RSS is about content, Twitter is about people

I leave tomorrow for the EARCOS Teachers Conference (Twitter hash and web tag #ETC09) where I’ll be giving four presentations. My first one is on Networks and Communities and although my Twitter Network has pointed out to me this is not a new presentation for myself…I do feel like there is something different. I’ve pushing myself to think deeper about personal networks and online communities and I need to be clear about my message and what I believe before I step into the room…or at least clear enough so that those in the room can help me push my own thinking on the subject. Ben Grundy via Twitter helped me when we started talking about RSS vs Twitter. RSS is about finding content, Twitter is about finding people Not sure about that statement but it’s one I put out on Twitter and as I write this post is still being bounced around. Like others I find myself using Twitter for many different purposes including finding content…but I followed people first…not the content. In past presentations I have focused most of my time on using RSS Feeds for both learning and teaching and less time on Twitter. Has the time come for this to be reversed? Is the “Nearly Now” taking over the reader? More to come as I continue to think….your thoughts...

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Preparing for November

My wife left early this morning for Hawaii. I know…completely lost on her. From Bangkok to Hawaii….. She’s off to visit a friend, one of the benefits of taking a year off from working and having frequent flier miles to spend. So that leaves me with a week of no school and time to myself to prepare for what has shaped up to be one heck of a busy November. Nov. 1-4: EARCOS Admin ConferenceNov. 7-9: Jakarta Weekend Workshop: Learning in a Digital World Nov. 21-22: United Nations International School of Hanoi This week I’ll be creating my presentations and focusing in on what my message will be. I’ll be pulling a lot from Presentation Zen. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. It just might change the way you teach. Also, make sure you subscribe to the Presentation Zen blog. It’s one of those books that simplifies the process down to something that just works. In fact Garr Reynold’s simple idea of going off line to plan your presentation has completely focused my presentations the way I want. I spent about 3 hours on Sunday sitting outside on the balcony outlining the four presentations for EARCOS in my notebook. It took me 2 hours to outline the four presentations. Now the fun part of just putting them together. This book has quickly made the rounds at our school. I loaned it to Kim Cofino after I finished reading it right before Learning 2.008. She got such great feedback on her presentations that she ended up holding a whole unconference session around Presentation Zen. The book has made the rounds at school as well, and our school just ordered four more copies of it. The best use by far has been watching a couple teachers use the technique as a way to present information in their classes and have all given feedback on how well the students liked the format, were engaged, and attentive. It’s not a hard format, actually….it’s quite simple, and Garr does a great job of explaining the process that one should follow. A process I now use. As I’ve been working through my presentations I keep coming back to a common theme of communication. On how technology and the Internet really boils down to allowing us to communicate in new ways. As I was doing some research yesterday I found this article...

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One small step for EARCOS

I had two great days in Manila spending time with the EARCOS team looking at how technology and the web can help to streamline some of their internal practices and also looked at how EARCOS can use technology at both it’s Administrator and Teacher conferences to help connect participants. Up until now, the team at EARCOS has been sending a Word Document to those giving workshops. The presenters fill out the form and then e-mail it back. The EARCOS staff then copies that information into a FileMaker Pro database where they create the schedule. So we sat down and talked and created an online form that presenters will use for workshop submissions. EARCOS doesn’t have a license for a FileMaker Pro server (and it’s expensive) so the data will be created in a MySQL database. Once all the presentations are in the MySQL database, it can be saved as an Excel file and then imported into FileMaker Pro…taking a total of maybe 5 minutes. When we started adding up the time the office staff sits around copying and pasting data for the two conferences alone we figured we picked up close to 3 hours of productivity time a week total among the staff. We then looked at other ways we could use this same method to streamline data collection. Membership directory, Salary Survey, Principal’s Salary Survey, Weekend Workshop Proposals, etc. Their webmaster has some skills and started cranking out forms left and right and also created a web based interface for in office use to view the data. This became essential when we talked about how much the Executive Director travels around Asia visiting the 110 member schools and looking at sites for future conferences. By creating a web interface the director can login and view the data that he needs like the number of sponsors for a conference, or quick access to information about a school. We then turned our focus on the conferences themselves and this March with the teacher’s conference we will launch a conference website in the form of a wiki that will allow presenters and participants access to information and each other before, during, and after the conference. While I was talking to the staff they mentioned how much time they spend updating presenter handouts for the conference. A presenter e-mails them the material and they publish it to the website. They figured 75%...

