Ready for Work?

Flickr Photo from Matthew Stenzel

A couple of days ago, I worked with the school district of the Chathams (yep, two Chathams), a few miles west of Newark, New Jersey.  It was a facinating and very appealing community and I was reminded, once again, how hospitable people can be and not be from the south (sorry).

Most directly, I worked with a local education foundation, which has funded a number of technology projects for the system, including projectors and interactive smart boards, video game systems (Nintendo DSes, and a cyber social learning center at the high school.  They asked me to come and talk about video games, their associate superintendent having met me at an NJ conference a year ago.

I presented an afternoon workshop with educators, sandwiched between two sessions for parents and the community, one in the morning and one in the evening.  It turned into a long but very enjoyable day.  As you might expect, there was some initial skepticism about the educational potentials of video games, and I did not alleviate all of it– nor should I.  We should all remain cautious about new technologies and new techniques.  It is too easy to go overboard, blinded by the glare and seduced by the glitz.

We tend to form our opinions about what is new from our past experiences, and when talking about education, we all have fairly rich experiences to draw on — and though they not always positive experiences, they are indelible.  It was during the evening session that the most push-back occurred, as I shared some findings indicating that the video game generation is more sociable and better collaborators than the previous generation.  This ideas is especially difficult to easily grasp when it goes against the experiences of watching our children spend hours alone, at the screen, game controller in hand.

One particular woman challenged this idea, stating that employers are complaining that young workers are unskilled at personal interactions and do not easily adjusting to work life.  I should have asked her where she was hearing this and under what circumstances, but being pressed for time, I simply responded that these video game and social networking experiences do not make our children and that we all had difficulty adjusting to our first jobs.  I also brought up one of the studies, published in Got Game, by John Beck, Senior Researcher for the USC Annenberg School’s Center for Digital Futures.

Part of the message of this book is that because of their video game experiences, today’s youngsters are gaining skills and insights that may be especially useful to today’s business and industries.  However, those skills may not be easily apparent, that to see and leaverge these skills we have to alter our expectations and even aspects of the work environment and schedule and even the nature of our assignments.  The woman seemed less than completely convinced, but I went on.

After the session was over, a young man came up and introduced himself.  He has recently taken a new job at a small publishing house, but before that worked at McGraw Hill.  He said that he supervised a number of employees and that he found the younger folks to be a delight to work with — that they were creative, good communicators, and eager to please. 

He also mentioned that McGraw Hill had offered generational training to its supervisors, informing them of the differences between the work styles of younger workers and older ones.  He said that one thing he remembered was that younger workers want to know that they are doing a good job, that they need frequent reinforcement — an idea that makes sense in view of the constant reinforcement provided by video games, and even social networking activities.

This is not to say, again, that the kids are perfect communicators and or collaborators or that they adjust easily to new work environments.  The issues are far to complex to express in one hour.  However, it is essential that as we continue to value our own experiences and the lessons of those experiences, we must be willing to open our minds to the value of new ones. 

It’s not a new lesson!

Video Games in Chatham, NJ

Presenters Deborah Evans and Erik Yates

I’ve been working in Chatham, New Jersey, today, for their Education Foundation.  The organization has invested a lot of money in the schools, including a cyber center in the high school, a section of the cafeteria where students can lounge and have access to laptops for surfing and working together — social learning.

I’ve been doing my thing about video games as learning engines for parent groups and teachers.  My presentation is followed by Deborah Evans, who is a self-professed gamer.  What impresses me is that she is almost my age.  She started with a Commodore 64, on which she and her kids played Zork.  She said she would never forget that Christmas. 

After that, her children started using educational games to master math facts.  But things got interesting again when they discovered SIM City.  Deborah went on to adventure games but is now entrenched in World of Warcraft.  She makes the point, as she shows a typical WOW scr

People with a British Accent are so smart! 

