CCSSO — Quick Reflection

We worked all morning, listening to and discussing a report by Marc Tucker.  My reaction is that although the Tough Choices or Tough Times report was controversial, it is not just a report.  It’s a plan — and I respect that.  It’s radical, but radical is the least we’re going to need.

Then we had a fishbowl activity, which I’ve described already.  I got up and took a seat toward the end and waited my turn.  As it turned out, time ran out and I didn’t get to share.  So here’s what I was going to say. 

I, like several of the chiefs, have begun to feel some optimism about education in my country.  People are starting to talk again, consider some possibilities, and to get excited about education.  I would have to say that my level of excitement crested over the past two days, because these folks do get it.  In reality, most educators “get it!”  This group, however, gave me more optimism than I’ve felt in probably a decade.  The quest is…

Can the sell it?

The gist of the fishbowl conversation was convincing various stakeholders of need and the direction.  I was going to mention James (see What I wish I’d Said below and many other references to Jennifer James I’ve made before) and her elements of a compelling story.  I was going to state that fitting the market place is made.  It’s at least half of what this conference has been about.  Resonating with deeply held values is a given.  It’s the kids and their lives and future. 

The tough case is going to be coming up with something that they can model, something that they can point to.

skaterI was reminded of the youngsters we met and listened to yesterday, wishing that I could take these very bright and insightful young people and move them forward ten years.  We need to think past our challenges, past the changes that will certainly continue to happen, and envision a successful student living in a successful country, enjoying the fruits of their labors and the thrill mastering and inventing new worlds.  We need a target — a picture of our children’s future that is so compelling and so energizing that people will clamber to say, “OK, let’s scrap it, start all over, and do it right.  That’s what we want for our children and our future.”

All that said, I’ve spent a few more minutes and put together another animated gif of the skater I watched last night.  Enjoy!

Portland Scatter

SkaterThe meeting continues with something called the Fishbowl.  There are four tables in the middle of the room, with eight chiefs, sponsors, and partners discussing their reactions and insights about what’s been presented here.  The rules are interesting.  Once they have said two things, made two statements, then they have to leave their table, and anyone else in the room can come up and take their seat.

While the conversation continues, I want to mention some fun I had last evening.  I took a long walk through downtown Portland (saw Wadsworth-Longfellow’s home).  Along one road, a number of skaters were riding their skateboards down the hill.  I was impressed, and reminiscent of my own experiences.  Of course, back then (way back when) we built the skate boards ourselves.

I had my camera with me and it has a rapid shot feature.  So I took a range of photos of one rider, and then turned them into an animated gif this morning.  Click here or the image to the right to view it.

Day 2 — CCSSO Conference

[Live Blogged — so please forgive misspellings and awkward writing]

Marc TuckerGetting ready to hear from Marc Tucker, President of the National Center on Education and the Economy, author of the Tough Choices or Tough Times report.  I will be adding notes and resubmitting this blog over the next few minutes…

There is now a global labor market. There is no place to hide. We thought we could hide by highly educating our children, because only the richest countries could do that. It’s not true. For every job today that is being off shored, there are ten jobs that are being lost to automation. As people become more expensive, and machines become less expensive, business has no choice but to change — move toward automation.

Teachers would be employed by the state, not by the district. They would be hired, however, by the school. NO more local financing of education. Only by the state. “There is no way that the U.S. will have a world class education as long as the wealthiest can congregate the best resources. (near quote)”

graphThe employed will make less money and fewer will be employed. Will complanies continue to pay high wages. The answer is, “Yes!” Companies who produce higly demanded products and are the only companys who offer those products will pay high wages. That requires constant new and desirable products. He’s talking about Apple as an example. This requires not only talented technicians, but a company culture that promotes and provokes creativity.

Without at least a 2-yr college degree, it is almost impossible to maintain a family and stay above the poverty line.

We are in worse shape now than we were 30 years ago.

Marc’s presentation slides are available at the NCEE site.

