Monday, December 16, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Kristen Swanson


Really honored to have a chance to talk to Kristen Swanson.  I met Kristen a few years ago at the ISTE Conference and enjoyed chatting with her about her creative ideas and insights.  Little did I realize that Kristen would go on to co-found Edcamp, as well as, be a big part of her newest venture Slack!

A little about Kristen in her own words:  I currently serve as the Customer Experience Chief of Staff at Slack. I'm passionate about transforming how people work every day.
A lifelong educator, I also founded Edcamp, an organization that brings free, organic professional learning across the globe. In 2015, Edcamp was named one of the 10 most innovative companies in education by Fast Company.
I've published 3 books on learning design, and my work has been featured at TEDx, Educon, PBS Newshour, and more. I hold a doctorate degree in adult learning and organizational development.
I can't wait to chat with Kristen about making educational ventures happen in the entrepreneurial space.

Ways to Connect with Kristen:
Twitter:  @kristenswanson

Video was recorded using the Zoom Platform (Really easy experience!)
Video was edited using the Microsoft Photos program
Intro Music
Music from
"Danse Macabre - Xylophone" by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Katharine Birbalsingh

WHAT:  Interview with Katharine Birbalsingh

WHEN:  November 11th

One of the questions I ask of many of my guests is:  "If you could design you own school, what would it look like?"  Katharine Birbalsingh has been a part of creating a school!  Katharine is the Headmaster of the Michaela School in England.  This school runs along what I think is a Charter School Model, which I will ask her about in some detail.  Another focus will be on Katharine's perspective on educational technology.

Recently, Katharine has appeared on the Rubin Report.  Dave Rubin, in my opinion, is an outstanding interviewer because he asks probing questions and provides ample time for his guests to respond.  I will ask Katharine about her experience having a voice on such a wide ranging platform.

My overarching interest however, will be to really understand Katharine's work, her results, and her ideas, specifically around changing the dynamic of education.   I can't wait to hear her thoughts.

Music Selection:  "Ambler"
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Create-a-thon Winning Students

View this episode on iTunes HERE

I had a great opportunity to interview some students from Thomas C. Armstrong Middle School.  These students were the winners of the first Create-a-Thon in the area.  Like a Hackathon, the format for this contest is:  a) Pitch an idea b) Develop a team to work with c) develop your idea d)present the idea.  The best ideas are then evaluated by a panel of Judges.

These students idea was to create a way for teachers to evaluate their gender bias and then provide ways to make their classrooms more inclusive.  You can see their results by looking at their Padlet that they created:  HERE

A little about these students:

Calista lives with her wonderful parents, little sister Addie and three dogs, Kip, Charlotte, and Brownie. Calista plays midfield for Wayne Modified Team and Wayne Wings. Calista is always up for a challenge!

Jaden plays defense for Wayne’s Modified Soccer team. An interesting fact about Jaden is he has a twin brother, Corbin. He also has a little sister named Olivia.

Araya is an only child and has two cats, Max and  Sugar. Araya enjoyed participating in the Create-a-Thon.

Here are the questions I asked the students:

1. Tell me about your Create-a-Thon Winning idea

2. How did you like working through the design thinking process

3. Do you think this process helps to prepare you for your future?

4. From Doing this Hackathon, do you think it could be done in other schools?

5. What are your future plans?

Speed Geek Questions:

1. What is your favorite book?
2. What is you favorite way to unplug from technology?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Kirsten Lewis

Over the past year, I have had the absolute pleasure to work with the Pine Valley School District as a technology integrator. A small, rural district in Western New York, it has an impressive cadre of tech savvy teachers. One of the most inspirational is 3rd grade teacher, Kirsten Lewis.

A glance into Kirsten's classroom almost always brings a frenzy of students actively engaged in an array of tech infused activities. I've seen green screen activities, Lego We-Do Coding, as well as, OneNote Notebook Podcasting activities, to name just few. Kirsten is also an avid Black Mirror fan and is always willing to talk tech and culture!

