CSM Going Online – Only

While scanning my network this morning, looking for something I didn’t know yesterday, I ran across this very important piece of news, from The New York Times.

After a century of continuous publication, The Christian Science Monitor will abandon its weekday print edition and appear online only, its publisher announced Tuesday. The cost-cutting measure makes The Monitor the first national newspaper to largely give up on print. ((Clifford. Stephanie. “Christian Science Paper to End Daily Print Edition,” The New York Times 28 Oct 2008. 29 Oct 2008. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/business/media/29paper.html> ))

The CSM will go online-only in April of 2009, introducing a new weekend magazine. The newspaper’s editor, John Yemma, said that focusing on the Web would enable it to continue news collection through its eight foreign bureaus. 

In an industry that has been conducting layoffs, closing bureaus and shrinking the size of the product, The Monitor’s experiment will be closely tracked.

I guess we’re all watching to see if this is a trend — or if the trend has already begun.  What do we do when virtually all of the information we need on a daily basis is available as digital content over the networks — and exclusively digital and networked.

Essentially, anyone without the technologies for accessing the Internet, and the skills to use that technology, may as well not know how to read.  We’ve decided as a nation that all children should learn to read.  For the same reason, it is crucial that every child and family should have convenient access to the Internet.

The NYT article adds,

The Monitor is an anomaly in journalism, a nonprofit financed by a church and delivered through the mail. But with seven Pulitzer Prizes and a reputation for thoughtful writing and strong international coverage, it long maintained an outsize influence in the publishing world…

Of even more importance to our evolving definitions of literacy is the practice among cash-strapped news agencies to buy news coverage and stories from the corporate world.  How will we filter out possible biases, when news stories are being produced by Exxon or Haliburton. Does Haliburton have an interest in expanding our notions of literacy.

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TechForum Beyond the Hype Panel: Question 2

Photo by Alex Carmichal (cc)

Yesterday, I posted the first working question that Ryan, Patrick, and I had to prep for the Beyond the Hype panel we served on at TechForum last week — led by David Jakes.  Here is question number two, from some Twitter notes I was posting during a Paul Houston keynote I saw — somewhere

Discuss this comment via a David Warlick tweet:  Paul Houston: “People want schools to be better, but not different.”  Do you believe this to be true?  How exactly does Web 2.0 make schools better?

Of course this is true.  All the keynote speakers talk about it. 

Education is unique, in that we’ve all had extensive and inherently irrepressible experiences in classrooms — that were managed in the image of irrepressible classrooms of previous generations.  Conservatism and conformity are part of the system — and this is not an entirely bad thing, as innovation must be tempered.  But when innovation is frozen by prevailing notions of what schools should be like, then we need to thaw the ice.

Conservatism and conformity necessitate control, and the spirit and the affect of Web 2.0 are to democratize control and make it personal.  When teachers are released from district managed portals, and allowed to shape their own personal learning networks, when they are granted a voice and ear to a global conversation about education, when students begin to take a more active role in affecting the “what” and “how” of their own learning, then education changes, and the barriers between the “classroom” and “world” start to disappear.

On a related note, I watched Sylvia Martinez’ very fine K12 Online presentation, Games in Education.  It was an excellent blend between exposure to the game experience and the research surrounding it’s use in learning.  Frankly, I can’t see how this would have been better if she’d had more than the 20 allotted minutes.

Sylvia asked two questions that I think was central to a lot of the conversations we’re having about education.  She asked,

Are games useful in learning?

Are games useful in schooling?

Your attitude toward games and other technologies and information techniques largely depends on which of those questions you are asking.

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RDU New!

I’m sitting in the new terminal at RDU and it is fancy.  Very open, lots of wood (imported from Canada), and much more business-friendly than before.  There are rows of seats.  But the center of the concourse features modules of seats, situated around blackish marble looking tables.  Just beneath the tables are power outlets.  There are also USB outlets, I assume for cell phones, but could be wrong. 

