The Problem of Integrating Technology

I’ve been working on this one for a few days. So it’s a long article.

Several weeks ago, I published two podcasts that featured the amazing work of elementary school teacher, Bob Sprankle, in Wells, Maine. Bob hasn’t had a vacation yet. Since school dismissed, Mr. Sprankle has begun two new podcast programs: The Bobby Bucket Show, for children, and Bit by Bit, a more professional commentary on technology and education. I must admit that I could only take about three minutes of Bobby Bucket. Well, 30 seconds to be honest. (Sorry, Bob. If I were six years old, I’d love it.) But Bit by Bit is much more to my liking, and he’s already posted five shows. The topics mostly orbit around technology in the classroom, and more specifically, podcasting, about which, Bob has much to share with us.

But for his latest episode, Sprankle attended the keynote address for the ending finale of Maine’s SEED (Spreading Educator to Educator Developments) project, at outstanding program and ending conference, for which I had been asked about keynoting. Alas, they informed me that they would not need me after all, and I’m not too unhappy, because they got Angus King. I can’t feel bad when they choose the former Governor of the state, and the master mind behind Maine’s 1:1 initiative.

And, yes, Bob Sprankle recorded the address, and got permission to podcast it. It is an amazing speech, that I highly recommend your listening to. It’s the Bit by Bit, Show 05, July 13, 2005.

Governor King talked a great deal about flatism and urged his audience to read Thomas Friedman’s book before the beginning of the school year. He made a compelling and humorous case, and explained that the legislature of Maine is extraordinarily accessible (“Five letters is an avalanche.”).

But he said one thing that I would like to take exception with, as a way of clarifying something that I talked about in my last podcast. At one point, in talking about an X-factor, Governor Kind said, “the kids (must become) totally comfortable with the technology itself. It’s how the solve problems. It’s the first thing they think of to solve a problem to, work together, to collaborate, to gather data, to present data…”

I am very glad that he said this, and he said it very well. ..and I’m especially impressed that King tied the use of technology in with teaching students to be innovative. But the idea that I want to explore and talk about, and have been talking about for a few years, is what goes between the technology and the curriculum.

Computers are hard. They have sharp edges. The Internet is mysterious. It’s difficult for many of us to wrap our minds around technology. We know curriculum. Many of us have taught it for many years, and the rest of learned it for half of our lives. The place where they come together is not obvious, and it’s slippery. Some ed techers say we need to blog. Other say, collect and analyze data. Others say that instructional management systems are the way to integrate. Where and how does it fit together?

I have often said that we should stop integrating technology and instead, integrate literacy. If you hear this in my keynote address, then you may get the picture of what I’m trying to say. If not, and technology scares you, then you’ve got a big smile on your face because you can forget the computers and get back to reading instruction, something you are comfortable with.

Let me try to clarify here. We have technology, coming up against currculum, and the scraping is irritating not only to us, but to those who pay for it. We need a gasket in there. We need something that smoothes the friction and eases the connections. That gasket is information.

For educators, information means a lot of things. What I’m talking about is its shape. There’s all kinds of information around us. We live in an information environment. But more than anything else, the shape of that information has changed — dramatically.

There are three ways that the shape of information has changed. It is:

  • Networked,
  • Digital, and
  • Overwhelming.

Each of these changes has had a dramatic impact on how we access, use, and communicate information.

  1. When information is networked, then its direction becomes an issue. During most of my life, information traveled in one direction, from points of assumed authority to the consumer. Now it travels in all directions, from millions of sources — from points where we cannot assume authority.
  2. Digital information doesn’t sit still. It glows, grows, shrinks, travels at the speed of light, and in its abundance, information is simultaneously diverse, and at its roots, very much the same. Digital information is also gloriously malleable. With the skills and tools, we can shape information into almost anything we want — or need.
  3. Information is also overwhelming, where managing that information is not a biggest problem. It is having your message compete for attention amongst a growing glut of other messages.

