The header is, in a sense, the DNA of my network foot print. It’s not foolproof, by any means. When I type in “David Warlick,” it sniffs out all reachable references to any David Warlick. So I had to take a little time to digitally delete all indications of outstanding felony warrants and references to that black sheep branch of the family who were loyalists during that unpleasantness between the colony of North Carolina and Great Britain.
As Personas reports…
In a world where fortunes are sought through data-mining vast information repositories, the computer is our indispensable but far from infallible assistant. Personas demonstrates the computer’s uncanny insights and its inadvertent errors, such as the mischaracterizations caused by the inability to separate data from multiple owners of the same name. It is meant for the viewer to reflect on our current and future world, where digital histories are as important if not more important than oral histories, and computational methods of condensing our digital traces are opaque and socially ignorant.
Added on April 8, 2010
I recomputed my persona today, copied it as an image, replaced “david warlick” with “david warlick” in a font I could replicated, added in “2¢ Worth” in the same font, and then installed it as the new header of my blog, with absolutely no other refinements or deletions. This is my digital networked foot print combined with everyone else out there who used “david warlick” as their name. The networked world is messy, because we are messy — because we like it that way…
My friend, Janice Friesen, recently spent five weeks traveling throughout the Mediterranean. Her husband is a religious studies scholar, and I assume this had something to do with the trip. As part of the experience, Janice (an instructional technologist in Austin, Tx.) kept a blog describing what they were seeing and learning. Before leaving, she invited social studies classes to monitor and discuss what she was writing.
I’ve read through parts of it, post excursion, and it’s fascinating. The Mediterranean an area of the world that I have only glanced at (Barcelona, 1997), but would love to tour.
What’s more, I see this sort of thing as a potentially motivating way to get students to talk about and challenge themselves to learn more about a region — by reading travel blogs. When covering Roman life, the class might read those entries and then generate some questions from what Janice has seen and been motivated to write about. Then, through discussion, the questions can be refined into research tasks and then, perhaps, personal blog writing, about digital tours.
Trains are so unpredictable in the South. My understanding is that the freight lines own the tracks. So if a freight train comes through, it has the right-of-way, and the passenger trains must move to a side rail and wait. We were six minutes late leaving Raleigh and nearly two-and-a-half hours late arriving in Washington. No complaints, though. Flying could have been worse, and I was much MUCH more comfortable. Business class — sixty-two bucks.
Click the Image to Enlarge
I mostly worked and took pictures out the window, and here’s an interesting one. In northern Virginia, the tracks were bordered by marshes, topped with fresh green lily pads. I took lots of shots, trying to get a good one, and if you look at the bottom and slightly right of center on this one, you’ll see that I captured a fawn. Not all that unusual. We see them in our back yard at home near the middle of the city. But it was one of those iPhoto surprises.
Another surprise was the fairly intense rain (and hail) storm that decided to erupt as I got (walking) a half-mile from the hotel. Fortunately, I got under an awning with my luggage. Unfortunately, it was with about six panhandlers. But after I ran out of quarters, we settled back and enjoyed the occasion.
But I’m here now — and EduBloggerCon starts in just a couple of hours.
Also, I’m trying a web-based blog editor called WriteToMyBlog. You can see if it works…
Yesterday, while waiting in line at the Harris Teeter, with the various items Brenda had texted to me, I was mesmerized by the Time Magazine cover to the right. So is Twitter “…changing the way we live?” I was awakened when the cashier started waving her arms to get my attention and as she checked through the milk, broccoli and my special blend of nuts and rice crisps, I mentioned that I was intrigued by the Time cover story on Twitter. She said, “I don’t do it. I don’t even know what it is.”
So it probably isn’t changing the way that we live, in any substantial way, but it is a very useful, and for many, a very essential tool for sharing and learning.
There are many ways to describe Twitter — none of them foolproof. But in the context of this series, it would probably be most useful to say that Twitter is micro-blogging. When we blog, we type what we want to say into a textbox, submit or publish it, and our message is available to a global audience.