They are suggesting that rather than testing every year, we, instead, have one test that kids can take one test, which, upon passing, they can go on to a community or technical college. The goal would be that 60% have passed it by 16 and 95% by 18. Upon passing the test, they can go on to a community or technical college. If desired, students can stay in high school and take AP/honors classes, working toward university education and professional careers. Interesting!

This will only work if we can recruit from the top third of our students for the teaching course. Currently policy goes after the bottom third. Wow!

Suggest that schools are run by third-party organizations — preferrably partnerships of teachers. Contracts would be performance based. The money would be based, also, on performance.

Today’s exams are deadly. They test on a very narrow sampling of the skills that are crucial to the future. There are good exams out there. But they are expensive, by four or five times. We need fewer exams and much better ones.

This change will only happen with strong state and federal departments of education. Yet, most state DOE’s have lost staff.

The report is a provocative and radical report. They have no expectation that the country will buy in or all states. But the report is written for state departments of ed, because this is where the power lever is.

There are enormous rewards to states who get it and do it right — the making of their state!

What I Wish I’d Said

Important PersonOften, when I give a presentation, I spend the next hours and days thinking through what I wish I’d said.  It’s a golden opportunity to be able to speak to my country’s chief state school officers, state superintendents, deputies, and commissioners.  Perhaps more than anyone else, they lead education here.  It was an equally golden opportunity to speak to first year teachers last year — many of whom will become GREAT TEACHERS.

But when you only have an hour, and you need to plan your presentation before you get there, before you’ve met them, before you’ve seen other presentations and can absorb more of the context of your audience, and before you’ve heard some of the reaction afterward, then I suppose you can’t help but walk away saying — I wish I’d said…

As a sidebar, the conference is making very good use of online chatting. I’m not very impressed with the mechanism they are using, AOL’s IM chat room, but I have to say that I am quite impressed with the subterranian conversations that many of the superintendents are engaging in during the presentations. ..very impressive for people who are mostly my age.

I believe that it was a good presentation of information they need to see, and see again, and that it was structure and conveyed in a way that was useful.  But here’s what I wish I’d been able to include in that one hour and the three minutes I went over time.

  • The structure of my presentation was useful, but it didn’t occur to me until afterward that I had fallen back on Dr. Jennifer James’ elements of a compelling story.  I started with the 1) market — flat world (though I didn’t belabor that point,  they’ve all read it), the economic need for the arts, etc.; 2) deeply held values — our children and their unique context and information experience; 3) something to point to to mode — new information landscape and what it means to our definition of literacy.  I wish I’d made the point that these were the elements of a compelling story — and that leadership is, in no small part, about story telling.
  • I should have included, as a topic, that context is equal to skills, that at the same time we should redefine and help our students to learn a new model of literacy (learning literacy), we should also continue to teach context (history, science, math, language, health, art, music, etc.).  Information skills are useless without a context of who, what, where, and when we are.
  • I also believe, and wish that I had included in the presentation the idea that new information skills should not simply be taught.  Perhaps even more than skills to learn, they are habits to be embraced and ingrained in our students’ behaviors.  Students must not simply learn how to deconstruct a web URL, analyze the logic of an argument, research an author, and consider the opposing position.  They must be in the habit of doing these things.
  • After my presentation and during a debriefing discussion, one of the chiefs asked (paraphrase), “but if we are teaching students to use technology, might we leave them short, if they find themselves without the technology, and, as a result, without the ability to solve the problem?” 

    I was lucky here.  I had an opportunity to respond, and I said, “It isn’t about the technology.”  “If we are teaching technology, and in many cases that’s exactly what we’re doing, then you are right to be concerned.  I am too.  But if we do this right, then we are not teaching how to use technology, but how to solve problems.  We’re teaching critical thinking, analysis of situations, resourcefulness — and with these skills, our students will learn to solve problem, no matter the technology they have access to or do not have access to.” 

