Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Deneen Frazier Bowen was the Wednesday keynote speaker at the South Carolina EdTech Conference and it has to rate as one of the best keynotes addresses I have seen. The message was how kids and adults viewed technology and each other’s view of technology or the Digital Native verses Digital Immigrant battle currently taking place. However, it was not so much what she said but how she said it. She dramatized real stories from studies such as Net Day, blogs, newspaper reports, etc…. The message was real. Yet, this still was not the compelling part of her keynote. Ms. Bowen is an actor as well as an educator. She got into character to show how each side of the battle viewed what they did was right and what the other side did was wrong. What is more important is she was able to give voice on how students are able to use technology they are comfortable with to learn and wish adults would have some understanding. Make sure to see the videos of Deneen, Edy, Joanne, Maria, and Priscilla Normal to see for yourself.

On a final note, in my blog posting, Gotta Look Good on TV, mentioned education schools needed to teach media tools to education majors. After seeing Ms. Bowen talk about digital storytelling, I am more convinced than ever these skills need to be taught.

Digital Voice? Who Should Be Listening?

Deneen Frazier Bowen led a preconference session at the South Carolina EdTech Conference entitled Engaging & Involving the Digital Mindset - Student Voices which was another talk about how today's students think differently than most teachers because of the impact of technology on personal lives. Ms. Bowen further talked about a generational disconnect greater than any in history and how students view the world around them through the use of technology and Web 2.0 applications. Most everyone here at the conference will agree with what Ms. Bowen said and then take the message back to their schools. I did this last year when I saw David Warlick give basically the same talk. Some teachers back home will even buy into this notion. However, this will really make little difference because the one group of people that needs to hear this message is parents.

The other day a couple parents called my school complaining their children accessed MySpace at school. I really don't know if the kids did or did not get into the social networking site. Yet, I am almost certain these kids are sneaking into MySpace because their parents have forbidden its use at home. School administrators are likely to defer to defer to the parents partially because they don't totally understand the technology themselves and, in administrators' minds, more important battles to fight. Deneen Frazier Bowen did tell us if parents forbid technology in their minds is a waste of time or dangerous then children (who view technology as necessary for daily life) will begin to hide their activities. This is when it hit me that someone needs to start explaining to parents about the technology their children are using to foster better understanding which will, hopefully, lead to more responsible use.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SC EdTech 2007

I arrived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the South Carolina EdTech conference. Over the next three days I will be giving updates at this blog or at or

Things I am looking forward to:
Innovative use of Web 2.0 in the classroom
Dr. Jim Rex's keynote address
New web portal applications
Distance Learning

Things that concern me:
More podcasting
Non discript Web 2.0 sessions

It should be an interesting 3 days. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gotta Look Good on TV

In the movie Back to the Future there was a scene when Dr. Brown realized why Ronald Reagan became president. He was looking at a video camera and says, "No wonder your president has to be an actor, he's gotta look good on TV." After using WIZiQ for two staff development projects, teaching our Smart Board teachers how to record Smart Board use, Animoto for some slide shows, Voice Thread (thanks Cathy Nelson for this tip) for annotated slide shows. and observing, I realize teachers of the future will not only have to look good on video, they will have to become producers, directors, videographers, editors, set designers, and anything else needed to produce a video. Maybe it is time education schools start looking into introducing media creation skills into education curriculum.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Building Relationships to Change Society

In August of 2004, Dr. Laurie Bassi of McBassi & Company met with a group of teacher from the new Bluffton High School (SC) which I was a part of. During a break Dr. Bassi told me the factors of production have changed to reflect a service based economy. The new factors of productions are Land, Human Capital, and Relational Capital. This stayed with me and I used them in an honors economics class I taught. Today I heard Clarence Fisher talk about how education will be built on relationships with no regard to geography in his keynote address for the K12 Online Conference. This will be very important as the walls of classrooms are torn down bit by bit as technology progresses.

I see this happening in two ways. First, students with specific educational needs will be matched with teachers who can meet those needs regardless of physical proximity. Technology will bring the two together. Virtual schools are just the beginning of this trend. Next will come classrooms where a teacher might only be teaching half of the students in the room. The rest of the students will interact with the teacher via distance learning. The group of students who are not working with the physical teacher will be working with another teacher at another school. Second, as teachers and students search for new experiences, they will build relationships with groups of students and teachers from anywhere in the world.

