Photo Credit: MSH* via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: MSH* via Compfight cc

I need to start checking myself when this question comes up during presentations and trainings. At some point someone always asks about privacy. In many cases they don’t even know…..I think anyway…..that they are asking a privacy question. The questions usually are posed as:

“If I put something in Google Drive is it safe?”

“If I put something in Google Drive can anyone see it?”

“Is it secure?”

“Can someone hack in and get my stuff?”

I’m finding the more I’m asked questions like this, the harder time I’m having keeping my frustrations in check….to the point I had to apologize to teachers a few weeks ago for getting a little too passionate about the topic.

So here’s what I believe…it’s my belief so take it as that.

“If I put something in Google Drive is it safe?”

As safe as anything you are probably going to put on the Internet! This is a good graph that shows how secure Google is compared to other online storage sites.

Can someone hack in? Yep…..if they get your info they can get in…but people can also break into your house….and people do….I’d like to see research of house break-ins verses accounts hacked in the US…that would be a fun comparison. So you tell me what’s more secure….your images backed up to a site like Flickr.com or the external hard drive sitting next to your computer?

“If I put something in Google Drive can anyone see it?”

Well….no…not anyone……but yes…..Google can see it. Here’s the thing….by using their service you allow them to see your stuff. This goes for anything on the Internet, not just Google. Can your bank see how much money you have? Yes. Can your credit card track your spending? Yes.

Our Love Hate Relationship With Technology

Here’s the thing that I tell everyone at the end of the day:

You have to trust somebody!

Photo Credit: mueritz via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: mueritz via Compfight cc

You do…that’s it. Who you trust is personal but you have to trust someone and the issue right now is we don’t know who to trust. I trust my bank to keep my data safe. I trust Google to use my information wisely. I trust mint.com with all of my financial data. Now…you might not trust these places and that’s fine…..but you have to trust someone. Target is a perfect example. We all trusted Target with our credit card information until that trust was broken. Once that happened we all had a choice to make…..will I trust them again?

Some of us do….others of us don’t. No matter what you decide…..it’s a personal decision. Here’s the thing….if it’s not Target, then who do you trust? Where do you shop? Amazon.com, Walmart, Safeway, your local hardware store? You see….if you have a credit card….you trust someone with that stored information…..you just do….or you don’t have a credit card and you don’t….and that’s fine too. Most people do have a credit and/or debit card, so most people are making a choice to trust someone. I struggle then with those that say they’re worried about someone having their information. I feel like you have basically two options:

1. Come to terms with the fact that breaches of information (ie what happened with Target) are going to occur….welcome to the 21st Century


2. Get rid of your credit cards/debit cards, cell phones, and anything else digital.

I personally choose option one; I believe that companies are truly doing their best to keep information protected. Nobody wants to be in Target’s shoes. It’s not fun for anyone involved. Yes…every company should do everything in their power to keep your data safe…but will there be hacks? Yes…there will be. Just like their will be robberies and home invasions in real life too.

We Love/Hate Technology

We’re in a time period where we as a society are trying to figure out how much privacy we’re willing to give up. We benefit from giving up our privacy but it’s also a scary concept.

We love that when we do a Google search they know so much about us they give us exactly what we want…if they didn’t we wouldn’t use them.

We hate Google because they know so much about us that the adverts scrolling on the side are things we’ve searched for.

We love that we can go to Amazon.com and get recommendations of books, things to buy and things relevant to us.

We hate that they know our buying habits and it creeps us out a bit that they come up with exactly what we want.

We love Facebook and the connections it provides us and the specific information that pops up for us to peruse.

We hate that Facebook knows us so well the ads are tailored specifically for what we’re looking for.

We’re all in this love/hate relationship right now. Or you just hate it and you’re not reading this right now because you have chosen not to use the Internet!

Photo Credit: CBS_Fan via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: CBS_Fan via Compfight cc

It’s come out in the news again just how not sure we are if we like this or not as a society. Google and Microsoft read emails of child pornographers, turned them into the authorities and had them arrested. Now…we like this…we like that bad people were caught….but we’re a little freaked out that Google can…and might, read our emails.