Eric Yates, the district’s K-6 tech integrationist, then talked about his experience of brinking Nintendo DSes into his elementary classroom.  He got the idea, when he first ran across Brain Age.  The Education Foundation invested in ten DSes and Erik has learned a lot about using them in elementary classes.  One of the best features of the DS, he says, is that it is wireless, and multiple devices can communicate with each other. 

He is basically using them as a learning center.  As groups are doing differentiated activities, one of the options is using the DS and math software.

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A Very Cool Story

At this moment, I’m sitting at the Burlington Airport, having a burger in the restaurant filling time before my 7:00 PM flight to Washington.  Then is a short wait for the final leg to Raleigh and a full Saturday at home.

It was an excellent day in Burlington, working with educators from the Northwest region of the state.  Vermont is an interesting place with very interesting people, and the workshop ended out being a lot of conversation and sharing of ideas. It was one of those days I wish somebody had recorded — everything.

One of the best stories I heard was told by a school librarian, Kathy Gallagher.  Her daughter is a senior in high school and is currently shopping for colleges.  Kathy said that all of the schools her daughter is considering have their own Facebook groups — except for one, a fairly small liberal arts school.  …So her daughter set up the the group for the school.  She said, “In just a couple of days, the group grew to over 300.”

This was very impressive — to all of us.  But hoping to learn more, I asked, “So why did she set up the group?” 

Gallagher looked at me, as if I had completely missed the point.  I had completely missed the point.  She said that her daughter was visiting the Facebook groups to get answers to questions about student life at the schools from the perspective of students.  She wanted to ask the same questions about the small liberal arts school, so she created the community for the school, grew the community, and then had over 300 sources for answers to her questions.

This was, hands down, one of the most interesting and resourceful strategies for finding information on the Internet that I have ever heard.  It has as muct to do with working the environment as it does with using Google.

No More Sweet Spot

Searching Flickr for Adjectives can often reveal interesting photos.
Flickr Photo by Vilhelm Sjostrom

I’m on my way to Burlington, Vermont, leaving the balmy climes of North Carolina, where it is 20  (-7C).  First thing this morning, it was -1 (-18C) in Burlington.  I have my furry Russian hat, which I bought about 10 years ago and have only worn three or four times.

I worked with the same Vermont group last fall, talking about contemporary literacy, and left feeling far less than successful.  Vermont has some fantastic things going on, and has given more freedom than most to educators who are exploring emerging opportunities.  What I remember fondly was the early days of Web 2.0, when there were only a handful of educators who were coming to understand it, and for the rest, it was brand new.  It was a sweet spot, where virtually everyone was learning something brand new from you, and they were all learning the same thing. 

The sweet spot’s gone.  When I worked with that autumn audience in Vermont, a significant number of the participants were already familiar with the concepts and many were already using them.  I added very little that they didn’t already know.  There were more who were just beginning their journey toward rethinking their schools and classrooms.  But I felt really bad about those savvy souls — until I read their back channel discussions.

It amazed me, and deeply impressed me how they had turned the event into an extremely valuable experience.  I know that I learned a lot from their conversation, and was able, I hope, to contribute more through my insertions — after the transcript was converted over to a wiki page.

I was just reminded of a back channeling event I facilitated many months ago, that got hijacked by three teachers who filled the channel with their favorite ’80s wreslers.  Regardless, the conversation continued as some of the more savvy educators skipped out onto Twitter and even Ustream, inviting even more participants into the room.

It all makes me wonder what this might mean to future, more porous classrooms.  As we stop resisting the networks, shielding our classrooms as sealed containers, designed to hold and protect both learners and that which is required to be learned — I wonder how porous classrooms might reshape themselves by the actions of the students.  Might, in such classrooms, active differentiated instruction techniques become practically obsolete.  Might free learners, engaged in a lifestyle of curiosity, inquiry, experimentation, and construction; supported by professional master learners, make education less an ordeal and more a habit.

All that said, tomorrow will see much more challenging ideas from me … and even more opportunities for back channeling. 

