Blogging about Blogging in Schools

We’re working in at a Web 2.0 Summit in a primary school in Lumberton, near Beaumont. Summit delegates have posted their first reflective blog, and I want to invite 2¢ Worth readers to poke their heads in and read what folks are saying. If you see something to comment on, a reflection, an example, an disagreement, please fell free to do so.

Remember, that this is a summit. We are negotiating an agreement, a partnership, between the classrooms of the 21st century and the new information landscape that our students have already pioneered and settled.

You can link to and read the blog postings here:

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“Why DOPA is DOPEY — Example 4,592…”

Will Richardson posted a short note yesterday pointing to an article in the Wall Street Journal about how Israelis and Lebanese are reading each other’s blogs — probably the only way that they have of interacting with each other within a civil context. Read his post and his quote from the article.

I’ll double-click on his sentiments by suggesting that a generation who grew up interacting in social networks, probably won’t be lobbing satellite guided bombs on each other. Just a guess!

2¢ Worth!

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Squinting In Southeast Texas

Sunset Near BeaumontI’ve made it to Southeast Texas, the Beaumont area. Most of yesterday afternoon was spent preparing for this week and relaxing a bit. Later, I decided to take a drive to the beach, to Sea Rim State Part, which, by the way, was closed and infested with graffiti. I drove on down the road a bit and found a packed sand road way to the beach and took it. There were a number of four-wheel drive vehicles on the beach, with families enjoying the late afternoon, a few of them in the water. I took a picture (here) of the sunset I saw from the top of a dune. There were probably better moments, but I spent most of this time crawling across the sand and beach plants trying to find my glasses. Didn’t find them, and decided to leave, just in time, as the road was in the process of being cut off by the rising tide. I should just stay in my hotel room 😉 (I’ve got reading glasses with me and prescription sun glasses, so I’m not running around blind.)

This week is the Area 5 TCEA Technology Conference. Texas has a bunch of TCEA branches, many of which have very fine regional conferences. I’ve spoken at the one in Lubbock (where I first met Wes Fryer), Amarillo, and San Antonio (where I first met Miguel Guhlin). Tomorrow, I’ll keynote the conference with a general overview of Web 2.0 and I’ll also be doing breakout sessions on blogging and podcasting.

I’ll also be doing a Web 2.0 Summit style activity with teams of educators from area school districts. I’d like for this to act like a collar around the conference, to make the even shine a little more. So look for some extra blogging and perhaps some extra picture taking to show up in Hitchhikr.

At some point this morning, I’ll have my group blogging some insights about the new conversational web, and teaching and learning. I would like to invite readers of 2¢ Worth to come by, as you have time, and comment on their postings. When they are up, I’ll post a blog here that links to a wiki page where I hope to have the blogs listed and hyperlinked. Click to some of them and comment where appropriate.

So, stay tuned!

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destined for Texas

I’m sitting in the Ralsigh-Durham airport, on my way to the mild climes of southeast Texas. It’s an interesting layout. i will be teaching a two day workshp on Web 2.0 to a group of tech-savvy educators. What

is interesting is that day one will be tomorrow, followed be the Region 5 technology conference on Tuesday ( which I’ll be keynoting), then the second day of the workshop on Wednesday. I want t figure out a way of integrating what folks learn at the conference into the communication facilies the learn in the workshop.

I am typing this on my new Motorola Q phone, so my thumbs are getting tired. More to come over the next few days.

destined for Texas

Originally uploaded by David Warlick.

Value vs Source

I think we’re all sorta jumping around the same bush. It’s been a good dance because I’ve learned some things. First of all, nothing’s simple and it isn’t getting any simpler. There are no rules any more and as much as I’d like to come up with some kind of all encompassing unified field theory of ethical research method, I know that smarter people than me have already done a better job, and none of it is perfect.

Please allow me to do something kinda strange. I want to look backward for some clues. When I was young, my Dad loved to build things. He was the preeminent do-it-yourselfer. Every weekend, he had a building project, and every Saturday morning he loaded us boys into the station wagon and off we went to the Lowes Hardware Store in Shelby, where he bought the tools and materials he would need for the project.

He did not have a list of criterial for selecting his materials, because every project was different — the goal was different. If he had selected everything based on the same criteria, then everything he built would have been made with pine shelving, two-penny finishing nails, and all the work would have been done with a Craftsman common nail hammer. Instead, he selected his building materials and tools based on the goal of the project. To do otherwise would have resulted in a product that did not last long, and that would have been unethical.