We’re not sure if we like this. We love it when technology allows us to catch the bad guys……we just hate it when we realize that means they’ve been watching us too. Here’s the thing…we can’t have it both ways. We can’t say go catch the bad guys without giving up our privacy to make sure we’re not one of them. The other options is we catch less bad guys and protect our own privacy. Personally, I like the idea that more bad people are being caught and if that means I give up some of my privacy, I can live with that sacrifice.

Changing our default from private to public

This is what we’re struggling with. Perhaps my life experiences have helped me to make this mind shift more quickly than some. The idea that privacy looks very different these days than it did a short while ago. That doesn’t’ mean that privacy doesn’t exist…it does. It just means you start with public. Everything you do is public and you work backwards from there. That’s a mind shift from where we were even just 15 years ago. Where we all started thinking our lives were private and we got to decide how public they were. That’s not the case! The moment you signed up for Facebook, bought a cell phone, or signed into an email account…..you became public.

Public is the new default……now……how you stay safe being public is what we need to focus on. How do you do the best you can to lock the windows and the doors; share what you want with whom you want and be as safe as possible? That’s the question we need to be asking. It doesn’t mean someone can’t or won’t try to break in…there have always been bad guys and there will continue to be bad guys…but we do the best we can, we trust who we trust, to keep ourselves and our families safe.

facebook subscribe

Recently Facebook launched the ability to allow people to subscribe to your Facebook Profile if you so choose to turn on the functionality. As an educator I don’t think it is a good idea and I’m fearful of what this means if educators don’t understand what the Subscribe function will do.Basically Subscribe will allow any Facebook User to follow you without you knowing it or your approval making it very easy for students to subscribe to their teacher’s updates. Much like following someone on Twitter. 

Facebook also allows you to control who sees your updates…the problem is one small click and that update meant for family and friends becomes viewable to subscribers.

Also….it doesn’t control all aspects of your profile. For example, if you change your profile picture everyone, friends, family, and subscribers see it. There is no way to have one profile picture for family and friend and another for those who subscribe to your updates. So that picture of you and the family on vacation, or you and your new born, or you at that party with Mr. Jones everyone now sees. 

Facebook Pages are still the way to go for educators. They are a completely separate site…..there is no cross over from a Facebook Page to a Facebook Profile allowing educators the ability to have their friends in one spot and their students in another keeping a safe separation between the two.

Just wanted to throw it out there and think before you turn on the subscribe option in Facebook.

   by Florian SEROUSSI

Over this past school year my wife and I have slowly been watching a change in the way her Middle School students communicate with her. It has me thinking that we no longer get to decide the communication tool for a conversation. 

It started back in September when my wife received an e-mail from Facebook via a student. My wife is not friends with any students on Facebook but that didn’t and hasn’t stopped them from sending her messages about school. The first time it happened we laughed and my wife was a bit freaked out. But over the course of the year it’s been happenings more and more. Kids, who are always on Facebook, and using it like e-mail decided it was OK to contact their school counselor that way…and is it?

A counselors role is to be available to their students in time of need and crisis. Do we really care how they contact their counselor? What program or method they use? I sure don’t and even though at first it freaked my wife out she’s coming to terms with the fact that this is e-mail for the kids, this is how they have decided to communicate and we no longer control the communication tools.

Then a couple weeks ago…on a Sunday….she gets a text message from a students (our school directory lists cell phone numbers of admin and counselors). Now, forgetting your homework for the weekend and texting your counselor about it on Sunday night really does not qualify as a crisis, but the fact remains that this student decided that was the communication tool they were going to use. Are we going to see more of this as well? Time will tell.

All of this has me thinking about schools and what are the communication tools we set up and are they the right tools? Do our schools need a Facebook profile so that students and increasingly parents can contact the school in that way?

I keep thinking about all the places I carry on conversations. Some initiated by me, in which I choose the tool, but most by others. Some conversations are in Twitter, some on Facebook, others in text messages, and yet others in e-mails. Sometimes a conversation crosses platforms other times it stays in the original form factor. 

So the question becomes should every counselor be required to have a Facebook page?

How about Teachers?

Who decides?

OK….so the title made you click and read this post…and that’s what I’m hoping will happen with our student body. I got a brillant…stupid idea the other day to see if I could engage the student community in using Facebook and FourSquare to promote our up coming Softball Spirit Night (I’m Asst. Coach to boys varsity softball….we play softball instead of baseball at school…so don’t judge me!)

