Helping Darfur from MySpace

From USATodayHere’s a story from USAToday, just shared by Deneen Frazier Bowen, in one of her personae.

Students use the Internet to help Darfur –

High school students Nick Anderson and Ana Slavin of Gill, Mass., knew they could raise some money at their school to help the people of Darfur. But they knew they could raise a lot more by enlisting the help of high school students all over the country. They didn’t have friends at every school, but they did have a powerful tool for reaching out to young people — social networking sites.

Sussman, Beth. “Students use the Internet to help Darfur.” USAToday. Jun 2007. 25 Jun 2007 <>.

Bonjour NECC

[Live blogged]

BonjourI’m sitting in Murphy 1, watching Deneen Frazier Bowen.  It’s the first time I’ve seen her do her skit, and it exceeds all that I’ve heard.  As a sidebar, I just opened up iChat and my Bonjour window, which looks for all of the people who are on iChat in your local network.  Amazingly, there are 16 people there.  No 17, no, 18, no, 22 now.  It’s like another conference going on in the very air that we are breathing.

NETS Session

[Live blogged, editorial comments in italics]

In 1998, they were thinking, what do kids need to be able to do with technology?  It was, I guess, a good questions at that time.  Today it’s, “what do kids need to know to be able to learn today and live productively?”  Yes! Yes! Yes!

Learning is taking a much higher profile.  Interestingly, this was an impression that I had from EduBloggerCon.  It was about learning and facilitating learning.  One of the things that pushed them was the 8th grade assessment from No Child Left Behind.  What do we want to be tested — what button to press, or how to use technology to accomplish goals.  

NETS Standards:

  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Research & Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving & Decisions-Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations & Concepts

Feedback from all 50 states and 22 other countries when into the building of the standards. At this point this seems to be a celebration, which is exactly what they said it was.

The number one thing that we heard from feedback was globalization, evidenced partly by the amount of feedback from outside the U.S.  They are national standards, but with so much feedback from outside, they will be a starting place for many other countries.

One of the challenges now will come to the state education departments who mush figure out how to fold these standards not only in their state technology standards, but also into other subject and skill standards.  It is about learning, not just tech.

“Rather than learning the technology, we’re using technology to learn.” 

This was a quote from Paul, a fifth grade teacher who was involved in developing the NETS.  If someone knows his last name, please comment it in here. That says a lot!  He also urged teachers who integrate the standards, they must share it with the world.

I had some conversations with people at my table before the session started about the NETS.  Some interesting statements that came out of it were:

  • NETS are visionary, but perhaps what’s most important about them is that they will force visionary thinking.
  • We have to learn to have vision.  We also have to teach our children how to make vision.

Advanced Blogging

It’s been an interesting morning. First I spoke at the ISTE Leadership Symposium about the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Now, I’m facilitating a workshop on Web 2.0 for a room of nearly 30 experience bloggers. We’re looking at advanced blogging, wikis, RSs, and all of the other usual suspects.

This message is a test for the audience, so pay it no attention.

EduBloggerCon session on Future School

I decided early in this very active and interactive session, to trying to pull things together into some basic themes, and it became clear that we were not just talking about school.  We were also talking about classrooms, teachers, and even future students.  So I divided my summary into this breakdown.

The school

  • Walls are adaptively transparent, enabling real connections with all education institutions, local community, and any and all other potential resources.
  • Leaders who are visionary, value collaboration, enterprising, and who “get it”
  • Flexibly structured and valuing the time that teachers need to constantly retool their classrooms
  • Shared vision and mission but respects risk taking

The classroom

  • Walls are adaptively transparent, serving as a window on the world
  • Life long learning is what happens here — new conversations that are rich, multi-directional, and respectful
  • The classroom includes technology that facilitates and provokes rich, multi-directional, and respectful conversations.
  • More happening in the Long Tail

The Learner

  • independent
  • playful
  • adaptive
  • resourceful
  • self-directed
  • sense of wonderment
  • unrestricted
  • international/global
  • creative/inventive
  • connected
  • confident
  • self-aware
  • able to teach themselves
  • respectful


  • Are we testing the right things?  Should we be rethinking curriculum first, invent ways to teach it (facilitate its learning), and then figure out how to assess it.
  • Test for disposition?

