Opening Keynote at eMINTS Winter Conference — Bernie Dodge

Bernie DodgeI’m sitting in the back of the room for the keynote.  Bernie Dodge, who is apparently a regular at the eMINTS Winter Conference, will take us all on a journey, starting in about thirty minutes.  My workshop went well yesterday, though the backchannel was a lot more interesting.  I transfered it over to a wiki for participants view again and even continue to flesh out.

After Bernie’s keynote, I’ll do a presentation on video games and then one on Web 2.0, although the term doesn’t show up anywhere in the title or the description.  I’m planning to concentrate on what we can do with community constructed content that is new.

This appears to be one of the small but truly rich conferences.  A lot of the folks here know each other.  There are eMINTS trainers, who all work together.  I think they might be entering the Twitterverse very soon.  Then there are eMINTS teachers, who are also forming a community.  I haven’t looked at the program yet, but the young man next to me is signed up for digital photography, working magic on the new web, teaching with Google Earth, and what appears to be a share a site session.

Bernies standing against the wall, about a hundred feet away, arms folded, observing his domain.  The opening slide is up, “KIDS AS DECIDERS.”  Hmmm!

The keynote has begun, and Bernie’s talking about Twitter, the evolution of his conversion.  He’s showing his aggregator, and how he’s set up a Twitter search feed so that if anyone uses the word webquest in a Twitter post, it comes to him.  (How does he do that?) He says that personal networks are about listening, knowing how to put your ear to the network.

So how do we teach things that we know students should be learning, such as decision making.  Bernie recalls Micheangelo, who said that the scupture is already in the stone.  His job is to uncover it.  Dodge suggests that finding opportunities to help students learn decision making are inside the curriculum we’re teaching today.  It’s a matter of uncovering them.  He suggests that we look for or create disequilibrium, so something has to happen, and leave it to the kids to make it happen.  There are three ways to do this.

  1. Identify (or makeup) an oportunity for action that requires choosing from among alternatives.
  2. Identify a real problem over which there is strong disagreement and decided on what to recommend
  3. Change the situation to create new problems that someone needs to decide how to respond to.

He’s suggested a Webquest that he recently found on the Net, and asked the audience how they might change the situation (1,2,or3) of the activity to provoke decision making.

Four Greats in Hitchhikr

Setting up for TED2008I’m sitting in a warm hotel room in Columbia, Missouri, where the 2008 eMINTS Winter Conference will be starting in less than two hours. I flew in to St. Louis last night and then drove the two hours down I70 to the conference center and Marriott hotel. It was a real treat to get up and have the entire morning to prepare for my afternoon workshop. We’ll be exploring the new collaborative tools and their impact on teaching and learning.

I was lucky enough to have run across Scott Weidig’s morning VanishingPoint entry about a similar workshop he attended yesterday at the IL-TCE conference near Chicago. In that article, Scott included a number of questions that he would like to have explored more deeply in that workshop — which gave me, what feels like, a head start with today’s group, not to mention a serendipitous collaboration story. His questions are now part of the leading questions I’d planned to start with.

It’s almost time to get ready and walk down to the conference. But I want to make mention of the fact that there are currently four pretty exciting conferences being tracked by Hitchhikr. eMINTS will get underway in minutes. NCCE, the gigantically rich conference in the northwest, serving Oregon, Washington, and Idaho is in its second day. Not much needs to be said about IL-TCE, one of the most Web 2.0 oriented events of the year. Perhaps the one we’ll be talking about for many months to come is TED2008. There’s an interesting post on TEDBlog about preparations. It would be such a fun conference to attend.

Wish me luck today!

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From Mooresville to MCNC in just a few hours

I spent most of yesterday in Mooresville North Carolina, a small textile village north of Charlotte, and surrounded by Lake Norman — which was part of my backyard when I was young.  The mills are gone, but Lowes has arrived, and a difficult (for me) to comprehend NASCAR industry.  In addition, Mooresville has become a favorite suburban community for a rapidly growing Charlotte.