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Bloggers Who Help You Teach

The Main Point:
(copied from bottom of this blog post) A while back I called on readers to help compile a list of educator bloggers who helped us do their jobs.  Today, I’d like to ask that we populate another wiki page with the blogs who consistently talk about what Classroom 2.0 looks like.  I’d like to have a list of bloggers who share practical techniques for using emerging tools with young children, to help students learn to read, and learn the language of numbers, to learn science, social studies, and health, and to think like artists, composers, and poets.  This is not for the big picture folks, like David Warlick.  This is for the nitty gritty educators who talking about their classrooms and their dreams for their classrooms.

Here’s the link.  There is no password required.  Please bullet you list and add in as many as you like.  I’ll probably make a video of the growth of this wiki, and it should have more than three frames 😉

Thanks in advance!

I’ve gotten several comments over the past week that have suggested topics deserving more conversation — and today, it’s about professional development.

Kim S., after talking about how mixing text with video and sound livens up a lesson, said:

…I have to say though that I too feel that schools should include more training because (if) you are not sure how to create lessons using the technology you have it makes, it’s scary and a lot more work. Anyone have suggestions on how to learn more (cost effectively) if schools do not provide the training? Any useful web sites or organizations? thanks.

What I find, as I get to attend conferences and see presentations from classroom teachers who are doing innovative and captivating activities, is that they did not learn to do these things in workshops.  They learned by being creative and by engaging in conversations with other educators through the growing (and sometimes bewildering) array of online meeting places.  Blogs and some wikis can serve as avenues.  Ning networks (ex: http://www.classroom20.com/) can be especially helpful.  Some consider Twitter and other microblogging services to be at the center of their professional development or Personal Learning Network, and others do their professional learning through conversations in Second Life.  But, of course, it isn’t as simple as spending a couple of hours a night driving your avatar around ISTE Island.

J.D. Wilson, continues the conversation by citing the lack of time and current administrative priorities as a barrier.

I use wikis, podcasts, Moodle, web pages, blogs, flikr, and VoiceThread in my class room (maybe a few others). But for all I know I am like the teachers Mr. Stager speaks of because there is not a lot of feedback one gets and most of what I do is self directed because there is so little training and support. The time I spend on these things is mostly my own time because it is not a priority right now with administration.

Time is certainly a critical issue, as are administrative priorities. We are hopeful that priorities will be changing in the coming months, pointing us toward instructional and learning practices that seem more relevant to our world, today’s children, and a new information environment.

..And there should be more training.  But training alone is not the answer, nor should it be.  Retooling our classrooms into rich and dynamic learning environments will not be something that you can learn how to do in a workshop.  It’s something that will happen through continued creativity, conversations, sharing, experimenting, reporting, and more conversations.

Certainly, there is much that can be learned in workshops.  Just like youngsters have to be taught the basics of literacy, teachers need to be taught the basics of using today’s networked, digital, abundant, and hyper-connective information landscape.   You can’t shape your own personal learning networks or build, maintain, and control digital learning envrionments without understanding the basics of that landscape.

As I said in a previous blog post (More on What Matters..), the time has come for us to start painting clearer and more concrete pictures of what learning 2.0 actually looks like.  When you look at classroom 2.0, what are you seeing?  What are the teachers doing?  What are the students doing?  How are the facilities being arranged, shaped, and reshaped and who’s doing the shaping?

A while back I called on readers to help compile a list of educator bloggers who help us do our jobs.  Today, I’d like to ask that we populate another wiki page with the blogs who consistently talk about what Classroom 2.0 looks like.  I’d like to have a list of bloggers who share practical techniques for using emerging tools with young children, to help students learn to read, and learn the language of numbers, to learn science, social studies, and health, and to think like artists, composers, and poets.  This is not for the big picture folks, like David Warlick.  This is for the nitty-gritty educators who talking about their classrooms and their dreams for their classrooms.

