A Casual Blog Commute

A nagging concern about the new web continues to haunt me. It’s one of the points that EPIC 2014 makes so well. It is our tendency to attract only those sources of information that agree with our world view, causing us to echo-chamber ourselves into information environments that may further polarize society.

During a conversation at NECC with Technology & Learning Magazine’s Editor & Chief, Susan McLester, she told me about a practice in the San Francisco Bay Area (and probably other areas) called Casual Carpooling. You park at the local BART station, but rather than getting on the train, you wait in a line for a car. The cars are driven by commuters who want to take the fast track (commuter lanes) into the city, but need two more riders to qualify. So when the next car comes up, you and the next person in line get in and you find yourself commuting into town and casually conversing with two complete strangers. What an amazing opportunity to be exposed to new perspectives, and to have your perspective stretched.

I think it would be interesting to have a web app, that allows you to click a button, and have the latest blog entries of two other bloggers randomly selected for you. You read them and then must comment by agreeing with some aspect of what they are saying. No disagreements, just finding common ground to think about and describe.

2¢ Worth

Hjem, “Doughnuts and Red Bull.” Hjem. 15 Nov 2004. 11 Jul 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/hjem/1506809/>.

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Workshop in Warrenton

It’s Monday, after getting home from NECC on Saturday, and I’m already on the road.  I am working in Warren County in northern North Carolina, introducing selected groups of teachers to blogging, podcasting, webcasting, and classroom web sites.  After the session, they debrief with each other, and then, at their tables, come up with project ideas for using these technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

The first group suggested blogged book reports and podcasts from field trips, as well as many other great ideas.

The Heights of NECC and Regrets

 47 183858873 434Aa73060NECC is over for most of us and this day could be the quietest day of the summer among edudigitals. We’re tired. Some of us are lagged. Some are still navigating airports as they are traveling home to distant continents. I’m working today, because I’m back in Warren County tomorrow, off to a state technology conference in Tennessee on Tuesday, and then the family goes up to Western Carolina University to see my daughter be inducted into Pi Gamma Mu, an honor society for students of the social sciences. I continue to be amazed that my children continue to excel. Well, knowing my wife makes it seem less unbelievable.
Hands down, the best thing about NECC this year was the conversations. Going face-to-face with very smart people taught me so many new ideas and opportunities and also taught me more about my own thinking. I return both fatigued and energized. Many of the people I talked with said the same thing, that it was the networking that was the value. It makes me wonder if the birds-of-a-feather concept should be expanded, perhaps to three hours a day, overlapping some of the sessions.

My regrets are the conversations that I missed. There were so many people whom I’ve come to know through e-mail and blogging, who I didn’t take the time to get to know in person at NECC — some from oceans away. Terry Freedman is one I’d love to have had tea with, one on one. Obviously a very smart man with much experience with education to share. There were many more, including Jeff Utecht, from Shanghai. He blogs also about missing conversations.

I was expecting to find a new conversation. A conversation that I feel needs to happen in education. A conversation that isn’t just about technology, but about the changing nature of our students, our classrooms, and our society. I found it in likely places with David Warlick and Will Richardson’s presentations, but beyond those I didn’t feel it. I saw a lot of technology being used and sold in the same way it has been for the past 20 years.

I agree, Jeff, that the overwhelming conversation continues to be about the technology, the machine, and not the experiences that our students are having with the technology. I enjoyed very much, the blogger meet-up that Dave Jakes and Will Richardson organized for us. But I would like, for Atlanta, to have a continuous blogger meet-up, a coffee shop or something where we could meet any or every evening or afternoon, to get together, debrief, blog, and hopefully expand the conversation.

Have a very safe trip home Jeff and everyone else. Keep telling the new story 😉

2¢ Worth…

Photo Citation:
Wilson, Tim. “Apple Booth.” TimWilson’s Photostream. 7 Jul 2006. 9 Jul 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/timwilson/183858873/>.

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Hacking Culture…

 71 184125595 E35271069D MI’m sitting in a session being led right now by David Thornburg. He’s talking about his experiences as a cross-culturalist, living in both the U.S. and Brazil. He says that culture is…

When you know and are your own culture deeply enough and confidently enough, and then can take another culture and hack it to make it part of you, then culture lives.

I’ve been engaged by many conversations here at NECC, and much of it has led me to believe that technology is not the linchpin for affecting better and more relevant learning. I believe that the linchpin is to understand the experience that our children have in the information landscape that technology provides. If we go at it by trying the master the technology, then we’re going to continue to miss our target, because there is no way that we will understand the technology in the same way that they do. We’re wired differently.

