AI is coming!

Let me introduce you to Dewey a new AI for schools. He’ll tell you all sorts of important information-you just need to ask. Is this real? No, Dewey’s not real, but I think someday AI will find itself in schools and be a part of the everyday process.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is big news right now. Facebook and Microsoft have unleashed bots, Alexa, Amazon’s personal assistance is pretty impressive and now Google has just given the world a glimpse of their new and improved personal assistance. Guess what? AI will come to the classroom. It will take some years but it’ll find its way there and it will change the school

Sure, it sounds fantastic and a little beyond the realm of possibility and of course there are those who would say Why would a school want to have this thing in their school? Well allow me to present some arguments. First, remember that all schools run a student information system (SIS). This thing is a big database with all sorts of demographics, grades, behavior reports, medical reports and any other info that the school wants to record and keep track of.

For the staff, getting a hold of this information isn’t too hard. It can be a little tedious, but it’s sitting there and that’s the problem. There is so much information, for a teacher to comb through it would take hours and as everyone out there knows. Since it takes so much time and since teacher’s are always fighting against time, that data just sits there.

If teachers had access to Dewey, they could ask questions, get that information in a timely manner.

Now let’s take a look at how different people within a school can leverage Dewey.


As a teacher, here is how a digital personal assistant could be really helpful. Pretend that every teacher has their “own” AI personal assistant. Everyone has access to Dewey but they can only access information related to their students and classes. Now pretend the teacher can access this assistant from multiple devices in their classroom (cell phone, tablet, bluetooth speaker or computer). OK – that’s a quick set up now let’s talk what this teacher could do.

An obvious one is communication. What if a teacher wants to send an email to all parents about an upcoming event. Maybe they just say “Hey Dewey! Can you email all the parents about the field trip? Tell them that all permission slips are due to the school before Friday. Now send it.” Dewey will go through the SIS, find those email addresses, compose the message and send the email to each parent. There are already ways to do with other third party programs, so that’s not too unrealistic.

Now, let’s say a teacher wants to let all parents and students know who is missing assignments. You could say “Dewey! Can you send a text message and email all parents and students about missing their missing assignments?” Again, Dewey will go through the SIS and the gradebook to find anyone who is missing any assignment. Then it will find the email addresses and phone numbers, then it will compose the email and add the necessary information. This is pretty handy and brings more transparency and accountability to the class.

What if a student suddenly acting up in class. A teacher could start a behavior report that all teachers/counselors would be notified about. As it turns out if a student is acting up in one class, it is probably happening in another class. That way this student’s teachers and counselor are all alerted and looking for new types of behavior. This is a much more proactive strategy until waiting until this grows into a larger problem weeks down the road.


Administrators (I’m looking at you too counselors) could use this to quickly bring up a list of students who are not doing well after the first two weeks and have counselors meet with those students.

If one of these people needs to meet with a parent, they could easily share information about their child before the meeting to give them a heads up of not just what the meeting is about, but why they think there is an issue.

They could also look for trends with specific students for example if Johnny seems to slack off at the end of November, then teachers, counselors and parents could be alerted of that fact at the end of October and Johnny’s educational team could encourage Johnny to be more vigilant and stick with it.

There are plenty of other options out there but what do you think? Is AI coming, could we see a Dewey educational assistant in our classroom? Is this just a pipe dream? Leave your comments below – we love them!

2013-2014 a Look Back and Preston’s Beard

Arnie Palmy Alert

As the year winds down, I decided I needed to take some time and slow down a bit. It is that time of year to reflect, to say things to people like, “It’s all over but the cry’n”, and to generally be very apathetic so nothing will stop the summer holiday schedule. However, it is bad to start the summer, without reflecting.

So what happened this year….

