Cole Camplese’s Keynote

Flickr Photo by John Harwood

Cole Comprese is director of instructional technology at Penn State.  His address is entitled, “If this is scholarship, then We’re all Doomed.”  It seems that the phrase was used to describe one of his previous presentations.

To start, Camplese introduces his children.  His daughter, the older, was born in the world of the mouse.  His son was born in the world of touch.  The younger Camplese is constantly running his fingers along the screen of their Mac, expecting to see things happen.

Showing a picture of a college (or high school) student’s desk, strewn with computers, camera lenses, and other gadgetry stuff, Cole exclaims that, “in my time, we looked this stuff up.”  It’s an interesting distinction between institutional technology and personal technology.  Tis worth noting that according to one of the un-conference sessions I attended here, students are not allowed to take their laptops home, under the Classrooms For the Future initiative.

Asked what they want from us, Penn State students reply. “I want to be able to do what what I can do out there.”  40% of students come to Penn State without a TV.  This doesn’t seem that extraordinary to me, since when I was in college, very few of us had our own TV.  There was only on on my floor.  Of course, the first TV I owned, after college, was a black and white.  Of course, they are watching their entertainment on their computer, through the Internet, “On Demand.”

A quarter of the students surveyed spend at least five hours on Facebook a week.  They think it might be more time, but five hours was the highest number they included as an option.

Camplese said that, “What’s about to happen is Twitter.”  I think he was surprised when he asked how many in the audience used Twitter and clearly more than half of the hands went up.  He continued that as instructors teach in their lecture halls, they sees the backs of laptops, and students behind them engaged in conversations.  He exclaims, “We need to drag the conversation to the front of the room.

On some date (which I didn’t jot down) in 2007, the amount of video watched on the web exceeded that watched on TV.  It is encouraging that 33% of facuty at Penn State reported using YouTube in their classrooms.  Of course most of it was in the same way that we showed film strips in my time.  The next step is to assign students to produce YouTube videos, and engage conversation about them.

At one point, Camplese started channeling Lawerenc Lessig, talking about the failure of copyright to keep up with the changing nature of information and about Creative Commons.  He shows a number of mash-ups, which I’d not seen.  It makes a powerful point.  My line is that I played with my culture by fashioning sticks and scrap lumber together into toys that I could pretend with.  My children play with their culture by remixing content.

Penn State is moving pretty massively to blogging because of the instructional benefits and the instructors’ ability to manage and assess their students’ work.  Interestingly, all students at Penn State get 5Gb to server space.  Only a quarter of the students use it.  The rest are publishing in the cloud.  About 10,000 students at Penn State blogging through the the universities services.

Camplese told a very interesting story about their Governor’s School inviting speakers to come and talk to the high school attendees, a select group of scholars.  One of the speakers was chief of cyber-security from the FBI.  It appears that he gave his canned “be-very-afraid” speech, during which the students, who are encouraged to backchannel the address, bruttally criticized his assumptions and conclusions.  It may not be a surprise that he was able to capture all of their blog posts and Tweets and read everyone.  ..and commented on every one.  ..and acknowledging their points of view, and yielded in many cases to the logic of their conclusions. 

In the end, the students were so impressed that they insisted that the FBI chief be invited to present the final address, and, according to Complese, “it was stunning.”

This statement rang especially true, given some conversation I was a part of earlier in the conference about ePortfolios.  Cole said that, “Portfolios do not come at the end.  They are a part of an ongoing conversation.

Cole closed with this statement, that “Digital expression is a form of scholarship and it must be systematically supported.”

Camplese, during the Q&A, said thatt he’s seen a HUGE increase in faculty use of technology in teaching.  He says that there are three reasons…

  1. Tech is easier?
  2. We’re all using it anyway?
  3. The students demand it?

An excellent keynote address that I would happly sit through again.

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So Little Time

You can tell when your hotel is in the shadier part of town when the safe is sitting right out in your room.

So many blog articles in the hopper, and so little time. 

I’m sitting in a hotel near the Philadelphia Airport, from where I’ll fly to Toronto later today.  But I’m hold up here working on an article that I’d thought was finished.  It’s always the case, you agree to write an article.  It seems like a no-brainer, you write it up, send it in, and it comes back to haunt you.

