Iowa Educational Leaders Seeing the Connections

Today I find myself in downtown Minneapolis after driving in last night from working with educational leaders in northern Iowa. I was looking forward to getting out and walking around the city, but it so happens I arrived the same time a winter storm has hit with high winds and what’s this white stuff I see falling from the sky? Yes….two days ago it was 60F today 38F and by Friday when I leave back to 63F. A little cold for my tropical blood so I’m doing the only logical thing you would do…..hanging out at a laundry mat catching up on laundry and thinking. I’ve been very impresses with how far Scott McLeod, Jamie and Nick have been able to move Iowa educational leaders in the conversation of what needs to be done to keep education relevant in rural America.  As I’ve talked with Scott and the educational leaders I’ve been working with throughout the state I keep coming back to Clayton Christensen book Disruptive Class (a must read!). He talks in the book about how disruptive technologies start by filling a niche need that is not mainstream. But they gain momentum fast and by the time mainstream knows what hit them they’ve become irrelevant (my basic paraphrasing of the book). Iowa finds itself trying to compete in a world where populations are moving to more urban settings, leaving rural states like Iowa looking for ways to stay relevant. I met one Superintendent who has 700 students covering something like 400 square miles and their population is increasingly getting smaller and older. How does a small rural community compete in a wired fast pace world?   You teach students to connect and be creative. The number of schools/districts that have gone 1:1 in the past couple of years is about to reach 100 a 50% increase from the year before, and I have a feeling the adoption rate of 1:1 in rural states like Iowa will continue to outpace those of urban states in the near future.  You then look at online learning and what the book Disruptive Class really focused on. That as these rural areas shrink they can’t afford full time teachers to teach every subject and online learning fills the void of offering classes that cannot be offered or supported locally.  We talked about ways that these educational leaders could connect their communities that are spread out over great distrances. Of course Facebook...

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NECC is about conversations

As Day 2 of the conference gets started I’m sitting here in the Blogger’s Cafe reflecting on Day 1. As usual I spent most of my time at the Blogger’s Cafe chatting with new and old friends alike. I did go to one session yesterday. Scott McLeod’s session on disruptive innovations. Now I went to the session to support Scott and to hear what he had to say, but really I could have found the content he was presenting on the web at his K12online presentation. We talk about how content is out there, how if you want to, you can find the content. So why do we come to this conference? If the content that is presented here is accessible anywhere anytime what’s the reason we’re here? What’s the reason we come together face to face? I’ve talked about this before on the blog and I keep coming back to this idea that when we gather at a conference like this, or in a classroom, that the conversation, the relationships, are what we are looking for. One of the reasons educators give for virtual schools being bad is that students will loose that social connection….I’ve never heard a teacher say, “But they’ll lose the content”. Yet, we build conferences around content not connections…about hour long sessions and not about the socialization of being together……and we’re suppose to be the most connected of the educators out there. We are suppose to be the ones who “get it” and yet we see conferences as content not as human connections. There is a reason we come together face to face. We are social animals we want the social connections. That’s why I spend most of my time hanging out in the Blogger’s Cafe. That’s were the social connections are made, the conversations that I have here cannot happen on the web…they are organic, they are real, they are friends new and old. It’s getting the opportunity to meet Leo and Sachi LeFever from CommonCraft. Or the Co-founders of VoiceThread. It’s these connections that bring us together. Does the same apply to our classrooms? Should our classrooms be planned around conversations rather than around content? How do we make this change? Technorati Tags: NECC09, NECC, NECC2009,...

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Don't try to control it

A comment left by Dan Christian yesterday on my post about the changing landscape of blogging. Has me back here thinking about my job as an educational technologist. First I think we need to understand how I view my job and what I think the job of an educational technologist should include. First and foremost we are educators. Our job is to educate. Our students range in age from 60+ to less than 5 years old. Our mission is to teach them how to use technology to learn, create, be more productive or make a task easier. The only way we can do that is to have a solid understanding of what is out there, that tools exist both as part of the computer’s operating system and on the web that allow us to do our job easier, to learn differently, or connect us to people, thoughts, ideas that we never had access to before. Our job….is to explore! Our job….is to understand! Our job…is to motivate! Our job…is to change habits! Our job…is to support! Our job…(leave your thoughts in the comments) So when Dan asked the question yesterday: How do we keep from continually dividing/splitting off conversations? Answer: You can’t! You can’t control the web, you can’t keep the conversation from splitting into different parts; into niches. That’s what the web is so good ate. Yes….having one big conversation would be great…but at the same time overwhelming. The splitting of conversations on the web allows each individual to choose the conversation they want to follow (aka network). On Twitter for example, you follow the conversations you want. You create your niche (or personal) network on Twitter. You don’t want to hear about the group around dogs….or maybe you do. Only you can decide that. Twitter allows the conversations to be split. We see it in the use of Nings as well. There is a Ning site for almost any niche in education. Sure we could all benefit from one large Ning, but then again…it would be to “noise” for me and I wouldn’t be able to find my place. I don’t have the answers…but whereas I realize we need to be using multiple tools as technologists, that is not such an easy sell to get faculty, teachers, instructors on board with using yet more tools… And this is the ultimate role of the educational technologiest. Our job...

