Remember When

Cloud MountainYesterday I spoke to a gathering of Superintendents from North Carolina, the Superintendents Quarterly Meeting.  I had the same experience there that I’ve had with the two school board association presentations that I’ve delivered.  They’re on board.  They get it.  They know we have to move forward.  But they answer to someone else.  Several superintendents asked if I could come and speak with their board members.  Several board members from Pennsylvania and Maryland, want me to speak to their community. 

It reminds me, in a way, of the peasant who wants to become the sun, and then, as the sun discovers that the clouds block it, and then wants to become the clouds.  But discovers that the mountains can block the clouds, and becomes a mountain.  Then finally learns that peasants are bringing down the mountain, chipping a way at it for gravel. 

Does anyone know the name of that story and where I might find it?

Perhaps the final audience is the peasant — the students.  Parents will pay attention to their children. Perhaps we should figure out how to do that as well — retell the story from the student’s point of view — shades of Deneen Frazier Bowen.

I also heard something very interesting yesterday, something that a superintendent said, while moving through the buffet  table.  He said, “You know, I think that the best assessment we can have is what we use to have — where you relied on the opinion of the teacher.”

We’ve lost confidence in our teachers — the best and most powerful computer, and processor and interpreter of  complex information we can imagine!

Image Citation:
Julien. “DSCN1406.” Hi-d.Ch’s Photostream. 10 Oct 2007. 10 Oct 2007 <>.

Almost 24 Hours Later

Teachers Watching Presentation in Bangkok
Teachers watching the Opening K12 Online Conference presentation from Bangkok.

I leave in just a few minutes to talk about “Our Students • Our Worlds” to the Superintendents Quarterly Meeting here in Raleigh — a meeting of the district superintendents across North Carolina, from Murphy to Manteo, as they say.  But what’s really got me thinking is the chat site that I started up with the opening presentation for the 2007 K12 Online Conference. 

The session was installed and opened around 7:30 yesterday.  Part of that web page were instructions for using a chat program to discuss the opening presentation as people were watching it.  During the first few minutes, messages appeared from the U.S., Korea, SecondLife (that was me), Australia, Thailand, and The Philippines.

I can think of nothing that illustrates the changing boundaries of our teaching and learning environments than this.  In almost 24 hours, 2,539 messages were posted to that chat room.

Image Citation:
Kim. “Watching.” SuperKimbo in BKK’s Photostream. 8 Oct 2007. 9 Oct 2007 <>.

K12 Online Conference Begins

Special Instructions:
  • As you watch the video, during the first 24 to 48 hours, go to the session chat, register, and post questions, comments, and additions, as they occur to you.
  • If you use Twitter, then post comments, while watching, that would be of value to your followers.
  • If you blog or podcast about the session, tag your posts with k12online07 and k12online07pc.
  • I am writing an article about the three converging conditions on a wiki page. The outline is currently on a wiki page. It would be useful to me if you could go and insert any elements of the address or concept that resonated especially well with you.

For some reason, unbeknown’gst to me, I was asked to deliver (produce) the opening keynote — and for some reason, unbe… I agreed.  It wasn’t fun.  It’s hard work to present in front of a camera, with no one else to speak to.  At least it’s hard for me.  But I feel most comfortable using my own voice and my own body to express myself.  I’m not creative nor clever enough to do it any other way.

I suspect that we are going to see some amazingly creative and clever people expressing ideas in a wide variety of ways during the next two weeks (15-27 Oct).  We’ll be seeing blogs, podcasts, wikis, and probably a whole slew of new virtual education tools.  Me — I just talk.

But I want you to talk as well.  Some of you will be twittering your responses, and that’s Great.  Some will be blogging and perhaps even podcasting.  If you do, please use the conference tag (k12online07) and also the tag that was established for my keynote (k12online07pc).

But I’ve also set up a chat room, that works very much like Twitter — that is if everyone of you had a Twitter account and we had all befriended (were following) each other.  The URL is:

Click there and you will be asked to assure that you will make ethical use of this information tool.  After signing in, I ask that you post any questions, comments, or addendum to my presentation.  Your name and country will be attached to your comments, and they will appear on the pages of every other person who is watching the presentation, or continuing to reflect on the ideas.

