Suggest this One to your Students — Space Diving

Image from Gizmodo

Imagine 120,000 feet, on board an orbiting spacecraft, and the door is open. There’s a red light at the door, and someone is counting down. At “0” the light turns to green and you hurl yourself out

      of the door

          into space.

You have on a specially equipped suit that helps you to fall, gracefully, to Earth — and you do it for fun. Gizmodo says:

Orbital Outfitters, run by Rick Tumlinson, a longtime civilian space booster who founded the Space Frontier Foundation, and Jonathan Clark, a former NASA flight surgeon, has already started to develop the equipment it thinks is needed to achieve the feat. Clark, whose wife Laurel perished in 2003’s Columbia disaster, believes that the smaller the body is attempting re-entry, the less the chance it has of breaking up – hence the thinking behind space dives being used for NASA emergencies.

Falling to Earth would have you traveling over 2,500 miles per hour. Approaching the outer atmosphere, you would engage your drogue chute, which would bring you down to a more manageable 120mph. Finally, a more traditional chute would be deployed, bringing you to a soft landing.

Then it’s back up again. But up may not be such a problem either, with Japan expected to start development of its space elevator sometime in 2018.

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Phase 3 of Big Ideas 4 Education

First of all, I want to thank each of you who have already contributed to this project.  The final document will be a compilation of and hopefully a tribute to the power of a community of thinkers. 

Click to enlarge

Phase 3, and perhaps the most important phase, has begun.  We are starting with a list of eight basic topics related to retooling education for an unpredictable future, extensively networked learners, and a dramatically new information landscape.  Within each of those are statements that were submitted by educators during phase 1, and then associated with the eight topics by contributors in phase 2.

Today, I am asking you to pick one or more of the eight topics, thinking about them in terms of relevant education, and contribute your more thoughtful ideas and arguments concerning the topic. You are encouraged to click into the associated topics (click the plus by the topic to see the most strongly associated statements, and Show All, to see all of them), and include responses to those items as well.

So that this more thought conversation can be brought together to one place, I ask that you include the tags that are attached to each topic and statement.  For instance, include at the end of your blog article about topic 2 with comments about the second statement:

bigideas2 bigideas243

If you do not currently have a blog, you can set one up in less than 10 minutes with (video tutorial here).

Finally, I have fixed the sidebar link badge, so I encourage you to spread the word with a badge or just point folks here as you have the opportunity.

<a href="'', '_blank', 'width=700, height=600, toolbar=yes, menubar=yes, scrollbars=yes, resizable=yes, location=yes');void(0);"><img src="" border="0" /></a>


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Can you Concept Me?

By way of Stephen Downes’ connection (Live Bloggings at DevLearn) to the live bloggings from DevLearn, I linked over to

Clark Quinn’s Concept map [click to enlarge]

Clark Quinn’s Concept Map of a presentation by Tim O’Reilly.  Looking at his map, I found myself wondering of someone, watching one of my conference presentations might be able to record their notes via a concept map.

I purposely try to organize my presentations around three (or four if forced to) foundation elements, a structure to hang the concepts and skills from.  But delivery is an entirely different thing.  Perhaps I might provide, in the online handouts, a link to some concept mapping services, and suggest that audience members use them for their notes.

On a similar note, I tried something the other day during one of my presentations for the 1st Annual Virtual Technology Conference (VTC) held by the Education Service Center 11 in Texas (not sure where that is geographically).  I wanted the 60 or so virtual attendees to understand the experience of cooperative information environments. 

Drawing made by about sixty participants from via the network

We were using Eluminate as the presentation platform, so as I was talking about these information landscapes, I used my mouse to roughly draw two eyes on the whiteboard.  Then I turned the whiteboard over to the attendees and said, “Ya’ll finish the drawing.” 

There was only a slight hestiation, but with more and more people shoving their mice around, drawing lines and swirls, the image grew.  I stopped it after about ten seconds.

