One More Leg

I just had a fantastic day with the Arizona Technology Education Association conference on the campus of Arizona State University. It was the third and last of their three conference series, but I’m looking forward to hooking back up with the AZ folks at the reception at NECC in July.

Coming of Age Contributors  Shawn Wheeler & David WarlickOne treat was making the connection between the Shawn Wheeler who was to pick me up at the Phoenix airport last night and the Shawn Wheeler who contributed to Freedman’s Coming of Age book. Here’s a picture of Shawn and me and ASU professor, Peggy Davis.

At the moment, I’m in the Phoenix airport, enjoying free WiFi. I love it when this happens, and it was nice to do a little research in preparation for my Discovery Educator Network workshop tomorrow at SeaWorld. Cool!

2¢ Worth.

The Computer Just Got Bigger

I spoke, yesterday, at the TechForum conference in Chicago. You probably know that already, since I blogged the keynote by Hall Davidson. As an additional note, it is evidence of blogging’s conversational quality, that Ewan Mcintosh posted a comment, with links to a web site where people can explore using The SIMS as a foreign language strategy, a concept that I mentioned in that blog entry. Too cool!

Now this is interestingDuring one of the breaks, I was visiting the exhibitors and I ran across one that I would normally glance over. They sold projectors and presentation carts, and since I don’t have, nor support a classroom, I have little interest. But there was no one there at the moment, and to be polite, I asked the young man what was “Big”. He pointed me to a computer with a piece of software running….

Now I work a good deal in distance learning rooms where they have these little touch sensitive displays that allow you to control various audio/visual devices, the projectors and what’s projecting through them, volume, etc. They are usually pretty clunky and they’re all different, so I have to figure out each one — and I usually don’t! 😉

The software that this company representative was showing me was the same sort of thing, only it ran on a teacher’s computer, and it controlled all of the audio visuals of the classroom. Now this is assuming that the classroom as a DVD, VCR, ceiling-mounted projector, wall-mounted speakers, you name it — and folks, THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF CLASSROOM OUR CHILDREN DESERVE TO BE LEARNING IN. Isn’t it?

But the image that came to me as I was considering the implimentation of such a tool was the the computer just got a lot bigger, not smaller. The classroom just became a computer. I sit, now, at my laptop and have access to video, audio, text, a global digital library, tools to process and add value to the content that I have. I have an information/learning engine under my finger tips. Shouldn’t we be thinking of our classrooms in exactly the same way, as information/learning engines where students are learning the new information/literacy skills from the new information environment.

My apologies for forgetting the name of the company, but I’ve written to Judy Salpeter, and when she tells me who the vendor was, I’ll add it here.

Way bigger than 2¢!!!

The World is Shrinking — and more

This is a moblog, typed in real time during the event. Please forgive misspellings and awkward text.>

It’s TechForum 2006 in Chicago, and Hall Davidson is doing the keynote. The speech title is “The World is Shrinking”. He just said that one thing that is definitely shrinking is the distance between imagination and reality. This is so true, and I’ve thought about this a lot. But I’ve never heard the idea expressed so succinctly.

He also says that it’s pretty cool to be an educator right now. We are more in touch with the future than anyone else, because we are in daily contact with the people who will be inventing the future. We (many of us) know what podcasting is. Most corporate workers do not! Not sure that’s true, but I believe that the idea is correct. We work with the future.

I’ve heard this address before, and I’ve blogged it before. But one thing that suprised me was when Hall asked what web site gets more than two and a half times the traffic of Google. The answer was Myspace. In MySpace, children are important. Learning is important. How do we make learners just as important?

Wow! Discovery now has a home version of streaming video, called Cosmo. No surprise, bound to happen. But a school in Evanston, Illios will be selling it to homes as a fund raiser. Kids selling media, to raise money to learn. To cool for school!