Twitter works exactly the same way with just a few differences. First, and perhaps foremost, Twitter messages (or tweets) are limited to 140 characters. So the messages are short, taking little time to write and little time to read. Another distinguishing feature is that you can not comment on tweets in the same way that you can with blogs. However, you can reply to specifics tweets, which automatically places @tweeter in the message, tweeter being the user name of the person who posted the original statement.
Another important difference is that although tweets are technically available to a global audience, under most circumstances, the only people who automatically receive your tweets are people who have clicked to “Follow” you. This concept has created an interesting authority dynamic, where your “importance” is based on the number of followers you have compared to the number of people you follow. The formula is flawed in a number of ways. For instance, I do not follow very many people, 62 at present. So my importance is deceptively high. But it is interesting, none-the-less, this sense of measuring and drawing meaning from our information landscape.
So, the first thing you have to do is to set up a Twitter account. Here is a YouTube video that will walk you through the process. It’s easy.
The second thing to do is to start following some people. There are a number of services on the Internet that can help you find people to follow. Twellow is essentially a directory of Twitter users. Click [Browse] and then click [Education]. This reveals a number of subcategories, such as e-learning, educational toys, teachers, librarians, etc. If you are a librarian, clicking that subcategory will list the nearly 5,000 school librarian Twitter users, listed in order of their number of followers, so those at the top of the list, with thousands of followers, may be good folks to follow — initially.
Another service called Twits Like Me actually match the nature of your tweets to those of others, intelligently suggesting potential friends to follow. Make sure you are logged in to Twitter, and then type your username into the Twits Like Me textbox and click [Who is Like Me]. The service kept timing out for me so there may be a significant problem with the service — or it may have just been me. You might also try MrTweet. I’ve only just signed on, so we’ll see how it goes.
For the purpose of the upcoming National Education Computing Conference, we can find people who are already tweeting about it, by going to Twitter Search. This is a search engine for the Twitterverse, and typing in necc with a click of the [Search] button reveals a list of the most recent Twitter messages that mention the four letter string. Scan the messages, looking for people of interest. Click their usersname and in most cases you be able to read all of their recent tweets. If it looks like someone who might help you have a better NECC experience, then click the [Follow] button just beneath their icon.
..and here is the power of Twitter — that the entire conversation can be searched for the latest that is being said on virtually any topic. And if you have been following me, you’ve probably already trained your eyes to catch the little orange RSS symbol. So we can follow tweets related to NECC as well as blogs. Below is my NECC Netvibes page with NECC tweets coming in.
Following your Twitter conversations can be difficult. Fortunately, you are not limited to continuously updating the Twitter web page. There are a number of third-party applications, Twitter apps, that monitor your Twitter account for you, notifying you of new tweets from friends. The Twitter web site has a listing of applications here, one of which I am especially fond of, called Tweetdeck. In fact, I think I learned about this application at NECC last year.
Tweetdeck offers versions that run on Macs, Windows, Linux (a bit of a bear to install), and now for the iPhone. Like most clients, it will list tweets from the people who follow you, and enable you to post your tweets through the application. However, Tweetdeck is unique in that you can create additional panels to list other categories of tweets, such as replies to your tweets, your direct tweets (Twitter message posted directly and privately to another users — d username). You can also have a panel for specific Twitter search results and Tweetdeck recently added Facebook status updates. The application pretty much takes over your entire screen and adds to my near-constant lament — “Too many channels!”
But, hands down, Twitter will make NECC a more valuable experience for one and all.
…was, then blogging would be little more than a bunch of web pages posted on the Web — thousands per minute. There is some sophistication behind the simplicity of blogging that kicks up its value, especially when blogging around a common topic or experience.
No truer statement have I made, ’cause thar be magic in them thar hills. First, it should be no surprise that the blogosphere (where blogs live) can be searched. Google has an excellent and fairly thorough blog search engine, Google Blog Search. Or you can just go to Google, do your search for web sites, then click down the [more] menu and select [blog].
A search for necc09 reveals 3,701 blog posts that mention term, at the moment of this writing, sorted by relevance. I can click [Sort by date] in the upper right corner and get a list from the most recent – backward — topped by an entry posted nine minutes ago. A few minutes ago, I posted a tweet (more about tweeting in my next BloggingNECC post):
I wonder what it would be like to follow the “swarm” at NECC. Just go where others are going & not look at the program.