Here’s the link.  There is no password required.  Please bullet you list and add in as many as you like.  I’ll probably make a video of the growth of this wiki, and it should have more than three frames 😉

Thanks in advance!

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Should it Matter?

Flickr photo by Andy Carvin

Educon 2.1 is over and I have so many regrets — so many people I did not get to talk with.  Entirely unsatisfying.  Next year, I’m there for three-days.  I sat in on some fabulous sessions, and they were conversational in nature — as advertised.  I did hear that some of the sessions ended out being presentations, and I suppose that’s fine as long as it was clear from the start that folks were there to listen and pay attention.

I guess that the greatest “aha!” realization to me happened with the early morning panel discussion.  I live blogged my notes here.  First of all, Chris Lehmann “gets it.”  I knew he “gets it” before the panel.  He’s not the only person I know who “gets it” and he wasn’t the only person on the panel.  But I can’t think of anyone who is in such a perfect position to test “it” and demonstrate what he gets.  There are folks I know who are cultivating similar situations, and they are going to be worth watching, but SLA is there..

However, there were two elements of the panel’s conversation that — quicken my heart.  One was Gary Stager’s opening and the list of what he believes — and just about everything else he said.  I was especially taken with his demand that reform needs to happen locally.  I didn’t realize the importance of this statement until a conversation that I had with Steve Hargadon at the end of the day.  Stager questions a lot of what I say and write, and I learn from his challenges, but he sees the evils of what has happened to education during the past several years, and he hammers it ruthlessly — and I thank him.

On the other hand, there were two other panelists who stirred my soul a bit, and in the other direction.  I do not clearly remember which of the panel members they were, so I’ll not use names here.  But on several occasions during the conversation, the importance of “data” to education today was expressed.  Now I get data.  I understand its value under some circumstances.  Yet when I hear people exulting data collection as a principle way of educating children, I feel that we are being drawn away from the things that I truly value in teaching — in being a teacher.  It’s because I am, admittedly, a romantic when it comes to education.  It’s about relationships, environment, and activity.  I know that disaggregated data can help, but there’s something about the scale that bothers me.  Enough said…

Flickr Photo by Setev

My main point is, “Should it matter?”  When I try to think about and try to visualize learning 2.0, I’m still getting a fairly blurred picture.  It’s the purpose of these conferences, to clarify that image.  But I am fairly certain that in the classroom that effectively leverages the contexts and opportunities of our times, our students and their native information experience, and today’s dramatically new information environment, I can’t see that it would matter if the students are tested at the end of the year, or that data is constantly being extracted about their learning. 

What will be happening in that classroom will be so exciting and so compelling that tests and data will be nothing more than mist on the breeze.

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A Few Notes

I took this picture wandering around in The Homestead Last Night

I’m sitting in the Empire Room at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.  It’s somewhere in the mountains, west of Richmond, and I drove through some magnificent landscapes on some truly desolate roads.  I’ll need to find another route back to Richmond, with snow and ice on the highways.

This place is really something.  I just can’t think of a better way to describe it.  It’s a resort, of the sort that I didn’t think even existed this side of the 1920s.  The dining room required tie and jacket for gentlemen, and featured a three-piece jazz band.  As I said in a Twitter post last night, “I’m in High Cotton.”

Today’s is about the converging conditions and my audience is heads of school for Virginia Independent schools.  But what I’m interested in learning more about is Mr. Charles (Chic) Thompson.  He was here yesterday talking about creativity.  I have his handouts, which I’ll scour through, but what I’ve heard so far, it sounds like he is a very smart, very interesting person, and a dynamic speaker — and he never finished college.

That’s enough for now.  It is time for me to start pacing in preparation…

Are You Asking Dead Questions?

I had an amazing conversation last night, with Lynne Anderson-Inman, at the speakers reception for the TRLD (Technology, Reading, & Learning Diversities) Conference.  Lynne is the Director for the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, at the University of Oregon.  We started the conversation, and the evening with methods for inspiring students to want to learn. 