Between 24 and 48 hours after the keynote (12:00PM GMT), I will shutdown the chat and transfer the transcript over to a wiki page, where I will insert my own 2¢ worth into the conversation.  You will be able to access that wiki at:

You, too, are welcome and invited to edit the wiki transcript of the chat and add your own answers and insights.  the password for the wiki is k12online.  Be warned that my wiki engine (PMWiki) is a fairly primitive wiki in that it is not a WYSIWYG.  There are instructions at the bottom of the edit page for performing basic editing functions.

Thank you, and let the 2007 K12 Online Conference begin!

New Literacy Article…

How I know when my kids are home from college
This is how I know when my kids are home from college.

I received an e-mail yesterday with a link to this article The New Literacies from District Administration, and was very happy to read it and to realize that school administrators are also reading it.

The New Literacies:

Foundational or traditional literacy is about print on a page, or decoding and making sense of words, images and other content that a reader can string together and then begin to comprehend. They are the words and pictures students read and pore over that are contained in textbooks, in novels, on standardized tests, and even in comic books.

The new literacies encompass much more. Their utility lies in online reading comprehension and learning skills, or 21st century skills, required by the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs), including content found on wikis, blogs, video sites, audio sites and in e-mail. They require the ability not just to “read” but also to navigate the World Wide Web, locate information, evaluate it critically, synthesize it and communicate it-all skills that are becoming vital to success in this century’s economy and workforce.

Central to the article seemed to be “a recent PEW Internet and American Life study,” The Digital Disconnect: The widening gap between Internet-savvy students and their schools (8/14/2002) that states…

students are spending 27 hours a week online at home, compared to an average of 15 minutes per week at school.

It’s ironic that the article referenced a five year old report, which, when I downloaded it, didn’t seem to make any mention of this statistic.  If anyone can track down the source of this statistic, it would probably be helpful.  Assign your students. 😉

The article went on to describe the work of the New Literacies Research Lab at UCONN, a group I have high respect for, and have been in awe of, for many years.  Donald Leu, Douglas Hartman, and Julie Coiro have been amazingly resourceful in uncovering exactly what the new literacies are, and also in exploring the contexts of how students learn these skills.

I also found interesting the work that is being done in some countries, including Ireland, Finland, the UK, Japan, Singapore, and Mexico, where…

there is a national policy to make Internet access available to all schools in all classrooms  and all homes in the next 15 years.

According to Leu, Finland…

..has a national training model for teachers to integrate the Internet and other ICTs into the classroom. The government gives fi ve weeks of paid release time for professional development to all teachers, Leu says. “They know their kids are going to have to compete with other kids,” Leu adds. “And they also have a priority for an information technology economy. They’re very focused on that.”

I strongly recommend reading through this article and posting it to your library.

Does DIGG have an education category yet?

How do you feel about what you know?

Teaching ViolinWhen I graduated from high school, history was probably the very last subject I thought I would ever be interested in pursuing. All of my social studies teachers had also been coaches, and, with the exception of one, they were primarily coaches.  Being a bad teacher would never have gotten them fired. Being a bad coach…? Well, let’s put it this way.  Residents of the small mill town I grew up in didn’t wait at the local newspaper offices on Wednesday afternoon, for our weekly to go on sale, so that they could read about their children’s performance on a history test.

It all changed when I went to college and attended history classes that utterly mesmerized me. I wanted to become a history teacher. Now my relationship with history was not without its ups and downs. I probably changed interests while I was in college more times than a flee hops hairs on a hound dog. But I always came back to teaching, and never considered anything else but history.

Much of it was because I wanted to tell stories, like my college history teachers.  Telling great stories about great feats in time — well it sorta makes you part of those great deeds and almost insurmountable odds. But I wanted to be a teacher because…. Well, let me put it this way.

My daughter is in her last year of education school. She’ll student teach next semester, and she, too, wants to teach history. But she doesn’t get it yet — at least the way that I did when I was teaching. I watched, almost exclusively, the PBS channel, any show I could identify as having anything to do with history, or even science if it could be applied to our social world. I subscribed to far more magazines than I could afford (asking for subscriptions from family members for Christmas). But she’s not doing that, and it worried me until…. Well it’s the teacher thing.