Social networking is an integral and essential part of all of this.

Best Quote — “what goes on in school stays in school”

The Elevator Pitch

[live blogged — please forgive misspelling and awkward writing]

I’m now in an EduBloggerCon session trying to identify the elements of the pitch that people can use to promote social networks. Vickie Davis says that it needs to be simply, not a laundry list. David Jakes suggests that we look to the current political campaigns, what John Edwards and Obama is doing. Chris Lehmann is against preparing the 21st century workforce. He says we should be preparing the 21st century citizen.

The conversations seems to keep coming back to Internet safety. I agree, but it’s not the focus. It’s just part of the issue. It’s so much bigger than that. Chris to chiming in on this, that, “You put it out there, you educate the parents, and you midigate. Then you can get to the next piece of it.”

Doug Johnson has submitted the concept of intellectual freedom as part of the story that we tell. Technologists are seen more as the censors. This is an interesting concept. But what Chris describes as “gatcha moments” where anyprincipal at any time is at risk of getting fired. He says that “if you aren’t willing to get fired, then you aren’t doing your job.”

I’ve asked, “how do we make kids advocates?” Doug Johnson describes how his district has added students to their policy committees and that kids have actually saved them on several occassions with new ideas and perspectives.

Mark Wagner says that perhaps we are getting past fear as to motivator. I think that “opportunity” is the none fear leverage point. Steve Hargadon has just told us to break. I hope that Will has been creating three bullets.

What a Transformation

IMG_0033.JPGI am flabbergasted at the transformation.  It’s just 7:00 and I walk into a conference center that was still in shambles last night when Jakes and I were here.  It’s a conference now, full of color, and full of people.  I’ve already run into Kevin Jarret, a Second Life bud, as well as Victoria (SL Name).  Diane Midness of iEarn was just behind me in the registration line along with a young woman she introduced me to (already forget her name) who is in charge of a program there that is turning students around the world into journalists.  Too cool.

And everyone seems so alert.  I’m in trouble!

More to come!

What I hope to Learn at NECC

NECC Exhibitors -- Prelim...
Dave Jakes and I found this huge window at the conference center last night that opens onto an exhibitor’s hall, whose size is just barely hinted by this picture.

Will Richardson referred to a recent post by Lawrence Lessig yesterday (Bigger Challenges), where the Standford law professor has announced a shift in his academic and activist work, away from the persistent mis-match between our copyright laws and the information environment that they address, to a broader curruption of how things are done here (U.S. governments).  These are my words, my interpretation.  Please read Lessigs extended post, Required Reading: the next 10 years

This shift in focus/mission is something that would catch Richardson’s ever observant eye.  Not only does he confess that, “Lawrence Lessig is one of my heroes,” but this broadening focus is also something that Will has talked about in his writings and in his conversations with many of us.

Teachers and school leaders are a hard audience to reach.  We work an education system that is not only seated in an archaic past with enormous momentum to resist change.  But we are also operating within a political environment that seems to have its own reasons for hammering our schools, our administrators, our teachers, and our children down to a vision of teaching and learning that is shallow, rigid, dis-empowering, and oriented toward a past that seems to give us  comfort and security — but no hope.

I respect and support anyone who is ready to commit themselves to knocking some of the rust off of the engine of politics, freeing it up adapt, empower, and to continue the great experiment.  My focus will continue to be on school, classroom, and curriculum, because I believe that to affect change, we have to be able to describe an alternative to factory style education, one that is logical, adaptable, and compelling.  I read, hear, and see a lot of great ideas out there, and even bold new practices from courageous educators.  But I am not yet satisfied that we have that story.