I must say that this is a rich conference. I have to choose a session to go to next, and my choices are Laptop Learning, Games for Education, 21st Century Professional Development, and Data Security and student safety. I’ll let you know where I went.

It should be little surprise that I went to the gaming session. I walked in a little late, and the speaker was saying that they are now beginning to get data that indicates more powerful learning through video gaming.

He then said that the mother-ship of instructional gaming is “Active Engagement”. Students need to talk about the experience before, during, and after the game. The learn, by talking about it, not by playing the game alone. I suspect that the kids are learning, but the do not know that they are learning, unless they talk about it. This is an important distinction, I suspect.

The speaker (Bill MacKenty) said that when he is selecting off-the-shelf games for his classroom, he picks the game first and then figures out how to use it for learning.

The next speaker is Corbett Beder. His angle seems to be helping students to learn by empowering them to design their own games.

The question and answer session was not very eventful. The big question was asked first, what about violence. MacKenty said that he was super sensative to violence. He dosn’t go there. He also said that kids understand context, that they can see the violence within the context of the games plot, and that it is not blatant violence.

One of the most interesting ideas I heard was about a language teacher who is using The SIMS to teach German. It’s about context.

Much Activity in Citation Land

I’m at the SRTTC conference in Greenville, North Carolina, the home of East Carolina University. I attended this very fine school in the 1970’s when it was known as the biggest party school in America — not that that has any pertinence to any thing. My administrators presentation on Web 2.0 yesterday was followed by some very good sessions about data driven decision making, surveillance cameras in schools, school safety — the last two being pretty depressing, though important. I’ll probably share more on that later, but for now…

As I was sitting with my wireless connected laptop out in the audience, I got an e-mail from my hosting company saying that they were getting ready to shut off my site. Citation Machine (being the end of the semester) was pushing right at double the CPU load that they allow for their customers. I wrote back immediately pleading for patience, and describing what I had done to share the load across two servers, and that it would take a few hours before the traffic gets separated.

The folks a Dreamhost, my hosting company, know what the service is about, and are going to keep it running for the time being — unless it starts crashing other customer sites. I must say that they have been heroically helpful.

At 3:00 AM, this morning, I woke up with a brainstorm, lightening and everything. I figured out a way to cut down, dramatically on the number of page loads. Citation Machine now remembers the last type of information source that you cited and puts that form back up. this way, if students are doing all of their citations for the bibliography, and they are citing lots of books, or lots of articles, then they do not have to click to reload the form each time. That should be a lot of reloads that will not need to happen and, hopefully, less CPU load. Keep your fingers crossed.

I also figured out a way to offer easier to use multiple author forms. I’ve implemented it for Books in MLA, but did not have time to do the same for APA and for other citations. That took a long time, and I do have to prepare for today’s presentations.

Just thought I’d say something, and this also gives me something to post today, as I demonstrate Blogging to Eastern North Carolina educators.

2¢ Worth

Coming of Age: An Introduction to the New World Wide Web

comingofage_shadow.jpgI’m copying and pasting this in from Ewan Macintosh’s weblog, Edu.Blogs.Com. Hope you don’t mind, Ewan. I’m getting ready to present a session at a regional conference, and I want to get this post out there.

Terry Freedman, an independent education consultant in London, coraled some pretty forward thinking educators, and me, to write a little something about Web 2.0. The contributors are listed below. I think that the project came out very well, and it’s free, as a downloaded PDF file.

Coming of Age

The book provides a set of stories, describing the ways in which Web 2.0 technology can be used in schools, particularly as a way of supporting social, collaborative learning, and a more individualised curriculum. I am flattered to be amongst some really thoughtful (and cool) educators and adventurers in the Web 2.0 world:

  • Miles Berry
    Miles is a deputy headteacher in an English primary school, a Moodle and Elgg enthusiast and the winner of a best practice award. He also gives keynote presentations to conferences.

  • John Bidder
    John is the Head of Curriculum ICT strategy in Bolton, England, and gives keynote presentations about best practice.