In a sense, this is what we can do, during and after the event — we can follow the swarm around by reading their notes, and even engaging the swarm through comments. Dave Sifry, the CEO of Technorati, says that “…the blogosphere is the exhaust of our attention streams.” We have never been able to do this before, take what you and I are paying attention to and lay it down onto the record. Sifry continues, “…they are a tangible reflection on what we are spending our time and attention on.” ((Sifry, David. “Oct 2004 State of the blogosphere: Big Media vs. Blogs.” [Weblog Sifry’s Alerts] 14 Oct 2004. Technorati, Inc. 23 Sep 2008 <http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000247.html>. )) ..and it is recorded, accessible, and measurable — in some pretty astounding and revealing ways. But more on that later.
What we get from Google is blog postings that included necc09, which in this case is pretty useful. But if I go to Technorati and type the same thing, I get the 66 most recent blog posts. If I drop down the second menu in the search line, and select [tags only], I get the latest 26 blog posts where the blogger tagged or labeled their blog with necc09. If I drop down the third menu and select [some authority], we get, at this writing, the 22 most recent blog posts that mention necc09, written by bloggers who are respected by other bloggers. Your authority is measured by Technorati through the number of other bloggers who have linked to your blog. This is a bit of a slippery thing as there are lots of reasons why a blog may link to your blog. However, this appears to be reasonably reliable way of measuring a bloggers creds.
The coolest part of all of this is a little symbol just above and to the right of the search results (see right). The symbol stands for RSS, which is usually translated into Really Simple Syndication. The original meaning is so esoterically technical that no one remembers what it is. As you move your mouse over the symbol, it turns into a button-clicking finger, meaning that it is a hyperlink to something. The address of the hyperlink is important. It is the RSS feed, and in this case, it looks like this:
This box lists the most recent blog posts that mention NECC09 from bloggers with some authority (click the image to enlarge it)
With this URL, you can do some pretty magical things. For instance, I can go to a web site called Netvibes, set up an account (click [signup]), create a new tab, called NECC 2009 (click [New Tab] and type NECC 2009), and then click [Add content] in red in the top left corner of the page. Click our RSS symbol, and paste the URL (above) into the appearing textbox. After a moment a small “FEED” box appears. We click [add], or drag the box into our window space, and presto (see left).
A single web page to catch the latest blogs about this year’s NECC (click the image to enlarge it.)
We might go through the same process to list bloggers with any degree of authority and add a second box listing the latest blog entries. We could even drop back to Googles Blog Search, search again for NECC09, and get a reference to RSS in the left panel. Add that one in (see right).
The result is a single web page that we can visit to catch the latest that is being written about this year’s National Education Computing Conference, starting in three days in Washington.
If we are also interested in the happenings at the third annual EduBloggerCon, held on Saturday at the conference site, we can do a Google Blog Search for EduBloggerCon, move that RSS feed over to Netvibes, and we have added yet another box, the latest being written about the bloggers’ gathering (see below).
There are many tools similar to Netvibes, which are generically called aggregators or RSS readers. Here is a very limited list of free readers to choose from:
You can even geek this out and display RSS feeds on your web page or blog. Using Feed2JS, a tool, brilliantly coded by Alan Levine, we can generate a Java script, plug it into our web page (or blog entry) to generate a list of the 10 latest blog posts that mention edubloggercon. He has made his tool distributable, so here is the version on Landmarks for Schools.
This is magical, in my opinion. We are able to not only access flows of information, be actually redirect it, re-combine it, further working the information to make it more valuable and to improve our own capabilities. It turns an event, such as an education conference, into an explosion of knowledge and experiences. It’s how we learn in the 21st century.
A common feature of some of the most successful Web 2.0 applications is their simplicity, and nothing has demonstrated this more than blogging. Blogger.com, a free blogging platform from Pyra Labs, was launched on August 23, 1999. (( Yassar, Isaac. “The History of Blogger (www.blogger.com).” [Weblog Isaac Yassar’s Blog] 6 Mar 2009. Web.24 Jun 2009. <http://isaacyassar.blogspot.com/2009/03/history-of-blogger.html>. )) Suddenly, anyone with access to a computer and the Internet, and the slightest typing skills, could publish to the world — for free. Type the title of your article into a textbox, type your article, click [Publish], and your words are available to a global readership. The simplicity is its power and its impact has been profound.