Dr. Mark Edwards, the city district’s sumperintendent, invited me, Susan Patrick (President NACOL), and Andy Wilhelm (CEO, NetTrekker), to help kick off their 1:1 initiative.  The afternoon was spent with educators, Susan talking about the future, me talking about contemporary litearcy in a digital networked information environment, and Andy doing a brilliant job of just engaging the group about 21st century teaching and learning.

The true excitement of the event happened in the evening when the community was invited to be educated and inspired — and more than 1000 people showed up.  I’ve done these evening community presentations before, but I’ve never ever seen any thing approaching this in interest and commitment.  They were mostly parents but a lot community representatives, elected officials, businesses, clergy, etc.

After the event (about 9:30 PM) Brenda drove me back to Raleigh, where we got a few hours of sleep.  Early this morning, we fought rush hour RTP traffic to get to an Internet2 meeting at MCNC.

Right now, I’m there (MCNC).  I posed a question on Twitter yesterday, asking folks what they could/would do with super high-speed Internet.  I may post the responses below.  One of the things that I’m hearing, at this point, is the Internet2 will do a better job of doing what Internet(1) should be doing.  It will provide more reliable service of information and communication.

As an asside, this place, MCNC, is a real geek haven.  The last time I was here, I was representing the NC Department of Public Instruction, in a meeting to talk about the Internet, and what it might mean to state government and education.  This was before the Web, when we were all Telneting around the world.

Now, as I’m watching a presentation by Jennifer Oxenford in Philadelphia learning about what MAGPI, an idea is starting to shape in my head, and at this point it looks more like a global PBS without the broadcasting service.  Classrooms are being exposed a world of resources, connections, and people.  But the community is the programming staff.  Although some of the events (MegaConference Jr.) are established by network centers (MCNC or MAGPI), an individual classroom might organize their own global event or program.  Got to roll this around in my head a little more.

Interestingly, Jennifer closed by sharing a comment from a jouralist who was witnessing a class engaged in MegaConference Jr.  In watching the students run the show, he said, “They (students) don’t really need the teachers, do they.”  Of course, he wasn’t saying that we don’t need teachers.  I think that he was watching students become responsible for their learning experiences, because they were engaged.

Here are the responses (reverse chronological) that I received to my question: If you had super high-speed Internet in your classroom(s) (i.e. Internet2), what could/would you do that you aren’t doing now?

Not have to worry so much about students doing a search and finding porn.

We do interactive videoconferences via Internet2 (H.323). We connect with hundreds of students a year this way. 

SecondLife (ITS has to do creative settings for it to run smoothly.) Our faculty have to notify ITS when they plan to use it. 

While my school is rather conservative re: use of 2.0 tech, I do have high-speed WiFi; it allows INSTANT “inquiry” for my kids.  (part 2): Tech OR teacher ‘mindset’? From my students:

Super high speed with three broken computers and a restrictive firewall gets me no where! 

I’d rather have paid subscriptions to tools like Voicethread for every kid. Or more computers first. 

My answer: Nothing—the high speed connections I have now allow for create, comm. and collab. 

i’d set up on-line portfolios for kids to host, share and remix large music files i.e. garageband or other DAW projects 

An Interesting Week

That’s putting it politely.  I am so pumped and I know I am going to be so exhausted.  Today, Brenda drives me to Morresville, a Lake Norman suburb of Charlotte, where I’ve been invited by Dr. Mark Edward to present to middle and high school teachers this afternoon, and then to about three hundred members of the community this evening — along with Susan Patrick (NACOL President and CEO) and Randy Wilhelm (Co-Founder & CEO of Thinkronize — publishers of netTrekker).  Mark Edwards, now leading the Morresville Graded Schools, has moved down from Virginia where he was the vision behind Henrico’s celebrated and scrupulously watched 1:1 initiative.  He’s trying to ready his new community for 21st century education.