  • Mechelle de Craene
    Mechelle is a special education teacher in Florida and undertakes research in the development of educational technology skills in children, and gives presentations on her findings at internatoinal conferences.

  • John Evans
    John Evans is principal of St. François Xavier Community School in St. François Xavier, Manitoba, Canada, and gives conference presentations on the subject of teacher wellness.

  • Peter Ford
    Peter Ford is a teacher and educational consultant based in Nottingham in the UK, spcialising in the use of internet technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

  • Terry Freedman (Ed)
    Terry is an educationalist who provides practical and strategic consultancy services to educational institutions, and provides a range of subscription-based services.

  • Josie Fraser
    Based in England, Josie is an educational technologist and works as a freelance consultant and speaker, mainly around emerging technologies and staff development.

  • Steve Lee
    Steve Lee is a Senior Software Developer, who is uses various techniques for customising ‘off-the-shelf’ software to meet individual accessibility needs. He is also interested in how Open Collaborative Communities can help and involve disabled people.

  • Ewan McIntosh (ahem, that’s me)
    Ewan is an exceptional languages educators and advocate for appropriate uses of technology in teaching and learning, and especially Web 2.0 applications. He’s also from Scotland!

  • Alan November
    Alan November is an international leader in education technology, and runs the annual Building Learning Communities Summer Conference in Boston, USA.

  • Chris Smith
    Based in Thailand, Chris runs a consultancy designed to offer support to International Schools across S.E. Asia, especially in the area of “ICT Across the Curriculum, and maintains an internationally-acclaimed website.

  • Dai Thomas
    Dai is Director of ICT at Warden Park Specialist School in West Sussex and a research Fellow of Mirandanet.

  • David Warlick
    David is an internationnaly-renowned writer, blogger and Podcaster who provides consulting and public speaking services to education associations and agencies around the world.

  • Shawn Wheeler
    Shawn is the Director of IMT – Services & Training for the Peoria Unified School District in Glendale, Arizona, and the founder of Adventures in Podcasting.

There will be a wiki in the longer term to allow changes and contributions to the book from elsewhere. In the meantime, head over the look at the SuprGlu feed coming from some of the contibutors’ blogs and bookmarks.

Let us know what you think of the book.

Flat Classroom Fuel — Heritage

oldtv.jpgI think that if curiosity, an intrinsic need to communicate, and future orientation are sources of energy that we can depend on to power flat classroom learning engines, then to some degree, the fuel that powers that energy is heritage. I mean this in the broadest terms possible, not merely the historical and cultural foundations of our lives, but also our environmental, economic, and media experiences.

It’s possible that a better term for this is context, and I often use the term context to structure learning objectives. However, context is a container, and I’m looking for fuel, a spring board, and heritage makes more sense. Simply said, the fuel comes from the time in which we live, in relation to past times; our geographic location and how it influences us; who we live with locally and globally and how we live with them; and a lot of “why!”

Millennials have something of a disadvantage, compared to my generation. The baby boomers were perhaps the most heritage grounded generation ever, because we grew up with Television. This is especially true of folks who are at least in their 50s. Our culture suddenly had a rich new way to broadcast information, and a sudden desperate need for information to express. We also had centuries of stories, both fact and fiction, documentary and literary, to be converted into sound and motion, to be shared with the developed world. I suspect that I saw more true pictures of my world, my time, my culture, my heritage, than any previous generation in history, and I also believe that this heritage provided me with enormous fuel to power my sometimes overactive imagination.

I could be wrong, but I believe that my children have not seen so much of their world. Their experience has revolved more around the fantasies of their video games or the local and narrow concerns of their IM communities. There’s only so much that you can say about The Battle of Gettysburg, The Third Reich, The invention of the Steam Engine, Napoleon, etc. and there are only so many ways that we can portray The Taming of the Shrew (Ten Things I Hate about You).

