What these folks are thinking?

I am sitting in Glens Falls, New York, enjoying a wonderful winter day, working mostly with Librarians and explore blogs, wikis, podcasting, and RSS.

I’m now going to survey the group to she what they know about blogs.

100% had heard of blogs
30% say that they have read blogs
10% have a blog
10% have school/professional blogs
0% have personal blogs

This is similar to Wednesday’s survey. I’ll have more to say later.

What are they Thinking?

I am currently presenting to a group of educators from the state of New York about Web 2.0. We just has lunch and most of them are still awake. I’m asking how many of these educators had heard of blogging.

The answers are:

  • 100% have heard of blogging
  • 95% say that they have read a blog
  • 5% say that they read blogs regularly
  • 5% say that they have a blog
  • 2% say they’ve tried it
  • 4% say that they have solved a problem from information that they received in a blog
  • 40% say at this point (and we haven’t gotten to the good part yet) that they will use blogs after the work)
  • 4% say (at this point) that they will have their own blog

More Later

We are Empowered

EmpoweredI just received permission to post this message sent to me over the weekend.

…the father of one of my students is currently serving in Iraq and today he left 2 comments on his son’s blog. The child was so thrilled that his father had done this. That moment just reaffirmed how wonderful this process is and what powerful things can happen! I am still teary-eyed thinking about it and the boy’s reaction.

Can we become so frightened of new technologies that we become blind to the potentials? Can we get the media to pay attention to connections and not just the threats?


We Are Afraid

We Are AfraidThere has been a great deal of discussion on the listservs lately about our communities’ fearfulness concerning blogs and wikis, mostly pointing to the behaviors of youngsters on their xanga and myspace accounts. I must confess that I haven’t looked. If I did, I’m sure I would be shocked — but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Xanga.com and myspace.com are evidence of the wild world that we have allowed to happen, because we are too frightened to take hold of new technologies and too unwilling to pay for sufficient access, professional development, teacher reflection time, risk-taking innovation, and thoughtful harnessing and integration of these technologies into our curriculum.

The one thing that is constant in this world to day is that it is changing. When my son started school, he used an Apple II computer. Today, as a high school senior, he’s producing his own videos, and distributing them to friends over the Internet. It’s not just technology. The very nature of information has changed. Yet teachers have no more time to reflect on these changes, master new skills, harness new opportunities, and protect children from new dangers, than my teachers had in the 1950s and ’60s. We haven’t been doing our jobs. We haven’t been allowed. We haven’t been pushed.

The technologies are here, we’ve simply turned it over to kids to make of it what they will. What should we expect?

Capping off “The New Story”

Yesterday morning, I wrote (It’s not Just Technology) about how tech conference sessions that focused on the what and how of technology drew far more participants than those that explored the why. Well, my last session yesterday was an exception.

The morning began at 8:30 with a presentation about podcasting. I gave a half-full auditorium of educators a general overview of podcasting and then we produced a program together. It should appear on Connect Learning in the next few days. That was followed by a presentation about blogging — another overview. But I emphasized that, as a technology, blogging is entirely unimpressive — that it is the people network that has caused the emerging impact of the blogosphere.

I had delivered my Telling the New Story address the day before to an audience of about 20, but yesterday morning, when I repeated the presentation, it was to a nearly full auditorium. I’m not sure why, but I was very happy about that.

Head of the NailThis was the 4th or 5th time I had delivered that address, and it has undergone extensive revisions each time. I think now, that it is ready for prime time. And I think what did it for me was when I capped the presentation off with a final slide (to the right), just before leaving my hotel room.

Now I’ll probably tweak the syntax a bit, but I feel that this is the head of the nail. Our curriculum is based on a future that can be clearly described and depended on. It’s one where people graduate from their schooling with the skills they need to get and hold a job for 30 to 35 years. If you advance in your job, it is because of personal skills or talents that you have. It’s a future of security — and I speak here from a U.S./Western/industrial perspective.

But largely because of advances in technology, the tools that we use to accomplish our goals change, and as a result, so do the skills that are required. The new tools, and the socio-environmental challenges that result present new questions and new problems. Security is gone.

However, these new tools, new skills, and new capabilities to harness our resources in far more efficient ways open previously unimagined opportunities for dramatically improving the human condition and the condition of our planet.

What is the difference between preparing children for a future of security, and preparing children for a future of opportunity?

What do you?

It’s not Just Technology

Lots of people have talked about this. But I want to put in my 2¢ worth. Technology is not the only reason to come to an educational technology conference. I have presented a number of technology sessions here at NCECT, including: blogging, podcasting, web 2.0, and RSS. With the exception of RSS, they have all been packed.

However, Telling the New Story was only scarcely attended. This was a presentation about the stories that our education system is wrapped around, and the stories of our world and its future. The intent of the session is to help educators and education leaders to convince those who fund our classrooms by scripting new stories and telling them again and again, to everyone.

When you walk around and glance in the sessions, it is obvious that the what and the how sessions are packed. The why sessions draw only handfuls.

Perhaps I’m asking too much. Perhaps a technology conference should be about the technology, and we need a new kind of conference for the why. Would educators and education leaders attend a futures education conference? Are there vendors who would exhibit in them? Are there agencies or associations who would organize them?

Just 2¢ worth of questions.