    It just occurred to me that this is a bigger question than I’d originally thought.  Because it’s not, “what if they do not have access to technology? but what if they do not have access to the technology they were taught?  What if it’s new technology.”  It requires a different kind of teaching and learning — and our standards need to reflect this…

  • Finally, and this is what I feel the worse about, the network went down in the middle of my demonstration of RSS.  I was gracious.  I graphically described the process — continuing to teach.  What I should have done was to say, “Look!  I can’t teach you about this very important new way of using information, because the network is down.  My teaching is over.” 

    In the way that I reacted, regrouped, called on other resources, I was forgiving the hotel for losing its Internet connection — and by doing that I was forgiving schools and school districts for having infrastructure and technical support that was insufficient to the needs of 21st century teaching and learning — and this is unforgivable.  Of course, I couldn’t pitch a fit in from of these people.  But it might have made an important point, if I had.

What do you think?

CCSS0 Summer Institute: Portland, ME

[Live Blogged. Please forgive awkward writing and misspellings]
Watching his PhoneI took this picture the other day on board an ExpressJet flight, of a young many watching his phone — an iPhone.  Not all that impressive really.  But I want one!

I’ll be using this blog entry to add items that I learn here at the CCSSO Summer Institute.  If you have any insights about these items, please do not hesitate to add them.  It might be interesting to show folks a spontaneous net-based global conversation:

Watching Karl Fisch’s 2020 Commencement Speech.

Much talk about standards, but there seems to be a real interest in restructuring or reinventing standards that address the needs of our children. He also says that the transition between high school and college will not be nearly as great.

Getting ready to hear from Bob Suter, IBM Vice President of Standards and Open Source. The world of 2020 will be unimaginatively different. So what is IBM concerned about (1/3 of a million employees):
Moodle Sites

  • 70 million workers exiting soon — being replaced by 40 million. This gap is especially dramatic in the science and technology fields. People just don’t want to go into these fields. What’s more, more of the creative aspects are moving overseas. Even Europe, Japan, China, and India will face a shortfall of tech employees
  • The world is flat. More of the work is being done remotely, from home, or from where ever.
  • Innovation. It’s good. It’s occurring more rapidly. It’s more open, global, and requires wider collaboration across multiple disciplines, specialties, and borders.
  • Looking for employees with social skills, especially virtual social skills. They’ll be looking for gamers and residents of virtual environments.

When today’s graduates were in kindergarten. The world Wide Web was just going mainstream. You might have heard: I’d never buy a book over the Internet! I’d never use my credit card over the Internet! What’s Mazon? What’s Linux?

Market categories are going to become unprofitable — such as office suites…

Now listening to a student panel. It’s called “The ‘Long Tail’ Student”.

The two kids who are with us are virtual school students. There are other students available through the phone, at least some of which are students in a virtual school. Seems a bit skewed. Here are some statements and ideas that are being shared:

  • Using virtual school because school schedule prevented taking classes that she wanted to.
  • To succeed in virtual learning, you have to have time-management skills.
  • Relation ship with online teacher is not taht different from face-to-face teacher. Probably more professional.
  • Good computer skills are essential
  • Lack of socialization (from a home schooled student) is the only downside I can think of.

Stretching BreakOne of the kids just made us take a stretch break. Brilliant!

  • Florida Virtual School practices somethign that they call, “Mastery.” It means that students can resubmit their work until they get it. The deadline is not a barrier.
  • Which of your friends would you recommend online courses? All of them.

Kids were asked about the Maine Laptop initiative. One said that when the grades when on line, it turned a lot of kids around — that is their parents turned them around.

Question: What do you think teachers should know and know how to do, in order to work — facilitate learning in a laptop classroom?

  • do not correct kids for doing things on their laptops that they are already doing. Not talking about inappropriate web sites, but skills. Do not ignore the skills that we already have.
  • Keep an open mind to the tech skills that we already have.
  • be willing to learn along with us… We might teach you some things.
  • Do not teach teachers how to use technology. Let the students teach them!

