Alan November

Alan November

  • “One of the Nation’s Fifteen Most Influential Thinkers of the Decade” – Technology and Learning Magazine
  • Co-founder of the Stanford Institute for Educational Leadership through Technology
  • One of the original five national Christa McAuliffe Educators

Travels from Boston, Massachusetts.

Keynote Fee: Contact Forte Speakers


Alan November is an international leader in education technology. He began his career as an oceanography teacher and dorm counselor at an island reform school for boys in Boston Harbor. While he was a computer science teacher in Lexington, MA, he was probably the first teacher in the world to have a student project on line in 1984, a database for the handicapped. He has been director of an alternative high school, computer coordinator, technology consultant and university lecturer. He has helped schools, governments and industry leaders improve the quality of education through technology.

Audiences enjoy November’s humor and wit as he pushes the boundaries of how to improve teaching and learning. His areas of expertise include planning across curriculum, staff development, new school design, community building and leadership development. He has delivered keynotes and workshops in all fifty states, across Canada and throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Central America. He thrives on confirming and challenging educators’ thoughts about what’s possible in the world of teaching and learning. More than anything, he is a teacher at heart, with a wealth of experience teaching learners of all ages.

Alan November was named one of the nation’s fifteen most influential thinkers of the decade by Technology and Learning Magazine. In 2001, he was listed as one of eight educators to provide leadership into the future by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse. In 2007, he was selected to speak at the Cisco Public Services Summit during the Nobel Prize Festivities in Stockholm, Sweden. He was co-founder of the Stanford Institute for Educational Leadership through Technology and is most proud of being selected as one of the original five national Christa McAuliffe Educators.
November was educated at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Harvard University, and the University of Edinburgh. He began his career as an oceanography teacher and dorm counselor at an island reform school for boys in Boston Harbor. He has been a director of an alternative high school, computer coordinator, technology consultant, and university lecturer. November was an early proponent of embracing modern web technologies commonly referred to as Web 2.0 in elementary, middle, and high schools.

His most recent book, Who Owns the Learning, explores how to move from a teacher-centered to a student-centered approach to education. Web Literacy for Educators, published in 2008, aids teachers in their use of the Internet to improve curriculum, and addresses the issues that may arise. Empowering Students With Technology, published in 2001, describes the opportunity to empower students to be critical thinkers and contribute to the world.

In 2007 November was selected to speak at the Cisco Public Services Summit during the Nobel Prize Festivities in Stockholm, Sweden. In March of 2011 he gave a TEDx talk at TEDxNYED, a New York City-based TEDx event focused on education.


Teaching Zack to Think: Developing Critical Thinking Skills
Too many students are not sure how to separate fact from fiction on the Internet. The Internet can provide any version of the truth to support almost any belief. We can teach students how to read the “grammar” of the Internet and to apply strategies to validate information on a website. This popular workshop provides step-by-step teaching tips that help students and teachers think critically about Internet information.

Web Literacy for Elementary Students (an elementary focused version of Teaching Zack to Think)
As the web becomes the dominant media for children it will be essential to teach young children the grammar and literacy skills to be safe and to be excellent “web detectives.” This workshop will provide teachers with an overview of how to teach elementary students to choose the right search engine, understand how to find who controls the information, and to develop early cross referencing strategies. Teachers will also learn how to incorporate age appropriate bogus websites into the curriculum to prepare children to question web based content.

Student as Contributor: Digital Learning Farm
Before the days of tractors and combines, for more than 60% of the population in North America, farming was a way of life. Today that number is less than 2%. Children who grew up in rural areas made vital economic contributions to their families and communities by engaging in real farm chores.

Empathy: The 21st Century Skill
From West Point to HSBC (biggest bank in the world), one of the most valued skills is to understand different cultural perspectives and points of view. If we want our students to be competitive in the global economy, we must challenge them to co-create and present to a worldwide authentic audience. Any classroom can be organized to be a global communications center, and we can design more rigorous and motivating assignments that engage our students to communicate globally with purpose. Expand boundaries of potential and give your students courage to engage with the world.

Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning
A powerful new culture of empowered teaching and fearless learning is emerging. Access to more timely information and communication tools can empower educators to focus on the individual learning needs of their students. These same tools can lead to more collegiality, build stronger community relationships and empower students to be more self-directed. This workshop presents clear examples of how this new culture has been achieved.

Building Learning Communities
We now have tools to build and strengthen our learning communities. We have the opportunity to provide our students with authentic assessment relationships over the web that can help dramatically improve student motivation. We can take advantage of the communication tools the Internet provides, such as Twitter, Skype, blogs, Instant Messenger, video conference or email. Explore ways to motivate your students and connect them to the global community.

