IE7 Beta

Wesley Fryer has shared with us that the much anticipated (common intro to Microsoft products) IE 7 Beta is available for download.

Techlearning blog: IE 7 Beta for Windows:

At long last, Windows users of Internet Explorer can natively utilize and leverage the power of RSS by downloading and using Internet Explorer 7, which is in beta. Talking about “RSS” and “ATOM” feeds in social settings has and continues to be a great way to invite blank stares from others, but IE7 should help address that… at least a little.

I am not impressed. OK, so I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve had Safari 2.0 for months and have not once made use of it’s RSS features. You see, I don’t really see RSS as being something that you browse, or at least not in the same way that we traditionally use a web browser. RSS is a fundamentally new way of organizing and communicating information. We haven’t yet figured out all of the ways that we can use it to add value to the information ecology. But I do fear, that if we try to hard to fit it into our traditional (yeah, right!) ways of browsing digital networked information, then we may limit ourselves from recognizing some more interesting and potentially powerful applications of RSS.

NetVibes I’m much more interested in some of the Web 2.0 applications for aggregating content. Some examples include:


I’m using NetVibes right now as my principal aggregator. It enables me, much like PageFlakes, to format my feeds into a personal dynamic document, that acts, and to some extent looks like a digital newspaper.  See the picture.

2¢ Worth

New Story Case in Point: DOPA

My last session at the e-Learning Summit yesterday was Telling the New Story. I made it more of a workshop, with lots of discussion, and I’m discovering that this is not easy. Our stories are long and deep and philosophical, and these kinds of stories, though they are great implementation stories, will not get us very far with the broader community.

The stories must be short and to the point and they must connect with the market place, resonate with our deeply held values, and be something that we can model. Here’s a case in point:

Did you know that there are thousands of sexual predators out there combing through MySpace and looking for your daughter?

Now, one could get a lot of traction out of that story and perhaps even get a law, that sounds as stupid as “DOPA”, passed.

I’m afraid that countering that story with pedagogy isn’t going to get us very far. We can come up with some great reformer stories and implementation stories (see “Types of New Stories“), but they will not connect with the community (voters).

So we need a different story, and here are a few off the top of my head, or that woke me up at 2:00 in the morning…

  • Market place stories:

    Did you know that the future that our schools are prepare our children for, is the future that our children will invent. They’ve invented the MySpace community, IM-speak, and countless other online experiences. This is their future. We can’t ban it. It will just irritate the natives.

  • Deeply held values

    Do you know how stupid DOPA makes us look? Do the kids really think that banning online communities in the classroom is going to protect them from predators?

    Out in the StreetsDOPA separates our children from their best opportunity to learn the safe use of the Internet — their classrooms. Don’t toss them out in the streets to learn it themselves. This is not a place for our children to learn street smarts.

  • Something we can model

    I really like Barry Dahl’s comment on yesterday’s post. He says, “I have learned more in the last six months (in the blogosphere) than in the previous six years!” I think this is a story that we need to tell a lot, that we learn in the online communities, and that it is a life-long-learning style of learning, and that education and life-long-learning are one in the same.

2¢ Worth

e-Learning Summit in Minneapolis

I’m in my hotel room, overlooking the University of Minnesota, preparing for my keynote and 21st century literacy. I’ve scanned through the program and one thing is jumping out at me, pretty blatantly. I’m seeing terms of phrases that seem to follow a fairly consistent theme. They include:

* Web portals
* Global communications
* Podcasting
* Online discussion boards
* Online learning
* Distance learning
* Online classes
* Cyber villages

All of these at least imply the use of online communities. So why is congress trying to ban online communities in our classrooms?

Online Communities – Except in Schools

Mobile offices at Charlotte AirportI had a two and a half hour layover at Charlotte Douglas Airport yesterday, one of my all-time favorite layovers. Any airport that offers rocking chairs, cares. During yesterday’s visit, I discovered their business center, with desks, ethernet ports, free WiFi, lots of electrical outlets, and quite comfortable chairs. They also offer a more deluxe version with does have a fee (to the right).

Even with the larger desks, more comfortable chairs, and better lighting, these workspaces are fairly sterile. No work here. So where does the work take place. For me, I was responding to suggestions that had been posted by users of Son of Citation Machine, adding the ability to cite multiple authors of electronic journals in the APA format. Someone next to me was on a conference call with his mobile phone. Others were at their computers working, but I suspect that most of us were working inside of some online community. We were working with people, in groups, collaborating from our devices in an airport — responding and contributing. This is what online communities are, and what they are for, and, of course, they are not just about work.