Aside from the master story tellers, I saw in those history teachers at Gaston College, and later experienced as a teacher, an entirely different relationship between me and what I learned. It seems that there is an altogether different relationship between topic and teacher than between topic and student. For students the relationship is probably more akin to that between me and my food. I need it. I consume it. I think about it, probably more than I should. But it is not, in much way, an integral part of me, other than sustenance and my almost regularly fluctuating girth.

However, as a teacher, my relationship with topic is much more a part of how I express myself. It is much more like my relationship with my cloths. Perhaps even more so, as a teacher, its like the relationship between a musician and a violin, which becomes an extension of the players mind, expressed as music.

Any teacher will say that they learned what they teach better, after they started teaching it, than when they were a student in university. Is it this new relationship between teacher and topic that is the cause? Would it be possible to create a similar relationship between topic and student? Would it require completely redefining student, learner, classroom, curriculum….

I think that these issues are probably going to be explored, if not explicitly, then at least in the air around the many floating presentations of the 2007 K12 Online Conference — which starts tomorrow!

Image Citation:
Sarah. “Violin Lesson with Sim.” Usedcarspecialist. 26 Jul 2005. 7 Oct 2007 <>.

Extending K12 Online Conference

K12 Online Aggregator WikiAlmost by definition, the K12 Online Conference will be extended.  It will be extensive.  As I was writing yesterday about extending conferences using new web tools, an article inspired by Alex Regone and Arvind Grover’s podcast, an idea occurred to me for seperating out tagged conversations about the individual presentations for the conference.

K12Online organizers have created a schedule of presentations covering the next three weeks.  It is displayed in a web table on their web site.  (BTW, my presentation is called Inventing the New Boundaries.)  For each presentation, they have established a tag, made up of the conference tag (k12online07), a code for the strand and incrementing numbers for presentations in that strand.  OK, it makes a lot of sense, but it is hard to remember.

Anyway, I was able to transfer the table’d data over to a wiki page with much less trouble than I’d anticipated.  Here is the page.  I’m using PMWiki for reasons I reveal in a few minutes.  For each presentation, I placed two beginning corner brackets ([[) in front of the session tag, and two ending corner brackets (]]) after the tag.  This made the tag a hyperlink, that created a new wiki page when clicked.

Then I decided what each page would say, creating a template of sorts.  Here is the template that I pasted into each session’s wiki page (comments are in italics) — this is a bit geeky:

Return to [[K 12 Online Conference Feeds]] {a link back to the main page}
—- {a horizontal rule or line}
Blogospheric conversations tagged with ”k12online07oo10”: {just text to be read}
(:table width=”200″ align=”right”:) {starts a right aligned table that holds Flickr photos tagged for the session}
””+Flickr Photos+”” {heading for Flickr Photos}
—- {creates a horizontal rule}
(:RSS &lang=en-us&format=rss_200 long 100>:) {this is the magic — more below}\n
(:tableend:) {ending the table for the Flickr photos}
””+Blog Feeds+”” {heading for blogs tagged for the session}
—- {another horizontal rule}
(:RSS amp;tab=wb&q=k12online07oo10&ie=utf-8&num=100& output=rss long 100>:) {more magic}

You can see the magic of this by going to the session page set up for the entire conference — here.  The page lists blog postings that have been written by Wes Fryer, Tom Net, Lenva Shearing, Stephanie Sandifer,  conference staff, and many more.  The photos, I took while working on my presentation — and there is a photo of the conference flier.  All of these blog articles and photos show up on this page because they are tagged with k12online07.

So here is the magic.  There is a line of code on this page that looks like this, without the values entered in:

(:RSS >:)

  1. Following the RSS, I entered a space and a URL that I captured when I conducted a Google Blog search for k12online07.  The search engine returned a list of blog posts that included k12online07. and a link, at the left, labeled RSS.  That’s where I got the URL, by right clicking on that link and copying the link location (shortcut) into my computer’s clipboard. 
  2. Pasting that URL in, I then typed a space and the word long.  This indicates that we want some of the blog article displayed as well as the title, and that we want enough of the photo codes included to display the photos.
  3. Finally, I added another space and the number 100.  This indicates that we want the latest 100 blog entries or photos from Flickr.