Inman told me that they were learning that questions intended to spark learning had to be simple and basic.  They had to start small.  What is this (holding up a strand of barbed wire)?  What is the history of that house on Karl street?  What is the story with old Miss Crabgrasse, on East Main Street?  These types of questions, she said, tended to lead to more questions, inquiries that take on a life of their own.

The questions I was asked in school, and that I asked as a teacer, were not simple and they started in the middle.  I asked them only after I had lectured or after students had read their assignment.  Then I asked them questions, not to inspire curiosity and inquiry, but to assure that the assignment had been completed and knowledge was gained.  These questions were asked, answered, and then they died on vines that could have lead not only to more learning, but to self-personalized engagement.

This took me back to a conversation I’d had years ago with Jim Moulton.  We concluded for the wildly gyrating logic of our discussion that we should be teaching history backwards.  We should start with today and work our way back via various topic threads, that might best be determined by the students.

You’d be starting with simple questions about something you can point to.  Why is everyone so excited about Barack Obama’s presidency?  Why are there all these windmills all over the place?  Then you work your way back asking and answering more interconnected questions.

Here are some links that Lynne e-mailed to me:

It was at this point, that Lynne gave me ample of opportunity to leave, that her next avenue of logic would probably not be of interest to me.  Of course, that is no way to stay someone’s curiosity.  So she went on, describing her new passion and the subject of her recent grant proposal.  It’s Antique Samplers!

OK! before last night, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine what Antique Sampers were if mentioned.  Here is the Wikipedia definition:

A (needlework) sampler is a piece of embroidery produced as a demonstration or test of skill in needlework. It often includes the alphabet, figures, motifs, decorative borders and sometimes the name of the person who embroidered it and the date.

Lynne said that this is how girls (and sometimes boys) were taught the alphabet.  They decoratively stitched them on cloth.  The practice, for all intents and purposes, ended in the 1860s.  But she said that before that time, to be taught writing was not the same thing that we think of when planning writing instruction today.  It wasn’t about learning to convey ideas with words.  It was about lettering, calligraphy, PENMANSHIP.

For the most part, girls were not taught to write, they were taught to read, but not to write — and it was while learning to sew that they learned the letters.  When we see paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries of a mother and daughter sitting and stitching, we may be seeing a mother teaching her daughter to read.

Inman added that there are instances of women wanting to write (in our sense) and using their leaned skills to do so, producing a letter to a relative by stitching the letters into cloth — or an entire memoir.

I wonder when we started teaching writing as a communication skill, rather than just the mechanics — and why?  Just about every day I talk about how information, until recently, was a product that we merely consumed.  It was a book or magazine we bought so that we could read it, a CD to listen to, or a DVD to watch.  Today, we all have the ability to produce a book, music, movies, for others to enjoy — to consume.

But does the capacity to produce messages require us to teach the skills involved?  No!  I don’t think so.  What does make the ability to express ideas compellingly so important — so BASIC — is what Daniel Pink characterizes a abundance.  There is so much stuff, so many opportunities, so much information, that there is enormous competition for our attention.  It is information that competes, which means that for your product, idea, message, or story to gain an audience, it must compete for the attention of that audience.  You have to be able to describe it compellingly with the appropriately assembled message.

Part of doing this is asking questions that go somewhere.

A 2.0 Sort’a Day — Part 2: Learning 2.0

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, then click on back and give it a scan.  If you’ve already read it, then you are ready for part 2 — the really good part.

A while back, Karl Fisch (of Did you Know fame), an educator in suburban Denver Colorado, sent out an invitation to a number of education bloggers to come and sit in on a project he was conducting at his high school — a discussion with Daniel Pink.  Here is how it worked:

Daniel Pink broadcasted his presence into the school’s library using Ustream.  There students, who had already read A Whole New Mind, ask Pink questions about the book.  Yesterday’s conversations were about design, one of the six aptitudes described in the book.