Here is a little about Kirsten in her own words: Kirsten Lewis is a 3rd grade teacher with a passion for books and reading with a splash of tech integration. A 15 year veteran, she holds a master’s degree in literacy with certifications in elementary education, english, and literacy. She is a self-proclaimed introvert with a weakness for coffee.

Ways to connect with Kirsten:
Twitter @kirst_lewis
Instagram:  @kirst_lewis

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Luke Niforatos

DATE:  Monday July 29th, 2019
TIME:  4-4:30pm
Youtube Link:  HERE

Really looking forward to interviewing Luke Nifaratos about his work with SAM, (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).  With several states legalizing recreational marijuana use, Luke's work, and the SAM organization, are leveraging research and bipartisan political influence to make sure that the ramifications of legalization are truly understood.  I'm going to focus most of our conversation on the impacts of marijuana and its major risks for education and in particular,  young learners.  I really applaud Luke's courage to talk about this issue with clarity and thoughtfulness.

A little about Luke: 
Luke Niforatos is the Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor at SAM, presiding over strategic federal, state, and educational initiatives. Prior to SAM, he spent his career working in nonprofit community healthcare. Luke also founded two digital health companies. Having lived in Colorado during legalization, he, his wife, and daughter have seen firsthand the disastrous effects of lax marijuana policies. This experience inspired Luke to work and speak across the country for a smart marijuana policy free of commercialization and normalization. Luke graduated from the University of Denver.

Ways to Connect with Luke:

Monday, July 15, 2019

Coffee with a Geek on Culture: Black Mirror Support Group Talks about "Metal Head"

Black Mirror Support Group Discussion for Educators:  HERE.  Feel free to comment!

The Netflix Series, Black Mirror, is a drama series that highlights the dark side of technology.  Each episode is a stand alone story that is often thought provoking and may be disturbing.  After watching a few seasons, I found myself really needed to reach out to others to see if they could help me to work through some of the heavy hitting themes.  I found a group of educational technology leaders, Matt Mariglia, Heather Krieger, and Jennifer Murphy to help me with this endeavor of unpacking the ideas and concepts that are part of Black Mirror.  We try to focus our attention on how technology interacts with education.

This is our 3rd time analyzing Black Mirror.  In this discussion, we examine the episode entitled, Metal Head.  The story line involves a survivor in a dystopian world trying to escape the cunning pursuit of a mechanical robot that looks eerily like a dog.  She has stolen something from a warehouse in the hopes to return it to other survivors.  What did she steal?  and why should she be so afraid of the dog?  Check out our discussion and/or better yet, watch Metal Head.

  1. Can someone summarize the episode?
  2. What are some of the ways this episode connects with society today?
  3. How does this episode relate to education? Or doesn’t it?
  4. Why do you think the film was in Black and White?  Artistically, what were your thoughts of this episode?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Mike Tholfsen

WHEN:  Friday May 24th, 2019
TIME:  3:30-4pm

Recently, I have been avidly following Mike Tholfsen on Twitter.  He offers an amazing array of practical and effective ways to use Office 365 for education.  It's fair to say that Microsoft has been creating an array of  tools for teaching and learning that are well developed, accessible, and engaging.  I'm really looking forward to talking to Mike about his background in education, as well as, his thoughts on using educational technology programs from Microsoft Edu in powerful ways.

Here's a little about Mike in his own words:  Mike Tholfsen is a Principal Product Manager on the Microsoft Education team focusing on Inclusive Classroom, Learning Tools and OneNote Class/Staff Notebooks.  He is passionate about education and has been regularly working with students and teachers around the world over the past ten years to create products that improve student outcomes. 

Ways to connect with Mike:  

Twitter: @mtholfsen 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Coffee with a Geek at Canada Connected Conference 2019

I'm once again honored to be a part of the Canada Connect Conference in Niagara Falls Ontario!   This is really an amazing Edtech Event with awesome Spotlight Speakers, presentations, student exhibits and more!  I will be hanging out at the Coffee Area, drinking coffee and chatting with presenters and participants.  I will even roam around the student exhibit area and chat with some of the amazing students and their teachers.