Then I fly to Missouri, assuming that weather will be more conducive this week.  Last weeks Missouri Bar conference was canceled because of weather.  This week, I’ll be working at the eMints Winter Conference, with Bernie Dodge as the main keynote speaker — always an educational treat.  It seems that I’ve heard on several occasions from outside observers that Missouri is a state to watch, no doubt as a result of the expanding influence of the eMints model.

Then I meet my wife and son at the JFK airport to fly to Enland, where I’ll be mostly attending the NAACE Annual Strategic Conference.  The highlight will be finally getting to see Ewan McIntosh present, as he is March 4 evening keynote speaker.  I’ll be doing one presentation about contemporary literacy, but not at all certain of how relevant it will be.  Education, in the U.K. seems to have gone through some fairly revolutionary changes. 

While in this new country to us, we’ll enjoy almost a full day in London, hours on trains, almost a day in St. Ives, and then almost the entire conference.

I wish that would be it!  But flying home, I leave Brenda and Martin in NYC and fly on to Salt Lake City for a literacy conference there, and then back to NYC for the Teaching & Learning Celebration conference.

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The Cost of Copyright

Several times during the past few weeks, I have drawn on an article I read recently, The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy.  The article was published by The Media Education Lab of Temple University, The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property of the Washington College of Law at American University, and The Center for Social Media at the School of Communication at American University, led by Professors Renee Hobbs, Peter Jaszi, and Patricia Aufderheide, respectively.

Information is Locked UpThe article seems to make two cases.  One is that we do not have a clear and authoritative definition of fair use for education and libraries — and second, that our current notions of fair use are excessively conservative, and that what and how students learn in our schools is suffering as a result.

The fair use guidelines that are followed most frequently is the Copyright in an Electronic Environment document, posted here at the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction web site.  According to the Cost of Copyright article, the group who established this document were almost exclusively content producers and owners with little or no influence from the needs of education and public information (libraries).  The only badge of authority is that the document is mentioned in the Congressional Record.

The article goes on to suggest that educators and librarians should work together to establish a document that ties more specifically to the admittedly vague allowances of Copyright Law, but one that empowers educators to teach with media and to teach about media literacy.  The authors described a similar effort by a coalition of Documentary Filmmakers organizations to establish a best practices document, Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use.

Following its release, the Statement had an immediate effect.  Filmmakers themselves, commercial networks, and the Public Broadcasting System all refer to it on a regular basis. Perhaps the most powerful evidence of the transformation that the Statement has helped to work is the fact that most of the insurers who offer errors and omissions insurance to filmmakers are now offering to cover appropriately documented fair use claims.

In conclusion, the article suggest that…

First, the media literacy education community needs to educate itself further about the clear and unambiguous use rights that its members already enjoy under copyright law, including the important exception in the Copyright Act for the use of audiovisual materials in the course of “face-to-face” teaching.

Second, there is an urgent need to develop and desseminate a code of practice for the fiar use of copyrghted materals by media literacy educators, based on colelctive discussions of the ways in which education actually do and reasonably could use such materials, consitent with the law.  It is time for media literacy education to move beyond outworn “guidelines” and dubious and even unhelpful “rules of thumb.”  The imprimatur of leading professional associations on a new articulation of codes of practice would provide crucial legitimacy.

Image Citation:
Daniel, Jennifer. “Closed Information Booth.” KansasLiberal’s Photostream. 14 Apr 2007. 25 Feb 2008 <>.

Stepping Back to the Future

I had an unusual request from a client a few weeks ago.   They were organizing a professional learning conference day for their school district and asked me to open the day with a keynote, selecting an address on contemporary literacy.  Nothing unusual there.  However, agreeing to also do three breakout sessions, they requested the three presentation topics that I am least frequently asked to deliver — all three of them.

