Christopher Dawson

Contributing Editor.

Christopher Dawson grew up in Seattle, back in the days of pre-antitrust Microsoft, coffeeshops owned by something other than Starbucks, and really loud, inarticulate music. He escaped to the right coast in the early 90's and received a degree in Information Systems from Johns Hopkins University. While there, he began a career in health and educational information systems, with a focus on IT in public health. This focus led him to several positions at Johns Hopkins, a couple-year stint in private industry, 5 years teaching high school math and technology, 2 years as the technology director for his local school district, and 2 years as Vice President of Business Development for WIzIQ, a virtual classroom and learning network provider. Most recently, he has focused on writing, consulting, and advocacy around the smart use of technology in the classroom and education reform. A liberal dose of freelance writing about technology for SMBs helps pay the bills and support his growing hobby farm/soapbox for sustainable living and agriculture. He lives with his wife, five kids (yes, 5), 2 dogs, a flock of chickens, and a hateful cat in a small town in north-central Massachusetts.

Christopher Dawson is the owner and principle consultant for tekedu.net, formerly 6geeks.net, formerly 2D Business Services. Obviously this little company has evolved over the years, first as a side job consulting for local biotechs and ultimately becoming an umbrella for consulting and writing work related to educational technology. He spent 2 years as Vice President of Business Development for WizIQ, Inc., heading up US operations for the Indian company; he still consults for them. He has worked for his local school district as a teacher and technology director, for the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, and for Biogen, Inc. (now Biogen-IDEC, Inc.). He has also consulted with STATNet and Cytyc Corporation and retains close ties with X2 Development Corporation (now part of Follett Software, the supplier of the student information system he administered for several years), including occasional activities that involve some sort of honorarium. However, he promises that if he writes about anything interesting they do, it's because it's interesting and not because they tossed him a few hundred bucks a while back. He regularly purchases and/or recommends Dell hardware. This is because Dell makes good hardware and has truly committed itself to education in innovative ways, particularly with their "Connected Classroom" initiative. It isn't because he has had dealings with the company through his role at WizIQ (which he has) or because they have provided him with long-term loans of a variety of equipment for in-depth testing (which they have). HP gets nods from him, too; they have similarly provided him with equipment on long-term loan and their workstations rock out loud, so they deserve the coverage. He actually buys Apple equipment because they don't send him free stuff and he has a nasty Apple habit that he can't help feeding occasionally. Intel (reference designer for the Classmate PCs he has implemented in his local schools) has provided him with long-term loans of Classmate PCs for testing, as as has Lenovo with its educational offerings. Intel paid all expenses for his attendance at the 2009 Intel Classmate PC Ecosystem Summit which he attended as the sole representative of the technology press. He was invited to attend in 2010 but his wife would have killed him if he spent 3 days in Vegas geeking out and left her home alone with a new baby. And Google? Well, he has more than one Chromebook provided as preview units and runs his consulting business with Google Apps (in fact, he has 5 different domains tied to Google Apps, one of which he actually pays for to use Google Apps for Business). Acer provided him with a 50% discount on an Aspire One netbook in early 2009 after he tested it for 30 days through their educational seed program. He liked the netbook at the time but it has since broken and sits unused in his office. Canonical sent him Ubuntu lanyards, t-shirts, and mousepads for his kids. He stole one of the lanyards and proudly hangs his keys from it and occasionally features his 8-year old wearing an oversized Ubuntu t-shirt on his Facebook profile. Gunnar Optiks sent him a pair of computer glasses to evaluate for a holiday gift guide. He is wearing them now as he types this because they never asked for them back and they rock out loud, too. Seriously - they work brilliantly and make it much easier to spend 20 hours a day staring at an LCD. If they ever asked for them back, he would fork over the $99 and buy a pair.He even convinced his mom to buy him a pair of their sunglasses for his birthday. Microsoft gave him 2 free copies of Office 2010 professional, a desktop clock, and a useless book on Office 2010 when he attended the launch of Office/Sharepoint 2010. He occasionally uses the SharePoint lanyard they gave him instead of the Ubuntu lanyard for his keys, but feels dirty afterwards. Blackboard paid him to be a keynote speaker at their 2012 Developers Conference but then went and bought a bunch of open source companies, bumped him from the program so they could explain why they would do such a thing, and he got to keep the cash, all for covering the event for a day. It was bloody hot and humid in New Orleans, so he earned every cent. Adobe has given him lots of software and more than a couple free lunches at various conferences. Like the Gunnars, he would actually buy a Creative Cloud subscription if his free licenses on CS6/Creative Cloud run out because he couldn't do his job without them and CS6 (yes, I'm going to say it again) rocks out loud. Seriously. $50/month for Creative Cloud is a third of what he'd be willing to pay for it. Which is saying something, because he's actually pretty cheap. Any other companies wishing to send him cool things to evaluate, wear, or otherwise adorn his kids are more than welcome to; he promises to disclose it here if he keeps any of the stuff. And speaking of free stuff, Tuf-Luv has sent him enough free stuff to cover just about every tablet, phone, and laptop he's ever owned. That said, when his dog destroyed one of the cases and the Motorola Xoom inside it survived without a slobber mark, he went out and actually bought a new one. Same goes for an iPad he gave away as part of a contest he ran with WizIQ - he (meaning his corporate Amex) actually bought a Tuff-Luv case because (you guessed it) they rock out loud. He may report on any of these companies as his experiences with them have direct bearing on educational technology, Google, cloud services, etc; positive reports are not necessarily an endorsement and he receives no direct financial compensation from these companies or any others. He's pretty sure that's it. If he thinks of anything else, he'll be sure to tell you all about it here. By the way, he also writes for lots of other publications, but pretty much just about SMB stuff, so it doesn't really much matter. The writing and broadcasting he does for Edukwest (not surprisingly, ed tech-related) usually gets cross-posted to ZDNet, so that's all good too.