“Would you expand on this?” “More detail here?” “We’d love it if you could add this idea?”   I’m not really complaining, because it always — ALWAYS — makes it a better article. 

But time is precious!

..and deadlines are loom like a — well I’m currently reading a book about the French Revolution, so you can imagine my imagery!

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Yes! It’s what it looks like

Click image for a larger version

It was like a burning bush, speaking to me, as I sat in the wilderness of yet another conference session.  I glanced over a young man’s should, as I noticed him situating a netbook on his knees, and as the flames errupted, and the voice thundered out through those tiny speakers, I heard, “I’m a Mac.”

But “No!”  “No!”  “You’re a Dell!”  But that tone, and the Apple on gray.  It was a Mac.

OK, enough of this.  It’s early morning, and I’m a bit giddy having gotten my keynote behind me.  He’s Christian Penny, from West Chester University in Philadelphia, and he installed Mac OSX Leopard on his Dell netbook computer — and it’s a solid state storage machine — 16Gb.  I’m impressed and intrigued.

I’m not sure why I would want to do this, other than having an OS on my Acer that I am more familiar with.  I still struggle a bit with Linux, though it is simply though it is just a matter of it’s reaching my finger memory.

During the luncheon, he pulled it out, at my urging.  Chris had seen my tweet about my near spiritual discovery over his shoulder.  He brought it out and booted it, not knowing that one of our table mates works for Apple.  You Apple employ handled it, played with it, on the condition that no-one take a picture, and he was impressed.

But the Apple guy made a very good point, when he discovered that iLife was not there.  It was left out to enable Mac OS to run on a 16 Gb solid state machine.  He asked, “When do you do your production?” It was a good question.  In my opinion, the Mac’s advantage in education is that it is a media machine — that is, it comes out of the box as a media machine.  This one boots as a netbook, looking for web apps to make media.

Again, I’m not sure why I would install OSX on my Acer, other than to have a more familar interface — and that may be a good enough reason.  I guess it depends on my next opportunity to spend a few hours “geeking out.”

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School 2.0 — The Schools that We Need

Most of my comments are in italics!

Sitting now at Chris Lehmann’s keynote about school 2.0.  Why does it matter?  He’s showing pictures of his children, and we all care about his children and all of he children.  He worries that school is going to beat the love of learning from his children, that they are going to say, here, site, fold your hands, and listen and follow instructions.  “Our children need us to be better than we are.”

He says that we need to stop thinking that schools should run more like business.  Thinking that schools should be like business, assumes that businesses are all doing it right.

The myth of the mesiah teacher is a lousy way to reform an education system.  They’re gone.  They don’t stay.  Then can’t stay…  The biggest problem a lack of vision at the highest level and often at the lowest level.  Rows of desks are about keeping order in the classroom.  Chris admits to suggesting that a new teacher put her desks in a row temporarily to…

My batter is dying.  I need to just listen!


I’m plugged in now and just wanted to share this one think about Chris’ presentation — which was amazing.  But at the end, he talked about a students, which whom teachers had worked for two years to help him with his writing.  They felt he had the talent, but he resisted.  …until one day, when he wrote a blog post on some topic that he cared about, and started getting more and more comments on his post from inside and outside the school and from great distances.  The young man then went to his english teacher and said,

“I want you to help me improve my writing.  My grammar isn’t good enough for my ideas.”

I thought that was enourmously powerful.

Conferencing at the Penn Stater

First, the Penn Stater is a conference center and hotel on (or near) the campus of Pennsylvania State University.  I’ve been here a number of times and can vouch for the chocolate cake they serve at all banquets. 

First thing, is an opening keynote by Kyle Peck.  I’ve known Kyle for many years, since working with him and other Penn stalwarts in their tech academies for superintendents.

Kyle has begun, saying that he’s going to provide some opportunities for feedback (backchanneling) and is sharing a Chinese curse – May you live in  interesting times.  Kyle has a series of web pages to facilitate the backchanneling and polling, along with some very good instructions for each.  He’s now provided us with a number of entry points (cell phone, web, smart phone) to answer a set of questions about 1:1 and 21st century skills.