There is a chat going on at the conference, with a number of the chiefs participating in a subterranian conversation along with the presentations and panels. Interestingly, they are using AOL’s AIM chat feature, and most of the attendees here were unable to down load the software. We’ve just learned that AOL had interpreted all of the accesses from this one IP number in central Maine as an attack. So they put up a block.

In Response — The Need for “Web 2.0”

That’s David Thornburg to the left, me on the right, and I think Gary Stager (another master musician) is just behind me.

Upon entering my office at 4:45 this morning, I was amazed to find 29 comments on one of my recent posts, First Year Teachers.  I’m certain that its a record for me.  It’s not only the number of comments that distinguished this post, but also that David Thornburg reads my blog.  I have known Thornburg for years and sat raptured more times than I can count at his stories about a period of time we reside in, one that damands a new education system, different from what prepared us in the 1950s and ’60s.

David has known me for only a few years, and he has generously given me invaluable advice.  What I’m doing now is in no small part because of his contributions over the past many years.  You youngsters out there — if you’ve not seen David Thornburg speak, then hock your watch, buy a bus ticket, and head to the nearest ed tech conference that’s featuring him as a keynote.

I’ve also enjoyed making music with David, though I really can’t get the hang of bossa nova on my keyboard.

As for David’s comments on my blog, I think that he is both right and wrong, which is something that I seem especially skilled at doing.

I’ve read the stories about where the term, Web 2.0, came from, and I accept that it is part marketing.  But even though Reilly has trademarked the term, Web 2.0 seems to lend itself to endless interpretations.  It seems that almost any interview with new web enthusiasts, evangelists, and developers begins with, “So, what’s your definition of Web 2.0?”  This mushiness, of course, is not comforting to educators, who need things to fit on a multiple choice test.  However, I think that a highly flexible term can be useful to the rapidly evolving information environment that the Web has become.

That said, I would counter Thornburg’s assertion that “..Web 2.0 is pure commercial marketing hype, and NOTHING more.”  It is true that there is little about the new web that is technically brand new.  But I think that it is important, especially as educators, to think about the Web as something more than just the machines, infrastructure, and protocols that make it work.  It is a growing information landscape that, I believe, has changed pretty dramatically in the past half-dozen years.

So I’d like to take just a few minutes to respond to David’s listing of tools — and I urge you to read his full text at the original blog, First Year Teachers, comment 11.

Flickr? I can show you the e-mail arguments between Marc Andreeson and Tim Berners-Lee regarding Andreeson’s argument that the web should allow photos to be displayed…

A multimedia web obviously won out, and there have certainly been online photo album services for many years.  But what’s new with Flickr is that it represents far more than a personal family album.  It’s a global photo album, where we share the images of our experiences with a world of people who are interested.  Little here is technically new, but the site begs to be used this way.  What’s more, I can form virtual photo albums with Flickr based on people, places, events, concepts, and even based on David Thornburg.  I can even train those photos to find me, as new pictures, tagged with specific words, are uploaded. I’ve been sharing bookmarks since the discovery of pi. puhlease…

True!  But is far more than just sharing bookmarks.  It’s a growing library of web-based resources that are loosely (but effectively) organized around tags that are applied by those who contribute.  ..And here is one of the qualities that I would lump with Web 2.0 applications — that they invite, rely on, and respect the cooperation and contributions of the community.  Not only are social bookmarking systems like libraries in how they are collected, but also in that I can check out, so to speak, web resources based on topic/tag and even based on the contributor, and I can train those web links to appear automatically in my own web sites and online handouts.  This is new, this ability to organize dynamic documents that reshape themselves based on the contributions of others.

Blogging? Oh, you mean “bulletin boards?” These were wildly popular when Marc Andreeson was in elementary school.

Well, yes!  But how many people were participating in those bulletin boards — and who?  You did and I did, because we were willing to invest the time in learning to use computers, modems, and communication software.  It was nearly six-months from the time that I purchased my first modem, before I was able to login to my first bulletin board.  David Thornburg probably had a hand in inventing the first modems.