The activity exceeded my expectations — and that doesn’t happen everyday.

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Technology Literacy?

Flickr photo by Jonathan D. Colman

I will likely be interviewed by phone for a magazine at some point today, probably in an airport somewhere.  The question will be, “Can you tell me about technology literacy?”

My immediate response is that technology literacy is not an issue.  Our students are coming into our classrooms with a seemingly uncanny ability to use and learn to use new technologies.  They’ve had lots of practice.  Each new video game that they learn challenges them to master some new skill.  Even though the Digital Natives/Digital Immigrants comparison is often abused, I think that there is a clear distinction between people who have grown up with technology, and those of us who have watched technology grow before our eyes.

That said, there is certainly an issue of great concern, in that there are many children who are coming into our classrooms with no experience with contemporary information and communication technologies (ICT), and this is a huge problem.  But generally speaking, technology skills seem to be happening.

What is the issue, in my opinion, are the ways that our information landscape have changed, as a result of ICT, and the new skills required to work that information environment to accomplish goals.  Basic literacy has changed…

  • What it means to be a reader when information is networked,
  • What it means to be a processor of information when information is digital,
  • What it means to be a communicator when we are overwhelmed by information,
  • and the ethical implications of information empowerment.

I’m posting this at 06:30 EST and should be landing in Chicago in about three hours.  Would love to read your feedback then…


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Phase 2 of Big Ideas 4 Education

Sorry for the delay in starting this phase.  I got distracted by an invitation from Chris Smith to attend a panel discussion in Second Life™ (see blog post).

Phase 1 of this project received 179 contributed statements, which surprised me.  This volume of ideas necessitated a slightly more sophisticated way to organize them.  So I read through all of the statements and came up with eight foundation topics (see below) that seem to cover all of the statements.

Click to Enlarge
  1. Establish a education vision statement that combines trends, students’ info-experience, & a prevailing digi-networked information landscape.
  2. Rewrite standards to more accurately reflect today’s environment, our students needs & unique capabilities, and their future.
  3. Establish new methods and structures for improving community communication.
  4. Overhaul teacher education, and policies and procedures for professional development.
  5. Facilitate an exploration of new education methods and pedagogies that reflect today’s children and their information experiences, abundant and connective information environments, and 21st century skills.
  6. Restructure the school environment including grades, school day/year schedule, building (or lack there of), information infrastructure, roles & rules, staffing, governance, and choice.
  7. Commit to funding that is adequate to true education reform that reflects today’s rapidly changing world, our students’ info-experiences, and a dramatically new information landscape.
  8. Overhaul state and national assessment policies and procedures.

For the sake of sorting and organization, I am asking you to continue your support by helping to match the statements with the foundation topics.  I’m asking that you sort five.  Should take no more than a few seconds.  If you want to match more, then just click the [Yes] button and it will give you five more.

Here are the instructions as posted on the Big Ideas web site:


  1. I am asking folks to match only five items. You can match more if you have time.
  2. To the left (see image right and click to expand), you see one of the statements submitted during the past two days. Just beneath that are eight foundation topics that I have culled from the 176 items contributed by educators. There are four more statements beneath the foundation topics, waiting to be considered.
  3. Read the statement at the top and then decide which of the eight topics it best fits into and then click the [Put Item ## Here] link to the right of the topic.
  4. When you click the link, that item will go away, replaced by the next one. Again, select the most logical topic and click it.
  5. You will be asked to match five statements. At the end, click [Yes] to match five more.

Added: Also, I know that the sidebar link that I included in the initial blog post didn’t work for a lot of people. It seems that textarea tags do something quirky to apostrophes and quotes. I’ve redone it, and this appears to work. So, if you have time and the inclination, please post this code in the side bar of your blog.