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Morning in Manila

I woke up this morning to find myself in Manila. You know, one of those you roll over open your eyes and can’t remember where you are mornings. I’m just getting use to waking up in our new home in Bangkok and I’m off to Manila to do some consulting work with EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools). I equate EARCOS to an Educational Service District (ESD) back in the United States. According to the stats on the website: The East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools is an organization of 110 member schools in East Asia. These schools have a total of more than 72,000 pre-K to 12th grade students. EARCOS also has 87 associate members— textbook and software publishers and distributors, universities, financial planners, architectural firms, insurance companies, youth organizations, etc— and over 19 individual members. Basically, they support international schools in the region as well as hold conferences every year for teachers and administrators. Once again this year I’ll be presenting at both the administrator’s conference in November and the teacher’s conference in March. I’ll also be helping with the GIN Conference this year (Global Issues Network Conference) a conference for students. Student groups from EARCOS schools come together and present different global issues projects they have been involved in. Using Jean Francois Rischard’s book High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them students present different ways they are helping to solved or are involved in these global issues. Last year the conference was an amazing event in Beijing and this year it will be hosted at ISB in Bangkok (Isn’t that just perfect!). Last year the director of EARCOS approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing some consulting work for EARCOS. Dick Krajczar is a long time international educator and now head of EARCOS which is based here in Manila. “I don’t know what we need to do, but I know we need to do something!” Is what I remember Dick telling me when we sat down for a chat last year. Dick understands that you don’t need to know it all you just need to know people who can help you learn what it is you need to know. Today my wife and I will go out and explore a bit and relax here in Manila and then I’ll spend Monday and Tuesday at EARCOS headquarters...

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EARCOS Teachers Conference – All over but the flight

I have a lot of random thoughts about the EARCOS Teacher’s Conference this year….so if these seem like disconnected ideas/ramblings/thoughts….it’s because they are. The first morning we were here, I picked up the Newspaper that was slipped under our door and flipped through it real quick. The front page had the Prime Minister of Malaysia talking about the general election that they just held here in Malaysia in which the people, according to the paper “acknowledged the unhappiness of the Malaysians” mostly around economic issues.” Now I don’t know enough about Malaysia to comment but what really struck me was a small article stuck at the bottom of the second page. I wouldn’t have even noticed it if it did not have the word Internet in the title, but I believe this short article copied below sums up a lot of what is happening in societies all over the world right now. Internet served a painful lesson Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Barisan Nasional lost the online war in the general election.“We didn’t think it was important. It was a serious misjudgment,” he said at the opening of Invest Malaysia 2008.“We thought that the newspapers, the print media, the television were important but young people were looking at text messages and blogs.”Abdullah said the influence of alternative media “was painful. But it came at the right time, not too late”.The web and SMS allowed parties like DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Pas, which have long complained of bias in the traditional media, to reach voters directly. What a great way to start the conference. I ended up using the article in two of my sessions to show that this stuff is for real and it’s affecting societies all around the world. It was a great way to show that this isn’t an educational issue, it is a global issue on how we communicate and how younger generations are very much dialed into this changing communication landscape. I did plan to Ustream all four of my sessions plus do two live podcasts over the three days. But the Internet connection that was set up with the help of ISKL was just not working very well, and worst off it didn’t reach into the room I was presenting in, so I didn’t have access for any of my sessions. Try doing a session on RSS and...

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