I’m sure there are going to be people that read this and think I’m insane, think I’m putting kids in danger, or a host of other reasons why this might not work…but I do have to say on this one I actually got it approved through the school admin and our very switched on Atheltic Director is in full support. (In full disclosure our Dean of Students, Dennis Harter did my job before me…and our Atheltic Director Andy Vaughen is a COETAIL graduate and a huge user of technology in both Atheltics and Physical Education)

Here’s the plan: Spirit Night is this coming Friday as the softball team takes on the International School of Kuala Lumpur

I first made a special on the school’s FourSquare page (see this post about using FourSquare at our school) that you can see in the image above that outlines how to win a prize if you attend Spirit Night. 

Basically kids have to do two things.

1. They have to check-in on FourSquare between 7-8pm (during the game)

2. They have to post on their Facebook Page a status that reads “I’m at Spirit Night are you?”

Monday morning the first 10 students to come to my office and show me that they accomplished the two things above in the time frame win a prize donated by our PTA via our Athletic Director. 

Next step….how do I get the word out to kids? Sure I could have put it in the bulletin that not every student reads, but instead I decided that using the network fully would be an interesting test. So I found 5 very active ISB Facebook groups, joined them and posted a message outlining the details of the compitition to get this in front of kids and get them talking about it.

That’s it…we’ll see what happens tomorrow night…I’m excited to see if this works…or it might be a total flop as kids will look at this and think “There goes Mr. U again and one of his crazy ideas.”

Either way….I’m having fun! 

I find myself sitting here in Kota Kinabaul, Malaysisa reflecting on what has been a 5 country, I don’t know how many presentation, month. From Bahrain to Iowa with Asia and Australia in between, it’s been an amazing month of travel and I find myself thinking and reflecting on all I’ve been talking about and learning along the way.

So here’s my brain dump of themes that keep emerging for me:

The future is mobile

Whether in the heartland of America, or the deserts of the Middle East and Africa, moble phones are the future of connectivity. We’re also seeing this with Apple’s iPad and the ability to connect to a 3G connection. My guess….every mobile device in 3 years will have the built in ability to connect via a celluar network. We’re already doing this, but it will just become part of the hardware of every mobile device. What this will do to/for places like Africa and a large part of the developing word I can only imagine…….but it excites me.

Society expects us to be connected

I’ve been preaching this everywhere this month as it came out of the TED Talk I did back in September. i think we need to stop making excuses for all of us spending to much time connected and just realize this is now the world we live in. Once we own this fact then we can start having some deep discussions around how do we teach in this new society, how do we communicate, and how do we live in a world that is constantly connected? We continue to have conversations about being “balanced” and I agree that we need to find ways to get off the computer and get reconnected with nature. But balance in the term of 50/50 is not going to happen and it hasn’t been that way for a long time. TVs are in our homes, gaming systems have been around now for 30 years, and we all have a cell phone or soon will. We are now in a time where being connected is the norm and being disconnected is not. We need to make this shift in our thinking. We need to consiously think about disconnecting, taking trips with no connective devices, which goes again societies rules right now and that’s what makes it difficult. A goal of every family should be to take 1 trip a year with no connective device. The only screen that should be allowed is a GPS. Everything else stays at home. I’m not talking just about the kids I’m talking the whole family which is where parents start shaking their heads. They think kids should do this but not them…….and that is not setting the example we need. Disconnecting is good, it’s healthy, and we need to model that.

Standards are past their prime

Here comes the tomatos! This recent post by Clarence Fisher just drives home the point for me. Standards can’t keep up in a constantly changing landscape that no one can predict what the content is students will need in the future. When content is free and open we need to focus on skills, concepts and dispositions. Content based outcomes after 2nd grade are useless and continue to change faster than the curriculum review cycles of our schools. I don’t know how many times in the past 5 years I’ve heard “We’ll fix that in our next curriculum review cycle” meanwhile for 3, 4, or 5 years, depending on your review cycle, we’re teaching stuff we don’t believe in or know is not relavent to students in a digital, always on socieity.