This new information environment is much better. There’s more of it, there’s more that we can do with it, and we can have access to most of it while enjoying a coffee at Panera Bread.

Rather than trying to master technology skills, I believe that teachers should be working to understand this new information environment and the new literacies that it requires. As they seek to understand and harness it, they should teach from that information environment and its literacies. Integrating that literacy will get us further toward making classrooms more relevant to today’s students, than efforts to integrate technology.

Integration Model

This requires an enormous investment. It requires:

  • Visionary leadership,
  • Access to the information environment (appropriate and reliable technology), and
  • Time to reflect and retool.

Exactly 2¢ Worth!


More Electronic Paper

This is an interesting link sent to me by photographer and ed tech leader, Jay Bryant. Read the following excerpt from a July 13 Fujitsu press release:

Electronic PaperTokyo, July 13, 2005 — Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., Fujitsu Frontech Limited, and Fujitsu Limited today announced their joint development of the world’s first film substrate-based bendable color electronic paper with an image memory function. The new electronic paper features vivid color images that are unaffected even when the screen is bent, and features an image memory function that enables continuous display of the same image without the need for electricity. The thin and flexible electronic paper uses very low power to change screen images, thereby making it ideal for displaying information or advertisements in public areas as a type of new electronic media that can be handled as easily as paper.

The jointly developed electronic paper will be showcased at Fujitsu Forum 2005, to be held July 14 and 15 at Tokyo International Forum.

OK, let’s take this a few years into the future. Imagine how clunky projectors and pull down screens are going too look as we install film-slick electronic membranes on our white boards for displaying digital content. Or let’s just through all pre-conceptions out the window and imagine electronic wall paper, electronic desk surfaces, electronic floors. Make that stuff touch sensitive, and we’ve really step into another world. Interacting with information by interacting with the objects around us. Information and environment become one in the same.

Hey, I don’t know about this. I need a walk in the woods just thinking about it! 😉

“Fujitsu Develops World’s First Film Substrate-based Bendable Color Electronic Paper featuring Image Memory Function..” Fujitsu: The Possibilities are Infinite. 13 Jul. 2005. Fujitsu. 14 Jul. 2005 <>.


Barnaby Wasson’s Interview with Kurt Steinhaus

The latest from the Apple Distinguished Educators Podcast, an interview between Barnaby Wasson’s and ISTE President, Kurt Steinhaus. First of all, I want to say that this is a wonderful service. The information infrastructure has expanded in many ways, mostly over the last few months, and we are beginning to see some amazing ways to expand the benefits of the conference beyond its place and time. These post-conference podcast interviews are a wonderful example. I hope to find time to start posting some of my much more floor level interviews soon. but for now, go to the ADE Podcast page ( and listen or subscribe with your favorite Podcatching aggregator.

Note: Italics indicates my thoughts and my terms.

Steinhaus’ first statements were that we have to communicate with parents and grand parents. Those who talk about integrating technology, are only a very small portion of the population who influences how and what we teach. How true this is. Teachers are an easy sell (mostly). How do we convince the community at large that the classrooms that they attended are not adequate to their children’s education needs.

Barnaby says that the three Rs are crucial, along with technology. How do we reconcile with dwindling funds. Kurt says that he can see $1000 of need for every dollar appropriated. He also mentioned a Making the case tool Kit. I need to learn more about this. Can anyone share with me some information about the Making a case tool Kit Kurt went on to as the core question. What are the implications of doing nothing regarding modernizing classrooms?

He ends this section by urging us and policy makers that it isn’t just about student achievement. Retooling classrooms regards a triangle of stakeholders. It’s about improving the quality of the (1) teacher, the involvement and contribution of the (2) parent, and the learning that happens with (3) students.

Barnaby then turns on the devil. How does this reconcile with NCLB.

NCLB isn’t the devil. The fundamental ideas behind NCLB, according to Steinhaus, are things that we agree on. Technology is there, and ISTE fits in with every element as an integral part. Technology needs to be there to help the teacher do the business of teaching and to promote learning. It’s there for collecting the data. But you have to be able and be compelled to turn that data around so that you can use it to determine best practices.