Many people at NECC will be blogging. 129 people have already registered with the NECC web site as conference bloggers. Many more will be blogging more casually, simply as a way of recording their experience and notes about what they are learning, for their own record or to share with colleagues at home.
If you already have a blog, you can register it on the NECC site by filling in a form. In fact, there are usually a handful of people who blog the conference without being there at all — but writing about the blog articles posted by people who are there — filtering in the best.
If you do not yet have a blog, it is surprisingly easy to set one up. Here is a list of the blogging platforms I usually recommend in my presentations and workshops. They are all easy to set up, easy to use (though they offer many sophisticated features), and they are reliable services. There is also a link to instructions and/or a video on how to set up an account.
You can start your account here. This will create a Google account for you as well. If you already have a Google account, then go here first to sign in.
I have also been playing around with Blogsome, a free WordPress hosting site out of Ireland, and enjoying it. There are other opportunities, including blogging with Ning. Ning is a service that allows users to establish facebook-style social networks, and NECC has one that can be joined by joining Ning. All NECC Ning members automatically get a blog, but there may be a disadvantage here. NING blogs may not show up on blog searches, which may suit you fine, but would not serve the broader expanding conference experience.
Tagging your Blogs
If this was all there was, then blogging would be little more than a bunch of web pages posted on the Web — thousands per minute. There is some sophistication behind the simplicity of blogging that kicks up its value, especially when blogging around a common topic or experience.
Tagging is the key and it involves applying tags or labels to your blog (or other published media). Many conferences have established tags, though NECC does not seem to have established one this year. That is not a problem as it is usually pretty simple. NECC is a good tag, though it will include all NECCs, not just the 2009 event. So NECC09 or NECC2009 are also good tags. The safe bet is to use all three. It is also a pretty good idea to tag the session you are blogging. I usually use the last name of the main presenter. But tags should be a single word that you believe others might search for if they were interested in the event or presentation.
Much of the time, simply including the tag in the body of your blog is enough. But there is a syntax to blogging that some information gathering services on the Internet prefer. Most blogging services include a feature for entering your tags and it will create the syntax for you. But there are online tools and a variety of widgets that will do the same for you. I have a tool, that is part of Landmarks for schools, called Blog Tag Generator.
Type the tags (necc, necc09, necc2009) into the first text box. If you are using phrases (21st century skills), then enclose it with quotes.
Click [submit]. This will generate the code syntax for your blog, which will appear in the larger textbox. Highlight and copy this code. Got to your blog, click to see the source or html (you may to look for this button) and then past the code at the bottom of your blog.
Type the URL of your blog into the third textbox and click [ping]. this will cause Technorati, a major blog indexing service, to capture and record your blog.
Click image to enlarge
This last part has gotten a little technical, and it is certainly optional. But I will explain its value in the next post of this series.
One more note: You are not required to wait until you reach NECC in Washington to start blogging it. Technorati has already indexed 33 posts with necc09 and 18 with necc2009. Google has indexted more than 3,000.
Blogging NECC is an excellent thing to do for lots of reasons. First of all, it is a useful way to take and keep your notes from sessions you attend, appealing products you find in the exhibit hall, and people you mean and conversations you have. Blogging NECC is also a wonderful way to share with colleagues at home your new-found knowledge, friends, and insights. Blogging NECC also earn creds — it will get you read.
Thusfar, by “blogging,” I mean any journalistic recording of experiences at the international conference that might be discovered by other people — and discovery by other people is exactly what you should be striving for. Blogging conferences adds a new and potent dimension to the event. It extends the knowledge and energy generated by the conference beyond its geography and its time. Networking a conference also extends your experience by giving you a variety of perspectives. You are not only able to visit presentations and workshops you were not able to bodily attend, by reading the bloggings of those who were; but you are also able to re-attend sessions that you did experience, by reading the bloggings of others in the room.
