment more-traditional learning communities that are limited by geography and time.
  7. Adaptive software and data systems (and accompanying organizational models) that can facilitate greater individualization of learning content and pace.
  8. Alternative credentialing mechanisms that enable individuals to quickly reskill for and adapt to rapidly-evolving workforce needs and economic demands.
  9. Flexible scheduling that moves students away from 50-minute time chunks – and a prescribed number of hours and days in a prescribed location – and toward opportunities for students to learn longer, deeper, and in more places about important life skills and concepts.
  10. Redesigned learning spaces that accommodate flexible, student-centered grouping and learning tasks rather than classrooms that are dictated by instructor or janitorial needs.

From Fear and Control to Empowerment and Engagement

Many of our youth are powerful, inquisitive, self-directed learners with technology at home. At school, however, their technology-facilitated learning is tightly constrained, limited, or even nonexistent. If we want graduates who are creative, critical thinkers and collaborative problem solvers, educators and policymakers must get beyond their fears and their needs for control and instead create learning environments of empowerment and engagement. It is incredibly difficult to prepare students for a digital, global world within locked-down, primarily analog classrooms. Other schools are opening up opportunities for their students. You can too!

Will Teachers Be Replaced By Robots?

They’re already in medicine, law, transportation, banking, sales, agriculture, service, and other industries… Are the bots coming for educators too? In this fun, interactive (and maybe mindblowing) session, we will look at examples of automation across various societal sectors – both commercial and creative – and then dive into a deep discussion about workforce and economy needs. Our conversation will have a special focus on school staffing, technology deployments, adaptive learning systems, and blended learning models. We might start with a short film so bring snacks!

How to Talk With Your Community About Workforce Needs and the Economy

Schools are charged with both academic readiness and career preparation. Often, however, we are not very clear on what’s happening in the larger national and global economies. Learn how to think and talk with our local communities about workforce needs and the economic demands that require our graduates to acquire different skill sets than were needed by past generations.

Utilizing New Technologies for Effective Staff Development

Grade-level teams, department meetings, professional learning communities, etc. – we already understand the power of effective collaboration among role-alike peers. How do we extend that idea and really take advantage of the affordances that accompany online, global communities of practice, not just local ones? Bring your computing device(s)! [breakout session only]

Hacking Administration: Using Evernote to Enhance Our Leadership Practices

Evernote can be a powerful tool to enhance school leaders’ professional learning and day-to-day productivity. Evernote allows principals and central office administrators to take notes, capture images, save web sites, record audio, and much, much more. As school leaders, it can be very difficult to stay on top of the latest leadership and policy developments, save interesting articles, and create resource libraries on various topics for our own learning and that of our staff. Bring a computer, table, and/or smartphone and be ready to learn how and why this incredible, FREE resource should be an essential component of any school leader’s productivity toolbox.

Hacking Administration: Using Feedly to Enhance Our Leadership Practices

Feedly can be a powerful tool to enhance school leaders’ professional learning and day-to-day productivity. Feedly allows principals and central office administrators to easily learn from others around the world and to organize incoming news and information ‘feeds’ into personalized categories and folders. School leaders around the world are using Feedly to stay abreast of the latest developments and cutting-edge thinking that’s out there regarding instructional leadership, educational policy, professional productivity, and much more. Plus Feedly is a great way to go deeper with our personal interests, passions, and hobbies too. Additionally, Feedly allows us to easily share our learning resources with others. Bring a laptop and be ready to learn how and why this incredible, FREE resource should be an essential component of any school leader’s productivity toolbox.

Hacking Administration: Using Google Sheets to Facilitate Discussion

As school leaders, we find ourselves facilitating a large variety of staff development sessions and teacher and parent meetings. Google Sheets can be a powerful tool for capturing ideas from participants, archiving face-to-face conversations, and even taking our discussions to the next level. This session will highlight several different group facilitation techniques and online Google Sheet templates that can be used to facilitate discussion and problem-solving in staff meetings or professional learning workshops. We also will look at an example of a template that could be used in a classroom by a teacher. Bring a computer that plays nice with Google Sheets and we’ll make templates together! (and discuss how to use them effectively in our schools)



Here are some other topics that may be of interest…


  • Effective group facilitation (i.e., techniques to run a better meeting or PD workshop)
  • Shifts in learning and teaching
  • Shifts in assessment
  • Model schools: What do they do differently?
  • How should we think about [insert topic here]? (e.g., VAM for educators, retention, charter schools, teacher leadership, competency-based education, standards-based grading, anything else we come up with)

Digital leadership

  • Leadership for 21st century schools
  • Designing schools for a digital, global era (3 big shifts toward cognitive complexity, digital, and student agency)
  • Effective leadership in an era of disruptive innovation
  • What does effective technology integration look like?
  • Policy (re)alignment: Are your policies (and local decision-making) getting in the way of your progress?
  • Cyberbullying: Are principals’ hands tied? (or any other legal issue related to digital technologies)
  • The potential of the social Web for K-12 education
  • Connected administrators: The power of global networks
  • Blended learning (adaptive and/or online learning systems)
  • Rethinking video games
  • Classroom blogging
  • Overcoming our fear of digital technologies
  • Helping students create effective online presences
  • Enabling student voice and agency
  • Enhancing administrator communication with new technologies (blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc.)
  • Utilizing new technologies for effective staff development
  • Facilitating effective classroom technology usage by students and teachers
  • and many more…


  • The information society is here: Are universities up to the task?
  • Connected professors and students: The power of global networks
  • Innovative instructional uses of technology in higher education
  • Scholarship 2.0: Utilizing new media to enhance scholarship and visibility
  • Bad academic PowerPoint: How to be a more effective presenter

Social media and marketing

  • Enhancing your online presence: Making social media work for you
  • Social media marketing for small businesses, nonprofits, and/or local governments

School law

  • Digital technologies and the law (basically anything in this area)
  • Student discipline (due process, school rules, suspension/expulsion, zero tolerance, corporal punishment)
  • Basic student rights (speech, expression, cyberbullying, dress, press)
  • Search and seizure (student searches, dogs/metal detectors, drug testing, employee searches)
  • Employee discipline (due process, contracts, termination)
  • Basic employee rights (speech, expression, dress, association, privacy)
  • Discrimination and equity (race/ethnicity, gender, sexual harassment, disability, age, sexual orientation, etc.)
  • Curriculum and censorship (curricular challenges, health/sex education, academic freedom, censorship, copyright)
  • Tort liability (intentional torts, recklessness, negligence, defamation, civil rights liability, child abuse reporting)
  • School records and data confidentiality (access to records, sunshine laws, FERPA/FOIA,
  • Religion (Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause, teaching evolution, school prayer, use of facilities, accommodation of religion, aid to parochial schools)
  • and many more…

Data-based decision-making [I rarely do these anymore]

  • Assessment of deeper learning
  • Effective data-based leadership
  • Technology tools for aligned assessment
  • The importance of formative assessment
  • Creating effective SMART goals
  • Establishing effective professional learning communities (PLCs)
  • Data safety and trust: Essential preconditions for employees’ data-driven practice
  • Transparent data-driven school organizations
  • Barriers to effective data-driven education
  • Giving educators control over their raw data (this hands-on Excel training session has been extremely popular!)
  • What we learned from the Minnesota Statewide Data-Driven Decision-Making Surveys (over 4,200 teachers, principals, superintendents, and district technology coordinators!)
  • Beyond DDDM: What might 21st century assessment look like?
  • and many more…

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