Also with the emphasis on assessment, not just the Yearly Adequate Progress but also short cycle “constructive response” assessments, technology can plug directly into this, again, to turn it around and promote better teaching and learning.

What I missed here was reference to the “what we teach.” Kurt very effectively answered the question from the perspective of the International Society for Technology in Education. But my pitch is, “what has technology done to the nature of information, and how are we addressing this changing nature of information (New Shape of Knowledge) in what and how we teach?” New literacy, 21st century skills, information skills — I would have been happier hearing mention of any of these. But again, I suppose that wasn’t what Barnaby was asking.

Finally, Wasson asks about NECC. What does Steinhaus hope for attendee’s from the national conference and take back to their local chapters and their local conferences.

I’m not sure that Kurt answer the question that I heard, though he may have answered the one that was asked. We A.D.D. folks don’t always here the same things as others.

Kurt did list three fundamental elements of attending any conference, whether it be national or local, and NECC certainly models all three.

  1. The success of a conference depends partly on who you met, who you connected with, who you’re going to follow up with.
  2. Is a transformation happening? Did you get your batteries recharged?
  3. Are teachers learning something that they can use on Monday morning? I would expand that to, have all attendees taken home a solution to a problems or at least a different way to ask the question?

Steinberg ends with a plea for all of us to join ETAN (Ed Tech Action Network). I would second and third that.

The New Shape of Knowledge (and of conferences)

Steve Dembo posted his latest podcast yesterday. With most educators on break now and taking some time off from edutech stuff, I am on the edge of my seat looking and waiting for new education programs. Steve’s latest is well worth the wait. In his easy style, yet thought-provoking way of speaking (from way outside the box), Dembo has posed some suggestions and asked some important questions.

People AggregatorsEssentially, his supposition is that when we attend conferences, we find ourself in rooms with a speaker who has arranged content to be delivered using presentation, and in the case of our conferences (tech & education), multimedia of one ilk or another. Admittedly, its the same kind of thing we’re trying to get away from in the classroom.

At the same time, we are sharing the room with other educators, who in many cases know as much, if not more, about the presented topics, and certainly could add value from their varied experiences.

You can listen to the podcast at:

Necc all wrapped up.

OK, here’s my 2¢ worth, and this comes from my perspective as someone who spends a great deal of time presenting at conferences, and, a fact much relevance here, makes much of his living presenting at conferences.

I believe that of all the factors related to this problem, including technology, infrastructure, content, presentation skills, etc., time is the one that is most critical to success. This is certainly no different in our classrooms. I typically have an hour for my presentations, though it can range from 45 to 90 minutes.

Sometimes I do scripted presentations that are carefully planned and assembled, almost choreographed. You might even call them performances, with cognitive and behavioral objectives. Other times, the presentation is more open, with a lot of discussion and sharing of ideas. I present a surprising statistic or an off-edge opinion, and ask people to share their reactions within the context of their job practices and goals. We build ideas in collaboration and it is extremely useful and a lot of fun, and I’m told that I’m pretty good at this sort of facilitation.

However, at the end of the session, if you ask me which hour is more satisfying in terms of what I have accomplished with the audience, its the performance, hands down. Give me a day, I’m going to get more done by facilitating learning by sharing, what I believe Steve is talking about.

However, given an hour or two, I’m going to be able to accomplish much more by presenting ideas and techniques to the audience in a well prepared, rehearsed, multimedia performance. Now it is possible and advisable to integrate into the performance, elements of interactivity, but only where they will result in conclusions that integrate into the performance.

I agree with Steve, 100%, that there is talent, skill, and perspective in the presentation room that is being wasted in the standard dog and pony show. However, technologies are emerging that can help us to tap into those opportunities. The question that I ask is what is the best use of that hour, and what is the best use of the digital information infrastructure that extends past that hour and that presentation room. In which arena should the audience be listening and watching, and in which should they be collaborating.