I hope to learn some new technology here in Atlanta over the next several days.  I already have.  But even more important than that, I hope to (and challenge you to) look for that story, to expand and refine your vision of what teaching and learning really should look like and how it should behave in your home, a vision that fits today’s and tomorrow’s market place, that resonates with deeply held values, and a vision that we can describe and model.

We need to tell a story that dissolves education practices that distrust, insult, and punish teachers and learners — one that builds an education vision that empowers, respects, and celebrates meaningful learning experiences and the people who engage them.

2¢ Worth!

The NECC Experience: Night 1

IMG_0016.JPGIf my first evening in Atlanta is any indication, this is going to be one humdinger of a conference.  I’d just landed in my room, and was trying to get organized and to figure out how to move photos from my new Canon SD1000 digital camera to my computer when David Jakes called — just back from his afternoon health walk. 

“Dinner?”  “You bet!” 

After some Bison Chili, we took another walk, finding the conference center and walking the floors, eying the site of tomorrow’s EduBloggerCon.  What an amazing city.  It’s big and it’s modern, and there’s style — at least by my judgment.

But I have to take a moments like these to reflect, to find an equilibrium.  I think of myself as a learner, as one who is learning to use this new information landscape to keep on learning and growing.  But it’s nothing compared to what I learn when I sit down with someone like David Jakes, who’s smart, who cares about what we are doing as educators, and who is fortunate to still be able to use what he’s learning and inventing with kids, and see the moving effects first hand.  I suspect that I learned more and was exposed to more new ideas this evening than in the past several weeks of web 2.0’ing.

Thanks, Dave!

Some Tips for NECC

NECC Set-Up is UnderwayI slept last night, in the room that I grew up in, two blocks from the train tracks.  The 5:30 freight woke me up.  When I was young, it was the 5:00 rooster, one block away.

Last night, my parents and I pulled up old skits from The Smothers Brothers and Laugh-In, and even visited some of Bill Cosby’s early recorded monologues — “Ding!” — all thanks to YouTube.  In a few hours I’ll head out for my last leg to NECC.  I noticed on Hitchhikr that the first on-sight photos from NECC are now appearing, thanks to Tim Wilson (see right).  Check out his NECC PodCave.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some tips for foreigners who are flying in from far away places.  It’s a different world, down here, where we talk slow, think slow, eat slow and consider it a virtue.  So, to get the most out of your conference experience, follow these very simple tips.

  • If you want to employ a euphemism, find a way to include a tic and a hound dog — or lots of tics and a hound dog.
  • If your last name is Sherman, find a way to hide it on your name tag with conference swag.  If that doesn’t work, learn to say, “..but my people are the Birmingham Shermans,” and have a white handkerchief ready.  If your first name is Sherman, affect a foreign accent and start with Nepal.
  • Order the grits but don’t eat them.  Order Mint Juleps and drink them all.  Bein’ Atlanta, the bar tender may not actually know how to make a Mint Julep.  It’s:

    2 cups granulated sugar
    2 cups water (branch water is ideal)
    Fresh Mint
    Crushed Ice
    Kentucky Bourbon (2 ounces per serving)

  • If you see an older gentleman wearing a seersucker suit, remove your hat.  If you don’t have a hat, then lower your self to one knee.  If you don’t know what a seersucker suit is, then have that handkerchief ready.
  • It’s OK not to like CNN, but don’t order a Pepsi.
  • Be ready to cite your lineage to before the Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression).  If you are from the North, find a way to work a Lee in there — or a Percy or a Beauregard.
  • Finally, and most importantly.  Don’t even ask for unsweatened tea.  In Georgia, you want your spoon to stand up in the glass.

Have a fantastic conference and see you there. …and have that white handkerchief out anyway to dab the moisture on your forhead.  We don’t sweet here.  We sheen!