WRITING ARCHIVE

Frank Catalano is a prolific writer of analysis, commentary and other forms of journalism. His regular columns and contributions have appeared in a wide range of online and print publications, and he has co-authored two Dummies books on digital and web marketing.

Frank was a founding columnist for the tech news site GeekWire and, at various times, a GeekWire podcast host, contributor and interim deputy editor (2011-19).

Frank’s also been a regular contributor to the edtech news site EdSurge (2012-19), NPR/KQED’s MindShift (2012-13), TechFlash (2008-11), Puget Sound Business Journal (2000-02) and Seattle Weekly and Eastsideweek (1994-2004).

This Writing section highlights some of Frank’s work for media outlets plus other original analysis and commentary dating to 2003.

Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Remote education conference woes and wows

I have literally seen one future of education conferences. And I hope, for all of our sakes, it’s not the dystopia I’ve viewed through Zoom.

Three months ago, I had a busy schedule lined up through early summer. As a former education industry executive and current strategy consultant and analyst, conferences are my learning lifeblood: intense, compressed experiences for staying on top of edtech trends and companies. Continue reading Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Remote education conference woes and wows

WFH? 5 tips for first-timers

I’ve worked from home as a remote executive or consultant for 25 years. Precautions for novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, are spurring others — often without another option — to work from home. Here are five brief tips for those doing it for the first time.

1) Get dressed for work. You may be tempted to wear PJs or lounge pants. Wear what you’d wear to the office. It’ll put you in the right frame of mind. Continue reading WFH? 5 tips for first-timers

Unique, believable and true: Mantras for good marketing

There is nothing like going through an interview process to help crystallize your thinking about the practice of a profession. Especially if you have to look at it through the lenses of eight different people.

Recently, I went through an intense day of interviews for a strategic marketing executive position. The company is well established and known, so this was not a case where I had to provide Marketing 101 instruction. However, being grilled about your thinking by more than a half dozen intelligent pros, each with their own perspective, makes you realize the guiding principles by which you’ve worked aren’t necessarily thought about or communicated the same way by everyone. Continue reading Unique, believable and true: Mantras for good marketing

What I’ve learned from writing tech columns for 25 years

In 1994, I got a call from an editor I knew at a Seattle-area newsweekly. Computers for personal use—and the companies that made them possible—were getting a lot of attention due to this newly accessible Internet. I’d been a full-time journalist and now worked in tech. Would I be interested in writing a snappy regular column explaining computer industry developments to mere mortals?

Sure, I said. It needs a name, he said. I first suggested “Dispatches from the Digital Frontier.” And then I offhandedly added, “Or you could just call it ‘Byte Me.'” Continue reading What I’ve learned from writing tech columns for 25 years

Minecraft: When learning is the game

A Librarian Villager oversees the Minecraft: Education Edition room at MoPOP in Seattle.

I have never played Minecraft.

However, I’ve written and tweeted about its prevalence in education, a presence potentially more far-reaching than its huge popularity as entertainment. So it was with that perspective I walked into the new “Minecraft: The Exhibition” at the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle. Continue reading Minecraft: When learning is the game

Five edtech trends from the ISTE 2019 exhibit hall

BrainPOP’s beloved mascot Moby and some other guy.

If there’s a place for conspicuous tech consumption in education, it’s ISTE. The annual event– named for the association that runs it, the International Society for Technology in Education — is the world’s second-largest edtech conference and trade show, behind Bett in London.

This year’s ISTE was in Philadelphia, drawing more than 20,000 participants. If you’re in or interested in K-12 edtech and didn’t get a chance to walk the ISTE exhibit hall, here are five easily digestible observations. In, of course, tweet form. Continue reading Five edtech trends from the ISTE 2019 exhibit hall

An industry insider’s edtech conference guide

The sign outside 2019’s ASU GSV conference in San Diego, with X marking ten years.

ASU GSV. SIIA. SXSW EDU.

No, these are not scattered arrangements of alphabet blocks from an especially precocious early learning classroom. They’re abbreviations for major conferences for companies in the education industry.

I’ve been attending, and occasionally speaking at, these events and their predecessors for more than two decades. What sets them apart from purely teacher-focused conferences is that industry players aren’t viewed mainly as vendors who pony up for a sponsorship or exhibit booth. Instead, in nearly every case, they’re primary conference attendees. Continue reading An industry insider’s edtech conference guide

Today’s high school student in 2022: College technology expectations

Screen 53 of 57 presented at CAMEX 2019 in San Antonio at a thought leader session.

Three years from now, 15-year-old high school sophomores are going to be college freshmen. And their expectations about the tech that surrounds them in 2022 will have been shaped by both what they experienced in school as K-12 students and outside of school as teenaged consumers.

At CAMEX 2019 in San Antonio, held by the National Association of College Stores, I explored what that combined expectation of edtech and consumer tech exposure might mean. While the slides of my thought leadership session by themselves aren’t that useful without narration or detailed notes (I favor lots of images with any vivid words coming from me, not crowded bullet points), I did summarize my trends take in a series of a dozen tweets. Of course. Continue reading Today’s high school student in 2022: College technology expectations

Observations of a gentleman journalist

Many people don’t have a clue how journalism works. Journalists may have less access to events and their newsmakers than the general public. All this for a career choice that has limited job options.

Those are the headlines from my recent temporary return to full-time journalism after a several-decade hiatus. The full story I lived through as a fact-chasing Rip Van Winkle is more nuanced. Yet dramatic cuts in journalists’ ranks and an apparent increase in attempts to control what’s produced not only makes doing the work more challenging, it may combine to undermine what the public gets in good journalism, especially at the local level. Continue reading Observations of a gentleman journalist

Strategic advice, analysis and insight.