I suspect that there is no hard rule here. I think that Steve is correct when it comes to the podcasting. I’d planned to record my podcasting presentation at NECC, but with the tech difficulties we had, I didn’t get around to wiring myself up for it. I have to say that I would not want a keynote podcasted. My client is paying for the performance, and I want to continue to be paid for it. I’d decided, that if anyone asked if they could record my spotlight session at NECC, I’d agree if they released any 5 minutes of it as part of a podcast. But no more than 5 minutes. Alas, no one asked.

I agree with Steve that there is a vast un-tapped resource in the presentation room. It think that we need to start refining just how we can drill it out and spread it.

I am trying to take advantage of these emerging technologies with my presentations. For NECC, all of my online handouts were wiki pages, and I invited the audience to adapt and add to the handouts. For the podcasting session, I got additions from Steve, and from veteran podcasters Jeff Moore, Bud Hunt, and Eric Jefcoat. I also included a page with a built-in RSS aggregator that captures and lists any Technorati-aware blog that mentions certain keywords associated with the presentation. Harnessing the post presentation conversation. There are currently 14 posts listed, including some from before the session.

I don’t know which way is best. It’s probably a combination of the two. One thing that I do know is that the presentation point, its time and place, must be a springboard to bigger things. And understanding that, I suspect that WiFi in the presentation room, has become as essential as the LCD projector. It’s about sharing, and extending the sharing.

2¢ worth.

PS: Mike Lawerence, Executive Director of California’s CUE, says that conferences are people aggregators. I would tend to agree, especially when considering Steve’s ideas about sharing the wealth of talent.

Sheryl Abshire Interview

Sheryl Abshire InterviewApple Distinguished Educator, Barnaby Wasson, interviewed CoSN Chair, Sheryl Abshire, while at NECC last week. Some time during the night, the podcast recording was posted as part of the NECC ADE Podcast. I highly recommend you listen to this important educator. The podcast web site is at:

..and the RSS address, for those who want to subscribe is: RSS

In closing the interview, Wasson asked Dr. Abshire to list what she thought were the three priorities for educators, in terms of how the federal government impacts on teaching and learning in the 21st century.

Three Priorities:

  1. Funding (we’re not done)
  2. Helping School districts to partner curriculum & technology
  3. Public Acceptance that schools must be different

The Cluetrain is leaving the Station

John Pederson has organized a study group of some really smart educators (and me) to talk about The Cluetrain Manifesto, as it applies to teaching and learning in the twenty-first century. There is still plenty of time to jump on board. The URL for the session moodle is:

John did an interesting thing with the 95 thesis of the Manifesto. He remixed it, taking references to markets, and replacing them with learning, and occurrences of companies become schools and customers became parents & students. The first assignments were to comment on the original 95 and its relevance today, and then to comment on the education remix. I answered both with the same statement. What can I say. The cat ate my brain.

As I read through the 95 thesis, I see a proclamation that we have moved beyond a an industrial or mechanized treatment of information to something that is different, and probably not yet settled enough for a really good label.

It goes way beyond the industry of publishing, and includes how we treat readers. Demographics implies sorting through people and placing them together into bins for appropriate treatment. We aren’t beyond this in education as we are asked to increasingly depend on research-based, scientifically proven techniques, assuming that by studying groups of students and their behavior, we can concoct teaching techniques that will work with categories of children.

It turns teachers into technicians, who pull out of their toolboxes the prescribed and sometime scripted techniques to address the needs of groups of students. Although research is very useful, teaching isn’t like this. It is an ongoing, evolving, powerful, and playful conversation between humans, with the goal to help children to become better people.

There is no doubt that our customers are getting smarter. 17 IQ points since the 1940’s, which is almost impossible to reconcile except that these kids play video games. However, there are lots of holes in their smartness. They still need us. And the best way to help them is from their networks — from their information environment. Networks are going to happen. Do we try to control them, or do we use them?