<a href="'', '_blank', 'width=700, height=600, toolbar=yes, menubar=yes, scrollbars=yes, resizable=yes, location=yes');void(0);"><img src="" border="0" /></a>

Thanks so much for your contribution to this project — whose final product is yet to be imagined.  But at least it is going to be a fine collection of our thoughts and experienced insights.


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Live Blogging Panel Discussion in International School Island

A Second Life Panel Interview with Fire Centauri

I have a self induced deadline to have the second phase of Big Ideas up by 8:00 AM, but just captured a Tweet from Chris Smith (AKA Shamblesguru Voom), of an interview in Second Life with Fire Preibisch (AKA Fire Centaur).  He’s talking about his first night in Korea as an International School teacher — got lost his first night.  But people are incredibly kind, and he’s stayed.  To combat culture shock, he learned salsa, and goes salsa dancing with a community of dancing Koreans.

A picture of English Island, Zombies gallor, and me, carefully approaching the dinosaur robot for a ride.  Touch the picture for enlargement.

His main reason for coming to Korea was the bandwidth. It’s 1.5 MB/s to 4MB/s, and everyone appears to have Internet — no digital divide.

They’re starting to talk about English Village now, Fire’s space on Second Life. When he first entered Second Life, he uploaded covers of some of the books he was teaching, and when he learned that you could assemble a Smartboard-type of display he knew he had something. Fire also has a holodeck where he can res different environments, since he’s limited to only 16 acres.

The island features a French Villa, scooters, talking signs that he’s loaded his voice into, and a thumbnail smartboard. There is also a a giant dinosaur robot that will take you on a tour of the island.

Fire has a blog called English Village Asia

We just played a game with skeletons and zombies coming out of a funnel.  You destroy them by clicking on the vermin, and then filling in the blank of an English Idium.  Fun, though the floor was covered with bones. 

The finale was a ride on the dinosaur robot.  I tried to capture with my screen capture software, but the resing was so choppy that it didn’t come through.  One of the pictures to the left is me approaching (carefully) the dino to get a ride on its back.


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Leading to Phase 2 of Big Ideas

I’m spending the morning reviewing the statements collected so far on the Big Ideas 4 Education web site.  This morning saw 205 statements posted so far, but after trimming out the duplicates (some folks think that’s cute), we were down to 135.  That number is too unwieldy for the method of collation that I originally had in mind.  So I am reading each one and developing a shorter list of basic statements — up to seven.

At this point, I think I’ll ask people, starting tomorrow morning, to take ten of the statements, and link them to one of the seven (or so) basic statements.  This way we will have things a little better organized for Phase 3, where I’ll ask education bloggers to take a crack it the list.

The final voting is still something of a mystery for me.  Right now, I’m thinking about voting on the individual items as oposed to the larger topics, but we’ll see how things go between now and then.

As far as the items, I haven’t seen anything revolutionary, though:

Eliminate tenure in exchange for a system where the termination of a teacher must be done through collective action. (id 258)

That was a new one for me.  I especially liked:

Aim for creativity and collaboration, not for standardized and competitive.

There is more to read and more coming in, I’m sure.  I’ve included a Wordle of the posts already in — just for the fun of it.


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From the Levelhead web site

As a concept, this is so unwieldy for my spacially demented head right now, that I can’t really wrap my mind around any instructional applications for this, beyond the obvious — spacial memory.  If I could just keep major oceans to the east of my magnetic center, I think I’d do better.

Here is text from the Levelhead site:

levelHead uses a hand-held solid-plastic cube as its only interface. On-screen it appears each face of the cube contains a little room, each of which are logically connected by doors.

In one of these rooms is a character. By tilting the cube the player directs this character from room to room in an effort to find the exit.

Some doors lead nowhere and will send the character back to the room they started in, a trick designed to challenge the player’s spatial memory. Which doors belong to which rooms?

I’m still having some difficulty understanding what this will look like and the diagram above doesn’t help.  You can view videos, however, at YouTube, with a high quality demo at Vimeo.