Using my school as an example….I beleive the only outcomes we need for any lesson are these factors that my school has agreed upon:

Learning is the primary focus of our school and we recognize learning as a life-long adventure. We value meaningful learning where students construct enduring understanding by developing and applying knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Increased understanding is evidenced by students who:

– Explain its relevance

– Describe how it connects to or conflicts with prior learning

– Communicate it effectively to others

– Generalize and apply it effectively to new situations

– Reflect critically on their own and other’s learning

– Ask questions to extend learning

– Create meaningful solutions

If every lesson, everything we did with kids focused on this, we’d be much better off and we’d return true power of teaching back to teachers.

Socially Connected World

We live in a socailly connected word. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or the next thing that comes along there is no turning back. As social-networks become part of our culture they are affecting the way we do bussiness (foursquare) the way we look for jobs and employees (92% of empolyers now use or plan to use social-networks) and how we communitcate with our friends and relatives. We know that learning is social, we know kids are going to need to understand how to get into college, or get a job being part of a social-network. So let’s start using them rather than continute to make excuses for not. FYI “We MIGHT get sued.” is an excuse.

Conferences Handouts are Changing

I use to use my own wiki for handouts. This year I haven’t had to use it once. Each conference I’ve gone to has had their own wiki, or site to put digital material one….well all except this admin conference I’m at now. But even I’m finding the wiki hard to keep up on, so I’ve moved to just creating a tag or using a tag I already have in Diigo and just giving that as the link to resources. For example, my talk on why we should be teaching students Facebook (read that as social-networking) in schools tomorrow is just using my Diigo tag of Facebook. Easy to update and I can update the list as the presentation is going on. I think this also shows a difference in my presentation style where I’m being much more convesation based and less giving of content. You can view the content when you want/have time. I only have you for 60 minutes and we need to have a discussion on why you aren’t doing these things, or what your fears are.

Social Media Community Manager

In many of the conversations I’ve been having someone also brings up “Who’s job is it to monitor all this stuff? I mean the schools Facebook Page, the Wikipedia entry, the Twitter account, the YouTube account, etc, etc.?

This a great question and my response is, and will be tomorrow to admin here in Asia, that we need a new position in our schools. We need Social Media Community Managers. A quick Google Search brought up some great job discriptions that any school could use to get started. I might write my own for schools when I get a change. This isn’t a new position in the business world, but is a new concept to education. I do think it’s time that we hire people or put someone in charge of managing our online school communities. Someone who has deep knowledge of social-networks and can get the most value out of them for schools.

Well…that’s what has been on my mind this last month…..feel better actually writing it down so I don’t forget. There might be more, but I can feel the jet lag settling in and I’ve gotta talk about Facebook and Twitter tomorrow with administartors……we’re gonna have some fun!

The last couple of working days and the rest of this week I’ve been talking with high school students about why we (ISB) have given them a blog to start building their ‘Professional You‘.

When I put it in terms of Facebook is the ‘Social You’…the you with your friends, and the you while hanging out. Then your blog is and should become the ‘Professional You’. The place you mold who you are, what you are interested in, and where you want to go. The you you want colleges and universities to know about, that you want your employers to know about. The you that is preparing for life after school.

I get a lot of head nods when I explain it this way. They also appreciate that the blog is theirs. They have full admin rights, they control it, design it, layout it out, organize it. They are building their professional self…..and they get it. They get how important it is, they get that it’s something they need to be doing, and they’re excited to get started.

Of course the Professional You can and sometimes overlaps with the Social You, and that’s OK. Your goodreads.com account can post both to your blog and to your Facebook account. You can create a Facebook Fan Page to show a more professional you to colleges and universities. I also hope that some of the things you learn in social groups transfers to your professional reflections. There’s a blurry middle where content overlaps and on the extreme left and right you have your Facebook profile and your professional profile.

But that blurry part…that’s the tough part. That’s where decisions have to be made. Where students at the age of 13 need to start making decisions that we never had to make. We never had a professional side at 13….we didn’t need one. But if you are going to have a social side on the Internet then you better also start building your professional side.

We’re starting in 4th grade with student blogging, starting to build their professional you. What we’re hoping is we’ll get ahead of the curve of the Social You. That students understand that when they start a Social You that there’s this other part that people see, read, and respect and that side is just as important, if not more, than the Social You. Making decisions in that blurry area we hope become a bit easier.

Do you have a Social You and a Professional You on the Internet? Where do you draw the line? How are you teaching students to manage both?