I’m now in my hotel room, on a much less comfortable chair, at a tiny desk, that required me to do some treacherous crawling to find an electrical outlet. I am blogging to a dynamic community of people, up to 17 at last count ;-). Some of them/you may take what I’m saying and add something to it, or take something away — but they will in some way, help me grow these ideas about 21st century teaching and learning.

…and one thing that I know about teaching and learning today, is that it has to come through conversations, and conversations happen in communities, online communities. Let’s teach students children to be safe learners, not toss them out on the streets to learn it for themselves.

Save Our Social networks

Problem with Comment Filtering

I just took a second to scan over my comments manager and was surprised to find a number of comments there, that had been screened for some reason. I can’t figure out why they were screened, because they were people who regularly comment on my entries. I do not have time now to investigate, but has anyone else had this problem with WordPress. I’m still using 1.5(something). Should I be upgrading, or is there a simpler solution.

Thanks in advance!

Home for a Few Hours

I’m off today for Ausburg college and the 2006 Minnesota e-Learning Summit, in Minneapolis. I do not know very much about this conference. It’s organized by Minnesota Government Training Services, which appears to do a lot of professional development activities and not just in education.

I’ll be delivering the opening Keynote tomorrow on twenty-first century literacy and then sessions on Telling the New Story session and Web 2.0. Friday will be kicked off by Marc Prensky, and I’m dang disappointed I’ll miss that. I’ve heard Marc speak once, and I like his style and his message. I’ll be tagging this conference with MELS, for Minnesota e-Learning Summit, if anyone wants to follow along.

Blogging the keynoteThe first half of this week had me at the NC Distance Learning Alliance conference in Asheville. It was a small conference on the beautiful campus of Asheville-Buncombe Community College. Many of the attendees were community college instructors and administrators, quite a few university level folks, and a surprising number of K-12 educators. I guess I think of distance learning as being more of a post-secondary thing, but some of the most passionate ideas were coming out of the K-12.

I commented on Susan Patrick’s keynote the first of the week, and although I do not agree with everything that she said, I believe now that it is a valuable conversation to be having. In two sentences:

I do not believe that distance learning is a solution for a teacher shortage. The solution is retooling the profession so that many many more talented college students will want to enter the field, and more teachers will want to stay.

That said, I love any conference that I walk away from with new ideas, new validations — and when I walk away a different man, because the vista of my professional vision is broadened. And that certainly happened in Asheville.

So much of what I heard people talking about in sessions and in casual conversations resonated richly with my rantings about contemporary literacy. As I said earlier this week, distance learning happens in a digital, networked, and overwhelming information environment. Teachers and students must practice contemporary literacy in order to do their jobs. The model is there, and it is evolving very rapidly, much more so than in traditional classrooms — and the reason is that you can’t push paper through the Internet. Only bits and bytes. This is a group I’m going to pay a lot of attention to.

And they went “gaga” over blogging and Web 2.0.

Video in Online and Blended Education

Cameron Cox  Talking about video in online learningCameron Cox is with In-Tell-com. The session is called “Enhancing Online and Blended Courses With High-Quality Video.” Frankly, it’s not the kind of session that I would normally sit in on, but I’m learning a lot here, from conversations that I normally do not sit in on. Some of the types of online teaching and learning include: online, hybrid, blended, web-enhanced, and telecourses. He ran through definitions and distinctions, but they really didn’t connect for me.

They produce courses that consist of video lessons with closed captioning. The videos are segmented or chaptered. They also produce eContent, authoring in HTML and WebCT and Blackboard.

They are now integrating audio-described video, captioning video with audio descriptions for visually impaired. Cool!

Many of the people at this conference are involved in community colleges, and many of their students do not have access to the latest technology. Many do not yet have a broadband, or even a DVD. So they still have to produce VHS video for distance learning.

The impression that I’m getting at this point, is that their product is designed for one-way content delivery. I’m sure that discussions are integrated in. But there’s not indication that students can do anything with the content or media.

Cameron just pointed out that customers can digital encode analog video that they have licensed. The can also identify specific segments, as long as the entire program is also made available. I understand this from the perspective of license agreements with content producers. I just learned, by asking what I’m sure sounded like a dumb question to the rest of the attendees, that teachers can re-sequence the segments, repurposing the lesson for their students.

Now, if only the students could remix the content to make their own learning lessons.

The plan to have, in the future, a depository of massive footage that they have, but have not included in their lessons. What I’m hearing is content raw-material that teachers can use to make their own lessons. This is where we need to be going, in my humble opinion.

