NC Science Blogging Conference

I just learned about a an upcoming opportunity here in North Carolina that, unfortunately, I will not be able to attend. I certainly would. It’s the first North Carolina Science Blogging Conference.

The North Carolina Science Blogging Conference1, Saturday, January 20, 2007. This is a free, open and public event for scientists, educators, students, journalists, bloggers and anyone interested in discussing science communication, education and literacy on the Web.


The web site is a wiki, so people who are attending are posting their names and, if appropriate, their blogs. It is a healthy assortment of scientists, university teachers, and librarians. I think that it would be a great opportunity for middle and high school science teachers who want to engage in ongoing and knowledge-growing conversations through the blogosphere.

If our goal is to teach students to think like scientists, then maybe science teachers…

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Do Not Be Afraid!

There is something comforting about having aunts and uncles who are in their 90s. It can also be very enlightening.

Two weeks ago, while I was working at Guilford Technical Community College, I spent one evening, driving down to Salisbury to visit with an aunt who was just home from the hospital the week before with congestive heart failure. I won’t go into details of what I was expecting to find, but this spry tiny little woman, greeted me at the door, hugged me (she always said that I reminded her of her oldest son), took my coat, insisted that I sit, while she fixed me a glass of water to drink. One of her daughters, Carol, was there and we sat and talked for more than an hour. At 90+, she looks and acts decades younger.

For years, Aunt Janet has been working on two novels, based on her extensive work on the geneology of her family. One book dramatically traces her family’s experiences from their first arrival in North America in the 1600s and the second is about her own experiences growing up in Salisbury, an especially picturesque North Carolina town
that has stuburnly held on to its century-old charm.

During my visit, Janet shared with me some of the stories from her childhood that she is including in the second book. She told me about clearly remembering the experience of holding on to her mother’s skirt (my grandmother), as she led them through the pitch black house with a single candle. You see, their part of town did not yet have electricity, so the night could be pitch-black.

What impresses me, is this woman, clearly remembering a time without electricity — and sharing that experience through computer skills she has developed for more than a decade. When I asked Janet to send me a digital picture of her at her computer, she appologized, saying that she did not have a digital camera. Thankfully, cousin Susan had one and sent me the picture above.

My point, in this story, is to say that there is nothing wrong with us oldsters (40 – 60) saying to our students that we do not know how to do this or that.

However, there is no excuse for being afraid!

The classroom of the 21st century is a place for learners.

It is not a place for cowards! 😉

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On My Way Home

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(Moblogged at San Jose Airport)

This morning I woke up at the San Jose Airport Courtyard hotel. Not quie as poetic as yesterday. It was an exciting and exhausting day. The keynote, an adapted presentation on themillennial generation — their economic context, how and where they play, and their information landscape — was very well received. the audience was much more diverse than usual, with tech people, a lot of classroom teachers, and quite a few preservice students — about whom I was talking.

What was especially interesting about this conference was its efforts to engage the conversation beyond the usual suspects, tech savvies who are merely looking for validation.

There is a chance that money may be on the way. A new government is emerging that may be more willing to act on the behalf of children and their future (and our future). Yet, I suspect that their vision for what 21st century shools should look like will be no more daring than those of the last government.

Perhaps now is a time when we need to start shaping a different and compelling “new story” about teaching and learning and teling that story.

Unfortunately, my thumbs are starting to spasm, and they are getting ready to board the plane. More later.

Waking up in Monterey

It’s the day after — a long day of speaking at the WCON conference in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and then the remainder of the day flying west to San Jose, and a sometimes treacherous drive to Monterey. But it’s all worth it as the sun starts to rise, bouncing gorgeous yellow red off the clouds over the Pacific, and the sound of seals barking with the surf. I have a magnificently emerging view of the bay, as more light slides across the northern hemisphere.

OK, I have a good reason to be writing like this. I glanced at my clock a few hours ago to see that it was already 5:59. I jumped up, dashed over to my computer to learn that it was only 2:59, a fact confirmed by the apologetic front desk clerk, whom I called. Jumping up makes it pretty hard for me to get back to sleep. So I decided to work through my slides for today’s keynote, and now it’s already time to get ready to pack up and go to work. I’m going to be hurting later on today.