I think that we need to understand their experience, and then hack it, like Thornburg is talking about hacking culture. We need to understand that culture and hack it for teaching and learning.

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Early Morning at NECC & Telling the New Story Podcast

 56 182647985 77C2B40687 MI keep missing the shuttle schedule. I went out this morning to catch the shuttle down to the convention center, and discovered on the sign that they do not start picking up until 7:15 on Friday. I have a 7:30 breakfast thing, so walked again, the 12 blocks. I’ve taken the shuttle once, and it was a rewarding experience, as noted in my last blog entry.

I’m writing now to inform that I have posted a podcast of my Wednesday Telling the New Story presentation. Several people have commented on the presentation, and it seems that nearly every conversation that I have here at NECC, my mind keeps going to the fact that we need a new story. You might call it a new vision, a new image, a new structure, a new paradigm. But we’re still operating off of old notions of education, based on the industrial age, or even the Victorian age, as a new friend from Edinburgh said yesterday.

Anyway, here are some links that may be helpful if you would like to give it a listen.

It is so cool sitting and doing this in the conference center outside the exhibitor’s hall.

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Why Libraries are Important

Necc06First of all, I want to thank everyone I have talked with this week. This conference has been an amazingly rich learning experience for me, and I haven’t seen a single presentation yet. I have learned from conversations with many very smart people.

Yesterday morning, I road to the conference center with a woman who is a school librarian in San Francisco. She was telling me how most librarians there serve several schools. It seems that they are lucky to have so many librarians, because San Francisco is funding many of them because of an explicit decision to serve student needs beyond reading, math, and science. In the rest of California, libraries are almost disappearing. And I know that this goes way beyond one state.

It’s easy to understand why. The library that people remember from their school experience (decades ago) seems to have less meaning when we have access to a global library of information with a mouse-click. But this logical piece of visionary budgeting misses an essential point in where education is evolving. When the child graduates, the teacher will be gone. The classroom will be gone. The textbooks will be gone. But for the first time in history, continual learning will be the ONLY road to prosperity. Teacher and classroom as the model for continual learning will be meaningless. Far more relevant will be the library and the skills that a talented librarian will help patrons to develop.

I’m not saying that classrooms and teachers are obsolete — BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT. Students should learn together. They should be guided, by the hand, into their future by caring and creative adults. But they should be equipped with the eternal skills required to continue to teach themselves. And the library is challenged to reinvent itself into a learning experience that is more relevant to today’s information landscape.

But anyone who believes that teaching reading, math, and science in a classroom is all that education is about — IS CHEATING A GENERATION. They should be banished from government in shame.

2¢ worth!

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Negroponte Moblogged

 Blogger 2721 270 1600 Nick2It’s our lunch break out at the Joe Rindone Regional Technology Center. The morning has gone very well, and I didn’t think once about the fact that I was missing the Negroponte keynote. Now I’ve had a chance to stop and think, and shed a tear.
Not so back, because Julie Lindsay, from Bangladesh, moblogged the event. Check it out.

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A Large Day at NECC

 59 182600219 Ac51242Ed4 OI do not have a lot of substance to share today, but I feel obliged to post, and there are a few minutes before the shuttle picks us up from the hinterlands on the other side of the GasLamp district, and takes us to NECC day 2. I’ll be teaching an all day workshop today with Camilla Gagliolo and Karen Connaghan on podcasting. I think this is going to be fun.
Note: I just learned that Tony Vincent is joining us as well. Great treat!

To say that yesterday was exhausting would be an understatement. But it was entirely satisfying. The first thing was a 7:30 panel discussion for the SIGTC group (Technology Coordinators). The panel members were myself, John Herdron, Thor Prichard, Will Richardson, and Tony Vincent. I enjoyed this panel, because it was interesting and instructional to hear so many well-thought-out perspectives on some of the issues of web 2.0. The audio of the panel is online, but I’ll need to check on whether the SIGTC leadership wants it publicly available. If so, I may podcast it on Connect Learning as part of our workshop today.

I also participated in a session with Larry Anderson, Tim Wilson, Lucy Gray, and Ted Lai on podcasting. It was a huge room with wall-to-wall attendees. This session was very well received, and offered the basics about podcasting.

Finally, I delivered my Telling the New Story address to a large audience, and it too seemed well received. Using a lapel mic that is wired to the mixer is a bit districting, especially for a man who is not a sure-footed as he use to be. Plus it meant that I had to stay on the stage which is like a prison sentence for me. But I may podcast it as well, and I know that the conference will be making a video available.

