NCETC with Governor Angus King

NCETC with Governor Angus King

9:15 AM
I sitting in the keynote address, being delivered momentarily by Governor Angus King, the former governor of Maine, and chief evangelist if not architect of that states 1:1 initiative.

Right now, Gwen Varsamis, the director of the conference is making introductions. I’ll be posting updates to this entry as I hear ideas that especially strike me.

9:26 AM
A great euphamism:

“Just cause the cat had it’s kittens in the oven doesn’t mean you got biscuits.”

In Maine…

Every computer is in the classroom every day. It’s not computer labs and laptop carts. Its a computer in every hand, and this is transformational.

37th per capita income
Industry and the value of natural resources were decline.

How do you change that when the world is changing really fast.

9:36 AM
Insight # 1
Again, educators have been asked to read, The World is Flat. He says to have a bottle of advil with you when you read it.

We are in danger of losing everything we’ve built up over the decades. Anything that can be done without touching you or something that you own, it can be outsourced to another continent.

Insight # 2
Governor’s Association meetings. They are all chasing the same thing — the future. You don’t get ahead of the competition by keeping up, but everyone was doing the same things to reach the future.

Insight # 3
Everything we did was incremental! It’s baby steps. Are we progressing, or changing. Is progress the same as change?

9:54 AM
When the initiative was announced and the e-mails were 10 to 1 against putting laptops into the hands of students, and 7th graders became the most despised minority in the state. One reported called it “The governor’s laptop giveaway.”

They did a two-prong campaign, one for the legislature and one for the public. A lot of the legislators didn’t know what the computer could do. He set up a wireless network in his office for demonstrations. Apple came into middle schools, set up computers and networks and teach about the Battle of Gettesburg. Teachers, parents, and board members came in to learn what could happen to classrooms.

10:10 AM
The people of Guilford, Maine, decided not to wait for the legislature and governor, raise the money, and implemented 1:1 right away. The governor has to sign the budget, so the money came.

There were compromises. Deciding whether the students could take the computer home, because a local issue. A mistake was not training administrators and tech coordinators. They can be a barrier, you need the leadership. There are places where it’s going great and places where 1:1 is not running well. The factor is, without exceptions, is the leadership.

Test scores won’t go up. Writing is the exception. Writing will improve. Discipline referrals went down 75% and attendance went up. Breakage rate is about 3%, and there is no difference between districts where students took them home and those who kept them in school.

10:17 AM
The contract with Apple is $300 per student per year for computer, training, network, etc. That’s 0.5% of state education budget.

I defy you to do any thing else with such impact for one one-half of one percent.

And by the way, this is not a glorified computer lab. Get that concept straight.

  • Vision one is Education
  • Vision two is Equity
  • Put Maine on the Map

Darwin: Survival of the fittest. No, that’s not what he said. The fittest are those organisms, organizations, and individuals who are most adaptable to change, will survive.

Gretsky: Scored more goals than anybody else, and he’s not big. His Canadian (an unarmed north american with health insurance) answer, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, everyone else skates to where it is.

A Conversation with Bernajean Porter

Yesterday was a very good day. I taught An Educator’s Guide to Blogging and An Educator’s Guide to Podcasting. The podcasting session was a little tough because OurMedia seemed to be experiencing some load problems. I suspect that I’m going to, at some point spring for a commercial host for my podcasts, but that’s for later.

Photo-Happy EducatorsAfter those three-hour workshops, I spent a little time at the exhibitor’s opening. There seemed to be fewer booths set up, with more of the companies springing for larger areas. Apple, always a big presence at NCETC has a keyboard lab set up for teaching music via a network. This looks very interesting, but I’ll likely not have time to investigate. I also looked as some of the new modules in SAS inSchool, and was quite impressed. I could not put my finger on it, but there was something about the experience of running through the module that took me back a couple of decades ago, with some of the old laserdisc products. It was exciting, because we seemed to be looking for richer more interactive experiences for our students then, than we do now. And SAS inSchool pulls it off so elegantly.

I also had a long conversation with Chuck Swaim, of Eperitus. We talked about some of the video networking that they are doing with schools, and the paradigm shifts that they should be suggesting. Still, the model continues to be stand and deliver. Perhaps it’s more like mount (the display) and shine, but we seem to insist on remaining the gatekeepers of knowledge, delivering to our students. What came to mind as we talked was the fact that this model seems to insist on barriers between the source of the knowledge and the learner. For the teachers, it’s that space between the teacher’s desk or their space for pacing, and where students reside. For video delivery, it’s the display glass.