Interestingly, all of the folks sitting at the table I’m at already know about poll everywhere.  I need to file that away for tonights keynote — which I am still planning. (now wondering if my wireless mouse is not supposed to work well when I’m running off of battery on this netbook).

I just discovered three blog questions that Kyle has posted.  There are a growing number of answering comments, which I will review latter on.  Basically, this is about collaboration through a variety of avenues or conduits.  It’s a good activiy, though the greatest value is when everyone is conversing through a single pipe.  This is a great learning opportunity, though, for teachers who are just starting to practice collaboration.

We’re back together now, and Kyle is saying that 1:1 is changing the behavior of teachers.  There is less lecture and more students working together.

Here are some quotes.  The first is from a comment posted by someone here in the conference.

They need to be critical thinkers, have their preconceptions challenged, and be able to express themselves clearly and appropriately.  Technology can provide an outlet or a stage for these actions.

This is from a business person talking about education reform…

We have the best conbustion engine we can build.  But it isn’t going to get us to Mars.  If our goal is to get to Mars, then we have to rethink how we’re going to transport ourselves.

He keeps referring to an association of manufactures who are coming out and describing what they think our childreen need to be learning in school. I need to find that.

This is a What?

I was just downloading a few weeks worth of photos from my pocket and DSLR cameras (here), and I ran across this photo I has someone take of my holding an LCD projector.  It is made by Dell, if memory serves me, and will almost fit in my back pocket.  They were giving them away for door prizes at the conference I was working.

This sort of thing would likely not serve me well with larger audiences, because it only issues 400 screen lumens.  It seems to be intended more for boardrooms, or for watching movies on the wall of my darkened hotel rooms.

I want one!

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College “Irrelevant” by 2020

This is the message delivered last year by David Wiley to a room full of professors and university administrators.  A professor of psychology and instructional technology at Brigham Young University, Wiley says that colleges and universities continue to act as if they have a monopoly on education.  I’m not going into much more detail here.  Read the Deseret News story (link).((Jarvik. Elaine. ” Universities will be ‘irrelevant’ by 2020, Y. professor says,” Deseret News 20 Apr 2009. Web.23 Apr 2009. <>.))

But the quote that really caught my attention and my imagination was:

Higher education doesn’t reflect the life that students are living. In that life, information is available on demand, files are shared, and the world is mobile and connected. Today’s colleges, on the other hand, are typically “tethered, isolated, generic, and closed.”

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Does it Hurt the Profession

This continues to be an amazing trip — if only because I left home last Friday and have yet to get on an airplane.  I love it.  Yesterday, I was lucky enough to catch the Acela high speed train back from Boston to NYC, arriving at 8:00.  The hotel is on a fairly shady street, so I stuck to my room last night, forgetting to e-mail my brother with a breakfast restaurant suggestion.  A little surprised that a New Yorker would ask a North Carolinian for restaurant suggestions in NYC.  I’d caught sight of a dinner on my walk up from Penn Station, but couldn’t remember the name this morning.

The Tick Tock Dinner, as seen from Google Street View.

So, and this is a first for me, I pulled up Google Maps, found Penn Station.  Then I switched to “Street View,” retracing my walk, and there it was/is the Tick Tock Dinner, just beneath the Hotel New Yorker.  It’s OK.  I’m not ashamed of being old enough that this stuff still AMAZES me.

It was an excellent day at Nobles and Greenough School yesterday for their Emerging Technologies Conference.  I was a little intimidated by the fact that their last two keynotes were Alan November and Will Richardson.  But the day went off well, made new friends, and was very pleased to witness Liz Davis’ first large audience presentation/keynote, which she did with Tom Daccord — obviously seasoned at this sort of thing.  She was at ease, funny, highly expressive (which is important on a stage), and passionate.  She did GREAT. 

However — and the point of this blog — during my afternoon session about on-demand, in-time, on-going, and casual professional development, a young man, from the predominantly private school audience, politely interrupted to ask,

“In our efforts to improve the community’s image of teaching as a profession, does it benefit us to openly utilize this social information environment, which is not formally published, is un-vetted, in unrespected in some communities.” (a liberal paraphrasing of the question)

There was a lot that I could spout from the Web20 koolaid.  But what’s tricky is that we all have our own vision of the profession and makes it a profession — and it isn’t right for me to intrude on his vision with my own.