Bill EdwardsYears later, I studied under the best teacher I ever had, Mr. Bill Edwards — my industrial arts teacher. His technique was to help us learn industrial arts skills by helping us to build something of value. I built a kayak. Other students built book shelves, stools, and chess boards. Two friends of mine built a life-size replica of a Gemini Space Capsule. Mr. Edwards taught us to set goals and to make decisions based on those goals.

This was the perfect way to teach industrial arts skills, since we were in the industrial age. If Edwards had taught us in the same way that my information arts teachers were teaching, he would have put a stack of lumber on our desks and asked us to practice driving nails. But he taught us by putting us in the industry. We should be teaching today by putting students in the industry of information. We need to stop teaching science and start teaching students to be scientists. Stop teaching history, but rather teach to be historians. Stop teaching students to be researchers, and instead, teach them to solve problems and accomplish goals using information.

I am certain that there were brands of wood and nails that my father wouldn’t buy, because he couldn’t depend on them. He swore by Craftsman tools. To build with materials that were unreliable would have been unethical. But his conscious work in finding and selecting materials was based on the goal at hand. All else pointed to that criteria.

It is critical to know and understand the source of the information. But what is it about the source that helps you accomplish your goal. It’s important to understand when the information was generated and published. But what is it about “when” that helps you accomplish your goal. It’s important to understand what the information is made of, and what it is about its format and how you can use it that helps you accomplish your goal. It’s important to understand the information’s cultural, economic, environmental, and emotional context, and what it is about the context that helps you accomplish your goal. All aspects remain critical, but its problem solving and goal achieving that children need to be doing, not just hoop-jumping in their schools. The need to look for the information’s value as a tool for ethically accomplishing their goals.

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Portions of this post come from Raw Materials for the Mind ISBN #1-4116-2795-4

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Anti-DOPA Petition

OK, MySpace should probably be blocked from the classroom. However, The Friends of MySpace (I’d give you the URL, but you have to be a “friend”) have created a web site called “Save Your Space” and have established a petition, looking for 100,000 signatures in a month.

They say…

The SAVE YOUR SPACE petition is your chance to be heard and to show the public, the media and the U.S. government the importance and amazing power of social networking sites.

I’ve signed the petition because their approach is positive, pointing out the importance of social networks. They seem to disqualify congress from the right to act on maters of networking, because they haven’t grown up with computers and the Internet. Interesting!

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Libraries: Shift 2

 69 199871497 809583Df71I’m sitting here at the Open Eye Cafe, a rather counter-culture sort of affair with used furniture, young men and women dress for summer, leaning intently toward their laptops, sipping very good coffee, a fairly happy song being played through speakers, simple guitar and unhappy female singer. I’m here for the Chapel Hill Blogger Meetup — but it must be the wrong night, or the wrong coffee shop, or it could be the wrong time of the year to expect anyone to arrive to talk about blogging when they can sit with their feet up on the back porch and enjoy a humid but not unpleasant breeze.

Ok! Enough! Let’s make proper use of my time and write my second shift for libraries and librarians — now that I’ve got your attention. My first shift stirred up quite a roundtable of conversation from some really important people. I’m humbled and also emboldened by the discussion, so we’ll blaze ahead. As you recall, I suggested that as information continues to change, becoming more and more critical to our endeavors and, at the same time, less finely defined by it’s containers (or lack there of), then its consideration becomes less based on its source and more on its value, in terms of the goals we are trying to achieve. Of course it isn’t so simple, and I suspect that the truth of it exists in the conversations that hang from yesterday’s post. Perhaps it is most simply stated that…

we will not as often consider the source first and then its value,

and instead,

consider the value first and then the source within the context of the goal.

So that’s librarians and what librarians (and the rest of us) do. What about the library. It came up several times in the conversation, each time met with my urging for patience. If you go back an read the original post, I said that “Libraries, as we (traditionally) think of them, are soon to become obsolete.” The libraries that I visit and remember have been places where you go to find information. Sometimes it was a casual wondering through a topic of interest. Other times it is a purposeful search for the answer to a question. But it was a place to go to consume information.

We continue to use information with a vengeance, but we pay to have it flow into our homes through cable TV service, Internet, audio book services, online catalogs, online music services, satellite radio, blah blah blah. We want the information to come to us, from a global information grid. We don’t want to go to it, where it waits, at attention, on book shelves.

