Controversial Laptops (cont)

 65 181891060 F48E9Abdd9 MWhile I’m sitting in a coffee shop in the GasLamp District, taking a break from the 12 block walk between my hotel and the convention center, Jim Heynderickx is sitting at PDX airport, waiting for his flight to San Diego.
Jim is making good use of his time, posting a very interesting blog about a session he participated in recently about laptops in the classroom. In his post, he lists points taken in the session from three different positions:

  • Position I: Student Laptops are Unnecessary
  • Position II: Student Laptops Are Inevitable
  • Position III: Student Laptops Are Essential

It was an interesting post, and an interesting way to handle a controversial issue. Read the post and comment. Jim will also be presenting on 1:1 initiatives at NECC tomorrow at 2:00 in room Room 32 A/B. So go check out his session. Or not! I’m presenting at the same time in room 6F.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,


Mature’s what they called us at EdTechTalk. I’m on the plane, Delta flight 1091 on my way to Cincinnati for a one hour layover before heading on to NECC in San Diego. And one of them (Dave or Jeff) comments that during one of their webcasts recently, they started looking at the participants profiles and were surprised that most of them were in the late forties to early sixties. I certainly fit into that range.

Why is that? The tech movement is supposed to be driven by young folks, where past thirty, they’ve already reached their prime. Yet, according to this very unscientific, yet ponderable observation indicates that in the education field, the innovators seem to be at the end of their careers rather than the beginning.

Anyone care to speculate?

One brief idea occurs to me. When I was in education school, in the 1970s, The philosophy of teaching was much more open to experimentation. It was far more liberal in terms of placing more emphasis on the learning experience rather than measurable learning outcomes. I’m not saying one is better than the other, though I have my opinions. But it seems to me that those philosophies of education are far more fertile to the new technologies than today’s standards-based high stakes testing environment.

Anyone care to speculate?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

A Long Way to Go

Both Will Richardson (Off to NECC…What’s Next?) and Scottish blogger, Bob Hill (The Rise and Rise of Web 2.0), have recently written that while the excitement about the new web and its potentials for affecting teaching and learning seem on the rise within our gradually growing conversations, it is only a drop in the oceans that so many educators are crossing right now, on their way to San Diego and the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC).

The numbers of teachers who have not, in any way, been touched by the rapidly changing information landscape is vast. But teacher comfort is not our only target. The public, too, must come to hear the new story about 21st century teaching and learning. One of the few mailing lists that I still monitor is Interesting People (IP), moderated by Dave Farber. Tom Fairlie posted a carefully written message yesterday about concerns with the computerization of our schools.

I followed with a quickly written piece saying that while most of what he was saying was true, our conclusions should not be to stop and go back, but to learn from our mistakes and go forward. Before I got my message finished, there was a storm of other messages, less carefully and more vehemently denouncing the investment in technologies for our schools as a distraction and waste of money.

What’s interesting is that IP is inhabited by fairly tech-savvy, well-read, and somewhat left of center folks who talk about digital security, Homeland Security, and digital rights from a near libertarian point of view. Yet, when it comes to classrooms, their vision spans no farther than the classrooms they attended decades ago.

We’ve got to invent a new story and tell that story far and wide. We need to be able to explain clearly how the world is changing, the challenges and opportunities that are right in front of us, and the kinds of people who will overcome those challenges and seize those opportunities, and we must be able to describe the kind of education that will produce those people.

At NECC, learn about new technologies and new techniques. Meet new people and continue those conversations. But listen for new stories, and take them back home and tell them.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

TeachMeet 2006

Scotland does it again. Our friends in that mysty magical land are planning another new web event, exploring new applications for teaching and learning. Discussions have already begun and they have an event logo. Many of us will be hitch hiking —

Learn something new, be amazed, amused and enthused. This is an informal gathering of those curious about technologies.

Anyone can share cool ideas they have or great ideas they’ve triallled in their classrooms. Join us in person or via Skype.

We want things that have succeeded and which have failed. Whatever it takes to further the knowledge of the education community.

Technorati Tags:

NECC(-1) & More about the Nature of Information

It’s the day before I leave for NECC. My flight takes off from Raleigh/Durham at 7:45 in the morning, and I land mid-day in San Diego. Still can’t wrap my mind around that. I’m excited to be getting there so early, because I’ll get to attend the International Attendees Reception at 4:00.

Several folks have been posting their schedules, and I’m happy to see that at least three people will be in the audience for my Telling the New Story address at 2:00 on Wednesday in SDCC 6F. I look forward to seeing you guys.