There doesn’t appear to be any free Wifi.  The Admirals Club has a router, but I was unable to connect to it.  From my days past, as a member of Admirals Club, the WiFi they had was T-Mobile.  I would expect RDU to have free WiFi.

And just behind me is a Brueggers Bagels.  They’re not open yet, but I’ll never fly U.S. Airways again.

Anyway, on my way to Seattle, where I’ll do a Second Life thing from the hotel room this afternoon, work at the Seattle Academy tomorrow, and then T+L on Thursday.  I’m tired already.

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TechForum Beyond the Hype Panel: Quesion 1

David Jakes moderated a panel discussion at Technology & Learning’s TechForum in New York.  The panelists were myself, Ryan Bretag, and Patrick Higgins.  In preparation, Jakes shared with us some questions to mull over.  The questions were so good, that I had to write up some of my responses, and will be posting them here over the next few days.


The first question was, “Are there new literacies that connective technologies create?  ..or do these tools afford the attainment of a literacy in a different way?

Photo by Rob McGlynn http://flickr.com/photos/r0b1/1571054719/

Of course, the answer depends on where you stack that label.  If you think of literacy as individual domains of skills, then you’d have to say that we have new literacies.  However, I think of literacy simply as the ability to use information to accomplish goals — and in this sense, it not changed.  It is the information landscape, within which we practice literacy that has changed, and as a result the skills that constitute literacy have changed — or they have at least expanded.  Again, I prefer to think and talk about one literacy.  It’s easier to learn, in context, if we consider only one.

I think that talking about multiple literacies, or new literacies, makes it easier for us to manage.  It’s easier to teach and then to measure literacy, if we can classify and compartmentalize it.  Certainly, many of the skills of literacy must be taught this way.  But for students to learn the practice of literacy and the habits of literacy, it has to be transparent and it has to be ubiquitous.

There is one thing that I would do to the term.  I’d stop talking about literacy and start emphasizing learning literacy.   I learned to read so that I could read a newspaper and follow directions.  I would suggest that we create an explicit link between lifelong learning and literacy and perhaps start calling it “Learning Literacy.”

The second part of the question concerns pedagogy. It is my opinion that these new information and communication technologies do not merely afford new methods for learning.  They demand it.  The old pedagogies are no long relevant.

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Graphic Display of Web Lists…

The is the Mac OSX file browser in Finder

The other day I started a presentation by doing a quick demo of SearchMe, a graphical search engine.  As a search engine, it doesn’t touch Google.  However, its graphical nature does give it some advantages.  When you type your search term, it displays images of the web pages in a Mac file-browser style, which comes in quite handy when you are looking for a file based on what it looks like.  Web pages often can be selected for further evaluation based on a glance.  SearchMe can also search for images and video, with which its graphical nature works even better.  You can also search for music, but I haven’t explored that yet.

But I think that the most useful and unique feature is that you can save your finds into stacks, and those stacks can be rearranged and then displayed elsewhere with embed code.  Below is a stack of the first week of the K12 Online Conference.  You can browse through the web pages that represent each session.  A panel will rise from the bottom with the title of the presentation and the description, which I had to manually copy in as I added the pages to the stack.

Practicality? It probably took me less time to build this stack than it would have taken to code it into a blog, web, or wiki page.  The graphical interface has some interface advantage, though that depends on the glance appeal of the information.  And there’s also the Wow factor, which is by no means an essential factor, but a factor none-the-less.

Simple use the drag bar at the bottom to move through the pages, or click the next or previous page to advance to back up on page at a time. Click the page that is in the forefront to visit that page in a separate browser window.

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Tag NSBA T+L Conference

I’ve just added a Hitchhikr page for this week’s NSBA T+L conference in Seattle. The URL is:


Establishing a tag was pretty tricky.  I couldn’t find any existing blog posts about the conference that had utilized tagging, and pluses (+) do not work well as tags.  So I set it to nsbaTL08 and also added nsbaTL.  The TL doesn’t really have to be capitalized, but it looks better to the human reader.

I’ll be there for parts of the conference, so I hope to see you there.

