Dataseam puts thousands of computers in K-12 classrooms across Kentucky to improve education opportunities. Those computers create a cloud-based computing system that helps researchers investigate tens of millions of options to find potential life saving treatments for cancer.

Master Communicator – Nine Rules for Success

Effective communication is a requirement.  Your students’ professional successes in the 21st Century will depend largely on their ability to use collective communication outlets, a.k.a. MEDIA.  They must master media both as a consumer and creator.

Communication is not only sending and receiving a message.  It is not defined by consuming a few broadcast news channels or a local newspaper.  It involves sorting through text, images, video and data from dozens of sources and sometimes publishing or broadcasting what you have to say across the globe.

While we do not know exactly what jobs in the future will be, we do know successful people in the 21st Century will be those creating products and services using the latest technology, and those communicating concepts, products and processes affectively.  Students with both talents stand to win big.  Bright students are shocked when I tell them, “if you can not explain your great idea it does not matter.”IMG_3794

Understand media platforms.  Netflix, YouTube, HBOGO, iHeartRadio, Shazam, Spotify, Hulu and other sources put vast amounts of content at ones fingertips.  Social platforms Snapchat, Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, Skype, Twitter help instantly put your message in front of thousands of friends, strangers, customers and business associates.  Then there is the old fashion phone, face-to-face, presentation, email and written correspondence.  Even a simple personal email may now get shared with millions around the world.

You may not care what Kim Kardashian or Lady Gaga send across multiple media platforms, but they reach more people then most television shows or publications.   Lady Gaga by-passed traditional recording industry channels (record stores, radio stations, major concert venues, traditional media) to build one of the world’s most recognizable brands and media outlets in addition to selling millions of songs, albums and concert tickets.

Building your brand like any other product.  Yes, in this modern media world your students need to think of themselves as a brand.  What are their “customers” going to think of them and expect from them?  Customers may be employers, potential investors, collaborators, other media outlets, social and professional groups or voters.

Target your audience.  Successful users of any media first understand their customer (audience).  Master communicators appreciate who is listening and how the audience wants to receive information.  Communication is modified to meet the needs of their audience.  Successful communicators work to deliver messages where and when the audience is best prepared to listen and react.

IMG_6647Create a clear message and give your audience a reason to care.  While there are differences in each media, good story telling has similar elements.  Even if you explain how you engineered a bridge, there are still characters, a setting, a conflict and a resolution to this tale.  We learn and retain best through good story telling.

Use a complete media toolbox.  How are you communicating?  In the recent past we taught written prose.  Those that excelled at language might create poetry.  And those that mastered “multi-media” became minstrel storytellers combining poetic prose and music to enhance the power and memorability of their story.

Students use photos, memes, video, music, mashed up video, emoji, re-broadcast messages, and live communications to convey thoughts and feelings.  What is their picture saying?  How can it be changed to make a point more clear, powerful and affective?  Did I make the audience care?

Learn what you don’t know and critically challenge what you think you know.  A flood of information, half-truths, data and opinions make it harder for your students to keep the facts straight.  With their increased ability to communicate, I would argue their communication takes on a heightened importance.  This makes it even more important to understand the subject.

Your students’ ability to quickly analyze data and apply it to a situation is critical.  As a creator of media, students have the power to spread truth or fiction.  Relying on and passing on bad information can rapidly destroy one’s brand.

Making a strong statement based on limited information is a dangerous action for a modern communicator.  With regard to data, fact checking and truly understanding an issue, I often pass on these pearls of wisdom.

  • Statistics don’t lie, but statisticians do.
  • 87% of statistics are made up on the spot.
  • Two seemingly opposing opinions can both be true or false.

Listen to your audience.  Student may work hard to craft a message using videos, images and words that represent the truth and their point of view brilliantly.  They may target their audience masterfully.  They may still fail by not listening to their audience, because at the end of the day it matters more what your audience hears then what you think you said.

Practice with a purpose.  If you want to be good at something you have to practice.  If you want to be great, practice a lot.  Write, talk, record, review, take pictures.  Look back on your work and ask yourself how to make it clearer, more impactful.

Nine Rules for 21st Century Master Communicator

  1. Effective communication is a requirement.
  2. Understand media platforms.
  3. Build your personal brand like any other product.
  4. Target your audience.
  5. Create a clear message and give your audience a reason to care.
  6. Use a complete media toolbox.
  7. Learn what you don’t know and critically challenge what you think you know.
  8. Listen to your audience.
  9. Practice with a purpose.