So what does this messy new information landscape that I’m suggesting we make significant use of, do to the profession?  Please comment!

But here’s a paraphrasing my answer — or what I was trying to convey.

“I believe that the professional educator, today, must engage in this open and global conversation.  We should blog (or whatever), reflecting on our experiences and our profession. We should actively and generously share what we’re learning, contribute to the conversation and the the growing body of knowledge, and we should invite other stakeholders into the conversation where appropriate.  Our professional and personal image should become dependent on the quality of our communications, the logic and validity of our ideas, the threads of connection with the ideas of others, and our knowledge built from success and failure.

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It’s in the Job!

“Old Skool”
Flickr Photo by Patrick Q.

I am not sure why I always wake up early when I’m presenting at a conference or for a school.  Today, it’s the James River School in Lynchburg.  I’ll be talking about literacy and professional literacy as a way of refining our lifelong learning skills.  But that’s not the reason I woke, other than thinking that Phrase Net would be a fantastic addition to my basic literacy presentation.

Nope, this morning it was the Living and Learning with New Media report that was published back in November, and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — which I reviewed yesterday for a presentation later on tonight for parents and school community. 

One of the stated implications of the report was that the peer-based and interest-driven learning that our students do through their new media (not new to them) is highly personal.  The report said that this was partly due to the diversity of media tools and their constant evolutions and refinements.  I think that it is also the nature of the learning that it is largely self-directed, personal in its intended outcomes, and it doesn’t look like learning as they usually think of it.

The report states that this diversity makes it,

..problematic to develop a standardized set of benchmarks against which to measure young people’s technical and new media literacy.

Personally, I do not see this as a problem, which shouldn’t surprise many of my readers.  But I have to confess some surprise at how much momentum has built up around standardized testing and the whole standards movement.  They have become a defining element of the American education industry, and this disappoints me, disturbs me, and this is problematic.

Community Band
Flickr Photo by Carf

In so much that I hear today in conversations about new information and communication technologies in our school, it seems to be about improving the business of education, rather than making our children better prepared for their future.  Our business is about improving data.  To quote an article forwarded to me by a Facebook friend (Tina Steele), in one of those Celestine moments,

..we now talk about “performance indicators” as a substitute for assessing the quality of teaching.  Learning has to be measured by an “audit” of the qualifications achieved rather than a more qualitative judgement of what students have learned. (( Baker, Mike. ” Lesson one: no Orwellian language.” BBC News 16 Feb 2008 Web.20 Apr 2009. <>. ))

I’ve used this analogy before, though not in a long time.  I think that we have come (or been made) to think of ourselves as teacher-technicians.  The job involves our managing our classrooms with white lab jackets on, ticking off indicators and benchmarks, molding our students learning to government-mapped blueprints.

We’re trying to restructure education to improve the job, when teaching is not a job in the traditional sense.  Teaching is a mission to make the world a better place, by making our students the best people they can be.  Rather than teacher-technicians, we should be teacher-philosophers.

Eco-games for Kids

I leave today for an eight-day tour that has me in Richmond, Lynchburg, suburban Boston, New York, and those are the ones I remember. What’s remarkable is that I do not get on a plane until the last day.  Cars, trains, cabs, subways — I love it.

I wanted to add this one thing to my blog before I get back to the one remaining writing deadline I’m struggling with and starting to plan the brand new keynote I’ve promised for the 1:1 conference in Pennsylvania week after next. 

I was scanning through USAToday on my phone and found this article, Eco-games help kids to do good.

The first of three described is “The Greens.”  Created by WGBH and partly funded by National Geographic Educational Foundation, the site offers 11 episodes (webisodes), “..short video stories -that cover a wide variety of issues about living ‘green.’

Featuring cousins Izz and Dex, the site presents real-life eco issues through the eyes of these hip teens. In the most recent episode called That’s a Wrap, Dex unwraps a large present with numerous smaller boxes inside to discover that the sender has given him a small notecard stating that a tree has been planted in his honor. Wryly, Dex notes: “But you have probably used a whole tree with all these boxes and wrapping paper.”

Time to get back to work, but look at the article and check out the other two games, “Elf Island,” a virtual world where the player is an elf and “Emerald Island,” another virtual world entered as animals.