Performed Learning

I’ve been sitting or the past couple of hours, in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Dillsboro, North Carolina, in the heart of the Smokies (unimpressive mountain range in Eastern U.S.). I have been working on NECC session and workshop proposals, not the most fun thing to do. Descriptions need to be between 250 and 500 words, which is a black hole. 150 words would be easy. So would 3,000. But 500 is an uncomfortable in-between that is especially difficult for me to balance.

We are up here spending the weekend with my daughter and enjoying the Mountain Heritage Festival, which begins today on the campus. Brenda’s still sleeping, but coffee will bring her down here any minute now.

Last night, we saw a play, put on by the university players. I remember the theatre department being especially active, and attractive, to aspiring thesbians from across the country. The play was Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, and it was excellent. Before the play, I impressed my daughter and her friend, and bored Brenda, by looking up minusia about the play on my Moto Q phone. But that’s not the point!

I kept thinking, during the play, that this is the kind of assessment we talk about when we say authentic assessment. We talk about our children performing well, but performing on tests is not performing. It’s following directions. Performing in a play is also following directions, but it is much more than that. It is expressing your skills, your enthusiasm for life, your love of an art, and a joy for making other people happy (or sad).

Certainly we need to test the basics, and sometimes the bubble sheet is the best way to do this. But when we think of testing, we shouldn’t think first of multiple choice. We should think first of some form of true performance, where students are demonstrating knowledge, skill, love, and enthusiasm, within the context of people, place, and event.

Hey! I’m wasting words here. Need to get back to the conference proposals.

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The New Face of Learning, by Will Richardson

The striking thing to me about that milestone (one billionth Internet user) is not the enormity of the number, however. More interesting, perhaps, is that the one billionth person to jump onto the Web could just as easily been an eight-year-old kid from Sweden or the South Bronx (or, for that matter, an eighty-year-old from South Africa) who sat down at a computer, opened a browser, and for the first time started connecting to the sum of human knowledge we are collectively building online. Furthermore, that eight-year-old had just as much ability to start contributing what she might know about horses or her hometown or whatever her passions might be, becoming an author in her own right, teaching the rest of us what she knows.

The New Face of Learning

Read more of this excellent piece by Richardson at EduTopia.  PDF is also available.

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Big Weekend

I can’t really get my mind on work, as much as I have to do. My NECC proposals aren’t in yet, I have much more work to do on the K12 Online Conference address. I have two recorded interveiws to make into podcastes, and all I can think about is a weekend off. Yepeee!

Brenda and I will leave in a couple of hours for the six-hour drive up into the mountains of North Carolina to visit with our daughter at WCU and to enjoy the Mountain Heritage Festival. We both graduated from that fine institution about thirty years ago, and we are both looking forward to walking the campus again. Much has changed about the university, but they haven’t moved one single mountain.

Added Later: I wonder if I can still clog! Of course the last time both of my feet left the ground at the same time was during the Reagan Administration 😉

Here’s a great little video of the festival.

Image Citation:
Ac4It, “Southwest Bluegrass.” Ac4It’s Photostream. 20 Apr 2005. 29 Sep 2006 <>.

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10 Podcasting Movers and Shakers — from Podcast Free America

Podcast editing waveformAfter spending all day, yesterday, driving around Raleigh and talking into my camera, this was an interesting thing to find this morning.

Podcastingjust turned two years old and this weekend is the second annual Podcastand Portable Media Expo in Ontario, California. With that in mind, hereare PFAs 10 Podcasting Movers and Shakers. This isn’t a Top 10 becausethere’s no ranking. These are people who are actively making thepodcasting space more interesting, profitable and more accessible to awider audience.

PodcastingHowto, Tutorials, Articles, Hardware, Equipment and Information -Podcast Free America – 10 Podcasting Movers and Shakers

It’s got me scratching my head, especially since I’ve let the old podcasting habit slip a bit lately. The names here are the shakers, the ones who have put the work into it. I just like to tell agood story!

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Today is the Day — for me

Today is the K-12 Online Conference — for me. I’ve been asked to deliver the keynote address, but being that the conference is online and quite virtual, it doesn’t really matter when I’m delivering the address. It doesn’t really matter when you are watching, reading, or listening to it. It’s kinda weird, but I’m going to go with it. So today, I’m carrying my camera and iPod/iTalk around with me, and just talking about what ever comes to mind, regarding the changing nature of information and what it’s like to teach and learn here.

I’m still trying to figure this out, what to say, what to write, what to try to teach. I’ve never done this before. Luckily, you probably haven’t either. So we’re just making it up as we go along, and we’ll be doing that for a long time. It’s what you do in a time of rapid change.

It will be an interesting day — at least!

2¢ Worth

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OK! No Pictures!

Sorry, but I didn’t take any pictures of me in my son’s shirt.  I thought about it I couldn’t move that well.  I couldn’t even get an ink pen in my shirt pocket.