With a few days at home, and a semblance of routine, I plan to write a series of blog posts to help you extend the conference experience, utilizing your laptop, cell phone, and free tools available for registration or downloading. We will look specifically at blogging, micro-blogging (Twitter), and photo-blogging (Flickr). If there is another W2 avenues to cover, please comment it here. If you want to add your own insights and tutorials, link them here and/or tag your blogs with bloggingnecc.
I’d planned to title this entry, “Happy Vacation.” But it is not about vacation that I want to ask you. That said, here in Raleigh, the school year ends this week, with thousands of high schoolers graduating and going out into an uncertain but possibility-rich world.
Many of you will pack-up your classrooms and go home. You will relax your teacher muscles and deal with the everyday issues, independent of the unique and demanding service of teaching.
You’re going to want to forget about the classroom — and you should. But come July and early August, you will start to plan and re-plan, experiment and re-experiment, and get back into service-mode. By that time, I HOPE to have something available to make that sort of visioning a little more fun.
For now, just to keep you focused, I want to ask, “When you return to your classroom (or other edu-workplace), what do you wish will be there that wasn’t there this school year?
You can either provide an extended answer here, or a short one on Twitter, hash tagged classwish (#classwish).
When you return to your classroom in August, what do you wish will be there, that wasn’t there this year? Please include #classwish in your answers.
(copied from bottom of this blog post) A while back I called on readers to help compile a list of educator bloggers who helped us do their jobs. Today, I’d like to ask that we populate another wiki page with the blogs who consistently talk about what Classroom 2.0 looks like. I’d like to have a list of bloggers who share practical techniques for using emerging tools with young children, to help students learn to read, and learn the language of numbers, to learn science, social studies, and health, and to think like artists, composers, and poets. This is not for the big picture folks, like David Warlick. This is for the nitty gritty educators who talking about their classrooms and their dreams for their classrooms.
Here’s the link. There is no password required. Please bullet you list and add in as many as you like. I’ll probably make a video of the growth of this wiki, and it should have more than three frames 😉
Thanks in advance!
I’ve gotten several comments over the past week that have suggested topics deserving more conversation — and today, it’s about professional development.
Kim S., after talking about how mixing text with video and sound livens up a lesson, said:
…I have to say though that I too feel that schools should include more training because (if) you are not sure how to create lessons using the technology you have it makes, it’s scary and a lot more work. Anyone have suggestions on how to learn more (cost effectively) if schools do not provide the training? Any useful web sites or organizations? thanks.
What I find, as I get to attend conferences and see presentations from classroom teachers who are doing innovative and captivating activities, is that they did not learn to do these things in workshops. They learned by being creative and by engaging in conversations with other educators through the growing (and sometimes bewildering) array of online meeting places. Blogs and some wikis can serve as avenues. Ning networks (ex: http://www.classroom20.com/) can be especially helpful. Some consider Twitter and other microblogging services to be at the center of their professional development or Personal Learning Network, and others do their professional learning through conversations in Second Life. But, of course, it isn’t as simple as spending a couple of hours a night driving your avatar around ISTE Island.
J.D. Wilson, continues the conversation by citing the lack of time and current administrative priorities as a barrier.
I use wikis, podcasts, Moodle, web pages, blogs, flikr, and VoiceThread in my class room (maybe a few others). But for all I know I am like the teachers Mr. Stager speaks of because there is not a lot of feedback one gets and most of what I do is self directed because there is so little training and support. The time I spend on these things is mostly my own time because it is not a priority right now with administration.
Time is certainly a critical issue, as are administrative priorities. We are hopeful that priorities will be changing in the coming months, pointing us toward instructional and learning practices that seem more relevant to our world, today’s children, and a new information environment.
..And there should be more training. But training alone is not the answer, nor should it be. Retooling our classrooms into rich and dynamic learning environments will not be something that you can learn how to do in a workshop. It’s something that will happen through continued creativity, conversations, sharing, experimenting, reporting, and more conversations.