It’s time to face the facts

  • Facebook is the new Google
  • It has become both a noun and a verb
  • With over 400 million users it is the largest social-network on the web
  • Everyone, including parents and teachers are already using it
  • Parents are getting younger……they get it
  • Facebook has replaced e-mail for many people
  • Facebook has more privacy settings then most Internet sites
  • Not using Facebook to communicate with your school/class community is like not using Google to search
  • It is the future
  • It is the now
  • For every negative reason to block Facebook there is a positive reason as well.
  • It’s mobile
  • It’s always on
  • Students are already using it (ISB HS Student Council site)
  • Parents are already there
  • It’s not the enemy, it’s an opportunity

Devin Schoening and his school get it. At BLC he passed along how his school is using Facebook in 1st Grade to create a community. If this prezi does not convince a school that Facebook is not the enemy then we’re in a world of hurt. Also see the district Facebook policy.

The two best sessions for me at Edubloggercon today at ISTE2010 ended up talking about Networks and teaching how to use networks with students. For lack of a better term we called it “Networked Literacy”

I first started thinking about this back in August after reading Writing in the 21st Century by Kathleen Yancey (worth your time).

Based on that reading I created this diagram that looks at today’s literacy development.

The pyramid represents the amount of time we spend teaching different types of literacy. Print Literacy is still the bases of our teaching in schools. Some of us and some schools are starting to bring digital literacy into the equation, but few of us are touching on or teaching Networked Literacy. In August as I started to think about this idea of Networked Literacy I came up with this working definition:

Networked literacy is what the web is about. It’s about understanding how people and communication networks work. It’s the understanding of how to find information and how to be found. It’s about how to read hyperlinked text articles, and understand the connections that are made when you become “friends” or “follow” someone on a network. It’s the understanding of how to stay safe and how to use the networked knowledge that is the World Wide Web. Networked Literacy is about understanding connections.

After today’s conversation I think it’s pretty close to what we were all thinking. It’s the idea of teaching students that they have networks in Facebook and through other web connections. We need to teach them how to use those networks to spread their message. Today many of us ed tech people do the networking for students via our twitter accounts, our own blogs, and the whole of our PLNs. Students today have networks, the issue is most of them are blocked in schools. We do not think of them as idea spreading networks but instead as social-networks that students must be kept from during school hours.

Learning networks are Social networks.

There is not one of us here at ISTE that does not use Twitter strictly for learning. We share our days, our lives. We share jokes, stay in touch and communicate on things that are personal to us. If we are allowed to use our learning-networks for social connections why can’t students use their social-networks for learning connections?

Of course Facebook is just a popular example. There are many other networks that we should be teaching students to use, networks to help them spread their message.

There’s another part of Networked Literacy that we touched on today. The idea of using social-connections to curate information. It’s asking your Twitter network for resources instead of Google, or asking your Facebook friends dinner ideas rather than looking up a restaurant yourself. Learning when to ask these networks for help and why you would you them rather than Google is a type of Networked Literacy we need to be teaching.

The conversations we had today are just the beginning. I’m looking forward to discussion this idea in the Blogger’s Cafe in the coming days as I think we’re starting to define a new powerful literacy that I hope we will be able to teach our students how to use.

(Prepare yourself it’s a long one!)

(Read to the bottom to find out why it took me over 12 hours to post this reflection!)

What a week this has been and with the launch of the book today, it’s made it all the more amazing of a week.

As of this writing, Reach was downloaded 801 times today. My networks and communities once again surpassed my expectations. As I told my wife yesterday, I’d be tickled if 200 people downloaded the Free PDF. To have 800+ do it in the first day alone is just mind boggling. As I say in the book, once you become connected to this network, professional development like you have never known before starts to flow your way. This book as been as much a part of my own professional development this year as anything else. On top of that I get to reap the benefits from people posting about it, quoting it, and thinking about it on their own blogs, twitter updates, and everywhere else on the network.

Some have asked if the book is OK to share with others. I have released Reach under a Creative Commons 3.0 License as found on the copyright page of the book. Meaning you are free to distribute it as you wish to your school community or to your own network within the guidelines of the Creative Commons Copyright.

Part of what I wrote about in the book, and part of what I believe overwhelms people, is this idea that you have to be everywhere and that every site is a silo. When really, once you understand the connectivity of the Internet, it can all come to you in one place, and you can talk to your network through one channel.