So, to satisfy your desire for details, and to move with the flow of confessions, I once opened my suitcase, getting ready for a keynote address in Chicago, to find only right shoes.  I found them great for turning right, but every time I tried to turn left, I fell down.

And then there was the time when I got to that iEARN conference in Spain, and I didn’t pack any underwear.  Couldn’t improvise, so I went shopping.  I’ll let your imagination paint the picture of me trying to buy underwear from a very matronly sales woman, who spoke absolutely no English!

I’m sure it must have been a hillarious site!


2¢ Worth

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The Bluewater Student Summit

Setting up the Summit Room

I had another of one those singular experiences yesterday, one of events that I know I’ll be carrying with me for a long time, and that will color a lot of what I’ll be talking and writing about in the future. As you know, I have been working in the Owen Sound area of Ontario, Canada, with the Bluewater school board, covering an enormous part of the province. I delivered a keynote for their beginning of the school year event, a workshop that afternoon (more about that later), and a special public presentation for the community that evening.

While Wake County (where I live) and many other areas are seeingunprecidented population growth, rural parts of the country, continent,and world are witnessing a drain of their population (learn more about The Flight of the Creative Class ISBN 006075690X). Bluewater is concerned about a decreasing enrollment, and has taken an unusual measure. They’re treating their students like customersand trying to learn what their customers want.

Students Preparing their Cameras

This is how I spent yesterday, facilitating their first Student Summit. It started with set-up at the CAW convent center in Port Elgin,Ontario ( a magnificent ride up from Owen Sound). It was high tech andhigh proximity. Eleven high schools and feeder schools wererepresented with students from the full range of achievement — overachievers and at-risks. Each table had a recorder with video camera whorecorded as much of the conversations as they could. Each table had awiki page with which to record their thoughts and conclusions. Theirtasks ranged from general tech access issues to, “How would you goabout training your teacher for a video game tournament?” Each tablealso created a New Century School House style classroom, describing the classrooms they believe are more appropriate to them and their time.

I can’t share any of the data besides a closing panel with the teachers who were present, talking about what they heard and learned in the conversations. I hope to podcast this conversation soon. I do know that the district learned that there is much that they are doing right. They also learned that there is much yet to be done, before they are truely teaching learners that their children are, instead of the students their classrooms were designed to teach.

This was an enormously rewarding experience and a visionary action on the part of the board’s leadership.

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In the Zone — in my Son’s Shirt

School Opening Keynote in Owen Sound OntarioI’ll have to wear my son’s shirt again, because I must have been in the zone yesterday. It was a fantastic morning with just over 700 educators from central Ontario yesterday. The address was also videocast to eight other locations across the Bluewater District on Ontario.  I talked about the stories around education, the millennial generation, and closed with information about what I call, contemporary literacy. I had lots of conversations afterward, during lunch, and during an afternoon workshop that served as a follup.

The workshop began with a deep and sometimes very animated conversation about education, the future, today’s child, and about the new story. I learned a lot, and also recorded it, hoping to make this discussion part of an upcoming podcast. One theme that connected well with conversations I’ve had in the U.S. and other writing I’ve done is the challenges of Being Digital in a rural area. A lot of the teachers do not enjoy broadband Internet at home, because the service is not offer so far away from a town, and they seem pessimistic about its coming anytime soon.

As I recall, (I don’t have time to look it up right now) one of the findings of a recent Pew in American Life report was that one of the only late-adopting demographics that is not seeing an increase in broadband access is rural populations. When we rely solely on the market to drive penetration of digital networked information, then rural areas will continue to be left out.

I heard on the radio that Ontario is enjoying a 13 billion dollar (cd) surplus. It seems to me, and this is just me, that expanding the reach of convenient digital networked content could do a great deal to strengthen Ontario’s economic position in the future, and perhaps even slow the brain-drain that is being experienced by most rural locations.

That’s just me!

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The Presentation I Will Remember

This will almost certainly be a presentation that I will remember for all time. Because, today was the day that I found my son’s light gray (size 15 1/2) dress shirt packed in my luggage rather than my light gray (size 18) dress shirt — and * had to wear it. It made may hair stand up. =;-)

More later!

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People Going Online for Politics

I’ve already written the first draft of tomorrow’s Technology & Learning blog, based on a new report from the PEW Internet in American Life Project on the future of the Internet.  No sooner do I put that away, but another report comes in, “26 Million Americans were Logging onto the News or Information about the campaign on a typical day in August, the Highest such Figure Recorded by the Pew Internet Project.“  The figure is up from 21 million in November of 2004 (presidential election), and up from 11 million the same time in 2002, the last mid-term campaign season.

I wonder, for the sake of conversation, how much of this results from the increased ubiquity of the Internet, increase in bandwidth, increased political discourse, via the blogosphere, or a combination of all of these.

The report states that the increase in people logging on for politics is notable for two reasons.

First, the telephone survey that captured the finding was conducted in August, usually a month of relative quiet in the political world. Second, mid-term elections campaigns tend to draw much less public interest than those that take place in presidential election years.

What do you think?  ..and of course, how does this impact what and how we teach?

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