Being a Conference Journalist

I’m at a conference, the South Carolina EdTech conference. People will be teaching, learning, generating excitement and energy, and we just have to share it. Here are some links to some print handouts (pdf files) that you can use to set up and use a blogging account.

Once you are blogging, it’s important that your blogs are tagged for the conference. You can go to Hitchhikr to generate those tags.

  1. Go to Hitchhikr (
  2. Click your conference from the “Imminent Conferences” section.
  3. Click the [Make Tag Code] link.
  4. A new browser window will appear. Copy the HTML code from the large textbox and paste it at the bottom of your conference blog report, and then publish your blog.
  5. In the tag generating web page, type the URL of your blog in the bottom textbox and click [Ping!]

Following these instructions will cause your blog entry to show up on Hitchhikr, and to be available to educators who are aggregating blog entries about the conference.

Web 2.0 Conference Photo Journalists?

Here is a link for setting up a flickr account, so that you can upload photos from your phone and make them available to people who are hitch hiking to the conference.

And here is a handout for uploading photoes to flickr from your phone.

Now just use Photoshop Elements to create and print your own Web 2.0 Conference Journalist Press pass, and you’re ready to go.

The Rise and Fall of the Hit — and the Textbook Industry

(This article was originally posted on the Tech Learning Blogarati on Monday)

There’s an article in last months WIRED Magazine that I have just gotten around to reading — and it’s got me thinking.

Chris Anderson / Long Tail Culture

The article is “The Rise and Fall of the Hit,” by Chris Anderson. It’s also the title of one of the chapters of Anderson’s new book, The Long Tail (Hyperion, ISBN 1-4013-0237-8). In the article, the author makes a case for the death of the hit, describing NSync’s runaway blockbuster, No Strings Attached. This supposed affirmation of the hit formula by Jive Records could actually be the very last hit album in history. I don’t pretend to be any type of expert about the music industry. I lost interest after Crosby Stills Nash and Young. But the data is compelling:

  • Between 1990 and 2000 album sales doubled.
  • Album sales began to decline in 2000 with a final drop of 20% by 2005.
  • 21 of the all time 100 top selling albums were produced between 1996 and 2000.
  • over the next five years only two albums entered the top 100.

Music, however, has certainly not gone out of favor. “There has never been more music made or listened to.” The labels have cried piracy, and certainly file sharing and CD burning have been part of the picture. According to the article,

Dispite countless record-industry lawsuits, traffic on the peer-to-peer file-trading networks has continued to grow, and about 10 million users now share music files each day.”

But it isn’t just new sources that have caused teens to exit the record stores.

  • The average peer-to-peer network has more songs than any music store — by a factor of over 100.
  • Given a choice for the latest blockbuster hit and trying something new, the enormous choice available at teenager’s keyboards leads them to want to explore.
  • With fewer visits to the record store, the music industry lost its best front for advertizing. MTV doesn’t even play much music any more. (I can’t attest to this. The last time I watched MTV, there was still a Soviet Union.)

So! I got to thinking. Could this happen to the textbook industry?

  • What if teachers and pre-service education students started writing little chunks of content, worthy of their textbooks.
  • What if a file-sharing network emerged where teachers could search, access, and download snippets of content from each other — world-wide?
  • What if teachers started assembling this shared content into their Moodle sites, or someone writes an open source application specifically designed to become the next-gen digital textbook?
  • What if we could stop buying text books, and use the money to provide every teacher and learner with access to the world of digital networked content.

Our homework assignments would change just a bit…


Ya’ll read the chapter and answer the questions at the end!


Ya’ll read the chapter and then validate it by Friday!

2¢ Worth!

One I missed… N-AMAC

I took a fairly extensive tour of the Austrian Computers in Education Conference yesterday, but completely missed the N-AMAC. Well, can you blame me with a name like N-AMAC? I blame me, because this is one of the best reported and recorded small conferences I’ve ever seen. Any conference that features and event like this (see right), deserves noting, at the very least.

Anyway, Hitchhike to this conference and read some of the blogs. You can also see a slide show of the conference pictures. I was especially taken by this blog (A Wiki about Classroom Blogging), whose author I can not find, other than tbarrett from the URL. He talks about a wikispaces wiki he has created to explore educational applications of blogging — ClassroomBlogging. Very cool.

Image Citation
Naace Blogger, “Naace Conference Party.” Naace Blogger’s Photostream. 6 Mar 2006. NAACE. 3 Oct 2006 <>.

(I just realized that many of these pictures a probably from previous NAACE conferences)

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South Carolina Bloggers

If you’re going to the South Carolina EdTech conference and you will be blogging it, be sure that you tag your entries.  An easy way to do this is to go to…

  1. Open a new browser page (ctrl-n)
  2. go to —
  3. The three SCEdTech tags will be in the textbox.  If you want to add another tag, such as dparker for a presentation by Doris Parker, then type it in the Add any additional tags… textbox.
  4. Click [Submit]
  5. Copy the html code from the scrolling textbox and paste it at the bottom of your blog.  Make sure that your blog textbox will accept HTML.  There is usually a button in the tools bar that will allow you to switch to HTML mode.
  6. Save your blog.
  7. Finally, to let Technorati know that you have posted a new blog, type the URL of your blog in the bottom textbox and then click [ping!].

Your blog entry should soon be available to readers aggreagators and on Hitchhikr.