So in sharing Reach today I decided to do a little experiment on where my network and community (and yes they are different….you’ll have to read the book to learn how) are coming from and how they are connected.

So I released the Free PDF within all my networks and communities. This blog, the U Tech Tips blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Here’s how the downloads panned out (as of 10pm June 15th).

This Blog: 511

Twitter: 228

LinkedIn: 0

U Tech Tips: 32

Facebook: 32

I was surprised at first that more people downloaded Reach via my blog than via Twitter. I was expecting the ReTweets on Twitter to help push that to the top spot.

But here’s what I forgot. My blog is connected to everything. So when I posted the link to download Reach to this blog it went to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Plus to a lot of RSS readers. My blog has always been the center of my connected universe and still is today. LinkedIn surprised me. I don’t use it that much, hardly ever post anything there, and although there are a lot of people there looking to connect, not too many people are reading that stream. Of course my LinkedIn network could have used any of the other links as they all feed into LinkedIn, again that’s how that site fits into my personal learning network.

Why give it away for free? It’s my first book and we’ll wait to see what you all have to say about it as a book and me as a writer. Some of you have commented already that you can hear my voice in the book, and I found that I’m a much better writer of my thinking than a technical writer. We’ll see if it translates to a book.

Let’s be honest. If I wouldn’t have given this book away for free, I’d have been lucky to sell 100 copies (thanks to the 15 people who bought copies today!) and I have a day job that pays. It was more important to me to get the message out there. To basically throw my writing out there and see what you all think about it in a different form. My “Reach” is much greater with the free copies than it ever would have been with a book that had to be bought.

Yes…some of you will still buy the book. As Seth Godin (who’s idea and thoughts on this I have followed) has said, “We buy books as a souvenir”. I believe in that. Some of you might buy the book because you’ll want it as a souvenir, and for that I’m greatly honored. But, for most of you it will be a one time read and never thought of again. It’s information that will be out of date as soon as Facebook decides to change it’s privacy settings again. 😉

The PDF passwords will work until Friday night around 10pm PST. After that I’ll shut them off. The first two chapters will always be free via the Reach website. If you come to any of my 8 presentations this summer you’ll be given a code for the free PDF as well…and who knows I might always give it away free again at the start of school. 😉

Of course this has me very excited, that I was able to give something back to the community. But the launch of Reach today was over shadowed by a more amazing gift this week. A gift that….well…..can not be topped.

Last Tuesday I sat in a crowd of about 200 people watching the Class of 2010 from Aberdeen High School recieve their scholarships and awards for the year. I had been invited down by a former 4th grade student of mine, Claire. She had written me a letter saying there were a bunch of students that I had taught who are now graduating that would like to see me again. Little did I know that Claire and my wife had been planning for months to get me to Aberdeen for something very special.

I sat there in the crowd listening for names of past students, trying to recognize my little fourth grade students in these now 18 year old bodies. Some were easy, others I couldn’t believe the changes.

Claire had received a couple scholarships and awards and then without warning she started giving a speech.

“Each year the Renaissance Action Team senior members along with many other seniors recognize teachers that have made a difference in their lives. This year 21 seniors participated in the program started by the Renaissance team called honorary diplomas. This program allowed these seniors to dress in cap and gown and go visit a teacher that made a huge difference in their life. These seniors prepared brief speeches and presented diplomas to their teachers while telling them exactly what it is that changed their outlook on life.

For some seniors this was easy, they just walked down the hall, into a classroom, and made the presentation. Six teachers at Aberdeen High School were honored this year. For fourteen others, they went back to their elementary or junior high school to tell a past teacher of the impact they had. With thirty pairs of eyes watching them these seniors presented diplomas to their teachers. For one, the process even included tracking down a retired teacher’s family and making a surprise visit to him, and then, there was me.

In this audience is a man who has no idea what is about to happen, in this audience is a man who changed my life. For the past month or so I have been working to make this moment happen, and right now, as I stand here, I really hope he is out there, and possibly catching on to why his wife was so insistent on him making the trip here.”

About this time Claire’s mother takes a picture of me and I catch the flash out of the corner of my eye. I look at her and she’s smiling….and then it hit me.

I’m not going to share the whole 3 page speech that Claire gave…it’s way too special and humbling for me to share it (sorry…but true).

