Sunday, June 29, 2008

Conference 2.0 ?

Whay can't all the conferences be structured this way? Watch this clip about BrainTorrent at PodCampBoston

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Edubloggercon08 West

Today was a day full of learning! My professional development happened with fellow colleagues at EduBloggerCon08 West in San Antonio. There were several streams from which to pick. Fears of bandwidth problems did not plague the conference goers until later in the afternoon and participants were streaming out to the world.
I enjoyed the session on social networking and the session on Google Apps, as well as the one on digital storytelling (Bud Hunt was streaming this session).
Where else could I receive such quality learning with live streams, backchannels, & some very smart people? This was only the first day of this historic gathering!

Photo courtesy of Wesley Fryer uploaded on May 23rd, 2008 available at

Friday, June 27, 2008

Is There a Way Out?

We are now in a knowledge economy. We no longer operate an economy based solely on goods. Getting products into the hands of consumers is still important, but distribution of goods is increasingly a skill which is being outsourced.

This shift in the foundation of the economy is good for those on top of the wrinkles in ‘the flattening world’ and bad for those stuck inside the wrinkles as they close, making escape more economically & culturally difficult. As the way out of the wrinkles narrows, economic opportunity closes off to those in our societies who need economic development most. Those populations of which I speak exist in every culture. They are the minorities, the poor, the uneducated, the mentally ill, the chronically ill; in sum those who are unseen in the media.

How can we facilitate the entry of all peoples into this knowledge economy? Many are enthusiastic about ‘the flattening world’ and yes it is fantastic. The more we are given in life, the more responsibility we bear. It would appear that many are forgetting those invisible societal groups.

We are past band-aid solutions. We need to open access to the resources enjoyed by others to all members of society. Creative solutions are needed now. I invite you to start a conversation strand about this ignored and difficult to discuss topic.

Photo courtesy of jermaister taken on August 17,2007 entitled "Alcatraz I" available at

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Depart to better serve

The Dexter gate sign has that engraved above it. At all levels of education, we seek to raise ethical awareness first, employability second. Listen to this audio slideshow to hear a Harvard student's view.
I too feel a privileged education comes with a moral obligation. Unfortunately, I did not attend Harvard....
Thanks to Adrienne Michetti for twittering this!

Photo courtesy of David Niblack, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, & available at

NECC - What is it?

What is NECC? That question was recently asked on Twitter and I was taken aback. I guess I am so out of touch that I assume everyone knows what NECC is...and I was wrong. I'm getting used to it...
NECC stands for National Educational Computing Conference
and is the conference is North America. Despite it being put on by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) the group appears yet to hold the conference outside of the USA.
There is a ning community around the conference at NECC 2008
and a Netvibes page by mizmercer. Twitter itself is likely to hum with conference happenings moment by moment during the conference itself. Some attendees are already coordinating carpools and restaurants on Twitter!
So yes I guess my head has been in the sand as I thought everyone had heard of NECC. My fault....

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

ISTE Tear Down These Walls!

Today I read Wes Fryer's post and the Miguel Guhlin's post about the ISTE censorship. I was planning on attending NECC 2008 virtually. I was planning on attending NECC 2009 physically. That's off. I see no reason to give my money to an organisation that takes a flying leap backwards into the dark ages.

It has been pointed out and I emphasise that ISTE stands for International Society for Technology in Education. Without allowing video/audio recordings, ISTE is excluding anyone in a country outside of the USA from virtually attending. Doesn't matter that any such person may not have the money to fly over here for an "international" conference (that is never held, to my knowledge, outside the usa).

The ISTE website says,

    ISTE is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the use of information technology to aid in learning, teaching of K-12 students and teachers.
I do not find this censorship policy to be in keeping the above statement. It is also interesting that any contact with the NECC 2008 conference Ning is offline right now. Interesting coincidence. As soon as I am able to access it, I plan to leave the NECC ning.