Certainly the library is far more than just a storage of content to most of us. As one of my commenters mentioned, students like libraries. They like to be there. But what might a library become, that is essential to prosperity, democracy, and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as book repositories were in the age of Gutenberg.

Those who have heard me speak or read my books know that I often make the distinction between the way that my generation thinks about information, and how our children use it. In talking about the long tail, I point to the thousands of people who are now generating income by producing content that is in some way valuable to other people. My own books are helping to pay for my children’s college. Not all of it. Out-of-state tuition is a monster. But the point is that today, as we continue to succeed in teaching our students to be skilled consumers of information (readers and learners), it is critical that we also do just as good a job of teaching them to be skilled producers of information.

Producing In A LibraryNow, while I continue to maintain that every citizen of a thriving economic and democratic society should have convenient access to digital networked information, and that it is in the national interest to assure that this happens — It is another matter to provide for every home video and still cameras, micro-phones, scanners, sophisticated media editing software, etc.. I think that most people will need a place to go to produce compelling content. They will need access to equipment and materials, and they will need someone to support them in moving from being tool-builders to being refined communicators. Think “Kinkos” without the bill. Think of a community building place where people come for rich communication, not just to read. Think of a public work environment.
Certainly, many libraries are already doing these things with much celebrity. But I believe that in order to survive, which they absolutely must, librarians are going to have to expand the range of services that people identify with the library. Perhaps libraries should feature some local film festivals, talks from local authors and digital (and analog) artists, information architects, local musicians and composers, video game clubs — all geared toward demistifying the process and making anyone an information artisan.

2¢ Worth.

Image citation (The image above is a mashup of two pictures I found on flickr’s creative commons archive)

Kork, Zachary. “Minneapolis Public Library: Central Library.” Zachary Korb’s Photostream. 2 July 2006. 28 Jul 2006 <>.

Midiman, “Recording.” Midiman’s Photostream. 6 Dec 2005. 28 Jul 2006 <>.

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Re: DOPA and the New Bubble

Doug Noon, at Borderland, has posted a powerful statement about the House of Representative’s passage of HR5319, DOPA. The article is called DOPA and the New Bubble. Noon also references a posting at Techcrunch, one of the top technology blogs on the Net. Read US House: Schools must block MySpace, many other sites.

I think that this is important — to spread this conversation beyond educators and into the community at large.

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Continued Conversation about Librarians and Libraries

Yesterday’s blog about the first shift I see for librarians and libraries sparked a storm of discussion. Well six comments is a lot for the middle of an enormously deserved summer vacation.

But to continue the conversation, I would like to respond to a few of the comments that have poured in.

Scott Walters said,
July 26, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

…Reading the post, I don’t find it all that radical. The only thing I might be concerned about is the widening technology gap — libraries have been built as a way to allow everyone to become more knowledgable, but computers and internet connections continue to be a high-dollar item for a large portion of the population. So the disappearance of bricks-and-mortar libraries has political implications…

I agree that this is an issue, but merely a symptom of a larger problem. We needed libraries because information was made of atoms and had to be stored in containers, and it was impossible for any home to hold the information and discourse that is required for an economically thriving democratic society. Today, when information is made of bits, and it flows globally, libraries are only required in societies that have not recognized the need for convenient access to digital networked information and invested in that access.

By contrast, community access to the Internet seems to be the model in much (if not most) of the world where people do their research and surfing at cyber cafes. This interests me because the Internet becomes an entirely different experience when it is social. I could see myself dropping broad band when I finally retire (2026) and simply hefting my laptop to the local coffee shop for my daily info-fix. Course by then, the Internet will probably be implanted behind my good ear.

Kathy Schrock said,
July 26, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

I respectfully disagree with your proposal dealing with a “shift away from source as the determining factor for using information and a shift toward value.”

I still very strongly believe the determination of source is the most important, although this should be closely followed by “does this help me answer my question, meet my goal, etc”– what you refer to as the “value” of the information.

I’m glad you came in on this, Kathy. It’s an issue, about which I feel comfortable on both sides. Still, I believe that we teach children literacy so that they can use information to answer questions, solve problems, and accomplish goals. Therefore, achieving the task at hand should be the first basis for evaluating information.

Erroneous (seemingly valuable) information may help you meets your needs and accomplish your goal, but also lead you down the wrong path.