NECC, this year, follows three very interesting events that I have spoken at in the last week. It started with the American Library Association conference in New Orleans, which was followed by a conference of independent school educators in Connecticut. Then it was a staff development conference in North Carolina. In all three events, I had the opportunity to discuss the evolving nature of information with a number of very smart people who were especially grounded in traditional notions of information.

I continued to hear terms like scholarly, juried, and authoritative sources, and I eventually came to realize that it all comes back to the container thing. We insist on thinking about information as something that should fit in a container. It’s the source of the information that we want to be able to depend on.

“This container is reliable.”

“That container is not.”

There’s not an easy solution to this problem, because I’d love to be able to make things stand still so that we could relax with the confidence of our containers. However, in a time of rapid change, the answers to brand new questions will not wait for scholarly review and carefully considered publishing. The answers will come from the growing conversation out there.

I believe that the source of the information will remain important. But I also believe that we have to learn and we have to teach students to consider the value of the information. Does this information adequately, appropriately, and ethically help me solve my problem or accomplish my goal.

Evaluate the information based on its source?

Evaluate the information based on its value?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Web 2 @ NECC

 17 22358406 57970C0Bca MI’ve been working on the presentation slides for my Telling the New Story spotlight on Tuesday. I’m so lucky this year to be doing my spotlight on the first day of the conference. Usually it’s on the last day, and jet-lag is so thick by then that I have to be led to the podium.
Out of curiosity, I’ve done a quick search of the conference program for sessions using some Web-two-point-O’esque terms. Here’s what I found (in parentheses is the number of sessions in last year’s program):

Blog — 35 sessions (15)
Podcast — 31 sessions (3)
RSS — 6 sessions (4)
wiki — 10 sessions (2)

Interestingly, Wikipedia pulled up no sessions. From some conversations I’ve had with folks who will be attending, I suspect that there will be a lot of interest in video gaming and learning. Video gam showed four sessions.

On the not-so-surprising side, searching for integrating showed 44 sessions, reading showed 39, writing resulted in 39, math showed 62, laptop is mentioned in 25 sessions

NCLB pulled up 14. Last year it was 20.

Wilson, Tim. “NECC Vendor Hall.” TimWilson’s Photostream. 29 Jun 2005. 2 Jul 2006 <>.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

“What” Questions for Blogging (cont)

I got quite a bit of conversation out of my Blog’What post from earlier in the week, from some really smart people. I had to get my dictionary out. People made my questions much more and much less than what they are or what they were intended to be, and made me think about them in ways that I wouldn’t without this conversation.

There are problems with blogging. It is a new and potent form of communication that can be harnessed in many ways, used, abused, seriously taken, dismissed, and it can be polarizing.

That last one bothers me the most, how bloggers and blog readers will connect themselves with other bloggers and blog readers who agree with their personal world view. Universal journalism and self-edited news are great, except for this one disastrous weakness, that we make our own world, and can too easily dismiss and even villainize the rest.

My questions were intended to be very simple starters of much larger questions, which were eloquently expressed by the commentors, and those who continued the discussions in their own blogs.

  1. What did you read in order to write this blog?
  2. This is certainly not limited to reading. The broader question is what preparations did you or the blogger you are reading make in writing this entry, or what stimulus provoked the writing? This question seem useful on many levels, not just for academic assessment, but simply in being a responsible communicator in an increasingly networked digital world.

  3. What do you think is important about your blog entry?
  4. These questions are worded in the way that they are so that they can be answered in many ways from many perspectives. What was the goal of the writing? Did it seem to have a goal? Are you considering saving this blog for any reason, and if so, why? Would you recommend this blog entry to others, and if so, why? It may not be important. It may be entertaining. Or it may not be anything. But this needs to be thought about.

  5. What are both the other sides of your issue?
  6. I think that this could be the most important question, and it is a question that we need to somehow make it our students’ habit to ask. It is a responsibility of literate people, in this astoundingly democratic information landscape, to see, consider, and, in most cases, respect both sides of the issue.

  7. What do you want your readers to know, believe, or do?
  8. This probably points back to the previous questions, and asks the readers how successful the blog entry was, or the blog writer, how success will be indicated. We communicate for a reason. We want to convince people to help us, respect us, believe the same things that we believe, know the same things that we know, or a multitude of other goals for our writing. We may simply what to make people laugh or cry.

  9. What else do you need to say?
  10. >Well, my original post is a perfect example. The conversation continued, and that’s what blogging is about, and to varying degrees, what all communication is about — conversation. There is nearly always something else to say. Some people make it their mission in life to find something else to say. Some people say it plain. Others use big latin sounding words.

    These questions may well be the wrong questions. But I do believe that we need some sort of very simple device that creates a context for our blogging that places it in a world of ideas, a world of voices, and a world of opportunities.

    2¢ Worth