But today we have keyboards and mice giving students the chance to interact with the information and knowledge. We can put the video camera into the hands of our students and have them aim at their world, record, and build knowledge from it. It would be good for teachers to record their lectures and make them available to students during the summer for what Swaim called “repetitives”. But why not give students access to the files, and ask them to remix the lectures with additional multimedia resources, additional lectures, and even aim the camera on themselves and reflect.

Sadly, I saw little evidence of this pie in the sky idea within the walls of the exhibit hall. In fact there seemed to be more products designed to give teachers more control over learning instead of less. I hate to complain about the very smart, well-meaning, and in most cases cleverly implemented products. But we aren’t teaching the kids we think we are. The kids in are classrooms are not like us. We need to figure this out.

I had dinner last night with Bernajean Porter, one of today’s keynote speakers. We’ve met a couple of times at past conferences, but not had a chance to talk. First of all, I’m not in her league, especially considering that I’d been up for 19 hours. She’s very smart, and gets education at many different levels, and she seems focused on where the leverage points are for change. She’s very good, and she suggested far more ideas during that hour than I could ever have grasped or even remembered, even if I were less fatigued.

But the gist was this. We have been so successful for so long, that we think we’ve got it right, and that if we just do it harder, for more hours of the day, and with more control, then our kids will be as well prepared as we were (for the 1950s).

We, the education industry, are focused on momentum. We need to be focusing on the goal (citizens who are ready for the 21st century), and doing what ever it takes to get there. Amen!

Bits of String

First of all, I’m sure there is a story in the fact that as I opened my laptop this morning, in my hotel room at the Koury Convention Center, in Greensboro North Carolina, on the first pre-conference day of the North Carolina Educational Technology Conference (NCETC), my computer asks me if I want to connect to the wireless network entitled “Guest BG”. All of the rooms have free Ethernet, but someone has established an ad hoc wireless network for some reason, and I suspect that there is a story here, but not my story for the day.

My story came to me last night, when, after installing Audacity onto a dozen iBooks, I visited the conference registration desk to try to get a completed event program. The woman, whom I know from a dozen previous conferences, told me that a teacher just walked away, having learned that he did not have seats in the pre-conferences workshops he had signed up for (one of which was one of mine). His central office had not submitted the registration forms.

This teacher is not feeling very good about the leadership of his school district. But I want to be completely fair. At the same time that this teacher is enormously busy with escalating expectations, dwindling resources, and more and more of the joy of teaching being sucked out of the job almost every day, his central office leadership is even busier. In this school district, in one of the poorer more rural counties of the state, the director of technology, who neglected to follow through on the paperwork, probably wears the hats for student information management (making sure that required data gets to the legislature each month), elementary schools, media services, and also manages the buses and plant maintenance. That central office is still suffering the budget cuts ($1.35 trillion tax cut) of 2001.

Thomas Freedman says, in The World is Flat, that there are four kinds of people who will prosper in a flattening world. People who are

  • Special — Michael Jordon, Robert Redford, Katherine Hepburn
  • Specialized — Know things or can do things that others can’t
  • Adaptive — able to learn and relearn easily and quickly
  • Anchored — direct services

The special will take care of themselves, and the anchored (barbers, plumbers, & chefs) will survive only if the specialized and adaptive continue to be viable in an ever-changing economy.

If these suppositions are correct, then education must change dramatically in order to support students who must learn to learn, not learn to be taught.

How in the world are we going to do that when professionals in education leaders are too stressed to handle basic paperwork?

Bring your Ear Buds…

Here’s another post for the NCETC conference. On Tuesday, I will be teaching two pre-conference workshops: An Educator’s Guide to Blogging, and An Educator’s Guide to Podcasting. In the morning, participants will learn about blogs — the what, where, how, and why — and they will have an opportunity to establish both a professional blog (Blogger) and a classroom blog (Class Blogmeister).

During the afternoon, participants will learn the what, where, how, and why of podcasting. They will also go through the process of establishing their own podcast.

Even though the laptops we will be using in the afternoon (Podasting) will have built-in microphones and speakers, conference attendees who will be part of that workshop might like to bring along a microphone and ear buds or other headset.

One Literacy

It’s a holiday here, but one of the real problems with working out of your home is that it is difficult to find the line between the too. That such incredibly exciting things are going on in your field makes it even harder. The kids are still in bed anyway.