It's Elementary is planning a live show during NECC. I think our plans may be up in the air on that one. ISTE - Tear Down These Walls!
[I will be offline most of Fri & Sat so I may miss developments in this story. I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong. I would like my friends predictions (that ISTE will retract and make it all better) to be totally accurate. I am offline to work the concession stand at Relay for Life and will likely not return till Sunday. Please prove me wrong ISTE!]

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Photo courtesy of Wake-Up South Africa available at

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alone in the Crowd

Ever feel totally alone even though you are in a crowd of people? I learned this evening of a friend's illness. Suddenly, my own health challenges seemed totally insignificant. I have not gone where she has gone. I am not as brave as she. I felt like I was sitting still watching life fly by...
I have no words to express how my heart cries for you. I pray you find His healing and comfort. I pray I am humble enough to remember I am insignificant.

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Photos at, Yankee's Stadium Crowd and Trainspotting, Perth Railway Station

Raise your own bar

I only meant to read the first chapter last night before retiring. I'm at the beginning of chapter four. This book is compelling, something to recommend to middle school and high school parents. Something to quote from to learners I guide.

    The problem we have is with the modern understanding of adolescence that allows, encourages, and even trains young people to remain childish for much longer than necessary. It holds us back from what we could do...(Harris, 2008, p.33)

The premise of the book is that our North American culture has only recently, since the 1900s or so, defined a 'teen'. The societal expectations for teens is way too low and teens rise to the occasion. If the bar is set high then teens will rise to that occasion.
Like I said, I am only in Chapter 4. But so far, this book is great! I will freely quote from it this fall in Study Skills, a course built around the idea that learners can succeed in their courses.

Reference: Harris, A. & B. (2008). Do Hard Things. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Look to the Horizon

I was cleaning today - unusual as that is. I found a familiar poem that I just had to share again. This was posted by the author last year.

My heart is on the horizon
squinting into the sun
wondering where we're going
and just what we've just begun!

My heart is on the horizon
as we forge ahead like a herd of turtles
A better day lies ahead
if we'll work to jump the hurdles.

The hurdles loom in our minds
and in the hearts of men.
Link arms with giants
and put your heart on the horizon again.

Reference: Davis, V. A. (April 12, 2007. A Heart for the Horizon: Horizon Project 2007 Kicks off Tuesday. Retrieved June 17, 2008, from Cool Cat Teacher Blog Web site:
Note both photo and poem are directly from Vicki.

Monday, June 16, 2008


My Wordle is dominated by one word. Not any surprise at all...

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Machines as Aggregates

After listening to IT Conversations with David Mindell of MIT, I am struck by the metaphor of machine as aggregate. If any machine is an aggregate of the human knowledge that created it, and technology is constantly improving, then human knowledge is constantly improving too. I don't know that improving is really the word at which I am grasping here. I know since I was a young girl that machines have become more ubiquitous, smaller, faster, and more accurate.

Is there a ceiling to this improving knowledge? As Truman in The Truman Show did, will humans run up against a wall above which we cannot advance? How far will we be able to advance before hitting the ceiling? With global warming, the nuclear arms race, and other global disasters, both potential or ongoing, we may not have the opportunity to build our tower that high.

From Mindell's comparison of rockets hitting London during WWII to 9/11 in NYC, it is apparent that history, despite technological advance, repeats itself. Mindell calls Pinchot's description as prescient of 9/11, but this is not so. Mindell's comparison involves hindsight, not the foresight of Pinchot.

I welcome contributions to this conversation.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia available at

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Thomas Friedman says listening is a 21st century skill. He isn't talking about iPods or cellphones. What skills are needed to be a listener? To truly hear what another is saying one needs to focus. That applies to music as well. To truly hear what the music is saying one needs to focus attention. Preconceived notions must be dropped. This is true for all learners. Those in your classrooms will not listen to you if they do not drop their preconceived notions about what you will say.
I wonder how we are going to encourage listening? How will we emphasize this skill or will we largely ignore it? Will our cultural lack of listening be our downfall? Please continue this conversation....