Life Long Learning – For Real

IF Hancock Question

Hancock County student got an opportunity to ask questions and explore topics in more depth.

(Louisville, KY) – At the annual IDEAFESTIVAL, students not only witnessed adults engaging in life long learning, but were able to engage, explore, experience and challenge ideas, positions and assumed truths for themselves.  They consumed knowledge on topics outside the classroom and awakened their child like curiosity in an adult, real-world setting.

IDEAFESTIVAL is a four-day event, which brings together speakers to help participants engage in the excitement of exploring new topics and looking at old issues in novel ways.  Subjects range across a wide spectrum of art, science, business, social responsibility, emotion, medicine, space, history and live performances.  This mingling of diverse topics is designed to push participants to think differently.

Or as organizers of the event say, “Stay Curious.  Embrace the danger of new ideas.”

While most participants are adults, event sponsors have made a number of passes available to Kentucky high school students.  Their attendance has become an important element in the mix of people and energy for the event.   It has provided high school students a one of a kind learning opportunity.

IF iLead Students

iLead Academy students blend in with the art at Kentucky Center for the Arts.

According to iLead Academy educator, Kirk Brooks, this was not only a chance for students to see that learning takes place outside the classroom, but a rare opportunity to learn right along side adults.  We used to learn through apprenticeships with adults, but now we mostly put students with their peers and many learning opportunities are lost.   Mr. Brooks also finds it interesting that when students are placed in an adult environment like this, they tend to step up their thinking and engagement.

Students used different words to describe their IDEAFESTIVAL experience, many as, “Truly an eye opening experience.”  It is interesting to hear their comments and see the subjects that peak their interest.

“… It’s amazing to be able to take a day and learn about things you otherwise wouldn’t have been interested in and to listen to people speak so passionately and with such intelligence…”  – Allie, senior

“… Listening to the speakers was truly inspiring and they taught me things that I can use in my daily life.  Forgiveness and taking advantage of opportunities were some of the important concepts I took away.” Hope, junior

IF Stage

Host, Kris Kimel, leads the popular question and answer session after each presentation.

“… speakers were very open minded and aware of the people and situations around them. …  many doors have been opened in my mind to be able to accomplish the same …” Cayden, sophomore

“… Learning about new topics without being limited by school curriculum and other standardized barriers is more refreshing than words can express. Intelligent conversation always follows the presentations. … thankful for my experiences at IDEAFESTIVAL, and truly hope that I may attend again.” Kayl, sophomore

“… loved being in an environment that encouraged eccentricity in ways of thinking and solving problems, especially in a society that encourages abiding to the norm … every speaker made me question things I thought I already knew… “ Dylan, junior

“… allowed you to form your own thoughts about the subject while sharing theirs. If they had a program in schools similar to that of IDEAFESTIVAL, maybe kids wouldn’t feel like the world is black and white…” MaHayla, junior

“… has given me the opportunity to see into fields of study that I wouldn’t have previously imagined.” Alex, junior

“The IDEAFESTIVAL has always been an invigorating way to learn and discover. … has certainly taken away unique perspectives that will be a part of my life forever.” Cade, junior

Every year I try to guess which speaker will be the most interesting to students.  I am always wrong.  As educators,, we talk a great deal about creating life long learners.   The IDEAFESTIVAL in Louisville each fall, is a prime display of this pursuit.  I hope you and your students get the chance to experience this opportunity.

Videos from past events are available on the IDEAFESTIVAL website.


Many Educators Call This a Life Changing Experience.

We promise you will never forget it; and it will change the way you approach learning and your students – Dataseam Teacher Track of Western Kentucky Mountain Workshops.

Dataseam offers a tremendous opportunity for teachers to attend a teacher-focused experience with the Western Kentucky University Mountain Workshops. This photojournalism workshop is a premier event with award winning photo, video and writing coaches from across the country.

Teachers get one-on-one coaching on how to create photos, video and audio to capture attention and strongly communicate a story. You gain direct experience and learn exercises to use in the classroom with your students. Perfect for educators that work with students in Journalism, Yearbook, English, or any subject that you want students to be able to communicate clearly and powerfully using today’s digital tools.

The workshop runs from Tuesday, October 18 at noon until Friday, October 21 at 4:00 pm in Paducah, KY. Sun up to sun down.

The $750 Fee is waived for qualified teachers from Dataseam Participating School Districts.

