MIT’s Seymour Papert Gravely Injured in Hanoi

Seymour Papert and boySeymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence and an authority on how computers can help children learn, was seriously injured after being struck by a motorbike in Hanoi, where he was attending a conference.

MIT figure struck, injured in Hanoi – The Boston Globe

For nearly all of the 25 year’s I have been involved with educational technology, Seymour Papert was there. Mindstorms was the first book I read as part of my graduate degree.

For more info, I would point you to Andy Carvin’s piece, Prayers for Seymour Papert.

technorati tags:, , ,

Blogged with Flock

A Continuing Conversation about Technology Integration

Last Friday (12-1-06) I reported in 2¢ Worth about an article in eSchool News, Teachers’ Tech Use on the Rise. Will Richardson commented in his blog, pointing out that…

..not once in the article are the words “learn” or “learning” mentioned in the context of teachers or students.

Weblogg-edTeachers Tech Use on the Rise…So?

Richardson is right in making this distinction, though, to be fair, technology can go a long way in helping teachers do their jobs without applying it to learning. Teachers are so tragically constrained by the circumstances of their jobs, that I wouldn’t condemn any use of an appropriate tool, even if it is automating — if it’s helping them do their jobs.

That said, calling attention to the increased use of technology by teachers, and celebrating these findings misses enormous opportunities and overlooks enormous responsibilities as we work to prepare children for their future.

Mr. Sheehy, commented in his blog, Teacher’s Writes, linked back to the Richardson piece, that..

In trying to think through to what the root issue is, I have recently decided that the thing that most plagues conversations about technology and education is the verb “integrating.” It seems every time I hear an administrator or higher ed professor mention technology, this obligatory verb comes attached.

Teacher’s Writes » “Integration” – The term of the enemy

Sheehy continues by describing his experience in the broadcast industry, how MP3 files and harddrives have changed how they do their work and how the are not integrating technology, but that technology is their work. He describes ways that technology is also our work.

I commented on Sheehy’s post with something like this:

I caught your comments on Will Richardson’s blog, and was so taken with your approach, that I clicked over to read your entire article. I agree wholeheartedly with your ideas, which come from first-hand experience in an industry that has truly been revolutionized by technology. In reality, though, and in now small part due to the entertainment and news industries, our entire information landscape has become revolutionized by technology. Practically all information that we use on a daily basis is or has been digital and networked, and the unprecedented propagation of information has overwhelmed us with content.

I often say that a teacher can be a good teacher and not use technology. However, is that teacher doing his or her job? My answer is, “No!” Any teacher who is not using technology in content delivery, information processing, communication, and assessment, is not doing their job.

You see, the affect of all of this networking and digitization, is that the shape of information has changed, and, as a result, what it means to be literate has changed. The BASIC Skills of this new information environment go so far beyond merely being able to read, write, and perform basic math, and without technology, we can not teach these new literacies, nor teach within the context of these new literacies. We’re still preparing children for the 1950s.

I would even go one step further and say that these new literacies should be called Learning Literacies. In a time of rapid change, learning is what we will be spending much of our time doing. It is practically THE reason why we need to be able to read, process information, and communicate — so that we can continue to be relevant to our environment.

What do you think?

Image Citation:
Scissors, Runs With. “Penny on My Desk.” Runs With Scissors’ Photostream. 7 Jan 2006. 7 Dec 2006 <>.

technorati tags:, , , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Another PBL

We’ve had Project-Based Learning, and Problem-Based Learning. How about Passion-Based Learning? This is what’s suggested by former Palo Alto chief scientist, John Seely Brown, through a recent article (brought to my attention by the CoolCat Teacher, Vicki Davis) in ZDNet, To Fix Education, Think Web 2.0*. Check out the article in its entirety, but at the end, Brown concludes…

…Schools can teach essential knowledge and critical thinking through somewhat traditional means. But they should complement that teaching with what Seely Brown called “passion-based learning” that focuses on getting students more engaged with topic experts.

Futurist: To fix education, think Web 2.0 | Tech News on ZDNet

While reading this article, I got to thinking about how I grade myself. I rarely give tests or even ask for understanding. Quite frankly, I really don’t care that much about the right ways of doing things, the best-practices that are defined by rigorous scientific research — and it isn’t that I don’t believe that what research tells us is unimportant. It is important. I’m simply more interested in respecting the value of the teacher’s intuition, what they believe will work based on years of observation, practice, success and failure, and their knowledge of their students, their learning environment, their curriculum, and their continuing professional conversations.

I gave tests when I taught social studies and science. But I graded myself with an “A” when parents told me, during conference night, that their son or daughter came home almost every day, talking about what they learned in Mr. Warlick’s class. Passion-Based Learning.