Today is the Monterey Tech 2006 conference, cooperatively sponsored by the California League of High Schools, League of Middle Schools, and the Computer Using Educators. The audience will probably be quite different from the highly tech-savvy educators I worked with yesterday in Wisconsin. They will likely be middle and high school teachers of all brands, and a few tech educators peppered in. The conference theme and tagline is Teaching the Millennial Generation and I will be talking about just that, the millennials with some discussion about the economic landscape, the landscape of their play and work, and the rapidly changing information landscape and what it means to teachers and classrooms.

Then I’ll deliver two breakout sessions on blogging and podcasting. Then it’s home for a full week. Glorious!

I love to Learn from Digital Imigrant — Who Talk like Digital Natives

I had an incredible day yesterday. It started with entering the lobby to check out of a hotel that I had only spent about six hours in, and running into Connie Radtke, the program leader for the conference. She convinced me that there was time for breakfast before heading over to the conference, and I had a wonderfully enlightening conversation with Connie and two of her associates, over Wisconsin-style scrambled eggs.

It’s my age and being set in my ways, but the romantic in me resists distance learning. Because of that, I keep forgetting how much I learn at distance learning conferences. These people are teaching in and from the new information landscape. As they were talking about their services and the varied reasons why students seek out distance/online learning opportunities, it occurred to me that if my son’s school system had offered distance learning versions of some of their standard and AP classes, he could have take independent of school schedules, he might have had time at school to take more music classes. As it was, he was extremely limited in the courses he could take, for which he had a true passion, because of all the other stuff that had to be SCHEDULED in. To be fair, I could have sought out other opportunities, but I was too limited by my on notions of teaching, learning, and schooling.

One idea that struck me was when my breakfast chums repeated a statistic that Susan Patrick shared during her keynote address the day before, that 80% of students who enter distance learning opportunities were passing their classes before. I have much to process.

Another treat for the day was running into John Pederson. He introduced himself to me as I was preparing for my first presentation on wikis, blogs, and podcasting. Unfortunately, I did not make the connection, even when I noticed that he was playing World of Warcraft while I was reasoning with the LCD projector. However, while I was setting up for the keynote, the connection played through in my head and I dashed over with my iPod and iTalk for a conversation with John and some of his friends. It should appear on Connect Learning today or tomorrow!

Once again, distance learning conferences are where digital immigrants go to talk like digital natives. I learn so much, and hopefully give them so new contexts in literacy around which to continue wrapping their knowledge and experience.


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Personal Validation

It is especially important to me when teachers come up to me after a presentation or an address, and tell me that they enjoyed it, that they agreed (mostly) with what I had to say, and especially when they use words like inspiring. This is especially validating to me, because it is coming from teachers, partitioners of that of which I speak.

In the beginning, I was enormously intimidated by teacher audiences. They do for a living what I was about to try to do. They communicate compellingly, with goals of changing and enhancing people’s thinking, and teachers can be an especially difficult audience — though I find almost nothing but hospitality from the people I work with.

Yesterday, however, I got an especially pleasing validation. As I was going through the lunch line, picking through the delicious looking dishes based on my particular and peculiar variation of vegetarianism (more later about this, perhaps), a young man (well, younger than me) came up and said that he was not an educator, that he was at the conference with his wife.

He then described how he had just retired from Intel, and had spent thirty years in the technology industry. Enthusiastically (banging on my shoulder, threatening to topple my bowl of chowder), he kept saying how right my address was, that it wasn’t about the stuff, it wasn’t about the technology, that it was about the information, that the kids figure out the technology for themselves. They need us to teach them how to work the information.

Then he proceeded to talk about the new quad processors on the new something something HP computers, and it all just just swooped right over my head. Still, it was a unique compliment and made me feel like it was a good day.