Blogging democratized the Web.  Before blogging, you needed to have technical skills in HTML or the ability to operate sophisticated editing software to publish on the web.  Today, you simply need to be able to type — and it’s free.  Now certainly there was no firm line when the web became democratic, though It’s interesting to point to the beginning of  But what’s truly interesting is that there are individuals who, with the use of blogs, are now enjoying a larger readership than many nationally recognized newspapers, and they’re making a living at it.  This is new and it is important.

Oh, I know, Second Life! Yesiree. That has Web 2.0 written all over it. Except that Neal Stephenson wrote all about it in Snowcrash, published in 1992. His vision of a parallel virtual world became reality a few years later with a program called the Palace that kids all over the world were using to create virtual worlds. My book on the topic was published so long ago it is out of print. You can, however, still buy Snowcrash.

Hey!  I loved Snowcrash.  And to tell the truth, when I’m asked to define Web 2.0, I almost never include Mult-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs).  I suspect that a case could be made for it, but I usually do not.  Some have said that Second Life represents Web 3.0, but I suspect that what ever constitutes the NEXT generation hasn’t happened yet, and it may be a real surprise.

Look, David, you are a very bright guy, and you have fallen victim to the hype factory. Here’s a suggestion. Be sure you understand the difference between mere qualititative quantitative change (doing old jobs better and faster) and qualitative change – truly doing new things.

This is true enough, though you probably overstated the “bright guy” thing.  There is little that is technically new here (though I haven’t mentioned RSS), but it’s not the technical that I’m interested in.  My goal is not to assure that all of the teachers in my audiences know what a blog is, what RSS is, how to create a wiki, or even publish a podcast.  Hell, that’s all going to change anyway.  My goal is to convince educators and education stakeholders to understand that these incremental advances in technology have affected our information experience.  It has become far more participatory, reader controlled, and it conducts human interactions in ways that were never possible before — and it is having profound affects on many aspects of our culture.

It is absolutely critical that educators and education stakeholders understand this, because the learning experiences that you and I enjoyed in the 1950s and ’60s are absolutely insufficient and in some cases in appropriate to preparing our children for their future.  We need to make the case that as information experiences change, the literacy skills that are necessary to accomplish goals through that information experience must also change — and if a little hype helps us do that, then hype me up.

There are new things to talk about, as you know from attending my sessions.

Right you are, there are new things — more than one.  Yours is equity, helping us all to understand that we can provide our students and teachers with access to digital content, even within a society that seems unwilling to pay for it.  You’ve taught us that there are alternatives with less than “state-of-the-art” machines and open source software.  I respect this and I respect you for this and every other issue you’ve educated us about.

But I’m going to continue to push on this idea that while open source software is providing us with new opportunities, open source content (Web 2.0) is also challenging us to think about what and how we teach our children in different ways.

I know, financial security means giving people what they want. Load a speech title with buzz words, and you get great bookings.

HEY!  There’s a lot of bandwagons I refused to jump on that would have made it a lot easier to get my kids through college and provide a secure future for my wife and me.  So just because I’ve chosen one issue and you chose another, doesn’t make you right and me wrong.  We could both be right!

Again, with respect and gratitude!

It’s going to Happen Without Them…

Creative Commons TextbooksThis just got twittered out by John Pederson, of Pedersondesigns.

Welcome to ccLearn — ccLearn:

ccLearn is a division of Creative Commons which is dedicated to realizing the full potential of the Internet to support open learning and open educational resources (OER). Our mission is to minimize barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials — legal barriers, technical barriers, and social barriers.

I just realized that John included the same quote in his blog, so do click over there to take part in that conversation as well.

My take is that if the Textbook industry does not work really fast to reinvent itself in the image of a more participatory, reader directed, and people connecting information environment, then it’s going to happen without them.

First Year Teachers

Beginning TeachersYesterday was a good day, speaking to more than 300 first year teachers in Phoenix.  It was also one of those presentations where I kept thinking, “I wish I’d added this.  I wish I’d added that.”  As it was, I went over time with the ideas that I did include.  It was quite overwhelming to them.

