Lemmings Marching to the Flat World Drum Beat ???

The ever challenging, Mr. Hoffman, commented the other day on my blog entry about high schools and computer science courses (High Schools Fail To Meet Needs Of Tech-Driven World ????). In his practiced zeal to poke holes in my arguments, Hoffman logically questions my suspicions of our constant calls for more science, math, and technology instruction in schools, considering my “promotion of The World is Flat.

He assumes that my interest in the flat world, as an approach to talking about changing global economic conditions means that I’m marching lemming-like along with Friedman and other advocates of flatism. Those who are regular readers of my blog and who have heard me talk about the flat world, flat web, and flat classrooms know that many of my ideas do not parallel those of most flat world preachers.

Our tendency is to absorb the flat world story, and then say, “We must be more competitive!” “We must look at what the Chinese, and Indians are doing well to attract global business, and do it better.” The message I got from The World is Flat, is that we need to learn to cooperate, to collaborate. China and India are finding their niches. What is ours?

I maintain that it isn’t necessarily programming or even engineering, although I agree with Alfred Thompson’s comment that exposure to and understanding of the engineering and even the programming are critical. We do not need to dominate these areas, however, in order to remain prosperous or even in a position of leadership. We do need to be figuring out those contributions that we are uniquely good at.

There are lots of directions we might go in. But what interests me is our astounding capacity for play. We know how to play. At least we use to. We have been successful and prosperous for a long time — decades. We’ve learned how to enjoy it. We’ve been selfish, foolish, wasteful, and arrogant in the process, but joy is a thing that we know something about. We should master responsible joy, and export that. I have no idea what that would look like, but it isn’t marching everyone into engineering school — in any country.

I believe that it is the creative arts that we should be emphasizing, every bit as much as the technical arts.

Enough said about that. Thanks Tom. I appreciate any opportunity or excuse to further explain my points. Keep challenging me, and others, and enjoy it. 😉

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Chapel Hill & On the Road Again…

Small Gatherin in Chapel HillI attended my first Chapel Hill Blogger MeetUp last night. It was a small gathering, reported most effectively and succinctly by a “Serbian Jewish atheist liberal PhD student”. I did say this was Chapel Hill.

A Blog Around The Clock : Blogger MeetUp report:

I went to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Bloggers Meetup today. Most of the usual suspect opted out tonight, so there were only four of us there, but that did not make it any less interesting.

I had an interesting conversation with Bora about his blog and it’s association with a new science magazine, SEED. Got me thinking a lot about my association with Technology & Learning Magazine. Could be some interesting conversations with those folks at NECC (hh).

I’m in my office for a couple of hours this morning and then off the the airport and on to New Orleans for the ALA conference (hh). As is often the case, I’m there for a short period of time, making a formal presentation at the AASL President’s Event, and evening on the town with some fantastic folks from Rosen Publishing, and then on to…

…the quintessential New England town of Farmington, Connecticut and the Connecticut Association for Independent Schools (hh) conference, whose conference I will keynote on Monday. I was the keynote there last year and loved it. There are some interesting differences between independent school educators and those of public schools. I enjoy independence, obviously. I’m also doing a session on combating plagiarism, and then back to the airport for some place in Wisconsin and a porochial school conference there. More on that one later.

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I’ve added a new suggested tag for the NECC conference aggregators, necc06prep. There are already a good number of blogs that are tagged necc06 — but no pictures. I want to suggest that people who will be presenting at this national conference, take a picture of themselves preparing for their performances.

It is important to note that flickr does not take kindly to screen shots in their photo archive. So they need to be photos. Take a picture of yourselves working at your computer, preparing your slides. If it’s a group presentation, then take a picture of your planning meeting. Being that we are educators, some of us may even be making costumes 😉 Take a picture of that.

I want to also suggest that the conference planners take a few pictures of their many, varied, challenging, and loving endeavors to plan for what will certainly be an amazing event.

Upload your photos to flickr and tag them with necc, necc06, and necc06prep.


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First Few Days of Hitchhikr

Early this week I announced a new Landmarks for Schools web tool, Hitchhikr, a conference aggregator. As is typical, during the first few days of a new application, the usage stressed not only the technology and programming, but also the interface. It forced me to see the tool in ways that I hadn’t during its initial construction. As a result of the overwhelming usage, and especially after the fantastic comments and suggestions from my friends, I’ve added a few features.