Doug Johnson DiagramThere has been a lot of talk about information skills and technology skills and how they apply to learning, especially to life-long learning and staff development. Jeff Utecht, of Shanghai, took all of this into an interesting direction when he loaded the ISTI NETS into his word processor, did a global search and replace, and changed all references of technology to information. Read NETS in the 2.0 World in his blog, Thinking Stick. Doug Johnson (The Blug Skunk Blog) of Minnesota, picked up the ball from his library media perspective, and through this convergence, melding the AASL Information Literacy Standards, illustrating it with the Venn diagram to the right. Read Standards 2.0.

Within the context of this discussion, I described, in OK, No More Staff Development, a desire for teachers to learn to live with less staff development and more self development, and listed a number of conditions that must exist in order for teachers to teach themselves new skills and knowledge for being ever adaptive and life-long learning teachers.

I avoided, however, going to the core of what teachers must have in order to be self-developers, and it’s what Chris Harris, Doug Johnson, Jeff Utecht, Will Richardson, Marco Polo, Chris Lehmann, and other have been talking about — Literacy(period).

Latest year, I keynoted the North Carolina Educational Technology Conference (NCETC) [getting this blog into the ncetc aggregator] with an address called, Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century. In this address, and a corresponding book, I try to expand our notions of

  • What it means to be a reader, when information is increasingly networked.
  • What it means to be a processor of information, when information is increasingly digital .
  • What it means to be a communicating when information overwhelms our listeners’ senses.
  • ..and the ethics of living in an information driven culture.

What I’d like us to say is that there is one literacy (Contemporary Literacy) that encompasses all the basic skills involved in using information, and information and communication technologies. I think that if we could agree that this literacy is what and how our students must learn, and assess learning authentically based on this broader sense of basic skills, then we’ll be on a better path to education reform and better preparing our children for the 21st century.

Here’s a diagram. I can resist the temptation to map out the information.
David Warlick's Diagram on Literacy

Telling the New Story

This is mostly for the conference aggregator that I’ve set up for the North Carolina Educational Technology Conference (NCETC), starting next Monday. We’ve encouraged presenters to talk about their sessions, and here’s my first entry.

At 3:00 PM on Wednesday, I’ll be delivering a presentation called, Telling the New Story. This will be only the third time that I have done this session. The first time was for the SIG Technology Coordinators gathering at NECC in Philadelphia, and the second was for the New Hampshire ISTE affiliate’s meeting a couple of months ago (think Hogwarts Banquet Hall). As stories go, this one is evolving. It is an intriguing venue for me to express some of the current conversations that are going on around me and to stack them into a structure that makes a lot of sense to me.

The session begins with some of the stories that we’ve been hearing and telling for decades, and how they continue to drive a big part of what schooling is about. It is a testament to the continuing power of stories, even when they are old.

The rest of the presentation is structured around some writings of Dr. Jennifer James on telling a compelling story as a function of leadership. She talks about the leader who is the master, and the leader who is so creative that people follow. But she says that the leader who affects real change is one who can tell a compelling new story.

James continues by saying that compelling new stories must include three components:

  • They must fit the market place and our sense of the future. (I’ll include a lot of flat world information here)
  • They must resonate with deeply held values. (Here, I’ll focus on our students, include a lot of material from Prensky and Beck on the gaming generation, Flynn on rising general intelligence, and remix culture)
  • We must be able to model the story. (This will be a number of shifts in focus for education from students as merely consumers of content to producers of content, classrooms as conversations, digital textbook, and whatever else I can think of between now and then)

If you’re going to be at the NCETC conference, I’ll be in Auditorium III the whole time.

..spinning my 2¢ worth.

OK, No More Staff Development

Did I say that out loud? Well I did last week, when I met with a group of technology and media educators at a local private school. They are proceeding with a re-write of their technology plan, on the verge of committing to a 1:1 laptop or tablet initiative, and struggling with educators who still believe that using computers relieves students from the opportunity to think.

I pointed out that the biggest linchpin between successful laptop initiatives and unsuccessful ones seems to be staff development, and I mentioned some staff development firms with experience in that sort of thing. But I continued by saying that their goal should not be a staff development plan, but a self-development infrastructure. Actually, I don’t think I called it anything. I’ve become weary of labels that get in the way of thinking outside the box.

They need to strive for a school environment where teachers:

  • Have the time to reflect and retool (at least three hours a day),
  • Have ready access to local and global ideas and resources that are logically and socially indexed,
  • Have the skills to research, evaluate, collaborate, remix, and implement new tools and techniques (contemporary literacy),
  • Are part of an ongoing professional conversation where the expressed purpose is to provoke change (adapt),
  • Leave the school from time to time to have their heads turned by new experiences,
  • Share what they and their students are doing with what they teach and learn — their information products and relics of learning become an explicit and irresistibly interwoven part of the school’s culture.