I twittered about how only two of them were bloggers, no one knew about Web 2.0, only a handful knew what a wiki was, and no one had heard of RSS.  It really forces me to wonder if we’re stirring up a bunch of hype about “Web 2.0” just to have something to be enthusiastic about.  It’s not a bad thing that these beginning teachers hadn’t heard of Web 2.0.  They’re certainly doing it.  Most of them IM, have MySpace or Facebook (etc.) sites.  They communicate online with individuals and groups, and they’ve used these conversations to teach and learn, though they probably haven’t thought of it that way.

One thing that did strike me was that almost none of them have traditional telephones.  To tell the truth, many don’t even own any furniture.  70% come from outside of Arizona.  But I suspect that with a mobile phone in their pockets, they won’t have much reason to get a land line.

They were very polite, and most of them have no idea what they are in for in the coming months.  But, and this I believe, those who stay will see a renaissance during their career.  The profession that they retire from will have almost nothing in common with that which they are beginning — and teaching will be the most exciting job on the planet.

Back to my question — I think that Web 2.0 is real, we need to be able to label it, and to talk about it, to deconstruct it, lay it out, and apply its parts.  It is changing how we use information, and this affects what and how our children learn.  It’s OK that these beginning teachers can’t do this — as long as doing it, taking part in this conversation, becomes part of teaching.

A Morning with Beginning Teachers & A Sunday with Teacher Leaders

In the Land of CactusI’m back in Phoenix, working with the Cartwright School District (in the air all day yesterday reading — with nearly everyone else on the plane).  When I was here last, the first year teachers were not able to attend my presentations, because they were engaged in a special staff development program.  So today is dedicated to teachers who will be starting their first year in Cartwright, most of them first year teachers.  There will also be administrators on hand, but the main focus will be on first years.

I was asked to mix-up my presentation, with parts millennial learners and contemporary literacy.  I’m looking forward to this session, in no small part due to the fact that many, if not most, of my audience will be millennials.  It has taken a long time to sink in that my audiences are no longer exclusively of my generation.  Many of them are much closer to my children’s age and their world view is probably quite different from mine. 

I suspect that I’ll be doing some reporting on this experience.

Then — on Sunday, I will be addressing a group of state education leaders, most of whom are closer to my age.  They are in high leadership roles and are focused on much bigger pictures than just integrating technology.  My focus will be fairly narrow.  But I will have some leeway in how I will couch my message. 

So, I’d like to hear from you.  If you had five second in the elevator with, say, your state superintendent, what would you say?

Knowing that many of my readers (including myself) would be better off jamming the elevator so that you’ll have a good ten paragraphs, I’m removing the elevator jam button.  I would like you to comment in my chat app (my attempts to integrate Twitter-type interaction in my workshops).  I’ve set up a separate chat page for this post, and want to urge you to go to the YourComments page and post your 5-second elevator pitch.

In the spirit of the Twit, I’ve limited the text field to only 140 characters.  My hope is to make the comments available to the audience on a wiki page.

Again, click YouComments to post your 140 character ideas.

Angela Roy Gets It!

Maine teacher, Angela Roy, is taking some type of course on new technologies.  In her blog, which was evidently established for the class, she writes, “I would like to become familiar with (new) technology tools I can use in my classes to begin the process of implementing new technology tools into a course.”  She has read and written about Cool Cat Teacher (fellow southerner, Vicki Davis) and my blog, 2¢ Worth (and she cleverly figured out how to include the cents symbol).

In describing my blog, she writes

After reading some of the blogs and clicking around on the blog 2¢ Worth what I have come to realize is that these blogs not only have great information in them but they also have links to other great blogs with great information. (Blog writers) tend to be connected with other (blog writers) so I found myself reading blogs that (they) read – what a wealth of information!!!

Angela has captured so much of what blogging is about.  We blog to learn.  We blog to form and to become a part of online communities, social networks, from which we can learn buy sharing, adding, adapting, and building knowledge that helps us do our jobs in a rapidly changing world.

Great luck to Angela Roy!