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EdTech and Teaching in South Carolina

Tomorrow I head down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for their 2006 EdTech Conference. I’ve been looking forward to this conference for many reasons. The fact that this is the first conference in what, to me, is the fall educational technology conference season. I love ed tech conferences. I’ve said that before.

Another reason why I’ve been looking forward to this conference is that my classroom teaching happened in South Carolina. It started in 1976, when I was finishing up my last semester at Western Carolina University. There was a teacher glut on, and we knew that there wouldn’t be enough jobs for all of us. I got a call from Frank Patterson, the new principal for Pageland Junior High, in Pageland, South Carolina. I knew the town, because my boy scout troop always stopped there for watermelon on our way to Myrtle Beach each summer.

Patterson asked me to come down for an interview, which surprised me. To say that my college performance was lack-luster would be generous. I had been named student-teacher of the year by the WCU chapter of the Student North Carolina Association of Educators, but that’s because there were only two men in the chapter, and the other one declined when he learned he’d have to get on a stage. Anyway, that’s probably why they called.

I drove down to Pageland, in my father’s leasure suit (see right), and went in for the interview. I don’t remember much about our conversation, except that they offered me the job, and I accepted. I signed the contract and they signed the contract. Then, I realized that I had been interviewing for a Math position and they realized that they had been interviewing a Social Studies teacher. I said that I’d still like the job, and they said they still wanted to hire me, so we went with it.

I went back to WCU for the summer semester, where I took some Math methods classes, and met Brenda. We spent all summer taking classes and tubing down the Tuckaseegee River.

My first year of teaching was a disaster. By Christmas, I had signed up for the Civil Service Exam, planning to leave teaching at the end of the year and start a challenging career as a rural postal carrier. I also moved out in the country during the winter vacation weeks, and that sense of separation from the job gave me a better perspective on life. At the end of the school year, the social studies teacher announced that she was getting married and would be moving back to Boone, North Carolina. I taught Social Studies the rest of my years as a teacher, and loved every minute of it — and I eventually became a pretty good teacher. I also met my first personal computer a few years later, a Radio Shack Model I computer (see left) — and I was seduced.

That’s when it really got interesting!

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ACEC has Begun

The Australian Computers in Education Conference began many hours ago. Check out the conference at:

and the ongoing conversation, especially the world correspondent, 21st Century educators, Brett Moller) at Hitchhikr:

The AustralianComputers in Education Conference 2006 (ACEC 2006) is the biennialconference of the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE).The ACEC conference is hosted by the Computer Education Group of amember state or territory after a bidding process. The QueenslandSociety for Information Technology in Education (QSITE) with the FarNorth Queensland Chapter based in Cairns, is hosting ACEC 2006.


Image Citation:
Moller, Brett. “01102006.jpg.” Bmoller79’s Photostream. 30 Sep 2006. 2 Oct 2006 <>.

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Two Virtual Conferences Coming Up this Month

Wesley Fryer posted an interesting podcast (mp3) last night, a recording of his recent conversation on EdTechTalk at WorldBridges. He talks about the K-12 Online Conference (conference flyer/pdf), and also an upcoming event that I didn’t know about, Global Learn Day, a round-the-clock event with speakers from round-the-planet. Presentations from Global Learn Day will include speakers such as Sir John Daniel (President, Commonwealth of Learning), Vint Cerf (Chief Internet Evangelist, Google), and Tim DiScipio (Founder, e-Pals).

Wes says in his show notes…

Thispodcast is a recording of a skype conversation on WorldbridgesEdTechTalk, discussing some details of the upcoming FREE K-12 OnlineConference that runs the last week of October and first week ofNovember 2006. The theme of K-12 Online is “Unleashing The Potential,”and the focus is web 2.0 tools in the classroom and for educationalprofessional development.

Moving at the Speed of Creativity » Blog Archive » Podcast86: K-12 Online Conference Invitation (via Worldbridges)

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Becoming the Machine

I frequently use a manufacturing model to describe our education system.  Our students roll down the assembly line where we install math on them, and we install reading, and science, and social studies, and at the end of the line our quality control engineers measure each product to make sure that it complies with the blueprints — to make sure that every student knows exactly the same things.

Yesterday, I suggested that assessment should be much more like the performances that I saw in the universiity theatre the other night, or my son’s band performances, or my daughters ROTC drill team.  I’m not sure what this would look like for reading, math, science, social studies, and health.  It would take more creative minds than mine to paint that picture. 

I think I’m suggesting that we turn things around a bit, and make our students the machines, and make it their job to perform the product.  Turn the students into the engine and teach the kids to work, not just learn.  Rehersals are very much like the learning engine that I envision.  The students work together, performing their parts, feeding off of each others work, knowledge, and experience, to enrich their own performance, regardless of whether they are an actor, lighting technician, director, muscians, etc. 

Again, I’m not sure what this would look like in a science class.  But I think there is a way.


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Words from the Borderland…

Some people say this stuff so darn well!

My classroom doesn’t work the way I want it to. In the Age of Accountability, I focus on process, and see product as a secondary concern. I’m an ill-fitting peg, uneasy about participating in what, for me, amounts to a charade – emulating archaic practices designed for kids from bygone eras.

Looking at the group I’m with now, thinking about them, and not the generic, bloodless beings called Students, statistical incarnations of demographically catalogued learners, I feel more strongly than ever that I owe each of them more than mere delivery of the curriculum, and concern for where they stand relative to a standard that I don’t endorse.

Borderland » Contested Ground

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