Playing at PETE & C

Getting ready for the dayDay one is over, and today, I get to play, at PETE & C. Yesterday’s workshop was tough. I taught about 110 educators, mostly tech directors from across Pennsylvania — and it was hands-on. The folks from Prismworks are to be commended. The network served us flawlessly. A couple of the web applications that we explored crashed under the load, but everyone recognized that we were applying un-natural stress.

Quite a few of the participants commented after the workshop and during the evening receptions and casino night (I lost all my chips in record time), that they appreciated learning something new. It’s a problem that I’m hearing more and more from ed tech people, people who have been using technology to near Native extent, that they simply do not learn that much at these conferences. I told someone last night that I come for the stories. The tech is well and good, but I can figure that part out on my own. It’s the stories that are going to break us through.

The picture to the right is a conference participant who taught a workshop yesterday on Flash. She’s playing today as well.

More later, from PETE & C

I can’t Believe I had Hot Chocolate First thing This Morning

Yes, I’m in Hershey, Pennsylvania, for the 2006 Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference. Last night I had dinner with some old and new friends. They included folks at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit and people from the Penn Department of Education. The conversations were down to earth, way out there with the Box disappearing behind us, and the all-encompassing bottom line was…

preparing children for their future.

Governor Edward Rendell announced in his recent budget address to the state legislature that by 2009, every high school classroom, teaching the four core subjects, will be equipped with broadband access to the Net, multimedia technology, and a laptop for every student — Classrooms for the Future.

The CentreDaily, State College’s home page, published the full text of Rendell’s speech.

From our wide-ranging talks last night, especially the vision expressed by the DOE’s Michael Golden, they seem determined to do this carefully and do it right — to make it work.

This will be an initiative to keep our eyes on.

Lot’s to watch these days.

Much potential.

Way more than 2¢ worth.

Networking at PETE & C

PETE & CI should have written about this earlier in the week. But it’s been one of those times where your struggling just to be ready for tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’ll be teaching a workshop for education technology leaders (Tech directors) throughout Pennsylvania, as one of the preconference workshops at PETE & C. The topic will be Web 2.0 (Changing Shape of Information), but our focus will be on the potentials of using new web techniques as a way for structuring management and change networks within a school district and across the state.

So what do you think? How might we use tagging to form specified conversations among specified audiences such that the conversation can adapt to changes in conditions — so that the conversation can grow beyond the group when needed and close down to the group when appropriate? What part would tools like flickr and play in such a network? What might be the advantages of using blogs and wikis for community over a traditional portal?

[if you decide to blog about this, tag the blog with PETEandC and warlick]

It’s going to be a interesting conference. I’ll also be there on Monday, but not delivering any presentations. I’ll just be a fly on the wall, blogging and podcasting if I can. I did a scan of the session program and the word blog was mentioned 26 times and podcast 26 times. But RSS was mentioned zero times. Progress continues.

A Lamb out of my Element — Oh My!

OK! I’m lilly-white, southern, unsophisticated in the ways of the world, and I’ll bend over backwards for a good barbecue chicken. I say, “Sir!”, and I talk slow, so that people can savor what I’m saying (plus I think pretty slow).

So what am I doing, speaking to educators in an inner-city school in New Jersey?

I had supper last night with an old friend, Greg Farley, and a new friend, Leslie Blatt (NJ Association of School Librarians) — and I heard some startling stories about teaching in these schools. I’m sure that they are not unusual stories, but I confess that total lack of experience with schools that can be extremely challenging.

I do believe this, however. I believe that just like in Kansas, the key to a student’s love of learning is empowering them to learn. The key to keeping teachers is empowering them to teach. I believe that if you can figure out how to take the stories that are in the children’s lives, focus them through multimedia it to the fundamental experience and the wisdom that comes from that experience, and then tell that story to the world in compelling ways, kids, like everyone, will feel worth, and the inclination to invest in themselves.

I’ll be promoting blogging, podcasting, digital story telling, and a healthy mix of contemporary literacy and new shape of information, for seasoning. A tossed salad, that I hope, will not be too irrelevant to what these embattled educators do.

