Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Connected Curriculum - Relevant Reality

How do we change the inertia we observe in education today? Kathy explores this at The Bloggers Cafe I agree that we can't wait around until life is peachy keen. But also we cannot accept the status quo, as someone mentioned recently. The state of US education today is unacceptable. It cannot remain this way, but it will if we, those who 'get it' do nothing. Daniel Pink says in Whole New Mind that by 2010, one on four computer jobs will be outsourced. Is this inevitable? Or is this what could happen?
It is imperative that we create curriculum in our schools now that prepares tomorrow's workers to change that statistic.
My poor principal says he can't keep up with me, and I'm just getting started. By integrating technology seamlessly into curriculum that connects learners to 'the real world' and their futures, we will make their educations more relevant to their lives. By facilitating critical analysis, collaboration, & creativity into the courses I teach, I can begin. But is not enough. I need to find ways for other faculty and staff at my school to do these things. I need to pick up the pace. Poor principal, he thought he couldn't keep up with me last year...
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Monday, July 30, 2007

The Power of the Twitterverse

Much is being said about the uselessness of Twitter recently. Usually, such comments originate from people who are not acquainted with John Pederson. But let me share an example of the power of Twitter...
On Twitter, I follow about 115 people. I took a course this summer for my teacher certification about which I knew nothing. (Foolish you say, you're probably right) I needed pictures of students for my course and school was on holiday. What to do?
I twittered that I needed pics of students at computers and voila! I received pics from several teachers!
Then I played with the software, seeking help on twitter when i needed it. Then I posted the link and sought analysis from twitter. I might have had to badger them, since most people offered validation, not analysis.
I had the opportunity to improve my movie by following a lot of constructive criticism. I did. The Twitterverse earned an 'A' on the course.
This is the power of Twitter! It is phenomenal that my network is immediately accessible. Join the Twitterverse!
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Sunday, July 29, 2007

This world is wrinkled!

I have heard a lot recently about how this world is flat. The world is not flat. The world is wrinkled. I agree that we are in closer contact,that news travels more quickly, but is the world really a flat one-dimension? It is more 4-d than it has ever been, with all 4 dimensions hitting us from all sides simultaneously. Learners must be able to organize this plethora of information efficiently or be overwhelmed. We are not dealing with a flat world here, we are closer than ever before, but the wrinkles in time and space are not being ironed out. They are, rather, scrunching up as the fault lines of the digital information technology erupts exponentially across our radars.
So I heartily agree with concepts put forth by Thomas Friedman and most emphatically disagree with the metaphor. The word picture is all wrong. It assumes a level playing field, economically, politically, culturally. The field is full of ruts, and we all still must navigate through the fields. A more useful word picture is wrinkles.
It seems that many have adopted the popular metaphor as politically-correct buzzwords without critical analysis. Are we trying to sell books, advertise presentations, become well known? Or are we seeking to increase the collective knowledge? I am as guilty as anyone of ethnocentrism, but hopefully you all could read about my blunder. I used this example in my middle school classroom and I bet all those learners will remember my mistake!
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Saturday, July 28, 2007

The 3 R's

I assert that we are obligated to be teaching a new set of the 3 R's:
--Reasoning: critical thinking and reflection skills
--Reconnaissance: a survey to gain information
--Responsibility: ethical and community skills
These are not my ideas. They are more clearly delineated on Joyce Valenza's blog
As classrooms enter the digital web2.0 environment and as learners develop skills for survival in the digital landscape, lead learners (i.e. teachers) should focus on these skills. Centering standards and objectives around these skills is just plain good education. All of us are trained to provide good education.
Our foundations in education are often our standards, depending on where one works. The delivery of that education is changing, not the foundational standards.
I consider the standards to be a firm base upon which we leaders (and that's all of us) can build excellent educational experiences for all learners.
The building blocks start with our objectives, often correlating with our school's course guides or curriculums. The glue that holds those blocks together are our lessons, which in my case, are peppered with digital activities. I use these activities to capture interest, to motivate, to intrigue, to prepare learners.
The aim of all education as always been and will always be to prepare effective citizens. In order to accomplish this sometimes daunting task, emphasizing a new set of the 3R's is crucial. Teacher training in how to use the tools is imperative. Educators already know how to provide a good education web1.0 style. Now let's raise the bar: deliver that content web 2.0 style.
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Collaborative Conversations

If you view this http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=07ace4e1526bbb177767
you will better understand the comment I left:

Do you realise what you and Allanah have done? You two have facilitated permanent connections for these students to global partners. Students in both classes will never forget these connections and each is permanently changed because of them. You two have impacted their futures, and thus the future.