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The changing landscape of blogging

What? My Technorati Authority rating is down to 188? Wait? How? It was at 198 just hours ago? To make matters worse it was at 251 in June. What happened? Where did all the links go? Don’t worry…I have a theory…here me out. First of all please do not think that I am all hung up on my ranking within the edublog community. No, I just find the whole thing fascinating. So here’s my thought. Technorati Authority is based on the incoming links to your blog over the past 6 months. Meanings every day you drop a day and add a day to maintain your 6 months of incoming links. From that and some other data like who those links are coming from it figures out what your Authority is. Technorati Authority is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority the blog has. So why over the past 6 months have I seen a falling tend in my authority ranking? First…it’s not just me. Using Scott McLeod’s Top 50 P-12 Edublogs posted in June 2008. I went back to see how other blogers authority rankings have been doing. Cool Cat Teacher Blog: June 2008=550         Nov 2008=430 2 Cents Worth: June 2008=559          Nov. 2008=404 Stephen’s Web: June 2008=708     Nov. 2008=620 Weblogg-ed: June 2008=897      Nov. 2008=604 Dangerously Irrelevant: June 2008=413     Nov. 2008=310 What the heck happened? Why, across the board everyone has dropped in authority? So I started thinking…what happened about 6 to 8 months ago that changed? What happened to bloggers and blogging? Why are there less people linking to blog posts and reflecting on them? Has the writing gotten worse? Or has something changed? One word! Like it or not Twitter has changed the way we communicate. Twitter has taken all those links that we use to put on our blogs and has shifted them to a different place, to a new conversation. I’m just as gulity as the next twitterer. I use to blog about good posts that I found. Now I just write: Great post from @? you have to read this http://????? As I bounced this theory off of Kim and Chrissy over the last couple days it made more sense. Kim recalls going to NECC in Atlanta (two years ago) where there were only a hand full of us twittering. (There’s...

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Learning 2.008: No Stage, just conversations

1. Before someone talks you into creating/organizing/hosting a conference make sure you’re prepared for the work ahead. 2. Once you are prepared for the work, double the time you think it will take, multiple that by two, and then you might be close. 3. Always remember you are doing this to better education (or educators) or so you hope. ___________________ It’s the day before the conference starts and big thanks to my Principal and ISB for giving me the week off to be here in Shanghai to finish planning for the conference. I really don’t know how I would have done it otherwise. There are about 6 main organizer and then about another 6 helping us out on the ground. We have a total of about 550 people coming if we include everyone even the 60+ middle school and high school students who will be helping out with tech support. It’s been a crazy conference and at the last planning meeting we found ourselves about 100 people over what we were expecting. We started looking for more presenters and before I knew what had happened, everyone was looking at me. Hence I’m now doing three presentations. If that’s not bad enough they’ve put me in the same sessions with the rest of our invited guess (OK, I did have some say in that part). Now, it’s an honor to be considered to present along with the invited guests, and at the same time trying to organize and present at the same conference is not recommended. But here I find myself the day before the conference scrambling to create/remix some presentations. I’m doing three: I just love this picture of my opening talk on why we’re thinking differently. It’s a talk/discussion on the theory behind what is pushing us into this new way of learning. It’s based a lot on George Siemen’s work (who was suppose to be here but couldn’t make it). Educators seem to like it as it gives them a frame to try and understand that we (technology people) are not just pushing this stuff because we like it, but because it’s our world today. My other two presentations are down and dirty stuff that educators can take with them. From Print to Digital: Learning to Write for the Web 10 Digital Tools for Digital Educators I’m really excited about the 10 Digital Tools presentation. Our presentation...

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