When I was at the State Department of Public Instruction, we put together a program called VoteLine, where students, during an upcoming election, researched the presidential campaigns, identified issues that seemed to be important, weighted each issue, surveyed their neighborhoods and communities, and recorded everything in spreadsheets (Apple IIe and AppleWorks). They used algorithms in the spreadsheets to project election outcomes. I knew that the project was working when teachers said that students were learning state-identified social studies skills. I knew that it was a success, when teachers said that they had never watched their students walking out of class and standing at their lockers talking about what they had learned in social studies class. Passion-Based Learning

I grade myself today when I see that what I am teaching or suggesting to teachers resonates with their intuitive sense that it is important. When I see pens come up, and teachers start writing, I know that what I just said or demoed was successful.

It happened the other day, when I was presenting about video games in education. I suggested that the best thing we might do with video games is to figure out what it is about video games that makes them such a compelling learning engine, and try to integrate those elements into the classroom, rather than trying to integrate the games into the classroom. One of the elements that I suggested was identity building — that players typically develop an identity in their games. They choose and sometimes make their own clothing, their house, select the powers they value, and become a recognizable identity in the game. It’s how the games are designed and programmed. Might we program our classrooms to encourage identity building.

I suggested that at the beginning of the school year, we present students with a list of topics, people, events, places, concepts, etc. and ask them to select one, as individuals or groups, that they want to study, and then require them to immediately set out to make themselves an expert.

In my social studies class, two students may have chosen the Declaration of Independence. Before we start exploring the new world, they are working on their study of the 1776 document. They start populating a class wiki, to become a growing class constructed dynamic and digital textbook. The start preparing a multimedia presentation to be delivered when the class finally reaches the latter half of the 18th century. An most importantly, they become the expert. As discussions of U.S. History continue, they are asked, from time to time, is this an issue that the Declaration of Independence will try to address? They have an identity, within the context of what and how the entire class is learning. Passion-Based Learning!

The pen rose, and teachers started writing. Bingo!

2¢ Worth!

* LaMonica, Martin. “Futurist: To Fix Education, Think Web 2.0.” Web Technology 1 Dec 2006 5 Dec 2006 <>.

technorati tags:, , , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Podcast of NCETC EduBloggerCon

Last week I conducted an EduBloggerCon at the NCETC conference. It was an unconference, which means that I served as a panel moderator, and the attendees were the panel. We talked about a number of topics, while Carteret County Director of Technology, Joe Poletti (Haulin Net), took notes.

There were about 10 of us there, all of whom are bloggers. I recorded the conversation, and have just posted it as a Connect Learning podcast. If you subscribe to Connect Learning, the audio should be on its way. You can listen and read the blog by going to the Connect Learning blog site.

This is a long one, so listen to as much of it as you like and them come back for more.

technorati tags:, , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Reading for Superintendents

This is a quick but potentially important question.

In light of:

  • Our changing information environment,
  • The demands of our rapidly changing future, and
  • The unique qualities of millennial students…

If you could recommend one book for your superintendent or all superintendents in your state to read, what would that book be?

You can either comment or send me an e-mail at

Image Citation:
Fez, “Books.” (fez)’s Photostream. 3 Dec 2006. 4 Dec 2006 <>.

technorati tags:, ,

Blogged with Flock

The Learning our Children Deserve

Some days I’m tired of “making do.” My school is definitely in the middle. With only 51% Free & Reduced Lunch, we don’t qualify as a Title 1 school. We do not have the highest economical level parent group and community support. Many federal programs are not available to us because we are in the middle. We write grants, beg, run bookfairs and fundraisers (including the cookbook I wrote 2 years ago), and hope we can meet everyone’s needs. Our equipment is bare bones. Our iMacs are 6-7 years old and running MacOS9.2.2 since we don’t have enough RAM to host OS X.

Deep Thinking :: Making Do :: November :: 2006

Be assured that these are not the words of a whiner.  Diane Chen is one of the most dedicated, accomplished, and articulate librarians I know.  I met her and watched her describe her vision a few weeks ago at the SLJ Leadership Summit, and I was entirely impressed.  I must say that I am surprised that she has cultivated her reputation with such a school in need.

But, of course, this is not an uncommon story: schools with six-year-old technology, little or no staff development, tragically too little time for planning, reflection, and retooling in a time of such rapid change, over worked technical staff (if any), rising expectations and demands for accountability, and a workforce, a large percentage of which will be retiring in only a hand full of years.

I come off harsh sometimes, demanding that teachers self-develop (when there’s no time), integrate digital, networked information into their teaching (when they have only one or two old computers and no classroom display), with reliable and abundant technology (when tech staffs are overworked and dwindling in numbers), so that students can attain a higher order of literacy and a richer understanding of their world (when they are being measured on how many of their students can read and do math at grade level).