Finally, I suspect that we have no choice but to rely more and more on conversations. In a time of rapid change, it’s the only way. We can’t rely on a publishing industry that takes years to produce materials. We can’t rely on state and federal governments to keep us in line with the world that we and our children are experiencing. Schools of Education are in the wrong place and the wrong time to believe that they can prepare career educators. It must become an ongoing, evolving, powerful, and playful conversation. As publishers, governments, and schools of education understand and participate in this conversation, they will remain relevant.

Teachers and administrators who do not will be ignored by their students.

Please consider joining in to this excellent opportunity. You don’t have to participate. Just read and think.

Skills for All Teachers

Yesterday, SEGA Tech commented on a post from Laura Turner through THE Journal, called Every Educator Should Possess these 20 Skills. Jeff, the author of the SEGA piece wrote:

know(ing) how to use technology and integrating technology in the classroom are two different things. What do you think?

I agree, Jeff, and I suspect that Laura would agree as well. Knowing how to use the technology only catches us up with our students. Taking the next step, one that is crucial to educating today’s children for their information-driven, technology-rich world, requires us to examine and reflect on how these various technologies affect our information environment. As I’ve said many times, it isn’t the technology that is impacting our lives, it is the information, and we have to come to grips with how the nature of information (shape of knowledge) is changing.

I want to take a few minutes and comment on Laura’s items. And I appoligize to Ms. Turner if it appears that I am taking exception with her very fine list. My intention is to continue her conversation.

  1. Word Processing Skills
    OK! What does it mean when anyone with a computer can produce written content with the assistance of word processing software. What does it mean that thousands of people today are making at least part of their income by selling books through the digital bazaars, books that would have had no buyers five years ago, authors with no voice — without the word processor.

  2. Spreadsheets Skills
    Math lives on. Kids must learn to add, subtract, count, and measure. The must understand the language of numbers. But are we teaching them to process thousands of numbers. Learning to use a spreadsheet is as critical as learning long division. No, it’s more critical.

  3. Database Skills
    Well, I honestly don’t know about this, because I don’t know what database skills are anymore. It was a pretty easy thing to wrap your mind around in the days of Microsoft Works, and the original AppleWorks. But who needs to know how to use Access? Not me. I do agree that people need to know how databases work in order to access databased digital resources. Students need to understand that the value of information increases when it is organized.

  4. Electronic Presentation Skills
    The key word here is presentation. As we become increasingly dependent on information, communication becomes an increasingly dependable skill. We acknowledge that a communication’s success depends, to a great degree, on the format of the information — the media. Students must learn to communicate with images, sound, animation, and video, at the same time that we are teaching them to write.

  5. Web Navigation Skills
    Information is a web today. Alphabetical orders no long rule how we organize information. It is the logical connections that form themselves into webs. It means that the answering of a basic question now requires an entire aray of higher-order thinking skills. Look to the exceptional work of Donald Leu and his team at The Literacy Web.

  6. Web Site Design Skills
    I would expand this to all information design. What we are learning about how information presents itself online, should be transfered to print as well. There are some basic rules for information design. But the bottom line is to present information in order to accomplish your goals.

  7. E-Mail Management Skills
    This is a good one. I would also include IM and teleconferencing content.

  8. Digital Cameras
    It is important to understand that cameras stopped being just cameras when they became digital. Think of a digital camera as an input device, a machine that assists us in collecting information (visual) in then importing that information into a computer where we can add value to it.

  9. Computer Network Knowledge Applicable to your School System
    OK, I suspect that there is something that needs to be known about networks. But networks will increasingly pass into the background as they become increasingly ubiquitous.

  10. File Management & Windows Explorer Skills
    Basically, we run our own digital libraries now. It’s our file structures. It is also our bookmarks, our RSS aggregators, and much more. We have much to learn from librarians.

  11. Downloading Software From the Web (Knowledge including eBooks)
    I do it all the time. Unfortunately, few schools allow it, for very good reason. It is part of keeping up and continuing to make our devices more useful as problem-solving, goal-achieving tools.