Ustream offers a chat panel, so many of the outsiders who were watching from afar used this chat feature to post comments and to hold conversations in plain view of the students. 

The teacher, Ms. Smith, also set up a blog for the event and installed ConverItLive on a blog post dedicated for the day.  The students, as they were paying attention, engaged in interviewing Dan, and monitoring the chat on Ustream, posted their insights on ConverItLive.

I mistakenly thought that that’s where the invited bloggers were supposed to be, so my comments were posted there.

Now, up front, this is almost too many channels.  It is too much to monitor and react to.  So I picked the channels that suited me best (audio and video of the interviews) and responded through CoverItLive.  The rest slipped past me.  But that’s OK.

The Ustream page, right panel serving as chat space for visitors. [click to enlarge]

You see, what’s new, and cool, and so much in the spirit of 2.0 about this experience is that it is about conversation, and about conversation being turned into content.  It was easy to record Dan’s answers and the audio (and video) of the students’ questions.  But to have the students (and visitors) engaged in a parrellel, even subterranian conversation about what’s happening in the open air and to have that conversation available for later reference and work, seems extremely powerful to me.

CoverItLive window [click to enlarge]

Students are not being taught.  They aren’t learning to be taught.  They are learning to listen and respond, to sythesize and to share, read, work, and reword.

It seems to me that a clever follow-up activity might be to have the students each work up a concept map of the interview, and then pick out comments made by students and visitors related to each element of the map, assembling it all into a logical and valuable information product (report, slide deck, presentation, web site, etc.)

Anyway, you can see the videos of the sessions at Karl’s Ustream channel, The-Fischbowl.  Just scroll about 2/3 down the page and click out the video clips.  You can also read the students’ CoverItLive transcrip at Ms. Smith’s blog page.  Of special interest are the comments posted later by the students.

It strikes me that this activity represents a lot of what many of us have been talking about with Learning 2.0.  The walls of that library were transparent yesterday.  Students were connected, engaged, working, and producing.  I’ll likely be talking about this some more.

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A 2.0 Sort’a Day — Part 1: Leapfish

Leapfish Search page [Click to enlarge]

I was flattered a few weeks ago, when Lena Shaw, a marketing specialist with Leapfish, contacted me about the recently launched (nov 2008)  search site.  She started talking about this new searching engine, hyping it like I was some sort of TechCrunch or something, and although it gave me a momentarily gratifying sense of importance, I politely indicated less than enthusiastic interest when she asked if I would like to talk with the CEO.  “I’m sorry, but I am leaving on a business trip and won’t be back for a few months.”

I looked at the site and was somewhat impressed with its layout and features, but frankly never went back — so I had very little recollection of it when Ms. Shaw called again a few days ago, asking if I would like to participate in a teleconference with the CEO on January 15.  Again, I couldn’t bring myself to honestly express my cooling interest, so I asked her to send me the details in an e-mail, and to copy it to Brenda.

So, it was because Brenda got a copy of the e-mail that I was reminded, took another look, and, again, was somewhat impressed.  I wrote back to Lena, telling her that I was interested in being a part of the teleconference, but reminded her that my topic of writing usually revolved around technology, as it applies to education and literacy.  If she had other tech bloggers and media folks more relevant to their goals, to please feel free to bump me from their list.  I’m holding her response to the end of this post.

I dialed in and listened to the companies Director of Marketing and then the CEO, Behnam Behrouzi, who seems to carry a great deal of experience in the world of technology startups.

About Leapfish?  The most interesting task that this search tool seeks to accomplish is that of easing our access to what has become an increasingly fragmented information landscape.  You have at your disposal, Google, Yahoo, MSN, Flickr, YouTube, CNN,  Stock Market, AP, and on and on.  Great information, but too many channels.