Happy Birthday Jude

Jude2004 celebrated his 51st birthday yesterday. In his comment on Act like Natives, he (or she) claims to know more about technology than his students. He claims to be a native. Do I believe him? I sure do.

Wake countyYesterday I had the pleasure of presenting to nearly 200 school technology contact people here in Wake County (Raleigh). They were teachers, media specialists, a couple of assistant principals, and a handful of tech facilitators. I like to start this presentation by harkening back to those giddy days just before the Web, when a very few of us were paying attention, and recognizing that something BIG was on the horizon.

I asked how many of them had used Gopher. About three-forths of the hands went up. This surprised me. I asked about Telnet. Again, a vast majority of the hands when up. Then I asked how many had heard of blogs, and to no surprise, most of the hands went up. But when I asked..

How many were blogging, I saw only three hands.

How many read blogs? Perhaps 20.

How many had listened to a podcast? Maybe ten.

How many had podcasted? Zero!

How many used flickr? Zero!

How many knew about social bookmarks? Zero!

Delicious ( Zero!

An interesting number, zero. On a school paper, it means you didn’t do your assignment.

These are educators who, in the early 1990s, were on the edge. They were paying attention, recognizing an emerging revolution in information, and latching on. What happened between then and now? Why have they missed the new revolution?

Am I missing something?

Or could it be, that the continuing dominant teaching tool of today’s classrooms, the textbook, could not possibly hold any information about the new web? Could it be that we have come such a short distance in our schools since 1990, that our teachers are less equipped, less encouraged, and far less free to pay attention to the world around them, than they were more than a decade ago?

We desperately need… we may not survive without… a generation of young people who are imaginative, inventive, fearless learners, and compassionate leaders. Yet, what can we say, as educators, about the students we are producing. We can prove that they can read, do basic math on paper, and they are able to sit for hours filling in bubble sheets.

No generation in history has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the industrial age.

How have we allowed ourselves to be led by such a miserable lack of imagination?

I have got to get out of this funk!

Act Like a Native

It’s one of those analogies that has stuck. It says a lot for us — and about us. We’re immigrants to this new digital world. Our students are native-born. We speak with an accent. I’ve heard these phrases for years now, and have used it myself.

I’m an immigrant and proud of it. I owe my dress, mannerisms, entertainment choices, political leanings, and the way I wear my hair to a time before the digital had spoken. I suspect that I saw this most dramatically at MacWorld, where the hair, speech (I could never talk that fast), mannerisms, and clothing all set me apart. Sure I dress in dark colors, but it’s because I would reflect too much light otherwise.

But I believe that it is time that we stop hiding behind our immigrant status, and start acting like natives. We need to stop making excuses and start leading. We are teachers, after all. It’s our job to lead, not follow. Sure, we’ll never be able to keep up with our kids in lots of ways. They have the luxury of time and their brain cells are fresher. But it is our job to look into the future and then plan and lead the way for our children.

You may say, “but who’s going to teach me to do that?” That’s an immigrant question. Natives teach themselves. They work with each other to grow their knowledge and skills. We’ve got to figure this out!

2¢ Worth

Web 2.0 — Bottom Line Concepts

I’ll be presenting to a group of ed tech educators here in Raleigh/Wake County later today about Web 2.0., and then taking it on the road as a workshop next week at Pennsylvannia’s ed tech conference, PETE & C.

I’d like to work through some of the underlying concepts that I see as being unique to these new tools. Here are a few. Please comment or add as you see fit.

  • Valuable content is increasingly rising out of an ongoing and growing conversation.
  • The organization and flow of information increasingly depends on the behavior of the people who use it.
  • People are beginning to dynamically connect with each other through their content.
  • Traditionally, information flowed in one or two directions. Through the new Web, content flows in a variety of directions that depend on the behavior of those who produce the information and those who use it.
  • Through Web 2.0 new information constructs are possible — interactive and community contributed documents that tie in with dynamic and independent digital libraries of web resources, and the more formally published ideas of thinkers and journalists in the field — and none of these people need know each other.