  12. Installing Computer Software onto a Computer System
    Ask any 4th grader. 😉

  13. WebCT or Blackboard Teaching Skills
    It doesn’t stop here. We have the ability to create digital content environments today and to invite people with similar interests in to study, discuss, solve problems, create products, or just to play.

  14. Videoconferencing skills
    A biggy. Presenting in front of a camera is different from presenting in front of an audience. I can vouch for that. It requires a different set of gestures, a different frame of voice, a different point of focus. I need some lessons here.

  15. Computer-Related Storage Devices (Knowledge: disks, CDs, USB drives, zip disks, DVDs, etc.)
    All this as well as the next big thing. Hey, what happens when there is so much storage capacity that we don’t need networks any more. Think about it. Have you seen Safari Montage from Library Video Company?

  16. Scanner Knowledge
    Like digital cameras, it’s an input device. Capture information so that you can add value to it.

  17. Knowledge of PDAs
    As important as understand PDA is understand what the increased ubiquity of what is essentially superhuman intellegence mean to what, how, and why we teach.

  18. Deep Web Knowledge
    I’ve heard this referred to as the invisible web, though that is apparently an incorrect label. This relates back to using webs of information and knowing how to talk to a database.

  19. Educational Copyright Knowledge
    Hey, we’re all going to be information property owners. Ask your students to copyright (Copyright (c) by Johnny Anderson 2005) their work. Better yet, look into Creative Commons license.

  20. Computer Security Knowledge
    (See below)

What I see that’s missing? Obviously: blogging, Wikis, RSS, and aggregators, although they could be integrated into items that Laura did list.

The big obvious is ethics. Here last item, computer security, is critical. But what are we as educators doing to try to eliminate the need for security? Ethics and information, needs to be integrated into the curriculum.

I suspect that all 20 of Ms. Turner’s items could fit into one or more of four skills:

  1. Selecting and Accessing digital information.
  2. Processing digital information.
  3. Producing and communicating digital information.
  4. Ethical practices in using digital information.

Please do read Laura’s article. There is a wealth of content there as well as many valuable web links.

4th of July Blog

7:11 AM

For those readers outside of the U.S., on this day, we celebrate the signing of our Declaration of Independence. With this act, a few courageous men set this country on a path toward freedom from monarchy, and an experiment in self governance and an economy based on working to achieve our enlightened self interests.

I am not going to talk about my country’s glorious successes, of which there are many. That will be done by others today, more eloquently than I could. They will talk, in their speeches, about heros. They will speak about the deserving heros of war, those who have made the supreme sacrifice and especially those men and women who risk their health and their lives today protecting not only our freedom but the freedom of others.

In this space, I want to make a statement about those men and women who will not be mentioned in today’s city-part speeches, people who work day after day, in thankless jobs, assuring that this country succeeds — people who are equally responsible for the greatness of this country. Most do not risk their physical well-being, but they do spend their days, months, and years in jobs that are not exciting, working for significantly less pay than their corporate counterparts, with little or no opportunities for monetary advancement. But they work, none the less, to make sure that this country succeeds for its people and the dreams that our forefathers inspired. It is hard work, and men and women do that work every day.

So if you know a government bureaucrat, thank that person today for their daily efforts in making sure that roads are built and maintained, that we are protected from the occasional greed that can risk our health, and to assure that all U.S. citizens have the opportunities to achieve their dreams. If you know a police officer or fire fighter, thank that person for their work and their risks in keeping us safe. If you know a school teacher, thank that person today for their work and their creativity in helping our children to be prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.

And if you hear someone talking disparagingly about government and government workers, if you hear people complaining about how there taxes are too high, and criticize people who seek to invest in our country’s future, do not thank them. Because they are not patriots.

Future Textbooks? Wiki Textbooks?

Last night, Gordon Dahlby posted the following message to the WWWEDU list. This is candy for me, and I am posting my response to the weblog.