Leapfish gives you access to much of it from one basic interface.  I typed Daniel Pink (See Part II) and got a relevancy based listing of 740,000 web references, as delivered by Google.  Clicking the Yahoo link at the top of Leapfish delivered 23,655 hits, and MSN offered a mere 115,000,000 (correct number of zeros).

On the same page, in the right panel, I get the latest news with something from News-Leader.com and New York Magazine.  Beneath that were three videos (Daniel Pink: A Whole New Mind; Daniel Pink: Abundance, Asia, and Automation; and Daniel Pink: Exercise Creativity at Your Job).  That’s followed by images and then shopping, where I can buy the book or a Sanrio Hello Kitty Dear Daniel Pink Dress S Set Plush from ebay (:-/)

Another interesting feature is the ability to hoover your mouse over an image or video and have a higher resolution version of the image pop up and the video start to play.  In playing around with it this morning, the Pink videos do not play, but the video and image thumbnails do enlarge to about double the size.  However, the popups do not seem to be large enough to add any real value to the information.

The point of the teleconference was to debut a brand new feature that “..pushes Search to 2.0.”  It’s click free search, which is interesting to watch.  Basically, as I type each letter, Leapfish starts searching.  The table below indicates the ongoing results of typing in Daniel Pink.

Type Hits Starting with..
D 6,000,000,000
Democratic Party
Da 2,000,000,000
deviantART
Dan 95,000,000
DAN Divers Alert Network
Dani 43,000,000
Natural Products for bath, body, and home | DANI
Danie
761,000
Danie – meaning of Danie name
Daniel 327,000,000
Daniel NYC
Daniel P
452,000
Daniel P. Siewiorek
Daniel Pi
6,840
Amazon.com: Lists by Daniel Pi
Daniel Pin
323
Daniel Pin – Australia | Facebook
Daniel Pink
28,600
Daniel Pink

Is this 2.0? Well, you can call it what ever you like, and there are certainly a lot of qualities than can be attached to 2.0.  To me, the characteristics to pop to mind most readily are conversation and self-personalization.  Leapfish could be said to provide a conversation between me and an enormous base of content. and having results come back as I continue to type is pretty cool — though I’m not sure how much that adds to the experience or to the task at hand.

The CEO also shared plans to include personalized widgets and the ability to create and share dashboards — but there really isn’t anything new in that, is there?

Google’s SearchWiki features for personalizing your searchs [click to enlarge]

More to the point of personalizing my search experience, is Google’s recent feature addition, SearchWiki.  It gives Google members the ability to delete hits from a search and to rearrange them, so that the next time you search for that term, you will get a more desired arrangment of results.  This is a bit more 2.0, though I must confess that I’ve never actually used this feature.

An even more personalization of my research comes from a Firefox addon called WebMynd.  When I search with Google, this addon places a panel to the right of the screen offering links to relevant YouTube videos and Amazon products.  I can also add to the panel,

  • Wikipedia
  • Flickr
  • Twitter Tweets
  • Backtype comments
  • Factiva Coverage
  • TechCrunch
  • Hacker News
  • CNN
  • Google Books
  • Delicious links

..and more.

WebMynd results panel [Click to Enlarge]

Of particular interest to me is that WebMynd also remembers the web sites that I have visited, and returns a seperate Google search from only those sites.  So, as I entered a quote that I wanted to site yesterday, the original page showed up on my list of visited sites immediately, saving me from scanning through pages of straight Google hits.  This is search personalization.  I love this feature.

Back to Lena Shaw.  The most memorable part of this entire exchange was when I wrote to Ms. Shaw to remind her that my audience was mostly educators.  She wrote back and said, “Perfect!  Without education, where would innovation be?”

It was a great line and it explicitly expressed a value of education.  The fact of the matter is, innovation is happening inspite of education, and I am becoming afraid that we are going to continue to damage our children and our future with industrial models of assembly-line, quality-control leadership.  Read this from FairTest.

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