Site Down

My apologies for Citation Machine being down over the last couple of days. I have moved the pages over to my new dedicated server, and there was a glitch in moving the domain name. Dreamhost released it, but there was a problem in my configuration that prevented Rackspace from catching it. Cleared up now, over a phone call from my breakfast table in Asheville yesterday. I love phone support.

There’s obviously a lull in citation machine usage right now and I’ll be spending part of this time featuring Son of Citation Machine out. I think you’ll be pleased.

Opening Session – NCDLA

[This is moblogged in real time. Please forgive typos and awkward wording]

Susan PatrickI’ve not had the opportunity to hear Susan Patrick before. As someone said as I was setting up, she has a long and very distinguished history. Today she is speaking from her capacity as the President/CEO of the North American Council for Online Learning. The opening session is beginning with a welcome message from the chair of the conference committee. There are people here from all over the state, mostly from community colleges and universities.

I’m paying attention now to the president of the Asheville Community College. I thing that I see, that is counter-intuitive to what you might think, is that the attendees of the conference about teaching online, are a very rich community.

Susan Patrick just asked for a raise of hands by schooling level, and I’m surprised to see that between K-12 and higher ed, the breakdown is about 50-50. Patrick was the lead in writing the National education technology plan, and she traveled to 46 of the 50 states, Mexico, and China. She’s talking about how much technology as changed in her lifetime, from punch cards to calculators (that cost $450). She tells a very compelling story that explains why our children are so get so annoyed by our fascination with how much technology has changed.

Susan Patrick says that what she reshaped our vision of education from the data on how children use the Internet and focus sessions they had with authors of Millennials Rising and other futurist works.

200,000 students from across the U.S. participated in a survey, and it all changed the shape that education should take in the future.

Patrick is promoting distance learning as a solution to many of the problems we are facing in education. We don’t have enough teachers, and we aren’t going to get them. We need to be doing more teaching on line. I won’t say “bah!” This is a conversation that need to be held, and participated in by a log of people.

  • Mexico has digitized their entire curriculum and that’s what’s given to their teachers. “They’re thinking systemically.”
  • Graduation rate in this country is 70%
  • 26% finish 2 years of college
  • 80 – 90% of jobs require at least an associates degree.
  • IBM created bubble sheets in the 1950s so that they could grade three answers at a time. Where else do we use bubble sheets? (Hmmmm! says a lot)
  • In the florida virtual school, online course completion rate is 96%.
  • AP pass rates are 60%. For Florida virtual high school, it’s 70%
  • more than a third of school districts in the U.S. offer online learning opportunities.

Patrick’s elevator speech is:

  1. online expands options (high schools offer online course because otherwise they would not be available)
  2. online learning is grown rapidly (30%/year)
  3. Online learning is effective (research shows that it is equal or better than face-to-face)
  4. Online learning improves teaching

You take a teacher who’s been teaching for a few years, if they go through an online learning to teach online, they become a better teacher.

Patrick just said something that I think is very important. Please typically write more in an online learning environment than in face-to-face. This is important, because as people write about what they are learning, they tend to become more fluent in the issues of the topic.

That’s my 2¢ worth.

She says that education is designed to be stable, to change slowly. She says that online learning will power the redesign of education. I’m not going to disagree. I’m rethinking online learning a lot right now.

96% of students believe that education is important for their later life. So why are we losing a third of them before they graduate from high school?

Distance Learning Alliance Conference — Asheville

The Paris of the SouthI believe that I am going to enjoy a unique experience today. I’m speaking at the North Carolina Distance Learning Alliance conference in magnificent Asheville, North Carolina. I know a number of educators who will be hear, teachers and administrators who have dedicated a great deal of their time and formidable creativity to distance learning. It’s a topic that I have not focused very much attention to. We choose what we want to concentrate on, and the technology and technique of DL has not been one of my choices. Yet, I’m intrigued by what has been accomplished, and have even found that teaching from a distance has some interesting appeal to it.

Today, I’ll be doing my “Telling the New Story” presentation, and I confess that I’ve worried a bit about how much this presentation be of value to this audience. However, having just gone over the address, I’m pretty confidence that it speaks to their interests and mission. In fact, I’m even more intrigued by their experience, as online educators. I have often blogged about how, if we are truly going to integrate contemporary literacy into our classrooms, we need to simply throw out all of the paper and books, and transform our classrooms into exclusively digital environments, and then “teach”. Well these folks have already done, just that.

I’m looking forward to this two day conference and will likely be blogging the experience, taking pictures, and maybe even interviewing a few of the people I meet. I’ll be tagging my e-correspondes with “ncdla” for North Carolina Distance Learning Alliance.