Check out my Videos from Wednesday May 1st here.  Can't wait!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Tech Rabbi Michael Cohen

WHAT:  Coffee with a Geek Interview with Tech Rabbi: Michael Cohen
TIME:  3-3:30Pm Eastern Time

Last year at ISTE 2018 I saw a really great TED Talk by Rabbi Michael Cohen.  Like so many TED Talks his presentation was polished and inspirational.  His message of engaging students creativity and thought process for deeper learning was powerful as well as timely.  I am really looking forward to talking to him about his ISTE talk, his recent book, Educated Design, and his blog and podcast.  Should be a great conversation.

A little about Michael from his Website:  Michael Cohen, The Tech Rabbi, is a designer, educator and creativity instigator. His mission is to help educators around the world reveal their own creative abilities so they can empower students to solve interesting problems and become positive contributors to our global society. He is the author of the book Educated By Design, which outlines his principles for revealing and nurturing our innate creative courage and capacity. He is a national keynote speaker, advisor, and trainer. When he isn’t traveling the world sharing his message, he serves as the director of innovation for Yeshiva University of Los Angeles Boys School (YULA) and creator of the Schlesinger STEAM and Entrepreneurship Center

Connect with Tech Rabbi:
Twitter: @TheTechRabbi

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Jennifer Gonzalez

WHEN:  February 21st, 2019
TIME:  3:30-4pm Eastern
WHERE:  YouTube Live Link HERE

Are you an educator?  Then Jennifer Gonzalez's powerhouse website, Cult of Pedagogy, is a must follow and read.   This website is filled with great posts, Video, a Podcast, and so much more.  I will ask her about the Cult of Pedagogy, her teaching career, and the future of education.

A little about Jennifer in her own words:  "Jennifer Gonzalez is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 10 years of classroom experience. Most of this time was spent teaching middle school language arts, and the rest was at the college level, where she trained pre-service teachers for the classroom. In 2013, she created the website Cult of Pedagogy, where she now works full-time to help teachers of all subjects and grade levels practice and perfect the art of teaching."

How to Connect with Jennifer:

Q & A

Questions and Answers:

1. What is your favorite blend of coffee Ans. 1:27
2. Tell me your educational journey ans. 2:02
3. What’s next for the website? : Ans. 5:53
4. With all the moving parts of education do you think we need to break it down into more finite goals, improvements? Ans. 9:06
5. What are your thoughts on American Education? Break it down. Ans. 10:05
6. From Edweek Article “A world without annual testing may be closer than you think.” Thoughts? Ans. 14:09
7. From Edweek Article Education has an Innovation problem? Ans. 15:25
8. Can you tell me about your post about “Frikin Packets” Ans. 17:57
9. Quotable Question: After reading Einstein’s Quote: Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.-Albert Einstein What are your thoughts about it? Ans. 22:51

Speed Geek Questions: 26:19

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Dr. Shantel Scott

WHAT:  Coffee with a Geek Interview with Dr. Shantel Scott
WHEN:  January 31st, 2019
TIME:  3:30-4pm Eastern

For my first interview of 2019 I am really excited to chat with Dr. Shantel Scott.  I met Shantel last summer at the ISTE Conference and was really intrigued with her work, especially along the lines of gamification.  I'm going to ask her about her work, her past teaching experience, and her future endeavors.

A little about Shantel in her own words:  "Dr. Shantel Marie Scott is a passionate educator changing lives, with technology, one classroom at a time. Dr. Scott has 15 years of experience teaching English in grades 7-12. With deep roots in innovating classroom instruction, Dr. Scott also works as an instructional design, technology, and training consultant. She specializes in the use of avatars and gamification concepts in educational environments to encourage real learning, publishes articles and runs workshops on these topics, amongst others. In addition, she holds a doctoral degree in Instructional Technology and Distance Education, is a Google for Education Certified Innovator, a PLN Leader for the ISTE Learning Spaces Network, and a classroom game master!

Ways to connect with Shantel:
Twitter:  @TheLearningDr