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 

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.