Mr. Fisher mentioned something else that interested me. He said society will have to change for our classrooms to change from the current model of rows of desks with the teacher at the front. Fisher sees classrooms becoming more like studios where there will many different activities going on at once managed by the teacher. This classroom will be noisy and chaotic which current administrators and teachers will have a hard time with. Will society change? Absolutely! Society is already changing as digital natives are moving into adulthood and going to work. Blogs, wikis, social networks, and other Web 2.0 applications are finding their way into business. Eventually, this way of thinking will find its way into education but education moves very slow. It will take time for the changing of the guard to effect the total change in education as digital immigrants will inevitably move out and pass the torch to the new generations.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

David Warlick said in his keynote address for the K12 Online Conference the walls are coming down. What he means is that technology has progressed to the point where boundaries set classrooms, offices, and other traditional places where people interact are disappearing. Two events that happened to me this week have proven him right. First was participating in the Fireside Chat with David Warlick and personally conducted an in service for the teachers at my school online.

I have participated in chat rooms before and talked to friends via instant messaging. Hey, I even had an interesting conversation with someone from Hong Kong years ago using ICQ. The event this past Monday was different for me. I was participating in an online event that had professional purpose with colleagues from all over the world. Just like physical conferences, I was able to interact and even made a friend or two. However, it was the side chat while David Warlick was fielding questions that impressed me the most. There was some interesting conversations going on and I learned more from this than David. I am looking forward to the rest of the conference which lasts for the next two weeks. If you want more information you can click on the link above or on the right of the blog site.

The other event was born out of necessity to inform teachers about their technology portfolio requirements for this school year. I had tried to do this earlier but could not get the time to do it after school approved. It was recommended I do it on a staff development day this past Tuesday but Teachers were going to be busy with parent conferences. I scheduled several sessions but I remembered hearing about an online conferencing application called WizIQ. I set up the sessions and informed teachers about the session times and how to particpate. Over one third of the teachers participated online. There were a few technical difficulties but overall the sessions went well. So well, I am planning to do it again Tuesday for a session on One-Computer Classrooms. This means any teacher can hold class but not have all the students physically present such as those who are too sick to come to school.

I have been looking out for other online meeting applications and three stand out and all are free. First, is Google Presentation which has a chat function when you share a link to a presentation. Next is Zoho Meeting which is part of the Zoho Online Office Suite. The drawback to Zoho is there is no voice unless you use Skype. The final application is which allows you to stream video live over the Internet. There are also several fee-based applications and I am sure there will be more to come which will break those walls down a little more.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Do your homework or your grounded Mom!

Every once in a while I threaten to write my Congressman suggesting the need for a Parent Accountability Act that would help give NCLB more teeth in helping schools meet Federal objectives. Basically, this law would help schools force parents to become more involved in their child's education, and hopefully produce better students. Of course that would never sit well with voters so it must remain a fantasy.

However, a New Jersey English teacher has come up with an interesting way to motivate parents into getting more involved with their child's education: he assigns parents mandatory homework. According to The New York Times, Damion Frye, an English teacher at Montclair High School, assigns parents the same reading list he gives his students and asks parents to write responses on a blog he setup. Students whose parents don't do their homework could have points taken off their grade. The idea is for parents to share in what is going on in class.

Some parents like the dialog it has created with their children and participate enthusiastically. Other parents don't like the idea of having homework but do it anyway or have creative excuses for not getting it done. Of course there are some parents who refuse to do the homework at all (I wonder what their child's grades, especially homework, are like). Only one child in three years has been docked points for parents not doing an assignment. This is because the parent did not communicate at all with Mr. Frye but it did not affect the student's overall grade.

Is Mr. Frye on the right track? How much would you like to see parents become involved in class?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What a tangled web we weave

Yesterday, our school had two non-related training sessions conducted by our district office staff. One was training us on the new professional development system, The other was taking care of benefit questions and showing everyone how our benefit tracking has now moved to a website. It later struck me how more and more services are moving to the Internet and the Web.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Video Killed the Podcasting Star?

Yahoo will be shutting down Yahoo Podcasts on October 31st after two years. According to a Yahoo News story from Associated Press, the move is part of the company's cost cutting program to make the company more profitable. Other podcast listing services are also hurting as interest is shifting to online video according to a Tech Crunch article.

Most people, including myself , who jumped on the podcasting bandwagon are finding that keeping a sustained podcast going is a difficult task or they get bored and move on to other things such as video. Another thing is most commercially successful podcasts are done by those with broadcasting experience and better equipment which will attract and keep audiences. Finally, like all hot trends, the market gets saturated and cannot sustain 100 podcasts on a particular topic.

This does not mean podcasting is no longer useful in education. While sustaining a podcast on one topic can be tough, schools can always come up with fresh material as different students use their talents and personality in a podcast. Schools and teachers that use podcasts to showcase their school and its students will always fill a niche that no one else can fill. It still is a good exercise for students to open up or do something new to do for projects. It still opens the door for those outside of school to see what is going on. This audience can be from grandparents living miles away or local community members who want to know what their schools, for which they pay hard-earned tax dollars to support, are doing. Video production may be increasing but nothing beats podcasting for being a cheap, easy, and quick media for education.