It was immediately obvious that the narrow listing of all conferences, beneath the imminent conferences listing, would not be sufficient for surfing events. So I’ve added a new menu item, All Conferences. This generates a master report of all registered conferences, that can be sorted by popularity, country, state, date, short title, and date registered. You can also click “Match to my Preferences” to list only those conferences that match the preferences that you indicated when you registered a user account.

I’ve also added an FAQ with two questions posted already. Number one’s answer suggests some strategies on inventing tags for a conference event. Number two describes techniques for having your blog recognized by Technorati’s search routines.

Tagging Features of HitchhikrFinally, I added a new program that will generate Technorati tag codes for bloggers. If a conference attendee writes a blog entry about the event, they can go to that conference report in Hitchhikr, and click “Make Tag Code” beneath the listing of suggested conference tags. A web form appears with the current suggested conferences tags. The blogger can add other tags if desired. Clicking the submit button will generate html code that can be pasted in the blog entry, properly tagging the entry blog for Technorati. There is also a second form for the URL of the blog. Submit will ping Technorati, further expediting the blog’s entry in the search engine’s index.

I find the popularity ranking an interesting thing to watch. I probably should add in a way to show what’s going up and what’s going down in the ranking, but that would be strictly for fun. Not surprising, NECC is at the top by a wide margin. Next is Colorado’s TIE conference, which is going on right now in Copper Mountain. Drink lots of water folks, ’cause 9,000 feed can knock the breath right out of you.

Also near the top is an EduBlogs conference in Roa de Duero, Espania, which will begin around the same time as NECC.

I just thought I’d share a progress report. This has been a unique project for me, because it is not strictly an education service.

2¢ Worth!

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High Schools Fail To Meet Needs Of Tech-Driven World ????

I ran across this report while scanning this week’s Tech Learning News.

Only 26 percent of U.S. schools require students to take computer science courses, according to a report released last week.

Most cite lack of time in students’ schedules, according to the computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). Though computer use pervades almost every aspect of life, the misperception that computers are for video games and surfing the Internet also prevents greater class enrollment, according to the report released last week.

The story goes on to say,

“The United States cannot ignore the fact that there will be a shortage of qualified candidates for the 1.5 million computer and information technology jobs by 2012,” co-author of the report and CSTA President Chris Stephenson said in a prepared statement. “This report provides a call to action for a variety of audiences to help others acknowledge computer science as the fundamental field that it is.”

information week | News | Report: High Schools Fail To Meet Needs Of Tech-Driven World | June 12, 2006

I’m always suspicious about these kinds of calls for more emphasis on math, science, technology, … I’m not sure if it’s the history teacher in me, my disappointment that the humanities seem to have taken a back seat lately — and the ever increasing evidence that the real problems of the world have less to do with our lack of technological prowess and more to do with our inability to understand each other.

That said, two thoughts (questions) came to mind as I read this story.

  1. How much of our (U.S.) technological leadership came from the engineering side of the process, and how much of it can be attributed to innovation? Is it computer science we should be clamoring for, or classrooms that encourage and celebrate creativity?
  2. How much computer science in our high schools is taught by educators with a passion for the engineering of information and communication technologies, and how much is taught by business teachers who have been asked by their principals to teach this computer science course?

I’m just asking questions, and I look forward to your answers.

Image Citation
Pandemia, “Il Computer Alla Festa.” Pandemia’s Photostream. 4 Sep 2005. 21 Jun 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/pandemia/40177311/>.

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Official NECC Bloggers List, from Julie Lindsay

Julie Lindsay just posted on her blog, the list of NECC attendees who have registered as official volunteer bloggers. Link to Lindsey’s blog for the list.