Monday, June 9, 2008

Thinking about character

I was reading a post on Intrepid Classroom's Ning about character. It occurred to me that character is a summation of who we are. It equals not only the 'good' points, but 'bad' points. The terms 'good' and 'bad' are defined across cultures in pretty much the same general way.

Displaying netiquette is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life." Now I'm not saying I'm Ann Landers or anything. But others who fail repeatedly to display netiquette lack good breeding & education. It is important to treat others with respect.

This is how we should treat our learners-those in our classrooms. We need to model this behavior in our own interactions. When others consistently fail to do so, others cease to listen. Just thought it was important to reiterate the laws of common courtesy and apologise if I have failed to follow them.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Engaging Critically

I viewed a Simulcast by the Annenberg Foundation entitled Art of the Western World. The broadcast showed different classroom scenarios. Each lesson involved one of the performing arts and the classroom discussions that followed.

After the performances and classroom discussions by k12 students, there followed a roundtable discussion by other educators. One young lady noted "...ultimately we want students to engage critically with the world..." That comment struck a chord.

So many online global projects ask students to do just that. Our present k12 culture is predicated on classrooms where there is one right answer provided by one person. Parents, students, and educators have come to expect it. Anyone going against the grain is irritating. Guess what I am.

Engaging critically with the world is what those online have come to expect of themselves. Because they own it, so to speak, they can give it away to their students. (concept courtesy of Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach) Many are very successful at taking the world by storm. Now there is a different challenge.

We need to motivate those outside the echo chamber to join us. We are in a position to prod others to engage the world critically. We can help others synthesize their learning by connecting the dots, by searching the web for outsourced professional development, by participating in the backchannels, by writing about what is learned.

Tis the season for a great many conferences and many of those will be streamed in some way often including a backchannel. Many friends and acquaintances will attend conferences that we do not. It is possible with today's technology that they could include others in the conference experiences. I urge you to take advantage of these possibilities, to seek them out, to engage the world critically. Once we know how to synthesize our learnings this way, we can more adeptly lead others in engaging the world.

Hoffman-Dachelet, R. (2008, June 6). Art of the Western World. Annenberg Media Online Simulcast, from
Photo from available at

Friday, June 6, 2008

Talents of intermediates!

Coolcatteacher pointed me to ps233techteacher. Great work about Harriet Tubman!! I also found this one entitled Turtlelicious by Nia and Kara:
These two girls demonstrate learning in this short Voicethread! Listen to them demonstrate their learning by explaining how turtle eggs hatch. I bet they won't forget this information tomorrow!
This is exactly why integrating technology is vital to good teaching-it is about what we are conversing! Join the conversation - give your 2¢ here!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Morning Person...

I watched this clip on John Medina's site and couldn't stop laughing!

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

About those rhizomes...

I wrote this in response to Dave's blog post this morning, all before the prerequisite number of coffees.

Is it true that the number of years in academia directly impacts the number of words in any sentence? In that case, you are either are very entrenched academician or good jester.

Knowledge is collective, forming connections with past prior learnings and with future intuitions. The past, present, and future all coincide to make up what you term fluid knowledge. Fluid implies to me something not easily grasped.

Joining the rhizomatic collective (sounds like Star Trek)increases not only personal ways of knowing but the knowledge of the collective. Until we have all the stakeholders of any culture connecting, how can we claim to glimpse that collective knowledge?

Our challenge now is to get parents, and hence taxpayers, to buy into a system that values ephemeral knowledge over granite canon. It is imperative that learners become adept at communicating, connecting, & collaborating in order for our nation to continue to be economically viable.

Learners who can communicate, connect, & collaborate are able to think. This is the currency needed to participate. The old vanguard of canonical works = knowledge is both ridiculous and overruled.

I better stop wagging at the mouth and go have some coffee!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Power of the Imaginative Mind

If you haven't yet seen this, then you need to let it knock around your gray matter. It's that important.

This is Sir Ken Robinson speaking at the Apple Education Leadership Summit on April 10, 2008.