That we could all see the vital importance in developing collaborative skills in ourselves and in our students!
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Compromising Our Values

It would seem by observing current events, that standing staunchly for one's values is no longer a worthy goal. When I examine myself I wonder if I compromise in favor of the popular culture, thus allowing the majority to rule and order my life. Am I swayed in the winds of the latest sensation without critically analyzing this wrinkle?
It is worth repeating - keep your eyes on the goal. That, of course, begs the question, what is the goal?
This are all metacognitive questions we must answer. So even when I must stand alone in the crowd, I will have my eyes on the goal. Presently, it is rather lonely standing alone, but I persist.
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Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Architects of Change

Dr. Monty Selby sang that at the High Schools New Face Conference in the state of New York. We are at the edge of a paradigm shift, but hasn't every era felt that way?
The skills of experiencing the world, collaborating with others, & solving problems not yet thought of will be crucial to the survival of our students.
In his song, Dr. Selby points out that we hold power to create in our hands, we have a mission to embrace, we must be forward looking and we must become the architects of change. All very true.
Let's get on with it then.
One of those who is getting on with it is Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. She incorporated an international VOIP activity into one of her workshops. Always on the cutting edge, Sheryl fearlessly used software most of us were unfamiliar with while behind a firewall herself. Despite many technical issues, those workshop attendees had (as I think Sheryl put it) their socks knocked off.
Sheryl is one of those leaders about whom Dr. Selby sang. She is literally cutting a swath through our societies' educational mess, embracing the web 2.0 mission, & creating a blueprint for the rest of us to follow. She is indeed an architect of change.
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Friday, July 20, 2007

Multiple Literacies

Every literacy, if developed, occurs in context. We must have prior knowledge in order to understand the symbols. Mathematical literacy may look like an algebraic expression, but we must have arithmetical literacy in order to comprehend. Typed letters may be arranged in a foreign language, but we must possess prior knowledge of the components, or most of them, to have language literacy.
The same is true for digital literacy. We must have some fore knowledge of the technology in order to be fluent in it.
There are many individual literacies, each with their own language. But how are these literacies tied together? What is the over-arching metacognitive literacy that must be possessed in order to gain fluency in any one or more of them? Could it be passion for learning?
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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Frustrating, life enhancing learning

“...learning is or should be both frustrating and life enhancing. The key is finding ways to make hard things life enhancing so that people keep going and don’t fall back on learning and thinking only what is simple and easy.” (Gee, 2003)

When learning anything, this is so true. This is especially true when learning technologies. I heard this same sentiment echoed this evening by a teacher in the Teachers Teaching Teachers webcasts from the National Writing Project in Chico, California. She found podcasting frustrating but once she got the hang of it she describes ways this technology can enhance the lives of her students. That is what it is all about folks.

Many of you know, I have been very frustrated with the course I am taking. When I finally got the captured video (though poorly), the student I taped gave me several ways that technology could enhance his learning. I continue to learn because of the possibility of enhancing the lives of students.
I would be interested to know what others think. Please leave your comments below.
Gee, J.P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Monday, July 16, 2007

Bloggers continuing conversations

...and developing relationships. Existential put out a twitter call and slurl. Many followed him to the Bloggers Cafe. The conversations are quick-paced,fun & educational. Here are some snapshots of the fast hour I spent there:

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Friday, July 13, 2007

EdTechTallk Webcast Schedule

Please feel free to join the chat room. Once there, listen on the stream, type a question in the chat room, or Skypechat me.

EdTechTalk Newsletter - Friday, July 13, 2007
Coming Up on the EdTechTalk Channel of the Worldbridges Network
Chat room
Streams are listed below the chat room or at
Sunday, July 15
7pmEDT/2300GMT - EdTechWeekly#39

8pmEDT / midnightGMT - EdTechTalk#79

A discussion with Curtis Bonk of Indiana University about his
book, WE-ALL-LEARN: An Educational Extension of the World is Flat.
We also hope to be joined by students from Steve Kossakowski's
Technologies' course at UNH.
Tuesday, July 17
1:30pm EDT / 1730GMT - 21st Century Learning

9pm EDT / 0100GMT - Women of Web 2.0.35

Wednesday, July 18 ~ Friday July 20
9pm EDT / 0100GMT Teachers Teaching Teachers
NWP Tech Liaisons/Technology Matters meets

Wednesday, July 18 ~ Friday July 20
Special Tech Matters Webcasts

Thursday, July 19
6pm PDT / 0100GMT - EdTechBrainstorm

Saturday July 21 noonEDT to ? (16000GMT~???)
Tech Matters Webcastathon

3pmEDT 1900GMT
Webcast Academy Open House
An information session for those interested in joining the Webcast Academy Class of 2.2

Sunday, July 22
7pmEDT/2300GMT - EdTechWeekly#40

Monday, July 23 4pmPDT / 2300GMT
It's Elementary#2 - Webquests

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Conversations or Virtual Communities

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach recently wrote about virtual communities and how that term is defined. Another term is personal learning environments. Both terms, while it can be useful to define one's terms, scare away those whom we desire to initiate into our online communities.
A better phrase, possibly oversimplistic, is merely conversation. Everyone, even those not online, understand the word conversation. If our main intent is to gather more into this conversation, making the nomenclature simple will only facilitate the willingness of others to join our conversation. Who have you invited into the conversation (echo chamber as Chris Lehman calls it) this week?
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I have just been grounded. From reading and reflecting on Will Richardson's post to formulating a reply, I felt well grounded. And then reality hit me square between the eyes. Why am I doing any of this, anyway? To jog my memory, a previous student IM'd me (I use Meebo to include all my IMS). That is why I am crashing down to earth right now. She reminded me, by just saying hi, the reason I do this. I do it for the kids, the digital natives. I do it to give them voice, to validate their lives, to connect, to develop relationship. She shared with me a song that says it better...