I sound like I’m blaming teachers and tech directors.  I am not.  There are some teachers who want things to stay the same that they were in the 1950s, and there are some tech directors who care more about protecting bandwidth than seeing information-rich schools — and there is no excuse for either.  But most teachers and those who support them and their classrooms care about their students and their future, and they understand what and how kids need to be learning.  It’s just that we seldom ask for it.

I had a conversation at NCETC with a woman I have a great deal of respect for.  We got to talking about 1:1 initiatives, which she said we didn’t need.  She mentioned handhelds, probes, and a whole string of other technologies that can be brought into classrooms to accomplish the learning.  She said something like, “We can provide the technologies that are best for the learning at hand, without putting a laptop on every desk.” 

My objection?  This is scarcity-based education planning.  It is an education technology vision based on the constraints that come not from some weather pattern we have no control over, but from the decisions of men and women who are not citizens of the digital nation.  They are immigrants.  We must start talking about education from the perspective of digital citizens, our children, and the learning experiences that they need right now, to be ready to succeed and prosper in a world that is changing so fast that we can’t even describe it.

This is why I keep talking about teachers who should be retooling their classrooms every day, and students who should be learning to teach themselves within rich and practically unlimited information environments, and tech folks who should be resourcefully providing that practically unrestrained access to information.  We want get there unless we talk about the education environment that our children need, not just the one we can afford to provide.  We have to tell a new story and tell it loudly and at every opportunity.

There are a lot of teachers out there who are blogging.  They should be picturing their students leaving their classrooms at the end of the year as more curious, more energetic, more knowledgeable, smarter, and more skilled at learning than when they came in; picture the classroom, technologies, and learning experiences that would result in these eager to learn students, and talk about that classroom, its teachers, and the support that makes it happen reliably.  Talk about the learning your students deserve — in your blogs.

2¢ Worth!

technorati tags:, , , , ,

Blogged with Flock

Teachers’ tech use on the rise

According to a recent survey, conducted by Quality Education Data (QED) and commissioned by CDW-G,

Roughly 86 percent of U.S. teachers say computer technology has changed the way they teach at least some, and more than half (55 percent) say it has impacted their instruction “a great deal,” according to a new survey commissioned by CDW-G.

eSchool News online – Teachers’ tech use on the rise

Having respondents identify their level of technology skill by choosing between advanced, intermediate, or a beginner, is problematic. But I believe that it is telling that only 3% considered themselves beginners. It shows an increasing degree of confidence among educators.

Yet, it’s not all good news. Thirty-one percent of the surveyed teachers said that they had received no technology staff development in the last 12 months. Access continues to be an issue, and the survey indicates that teachers want more access. Fifty-one percent of the teachers believed that a one-to-one ratio of students to computers is ideal. Ten percent said that have such a ratio. Last year it was only eight percent.

Down since 2004, 81% of teachers said that academic performance improved with the use of computers, and more than half said technology helped students to think creatively. Still…

only 58 percent think computers are somewhat or very effective when used to improve performance on standardized tests.

Read Teachers’ Tech Use on the Rise, when you have a chance.

technorati tags:, , ,

Blogged with Flock


I'm HomeI’m home from NCETC (hh) — and home for the year. My bag is unpacked and stuffed away in my closet (first time in months). My dog recognizes me again, and Brenda actually sat and watched a little TV with me last night. My laptop is still stowed away in its bag, and it may stay there for another day. I’m ready to relax, and to fill my days with some reading and writing, a little programming, some lunches with Brenda, holiday shopping, a few movies, no pizzas, lots of cholesterol walks, and I could just go on! I’d better enjoy this, because late winter looks like wall of pain — and lots of fantastic opportunities to work with educators from Virginia to Shanghai, and interesting points in between.

David Warlick Talking about Video Games in Education
Posted by OBXRECRE8N in his blog entry, Video Games as Learning Engines

NCETC was great, though more than a little exhausting with four workshops and seven breakout sessions. I tried two new presentations. One on video games and education really seemed to excite people — even a handful who came in as skeptics, admitted afterward that they had a lot to think about. The session still needs some refinement, but I think it’s a keeper.

I also did a new session on wikis. I’ve often done quick demos of wikis, and quite often provided wiki pages for attendees to use to record their notes for everyone to access. But this was the first time I’d done a complete session or workshop on the topic. I have to say that I was surprised at the level of excitement and the light bulb ideals I saw floating in the air. One of the breakouts did get a bit sidetracked by Wikipedia. Many still think that wikis are about Wikipedia.

I also did some changes in my Web 2.0 session. I don’t know if other Web 2.0 presenters are struggling with this, but it seems that the audiences’ knowledge and experiences with these tools is broadening — and handling that is difficult. In one of the wiki sessions I had people who didn’t know what a wiki is, and people who wanted me to demonstrate how to install a wiki engine on your web server.

Anyway, it’s been a fabulous year of teaching and learning!

technorati tags:, , , , ,

Blogged with Flock