On Jul 2, 2005, at 6:28 PM, Gordon Dahlby wrote:

What would a wikipedia type textbook look like? Such as, what would we need to create a wikipedia-type 1-9th grade math textbook series or social studies, or fill-in-the blank subject?

What is it from a “textbook” that attracts teachers and schools to purchase this.

Wikitextbooks would be perpetually added to by teachers, curriculum directors, student teachers, graduate and undergraduate students, SME (subject matter experts), and, perhaps, students, and perhaps the business world.

What does the group think?1

I suspect that this is the way that we are going, though we will need something richer than most wiki engines that exist today. I would probably put students on top though, making the textbook more of a personal digital textbook, rather than a class publication. The teacher’s contribution would be more akin to today’s powerpoint presentations, though MUCH richer. The teacher would present or provide a multimedia information product and students would pick and choose, and mix and re-mix that and other content and media to enrich their own digital textbooks. It would be part eportfolio and part digital library.

Also, don’t leave out the publishers. They would produce effectively packaged content and sell it piece-meal, each student or teacher receiving an allowance for fee-based media to be include in their resources.

The bottom line is that education would be a combination of goals-based and standards-based expectations (though we would rescue the standards from the government [amateurs] and put it back in the hands of professional educators). Students would be told, “after this unit, you must be able to do these things, or you must know these things and be able to do this with them.” Students, with the ongoing consultative assistance of teachers and others, would work to achieve the goals, constructing a growing personal digital library in the process. And, of course, they would have access to their digital library while taking their tests (except for the most basic/fundamental skills).

At NECC, I started using MediaWiki for my online handouts. I found an extension, developed by two German engineers, that displays RSS feeds, so that blog articles written about the sessions would appear within the handouts. Also, for the podcasting presentation on Thursday, veteran podcasters Jeff Moore, Bud Hunt, Steve Dembo, and Eric Jefcoat contributed content about how they produce their programs.

2¢ worth!

1Dahlby, Gordon. “Curiosity on wikitextbooks.” Online posting. 2 Jul 2005. WWWEDU. 03 Jul 2005. <>.

Impending Impact goes Little Noticed at NECC

It’s morning, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading yesterday’s USA Today (compliments of Holiday Inn Express). I’m intrigued by the story of a human built space craft crashing into a comet.

On Monday at 1:52 a.m. ET, a probe deployed by a NASA spacecraft 83 million miles from home will smash at 23,000 mph into an ancient comet the size of Manhattan, blasting a hole perhaps 14 stories deep.

Launched in January, NASA’s $333 million Deep Impact mission is designed to answer questions that scientists have long had about comets, the ominous icebergs of space.1

Cool stuff!

It also intrigues me that it’s just another story. I’m old enough (here he goes again) that I remember, not only when Neil Armstrong step onto the moon, but also when Alan Shepherd was launched into space. I remember Sputnik, and I remember how the world held its breath for just a moment with each one of these events. Now, we are exploring the Solar System, and beyond, and it’s like it is happening in the next town over, and deserves little more attention.

OK, we’re here at the National Educational Computing Conference, where tech-saavy, forward-looking educators from across the country and around the world are talking about the future of education. Yet, the only place I’ve heard tell of this extraterrestrial event is in the newspaper outside my hotel room door.

OK, we’re busy worrying about more important things, like the fact that the U.S. federal government is willing to pay more to build that small space craft than it is willing to spend on contemporary technologies for its children’s classrooms, a budget that president bush proposes be slashed to $0.

As budget talks continue on Capitol Hill, advocates of educational technology are praising a spending plan approved by the House Appropriations Committee on June 16, which would restore more than $300 million in funding for the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) block-grant program and provide additional spending for a handful of other initiatives President Bush had asked Congress to cut in 2006.2

Yes! We have more important things to worry about!

1 Vergano, Dan. “Science meets a comet head-on.” USA Today 29 Jun 2005. 30 Jun 2005 <>

2 Murray, Corey. “House would restore $300M for ed tech.” eSchool News 17 Jun 2005 . 30 Jun 2005 <>