Latest from Christopher Dawson

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OpenOffice 2.3 released

OpenOffice 2.3 released

While Office 2007 remains a very pretty and highly functional office suite, OpenOffice continues to move forward, providing equivalent functionality in many areas and a price tag that fits school budgets quite nicely (it's free). We are also seeing increasing adoptions of this suite among students who can't afford the Microsoft product, but need a full-featured office suite at home.

September 17, 2007 by in Microsoft

More XP OLPCs?

More XP OLPCs?

Ars Technica is reporting that Columbia will be distributing OLPC XO netbooks to students in the towns of Quetame and Chia. This is a pilot program and, although it is unclear how many will be distributed and how they will be used programatically, we can deduce that these were pilot units Microsoft purchased for testing with Windows XP.

November 12, 2008 by in Microsoft

Did Microsoft really kill OLPC?

Did Microsoft really kill OLPC?

I posted a number of pieces Monday about OLPC and its XO laptop (now for sale on Amazon in a reboot of the Give One Get One program), one of which declared that OLPC was dead. A year ago, that would have been worthy of a pretty serious flame war, especially considering that Jason Perlow's and my pieces related to OLPC and the Amazon Kindle sat on the ZDNet homepage for most of a day.

November 18, 2008 by in Microsoft

Did the big boys really kill OLPC?

Did the big boys really kill OLPC?

The UK's Timesonline is running a story today showing us that, despite internal strife, questionable morals and ideals, and now, the inclusion of Windows XP on a computer that was supposed to embody all that was good in open source, OLPC remains a media darling.The article is heavy on drama:Microsoft, makers of most of the computer software in the world, tried to kill it with words, and Intel, maker of most computer chips, tried to kill it with dirty tricks.

August 11, 2008 by in Microsoft

The coolest bits of classroom tech I've ever seen

The coolest bits of classroom tech I've ever seen

I met with a representative from Turning Technologies today. While many of you may have had the opportunity to use interactive response systems (so-called "clickers"), we're finally moving into the 21st century; now that we have reasonable computing facilities at all of our schools, our goal is to fully utilize them and add interactivity.

September 11, 2008 by in Microsoft