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Reflections on TechForum Northeast…

What a wonderful work area available to patrons of the Gastonia Courtyard Hotel

It’s early morning, Sunday, in Gastonia, NC, at the Courtyard, and I am so pleased to find such a nearly perfect place to do some work in the lobby of the hotel.  I have about three days of e-mail to sift through, a keynote address to assemble, and I’m still working on a special project for Class Blogmeister.  But those are not the concerns that wrenched me from my sleep so early in the morning.

I have to say that Friday’s TechForum was one of the most beneficial and meaningful conference experiences I’ve had for a very long time — and I didn’t get to attend a single presentation.  First of all, most of the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvannia, Virginia (sorry if I left anyone out) attendees were ed leaders and most of them were technology folks — and most of them are on-board.  More than once, I heard the phrase, “…preaching to the choir.”

Not a thing wrong with this.  The choir needs a director.  What’s different is that the definition of director has changed.  By far, the most valuable experience for me was the panel discussion moderated by David Jakes, with Patrick Higgins, Ryan Bretag, and myself in the hot seats.  The session was titled, Beyond the Web 2.0 Hype: Focusing on What Really Matters.

The four of us had collaborated on a set of questions to focus on, though we stuck pretty close to the starters that Jakes initiated.  I’m planning to post my more thoughtful (or at least more grammatically considered) answers to those questions in some following blog posts.  But there were some particular take-aways from the conversation that I want to share here.

First of all, the choir is growing, becoming more vocal, more provocative, and more influential.  As a result, it is crucial that we learn to sing better and on the same key.  There are a few stanzas that are beginning to resonate.  One is, “Pay attention to the kids.”  This idea was eloquently raised when the discussion shifted over to tech-director as barrier.  One of problems agreed upon by many in attendance, was where the district has hired a technology director (or czar) from the industry sector, to maintain its million dollar investment in computers and infrastructure.  The problem is that they often (and certainly not always) work toward protecting the technology, rather than working to empower learning.

Boldly Going where few have gone before — illustrated by this Kevin Jarrett photo

I asked the audience that if we accept that this situation will not simply go away, how might we educate non-educator tech directors?  Some called for a certification.  Other’s flatly said that all tech directors must first have been a classroom teacher.  Then Patrick Higgins suggested, “Have them shadow students.” 

This was such a sublime answer that I almost stood and clapped.  Of course, this technique would work best, if students are completing assignments that require the resourceful use of the information infrastructure to build learning, rather than just looking up the answers to questions.

Then there were some truly wonderful descriptors from Bretag, such as the suggestion that many of our schools are full of “one-room school houses.”  Teachers are isolated behind solid walls, and many of them like it that way.  We need tunes that expose this sentiment for what this is, the selfish denial that classrooms must change to serve our students’ needs.

I also liked his use of the phrase, “the knowing/doing gap,” the value distance between simply being taught something, and knowing how to do it.  My notion of robust education is not necessarily measure by how much you’ve learned, but how much you can do with what you’ve learned.

And finally, I probably stepped on some toes, but I pointed out that that as members of the audience shared inspiring stories of things they’d observed among their teachers, they almost always spoke in terms of the teaching.  The delivery of content and alignment to the standards.  The stories were powerful, and they were entirely about learning.  But the terms were still about the job of teaching.  I think that we need to change those words as we sing our songs.

The one thing about my keynote that seemed to resonate with people was how I started the address by sharing something that I had just learned in the last 24 hours, suggesting that as we work to redefine teaching, we could do worse than saying teachers must first be master learners.

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Lost by one vote — Mine

I got up early this morning because I have a bunch to do before I fly to Westchester County (NY) this morning.  But as the guilty part of me forced itself to briefly scan my e-mail, I ran across the subject, “David, You’re in this video”

OK, that isn’t such a shocking thing for me to read, as it might be for some, until I saw that the video was from MoveOn, a political action group that came into being during the Clinton years.  In the poster frame of the CNN news looking TV video is my last name.  So I watched.  I almost didn’t.  Too busy.  But I did.