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Monday, July 9, 2007

It's Elementary!

You are invited to join the It's Elementary webcast at edtechtalk. Log into the chat room (link in blue letters to your right) & listen on the stream (by clicking the red "listen" to your right). If you have any questions once in the chat room, type them into the chat box (just like IM) or you may skypechat me. The fun begins at 23:00GMT or 4:00PDT or 6:00pm CDT or 7:00pm EDT. See you there!!
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Sunday, July 8, 2007


Mr. Gates, I am worse off than you!
72%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Defining Dreams

Angela Thomas of the University of Sydney said our dreams define us. She made this observation in her presentation to the 2007 NMC Summer Conference. If our dreams indeed define us, I am one strange character!
I dream of total tech integration in every classroom, PreK through 12th in my school. I dream of kids teaching me how to use the technology. I even dream of students doing all of their homework every time (I know, I'm hallucinating).
I dream of students who are excited about attending my class, who routinely use collaborative tools to work with others outside our school. I dream of an administration that uses their power to redesign the my school and empower the faculty, staff, & students to enter the global conversation successfully.
And I worry. Am I doing that which I should to speed that process or am I hindering? What should I be doing that I am not doing?
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Thomas, Angela (2007, June 7). 2007 NMC Summer Conference Program. Retrieved July 7, 2007, from nmc Web site: http://archive.nmc.org/events/2007summerconf/program.shtml

Friday, July 6, 2007

Student Voices

Karl Fisch
wrote about the need to include student voices in our conversation. I agreed, but mentioned the NECC time/date is problematic because families often go on vacation at this time. Families often do not value NECC like we educators do. Skype may be a better way, or any platform like that.
We need a solid template to follow so we are not falling into the familiar trap. A template that shines the spotlight on the kids and any adults move into the shadows. Scott McLeod commented on both Karl's blog and his own. I agree with both gentlemen. I'm just wondering what we can do about it, especially during vacation time. Maybe including video with those student opinions, though not as good, would work for vacation time conferences. For most conferences, in fact. I really think the videoconference is yet too problematic with privacy issues to work in the next few years. In 10 years, we may wonder what the fuss was all about over privacy. But right now, the majority are clinging to preserving their privacy and copyrights.....
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Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Connections in our lives...

The technology tools we use comfortably in this generation are different than those with which our parents or grandparents were comfortable.
Remember those live people answering business phones? Remember adjusting the rabbit ears before Laugh In came on the tv? Remember walking to the mailbox? These were once up-to-date technology tools.
Today our tech tools may include an iPhone, an iPod, Joost, an RSS Reader, Skype, or Operator 11. These are the tools with which this generation are comfortable. There are tools which I have left out. There are so many......
In the year 2020, those entering Kindergarten this fall will graduate high school. Which technology tools have yet to be invented? With which tools will those graduates be comfortable? How will we give them the preparation they will need to learn those tools, to discover tools, to analyze the news, or to become lifelong learners and great citizens?
I think we need to focus less on the importance of the tools and more on what they will do for us. These new tech tools will do a lot for us! It is important to learn to use them, but that is not the point. It is not the end. Tools are the means to the end.
The end is to create effective citizens for the future. Their future, and our retirement.
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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Purposeful conversation

Jose Rodriguez raises an interesting thought: what is the purpose of a conference. Is it merely dissemination of information, is it the crystallization of that which is known, or is it the creation of new abstractions by the collective community?
Our current conferences and workshops are indeed built around familiar patterns, often referred to as Web1.0. The purposes of such conferences and assemblies are to disseminate information and/or the crystallization of identified knowledge. But at NECC2007, the world and those present at NECC observed something else happening.
New abstractions by the collective community, both physically and virtually present. are continuing to form. New relationships, new collaborations, new conversations. David Warlick has listed the remarkable leap in blogging about NECC that has already occured. The Twittering Community is burgeoning. The difficult thoughts are being voiced, shared, debated.
So what is the purpose of a conference? I think it is about the food. But it is about the connections & conversations even more so. Let's not stop those conversations just because NECC is over. We need to continually challenge each other to bring more people into the conversation.
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Outside the Echo Chamber

I challenge you to invite someone inside the echo chamber this week. This idea was John Pederson's at NECC and echoed (cute play with words) on Chris Lehman's EduCon20. I just upped the anti to weekly.
I have invited someone and provided log-in details. Have you invited someone into the edublogosphere this week?
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