I was a little taken a’back, since I’d not presented any of them in at least a year, more than two or three years for two of them.  My initial inclination was to say, “Oh!  I’ve been meaning to take those (all three) off my list.  Would you mind selecting three others.”

However, they selected those particular sessions for a reason, so I went with it, and spent a good bit of time preparing.  The real surprise was that as I continued to refresh the presentations the more relevant they became, especially in light of the keynote I was delivering.  For instance, the first element of contemporary literacy that I address in the speech corresponds with the first R, Reading.  In today’s information environment, I believe that the ability to find information that is appropriate to what we are trying to achieve is as important and as basic as being able to read it.  Evaluation, decoding, translating, etc. are also in there.

So one of the oldies requested was “Finding It on the Net: Being a Digital Detective.”  The last time I’d taught that one, I was still introducing folks to Google and boolean searching.  But today, it involves so much more.  Not just finding the evidence, as a digital detective, but also witnesses.  So I included a discussion about blogs and wikis, and using Technorati and Google Blog search to locate and select experts in a given field, and to use BlogPulse to map the frequency of specific conversations.  We also looked at some examples of using wikis to tap into the collective knowledge of communities.

When it came to the digital detective seeking evidence, I did an old demo, illustrating a process-approach to conducting searches.  I call it SEARCH, which is an acronym for the process.  We also discussed the Wikipedia and other social content sites and their effectiveness as a reliable source.  This discussion, alas, continues.

Finally, I demo’ed RSS, as a tool for not just finding information, but for training information to find you.  So much more to finding information today.

The second breakout that I did was “Harnessing the Digital Landscape,” which matches almost perfectly the second R (arithmetic) — which I expand into a range of skills involved in employing or working the information.  The last time I’d don this session, it was entirely about digital cameras and what we can do to add value to digital images.  But, as a result of refreshing the session, It grew into a much more comprehensive exploration, including digital photos, but also looking at processing audio with Audacity, an intro to podcasting, some machinima (for fun), and then visualizations of data and text using TagClouds, IBM’s Many Eyes, and some network visualizers.  I closed that one with a few examples of web mashups, how data from various web sites is being combined and create new tools, such as Buzztracker and Twittervision.

Finally, and this was the tough one.  They wanted my presentation on Plagiarism, which plugs in to my forth E, ethical use of information.  It’s always been a difficult presentation, because it is not, for me, a daily working concern, as it is for teachers.  So I researched, looking for tips, put them on slides, and be absolute sure to cite the source 😉  The problem — There is not a better way to do this than with slides and lots of bulleted lists — and I hate to use bulleted slides.  I apologized repeatedly to the audience, and they forgave me — and I did promise myself that I would remove this one from the list.  However, I had also been asked to do this presentation at the NC Community Colleges Association for Distance Learning conference after my trip to California, and decided to make it a test.  Is this plagiarism?  Why?  Why not?  That went much much better.  Plagiarism may be a keeper after all.

Anyway, it was an interesting exercise to dredge up some old presentations, do a refresh, and find life pulsing through those crusty joints.

Connections Across the Ocean

This is certainly one of the more interesting things to happen through Class Blogmeister. Yesterday, Barcelona educator and Class Blogmeister user, Dolors Permanyer, and I realized that we met over 10 years ago at a conference in Callus, Spain. I was presenting at the conference about ThinkQuest and she was a local attendee. When I learned that she was an English teacher, I asked her and she agreed to translate my talk into Catalan. Here are some pictures that I captured with a cheap camera and later digitized.

Dolors Translating

Me talking in Near English

By the way, it looks like we’re using one of those old LCD panels that you placed on an overhead projector to project computer display. Remember those days?

Virtual Presentations, Science Reading, and Will Wright

Me presenting through Skype to educators in CanadaI guess I was missing the conference I was supposed to be working yesterday, because I and dozens of other folks were watching Dean Shareski’s presentation at a conference in Saskatchewan, “Are You Published?” As he started talking about on-demand publishing, I became inspired to knock on his Skype door and was invited in to talk for a few minutes about my experiences publishing with To the right is a picture that Dean took from the back of the room — and yes, most of the folks were asleep during this part of the session. That’s one big head!