It seems that my not voting resulted in the election of John McCain — by one vote. I am so ashamed! 😉

It seems that John McCain won the election by one vote, and the one vote was mine, because I forgot to vote.  Demonstrations across the US, and internationally, all naming me as the reason the world was given back to the evil….. (Iran to be nuked on Saturday afternoon.)  You get the gist of it.

Anyway, I was extremely irritated — EXTREMELY.  I’ve not missed a vote in almost 40 years — and even though many of them have been devastatingly disappointing experiences, I’ll keep voting.  This advertisement hit me as wrong!  It’s not one bit better than the scare tactics that I deplore.

But then, once I got over the shame, I got to thinking about what’s going on here, and how “new information environment” this is.  The ability to customize ads for a specific viewer.  This is huge.  I know it’s not new, but it’s the first time it’s been done to me, as far as I know.  Then the real shock.  An orange button that says, “Customize this Video for Your Friends.”

Clicking it, I find that I can type the first and last names of other people, their e-mail addresses, and have the same message and video delivered to their e-mail boxes customized for their shame.

This is too much! …and I’m not sure if I mean that in a good way or a bad way.  Much reflection required.

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Three-way Keynote

The three of them, each hold a Flip Video camera, recording each other in a casual conversation.

I’m finally watching Alice Barr (High School Technology Integrationist), Cheryl Oakes (K-12 Collaborative content coach), and Bob Sprankle’s (Wells School District Integrationis) keynote… “How Can I Become Part of this ReadWriteWeb Revolution?” (video)  I was totally impressed with the opening, asking, “They’re teachers!  How did they do that?”  Then it occured to me.  They were using Animoto.  Excellent, I’m reminded of the very interesting act of making a commercial for learning.

Then I’m even more impressed with their technique.  Basically, the three of them, all Maine’rs and distinguished (shall we say, “famous”) educators, are holding Flips up to each other and videoing each other as they talk.  They’re having a conversation, and collecting it, three-way fashion, where, I assume, they edited it together afterward.  This is so powerful, and so easy to do.  I’m still mystified that in all the tech stores I visited in Hong Kong and Shanghai, I couldn’t find a single Flip.

They talk about the 21st century Literacies, which now include media literacy, communication, Collaboration, innovation, information literacy, digital citizenship, ethics, civics, these are new information literacies.  Of course, in a panel discussion I’ll be involved in at Friday’s TechForum in Palasaides, NY, David Jakes, our moderator, will be asking if there are, indeed, new literacies.  What do you think?

Alice also talks about creativity (my preference is inventiveness), invoking Thomas Friedman.

“So how do you do that, when you’re stuck in a classroom…?” Bob asks.

Their vision is, “Don’t do it alone!”  Find a Cheers!  They are actually doing the keynote in an out door cafe.

I like Cheryl’s quest to make the classroom like an ongoing homecoming.  On top of some many things that means, it attracts the involvement of the community — because the community has been there.  We’ve all been there, in the classroom, and we remember — and we can be inspired to be a part of the “revolution,” as they call it.

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Breakfast at Trader Duke’s

I don’t often do this, but breakfast at Trader Duke’s in Burlington, Vermont, begged for a camera.  It’s the Western Vermont Trader Omelet, in it tastes as good as it looks.

Last night, it was pizza at a funky place downtown, with my friend David Wells and his wife Lynn.  First goat’s cheese pizza I’ve had in months and the first pizza, where they literally covered the pie with mushrooms, since my first night away at college — 36 years ago.

It was an excellent meal and we hardly talked about work at all. I’m intrigued by David’s new podcast, called My Secret Vermont. He talks about the history of his adopted state and already has listeners from as far away as eastern Europe and China.  This truly is a unique state with a blend of New England attitude and the charm and spirit of the ’60s immigrants.

You can tell you in Vermont, when you see coats hung on hooks by the door of a popular restaurant in the middle of October.  We’re still waiting for the leaves to turn in North Carolina.

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