Thornburg for You

David ThornburgMany many thanks to Wes Fryer for podcasting David Thornburg’s presentation at the TCEA conference last week in Austin. I can remember watching folks like Thornburg and Alan November back ten years ago, and saying to myself, “I could do that! And I think I could do it that well!” Both of these guys have simply gotten better and better. Thornburg does an amazing job of bringing Open Source down to earth, for us non-techie folks. This in itself point’s to David’s talent, given his astounding creds as high-order geek (principle scientist as Xerox PARC in the early ’70s).

Anyway, give the podcast a listen by going to the entry (March of the Penguins), at Moving at the Speed of Creativity.

Chief among tid-bits I gleaned from the podcast:

  • Finally heard direct reference to a Nature Magazine study comparing Wikipedia to Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Indiana is purchasing 300,000 linux computer for all of its high school students

Also, check out Wesley’s text notes on the presentation. I love this stuff!


Typically, I wake up early in the morning with my mind already working on ideas. I don’t really know when the focus on what I’m going to blog this morning clamps off that mushy thought flow that is my dream state, but the ideas start to emerge. It usually begins small, “So what exactly does a classroom look like, where ‘finding’ digital information has been integrated as a basic literacy skill?” But then they start getting bigger, and more ominous, “Is this country going to be able to afford the retirements that my wife and I hope to enjoy?”

Anyway, the real challenge is for any of these ideas to survive my first round of e-mail, the tasks that must be addressed immediately. Today it has…

I hate when I feel that I have not sufficiently answered a question. Part of it is being a teacher. Teachers must have good answers to questions. It’s part of how we define ourselves. But a few days ago, I was asked, “Should we be going to a 1:1 arrangement in our schools?”

Children with a TabletMy initial (and too glib) answer was, “It isn’t a matter of ‘if’. It’s ‘when’.” That being said, it’s a task I wouldn’t wish on a friend. First of all, it won’t work in a 20th century classroom. The formula is much more complex and the questions are too deep to think that simply putting laptop or tablet PCs in the hands of your students will make them smarter, and better prepare them for their future — and these very smart people knew that already.

The issue is, “What does tech support for a 1:1 environment look like?” It should be at the same time, completely reliable and completely invisible. But what does that look like. Also, the staff development is the real iceberg that will sink the ship, but what does the professional development look like. Do we teach teachers to integrate laptops into the teaching and learning, or do we help them to become so thoroughly literate in contemporary information skills, that they become inventors of their own integration strategies.

Perhaps one of the most important questions is, “What stories do you go out and tell your community to convince them that being ready for their future requires that children have convenient access to networked digital information?” This is the part that I most hope I sufficiently addressed for them?

The main bugaboo is the responsibility. I have no doubt that we will be going to 1:1. We have no choice. The alternative is to be so lacking in vision and dedication to our children and our future, that it would borderline on the criminal. I would rather it happen sooner than later, and there are certainly those loathsome among us who would latch on to any excuse to quash the expenditures that I believe are essential to our future.

But that’s just me and the 2¢ in my pocket.

Mr. Bush! This is for You

President Bush delivering the 2006 State of the Union AddressYou’ve all heard by now that our president’s budget proposal is out for 2007, and that with the exception of military and homeland security, programs are getting cut. A third of the 141 programs to be scaled back or eliminated are in education. He proposes cutting department of education funding by 3.5 billion dollars, zeroing out educational technology funding (E2T2) all together.

I think that Bush should propose a 25% increase in education adding 15 billion to the approximately 60 billion that is currently available for national education programs.

If you agree, why? What are the top 10 reasons why George Bush should passionately be calling for congress to increase education spending by 25%?

Please comment, and limit each comment to only one reason (unless you can’t help it). If you blog about the top ten reasons to increase education funding by 25%, please put the words reasons, education, budget, and warlick somewhere in the blog entry. I’ll install an aggregator here that will attract and list those blog postings.

$15 billion worth!

“An Inside Look: President Bush’s 2007 Budget.” NPR 6 Feb 2006. 10 Feb 2006 <>.

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