(:RSS long 100>:)

Each time someone opens this page, it goes to Google and Flickr, each of which search for articles and photos tagged with k12online07.

To be fair, Wikispaces will do this as well.  The code for listing an RSS feed in this wiki tool that is very popular with educators is actually quite a bit more sophisticated than for PMWiki:

[[rss url=”feed URL” title=”Source title” number=”# of items” description=”true/false” date=”true/false” author=”true/false” length=”# of characters” ]]

You fill in:

  • The URL of the RSS feed
  • A title for the listing of blog entries or other syndicated items
  • The number of items you want displayed
  • Whether you want the text of the blog article to appear
  • Whether you want the data of the item to be listed,
  • Whether you want the author of the item listed, and
  • The number of characters in the article displayed

There are two reasons that I didn’t use Wikispaces for these pages.  One is that I still can not get Wikispaces to display photos from Flickr using its RSS feed routine.  And second, it will not display RSS feeds inside of a table, and I wanted to display the photos along side the blog entries.

So, sorry for the geekiness of this blog, and enjoy!

2¢ Worth!

Extending Conferences — Thoughts from behind the Steering Wheel

I finished my work for the Maryland School Boards Association around 11:30 yesterday, so I spent the rest of the day driving home.  The rental was comfortable enough, though I’m probably the only person in America who isn’t thrilled when I’m upgraded to an SUV.  Under normal circumstances I would have been happy to take the Chevrolet Aveo (tiny and the only thing they had besides SUVs), but with the 10+ hours of driving in front of me, I opted (reluctantly) for the larger car.

A Conference Scene I also had a good book for listening, William Gibson’s latest, Spook Country.  ..and I got more than half of the way through before overdosing on his rich, poetic, deep, and incredibly demanding prose.  Just too much to decode in every sentence.  So I caught up with some podcasts that had been sitting for weeks in my phone.  The one that got me thinking the most was an EdTechTalk show, I think it was 21st Century Learning #7.  They were talking about how to expand conferences using Web 2.0. In their case it was NYCIST, the New York independent schools technology conference. 

Alex or Arvind mentioned Hitchhikr, but this is a very generic, every conference tool that only points to some possibilities.  So here are some ideas that occurred to me, while I was listening to this very engaging podcast.

  • I think that their discussion of setting up a Drupal page for the conference was great, especially as you could draw blogs, Twitter, and probably Flickr artifacts of the conference into pages using RSS.  It’s been a long time since I’ve played with Drupal, but as I recall, it did have the ability to aggregate feeds.
  • I thought that what Jeff Utecht did with Ning for the Learning 2.0 conference in Shanghai was brilliant.
  • In the podcast, Alex and Arvind suggested that merely aggregating every photo, every blog, and every Tweet would be way too much information, and I agree, though this is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • One of the goals of giving voice to conference goers (and classroom learners) is that the focus experience (conference event or classroom lesson) is extended in many different directions, and that this extension is trainable (RSS aggregation tools), and it is archived.  Meaning that you can syphon off content, insight, and conversation for a long time to come.
  • But overload of information is still an issue.  So what occurred to me is a page on Drupal (or Ning or whatever) that is maintained by a conference editor (or classroom editor).  The editor would scan through the waves of content being contributed by attendees, and pick out just those articles, photos, and Tweets, select those that are of most immediate importance, and then feature them, or experts of them on that Drupal (or Ning) page.
  • I think that one aspect of this desire to extend our conferences is that the organizers of many of these conferences are simply not capable, for many good reasons, of putting together these information landscapes.  So another direction is ways that enterprising attendees can contribute.  This is what Hitchhikr is about.  Anyone can register a conference and suggest a conference tag(s).
  • Steve Hargadon exemplified this model of conference attendee structuring the conferences cyberlandscape by suggesting tags for each session at NECC (NECC 2007 Session Tags and Feeds!), an enormous task that was enormously useful, and continues to be useful.
  • The fact is, with a little knowledge of RSS, and access to a free wiki engine (PMWiki), a person could ….. (hmmmm — more later).
  • I think that the ultimate will be when we have the tools for each of us to shape our own extended conference experience by aggregating only the speakers, topics, and conversations that are of most value to us.
  • 2¢ Worth