If we are trying to help our students to become life-long-learners, then this is what teachers should be right now. The question, “Who’s going to teach me to do that?” should be replaced with “I’m going to teach myself to do that!”

So, am I talking myself out of a job? I don’t think so. Good presenters cross-pollinate. Good presenters inspire. Some of us entertain. But we plant seeds. It’s up to good teachers to cultivate those seeds. Information lives without containers now. We need to figure out how to make teaching and learning something that exists outside of containers.

We are attempting to adapt the new information environment to fit our curriculum, when we should be adapting our curriculum to fit the new information environment.

Exactly 2¢ Worth.

New Blog Tag

She saw her first computer lab at age 5 and was powerpointing at 7. At age 9 she was a Microsoft Certified Professional. Now 10 years old, Afra Karim Randhawa, from Pakistan, is working on Lead Developer Certification. Recently, Afra and her father were invited to Redmond, Washington to meet Bill Gates, whom she grilled about the dearth of women she saw working for Microsoft. She said, “Come to Kakistan. You’ll find women interested in technology.”

She hopes to be the youngest MIT or Harvard graduate, after which, she will return to Pakistan.

This is the first of a new category I’m adding to 2¢ WorthFlat World.

Gandin, Jennifer. “She’s Got Code.” WIRED Magazine December 2005: 56.

More on Conversation

Later this morning we will be driving half way across the state to my home town and the town that my mother-in-law grew up in, where we’ll celebrate her 80th birthday. We’re expecting about a hundred people, and Brenda has been cooking all week, mostly experimenting with recipes. She tried an amazing garlic and cheese dip that quickened my heart with every taste.

Yesterday, I walked into the kitchen as she was mixing a large bowl of what looked like that dip. I waited, shrewdly, for her to leave the room, and then quickly pulled out a teaspoon from the drawer, scooped up a healthy taste and plunged it into my mouth, closing my eyes and waiting for a garlic rush. I can not describe the shock to my system, when my mind registered that she was mixing home-made mints. Not what I expected.

Blogging can be like this 😉 You read, reflect, write and then read, and none of it is what you had expected. When I wrote about education as conversation yesterday, my visions of what this looked like or sounded like were clear and firm. However, the varied perspectives of those who read and then commented on the article surprised me, almost as much as expecting cheese and garlic, and getting sugar instead.

What’s important here is that sugar isn’t bad. I like it. I like the comments that I received. They helped me to better build in my own head, this idea of education as conversation.

Tom is right, that the conversations have been going on for a long time. Socrates prodded his students with questions, as they walked the streets of Athens. There have long been conversations between teacher and students, student and student, classroom and home, and school and community.

Conn McQuinn was also right on many levels, when he urges us that it is all about technology. Technologies that we have invented and refined have spurred the unprecedented change that we are challenged by and learning to live with. And it is the technology that is changing the conversation. What are the new conversations that happen when:

  • Teachers and students write together through their classroom blogs (listen to the EdTechTalk interview with Barbara Ganley).
  • When students read and comment on each other’s blogs, e-mail to classes around the world, and Skype interview working experts in the fields they are study.
  • When parents have access to what and how their children are learning through their teacher’s web sites, and can comment from their own experiences on the topics.
  • When teachers can collaborate in creating and cultivating a school-wide social bookmark account, not only storing, but also sharing with each other the digital resources they have found and claimed for their classrooms.
  • What kind of conversations rise in the community, when the school holds a film festival, showcasing the video productions of local young film makers, and exposing the research, reflection, planning, scriptwriting, and collaboration involved in accomplishing the works.

When I think of the exchanges over yesterday’s entry from a wide variety of educators, across this and at least one other continent, and I reflect on what I have learned from these exchanges, it is still in the conversation that the value lies, not the technology. Throughout the day, I rarely thought about my web browser, the blog concept, my aggregators, or Technorati searches. It was the conversation.

Jim Heynderickx gave me, perhaps, the most reason to pause and reflect, when he suggested that it’s negotiation more than conversation. That’s powerful, to me, because that is exactly what I have been doing with the readers and commentors of this entry — negotiating. I’ll probably continue to use conversation, because four syllables are better than five (the poet), but negotiation will be and explicit part of that conversation.

If you have children, who spend a good deal of their time IM’ing, playing video games, blogging, googling, or other negotiations with technology, put yourselves in their shoes and ask yourself this question. Is it the computer, the game controller, the mobile phone, or PDA that I’m thinking about? …or is it the information, the conversation, the negotiation that I’m thinking about. I say it’s the conversations — the information. Information is what its all about.