The rest of the day was receptions and receptions and more receptions, except for a very interesting birds of a feather about Net Day’s Speak Out surveys. I think that this is a fabulous project that is generating very important data about the state of education in the first part of the 21st century, and about its students as learner and future citizens.

Two issues that resonated with me and which I shared at the meetup, were that the data will be changing. I feel that our students experience with the digital realm is constantly changing, because they are constantly trying to make it more interesting. There’s energy here that we can tap into to create learning engines, if we can keep up.

Also, I think that this data is extremely important so that education can engage in more productive and foreword reaching local conversations, between the institution and the local (and global) societies that it serves.

Enough for now, got to go catch my bus!

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Web 2.0 for SIGTC

 54 182478240 5676924165 M[Live blogged, so please excuse the wording awkwardness and spelling mistakes.]

I’m sitting up on the panel now for the SIGTC breakfast. To my left are Will Richards, writing on his tablet pc, and Tony Vincent typing into his new black MacBook. Too cool. We’re going to be answering questions about Web 2.0, and the kind folk with ISTE sent us some possible questions. So here they are with a note or two from the back of my brain.
Where is Web 2.0 going? Is it a fad, or is it here to stay?

It’s not a fad, but it hasn’t finished evolving yet. The who small pieces loosely joined makes it a platform where innovation and invention continue. I suspect that the it will become more streamlined, easier to understand and use.

What do the next three years hold in store?

I think that the aggregator is going to have to evolve. It needs to be as easy to use and intuitive as an internet browser. Someone in your classrooms today will do this.

Where is the boundary for students’ private postings and school concerns?

Well there isn’t a hard boundary, because this new information environment flows without containers. Attempting to put walls up between our classrooms and information makes no sense to our students. We need to invite the new information landscape (Web 2.0) into our classrooms and use these compelling nuances to power learning engines.

Information is property. When our students are passive learners, we deliver the information. they’re only responsibility is to consume the content. Now that they can and do engage in content conversations, their responsibility multiplies. This is why we need to define and describe the ethical use of information and make it an explicit part of our definition of literacy, and it needs to be integrated into teaching and learning the the same way that we integrate reading.

What are the challenges of sites like myspace.com? What are the positives of such sites?

As I’ve stated before there is much that is positive about MySpace in terms of generating learning through conversation. We need to learn how to integrate these qualities into the classroom.

How should districts balance security, community/moral/standards, social networking, and emerging, disruptive technologies?

We educate ourselves and engage in ongoing and casual conversations about the changing landscape. These issues are constantly melding. The only way that we will balance and harness these developments and challenges.

How can we stay on the cutting edge without too much bleeding?

Get lots of band-aids. We need to get use to it. We need to relax experiment, share, and continue to learn and grow. Kids who learn how to learn, and learn how to teach themselves, will be able to take care of themselves.

How can boards deal with the policy issues of new technologies?

Effect on future employment with “negative” social postings?

What about caching websites?

Do posts ever really go away?

Open questions from the audience.

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NECC Day One

 73 182108507 36E719D11A OI’m up at my obligatory 4:00 AM (7:00 AM EST) after what to me was a late night in San Diego. I walked the 12 blocks between my dumpy hotel and the conference center four times yesterday (I should have slept later), so today, I’ll get to know the shuttle system.
Yesterday’s International Attendees Reception was overwhelming, probably 500 people. This year’s NECC is being attended by educators from 37 countries. But that event was not as overwhelming as Steve Dembo’s pictures of last night’s fireworks, which were waiting for me in Hitchhikr’s NECC page. Just click “See Slide Show” to pull up flickr’s presentation of NECC 2006.

I had a wonderful dinner last night ordering a meatloaf that was nearly as big as most mountains in North Carolina. Not like mom’s, but it was great. The company was even better with friends from Technology & Learning Magazine and educator friends from suburban Chicago. Gary Stagger Stager (my apologies, Gary) even came by, but your schools filtering software wouldn’t let his contributions through, so I’ll not go there. That said, what an incredibly funny and creative guy. Who else could make a slap-your-knee funny story out of a billboard.

I recorded two quick interviews while at the International Attendees Reception with my friends John Lakatos, a 30+ year educator at an international school in Lima, Peru and Dorothy Burt, a teacher in Auckland, New Zealand. I plan to plant a link to the audio file here as part of one of my presentations today. So come on back when you get a chance.

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