Leader of the Year: Carl Hooker

5/30/2014 7:00:00 PM

Director of Innovation and Digital Learning, Eanes (TX) Independent School District (ISD)

In the last six months, Carl Hooker delivered his first keynote presentation (at Tech & Learning’s Atlanta Tech Forum), organized a youth film festival, wrote several blogs about the zombification of our society, planned the third iPadpalooza, helped overturn a state decision to ban tablets from state testing, and taught an iTunesU course called Digital Parenting 101 with community parents. And did we mention he did all of this while working his “day job” as director of innovation and digital learning at Eanes ISD?

Known in the edtech world as a highly collaborative and innovative leader, Hooker is one of those people who can come up with more great ideas in an hour than many of us do in a lifetime.

From coordinating his district’s three-year-old LEAP (personalized learning) initiative and putting iPads in the hands of all 8,000 K-12 students in his district, to assembling a team of edtech integrators known as the iVengers, Hooker has made it his goal to provide students with the skills that will help them be successful in college and in life. “Seeing our students create things, like the 10th-grade student who designed an American Sign Language app that’s now in the App Store, makes everything we do even more worthwhile,” he says. “We have to continue to push because there’s no ceiling on excellence.”

It’s this need to keep pushing that prompted Hooker to start iPadpalooza (ipadpalooza.com) three years ago. Today, the learning festival has more than 1,000 attendees from all over the world and features speakers, food trucks, and It’s this need to keep pushing that prompted Hooker to start iPadpalooza (ipadpalooza.com) three years ago. Today, the learning festival has more than 1,000 attendees from all over the world and features speakers, food trucks, and

Hooker’s latest focus is on flexible learning environments, which include the usual suspects (i.e. replacing desks with funky, malleable furniture) as well as determining which types of lighting structures will positively affect the environment to enhance learning. “If a teacher is doing a unit on the ocean, why can’t the lights turn to a bluish hue?” asks Hooker. “We want to enhance all five senses and see how that can help students learn.”

Hooker says being named one of T&L’s Leaders of the Year gives him a chance to reflect on how far he’s come while seeing how much further he has to go. “Part of being a great leader is hiring people who are smarter than you, and that’s how I feel about my iVengers,” he says. “It’s so nice to have our district’s accomplishments recognized. It makes me want to push harder and stronger and continue to improve.”

Tools He Uses

• Dropbox
• eBackpack
• Evernote
• Flipboard
• Google Drive
• Instagram
• iMac
• iPad
• iPhone
• Keynote
• LinkedIn
• Macbook Air
• Pinterest
• Scoop.it
• Slideshare
• Trello
• Tweetdeck
• Twitter
• Wordpress
• YouTube

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