I started off in Dubai finishing up a contract. I was welcomed back after summer break to a building that was over 50 degrees Celsius (Americans Google that and see what it means). After sweating and struggling for more than two weeks, that issue was solved with only minor damage to most things. That was followed by a disastrous networking problem related to a new security configuration, that I did not choose, but had to troubleshoot and luckily not alone.

Things happened so quickly, and I had no time to wrap-up my 8 years and move to the next challenge in the manner which I had planned. The game is never the game plan.

I relocated, missing very much my friends, but needing a change. Losing the weekly IT Babble Podcast really affected me and still affects me. One thing I have learned is we all need pointless banter and focused theoretical conversation to solve the problems we have yet to face. The banter also reduces stress more than anything else I can think of, and I have to make an effort to re-establish that in the next year.

I used to think working-out, and do other things to unwind was the key to a clear mind. Now I know those are fractionally significant compared to conversations that make you laugh, think, and fume with rage over the pointless of all known and unknown facts.

The new school, was and is, completely different. I have to say nearly every project I started is still on-going. I had forgotten how long it takes to really move a large group of people to a new way of working and doing things.

Office 365, Powerschool, Security Standards, Server Reconfiguration, Network Reconfiguration, Building a Residential Network, Writing Polices and Procedures for Everything, Creating a Real Budget, etc. All things that have happened in less than 10 months and will continue for the next 6 months until each is able to operate with me involved most of the time. The goal is always to build opportunity for others when working in Educational Tech. ‘Others’ does not refer to students, but to the entire community.  It is challenging, but it is a rule I follow and explain almost everyday.

The only other things in life and technology I know for sure after this year, and actually thinking about the last 9 years, are:

1. Linux is just better. I am sick of MAC and Windows and I am going back[to Linux] and staying there. Bite me OS X.

2. My next thing is to be a Certified Ethical Hacker, and I can’t wait to get that finished.

3. Being a leader means not being a friend, but finding real friends.

4. I should have won that Haiku contest on IT BABBLE but I am still waiting, and I am pretty sure I was shafted.

5. When Preston came to visit his beard was so big it needed it’s on towel and seemed to have gravitational pull. Please Preston…trim that before the summer heat.

The summer writing will be the never ending saga know as “The BYOD Playbook”. It will be revised, expanded, and hopefully finally published without conflict.

Tony DePrato



Dipity – The review

In the words of Gru “Now that’s what I’m talkin a-bout.” This is easily one of the best timeline creators out there. While there are a few areas I’m iffy on, I can fully recommend this website to create timelines for your class. It is well thought out, very easy to use and gives you options on top of options that most others do not, or if they do, it is not done as well. I implore you to eagerly read on past the break to get all the Dipity goodness.

Rebeccaa Black and online reps

Rebecca Black. In most conversations, that name invokes strong opinion and usually some jokes, but there is a larger lesson here. Well, not just one, but I’m only going to focus on one for the sake of this post. If you’re not sure who Rebecca Black is here is the quick story. She is a 13 year old girl whose parents paid around $2000 to Ark Music Factory. This company will write a song for aspiring singers, shoot a video, and promote the song. They have done a great job of that as well. In one month the video has been viewed over 55 million times (to this date) and the song is number 13 on the iTunes charts. So read on past the break to hear my concerns.

Continue reading “Rebeccaa Black and online reps”

WikiLeaks: Are you talking to your students about it?


In case you’ve been camping in the middle of nowhere for the past couple of weeks, the website WikiLeaks has been making headlines about the confidential documents they have released to the public. This is serious history right here and it is definitely something that needs to be brought up in class. I’ve listed a few discussion points, but if you have some better ones add them into the comments.

  1. Do you agree with what WikiLeaks is doing?
  2. Does information really help keep governments honest?
  3. Should WikiLeaks be considered a terrorist organization?
  4. Is the large amount of information on the Internet a good thing or should it be regulated?

I’m sure that this is not the last of the big news from WikiLeaks. Keep your eyes peeled and your minds open to the new exciting growth of the Internet.