Bingo! This is the crux of the problem, but as I see it, if the information is false, unreliable, invalid, or what ever, then it doesn’t help you accomplish your goal. It’s why children must be learning to use information, not just consume it. They need to understand information as a raw material that we build with, not merely a commodity.

I’ll say one more thing here. My argument completely falls apart if we are not including in our every thought about literacy a well throughout and define code of information ethics. You’ve seen my speech. Ethics is the thread that stitches the other literacy components together.

…When I gave a talk in front of my local public library’s building committee, they thought I was a radical when I told them that their plan to double the stack size was probably not the best thing to do!

You know, I thought I felt the earth shake at that moment. I would also double-click on the Frey posting, The Future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Transformation.

So how do you like your Q. I love the phone, but HATE the OS.

Joyce Valenza said,
July 26, 2006 @ 7:02 pm

I have to believe that source and value both matter and are connected and are NOT mutually exclusive.

Exactly, one is the subset of the other. If the information’s source is contrary to the goal at hand, then its value is nil.

…Information decisions are no longer black and white, actually, they never were. I teach students strategies to grapple with gray and I try to organize the chaos.

Again, bingo! Teachers love black and white, step 1, 2, & 3, bubble in the correct answer. It’s not our fault. We live and work in a time of dramatically rapid transition from a mechanized industrial world of smoke stacks to an information-based creative age of almost infinite possibilities. In a time of security, black and white is easy. In a time of opportunity, gray is a better place to be.

I would also double click on Joyce’s post, You Know you are a 21st Century Teacher Librarian if…

Andrew Pass said,
July 26, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

David, I think that you are right on the mark regarding the changing nature of the role of librarians. However, I certainly don\’t think that this change is unique to librarians.

Enthusiastically agreed, Andrew. I pick on librarians because they symbolize the old. But even more importantly, they are in the position to lead us into the new.

Mark Ahlness said,
July 27, 2006 @ 1:12 am · Edit

The librarian’s profession is inextricably tied to a crumbling structure, and the vast majority are clinging to the rubble, not out there leading the charge to a new structure, web 2.0. Librarians should be leading. Instead, they are scrambling to catch up and adapt to new technologies.

I LOVE the imagery. Presenting at lots of library/media conferences, I can say that, perhaps even more than technologists, librarians get it. Like the rest of us, they are tied to crumbling structures and clinging to rubble trying to stay afloat (imagery). Many do fear a sinking into the new flow of information. But as I present Web 2.0 to librarians, many of them do see the new information landscape for what it is — an exciting new way to access, share, use, store, and add value to ideas. I can see them out there, librarians vibrating in the spasms of discovery and excitement. I sincerely fear that some day, one of them may explode in spontaneous combustion.

Thanks for the conversation!

Next, the shift in libraries…

PS: I see that Chris Harris has chimed in. His point will be better addressed in my second shift blog. Later!

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 50 149319968 1D8D76C233Angie, at Many Hats, vented a bit yesterday, describing a Technology Standards meeting.

The argument was that teachers weren’t about to use PowerPoint or show things off of the computer because they didn’t have the LCD projector. I piped up about connecting the computer to a TV. Our coordinator mentioned that he had the cords to do this and some teachers were effectively doing this at one of our schools. Unfortunately, the idea was cut down because running it through a TV wasn’t as good going through an LCD projector. I wanted to scream!!!! (more here)

Well, it’s one of those issues that I can actually understand both sides of — but only when I divorce myself from the real issue at hand, that of preparing today’s children for their future. I commented on her blog with something like this…

I wasn’t there, but it sounds to me like there is a belief that educators will look for excuses not to change — not to modernize their classrooms. You have every reason to be frustrated. Who, more than teachers, should be willing and eager to learn new skills and new techniques for accomplishing their goals. It’s one of the real tragedies of modern education that the teacher must feel that he or she already knows it all in order to be a good teacher.

That said, I would say that your teachers, in the middle of 2006, have every right to expect to have an LCD projector permanently mounted in their classrooms. The conditions that prevent us from teaching from a 21st century information landscape (one that our students are already at home with) are not weather conditions, about which we have no control. They are a result of conscious decisions not to observe and understand today’s information environment. It is a conscious decision not to invest in modern classrooms.

Photo Citation:
Eisenrah, “Beamer #1.” Eisenrah’s Photostream. 19 May 2006. 27 Jul 2006 <>.