To apply for this opportunity simply email ( by September 21st. Provide two sample photos you have created along with a brief outline of what you teach and what you plan to gain from this experience. Space is limited. You do not have to be an expert photographer/videographer to qualify.

See a sample of last year’s work.

IF Aerospace Event Highlights Out of this World Opportunity in Kentucky

(Morehead, Ky) – Many times we talk about technology-based job opportunities for our students.  The Kentucky Aerospace Industry is real.  It is growing.  It is an international leader.  Read about the annual IF Aerospace Conference in Morehead.  Session Videos are available as well.

Representatives from Kentucky’s largest manufacturing export industry, Aerospace, gathered for the third annual conference in Morehead, Ky. It is estimated the Kentucky Aerospace industry represents over $8.7 billion in exports each year.

Government officials, including Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton and House Majority Floor Leader, Rocky Adkins, talked about the importance of the industry to Kentucky not only in terms of dollars, but even more importantly because of Kentucky’s leadership position in certain segments of the industry.  Video Available.

IF Aerospace is a regional event of IdeaFestival, which now holds four statewide conferences. Kris Kimel, President of IdeaFestival said, “With all the small satellite and electronic tracking work going on at MSU, Morehead is a natural location for this event.”   During his talk, Kimel challenged the audience to work toward the next “Moonshot Idea”. He identified organizations such as Space Tango and the Exomedicine Institute as potential “game changers” in what they were trying to accomplish, and in what they can do for Kentucky.  Video Available.

President of Morehead State University, Dr. Wayne Andrews talked about Morehead State’s role in producing the skilled labor force that will drive these opportunities in eastern Kentucky. Rajant Corporation, a leader in advanced communication networks, is opening a Morehead office that plans to hire six recent MSU graduates from the Space Science program later this year.  Video Available.

Dr. Ben Malphrus, Director of the MSU Space Science Center outlined the Universities leadership role in the IceCube Mission which will send a small “suite case” size satellite to the moon in search of ice that may be used to produce drinking water and rocket fuel. Representatives from NASA were on hand to show how the MSU Mission will launch in 2018 from the maiden voyage of the most powerful rocket ever built, EM-1.  Video Available.

“Few people know how important Aerospace is to the Kentucky economy and it is growing,” according to director of the Kentucky Aerospace Council, Mike Young, “It is bigger than automotive, bourbon, horse racing or any other product that we export.” Conferences like this help industry, education and government align efforts to take advantage of this unique statewide opportunity to create companies, careers and opportunity in the state.

IF Aerospace is a non-profit industry conference sponsored by Morehead State University, Space Tango, Kentucky Innovation Network, MSU Space Science Center and Dataseam.  View the complete set of Session Videos.

This I Believe


Guest Blogger Rebecca Roach is Professional Development Associate in the 21st Century Education Enterprise at Morehead State University.

What Do You Believe?

Could you express your personal creed in 500 words or less?

This was the challenge Edward R. Murrow presented to American in the 1950’s during a time when ideology threatened to divide us as a nation.  He asked Americans, both famous and common, to compose essays on the core values that guided their daily lives.  He then recorded the authors reading these aloud and aired them on his radio program.  Murrow’s goal was “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.”

In 2005, Dan Gediman and Jay Allison revived the program on National Public Radio. Since then, thousands of teachers all over the world have challenged their students to do just that-to write what they believe.  These essays have taken the form of personal narratives, essays and even lists.  Even kindergarten students have done it.

So often our students are bombarded with a world that seeks to define them, and too often they are not asked to stop and listen to the language of their own hearts and minds.  Asking someone “what do you believe?” is as significant as asking, “who are you—really?”  Writing your own creed is the act of becoming your own person.  Listening to each other’s essay with an open heart and mind is the art of building a classroom community.

Last summer I was privileged to work with 23 elementary teachers from Eastern Kentucky schools during the Kentucky Reading Project 10-day workshop. Utilizing the free materials available on the This I Believe site, these teachers were able to compose essays that were funny, sad and incredibly moving.   On the last day of our workshop, we read aloud our essays in a “laughter and tears” celebration of who we are.  I firmly believe that whenever possible authors should read aloud their own work, so I, with the help of my son, William, recorded and uploaded the read-aloud versions of these essays to Dataseam Studio, where you can listen to them too.

For more information on the This I Believe project, please visit their website at  At this site you will find collections of earlier published essays, audio essays for streaming, educators’ guides for early and upper grades as well as guides for houses of worship. From there your students can create their own essays for your classroom podcasts.