The stories are not dead. They remain valuable and even entertaining. But to drill into this fuel, we need to think more about the perpetual engine of learning, and engine that generates fuel through the energy of its own action. Use students curiosity and intrinsic need to communicate to inspire interest in history, science, literature, and health. Rather than playing a movie for the class about the age of exploration, ask teams of students to find, select, and mix a variety of digital content together into their own stories. Ask students to present their stories, and respond and discuss their work and their insights. In other words, use curiosity and communication to turn learning into a conversation. Conversations are powerhouses of energy that can drive learning in a flat classroom.

Larry & I are on the Same Side

Since I put my last Larry response out as a blog entry, I’ll give equal coverage to this one. You can read the entire conversation at First the Bad News and A Response for La Larry of 52. At any rate, we are all on the same side:


Thanks again for the continuing conversation. I have suspected all along that we are very much on the same vein with education. I was honestly reluctant to submit that post, because I did believe that although we were speaking from opposite sides of the fence, we are probably sitting fairly close together.

I do believe that testing is important and that it is essential that we assure that all children know how to read, perform math, and write. I think, also, that there are other levels of learning that we need to assure, that can not be measured by standardized tests. We need to start having confidence again in our teachers to be able to teach and evaluate learning in these higher order competencies.

But the bottom line measure happens ten, twenty, and thirty years from now. Will the children who are in our classrooms now, be economically viable and personally successful in their adulthood, and able to support us oldsters as we have retired? That’s the question and that’s the goal. I believe that at this point, we need to be rewriting our curriculums with an unpredictable future in mind, figure out how to teach that curriculum, and then figure out how to measure its learning.

Again, I honestly thank you for this conversation. As you indicate, there is probably very little that either of us have said that both of us do not believe.

Administration 2.0

dobson.jpgIn 1989, I presented at my first educational technology conference, the Southeast Regional Technology & Teaching Conference (SRTTC), in Greenville, North Carolina, home of East Carolina University. I talked about FrEdMail and using e-mail and newsgroups in the classroom. I believe there were seven people in the audience. Very one else was watching Barry Adams with Apple, a master presenter and keynote speaker.

I’ve only missed two SRTTC conferences since then, and tomorrow I will be speaking there, to school and district administrators about Web 2.0. I’m calling it the New Web. My plan is to focus on some brief demos of wikis, blogging, RSS aggregators, and social bookmarks. Most of this will be covered in taking a tour of the online handouts wiki.

My main focus will be suggesting some strategies for using Web 2.0 as a school management tool for administration, coordination, community-building, resource archiving, and public relations tools. Thoughts are still assembling themselves in my head about that one. But I am pretty sure about these new applications being used as life-long-learning tools for professional educators, and I’ll be pointing the audience to the work of George Siemens and his work on connectivism.

I’ll also be mentioning the work of some blogging education administrators, include the following:

Do you know of other blogging school or district administrators, who are writing within the context of their administrative duties. I know of many who are blogging as visionary educators, and I may need to include them as well. What do you think?

Also, If you have any insights about education administrators using blogging as a job tool, please write about it in your blogs and tag (or include in your entry) admin20 and warlick. I will plant and aggregator on the online handouts so that your entries will become available to the audience tomorrow.

Thank you for your support!

Technorati Tags: admin20, warlick

BLOGGING? — a New Story

Did you know that people are making six-figure incomes by blogging? ….BLOGGING?

The moral statement is that people, through their own resourcefulness and a developing writing style, are producing an information product, a blog, that people want to read. Through the magic of Google Ads and other advertising facilities, they are drawing income, by virtue of the fact that people want to read what they have to write. They have made themselves freelance writers, but without publishers, editors, printing facilities, etc.

The moral statement is that, while we continue to do a good job at teaching our students how to consume content (read), we must also be teaching them how to produce valuable information products (write, draw, compose, make movies, etc.). It is a viable and accessible revenue opportunity for all of us.