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Big Ideas — Bring Education Back into Focus

Photo by Ryan M.School Bokeh

I arrived in Raleigh yesterday afternoon, after a two-leg from Austin, Texas.  It was my first time home since the election, and while driving me to the house, Brenda was going on and on about Obama’s press conference, how refreshing it was to ….

While away, I was part of a dozen or so energetic conversations with teachers, education leaders, and even ed publishers about new directions for schooling in the U.S. and especially concerning possible appointments to the Department of Education.  A few names are being bandied about, but the bottom line is a change in direction.

This morning, with the buffer of yesterday afternoon’s four mile walk through the autumny spender of North Raleigh, and a good nights sleep in my own bed — not to mention the satisfaction of knowing that I won’t be flying out again for a good number of days — I’m sifting through some ideas of that might actually be helpful as we focus our thoughts collectively.

..and as a result, I’ve been coding this morning, and now launching Big Ideas 4 Education.  This is just a temporary thing, but a chance for us to cast about ideas for priority actions that might be made by a newly forward-facing U.S. Education Department.

The project features four phases.

Phase 1

Spend about two-and-a-half days composing and posting clear and succinct (140 character limit) priority actions for a U.S. Ed Department aimed at promoting and empowering a system that better prepares today’s children for their future.

Phase 2

The Big Ideas web site will change, consisting of a list of the items that were posted.  We, will collectively match up similar items into the basic foundation topics.  Nothing will be deleted, only linked.

Phase 3

The basic topics that emerge will be listed, with associated items linked in, with a request that education bloggers and micro-bloggers post their insights about specific topics of interest.

Phase 4

Finally, the main topics will be listed, with links to an aggregation of associated blogs and micro-blogs.  Educators will then be asked to visit the list and prioritize the list by order of importance and logical sequence.

You can help to advertise the project by including the following code in the side bar of your blog, producing the lovely badge to the left.

<a href="'', '_blank', 'width=700, height=600, toolbar=yes, menubar=yes, scrollbars=yes, resizable=yes, location=yes');void(0);"><img src="" border="0" /></a>

I look forward to reading your ideas…


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Sitting more at TechForum Austin…

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach delivering the Keynote...I’m getting to do a lot more sitting at the Austin, Texas TechForum.  It’s the beginning of the conference, and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is starting her keynote address about student passion.  As a note, I’ll be uploading this regularly with my own comments in italics — and also my native misspellings and awkward wording.

Just played the welcome to the Human Network video, which sets a good stage or springboard.


  • Its a brand new day with news ways of getting things done.
  • People subscribe to people not magazines I like that
  • We have already moved beyond the “New Blooms.”
  • You precious little thing! Just had to add that one.
  • Schools are institutions of indoctrination (quote from a college professor)
  • It’s not business as usual. It’s business as unusual.
  • It’s about learning to be, not learning about.

Sheryl just shared an interesting distinction that students made during her conversations with students, that she wanted her teachers to teach, not just deliver information (write on the board).

Trend 1 — Social and intellectual capital are the new economic values of the world economy.

When teachers were asked to list the technologies they had used during the year, they were then asked to flag the activities that students had their hands on — it was only 50%.

She’s making the point, as did Keven Hogan, that such change has happened recently in spite of a constraining edupolitical environment.

She says that Web 3.0 is here.  I’m not really sure we know what Web 3.0 is or is going to be.  The new version shouldn’t be able to be predicted.  But that’s just me.

Sheryl just shared a video that was produced by Lisa Duke’s students at First Flight High School on the Outer Banks.  Lisa started out making it a teacher directed assignment, but the students took it over, made the video, went out and advocated that the money that had been approved in 1994, be spent to replace a The Videobridge to the Outer Banks that is one of the most at-risk bridges in the US, connecting over 40,000 people to the country — an area that is regularly threatened by hurricanes.

Here’s the Video.

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