Improving the World Around Us with Each Passing Day
Kevin Jarrett, a technology facili- tator in Northfield, New Jersey, can thank Twitter for his
favorite ed tech moment. It involved a
not-so-tech-savvy teacher, an amazing
professional learning network, a great
new tool, and a room full of seventh
grade language arts students two
weeks away from summer vacation.
The teacher, Noel Tobiasen, approached Jarrett last spring asking
for a tool to help her students build
websites for a unit on young adult
novels. She wanted something simple,
powerful, and easy for everyone to
use. Jarrett recommended Wix.com,
a website-building tool he learned
about from a teacher in Colorado via
A week later, Tobiasen stopped
Jarrett in the hall to rave about the
projects that her kids had created,
and she invited him to her classroom
to take a look.
“I was blown away!” Jarrett recalls.
“It was the next to last week of school
and the lab full of students was buzzing with activity. The students had
built incredibly intricate websites with
original writing, stunning graphics,
and amazing interactive features, and
none of them had ever designed a
Tobiasen merely explained what she
wanted on the sites, introduced the
students to the tool, and then got out
of the way, Jarrett says. “This is a great
example of a phrase my friend and
colleague Gary Stager often uses:
‘Less us, more them.’ ”
Tobiasen said that even her most
reticent learners became completely
engrossed in their projects, continuing
to work on them at home and proudly
displaying them to their parents.
“The students controlled the process
from start to finish,” Jarrett says. “No
one asked the teacher for assistance.
Students helped each other or found
the answers they needed online. The
teacher simply created an environment
in which the students were free to express their creativity in the context of
the assigned curriculum. It was epic!”
Just five years into his teaching career,
Jarrett is an ed tech junkie who relies on
his Twitter network of thousands for educational resources, news, information,
and research. He follows teacher-leaders,
forward-thinking district administrators,
renowned social media experts, education industry thought-leaders, government officials, and many more.
In the classroom, his favorite tool is
“Wikis facilitate global collaborations better than almost any other
ed tech tool,” Jarrett says. “They
are easy to use, incredibly flexible,
can be secure and private or open
to the world, and, of course, they
are completely free.”
He joined ISTE shortly after he
started teaching in 2004. “I knew
ISTE would connect me to other
teachers around the world and improve my professional practice. Both
have absolutely been the case,” he says.
46 Learning & Leading with Technology | November 2009
Jarrett, who left a career in IT professional services and consulting to
pursue his dream job of teaching,
says he’s hopeful about the future.
“Technology is evolving faster than
ever before—bringing people together,
eliminating barriers, facilitating understanding and knowledge transfer,
and improving the world around us
with each passing day,” he says.
Education is changing so rapidly,
and there’s never been a better time
to be an educator, he says.
“It’s heartening to hear state and
some of the
have said for
we can’t prepare
students for their
ECC and ISTE, L&L is focusing on
mitment to honor the past, celebrate
e of educational technology. Kevin
rs on Twitter.