A Good Day In Massachusetts

Photo Uploaded by David Warlick
(Moblogged on my phone) I’m Sitting at the Hartford Airport. My flight is slightly delayed, probably the standard Chicago afternoon delays. I’ll land there in a few hours, rent a car, and drive up to Fond du Lac, Wissconsin.

Tomorrow I speak at the WCON Online Learning Symposium. I’ll be talking about blogging and podcasting in a breakout session, followed by a keynote about contempory literacy.

Today was a great day of presenting and enjoying the wonderful Massachusetts hospitality. Last night, after the webinar, the folks at Discovery Educator Network invited me out to eat with several DEN employees and some DEN members, including some amazingly innovative secondary teachers.

I also had the added treat of eating with Kathy Schrock and Deneen Fraizer-Bowen. It made me even more sorry that I missed Deneen’s keynote. It was interesting listening to her talking about being an actor, and it got me to thinking about similarities between that profession and teaching. I’m not sure what those similarities are, but I am going to let that idea cook a little bit. More tomorrow. A long night ahead.


[MoBlogged — errors may be present]

I made it. It was difficult. I had to come at the place from three directions before I finally found the sign to the Sturbridge Host Hotel. Finally finding registration, I met the conference chair person, and got directed to Will Richardson’s last session. I don’t know what the session is called, but he’s talking about video production, blogging, podcasting, et al.

Will did make a passionate point about how we need to be talking about sharing our students’ work with real audiences. It’s engaging them in real conversations with the world they’re learning about.

I’m looking around at all of the laptops open and sipping from the free WiFi in the air.  I see Blogger, iWeb, and somebody’s looking at the Audacity web site, since that’s what Will is talking about.

OK, I had to check on some e-mail, but I’m back up now, and he’s showing JumpCut, just purchased by Yahoo.  Now this is pretty cool.  He says, “you don’t really need iMovie or MovieMaker any more.”  Well, if we’re talking about giving the power of information artisanship to all (most), then he’s right.  I need to look at this.

Internet is obviously slow.  I guess I’ll need to harvest some web sites for tomorrow’s sessions.

Several people have asked him, how do you do this with this web tool, or can you do that?  And Will, like myself, is saying much of the time, “I suspect that there is a way, but I’m not sure how.”  I think that this is a good answer for two reasons.  First, it’s important to know all of the features of a web app that is in perpetual beta.  Also, it’s important for teachers to see an incredibly accomplished educator, fearlessly, demonstrate and make effective use of technologies, without having memorized every button and nob.  Much of the time, you just have to go in a feel it.

Much more later from MASS CUE.

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Evening Webinar

I’ll be leaving shortly for the airport, flying up to Hartford, and then a rental car on to Sturbridge, Massachusetts, for the MASS CUE conference. This will be my first MASS CUE, but I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends. Will Richardson and I will overlap for only a few minutes, but I hope to see the last part of his last session, and then catch up a bit.

Kathy Schrock will also be there, and I’m hoping to have dinner tonight with her and some Discovery DEN members. Speaking of DEN, my MASS professional activities will start with a Webinar, sponsored and facilitated by the Discovery Educator Network. I’ll be talking about the Flat World, flat web, and flat classrooms.

We did a run-through yesterday with mixed success. It’s the Mac thing again, though the video conferencing company said that the problem had been fixed in the most recent version of the software. They keep asking me if I have an Intel Mac. Do I need an Intel Mac? Can I sell Brenda on that?

Anyway, I think I might get use to this webinar, virtual presentation thing. Today’s should be easier, since several DEN members will be on hand to give me some human faces to look at. Very relaxing.

More later, from MASSCUE!

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Finding Video

Here’s an interesting piece on the future of video searching.

By 2007, consumers won’t just want bearable video, however. They’ll want organized video. Heretofore, it’s been about making video available and easy to watch. Tomorrow, it’ll be about making it easy for people to find what they want amid the explosion of video content going online.

Video search engines worth a peek | AlwaysOn

Think about being able to take your lesson plan, keyword the web for videos to use to support your lesson, and then send those videos directly to your students. Better yet, imagine a lesson plan writing tool that does the searches for you. Better yet…

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