Certainly, there is much that can be learned in workshops. Just like youngsters have to be taught the basics of literacy, teachers need to be taught the basics of using today’s networked, digital, abundant, and hyper-connective information landscape. You can’t shape your own personal learning networks or build, maintain, and control digital learning envrionments without understanding the basics of that landscape.
As I said in a previous blog post (More on What Matters..), the time has come for us to start painting clearer and more concrete pictures of what learning 2.0 actually looks like. When you look at classroom 2.0, what are you seeing? What are the teachers doing? What are the students doing? How are the facilities being arranged, shaped, and reshaped and who’s doing the shaping?
A while back I called on readers to help compile a list of educator bloggers who help us do our jobs. Today, I’d like to ask that we populate another wiki page with the blogs who consistently talk about what Classroom 2.0 looks like. I’d like to have a list of bloggers who share practical techniques for using emerging tools with young children, to help students learn to read, and learn the language of numbers, to learn science, social studies, and health, and to think like artists, composers, and poets. This is not for the big picture folks, like David Warlick. This is for the nitty-gritty educators who talking about their classrooms and their dreams for their classrooms.
Here’s the link. There is no password required. Please bullet you list and add in as many as you like. I’ll probably make a video of the growth of this wiki, and it should have more than three frames 😉
Unbelievable. A computer, plastic cup of ice, AA-issued can of Diet Pepsi, and a digital camera, all resting on an economy-class seatback table.
I’m in the middle of about a half dozen books, all fresh from under the tree on Santa day. But on my way out the door for my first trip of 2009, I grabbed Presentation Zen, by Garr Rynolds. I’d not started it yet, PZ feeling more like desert, compared to some of the others I’m working my way through. I’m also having fun learning to take notes on the Linux side of my Netbook, using Freemind. It’s a bit odd to have room here, for my computer, a plastic cup of ice, an AA issued can of Diet Pepsi, and my digital camera, all on an economy-class seatback table.
Early in the book, as Reynolds is making connections between Zen and business (and academic) presentations, he suggested an interesting distinction. He writes that designing presentations is not a method. It’s an approach. It is not a “..step-by-step systemic process.” It is “..a road, a direction, a frame of mind.”
This seems to me like a useful way of thinking about how we use technology and how we teach it. Anyone, who has delivered technology staff development, has witnessed teachers, desperately writing down notes, step-by-step instructions, so that they will be able to repeat that specific function when they return to their own classrooms. I’m not making fun. Repeating steps is sometimes the best way to accomplish a goal.
As I think about how “digital natives” and “settlers” go about working through their tasks with information and communication technologies (ICT), compared to how many immigrants go about it, the method/approach comparison makes a lot of sense.
Considering the differences between my generation’s use of information technology and the way my children use it, I want to think about my wrist watch. When I was growing up, all watches looked and acted pretty much the same way. You set the time by pulling the tiny nob out and twisting it, to twist the hands around to the correct positions. I still wear an analog-style watch.
However, the time-pieces of years later, digital watches, all came with three different buttons, and with those three buttons, you could perform fifteen functions, by pressing the buttons in seeming infinite combination. I wear an analog watch today, because I can’t remember the steps. My children grew up learning how to reason their way into the solution. In fact, they don’t wear watches at all. It’s all in their cell phones which tell time, keep schedules, record addresses, take messages, and, oh yeah, communicate through a 26-character alphabet with fewer than 26 keys. You operate these devices natively, by approaching it with a certain frame of mind, not by method. There is absolutely no harm in this.
The harm comes when we try to teach technology by method. When we try to teach word processing, spreadsheets, and image editing software through scripted lessons — to kids who are at home accessing and interacting with the world from their pockets — there is a disconnect that may well be a big part of why so few of our children are interested in pursuing technology fields. The harm comes when we try to test our students proficiency with technology through method, when we ask them to solve a problem with a computer and then score them based not on how resourceful they are with the tool, but to what degree their solution matched the one that was taught.
This is one more reason why I am increasingly insisting that we, as educators, need to began to picture ourselves as master learners, and to project that image of ourselves to the community. If we become enthusiastic learners, then we are modeling the concept and process of life-long learning. If we walk into our classrooms as master learners, then we might come to better understand that working with information is as much about approach as it is about method.