A Few Random Things

Click to see my Animoto for the Conference…

First, if you have time, go back to yesterday’s blog, I’m not Teacher Bashing.  What I’m looking for is an image of the teacher, the classroom, learning culture, administration, etc. where the world of new initiatives and models (21st Century Skills, NETS Refreshed), the latest issues of their discipline, and the latest in best practices are a part of the job.  David Tuss said that the 21st century teacher is…

  • Connected,
  • Collaborative, and
  • Creative

What does that look like?  Please post your comments there.

I spoke at my first state school board association conference yesterday, and I must say that I was more than impressed with the conversations that I had, at least with the folks who came up to me wanted to have conversations.  I did an hour and a half workshop during the afternoon, during which I was only able to cover about a third of what I had attended.  The audience was quite interactive, they had lots of questions, expected answers, and sincerely had their students’ best interests in a new future at heart.  I confess that I was a bit underprepared to address what this new information landscape means to being a school board member, other than the obvious — consider using social networks, blogs, podcasting, wikis, etc. as a way to collaborate with each other and communicate with and engage your constituents.

The one area that disappointed me was in the exhibitors hall.  It seemed that just about every other booth was an architectural firm.  Now my observation may not be at all fair, because I didn’t talk to all of them, only three.  They were very busy booths.  But I asked each of the three, how has school design changed in the last ten years, and how do you suspect it will change in the next 10? Perhaps I should have used 20 years or 30.  But their answers disappointed me.

  • Schools are greener.
  • Construction techniques are much more efficient.
  • Wiring in the floors, walls, ceiling.

That was it.  I asked one of the firm’s representative, what it might mean to the design of a classroom when every student has a laptop.  He said that it probably wouldn’t affect the room design in any way.  He did say that perhaps schools should have some smaller classrooms for classes with fewer students such as Japanese Language, AP Physics, or legal terminology.

To be fair, I may have been talking with the wrong people.  I may have completely missed the truely innovative firms who were in other parts of the hall.  There may even be no reason to change the design of schools.  I don’t know.  It’s the reason I was asking.  How do they change?  These folks are the experts.  Is the answer — they don’t change?

Help me, Christian Long!

I’m Not Teacher Bashing…

Teacher Shading her EyesI had a conversation with a teacher the other day.  She was taking a graduate course on literacy in the digital media age, and had been, as part of the class, introduced to the framework for 21st century skills from the Partnership for 21st century Skills.  The framework has been adopted by the state governor, school board, and department of education for this teachers state — one of the first states to adopt the program.  However, she said that when a poster of the framework was recently given out at a faculty meeting at her school, she was the only teacher who had ever heard of it.  She also said that nothing more was said about the initiative by the administrator who was leading the meeting.

Of course the problem is not the teachers, though they should be aware of progressive initiatives happening in education.  The problem is not the administrator, who learned about the initiative as only one of a string of issues on the agenda of the leadership meeting where she received the bundle of posters, though she, too, should be aware of emerging issues. 

The problem is — well there are lots of problems.  And there are lots, lots, lots, of things we’re doing right.  I guess that the problem is an institution that has been allowed and even encouraged to maintain a culture of work and expectations that were entirely appropriate for a highly successful industrial society that rested on an economic high, unconcerned by a creeping but accelerating flatness.

But a new century, a new global economy, a new environment of personal power, and a new information and media landscape demand a new culture and even definition for education and being educated. 

So here’s your assignment for the day. 

  • How would you define the 21st century teacher?
  • How would you define the 21st century classroom?
  • How would you define the 21st century student?

Image Citation:
Nwar, Ryun. “Quintessential Kindergarten Teacher.” Orionoir’s Photostream. 22 Sep 2007. 3 Oct 2007 <>.