Earlier in the day, I was catching up on some reading, leafing through some science magazines that I’d picked up last month at the ScienceBloggers conference in Research Triangle Park. One of the articles that I read was about how scientists are starting to question the demise of the Minoan Civilization around 1500 BC. It was an interesting tour through what scientists learned about Tsunamis as a result of data gathered from the December 26, 2004 event, the Asian Tsunami. It was especially fascinating to me because Minoan Crete was one of my favorite topics when I was teaching history.

One thing that struck my World is Flat funny bone, was that among the many scientists mentioned in the story, none were from the U.S. They were from Greece, Canada, The Netherlands, Israel, and Belgium. It’s a theme that came through in many (most) of all of the articles in this U.S. published magazine. Maybe we should be teaching some science to our students while we’re teaching them to read. ..and better yet, inspire them to be curious about the AMAZING world that they live in.

I shared yesterday from some other readings, that one reason why girls are not pursuing computer science studies is that the introductory courses are so uninspiring. My son is experiencing frustration right now with his first classes of computer science. He says, “I don’t what to do this for a living.” I think that inspiring students about their future should be a part (a core part) of the job of teaching.

Earlier in the morning, I spent a little time watching parts of several Poptech videos, and jotted down just a few comments. For instance, I’ll have to remember this one for when people say in my presentations, “Yeah, well, technology is great, but what about people.” Somebody in one of the panels, which was not introduced, said,

If humans weren’t important in education, libraries would never have evolved into universities.

I’ve heard this one before, but it was shared again by Will Wright, creator of The SIMS, and I wrote it down word by word.

There was a professor who went into a kindergarten class one day and asked students to raise their hands if they could dance. Of course they all raised their hands. Draw? Sing? Again, they all raised their hands.

Then he went into a college class and asked the same questions of students there, and of course, no one raised their hands.

He concluded that education is the process of teaching us what we can’t do.

Content developers vs ProgrammersWill’s presentation was cut off by network difficulties, but the parts I saw were about user-generated content, as it relates to video games. He showed a graph showing the number of people involved in the development of Robb (1984), SimCity (1989), SimCity2000 (1994), The Sims (2000), The Sims (2004). The portion of the workers who are involved in content development, as opposed to programmers, has been increasing. He says that it the current rate, by 2050, it will take 2,500,000 people to produce a single game and $500,000,000,000. That won’t work, so it’s why he’s looking at game design that depends on users to generate the content of the game.

It’s just another reason why it is so important, that as we continue to do the job we’ve done for decades of helping students learn to be good consumers of content — readers and learners, that we need to be doing just as much, today, to help them become effective and responsible producers of content — and it’s not just for the games.

2¢ Worth!

Assorted Stuff

I learned at 10:00 this morning, just ten minutes before leaving for the airport. that the Missouri Bar’s Digital Citizenship conference, for which I was schedule to keynote tomorrow, was being canceled due to ice and snow.  I was initially disappointed because I’d worked all day yesterday preparing, and, well, I was in travel mode.  Since then, I have settled and am very happy to spend three extra days at home.

The first thing I did was to add a new feature to Class Blogmeister that folks had been requesting.  Then I set about scaning through my aggregator, the first time in days and days.  So here are a few things that jumped out at me:

  • I may be the only person I know who would be interested in A collection of World War I Draft Registration Cards from the famous, infamous, and interesting — from The National Archives.  Subjects include Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, Irving Berlin, James Cagney, Al Capone, Cecil B. DeMille, W.C. Fields, Robert Frost, Harry Houdini, and Sinclair Lewis.
  • linutopIf you’re looking for really low power, small footprint, generally inoffensive computers, say for a Kiosk in the main office, the Linutop 2 may be something worth looking at.  It sports a 500MHz AMD CPU, 512MB of RAM, 1GB flash storage (we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the future), and running Xubuntu.
  • iBandI can wait to show this one to Martin when he gets home from college later this evening.  Its a bit of muzack from the first ever iPhone band — iBand.
  • This one’s from Michael Wesch’s Digital Ethnography, and a February 21 article, Visions of the Mediascape RoundUp.  It’s a map of just about every router on the North American backbone (about 134,855), all in one PDF file.  Constructed by Bill Cheswick and Ben Worthen, the map was posted on Ben’s blog in 2006.  Click it up and zoom in …and in …and in …and in.  The file is also string searchable, at least with Preview on my MacBook.  It got me to thinking of some interesting new ways to do presentations.
  • The Search author, John Battelle, wrote in his Searchblog today, You’re In the Media Buz Now. He shared some of the ideas that he’d posted on February 18 on Open Forum, sponsored by American Express.  In both articles, he said:
  • …no matter what business you think you’re in – be it making widgets or providing a service, you’re now in the media business, plain and simple. Those that recognize this shift will succeed, those that ignore it will atrophy and eventually become irrelevant.

He continued:

    …let’s start where all good businesses start: with the customer. Your customer’s media habits have changed dramatically in the past ten years. More likely than not, your customers spend nearly 15 hours a week online – it’s where they play, communicate, interact with services, and shop and research major purchases. In short, your customer has developed a major new media habit. The question is: Has your business?

So!  Have We?

  • “ (is) a domain her mother bought for her in October.”  This line struck me as I read through an intriguing article from today’s New York Times.  Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain grabs a Pew Internet in American Life study published back in December, and puts some real faces to it.  Reporting that with the exception of producing video, girls (12 to 17) are significantly more prolific as web content developers with 35% of girls maintaining blogs and 32% with their own web site, compared to only 20% of boys with blogs and 22% with web pages.  The article attempts to explain the trend, and perhaps more importantly, why women continue to stay away from computer science studies in college “70 percent decline in the number of incoming undergraduate women choosing to major in computer science from 2000 to 2005.”

Well, it’s time to switch off and enjoy my reprieve from the toils of the road.


Speed MathThis little tidbit was shared by Dave LaMorte, on Google Reader.  The Center on Education Policy has published a new report (February 2008) about instructional time devoted to English language arts (ELA) and math after NCLB, and instructional time given up (sacrificed) by the other subject areas.  The publication’s web page describes the report as examining…

…the magnitude of changes in instructional time in elementary schools in the years since NCLB took effect in 2002, and is a follow up report to Choices, Changes, and Challenges: Curriculum and Instruction in the NCLB Era that was issued by CEP in July 2007.

In the full report (PDF download), Jennifer McMurrer, its author, describes in her key findings the significant shifts in instructional time toward ELA and Math (averaging 43% increase) and away from other subjects (averaging 32% decrease).  Eight of ten districts increased ELA time by at least 75 minutes per week and 54% by at least 150.  The shift toward math was less, with six of 10 reporting increases of 75 minutes and 19% of more than 150.

OK, kids have got to learn how to read and do arithmetic.  But isn’t it also important to learn about the world they are reading about, measuring, and living in.  According to Table 3 of the report, elementary schools reporting an increase in time for ELA and/or math and a decrease for one or more other subjects reported an average weekly decrease of 76 minutes (32% dcrs) for social studies, 75 minutes (33% dcrs) for science, 57 minutes (35% dcrs) in art and music, 40 minutes for physical education (35% dcrs).  They also reported 50  fewer minutes of recess (28% dcrs).

Improve reading and math skills is not the problem.  The problem is how we’re paying for it.

Image Citation:
M, Chris. “Math Homework.” Hunkdujour’s Photostream. 14 Apr 2005. 21 Feb 2008 <>.