Leadership: Managing the Transition
Our schools are at the beginning of a historic transition from paper as the dominant storage and retrieval media to the web. The initial response of bolting technology on top of the current design of school is a short-term process that will only yield marginal improvement. Contrast this “$1,000 pencil” approach with how society is transforming how, where, when, with whom and even why people work. Being self-directed, managing global communications and overwhelming amounts of information have become critical job skills. The workshop will include response to the following critical leadership questions, such as:

Cultivating a World-Class Work Ethic
In an economy where global outsourcing is commonplace, students must be prepared to participate in an increasingly competitive job market. In many ways they are in competition with bright energetic, hardworking students from all over the world. In this workshop, some of the ways we can empower our students, help them build a strong work ethic and develop self-directed learning skills are discussed. We should not underestimate what our students are capable of achieving.

Preparing Teachers for Today
Designed for colleges of education, this workshop targets the challenges beginning teachers and teacher educators often face. It explores critical skills teachers should know, such as information literacy. Practical ideas of moving curriculum and assessment to the web are reviewed, along with suggestions on how to link students to primary sources, create authentic assessments and strengthen community support.

Aligning Technology to the Standards
Data driven technologies can be a powerful tool to help manage and support standards. Technology can provide online-assessment, links to content-specific resources and activities, simulations, real time reporting to families, extensive portfolios of student work and much more. This workshop is designed to show how technologies can be aligned to support standards and how we can move beyond them.

Smart School Design
School design can have a significant impact on the culture of learning in your school. New models of school design are emerging that support a wide range of learning styles and take full advantage of global communications. Access to powerful technologies can free designers to build smaller, more intimate schools. In this session, we examine school models from around the US and UK to illustrate powerful new ways of creating learning spaces.

Motivating Zack
From Alan’s work as an educator on an island reform school to directing an alternative high school, much of his experience has focused on motivating at-risk students. Online communication can be a powerful tool for engaging students to be active learners. For example, students who never raise their hand in class can become eager to participate online. Many at-risk students are also more willing to accept criticism from an anonymous reviewer over the Internet. This workshop presents some creative ideas for using technological tools to help improve student motivation and focus on learning.

From Smart Toilets to Smart Schools
This popular workshop provides a provocative and humorous look at ways to use technology to improve learning. Alan challenges participants to examine basic assumptions about how to move beyond flushing curriculum faster, to creating visions that provide students and communities with survival skills for a global economy. This workshop leads to a shift in thinking from technology to a focus on the quality of information and communication technology can offer.

Writing, Writing, Writing
Writing is an essential skill and a key to academic success. Technology can be harnessed to provide student writers with inspiration, boundless resource and an authentic audience. Students can publish their work or peer edit with anyone around the world. They can share ideas and projects in a global forum. Tapping into authentic audience can improve writing skills and motivation to write. This workshop is filled with hands-on suggestions, websites and exercises to get your students excited about writing.

Finding Meaning in the Masses: Maximizing Your Professional Learning Community
Have you been on Twitter for a while? Do you feel like something is missing? There’s a good chance that you are not maximizing your experience. Signing up for and learning the basics of using social tools are generally pretty easy. But to really gain value, you need to understand the more advanced features of what these tools have to offer. This workshop will provide you with several examples of how to tweak your usage to gain the most value out of your time online.

Connective Learning: An Introduction to Google Tools in Education
Learn how to tap Google’s free online toolset and knock down the walls of your classroom, engage students and make connections in new and exciting ways. During this session you will build robust learning solutions that you can immediately apply in your classroom. Develop a custom search engine based on your particular subject area or unit of study. Create an interactive map for your literature, history, math or science class. With these and other open-ended tools, the options are endless.

Implementing the Three Pillars of Web Literacy
In a series of recent articles, Alan November and Brian Mull explain that Web literacy now expands beyond understanding how to effectively use a search engine for research. Now, it is vital for teachers and students to understand the three pillars of Web literacy to maximize the critical thinking process.

First, there must be an understanding of effective search and validation strategies when using search engines like Google. Secondly, there needs to be an organizational method for effectively harnessing this content. Finally, there is a need for students to connect and collaborate with others around the world to gain further insight into the knowledge they find.

This session will look at how effective search and validation techniques combined with tools like Diigo and Twitter can build better researchers.

Successful Parenting to Launch Your Child into the Digital World
In a world filled with cell phones, tablets and laptops, are you taking the necessary steps to learn how to guide your child through the learning opportunities and the ethics of these connected devices? This session will outline the role parents can play, working in tandem with teachers, to help students understand the educational and ethical impact of their time online. You will learn how your children can dig deeper into topics and better organize their learning, how they can connect globally with experts and peers, as well as how to help kids understand the ethics behind working and playing online.

After this workshop you can go home and impress your children with your newfound knowledge with how the web works!


“As an educator, sometimes all you need is inspiration to work harder for your students. Alan November provides that.” Sarah Smith, Fourth Grade Teacher, MI

“Once again, you captivated, educated and inspired our audience with your knowledge, unique insight and humor.” David R. Springett, Ph.D., Community College Foundation

“You received the best review of any of the national speakers we have brought in or our membership during my five year tenure.” John Ellis, Executive Director, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents

“Alan November – scarily practical with new ideas and new perspective.” Specialist School Trust, London, UK