This list arrived an hour ago from the Web Marketing Manager at ISTE, Barbara Hewick. It is a list of volunteer bloggers and podcasters for the NECC06 conference in San Diego in 2 weeks time. This list details the eductors who have volunteered to blog and podcast the conference. There will be many others as well, but these online participants have put up their hand and offered personal resources to record the event. One of them happens to be me……..

eLearning Blog: Blogging and Podcasting NECC

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DEN'ing in Georgia

I’m in Atlanta, Georgia for the Discovery Educator Southeast Regional Institute (tag: denri & denri06). I was able to visit some old friends and to make some new ones last night at a desert social. I’m sorry that I didn’t take any pictures of the food. There were some awesome chocolate brownies, a totally rich dark chocolate cake, and I swear I think a saw a layer of milk chocolate in the cheesecake — and I didn’t eat any of it. I’m practicing restraint, and,quite frankly, feel really foolish doing it. But there it is.

One of the things that was interesting to me was the way that educators are beginning to talk a lot about video games in education. Now most of them are young, well within John Beck’s break-off age of 34. But they are going deep, not just, “Let’s teach with video games.” They’re thinking and talking about what exactly it is about the video game that makes it such a potent learning engine. It all falls very nicely into what I’ve been thinking and writing about with flat classrooms. I was especially impressed with the thinking and conversation that I had with Jeff Giddens and Daniel Rivera, who work for one of the Georgia regional centers. I’ll definitely be rolling this into my ALA talk the end of the week.

Here’s a post from Jeff Gidden’s SEGA Tech blog. Please link to the original post. He’s done a wonderful job linking to the people hemet last night.

Daniel and I aresitting in the room at Georgia Public Broadcasting where we’ll beattending tomorrow’s Southeast Discovery Educator Network Institute.We’re here as part of a group testing the wireless and ethernetconnections. Earlier this evening we met with approximately 30 otherDENizens at our hotel. We met with old friends (like the evereffervescent LaQuita Hutchinson an instructional technology specialistfrom Chatham County in Savannah, the mighty Mike Horn of the Universityof West Georgia ETTC in Carrollton, and Joe Finkelstein) and newacquaintances (such as some fine folks from Florida–Kay Teehan, MarkHall, and Lee Kolbert to name a few–and a couple of entertaining ladiesfrom South Carolina by the names of Wendy Morris and MaryAnnSansonetti). You can read about everyone who’s attending over atKatherine Aiken’s DEN blog for Georgia. I was delighted to see andspeak with one of my favorite edubloggers, David Warlick of Landmarksfor Schools Project and 2 Cents Worth fame. I also got to chat withHall Davidson who did a masterful job presenting at last year’s NECC inPhiladelphia. Looks as if it’s going to be blast when things start upin the morining.

SEGA Tech » Late Night Blogging From The Heart of GPB

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Announcing hitchhikr.com

Hitchhikr LogoIf you had suggested to me, three years ago, that I would be blogging a conference, I would have said, “Wha…?” Yet, I think that the potentials of conferences that are wireless, with reflective participants blogging their notes and their insights about what they are learning ** IS HUGE **. The information, ideas, and even some of the energy, will escape the orbits of our best conferences, a further infect us with the viruses of change.

Hitchhikr Screen ShotI tried, a few weeks ago, to tap into the digital exhaust of a media conference in Paris. Alas, I could not find any reference to suggested tags on the conference site. I’m sure that attendees were blogging the event, but they were probably agreeing among themselves on how they would organize and reference each other’s blogs — a closed conversation.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have a place to go, where we, the bloggers, could suggest to a broader community of readers and conversers, the tags that we should use in writing, podcasting, and shutter-clicking the events we get to attend. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hitch hike our way to these conferences.

OK! So I started building. It’s the Lego geek in me. I must build. For your consideration and free use, I present hitchhikr. That’s three Hs, no “e”, dot com. Point your browser to:


[The DNS is propagating now, so access may be spotty for the next couple of days. If it doesn’t work, try]

It’s a conference aggregator for lack of a better phrase. You’ll see two lists of conferences in the panel to the right. The top list includes conferences that will be happening in the next month (in red), conferences that have already happened in the last month (gray), and any conferences that are currently going on (blue). The longer list beneath includes all of the conferences that have been registered on hitchhikr. They are sorted by popularity.

You can click any conference to receive its report. Reports include a brief description, submitted by the person who registered the event (any registered hitchhikr can add a conference), a logo, a link to the conference web site, dates and suggested tags. Only the person who registered the conference can edit it.

Beneath this area is the aggregator. There is a primary default tag that it searches on initially, displaying thumbnails of any tagged flickr images and a list of the latest blog articles. There’s also a link to an RSS feed that you can subscribe to in your favorite aggregator. Other suggested tags are listed, and will be search when you click them.