I will share my favorite two sentences out of the speech and the two that sent tears rolling down my own cheeks.

“Mr. U found things we liked, and created a way to learn around them. He talked to us as if we were equal, not like we were ten, and Mr. U was always smiling. It was obvious and still is that Mr. U is passionate about what he does, and he cares about the students he has.”

That meant more to me than anything…for the simple fact that it was my own fourth grade teacher Mrs. Hubble who always referred to us as “Ladies and Gentleman”. She told us that we are all equals and should be treated as much. That has stuck with me through the years and to this day, I have always only referred to a class as “Ladies and Gentleman”. I do believe we are all equals in a classroom, and sometimes it’s as little as how you refer to people that makes all the difference.

Claire, if you’re reading this, know you have made my teaching career. Your speech was simply perfect and how you remembered ever project we did in such detail after all these years I’ll never know. Please know that for all you feel you have learned from me, I learned from you ten fold! Thank you for being such a special person in my life.

It’s been one amazing week that has reminded me why I love learning.

“Education is not the preparation for life; It’s life itself” ~John Dewey

As I’m ready to post this last night I get a phone call from my brother. My nephew was on his way. At 4:40 this morning I became an Uncle for the second time. I’m not sure one person deserves this much amazement in one week. What a week to remember!

(Thank you everyone for your concern! We are all safe in Bangkok this evening with Government imposed curfew on the city)

I’m not sure what the news is like about the Bangkok protests outside of Thailand. But inside of Thailand is has been sporadic at best. Leaving people wanting to know and turning to constantly updated streams of information such as Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter has made it big within our school community. Many teachers, students, and parents have been following different hash tags or lists. Popular Twitter hash tags have been #bangkok #redshirts #redshirt #thaicrisis.

Here’s the issue…..everyone has an opinion and both sides have been using Twitter and the people following the stream there as a way to have their voice heard.

I don’t think that’s a bad things, but are we teaching people that these live streams of information need to be filtered? I wonder how many people in Bangkok took the time to actually look at who was tweeting what, and understood their agenda. For as much good information there was in the stream there was propaganda from both sides.

Whether we like it or not as a global society we have come to expect this type of live stream when events are happening. Whether it’s an earthquake in Haiti or protests in Bangkok, we want to know what’s going on NOW and we don’t want to wait……we have become a nearly now society.

There are two things that concern me:

1) What concerned me the most is the length at which citizen journalists would good to to get the story. Putting themselves in harms way, getting shot at, and in some cases actually dieing for being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Is nearly now news worth this? Yet it happens and continues to happen as people run around the city trying to get pictures of burning building and putting themselves in harms way.

2) Secondly were the tweets from people outside of Thailand who clearly were not informed on what had been happening over the past 7 weeks or so here in Bangkok and felt the need to add their 2cents to the stream, making it even more confusing on what the actual truth was.

Then there is the mainstream media. The CNNs and BBCs of the world who are trying to capture and tell the story the best they can with very few actual journalists on the ground. They both pulled pictures, tweets, and videos from things that were being tweeted and in at least two stories miss reported, or miss represented what was happening in the image. Scary and very misleading to readers.

What we need to understand is that if we’re going to live in a nearly now world we all need to learn to filter information and assume that some information is going to be wrong, It’s the nature of reporting live events in almost real time. Things are going to get missed, people will take advantage of real time streams, and we need to know that it’s going to happen!

I have to say I’m worried that we’re not teaching our students, who this ‘nearly now’ world is going to affect the most, how to use it properly. How to filter the good from the bad, and the fact from the opinion. We talk about this in regards to books…..but I do not know of any school, anywhere in the world that talks about this when it comes to live streaming information on the web……and people….this is the future of news….the Evening News at 6pm is dead!

As I myself was wrestling to keep up with the news streams today, I was talking with 10th graders about their digital profiles. As we were waiting for a site to load a girl in the front row got frustrated and said.

“Why’s it taking a million years to load!?

Reality….it might have taken 7 maybe even 10 seconds for the page to load, yet she was frustrated it wasn’t loading faster.

And we’ve all been there, frustrated that 10 seconds to access a websites literally halfway around the world was too slow.

We live in a nearly now world, we need to stop pretending we don’t and start preparing students to be responsible global citizens in it!

Because in a nearly now world 10 seconds feels like a million years.