Any logged user can add a tag, by clicking the plus (+) symbol. Any logged user can also delete a tag. The suggested tag for NECC is NECC06. It would also be a good idea to also tag blogs with just NECC as well. It may also be useful for presenter to add tags with their names. For instance, I’m doing several sessions and might suggest that bloggers in the audience tag any entries about my sessions with necc06warlick. I could then add that tag to hitchhikr so that they can be aggregated there.

For the pictures, you can click “See Collage” to view all of the images, as thumbnails, on a single page. Or you can click “See Slide Show” to link directly to flickr’s slide show feature for some real fun. I love this part.

This may be a really dumb and useless idea. If so, I have, at worst, lost some hours in development, and, a best, gained some new programming knowledge. But if hitch hiking to conferences seems to make sense to you, then please stick your thumb out, and hitch a ride, on hitchhikr.

2¢ Worth.

ALA Annual Conference will offer WiFi

ALA Annual Conference 2006 logo

I was just going through the ALA Annual conference web site this morning and discovered the paragraph below.  This could be a trend.  Better yet, this could be a movement.  OK, most of you don’t get the reference to Alice’s Restaurant, but it’s huge. 

has contracted with the Morial Convention Center to provide wifi access
at the Annual Conference. This access will be available to all users,
(councillors and attendees), for the duration of the event. Wifi
coverage is available throughout the building with the exception of the
exhibit halls.

ALA | ALA Annual Conference General Info

There seems to be a growing recognizable that our access to digital networked information is something that we need to have with us, even in those information endeavors that are as traditionally based as conferences.  Might classrooms be next?

I’m flying to Atlanta this afternoon where I’ll be kicking off a staff development symposium for the Discover Educator Network (DEN).  I have already worked one of these, and they are great fun.  All of the attendees are DEN members, so they are educators who have distinguished themselves, in some way, by integrating something into their classrooms that involves new technologies.

I’ll be trying to help the attendees to understand the underpinnings of Web 2.0, its constituent parts, and the family of applications that they comprise — evangelizing.  Then they’ll go out and blog and make podcasts for the rest of the symposium.

I’ll fly home after that for a few days, and then off for ALA to speak at the AASL President’s program about the flattening world, flattening web, and our flattening schools.  With access to WiFi at the conference and ALA’s extensive usage of blogging and wikis, I want to suggest that goers tag their blogs and photos with:


That’s a-l-a-(zero)-6.

After ALA, I’ll be going to Connecticut to keynote a conference for independent schools in that state (please tag entries: cais06) and then on for a conference in Wisconsin.  I’ll talk more about these conferences later.  It simply appears that my days off for the early summer — are over.  Hope to see you on the road somewhere.

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eBay's New Wiki – May be a Trend?

ebay wiki editRead/WriteWeb blogger, Richard MacManus, reviewed eBay’s new wiki last week. It will almost certainly be the largest wiki platform for a commercial website.

Here’s a quote from MacManus’ article:

Sowhy did eBay choose to add a wiki? eBay has a buyer and sellercommunity of more than 193 million members – a huge community that isthriving with conversations and activity. Their message boards get over100,000 messages per week and eBay users are very knowledgeable ontheir topic niches. Having a Wiki on eBay will serve to refine andformalize the cream of the content in its user forums. It will alsohelp eBay in the search engine rankings, as its user-generated contentcoffers will increase significantly over time!

Read/WriteWeb: eBay Wiki – world’s largest commercial wiki launched

I would like to try a little experiement here, and pretend that it wasn’t eBay that just announced a new enterprise level wiki site, but a major textbook company. It might read like this:

Sowhy did a major textbook company choose to add a wiki? It has a buyer and readingcommunity of more than 193 million members – a huge community that isthriving with conversations and activity. Their message boards get over100,000 messages per week and the major textbook company’s users are very knowledgeable ontheir topic niches. Having a Wiki for the textbook teachers and students will serve to refine andformalize the cream of the content in its user forums. It will alsohelp the major textbook company in the search engine rankings, as its user-generated contentcoffers will increase significantly over time!

Does that blurb seem that much out of place for major education news outlets?

2¢ Worth!

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